The Lead: TikTok, Innovative Waste Management, US Farm Debt

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.


TikTok, a social video app gaining the attention of Facebook, just passed 1 billion installs on the App Store and Google Play. Sensor Tower, an analyst group that focuses on the mobile market, reported that “approximately 663 million of these installs occurred in 2018. To put this into perspective, the Facebook app was installed an estimated 711 million times last year and Instagram saw about 444 million new downloads.” The 1 billion download figure does not include the number of downloads the app has received on Android in China. TikTok’s settlement with the FTC is also making headlines, as they paid a record $5.7 million to the FTC in a children’s online privacy case. TikTok reportedly failed to seek out parental consent before collecting data from underage kids using their app.

Our View: Leading in the digital age brings a wide variety of new safety and privacy concerns. Both security and privacy are important issues for systems, organizations, and individuals. While innovations in technology continue to add convenience, productivity, entertainment, and ease to our daily lives, they are also addictive which can lead to significant blind spots into their risks. Find ways to encourage greater collaboration of security and privacy professionals. Further Reading

Innovative Waste Management

Professor Veena Sahajwalla from the Centre for Sustainable Materials Research & Technology (SMaRT) is leading a new $1.5 million network designed to drive waste innovation in New South Wales, Australia. The new technology will help convert old clothing into building materials and help lead the shift toward more sustainable supply chains in governments.

Our View: Waste management isn’t the only industry ripe for sustainability initiatives, and every business leader can work to grow their sustainability competencies. Sustainability leadership requires systems thinking, sustainability literacy, and social innovation. Sustainability leaders value their work as part of a larger purpose, and they are willing collaborate with entities beyond businesses. Further Reading

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U.S. Farm Debt

The amount of debt held by America’s farmers has increased significantly to the levels reached in the 1980s. The strain on the U.S. farm belt is comparable to the agricultural crisis of three decades ago and is due to lingering weakness in commodity prices, storms damaging crops, and loss of key export markets such as China. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said “farm debt has been rising more rapidly over the last five years, increasing by 30 percent since 2013 – up from $315 billion to $409 billion, according to USDA data, and up from $385 billion in just the last year – to levels seen in the 1980s.”

Our View: The challenges facing U.S. farmers are worth the attention of all business leaders as U.S. farming makes important contributions to the economy as a whole. Solutions to revitalize rural economies and uphold American energy security can be complex and difficult to implement. Leaders handle complexity well when they really listen and are accessible to their team. Further Reading

Related AchieveForum content: Leading Complex Decisions, Leading Innovation

Social Media Tax

Social media everywhere can be taxing on time, focus, and energy, but an actual monetary tax is being enforced on social media in Uganda. The tax resulted in millions of people in Uganda leaving social media. Human rights experts said that the statistics on internet use are concerning and the real effect of the tax on civic engagement and freedom of speech remains to be fully understood.

Our View: While a lot of research explores the positive impact good leadership has on team performance, it is equally important to understand the negative consequences that bad leadership imposes. Bad leaders negatively impact individual employee development and team performance as a whole. The culture suffers, and turnover at all levels increases. A leader’s actions can’t always be identified as “good” or “bad,” but proper vetting during the hiring process can help select leaders whose values align with the organization. Further Reading

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Southwest’s FAA Approval to Fly to Hawaii

A big part of Southwest Airline’s growth plan is to add flights to Hawaii, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently approved the low-cost airline to fly to the islands from the West Coast. The new service offering could make Hawaiian vacations cheaper: University of Virginia researchers reported that in markets where Southwest has nonstop service, average one-way fares are $45 lower than in cities without those routes.

Our View: Business leaders who anticipate changes in the competitive landscape have more insight into the effects of their pricing strategy and are better able to adapt to change at a quicker pace. Pricing decisions that are competitive and timely must also be backed with value. Understand what people are willing to pay for speed and quality. Further Reading

Related AchieveForum content: Leading Innovation, Accelerating Strategic Initiatives

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