Happy holidays! This is SmartBrief's last publication for 2019. To close out the year, we have selected in this issue the most-read stories that have caught readers' attention since we started publishing. We are always open to your ideas about the type of content you want to see. Hope you enjoy this special edition and we look forward to keeping you smart in 2020!
Companies should treat corporate social responsibility as a strategy that affects the entire business, says business professor C. B. Bhattacharya. "Relegating it to one unit and producing a sustainability report noting all you've done as a company and showing yourself as a good corporate citizen is not sufficient," he says.
The most effective digital transformation teams have members with strengths in process, technology and business, Stephanie Overby writes. Teams should look for someone who is a change advocate, someone with human-centric design expertise, a "critical hacker" and five other specific roles, experts say.
Today's CEOs are expected to meet the needs of employees, customers and communities amid a shift away from a primary focus on shareholders, Rick Wartzman writes. "[W]hen you raise your eyes a little and recognize that most companies and nations survive on people making and spending money, you realize that you're part of an interconnected system," says Ajay Banga, CEO of Mastercard.
Change management involves understanding emotions along with structural and process changes, writes strategic organizational adviser Dave Coffaro, who offers five tips for influencing people. "Team members need an extraordinary level of information, in small, digestible servings, to stay connected to the change story," he argues.
Organizations must be vigilant about detecting risk, decisive and prepared to execute amid technological disruptions and changes to markets, writes Irving Wladawsky-Berger, who cites work by Leo Tilman and Charles Jacoby. A mindset grounded in agility must become "mission-critical priority," Tilman and Jacoby advise.
A three-part process that begins with prototyping is helpful to organizations applying agile methodologies while handling multiple demands, write Patricia Guinan, Salvatore Parise and Robert Maguire. A second testing stage involves the decision on how to refine the project, with the third stage designated for seeking additional resources.
Boards must recognize and handle the hazards environmental, social and governance matters pose, write Veena Ramani and Hannah Saltman. "Boards that take proactive steps to identify, assess, and adapt will create resilient, long-term value for their shareholders and stakeholders," they write.
Companies with strong branding face less industry volatility and are more appealing to risk-averse investors, Susan Avarde writes. Performing well on environmental, social and governance factors feeds into branding perceptions, she writes.
Jeffrey Gitterman discusses the past three years after his firm decided to commit all investing decisions related to its $120 million to ESG. Gitterman notes that it is "pretty telling" if company he's considering investing in does not have an ESG team and he emphasizes the importance of due diligence.
Middle management is where digital transformation succeeds or fails, and the challenges are largely cultural, such as overcoming negative stereotypes about this cohort and successfully unlocking its ability to manage change and connect with workers at all levels, write Carol Stubbings, Darren Homer and John Francis of PwC UK. Communication remains a problem: "In a recent PwC survey of CEOs and HR managers, 55 percent of respondents said they had not taken action to create a clear narrative about the future of their workforce and automation."
The intelligent use of data in business strategies is what will help set companies apart in modern commerce, states GSK executive Kurt Kendall. "Companies that are winning have the courage to move quickly, adapt to the continually changing competitive and consumer landscape, and be prepared to build for the future," he says.
The next generation of connectivity, 5G, is likely to be a major industry disrupter as it will power everything from autonomous vehicles to factory robots, Kevin Dupzyk writes. Dupzyk notes that even agriculture will see paradigm shifts as sensors and AI help to remove much of the mystery behind such factors as weather patterns and livestock wellness.
Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.
Hal Borland, writer, journalist, naturalist
This content is sponsored by Philip Morris International but is subject to the sole and exclusive editorial control of SmartBrief. Therefore, the views expressed do not represent the views of Philip Morris International.