August 13-19, 2021 issue
– Extractive summaries curated from TOP TEN BUSINESS MAGAZINES to
promote informed business decision making
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Xi Jinping’s assault on tech will change China’s trajectory
The Economist | August 14, 2021
Of all china’s achievements in the past two decades, one of the most impressive is the rise of its technology industry. It has also helped China to transform its long-run economic prospects at home, by allowing it to leap beyond manufacturing into new fields such as digital health care and artificial intelligence (ai). As well as propelling China’s prosperity, a dazzling tech industry could also be the foundation for a challenge to American supremacy. That is why President Xi Jinping’s assault on his country’s $4trn tech industry is so startling.
Mr Xi’s immediate goal may be to humble tycoons and give regulators more sway over unruly digital markets. But as the Economist explains in this week’s issue, the Communist Party’s deeper ambition is to redesign the industry according to its blueprint. China’s autocrats hope this will sharpen their country’s technological edge while boosting competition and benefiting consumers.
Geopolitics may be spurring them on, too. Restrictions on access to components made with American technology have persuaded China that it needs to be more self-reliant in critical areas like semiconductors. Such “hard tech” may benefit if the crackdown on social media, gaming firms and the like steers talented engineers and programmers its way. However the assault is also a giant gamble that may end up doing long-term damage to enterprise and economic growth.
China’s crackdown echoes concerns that motivate regulators and politicians in the West: that digital markets tend towards monopolies and that tech firms hoard data, abuse suppliers, exploit workers and undermine public morality. Stronger policing was overdue. The question is how? China is about to become a policy laboratory in which an unaccountable state wrestles with the world’s biggest firms for control of the 21st century’s essential infrastructure.
But make no mistake, the crackdown on China’s unruly tech is also a demonstration of the party’s untrammelled power. And the attempt to reshape Chinese tech could easily go wrong. It is likely to raise suspicion abroad, hampering the country’s ambitions to sell services and set global tech standards worldwide in the 21st century, as America did in the 20th. Any drag on growth would be felt far beyond China’s borders. A bigger risk is that the crackdown will dull the entrepreneurial spirit within China.
3 key takeaways from the article
- Of all China’s achievements in the past two decades, one of the most impressive is the rise of its technology industry.
- That is why President Xi Jinping’s assault on his country’s $4trn tech industry is so startling.
- Economic development is largely about creative destruction. China’s autocratic leaders have shown that they can manage the destruction. Whether this tech tumult will also foster creativity remains much in doubt.
Topics: Technology, China, Global Economy
U.S. universities face another school year of too few Chinese students
By Grady Mcgregor | Fortune | August 16, 2021
In the coming weeks, tens of millions of students are set to descend on college campuses across the United States in what many universities had hoped would kick-start the first normal and mostly in-person academic year since the onset of the pandemic. The rise of the Delta variant may be complicating those plans, but there is another factor threatening a return to college as usual: U.S. universities may be losing their luster in China, the U.S.’s largest source of international students.
Chinese student applications for the coming academic year shrank 18% compared with last year’s cycle. The decline appears especially pronounced given that U.S. colleges got a 9% boost in applications from international students in this cycle compared with the previous one. But dwindling interest from Chinese students still threatens a major and steady source of revenue for U.S. universities.
In the 2019–2020 academic year, 372,000 Chinese undergraduate and graduate students studied at U.S. universities, accounting for 35% of the total international student population. That year, the living fees and tuition expenses of Chinese students accounted for $15.9 billion out of $44 billion of the total revenue from this account.
The waning interest from Chinese students is a result of U.S. visa restrictions on Chinese students, an increase in anti-Asian racism in the U.S. amid the pandemic, and rising tensions between the U.S. and China. But a slight drop in applications may not prove calamitous, and even a global pandemic and rising geopolitical pressures may not be enough to fully stem the tide of Chinese students opting to study in the U.S. The deteriorating circumstances for Chinese students, combined with a rising tide of nationalism in China, have made Chinese parents less motivated to send students abroad.
3 key takeaways from the article
- U.S. universities may be losing their luster in China, the U.S.’s largest source of international students.
- Chinese student applications for the coming academic year shrank 18% compared with last year’s cycle.
