What we're reading this month.
Harvard Business Review
How your workplace is laid out can affect productivity, collaboration and innovation in surprising ways.
In the October 2014 issue of Harvard Business Review, Christine Congdon, Donna Flynn and Melanie Redman delve into the benefits, and failings, of the open-plan office.
They reveal that while it can foster collaboration and nurture a corporate culture, the open-plan layout hinders privacy and contemplation, which are essential for both innovation and mental health.
In an era of mobile devices and 24/7 availability, privacy is also about an individual’s ability to control information and stimulation. So what works best?
While perceptions of privacy and adequate personal space vary across cultures, the authors argue that the most successful work environments provide a range of open and shielded spaces so people can choose where and how they get their jobs done.
In a related article, “Workspaces That Move People”, Ben Waber, Jennifer Magnolfi and Greg Lindsay examine if work areas that allow employees from different areas to “collide” – for example, chatting in line at the canteen or taking a break in an outdoor space – really benefit an organisation or if it’s simply another management fad.
From their data they conclude that face-to-face interactions are by far the most important activity in an office. And having greater opportunities for chance encounters between workers, both inside and outside the organisation, clearly improves performance.
Also in this issue, Mitchell Lee Marks, Philip Mirvis and Ron Ashkenas look at “Rebounding from Career Setbacks”.
They say that people who successfully rebound from career losses make a conscious effort to determine why they lost out.
Instead of getting mired in grief, they identify which new paths they could take, whether it’s a different role in the same organisation, a move to a new company, or a shift to a new industry or career.
The article offers practical ways to transform the anger and self-doubt that can follow a failure into focused exploration and excitement about fresh possibilities. There is a link to a self-assessment
test to gauge your ability to rebound from career setbacks.
On the topic of innovation, marketing professor Stefan Michel offers a novel guide to how organisations can capture more value (or in plain English, make more money) from their innovations.
He argues that capturing value is an often neglected part of the innovation process, and shows how new price-setting mechanisms and customer segmentation methods can boost profits.
On a similar theme, in a video on the HBR site, entrepreneurship professor Nathan Furr looks at what lessons corporations can learn from start-up companies in capturing value, and at how uncertainty can be turned into a means to drive positive change.
Harvard Business Review can be accessed at hbr.org/magazine
The rise of e-money such as digicash and bitcoin presents challenges for financial system integrity, according to Victor Dostov and Pavel Shust in their article “Cryptocurrencies: an unconventional challenge?” (Journal of Financial Crime, volume 21, issue 3).
E-money is not yet widely used but it is likely to grow, so regulators should start thinking about it now, to pre-empt problems rather than try to fix them after a disaster.
The Socially Sorted site was recently named as Best Business Blog by the Australian Writers’ Centre.
It is the creation of Donna Moritz, a social media strategist and visual marketing specialist based in Queensland.
Many of her articles deal with integrating arresting visuals and infographics into promotional campaigns to grab attention and get more traction.
The post about Instagram apps is especially interesting.
Table Group is headed by Patrick Lencioni, who is known for his business books including The Advantage, Death by Meeting, and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.
Most of his blog posts delve into his themes of organisational health and workplace relations.
In other hands, articles on determining the appropriate pace of growth for your company or relating available funds to present and future commitments could be pretty dry stuff, but Lencioni makes it interesting and informative, with a dash of humour.
This magazine-style blog, based in New Zealand, has many different contributors and covers topics such as marketing, sales, innovation, finance, social media and management.
The “New Zealand” tab leads you to posts that look at business issues within New Zealand as well as providing a Kiwi perspective on global topics.
This site, run by Australia’s Office of Best Practice Regulation, lists all regulatory proposals put forward by the Australian Government, COAG and Ministerial Councils that require the preparation of a Regulation Impact Statement.
It is a large site but the navigation tools and categorisation are clear and useful.
There is a mechanism for interested parties to post comments against regulatory proposals and a subscription tool so you can be notified when new items in a particular area are published.
The Melbourne Business School (MBS), part of the University of Melbourne, is one of Australia’s leading educational facilities, and this site gives a good overview of the programs available.
The MBS also produces an impressive body of research.
Recent articles on the pay differentials between men and women in large companies, and on the reasons for women leaving the workforce, are of particular interest.
South-East Asia Real Time is part of the Wall Street Journal group and combines good analysis with up-to-the-minute news on politics and business in the ASEAN area.
Understandably, a current focus is the new government in Indonesia although there is also an ongoing round-up of events from across the region.
This article is from the November 2014 issue of INTHEBLACK.