from the world's big
When to Mess with Your Bottom Line
Over the past twenty years, Hamel has authored 15 articles for the Harvard Business Review. He has also written for the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, The Financial Times and many other leading publications around the world.
Hamel's books, Leading the Revolution and Competing for the Future, have appeared on every management bestseller list and have been translated into more than 20 languages. His latest book, The Future of Management, was published by the Harvard Business School Press in October 2007 and was selected by Amazon.com as the best business book of the year.
Since 1983, Hamel has been on the faculty of the London Business School where he is currently Visiting Professor of Strategic and International Management.
As a consultant and management educator, Hamel has worked for companies as diverse as General Electric, Time Warner, Nokia, Nestle, Shell, Best Buy, Procter & Gamble, 3M, IBM, and Microsoft. His pioneering concepts such as "strategic intent," "core competence," "industry revolution," and "management innovation" have changed the practice of management in companies around the world.
Hamel speaks frequently at the world's most prestigious management conferences, and is a regular contributor to CNBC, CNN, and other major media outlets. He has also advised government leaders on matters of innovation policy, entrepreneurship and industrial competitiveness.
At present, Hamel is leading an effort to build the world's first "Management Lab." The MLab is a pioneering attempt to create a setting in which progressive companies and world renowned management scholars work together to co-create "tomorrow's best practices" today. The goal: to radically accelerate the evolution of management knowledge and practice.
Topic: Look at data
Gary Hamel: When you're going to cut costs, start with data. Which businesses are under-performing? Which product lines are under-performing? Which people are under-performing?
What I think often happens is that companies hope for some natural process of attrition. Things start to get difficult, they kind of take across the board cuts and that's almost never a good idea. I remember just recently, I was having a conversation with a CFO in a large company and they had a blanket policy that every division, every national organization, was going to have to take down head count by 10 percent. And I said, "This is across the board? No exceptions?" No exceptions, everybody has to do it, it's a mandate.
I said, "Well, surely that can't be the right way to do it." I said, "You know, you have divisions that have great growth prospects, you have others that have grown fat and lazy. Why just do it across the board?" And he said, "Because it's fair." I said, "How is that fair? I mean, you know, some business is already lean, some isn't, how can that possibly be fair?" He thought a minute and he said, "Yeah, you're right, but it's easy."
Well, easy is usually not a good criteria for making a business decision. So the starting approach for any kind of smart cost cutting, is really a very, very careful analysis of what's grown fat, what's grown lazy, where do we have great prospects, where do we don't? But cost cutting should never be uniform and across the board, number one.
Topic: Talk to people
Gary Hamel: Number two, I think in smart cost cutting, you spend a lot of time talking to people about what's happening. Clearly some people are going to have to go. How do you avoid demoralizing all the folks that are left? First you have to be honest about what's changing in the environment. That's not too hard at the moment, most people get that we're in a very, very deep recession. But you also have to have a due process and make sure that in the heat of trying to bring your costs back in line, you're not indiscriminate in how you let people go. That you're taking people one at a time, you're really evaluating their contribution, they understand what it's that person and not the person next door to them that is being asked to leave.
And when you have to cut deep enough so you feel that you're cutting, you know, not kind of the slack, not the B team, but you're cutting people out of the A team, you also want to let people know that you're going to be re-hiring, that you're going to want to re-engage them. But do the whole process in a way where you've not destroyed their loyalty, their emotional connection to the firm. That means explaining why it's happening, being sure that they understand why it's—you know, why certain people not other people, and if you can, giving them at least the hope that there is a re-hire when the economy starts to pick up.
Do all of those things and I think you can get through a lot of the cost cutting, without it undermining the morale in your company, or without finding that you've kind of cut off some of the most valuable people that you've, eaten the seed corn, as it were, inadvertently in the midst of a crisis.
Topic: Know when to hold ‘em
Gary Hamel: So I think you have to be very, very careful in the way you do this and you have to recognize that recessions are temporary. We've come out of every one, you know, during our lifetimes, we're going to come out of this one and what you often find is that the companies that had to cut less deeply, that were able to kind of soldier through, did not lose key resources. Did not bring their key capital projects to halt. Those are the companies that gain market share on the upturn. Because it is really hard to re-hire talented people- it takes a long time to find them, to bring them back on board again, make them productive. It takes time to get those capital projects underway again.
So if you can find ways of cutting less deeply through the depths of the recession, you absolutely have an advantage coming out of the recession. It's also true that, you know, some companies over-hire and I think this is usually kind of a political thing. In most organizations, we measure people's authority and status by the size of their budget and the size of their head count.
