Extractive summaries of the articles curated from TOP TEN BUSINESS MAGAZINES to promote informed business decision making | Week 216 |October 29-November 4, 2021
South-East Asia’s regional club faces its greatest tests yet
The Economist | October 30, 2021
In mid-October, following intense behind-the-scenes discussions, ASEAN took the step of barring General Min Aung Hlaing, Myanmar’s military ruler, whose coup in February ousted Aung San Suu Kyi and her civilian government, from taking his seat at this week’s summits. With the disbarring of General Min Aung Hlaing, ASEAN has averted international irrelevance.
A desire for relevance has everything to do with the second hallowed plank of dogma, ASEAN “centrality”. Though the word has mainly totemic value, getting outside powers constantly to recognise ASEAN’s centrality obliges them to acknowledge its interests. Chief among these is keeping great powers at bay, either to prevent their meddling in the region or to avoid their rivalries playing out there.
Until recently, centrality seemed to work. It also helped confer convening power on ASEAN over a plethora of summits in which the group brings together world and regional leaders. Yet great-power rivalry is playing out in South-East Asia once again, this time between America and China. Centrality has not prevented China from expanding its presence deep into the South China Sea, encroaching on the waters of its ASEAN neighbours. Nor, more recently, has it held America back from seeking to balance against China’s military build-up through “minilateral” alliances such as the Quad, a grouping with Australia, India and Japan, and AUKUS, which, with Britain, will supply Australia with nuclear-powered submarines with the range to patrol South-East Asian waters. Though they make token avowals of ASEAN centrality, neither China nor America seeks the group’s permission in such matters. The limits of centrality, then, are being laid bare.
If ASEAN is to remain central in more than rhetorical terms, it has to be clearer about what it is prepared and not prepared to do with America—and with China. That will require a new consensus on centrality, one that will prove much harder to reach than the new one on Myanmar. ASEAN’s existential moment is arriving.
3 key takeaways from the article
- With the disbarring of General Min Aung Hlaing (Myanmar’s military ruler), from taking seat in its recent summit ASEAN has averted international irrelevance.
- A desire for relevance has everything to do with the second hallowed plank of dogma, ASEAN “centrality” i.e., getting outside powers at bay, either to prevent their meddling in the region or to avoid their rivalries playing out there. Nevertheless, neither China nor America seeks the group’s permission in their recent acts to counterbalance rivalry between the two.
- If ASEAN is to remain central in more than rhetorical terms, it has to be clearer about what it is prepared and not prepared to do with America—and with China.
Topics: ASEAN, China, USA
Government data management for the digital age
By Axel Domeyer et. al., | McKinsey & Company | September 20, 2021
Digital society’s lifeblood is data—and governments have lots of data, representing a significant latent source of value for both the public and private sectors. If used effectively, and keeping in mind ever-increasing requirements with regard to data protection and data privacy, data can simplify the delivery of public services, reduce fraud and human error, and catalyze massive operational efficiencies.
Despite these potential benefits, governments around the world remain largely unable to capture the opportunity. The key reason is that data are typically dispersed across a fragmented landscape of registers (datasets used by government entities for a specific purpose), which are often managed in organizational silos. Data are routinely stored in formats that are hard to process or in places where digital access is impossible. The consequence is that data are not available where needed, progress on digital government is inhibited, and citizens have little transparency on what data the government stores about them or how it is used.
Only a handful of countries have taken significant steps toward addressing these challenges. As other governments consider their options, the experiences of these countries may provide them with valuable guidance and also reveal five actions that can help governments unlock the value that is on their doorsteps. These are: set a clear vision based on tangible use cases, understand and navigate the relevant data landscape, offer relevant infrastructure components centrally, rapidly deliver end-to-end use cases via agile data labs and establish a central data agency.
To unlock their data potential, governments can develop an interoperable and connected data landscape, in which data collected by any government entity are available where needed, where security and privacy are safeguarded, and where adequate measures (legal, technical, and organizational) prevent misuse of data. If governments can achieve that, there are benefits in six key areas: improve the resident experience, increase administrative efficiency, enable data-driven policy making, deliver the value of open data for the private sector & civil society, enhance data protection and privacy, and reduce fraud, waste, and abuse.
