The Lead: World’s Biggest Combat Aircraft, Netflix Series, T-Mobile Austria and Customer Data

The Lead, AchieveForum’s weekly brief of leadership news and insights, provides quick clarity into relevant headlines and straight-forward analysis for applying effective leadership tools and techniques.

Bids for the World’s Biggest Combat Aircraft Order

Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin Corp., and Saab AB are bidding for the world’s biggest combat aircraft order in a deal that is likely to be at least $15 billion. The winner’s requirements include being able to deliver the first jet within three years of securing the contract. Boeing will partner with state-run Hindustand Aeronautics Ltd. and Mahindra Defense Systems at a new facility to manufacture the F/A-18 Super Hornet in India.

Our View: Before bids are made for any new project, several behind-the-scenes internal and external negotiations take place. Leaders must avoid common negotiation pitfalls, such as poor planning, underestimating cross-cultural differences, and focusing too much on anchors. Thinking the pie is fixed is another common trap that hinders leaders on both sides of a negotiation from achieving the best outcome. Finally, don’t assume both parties want the exact same thing. Teasing apart the complexities of a negotiation is an art and a science, and proper planning helps you prepare for the unexpected. Further Reading

Netflix’s Sci-Fi Series: Lost in Space

Growing fears about modern technology from artificial intelligence to robotics are perhaps a large part of the fuel for the growing popularity of science fiction television. Lost in Space, a new show on Netflix, is based on a 1960s camp classic about a robot’s interactions with humans. When the show began, it was criticized as being too focused on its family dramatic elements, but it has recently been spending more time on its sci-fi components to better rope in its science fiction fan base.

Our View: Science fiction, and even fiction more generally, provides an excellent case method approach to learning that explores possible futures in life and in business. Fiction can be a lens for robust insights into different types of people’s internal thoughts and decision making processes. This inside perspective from an author’s imagination creates an intensified reality with real life value for planning for the future. Scenario planning requires imagination and articulate data analysis. Proactive leaders not only identify the potential black swans and other possible disruptors, but they also follow the cause and effect trails several steps into the future with clearly articulated plans. Disastrous consequences and adversity make for excellent fiction and storytelling on and off-screen, but real life does not benefit from plot like this. Preparation, though time-intensive, prevents even more difficult and often more stressful and time-sensitive work down the line. Further Reading

T-Mobile Austria Storing Part of Customers’ Passwords in Plaintext

The shocking information that T-Mobile Austria stores part of customers’ passwords in plaintext was revealed by a T-Mobile customer service representative on Twitter. Passwords should be fully encrypted or hashed to make hacking them more challenging, and storing even part of customers’ passwords in plaintext reduces the difficulty of decoding the hashed part and obtaining the whole password. T-Mobile Austria is working to rectify the issue and is taking steps to better secure customer passwords.

Our View: With countless data breaches over the years that have compromised user data, it’s important to follow security best practices. Learn from the mistakes of others and find every opportunity to re-evaluate your own security practices. Here are five questions CEOs and other business leaders should be asking about cybersecurity:

1. Is your board of directors fully engaged in cybersecurity?
2. When did you and your board review your last risk assessment?
3. What makes you a target for attacks?
4. What data is leaving your company and is it secure?
5. Have you provided your security organization all the tools and resources they need to help prevent a security breach?

Further Reading

PNC Planning Expansion

PNC, Pittsburgh’s biggest bank, is planning to expand their middle-market franchise. During a first quarter earnings call, PNC CEO Bill Demchak said they plan to capitalize on brand awareness and execute well against their strategic priorities. They’ve already taken steps over the last two years to expand their middle-market franchise to Dallas, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Denver, Houston, and Nashville, and they will begin the roll-out of their new national retail digital strategy later this year.

Our View: Whether your business is expanding its team, facilities, or offerings, maintaining effective leadership throughout the process is crucial to the success of the business expansion. The first step in the process begins with clear communication about the expansion and reasons behind it. When implementing your plan for expansion, remain flexible and adaptable with the understanding that there are multiple methods to achieve the same desired result. Further Reading

Reviving Pakistan’s Run-down Railways

As part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road trade initiative, Beijing will upgrade a 1,163-miles track from Karachi to Peshawar with an $8 billion loan to Pakistan. Parveen Agha, the secretary of Pakistan Railways, said “this is one of the biggest opportunities for us. This is the upgradation of the entire railway system.”

Our View: Just as our physical infrastructure supports our society with roads, bridges, and electrical grids, our leadership infrastructure supports our businesses with management systems, processes, and skill sets. A strong leadership infrastructure is built with four components: 1) highly skilled and experienced individuals, 2) quality planning and governance processes, 3) action-driven analytics from information gathered externally (about markets, competition, etc.) and internally (about culture and performance levels), and 4) effective cadences for communication among all stakeholders. Further Reading

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