There's kind of an imperial instinct that people have, they want bigger teams, more people and so on. And so you have to keep that in check, you know, you have to keep constant attention onto all those key productivity measures and make sure that at no point, as you grow, do those things get significantly out of whack. if you're in a fast growing market, you're a fast growing company, you have to hire a bit above the demand curve, because it takes awhile to bring people on board and get them up to speed.
But you want to watch those ratios very, very carefully. Make sure that they never get out of line, that you at every moment, through the down and the up curve, are paying attention there. If you stop paying attention for a moment, it's very easy for people at all levels of the organizations to pad their teams with more people, to hire a bit indiscriminately and then you suddenly find out that when times are tough again, you have a lot of slack and you're going to have to put the organization through a lot of trauma to get rid of that.
So be careful when you hire. Don't over-hire, but also be careful not to over-cut, because coming out of the recession, the ones that have been able to maintain kind of the employment status, the capital programs, they're going to be the quickest to ramp up growth and grab the market as it emerges, as we come out of the recession.
Recorded on August 15, 2009
Business strategy author Gary Hamel offers tips on how to cleverly cut company costs without jeopardizing your future.
Want help raising your kids? Spend more time at church, says new study.
- Religious people tend to have more children than secular people, but why remains unknown.
- Conversely, having a large secular social group made women less likely to have children.
Be fruitful and multiply<p>Scientists in the United Kingdom collected data on more than 13,000 mothers and their children. Most of them were religious, but 12 percent were not. The data included information on their church habits, social networks, number of children, and the scores those children achieved on a standardized test.</p><p>In line with previous findings that religious women have more children than secular women in industrialized countries, a connection between at least monthly church attendance and fertility was confirmed. However, religious parents showed they could avoid the pitfalls that having more children can bring. </p><p>Typically, more children in a family leads to reduced cognitive ability and height in each <a href="https://academic.oup.com/ije/article/37/6/1408/729795" target="_blank">child</a>. Some studies find that children do less well in school for each <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13524-016-0471-0" target="_blank">additional sibling they have</a>. This makes a kind of intuitive sense, as parents with more children would have to divide their time, energy, and resources among more people as families expand. One would expect that the larger families would also lead to things like lower test scores. </p><p>Despite the expectation, the children of religious parents didn't have lower scores on standardized tests. There were small positive relationships between the size of the mother's social network, the number of co-religionists helping out, and the children's test scores. However, this association was small, didn't show up in all of the testings, and was unrelated to other variables. </p> These effects might be explained by the size and helpfulness of the social networks around the more religious. Women who went to church at least once a month had more extensive social networks than those who never go or who attend yearly. These social networks of co-religious people mean that there are more people to turn to for help with child-rearing, a point also demonstrated in the data. The amount of aid women got from their fellow churchgoers was also associated with a higher fertility rate. <br> <br> Conversely, an extensive social network was associated with fewer children for secular women. This finding is in line with <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1207/s15327957pspr0904_5" target="_blank">previous studies</a> and suggests that the social networks comprised of co-religious individuals differ from those found elsewhere.
So, how quickly should I join a local religious group?<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="6RrmYM8M" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="9eb4740a7d1e10108a75fd2ed627a90f"> <div id="botr_6RrmYM8M_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/6RrmYM8M-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/6RrmYM8M-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/6RrmYM8M-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>The study is not without its faults, and more investigations into the relationship between fertility, childcare, ritual, and social networks are needed.</p><p>These findings all show correlation, not causation. Though it might be said the results point towards causation, various alternative interpretations of the data are apparent. The authors note that most religions are explicitly pro-natal. It is possible that religious women have internalized these values and simply choose to have more children than secular women do.</p><p>This idea is similar to a potential interpretation of why large social networks have the opposite effect for secular women. The authors suggest that, in some cases, these more extensive social networks are associated with work and exert an anti-natal influence. Again, the people who build such networks may be people unlikely to have large families under any circumstances.</p><p>However, the researchers' hypothesis endured. The help religious women get from their church-based social networks allows them to have larger families than those who lack these support systems. In some instances, these support systems also prevent the adverse effects of larger families. </p>
The community religion offers<p>As we've mentioned <a href="https://bigthink.com/culture-religion/what-is-secular-humanism" target="_blank">before</a>, religion offers a community, and a community provides social capital. As religion continues to decline in the West, the social bonds of faith communities that used to tie social communities together begin to decay. However, as has been noted by a variety of observers for the last few decades, fewer and fewer new organizations appear ready to replace religion as a source of community in our lives.</p><p>While many different organizations might offer social support that religion once provided the whole of western society, this study shows that different social circles can differently affect the people in them. This finding must be considered by those trying to find new communities to join or the authors of future research. </p><p>The community offered by religious groups provides real benefits to those who join them. As this study shows, having the support network religious community offers allows some parents to avoid pitfalls that bedevil those lacking similar support. It suggests that previous studies demonstrating that group ritual offers benefits like increased amounts of <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0956797612472910" target="_blank">group trust</a> and <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1069397103037002003" target="_blank">cooperation</a> are onto something and that those benefits have a variety of applications. </p><p>While this study is not without its blind spots, it offers a strong starting point for further investigations into the nature of ritual in our modern lives and how local support networks remain vital in our increasingly globalized world. </p>
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
A neuroscientist argues that da Vinci shared a disorder with Picasso and Rembrandt.
