Sunday 29th November 2020
  • Dads, Commit to Your Family at Home and at Work

    Men want to step up. Here are four places to start.

    While fathers are increasingly recognizing the value of caring for, educating, and raising their kids, there are still imbalances that make working parenthood more difficult for mothers. In particular, new research shows that fathers, on average, still do only around half of the unpaid work that mothers do. The good news is that men want to step up, and they can do so by acknowledging the problem, aiming for equity in household tasks, collaborating with their partners on decision making, and speaking up at work about their family's needs. Organizations can help, too, by rethinking assumptions about fathering, by role-modeling, by championing flexible work arrangements and time off, and by supporting access to childcare for their workers.

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  • Designed to Deceive: Do These People Look Real to You?

    There are now businesses that sell fake people. On the website Generated.Photos, you can buy a "unique, worry-free" fake person for $2.99, or 1,000 people for $1,000. If you just need a couple of fake people - for characters in a video game, or to make your company website appear more diverse - you can get their photos for free on Adjust their likeness as needed; make them old or young or the ethnicity of your choosing. If you want your fake person animated, a company called Rosebud.AI can do that and can even make them talk.

    These simulated people are starting to show up around the internet, used as masks by real people with nefarious intent: spies who don an attractive face in an effort to infiltrate the intelligence community; right-wing propagandists who hide behind fake profiles, photo and all; online harassers who troll their targets with a friendly visage.

    We created our own A.I. system to understand how easy it is to generate different fake faces.

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  • Making the Shift to Digital Sales in B2B

    The old methods of demand generation won't work in the always-online era.

    A new, digital era of B2B sales and marketing is upon us. It's driven by corporate customer demand for online access to their suppliers' offerings and expertise. Taking advantage of this shift is challenging because it requires moving from deeply embedded B2B sales and marketing models to data-driven, digitally powered partnerships between sales, marketing and analytics.

    The rewards of digital demand generation - a pivotal piece of the B2B digital transformation puzzle - can be significant. For example, GE Healthcare Life Sciences, a biopharma business, grew by building an extensive digital demand generation operation that engages researchers through thought leadership content and software, allows customers to fulfil orders through an e-commerce portal, and supports online research into unique, custom biological agents. In March 2020, Danaher completed the purchase of what is now called Cytiva for seventeen times of the firm's 2019 EBITDA.

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  • Why having a Plan B can sometimes backfire

    Research has found that having a backup plan might actually sabotage your efforts toward Plan A. Before you set up your safety net, read these lessons from scientists.

    Having a fallback plan is generally considered a good thing. When it comes to applying for colleges, jobs or mortgages, we've probably all heard the advice, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket" or "Make sure you have a Plan B just in case Plan A doesn't work out." And there is some scientific support for this approach. Cognitive psychologists at NYU and the University of Chicago have confirmed that having a backup can alleviate some of the psychological discomfort associated with uncertainty and help us feel better about the future. But by and large, having a backup plan comes with a cost - as shown in these stories from the history of science, matched with the latest research on how our minds work.

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  • Tapping into the power of humble narcissism

    No, "humble narcissism" is not an oxymoron; it's a combination of qualities that the best leaders and companies have. Organizational psychologist Adam Grant explains why.

    Who would you rather work for: a narcissistic leader or a humble leader?

    The answer is more complicated than you think.

    In a Fortune 100 company, researchers studied whether customer service employees were more productive under narcissistic or humble leaders. The least effective bosses were narcissists - their employees were more likely to spend time surfing the Internet and taking long breaks. Employees with humble bosses were a bit more productive: they fielded more customer service calls and took fewer breaks. But the best leaders weren't humble or narcissistic.

    They were humble narcissists.

    How can you be narcissistic and humble at the same time? The two qualities sound like opposites, but they can go hand in hand. Narcissists believe they're special and superior; humble leaders know they're fallible and flawed. Humble narcissists bring the best of both worlds: they have bold visions, but they're also willing to acknowledge their weaknesses and learn from their mistakes.

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  • I'm a survivor! How resilience became the quality we all crave

    During the pandemic it has become a buzzword for successfully steering through adversity. But what exactly is resilience - and can you cultivate more of it?

