The Power to CompeteJapan must make bold moves to reverse its economic stagnation, economist Ryoichi Mikitani and Internet entrepreneur Hiroshi Mikitani write in The Power to Compete. They do not believe that Abenomics, the economics program led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, does enough to solve Japan’s problems. Instead, the nation needs to increase its competitiveness, efficiency, and innovation by lessening government regulation, eliminating layers of bureaucracy, moving away from Japan’s lifetime employment tradition, and cutting taxes and the costs of government. The authors also argue that making English the business language of Japan, liberalizing rules governing foreign workers in Japan, and allowing foreign companies to take over failing Japanese businesses would help boost the nation’s economy.

The current Japanese economy is stagnant. To break free from its present mentality, revive, and find the power to compete globally:

  • Japan must improve its operational efficiency. Businesses are hampered by government regulations and a tradition that grants lifetime employment, keeping employers from making their operations lean.
  • Japan must become more innovative. Policies like setting product standards that differ from global standards to supporting failing industries have stifled innovation. Immigration rules and language barriers make it difficult to hire the brightest minds from overseas who could help increase innovation.
  • Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plan for reviving the economy may need to be bolder. A huge national debt, banks that are risk-averse, and fear of inflation could all be impediments to Abenomics.
  • Japan must lower the cost of governance. The nation has a large bureaucracy that needs to shrink, and using technology could be one means to cut the number of civil servants. The government must also reduce corporate taxes and the cost of electricity from regional monopolies.
  • Japan should become more globally minded. The country should encourage students to study abroad, allow foreign firms to take over Japanese companies, and make other efforts to ease the country’s protectionist policies.
  • Japan must modernize its education system. Instead of emphasizing rote memorization, schools must teach students to think critically. English and technology courses should be required, and schools should use educational tools available through the Internet.
  • Japan must build its brand. Attracting more tourists, allowing more foreign athletes to play in Japanese leagues, and convincing foreign companies to put their regional headquarters in Japan are all ways the nation can increase international awareness and the value of Brand Japan.

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How to Lead a Quest.jpgToday’s business environment is highly dynamic, making anticipating the future more complicated than ever. Market shifts can catch organizations off guard and lead to lasting problems. In How to Lead a Quest, Dr. Jason Fox suggests that pioneering leadership can help leaders effectively address issues in today’s market. The key to this approach is exploring several potential scenarios that a company may face and developing strategies to support each one. The result is a more flexible and dynamic leadership methodology.

One of the biggest challenges facing businesses today is sustaining growth. In How to Lead a Quest, Dr. Jason Fox offers a new approach to growth that he calls pioneering leadership:

  • Pioneering leadership relies on exploration outside the scope of an organization’s default ways of thinking and operating. This requires four leadership superpowers: imagination, curiosity, doubt, and wonder. This form of exploration can also be referred to as Quest-Augmented Strategy.
  • To prepare an organization for the future, its leaders must build a quiverof options. The best way to decide if an option is viable is to form hypotheses and conduct experiments.
  • Experiments may end in failure, but some forms of failure are better than others. Failures that should be avoided include corruption, deviance, apathy, pessimism, and willful ignorance. Failures that suggest change is needed include distraction, inadequate processes, and lack of ability. Failures to be celebrated include quitting after careful consideration and lack of perfection.

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Healthcare Disrupted.jpgIn Healthcare Disrupted, Jeff Elton and Anne O’Riordan survey the socioeconomic forces and technological enablers that are shifting the entire healthcare system. While largely reactive today and intent on acute interventions and physical care centers, healthcare in 10 to 15 years will instead provide proactive management of health using targeted therapeutics and advanced informatics. Current business models will evolve into one of four types, all measured against their ability to produce positive patient outcomes and value for the healthcare system as a whole. Using these four models as a guide, the authors lay out the steps to assembling the assets, partnerships, and talent that will help companies thrive in the new healthcare ecosystem.

The authors believe that:

  • The healthcare industry is facing increased socioeconomic pressures. Costs are skyrocketing, populations are aging, and chronic comorbidity is becoming the norm. The system is moving from a fee-for-service to an outcomes-based marketplace, and digital technology is facilitating this change.
  • Leaders need to clarify their organizations’ roles in providing the market with superior patient outcomes and value to the healthcare system as a whole. They also must differentiate their capabilities and find the talent and collaborations to deliver on those capabilities. Companies that succeed in this new ecosystem will use one of four business models:
  1. Lean innovators are evolving from traditional generics companies. They bring large-scale manufacturing efficiencies, a global reach, lean management, and expertise in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) to this new model. They have been adding niche products to their portfolios, both patent and off-patent medicines.
  2. Around-the-patient innovators remain fundamentally product oriented but add ancillary services, such as analytics, data, and digital engagement, to create new value for customers and patients that goes beyond the pill or a medical device.
  3. Value innovators create efficiencies in the health system overall with outcome improvements measured at the patient population level. They enter shared-risk partnerships with healthcare mangers and payers. Product and service are now subsumed under a value creation formulation.
  4. New health digitals are entering the healthcare market from other sectors, including consumer and business-to-business digital technology and service companies. Their global scale and cloud services create new segments in the healthcare industry, as do legacy digital healthcare companies and startups.
  • Healthcare companies must embrace fundamentally collaborative technologies to create strategic partnerships. The rapidly changing marketplace demands radically new kinds of collaborations.
  • Leaders need to combine patient-centered, analytics, and digital talent to their teams. They need to align their hiring and evaluation practices to maintain company focus on patient outcomes.