- The waning interest from Chinese students is a result of U.S. visa restrictions on Chinese students, an increase in anti-Asian racism in the U.S. amid the pandemic, and rising tensions between the U.S. and China.
Topics: Higher Education, China, USA
Cultivated meat: Out of the lab, into the frying pan
By Tom Branan | McKinsey & Company | June 16, 2021
Cultivated meat, a product that a handful of restaurant patrons bit into for the first time in December 2020, could change the world’s menus in astonishing ways. It could mean that one day consumers will pay no more for Wagyu beef and bluefin tuna than for chicken nuggets and burgers. It could mean a small island could serve up beefy platters at the same cost and efficiency as a continent with wide, grassy plains. By 2030, cultivated meat could provide as much as a half of 1 percent—billions of pounds—of the world’s meat supply, with implications for multiple sectors.
Just a decade ago, cultivated meat was little more than the futuristic dream of a handful of academic scientists. Instead of relying on animal husbandry to provide meat, or approximating the characteristics of meat with plants, they endeavored to create meat by taking small samples of animal cells and growing them in a controlled environment. Through manipulation of cell density and shaping techniques, the resulting product could be made to replicate the experience of eating, say, chicken breast or ground beef.
This mission seems to be becoming reality, demonstrating the speed at which advances in biological science are fueling a wave of innovation. Since developing the first prototypes, companies have been able to reduce production costs by 99 percent. In late 2020, at an upscale club in Singapore—the only country thus far to approve consumption of cultivated meat—diners feasted for the first time on crispy sesame chicken with the central ingredient grown from animal cells. Regulatory bodies in the United States have announced agreements to regulate the product, while the European Union awarded a multimillion-euro grant for research.
A lot has to happen for cultivated meat to become a major industry—not least that tens of billions of dollars need to be spent to scale it to even 1 percent of the global protein market. The focus of the next decade will likely be on proving commercial viability, with modest market penetration. To succeed, the industry must assuage potential concerns around a novel food while delivering deliciousness at the right price.
The future pace of adoption and market size will depend on five key factors. These are consumer acceptance, risk, cost position supply and policy response.
3 key takeaways from the article
- Cultivated meat has garnered significant attention as a protein source that can meet consumer needs with a reduced impact on the planet. That potential is real.
- Investment, ingenuity, and commitment are likely needed to move this concept from a novel small-batch product to one of the tempting protein options on millions, if not billions, of people’s plates.
- By 2030, cultivated meat could provide as much as a half of 1 percent—billions of pounds—of the world’s meat supply, with implications for multiple sectors.
Topics: Food industry, Biotechnology, Agriculture
3 Questions to Help Your Team Solve Problems
By Darrell K. Rigby | Harvard Business Review | August 13, 2021
Instead of giving answers to teammates with a challenge, everyone is better served if you ask three questions.
- What do you recommend? Asking this may rock your associates back on their heels for a moment, but once the surprise has worn off, they learn to come to any discussion prepared with a hypothesis. If they don’t have a recommendation ready, we may brainstorm for a while, but eventually, you need to adjourn and ask them to come back when they have one. Around 75% of the most practical and effective ideas for innovation come from the frontline workers closest to customers and operations. This group understands customer frustrations, operating realities, technology opportunities, and other issues much better than people in ivory towers do.
- How can we test that? A fascinating recommendation has been made. We’ve got something that could be exciting — now, how do we take it for a test drive? A test-first approach allows a leader to let the team’s idea play out at relatively low cost and risk. Even if you are skeptical of an approach, rather than launch a fight or engage in theoretical arguments, push the team to create a prototype and see if it will work. Sometimes you will be surprised.
Behavioral scientists such as Daniel Kahneman and Dan Ariely have taught us to use creative, real-world experiments to discover what customers really do rather than relying on rational calculations of what they should do. Business systems aren’t complicated like a watch you can take apart, fix, and put back together. They’re complex. Ideas that sound right don’t always play out as expected in the real world. Testing offers helpful surprises, and, with deliberate practice, we get better at it.