3 key takeaways from the article
- Digital society’s lifeblood is data—and governments have lots of data, representing a significant latent source of value for both the public and private sectors.
- While some countries have started to make progress, government data management is typically hamstrung by three challenges: data are scattered, data cannot be accessed digitally, and data are not interoperable.
- Five actions that can help governments unlock the value that is on their doorsteps. These are: set a clear vision based on tangible use cases, understand and navigate the relevant data landscape, offer relevant infrastructure components centrally, rapidly deliver end-to-end use cases via agile data labs and establish a central data agency.
Topics: E-governance, Technology, Public Sector
Drive Innovation with Better Decision-Making
By Linda A. Hill et al., | Harvard Business Review Magazine | In its November–December 2021 Issue
To stay competitive, today’s business leaders are investing millions in digital tools, agile methodologies, and lean strategies. Too often, however, those efforts produce neither the breakthrough operational processes nor the blockbuster business models companies need—at least not before their competitors introduce their own advances. And a key culprit is the inability to make quick and effective innovation decisions. According to the authors the organizations that are learning to experiment, four perspectives tend to be underrepresented in decision-making: the customer perspective, the local perspective, the data-informed perspective, and the outside perspective.
The solution here is to include in your decision-making processes the customers and the people who are most closely connected with end customers. Second, people at headquarters rarely have the contextual intelligence required to judge which new business models, services, or operations are best suited to a local economy and regulatory environment. So getting local input can make a big difference. Third, data visualization provides another set of solutions. It can allow timely, complex information to be interpreted by people from a variety of functional backgrounds, leveling the playing field so that those who are less data-savvy can fully engage when making decisions. And fourth, an outside view can help organizations contemplate its moves more seriously.
As they recognize the need to bring together many points of view, a lot of organizations are relying more on decentralized networks of cross-functional teams, both permanent and ad hoc, to increase their agility. But this can have a downside: Involving more voices in a decision can mean less clarity about who ultimately owns it, slowing the innovation process and often prompting frustration and disengagement. To effectively empower decision-makers, leaders must be explicit in every case about who will be responsible for executing the decision, who will be accountable for making it, who will be consulted, and who will be informed.
Inviting diverse sets of participants to well-timed decision-making forums doesn’t automatically lead to the thorough vetting of ideas. This is where so many organizations get stuck: They fail to create a competitive marketplace of ideas, where genuine debate increases the odds that risks are identified and the most promising projects are pursued.
Leaders must stop worrying about whether people can collaborate and instead worry about whether they know how to argue. Leaders can encourage the psychological safety that promotes good fights in three ways: ask questions, focus on the data, and articulate a shared purpose.
2 key takeaways from the article
- Despite their embrace of agile methods, many firms striving to innovate are struggling to produce breakthrough ideas. A key culprit, according to the authors, is an outdated, inefficient approach to decision-making.
- To align their decision-making processes with agile approaches, businesses need to include diverse (customer, local, data-informed, and outside) points of view; clarify decision rights; match the cadence of decisions to the pace of learning, and encourage candid conflict in service of a better experience for the end customer.
Topics: Decision-Making, Innovation, Disruptions, Teams, Agility
The Human Factor in AI-Based Decision-Making
By Philip Meissner and Christoph Keding | MIT Sloan Management Review | October 12, 2021
AI now has a firm footing in organizations’ strategic decision-making processes. In the boardroom, companies can use the power of AI to analyze information, recognize complex patterns, and even get advice on strategic issues.
In AI-augmented decision processes, where algorithms provide suggestions and information, executives still have the final say. The authors’ research reveals that this human filter makes all the difference in organizations’ AI-based decisions. Data analysis shows that there is no single, universal human response to AI. Quite the opposite: One of the most surprising findings of their research is that individuals make entirely different choices based on identical AI inputs. Moreover, these differences in AI-based decision-making have a direct financial effect on organizations. By understanding and using executives’ individual decision-making styles, then, organizations can better optimize the use of AI in their strategic initiatives and overcome flaws in human judgment.