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Living Proof.jpgIn Living Proof, Adam von Gootkin explores the entrepreneurial lessons he has learned as the cofounder of Onyx Spirits Co., LLC. He believes that entrepreneurs must prioritize their independence and create positive, winning mindsets that manifest themselves into successful business ventures. He also discusses how the growth of technology has created opportunities and networks of resources that have made entrepreneurial success more achievable than ever before.

The author believes that:

  • Learning valuable business lessons while working as an entrepreneur can be more impactful than learning from professors who have not run a business before.
  • Believing in one’s mission, product, and goals is important in the face of doubters or opposition. Market research, passion, and business partnerships must drive an entrepreneur to be the best in the industry.
  • Surrounding oneself with a diverse group of advisors from many industries can be critical to success. Knowing when a company should be run by expert managers instead of a founder can increase profitability.
  • Setting goals and a path to achieve them requires an insatiable horizonmindset. This is the “grass is always greener” belief that will drive an entrepreneur to work harder and smarter to grow a business.
  • When seeking startup capital, different investors come to the table with a variety of strengths and expectations. Entrepreneurs must be familiar with the many levels of investment and with the investors themselves.
  • The best entrepreneurs create services and products that not only fill customers’ needs, but that fill them better than any other competitors in the marketplace.

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HBR's 10 Must Reads 2017

HBR’s 10 Must Reads 2017 presents a selection of the year’s most definitive management articles by some of the world’s forefront business thought leaders. Each article was hand-selected by Harvard Business Review editors to present a critical theme that is relevant to the modern business w

orld. These articles collectively represent the best practices, ideas, and insights of the

past year, and they aim to educate business leaders on collaborative overload, the necessity of managing algorithms, design thinking, negotiating across cultures, finding career success in a world of automation, and much more.

HBR’s 10 Must Reads 2017 presents 11 of the most cutting-edge, influential articles published in Harvard Business Review in the past year. Key concepts from these pieces include:

  • The negative effects of constant collaboration. Collaborative work has increased dramatically, and while there are clear benefits to this level of teamwork, too much collaboration can have its downsides. Employees who engage in an overabundance of collaborative activities can cause workflow bottlenecks and eventually burn out.
  • The importance of human oversight when using algorithms. Managers who make business predictions often rely on algorithms to identify subtle patterns, but computer algorithms have their limitations. Algorithms are most effective when managers are explicit about their goals and concerns, minimize myopia, and choose the right inputs.
  • The intricacies of doing business abroad. When managers from different parts of the world negotiate, they often misread signals and reach inaccurate conclusions. Managers can overcome these issues by building trust, paying attention to subtle messages, and understanding how to express their emotions.
  • The necessity of evolving the role of the Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO). CHROs should be empowered to think strategically about their workforce talent to provide competitive advantages for their organizations.
  • The need for knowledge workers to think about work beyond automation. In the future, some workplace roles may be made obsolete by machines, but to continue to find new roles employees must proactively work with technology rather than against it.

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Platform StrategyFor the past 20 years, platform businesses that match, connect, and enable transactions among buyers and sellers have been growing at a tremendous rate. These businesses continue to disrupt traditional businesses in almost every sector and redefine the rules of success. In Platform Strategy, Laure Claire Reillier and Benoit Reillier define the unique characteristics of these emerging businesses, how they operate, and how platform business leaders and traditional business leaders alike can harness their power to develop and scale innovative business models. Through this comprehensive guide, the authors offer solutions to address some of the unique challenges that platform businesses face as they ignite and scale platforms to critical mass and find success in this new way of doing business.

Platform businesses serve multisided markets. While these businesses evolve and change over time, they remain focused on five key activities:

  1. Attracting a critical mass of participants from each side of the market. Business leaders must attract the attention of potential users and producers and acquire them as new customers. As platforms mature, business leaders must also focus on retaining a critical mass of participants on both sides to build self-sustaining networks.
  2. Matching producers and consumers of goods. Leaders and platform designers must provide a means of matching producers and users in a timely way that meets their specific needs. They must ensure that there is an optimal level of choice for platform participants as they search for solutions.
  3. Connecting potential buyers and sellers. Platform designers must provide ways for producers and users to connect and exchange additional information and establish the level of trust that is necessary for conducting transactions.
  4. Enabling transactions to take place. Platform designers must also provide a means for exchanging the agreed-upon money, information, or services in a manner that drives value for businesses and maximizes the value of interactions and core transactions between buyers and sellers.
  5. Optimizing their operating and ecosystems. Business leaders and platform designers must work together to fully optimize the core functions of their platforms, including their abilities to match, connect, and enable transactions among their platforms’ participants. They must collect, analyze, and learn from data to enhance participants’ experiences and make continuous enhancements to their platforms.