- What do you need from me (a leader)? Think about what obstacles you will face, advise each team, and then listen what you, as a leader, can do to help address the challenges. Do they need resources? Money? A testing environment? Access to teammates with certain skills? This puts the right part of the burden on the leader and make sure you are working to facilitate and accelerate their work rather than inspecting and impeding it.
But how managers treat their employees matters in ways that stretch beyond productivity and profits.
2 key takeaways from the article
- Instead of giving answers to teammates with a challenge, everyone is better served if you ask three questions: What do you recommend? How can we test that? What do you need from a leader?
- But how managers treat their employees matters in ways that stretch beyond productivity and profits.
Topics: Leadership, Problem-solving, Decision-making
Strategy as a Way of Life
By Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi | MIT Sloan Management Review | August 12, 2021
We live in a messy world, where boundaries are becoming more porous and unprecedented complexity adds ambiguity and reduces predictability. Our traditional approach to strategy, based on data and analysis, is at a crossroads in this era of unknown unknowns. The most well-trained AI, built on vast stores of data, information, and knowledge, could not have predicted how the COVID-19 pandemic would affect a world made more open and connected by digital technologies. Can strategy be reframed so that companies can thrive in the face of our current and future challenges? Companies can adopt six daily practices to elevate strategy to a way of life:
- Cope with complexity.
- Adapt to change.
- Embrace dynamic duality.
- Empathize with everyone.
- Tell stories.
- Live with nature.
These six practices must become a way of life for companies to survive in this day and age of “unknown unknowns.” They must also become the modus operandi in the life of a strategist who seeks to meet the unprecedented challenges facing businesses and humankind. Observing leaders who consistently do these things has taught us the following lessons about strategy.
First, strategy must be driven by human beings. Strategy is as fundamental as thinking good thoughts, doing the right thing, and practicing self-reflection and self-discipline in everyday life. Second, strategy is driven by wisdom. Mother’s wisdom (what elders have taught us) and practical wisdom (what lived experience has taught us) enable us to grasp the essence of a matter intuitively and, at the same time, cope with the fast-changing world. Third, strategy is about future-making. The future is hazy and unpredictable, which is why leaders need to tell stories about where they are headed — it allows others in the organization to follow. Last but not least, strategy is about making choices. It is about choosing the future we want to make, and that future must extend beyond the narrow interests of the company.
3 key takeaways from the article
- We live in a messy world, where boundaries are becoming more porous and unprecedented complexity adds ambiguity and reduces predictability.
- Our traditional approach to strategy, based on data and analysis, is at a crossroads in this era of unknown unknowns. Can strategy be reframed so that companies can thrive in the face of our current and future challenges?
- Companies can adopt six daily practices to elevate strategy to a way of life: cope with complexity, adapt to change, embrace dynamic duality, empathize with everyone, tell stories, and live with nature.
Topics: Strategy, Strategic Planning
How to Find Power and Confidence in a Crisis
By Anna Meyer | Inc | August 11, 2021
In times of crisis, don’t look to the past or the future for answers. That’s according to social psychologist and behavioral science expert Amy Cuddy. The Harvard University lecturer and author of Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges explained that productivity-sapping emotions such as anxiety, dread, and distraction come from thinking too much about the past and future. Staying present, Cuddy explains, can help you approach difficult situations with composure and find solutions with confidence. Three of Cuddy’s tips for how to make the most of a bad situation are:
- View challenges as opportunities. When presented with a challenge, Cuddy advises reframing the situation. If you feel nervous to approach someone, for example, think of them as a collaborator or an ally, rather than as a competitor. Changing viewpoints can make you feel more in control of coming up with a solution to your problems. “When we feel powerful, it leads us to act,” Cuddy says. “When we feel powerless, we don’t act.”
- Don’t fake it until you make it. Faking it until you make it works in some situations, but not when it comes to relationships. The best relationships are built on trust and authenticity–not on overstating your abilities. “Unfortunately, we often make the mistake in work situations of showing off our skills and our strengths before showing that we are trustworthy,” Cuddy says. “When we neglect that piece, this other piece–the strength, the competence, the skills–they just don’t matter, especially for leaders who really need to inspire people to do their best work.”
