The Lead: Imagining Facial Recognition, Boosting Digital Services

Apple and the Future of Facial Recognition

Last week Apple announced their new line of products, including their iPhone X which unlocks for its users with a facial recognition tool called Face ID. Face ID maps the depth of faces and has the ability to adapt when a user changes hairstyle or puts on glasses. Other facial recognition products on the market (besides Face ID) have relied on a single camera and can be fooled with a photograph of the user. Investors have bet on Apple’s compelling technology and have sent the company’s stock up 39% this year.

Our View: Innovation is a key ingredient to staying competitive. Leaders that develop an innovation mentality see opportunity in everything. No matter what organization they work for, they live with an entrepreneurial spirit and are passionate about the work they pursue. They plan for the unexpected and work with a generous purpose.
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Volvo’s Acquisition to Boost Digital Services

Volvo recently acquired Luxe, a car valet and concierge startup, in order to boost their mobility and digital customer experience. Luxe’s CEO and co-founder Curtis Lee who will become VP of digital for Volvo Cars says, “working at Volvo gives us scale, resources, and access to a global company that is committed to the future.”

Our View: Mergers and acquisitions are almost always joined by a variety of difficulties no matter how agreeable the initial plans seem, and thoughtful leadership actions must be taken to overcome these challenges. Listening to employees is a great first step, but only if that’s paired with acting on what is heard. Regular and frequent communication that engages employees can make an otherwise problematic acquisition run smoothly. Being transparent with employees about the structure of the new organization helps develop an effective shared culture.
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How the Internet Continued to Work through Two Hurricanes

The internet and the cloud require an expansive physical, industrial infrastructure that consists of data centers linked through a wide network of fiber optics. Servers at these facilities cannot function without electricity and cooling for even a fraction of a second, and while millions of people lost power in the hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the internet and the cloud continued to work. Backup generators worked diligently, as the facilities had measures in place to withstand external disasters.

Our View: Scenario planning is an excellent way to ensure that communication networks are ready and that leaders have clarity on their professional accountabilities to not only mitigate risk, but also capture value from scenarios that are beyond the company’s control.
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Nestle Gambles on Small Hipster Coffee Brand

Global giants like Nestle, Unilever, and L’Oreal are increasingly acquiring small labels with organic, hipster, or ethical credentials. A recent example is Nestle’s purchase of a majority stake of Blue Bottle Coffee. Nestle’s challenge will be to maintain the core values of Blue Bottle Coffee that attracted consumers to the product initially.

Our View: It is possible for small companies to maintain their culture and core values after being acquired by a big company if they make sure it’s part of the conversation from the beginning. Ongoing communication in combination with clear expectations help the organizations’ relationship thrive.
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Experiencing Art Connects People to Something Larger

Scientists are beginning to understand how and why our brains perceive and produce art. Neuroscience shows that experiencing art connects people to something larger. Social connection is an important function of the brain, and seeing a live performance provides viewers with a neural rush. Our brains like to share emotions with others. It helps us develop meaning.

Our View: “Every leader is an artist” claims Drs. Michael O’Malley and William Baker. Like a painter, dancer, or musician, leaders can increase their aptitudes with practice and dedication. Observation alone doesn’t translate into ability, and all artists must put in the work to achieve results.
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