How does this human element shape the decision outcome? Research has shown that executives differ substantially in making decisions, depending on their individual styles — the patterns they prefer and typically follow when confronted with a choice. Such individual differences are based on information processing and self-regulation, as well as the perceived urgency of the decision and their cognitive approach to making choices. Four decision-making styles i.e., rational, intuitive-spontaneous, dependent, and avoidant tend to induce an individual’s consistent response patterns across decision tasks and situations.
According to the study findings, rational types seem reluctant to lose autonomy in the process, while avoidant executives who typically postpone decisions are happy to delegate decision-making responsibility to AI. Others both embrace the AI recommendations and demonstrate confidence in making strategic choices without the involvement of algorithms.
These results suggest that executives using AI to make strategic decisions fall into three archetypes based on their individual decision-making style. Skeptics do not follow the AI-based recommendations, preferring to control the process themselves. Interactors balance their own perception and the algorithm’s advice. They are open to the use of AI but do not rely on it entirely. Delegators largely transfer their decision-making authority to AI in order to reduce their perceived individual risk.
Organizations should follow three strategies when integrating AI into their decision-making processes. They should create awareness among executives about their personal tendencies (or biases) when interacting with AI. Avoid risk shift and the illusion of control. And embrace team-based decisions.
3 key takeaways from the article
- AI now has a firm footing in organizations’ strategic decision-making processes.
- When AI is used to augment strategy development and decision-making processes, our psychological tendencies and habits determine how we act upon its recommendations.
- A targeted application of AI can de-bias discussions and reduce politics in top management meetings but based on our habitual decision-making styles, the use of algorithms can also lead us astray.
Topics: Artificial Intelligence, Decision-making, Technology & Humans
Four Ways To Be An Impact Player At Your Job
By Rebecca Zucker | Forbes Magazine | November 02, 2021
While much has been said about what leaders need to do to foster environments where people can be their most impactful, what those being led can add to the equation. What people can do to make sure they’re having an impact in their role. When they’re at their best, such employees, who can be referred as “impact players”, stand out and make life easier for everyone around them. Four tips on how you can be one yourself are:
- Step Up. Leaders can’t be everywhere at once, and while we look to them to set the direction, an impact player will be self-managing and able to take the next logical steps in their job without the need for explicit direction at every turn.
- Look at challenges as opportunities (because they are). Impact players see opportunities where others see threats. Seeing an opportunity to create value and jumping on it is something that differentiates the impact player in the eyes of managers. Especially when it comes time to report on this work to the higher-ups; being able to say, “There was an issue, but it’s solved now, and here’s what I did” makes so much more of an impression on a leader than simply bringing the problem to them without a solution. They’ll remember it.
- Don’t do your job, but the one that needs to be done. “There are solid contributors,” that are smart, capable, and hardworking. They do their job well, carry their weight on teams, and it’s normal to think you want a dozen of these kinds of people on your team. But the difference between these people and impact players is that the impact players aren’t just doing their job, they’re doing the job that needs to be done—they’re looking around, sensing, and figuring out what is important to the organization as a whole in a given moment, and doing exactly that.”
- Negotiate the Necessities. When things get tough, impact players finish the job, maintaining ownership of the project or problem rather than kicking it up the chain to become someone else’s problem. They are able to keep ownership by doing what can be referred as negotiating the necessities. Rather than trying to take unrealistic levels of work and stress on without saying a word, impact players have an honest discussion to negotiate the things that they need in order to stay focused on the work and not get caught up in the phantom workload and everything else around them.
3 key takeaways from the article
- While much has been said about what leaders need to do to foster environments where people can be their most impactful, what those being led can add to the equation. What people can do to make sure they’re having an impact in their role.
- When they’re at their best, such employees who can be referred as “impact players”, stand out and make life easier for everyone around them.
- Four tips on how you can be one yourself: step up, look at challenges as opportunities (because they are), don’t do your job, but the one that needs to be done, and negotiate the necessities.