- Avoid panicking at all costs. When presented with something that makes you panic, Cuddy advises business owners to think of a time when you felt your best, whether it was finishing your first successful fundraising meeting, landing your biggest client, or even at a personal event such as a wedding. By contrasting the panic with a good feeling, it can help you reset your approach to the situation and feel more present. “When we feel present, we’re not doubting who we are [and] we believe in ourselves,” Cuddy says. “And when we believe in ourselves, we believe in what we’re selling.”
2 key takeaways from the article
- In times of crisis, don’t look to the past or the future for answers. Staying present. This can help you approach difficult situations with composure and find solutions with confidence.
- Three tips for how to make the most of a bad situation are: view challenges as opportunities, don’t fake it until you make it, and avoid panicking at all costs.
Topics: Leadership, Decision-making, Emotional Intelligence
Every Brand and Business Person Should Do This to Ensure Their Credibility
By Kevin Roddy | Entrepreneur | August 16, 2021
We’ve all heard the adage, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” In business, however, the first, second, third — and every impression after that — counts in a big way. The author talks about the kind of impression you make when you’re sloppy in written communications — things like emails, texts, reports, presentations, social media, and even marketing materials. Carelessness like this is, in its own way, a tomato-soup stain on your brand and does real damage to the credibility of you and your business. You can avoid this stain by focusing on the following.
- Quality counts. If you don’t care about the quality of your work why should anyone believe you do quality work? The underlying excuse for a poor quality work is plain and simple, “I don’t care.” This “who cares” approach to written communication is a lot more common than you think. And you need to know, people judge you by it.
- Don’t make excuses. There is no reason, no excuse, for any mistake in written communication. It doesn’t matter if it’s a printed letter to an investor or an internal text to a subordinate, sloppiness is a bad habit. You need not to be a slave to the New Oxford Style Manual. Instead, just ensure that your writing is clear and doesn’t contain any unforced errors.
- Don’t let sloppiness define you. Another way to look at this kind of sloppiness is that, these days, poorly written communication has become a hallmark of scammers. So don’t reduce rather eliminate the possibility of poor writing.
- Your message is not only what you say, but how you say it. The truth is that the content of your message is not enough — it’s also how you deliver it. So if you want to be heard, deliver your message the way you want it to be received. Details matter. Do things to the highest quality, regardless of what those things may be.
3 key takeaways from the article
- In business, the first, second, third — and every impression after that — counts in a big way.
- Carelessness in written communications is like this is, in its own way, a tomato-soup stain on your brand and does real damage to the credibility of you and your business.
- You can avoid this damage by focusing on the quality of your work, not making excuses for poor communication, and delivering your message the way you want it to be received.
Topics: Communication, Personal Development, Branding
Three Steps To Enhance Your Productivity: The DEW Method
By Jimmy Jane | Forbes | August 16, 2021
A large number of people seem to be trapped in what the author calls an “activity trap.” In an activity trap, the person is doing loads of activities and drawing a sense of satisfaction from achievement; however, remember, an immense amount of activity is not productivity, and being busy may not equal being productive. You may follow a simple rule of three steps, what the author calls DEW, to come out of the activity trap.
- Desired Future State. What is the end picture? How do you visualize the project when it is complete? What would it look like on its completion? Be as specific as you can, covering all the aspects. Spend time in visualizing, and from there, make a to-do list if you must.
- Enablers For The Future To Be Present. What are the necessary conditions to realize the result? What kind of environment, ecosystem, support is required for the desired future state to be achieved? Be like a gardener who ensures there is nurturing for flowers to bloom.
- Work Toward It. What are the specific, result-driven activities that are needed to satisfy the above conditions? This requires a paradigm shift from looking at activities and being busy, looking for what to do next, to asking: What is the result I wish to achieve, or what is the result I am after?
By following this simple method of DEW, you can stay focused on outcomes rather than drowning in a sea of activities.
3 key takeaways from the article
- A large number of people seem to be trapped in what the author calls an “activity trap.” In an activity trap, the person is doing loads of activities and drawing a sense of satisfaction from achievement.
- An immense amount of activity is not productivity, and being busy may not equal being productive.
- You may follow a simple rule of three steps to come out of the activity trap. These are desired future state, enablers for the future to be present and work toward it.
Topic: Productivity, Performance, Personal Development