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HBR Emotional Intelligence Series EmpathyWhich leadership quality can boost performance levels to new highs, yet drive them into the ground if overused? The answer is empathy. In the new Harvard Business Review title HBR Emotional Intelligence Series: Empathy, leading experts share how empathy can be used as a powerful leadership tool and a critical component of emotional intelligence that must be understood, nurtured, and protected. With self-awareness and effort, individuals can learn to make good use of empathy to benefit themselves, their organizations, and the world.

The authors believe that:


  • Empathy is a key component of emotional intelligence. As a characteristic and skill based in self-awareness, empathy contributes to an individual’s emotional intelligence.
  • Empathic leaders are natural leaders. Individuals with empathy naturally emerge as leaders in every aspect of their lives, regardless of their formal positions.
  • Empathy can be developed. Empathy begins with self-awareness, then extends to a focus on others. Individuals can work toward becoming more self-aware, and thereby increase their capacity for empathy.
  • Empathy plays a very important role in the workplace. Empathetic leaders build trust and loyalty among their employees and increase employee well-being–all of which contribute to higher levels of performance.
  • Empathy is finite, and must be protected. Exhibiting too much empathy can result in burnout. Individuals must avoid overextending their use of empathy to ensure their capacity for empathy is not depleted.

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The Human WayAfter many years of study, reflection, and practical experience as a manager, Kelly Odell identified 10 essential elements of successful leadership. These factors transcend varying organizational cultures and differences in individual personalities. In The Human Way, Odell presents his 10 commandments to transform managers into leaders. They present a values-based approach to leadership that is independent of specific activities, behaviors, and skills. Successful leaders are not perfect and do not always make the right decisions; rather, they understand and accept their own humanity, which allows them to achieve success.

There are 10 critical elements to successful leadership. Leaders should:

1. Be humble. To lead is also to serve.

2. Dare to delegate. A manager’s job is to lead, not have all the answers.

3. Maintain their freedom. A leader should always be able to afford to tell his or her employer to get lost.

4. Take risks. Losing a job is not the worst thing that can happen to a leader. In some cases, it may be the best thing.

5. Deliver actual results. Leaders should not worry about office politics. In the long run, results are what counts.

6. Be inspired and inspire others. Leaders need to be passionate about their jobs and evoke that same passion in others.

7. Base decisions on facts. Intuition is better than no information, but facts are best.

8. Say what they think. Leaders should create a workplace culture that encourages open communication.

9. Support their staff. Employees work for a manager of their own free will.

10. Go from manager to leader. Organizations appoint managers; employees decide whether their managers are also their leaders.

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41HMT8msViL._SX352_BO1,204,203,200_In Economics for Business, Ivan K. Cohen argues that in order to develop effective business strategies for their companies, leaders must first gain a fundamental understanding of the complex global economy in which they operate. With such knowledge it becomes possible to make better pricing, branding, and investment decisions. To that end, Economics for Business provides a comprehensive guide to the myriad forces, institutions, and concepts of micro- and macroeconomics.

To make successful business decisions, leaders must understand the essential principles of the economic environment, including:

  • Microeconomics: The study of independent economic entities like a company, industry, or market.
  • Macroeconomics: The study of the economy as a whole.
  • Supply: The quantity of a product that a supplier is willing to sell at a given price.
  • Demand: The lifeblood of any business; the consumer desire and ability to make purchases.
  • Forecasting: A strategy leaders use, informed by historic and market data, to estimate future conditions, such as demand for specific products.
  • Globalization: An economic phenomenon in which national economic systems grow more interconnected through international trade and investment.

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9780749475550Social media has changed the way people write, read, and understand English. The ability to manipulate business English has never been more important than in today’s globally interconnected world. In the second edition of How to Write…Effective Business English, Fiona Talbot employs her four-step Word Power Skills system to help readers write successful business English that conveys passion, not “management speak.” Talbot’s handy guide will help writers impress their audiences, sell products and services, and create brand reputation across a wide range of platforms.

The author believes that:

  • Written English is the primary form of communication in business today.
  • Social media messaging has transformed business writing.
  • Successful business writing uses simple, accessible language.
  • Writers should compose their messages to elicit a response.
  • An effective writer employs a style that conveys personal brand along with company values.
  • Knowing the target audience makes it easier for companies to customize content.

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