The study<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODc3Mjc2NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTA4MDg2NH0.T-98YvLjS9mUCQkgqHyV43Q7h_JIiubrev-Fp_0j4Pg/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C38%2C0%2C579&height=700" id="58346" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="674799ba34e115a2e9a3e94c366bfc26" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Vitruvian Man, by Leonardo da Vinci created c. 1480–1490<p><a href="https://www.city.ac.uk/people/academics/christopher-tyler" target="_blank">Professor Christopher Tyler</a> of the City University of London's optometry division analyzed six pieces of Renaissance art by or held to be images of Da Vinci, including the famous <em>Vitruvian Man. </em>By looking at the paintings, drawings, and statues and applying the same techniques optometrists use on patients, Tyler was able to conclude that the eyes of the men depicted were misaligned.</p><p> He concluded that, if the images he analyzed were truly reflective of how Da Vinci looked, that the great artist had a mild case of exotropia. </p>
How would this have helped him paint?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b221010aa7688734d4d6a41f0df5933f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/j6F-sHhmfrY?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><a href="https://shileyeye.ucsd.edu/faculty/shira-robbins" target="_blank">Shira Robbins</a>, a professor of ophthalmology at the University of California at San Diego, who was not involved with the project, explained to <em><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/10/19/leonardo-da-vincis-genius-may-be-rooted-in-a-common-eye-disorder-new-study-says/?utm_term=.d3f44ed91c16" target="_blank">The Washington Post</a> </em>how individuals with exotropia often turn to additional information to help understand the world around them:</p><blockquote>"What happens in some people is when they're only using one eye . . . they develop other cues besides traditional depth perception to understand where things are in space, looking at color and shadow in a way that most of us who use both eyes at a time don't really appreciate." </blockquote><p>Dr. Robbins agrees that, if the artworks analyzed accurately depict Da Vinci, then he probably had exotropia.</p><p>If Da Vinci did have a mild form of the condition, which would allow him to focus with both eyes when concentrating and with one when relaxed, Tyler asserts that the famed artist could have viewed the world in two or three dimensions at will, showing him the world exactly as he would need to recreate it on a flat surface. Quite the superpower for an artist.</p>
Does this mean Da Vinci would have been a hack if he had normal eyesight?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODc3MjY5NS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMjYwOTgxOH0.eSu3YBpCuaDj59-4lzSeZ1WgwtV2ETGiWHqczzW3how/img.png?width=980" id="9c323" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="edd4e9e9d9c1156a53242df6288d7cc0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
How can we know this? He has been dead for five hundred years.<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c26fc51b0aebbcd6905593015fec79e5"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/LRAptNtN9-A?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>There are reasons to be cautious anytime we make claims about people who are long dead. In this case, we have the bonus problem that we aren't 100 percent sure that the images used are supposed to look like Da Vinci. </p><p> That is the major caveat of the idea; all of the images used as evidence of his condition are assumed to look like him. While some of the images, like the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_(Verrocchio)" target="_blank"><em>David</em> by Andrea del Verrocchio</a>, are generally agreed to be based on Leonardo the other pictures are claimed to be reflective of him based only on his statement that "[The soul] guides the painter's arm and makes him reproduce himself, since it appears to the soul that this is the best way to represent a human being." </p><p>Tyler also argues that the portraits he claims are based on Da Vinci share similarities with the images generally accepted to be portraits of him; including similar hair and facial features. This lends weight to the idea that the artist incorporated his own traits into his artwork, including his vision problem. </p><p>Leonardo da Vinci was undoubtedly one of the greatest geniuses of all time. If he had exotropia, then it was merely a minor addition to his artistic skills. It does, however, give us a literal example of how people who look at the world differently can use that vantage point to their advantage to create things we all can appreciate. </p>
The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.