Topics: Personal Development, Career Development
How Top CEOs Perform at the Highest Level — Day After Day
Inc Magazine | November 2021 Issue
Every company approaches leadership differently. Some lean on empathy, others value commanding managers. But one thing the Inc team noticed is that the leadership qualities guiding most of the CEOs of America’s 2021 Best-Led Companies are actually learned behaviors. Which means you can learn them too. These executives have seen strategies work and they’ve watched them fail, but whatever the outcome, they always draw a lesson from the experience. Out of the leadership tactics that have passed the test, again and again, five are:
- Be a Problem Solver. As a leader, anytime if there is a problem that needs a resolution, tackle it immediately. It’s always more efficient to stay on top of things than to play catch-up.
- Give Yourself Some Space. Giving yourself the room to focus on the things that you can control with your skill set, and hiring people with the skillset to help you with the things that you can’t.
- Trust Your Gut. “Of course, experience matters,” And exercise this in decisions e.g., hiring. Hire the person, not the resume: “You can’t read invaluable traits such as passion, commitment, and fearlessness on a piece of paper.”
- Aim High in Everything. Your organization will be much more successful if you drastically narrow your focus, raise your standards, and pick up the pace.
- And Inspire Your People.
2 key takeaways from the article
- Every company approaches leadership differently. But one thing the Inc team noticed is that the leadership qualities guiding most of the CEOs of America’s 2021 Best-Led Companies are actually learned behaviors. Which means you can learn them too.
- These executives have seen strategies work and they’ve watched them fail, but whatever the outcome, they always draw a lesson from the experience. Out of the leadership tactics that have passed the test, again and again, five are: Be a Problem Solver, Give Yourself Some Space, Trust Your Gut, Aim High in Everything, and And Inspire Your People.
Extractive Summary of the Article
Topics: Leadership, Performance
The Íñigo Montoya system: how to introduce yourself to make an impression
By Francisco García Pimentel | Entrepreneur Magazine | October 27, 2021
Most people want to become a great speaker, and that is wonderful. However, being a great speaker is not the most useful communication skill in your personal and professional development. How many times a year do you deliver a great speech? One two? How many times in your whole life? While communication habits are one of the most relevant portable skills in business, there are many other instances in which knowing how to communicate is vital, and which are much more common: they happen almost every day. One of the most common is the presentation or the way we manage to introduce ourselves and connect with a person we just met. It is the first step of the elevator pitch and one of the best ways to create personal and business networks that become effective platforms for growth.
Sometimes we are already there, at the toast, or the congress, or the meal where we specifically go to meet people. But at the crucial moment, we freeze and only talk to those we already know. Do you want to know how to open a conversation with a person you don’t know? So, the author of the article invites us to meet the great Íñigo Montoya.
Íñigo Montoya is a fictional character in one of the most successful films of recent decades: The Princess Bride, and one who has amassed an immense fanbase, which is considered one of the best films in history, with a 98% Tomatometer, and consistently appears on the lists of the best films of the 20th century. In one of the most famous scenes of the saga, the swordsman Íñigo Montoya meets his enemy and, while they face a deadly duel, he repeatedly repeats the same words:
My name is Íñigo Montoya.
You killed my father.
Prepare to die.
Beyond the story and its ending, the phrase is a masterclass in interpersonal communication, and using its structure will allow you to introduce yourself to anyone without a major problem. The structure is simple and consists of four steps:
“Hello” – Say hello simply.
“My name is Íñigo Montoya” – Identify yourself.
“You killed my father” – Indicates a relevant relationship.
“Prepare to die” – Set expectations.
2 key takeaways from the article
- One of the most common communication skills is the presentation or the way we manage to introduce ourselves and connect with a person we just met.
- At the crucial moment, we freeze and only talk to those we already know. One of the effective ways to open a conversation with a person you don’t know is to use the four steps as introduced in the movie Íñigo Montoya. These four steps are: Say hello simply, Identify yourself, Indicates a relevant relationship, and Set expectations.
Topics: Communication, Personal Development, Presentation Skills