Welcome to The Lead, AchieveForum’s weekly brief of leadership news and insights. This curated content will provide you with quick clarity into relevant headlines and provide straight-forward analysis for applying effective leadership tools and techniques.
Education around the globe is shifting from teaching students to remember information to developing their critical thinking skill set. Robotics competitions are emerging in India, including the World Robotic Olympiad, chapters of the Technician competition, and the MakeX Robotics competition. These competitions spark excitement around building skills needed in the 21st century, such as digital literacy, self-confidence, creative problem solving, and perhaps the most important skills: collaboration and teamwork.
Our View: As vast amounts of information is readily available at our fingertips, education becomes less about dispensing information to memorize and more about teaching students how to synthesize it to make good decisions. Businesses and educational systems struggle to exactly define critical thinking, but George Anders, a former writer for the Wall Street Journal and author of The Surprising Power of a ‘Useless’ Liberal Arts Education built a list of critical thinking sub-skills to help clarify the nebulous term. The sub-skills are the willingness to work in uncharted areas, expert decision making, a consistent ability to read the room, persuasive communication, and analytical skills that yield meaningful insights. Further Reading
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Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize. The award honors his political reforms and peace talks ending the 20-year border dispute with neighbor Eritrea after a 20-year war that included more than 80,000 deaths during two years of border violence. The Norwegian Nobel Committee says it hopes that the award will further advance Ahmed’s work for peace.
Our View: Awards and recognition may be some of the simplest corporate tools to boost employee morale. Recognition should be personal, timely, and fun. It doesn’t need to be expensive or complex. Handwritten notes that are specific and genuine are a great way to show appreciation. Recognize your employees and build trust by consistently sharing as much information as possible. Sam Walton explained “The more they know, the more they’ll understand. The more they understand, the more they’ll care. Once they care, there’s no stopping them. If you don’t trust your associates to know what’s going on, they’ll know you really don’t consider them partners.” Further Reading
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Tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong pleaded for American lawmakers to pass a bill named the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act which supports pro-democracy activists in the former British colony that is now ruled by China. The legislation has bipartisan support in Washington, and it would require an annual review of Hong Kong’s special treatment by the U.S. and allow sanctions against anyone “suppressing basic freedoms” in the Asian financial hub.
Our View: Complex negotiations with multiple stakeholders requires that all parties do their due diligence and are flexible and open to new ideas as interests evolve. Furthermore, these complex negotiations usually don’t end when a deal is signed as the relationship between all parties continues to require attention throughout the lifecycle of the agreement. All parties must be committed to a better outcome because of the sheer amount work required to get the details right that are often both complex and technical. Further Reading
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BuyerQuest, a cloud platform for buying at work, is improving the corporate B2B procurement experience and integrating its procure-to-pay technology solutions into Amazon Business. Earlier this year, BuyerQuest started an accounts receivable solution, “Speed To Payment,” to accelerate invoice payments to suppliers selling to businesses using BuyerQuest to procure goods, and they also collaborated with Tradeshift, allowing companies using the Tradeshift App platform to access BuyerQuests’s integrated services.
Our View: Leading world-class digital transformation boils down to investing in the strategic capabilities of procurement partners and finding, retaining, and training top human capital. A report from The Hackett Group, World-Class Procurement: Redefining Performance in a Digital Era, lists these important action items for most procurement departments:
- Review objectives and improve where necessary.
- Make other departments and levels of management the center of service design.
- Leverage digital technology to improve productivity and the customer experience.
- Create analytics capabilities.
- Develop procurement’s data savviness and business acumen. Further Reading
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Like many countries throughout the world, Australia struggles with putting money for health care where it’s most beneficial to consumers and citizens. An obvious inefficiency in Australia’s health system is the lack of integration between the public and private healthcare sectors. In ten years (from 2006-07 and 2016-17) the amount Australia spent on health care nearly doubled, and that figure is expected to more than double again by 2055. Proposed reforms include increasing government spending on preventative and planning measures to reduce the risk of health problems becoming chronic and more expensive later in life. Additionally, healthier employees have a better experience in the workforce which has productivity effects on a country’s economy overall.
Our View: Inefficiencies in small processes, not just the macro ones, can significantly hurt business outcomes and undermine strategic objectives. Leaders must develop new ways of working that leverage horizontal workflows. Build horizontal and cross-functional structures into your organization to maximize the use of technology and vast amounts of information. Robert Herres, chairman and CEO of United Services Automobile Association (USAA), said “Technology also forced us to think about how and where our processes intersect. Alignment across businesses is critical for us because our goal is to exploit the efficiencies of centralized information management while we decentralize service delivery.” Process improvement must occur at all levels of an organization, and paying special attention to small details and processes is critical because it is where many inefficiencies reside. Further Reading