    It was after her block of flats burned down that Sadi Khan thought, finally, things could not get worse. She had married at 19, and for four years her husband had subjected her to horrific violence on an almost daily basis. She had been punched and kicked, financially controlled and constantly told she was stupid; once, a friend arrived at her flat and found her lying unconscious after an attack. So the day she accidentally set fire to her flat while cooking was simultaneously the day she lost everything and the day she started again. "He's beaten me, I've lost everything," she says. "What more can go wrong?"

    Her father arrived the following day, and wanted to take her home. "I think that was the turning point," says Khan. "When my dad was in front of me, saying: 'Come home, let me look after you.' I thought: 'No, I don't need looking after. I'm still alive. I burned the flat down, I'm still alive. I've been beaten up, I should have been dead five times over, but I'm still alive.'"

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  • This 2-Acre Vertical Farm Out-Produces 720 Acre 'Flat Farms'

    Farming is going vertical, thanks to startups like San Francisco-based Plenty.

    According to Nate Storey, the future of farms is vertical. It's also indoors, can be placed anywhere on the planet, is heavily integrated with robots and AI, and produces better fruits and vegetables while using 95% less water and 99% less land.

    But the future of farms is also personal, emotional, and deeply meaningful.

    "The objective of all technology really should be to enable human joy, right?" Storey asked me on a recent episode of the TechFirst podcast. "For me, it's the memory of being a child in the garden and eating a carrot that my grandfather gave me that still has the grit on it, and the snap and the crunch and the flavor and the aroma, or a tomato from my grandmother's garden."

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  • Don't kill bureaucracy, use it

    Bureaucracies are the scaffolding needed to implement new ideas at scale. Just remember to dismantle them when the work is done.

    Earlier this year, an intriguing tweet from Tom Peters popped up on my phone. "Virtually all the popular improvement ideas - Continuous Improvement, 6-Sigma, MBO [management by objectives], Agile, Brainstorming, Strategic Planning, PPBS [planning, programming, budgeting systems], ZBB [zero-based budgeting] - develop hardening of the arteries, lose their youthful glow, and become one more burdensome, life-sucking bureaucratic practice," he wrote.

    This may sound glib to you. But like many of Peters's observations, it's got a strong foundation in reality. If you've been around for a while, you know that all sorts of business programs ossify after a few years. It happened with total quality management (TQM) and business process reengineering back in the 1990s. It’s happening with D&I (diversity and inclusion) and holacracy now.

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  • 23% of Earth's natural habitats could be gone by 2100, study finds

    Climate change and global food demand could drive a startling loss of up to 23 percent of all natural habitat ranges in the next 80 years, according to new findings published in Nature Communications.

    Habitat loss could accelerate to a level that brings about rapid extinctions of already vulnerable species. Shrinking ranges for mammals, amphibians and birds already account for an 18 percent loss of previous natural ranges, the study found, with a jump expected to reach 23 percent by this century's end.

    Global food demand currently fuels agricultural sectors to increase land use, moving into habitats previously untouched. What results - deforestation - leaves more carbon dioxide in the air, increasing greenhouse gas emissions, the main driver of climate change. In the U.S. alone, agriculture-related emissions measure 11.6 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, which include carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.

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  • Covid-19 Briefing materials from McKinsey: Global health and crisis response

    Here's a comprehensive presentation on what we know about the coronavirus and its economic impact so far (with some predictions on when normalcy might return). Some important points are summarized below. The link to the complete presentation is below that.

    - Herd immunity will eventually be achieved through a combination of Covid-19 vaccine deployment (most important factor), effect of previous vaccinations (eg: BCG vaccine), Covid-19 infection leading to immunity, other coronavirus infections (T-cell cross-reactivity), reduced RO factor (because of biological, socio-behavioral and environmental factors)
    - There are 278 candidates in the pipeline for COVID-19 vaccines
    - Corporate stress in Q2 2020 is at the same point as the 2009 trough, but in only 4 to 6 months vs. 2 years
    - Degree of economic uncertainty has fallen more than half as initial unknowns about the virus have dissipated

    Complete presentation here