Recent Posts


TRUSTe's 2014 US Customer Confidence Privacy Report

04-09-2014 12:57 PM with no comments

According to TRUSTe's 2014 US Customer Confidence Privacy Report, 92 percent of American Internet users say they worry about their privacy online.  Surprisingly, they're far more concerned about how businesses handle their personal information than with the government spying on citizens.

In this survey, 89 percent said they avoid companies they do not trust to protect their privacy.

Besides having strong data protection measures and privacy policies in place, how can managers insure that the business comes across as more trustworthy?

How can businesses and employees show respect in other areas?

[The TRUSTe survey: ]

Posted by Gemmy Allen

Taco Bell Breakfast Menu Competes with McDonald’s

04-08-2014 4:33 PM with no comments

Every business plan includes a competitive analysis. When evaluating competitors, companies may identify their competitors, name their products and services, determine market share, and analyze the promotion mix.

It seems that Taco Bell compared its breakfast products with those of its largest competitor, McDonald’s. Popular breakfast items offered by McDonald’s include the Egg McMuffin, biscuits, pancakes, oatmeal, and the option to substitute egg whites in breakfast sandwiches. Taco Bell offers the A.M. Crunchwrap (burrito), Cinnabon Delights, a grilled taco, and the waffle taco.

“We’re just getting started with breakfast,” said Chris Brandt, Taco Bell’s chief marketing officer. “The overarching strategy here is to break up the routine. We saw out there a sea of sameness in terms of breakfast. We think we have some truly unique items. … We feel like we offer a great alternative for people to try something new.” 

Taco Bell has developed two ads to directly compete with McDonald’s. In the first ad, several men named Ronald McDonald say that they prefer breakfast at Taco Bell. In response, McDonald’s tweeted an image of its clown, Ronald McDonald, petting a Chihuahua with the comment, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” (The Chihuahua is Taco Bell’s retired mascot.)

The second ad, below, is set to the tune Old McDonald Had a Farm and shows a man stuck in the past eating Egg McMuffins. But, after eating Taco Bell’s breakfast, he trims his hair (mullet style), changes to tighter pants, gets a smartphone, and takes down his poster. In response, McDonald’s tweeted that Mayor McCheese had declared that Ronald prefers McDonald’s.

Do you think of Taco Bell as a place to get breakfast?

What are the risks for Taco Bell directly attacking McDonald's?

What do you think about the Twitter responses from McDonald's?

Posted by Gemmy Allen

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How Women and Men Use Social Media and Mobile

04-08-2014 10:30 AM with no comments

The inforgraphic above gives us insight into gender differences in the use of social media and mobile.

How has using your smartphone changed you? What do you differently now than you did before owning a smartphone? Could you give up your smartphone? Explain.

How can knowledge of social media and mobile use give managers insights about customers and employees?

Posted by Gemmy Allen

Jeff Bezos on Regret Minimization

04-06-2014 5:51 PM with no comments

When Jeff Bezos was trying to decide whether to start Amazon or to stay with his Wall Street job, he created his "Regret Minimization Framework" to use for making the decision. Basically, he decided to start now to avoid regret later.

The fear of regret helped Bezos to decide to start Amazon. What might you regret when you look back on your life at age 80? How might the "Regret Minimization Framework" help you to make management decisions?

Posted by Gemmy Allen

Blog More, Facebook Less

04-05-2014 3:21 PM with no comments

Derek Muller, author the science video blog Veritasium, has 118,000 Facebook fans, but his posts go to a small fraction of them. His video below, called The Problem with Facebook, has gotten more than 9,000 comments, many from angry Facebook users. 

Many small business managers think that they only need a Facebook page. But, Mr. Muller does not agree. Another blogger, Ryan Hanley writes"You don't own the media unless you own the property. It's that simple. Everything else you create everywhere else can be taken away from you."

Does every business need a Website to communicate with customers? If not, how will they share their story, answer questions, and be a resource for customers, potential customers, clients, and employees?

If you go to work for a small business and it only has a Facebook page, what would you recommend?


Posted by Gemmy Allen

Lufthansa CEO Dr. Christoph Franz Apologizes for Strike

04-04-2014 6:36 PM with no comments

Lufthansa CEO Christoph Franz offered an apology to customers affected by a strike called by the airline's pilots. “You’re Lufthansa customers – you rely on the excellent, safe, customer-oriented service of Lufthansa every day, 365 days a year. The next three days unfortunately, Lufthansa will not be able to provide you the service you are used to because our pilots will be on strike,” said Mr. Franz. Chase Gummer of The Wall Street Journal reported, “This is the first time that the CEO of a big German corporate has gone before the cameras himself,” said social media consultant Thomas Knüwer. “It’s certainly a sign that German industry is beginning to understand the Internet.”

If you were a frustrated customer of Lufthansa, would the video help Lufthansa's relationship with you?

If you were a manager, would you post an apology to customers? Is this the right way to communicate with customers? Explain.

