“Sustainability is one of those issues that I am very passionate in, it is linked to my beliefs,” says Zhang Huaying, Coca-Cola’s VP for Sustainability in the Greater China, Korea region. She has been tasked with integrating the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility plans into day-to-day operations, taking it beyond just PR concerns. But how exactly does this work? And how is Coca-Cola’s CSR program structured differently to most companies? In this interview, Zhang talks to CKGSB Knowledge on how Coca-Cola practically implements sustainability programs in China, whether the issue is water sustainability or financial arrangements for helping out with responses to natural disasters.
When was the last time you listened to music on an actual CD? Or read the day’s headlines in a physical newspaper? Chances are it has been years. Digital technology has replaced a lot of things in our lives. According to media futurist Robert Tercek, going forward we’ll see more of ‘vaporization’, a term he has coined to refer to the process of replacing physical things with software that can be downloaded to any device. In this interview, Tercek, the former President of Digital Media at The Oprah Winfrey Network and author of the book Vaporized, talks about how software is disrupting society.
Several Latin American countries suffer from acute income inequalities and extreme poverty. For governments, that poses a tricky question: how to lift hordes of people out of poverty? The Latin American experience shows that well-meaning government initiatives often don’t trickle down all the way to the poorest segments of society. Felipe Perez, professor at INCAE Business School, feels that the best way out of this is to rely on Bottom of the Pyramid initiatives that are seeded by the local population at the grassroots. If this were to happen, people who are part of the problem can also be part of the solution.
Henry Mintzberg was once called the enfant terrible of management thinking. It’s not hard to see why. The author of books like The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning and Strategy Safari, Mintzberg has always put forth radical ideas that sometimes rub people the wrong way: he wrote Managers Not MBAs, a scathing critique of business schools and MBA programs, while working at a business school. More recently, Mintzberg has trained his guns on an unlikely topic: society and politics. His latest book, Rebalancing Society, talks about how dangerous the lack of balance between the public, private and the plural sector (civil society) really is.
Many family businesses don’t last beyond the third generation. As someone wisely put it: “Of shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations”, or wealth gained in one generation will be lost by the third. Yet the Pitcairn family business stands out in sharp contrast to this morose trend. The business has been going strong for more than 100 years and spans five generations and 650 family members. How has the Pitcairn family managed to keep business and ownership separate? How do they keep the family happy and the business well run? Pitcairn Company Chairman Dirk Junge shares some valuable lessons from the Pitcairn experience.
In every country, there are vast populations that need to be educated about something, like say personal health or hygiene, but it’s hard to do that because they are too poor, too busy, too old or just plain shy. The challenge then becomes: how do you reach out to them and achieve the desired outcomes. A concept called ‘embedded education’ can help here. Embedded education, or the practice of educating people through encounters that they already have with existing delivery systems, might just prove to be more effective than traditional mechanisms. So don’t be surprised if your barber starts educating you on hypertension the next time you get a haircut.
Sometimes the biggest obstacle that stands between you and your goal is your wayward mind. You often start something new, but end up not finishing it. Think of the number of times you took a gym membership. Or vowed to eat healthy. Or decided on a career choice. What happened? So why do we deviate from our well-chosen and well-thought out goals? Francesca Gino, a behavioral scientist and the author of Sidetracked, researched this problem and found the psychological drivers behind our inability to stick to a plan of action. In this interview, she suggests ways to identify these drivers—and combat them.
We make assumptions all the time. Think of the time when you met someone new. Or when you had to negotiate a deal with a company. That’s just how our mind works. We only have a certain amount of hours in a day, but we more crucial decisions to make, with more unknowns. And so we start using assumptions as short-cuts in decision making. Andy Cohen, propagator of the ‘Assumpt! Strategy’, believes that assumptions are neither good nor bad. We must acknowledge their existence and learn how to leverage them.
Over the past 30 years Haier CEO Zhang Ruimin has led the company through several path-breaking business model changes, which have helped the company build a strong brand, grow both organically and through acquisitions, globalize and “get close to the customer”. Zhang is now leading the company through yet another transformation to make it what he calls an “internet-based platform company” made up of extremely responsive micro-enterprises. For the closest parallel, think of a Silicon Valley within a company. In this rare interview, he talks about his management philosophy.
Anil K. Gupta, the Michael Dingman Chair in Strategy, Globalization and Entrepreneurship at University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business, questions the logic behind Haier’s giant leap towards its new platform strategy. What’s at stake for Haier if it doesn’t embark upon this ambitious plan? According to Gupta: Haier now faces a major conundrum. Unless the company can find other growth opportunities fast, it faces years of potentially very slow growth. It is in this context that one can understand why CEO Zhang Ruimin has embarked on this new strategy.