Posted by Gemmy Allen

Food Service Executives Share Best Career Advice

04-01-2014 12:39 PM with no comments

At the Women's Foodservice Forum's (WFF) 2014 Annual Leadership Development Conference, National Restaurant News (NRN) asked three foodservice executives to share the best career advice they've received.

The leaders shared "be an authentic leader," have self confidence, do your best, build competence, "take care of the people around you and focus on the business, then the people in the business will take care of you."

What goals do you have for yourself?

How do you plan to accomplish those goals?

Posted by Gemmy Allen

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Job Automation May Threaten Half of U.S. Workforce

03-30-2014 3:42 PM with no comments

Bloomberg reports that mobile robots and ‘smart’ computers – that learn on the job – make it likely the occupations employing about half of today’s U.S. workers could be possible to automate in the next decade or two. (Research is from an Oxford University study that estimated the probability of computerization of more than 700 occupations.)

Occupations Ranked According to their Probability of Automation

  • 98% - Loan Officers 
  • 96% - Receptionists and Information Clerks 
  • 94% - Paralegals and Legal Assistants 
  • 92% - Retail Salespersons 
  • 91% - Medical Records Technicians 
  • 89% - Tami Drivers and Chauffeurs 
  • 84% - Security Guards 
  • 81% - Cooks, Fast Food; Medical Secretaries 
  • 77% - Bartenders 
  • 58% - Personal Financial Advisers 
  • 48% - Computer Programmers 
  • 20% - Epidemiologists 
  • 11% - Reporters and Correspondents 
  • 7.4% - Musicians and Singers 
  • 3.5% - Lawyers 
  • 0.4% - Elementary School Teachers 
  • 0.4% - Physicians and Surgeons; Dietitians 

Bottlenecks to Computers: Machines are unable to match humans in tasks that require social and creative skills and in jobs that require dexterity or getting into cramped spaces. Some examples of occupations that have low probabilities of automation in the near future:

  1. Manipulation – Oral surgeons 0.35%; Makeup artists 1%; Chiropractors 2.7%; Fire fighters 17% 
  2. Creativity – Choreographers 0.4%; Curators 0.7%; Art directors 2.3% 
  3. Social Perception – Mental health workers 0.3%; Clergy 0.8%; Nurses 0.9%; Coaches and scouts 1.3% 
The Oxford University study says that Chief Executives are not "computerizable." (See the Appendix.) Why do you think machines are unable to match Chief Executive tasks?

Posted by Gemmy Allen

How Great Leaders Inspire

03-29-2014 10:06 PM with no comments

Simon Sinek uses a golden circle to explain inspirational leadership. The outside circle is "What?". The next circle is "How?". The inside circle is "Why?". He says that people don't buy what you do or how you do it. They buy why you do it. As a manager, you must know why you do what you do.

Think about a company you'd like to work for. Do you know your WHY?

How can managers inspire cooperation, trust, and change?

Posted by Gemmy Allen

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Post-it Notes and Evernote are Tools for Innovation

03-28-2014 5:24 PM with no comments

Dr. Spencer Silver, a 3M scientist, discovered Post-it Notes more than 40 years ago. Now, paper and technology are joined. In the video above, Evernote shows you how to capture your Post-it® Notes into Evernote, then save, tag, search, and sync them across all of your devices.

David Lavenda reports for Fast Company and has written "How the Post-it Note Could Become the Latest Innovation Technology." In the article,  IDEO CEO Tim Brown says that Post-it Notes are good for brainstorming. "Specifically, Brown proposes brainstorming sessions, during which each idea is written on a single Post-it Note and then stuck to a wall. Then, each participant is given a stack of Post-it Notes and told to stick a note on each idea they like. The ideas that accumulate the most Post-it votes progress to the next stage. This process continues until consensus emerges." You can find more ideas at 3M's Post-it Collaboration Central

Mr. Lavenda says, "Paper affords free-form annotation, so marking up ideas with a pen or marker is simple. Paper also affords following a history of ideas, since one note can be laid directly on top of another."

How do you use Post-it Notes?

Can the Post-it Notes go completely digital? 

Posted by Gemmy Allen

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Management by the Numbers

03-27-2014 11:20 AM with no comments

Management has been more of an art than a science, but management is getting more scientific. People analytics helps eliminate biases in important areas such as recruitment, says Wharton's Cade Massey. Read the full story:

It is common for companies to use the selection process to hire employees. They recruit by posting a job on their website. The manager looks at all the resumes received to determine the most qualified people, calls them for an interview, and then selects the best person for the job. Using people analytics, Dr. Massey explains that this process would change. "Instead of interviewing them, we would look at their characteristics from their application and ask: What is the relationship between these observables and long-term performance?" He goes on to explain why people analytics should be used. "But the idea is that we can improve, we can do better, we can be more accurate by adding some analysis to the intuition of the people who are making the decisions."

What are some specific business examples discussed in this video?

Besides the selection process, how might people analytics be used to evaluate performance of individuals and teams?


Posted by Gemmy Allen

Likeability Matters at Work

03-26-2014 8:35 PM with no comments

In the above video, author Tim Sanders says that he wants to change your life. His book, "The Likeability Factor," is summarized in the attached file. The author says, "the more you are liked – or the higher your likeability factor – the happier your life will be." His book explains how to raise your likeability factor.

Recently, Mr. Sanders discussed with Sue Shellenbarger of the Wall Street Journal tips on using videoconferencing and social media at work. Ms. Shellenbarger reports, "The ability to come across as likable is shaping how people are sized up and treated by bosses and co-workers."

 Ms. Shellenbarger's research suggests that you can increase your likeability through the following behaviors.

  • Authenticity | To be more likable, behave in a way that feels natural and comfortable, rather than stiff or self-absorbed.
  • Curiosity | Show interest in others, make eye contact and ask questions about others' opinions and activities.
  • Expressiveness | Vary tones of voice and smile, and show enthusiasm about what you're saying—even more so in a videoconference.
  • Listening | Focus on what others are saying and show that you are listening carefully, rather than getting distracted.
  • Mimicry | Mirror the expressions or posture of the person you are talking to, in order to create a sense of familiarity.
  • Similarity | Actively try to find topics of interest you share with a listener, rather than talking only about what interests you.

Which of the likeability behaviors do you use? Which ones do you need to learn?

Posted by Gemmy Allen

How Millennials and Their Managers Compare in Communicating

03-25-2014 12:40 PM with no comments

Sometimes the job skills gap refers to soft skills: communication, creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration. Queens University of Charlotte has compiled the infographic below comparing what managers and Millennials expect and deliver in today’s workforce.

Millennials now comprise 36 percent of the workforce. What is the conflict between the soft skills managers expect and what the new generation brings to the organization?

Posted by Gemmy Allen

GM CEO Vows Changes Because of Recalls

03-21-2014 12:27 PM with no comments

General Motors (GM) Chief Executive Mary Barra says the company will change. It took too long to tell owners to bring the cars in for repairs. The company learned about the ignition switch problems over 10 years ago, but failed to recall the cars. Ms. Barra did not know the details of defective cars until December or January, as she became CEO on January 15.

Her first change was to appoint Jeff Boyer as the new global safety chief in charge of recalls and other safety issues. He will meet with her once a month to discuss issues. In addition, she discussed the issue in a news conference, as seen in the video below, and started an internal probe of the problem.

Ben W. Heineman, Jr. in a post on HBR blog network questioned why these delays occurred in the first place and recommended that business leaders have "robust systematic processes in place for personally leading or overseeing these threats to people and to the company."

He gives the following as an approach to managing this type of health and safety crisis.

  • Preventive systems and testing should be in place to reduce the issues to an absolute minimum.
  • As GM has belatedly done, the CEO should appoint a head of safety and rapid response teams to receive reports of serious harms to persons or property that may be linked to product issues.
  • Just as the general company ombuds system reports concerns to the top of the company about serious commercial, legal or ethical issues, the rapid response team should take any issue of potential consequence to the CEO or other high business leaders.
  • Most importantly, the CEO or top business leaders should then form appropriate multi-functional teams relating to: design problems and solutions; internal personnel and processes; duties to regulators; management of litigation; a communications strategy with various constituencies; and any other relevant functions.
  • The CEO or top business leaders must have prompt, periodic, direct reports until there is a good understanding of the interrelated issues. Then they must make decisions on an appropriate response. On these important safety issues, the CEO should also keep the board informed.
  • Both during formulation of the strategy and after, the CEO or top business leadership must ensure that all communications to all constituencies must be strictly accurate. It is better to say nothing—and develop accurate facts—than to issue deceptive or incomplete statements.
  • Once decisions are made about strategy, the CEO must oversee implementation to make sure, as appropriate, that it is meticulously carried out, changing systems both with respect to specific issues and more broadly as necessary, dealing humanely with people injured, and  communicating fully and transparently with regulators, media, and other constituents.


What do you think about the CEO's attempts to become the voice to reassure customers that the crisis will be resolved?

Are there ethical issues associated with the company's failure to deal with the ignition problem when it was first discovered?

The past GM bankruptcy limits its financial responsibility to compensate victims. Should victims be compensated? How might the CEO make this decision?

Posted by Gemmy Allen

Generations and the Next America

03-20-2014 7:26 PM with no comments

In this video, Pew Research Center president Alan Murray introduces Paul Taylor, Executive Vice President of Special Projects at the Pew Research Center and author of The Next America. Mr. Taylor discusses generations and the changing demographics of the United States.

How are the nation's rapidly shifting generational makeup and racial/ethnic demographics affecting American families, society, politics and policy?

How might these changes affect business?



One of the biggest differences between older generations (Silents and Baby Boomers) and younger generations (Millennials and Generation X) is the use of technology. Older generations think younger generations are rude when they use their smart phones to text in meetings. Millennials think that older workers are slow and need a lot of help with technology. What can a manager do to help generations work better together?


Posted by Gemmy Allen

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