BOG BLOG : 17 – 24 AUGUST 2012


Why less is more in teams   / Mark de Rond, HBR Blog 

Excerpt . . .

The earliest known attempt to investigate the relation between team size and productivity dates back about a hundred years to the now famous experiments by French engineer, Maximilien Ringelmann. In a set of simple rope pulling experiments he discovered that, in what is now known as the Ringelmann Effect, people’s efforts quickly diminish as team size increases. Eight people, he found, didn’t even pull as hard as four individuals. He rationalized the decay in effort by suggesting it was difficult for team members to coordinate effort, and left it at that.

Silicon Valley reaches out to SA

The Sable Accelerator, a new, Silicon Valley-based group, has been formed to connect SA entrepreneurs with successful expats who can provide mentorship, investment and motivation to take their businesses global. By Craig Wilson.  A new, high-profile group founded by three South Africans now living in Silicon Valley and London has been formed to help grow SA businesses into global firms by providing the connections, advice and investment they need to take their ideas beyond SA’s borders.  Launched officially on 6 August, The Sable Accelerator has secured high-powered backers, including angel investor and entrepreneur Laurence Seeff and a range of CEOs, directors and consultants from firms such as McCann Erickson, Grant Thornton, McKinsey and Hasso Plattner Ventures Africa.  

. . . 

“We want to partner with alumni groups here as they keep track of the best and brightest,” says Neale-May. “We also want to work with economic trade and development agencies, venture capital funds and firms to create a vibrant ecosystem. The big opportunity here is that we have the footprint in New York and Silicon Valley.”
The website will allow “experts” to import their LinkedIn profiles and select their interests, expertise, what level of mentorship they’re willing to undertake, and explain how else they are willing to invest in or contribute to the community.  “There have always been SA clubs and groups but this is very focused on furthering the country’s competitiveness,” says Neale-May. “It’s not about taking tech from SA, but about helping to harvest the potential of SA innovations while also making the country more appealing as a destination to outsource to, partner with, and generally invest in.”


All the places in the world that are running out of water [MAP]/ Michael Kelley

About 1.7 billion people rely on aquifers that are rapidly being depleted and would take thousands of years to refill, according to a new study in the journal Nature.   The report, “Water balance of global aquifers revealed by groundwater footprint,” identifies aquifers in the U.S., Mexico, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, India and China as crisis zones where groundwater resources and/or groundwater-dependent ecosystems are under threat because the use of water vastly exceeds the rate at which aquifers are being refilled by rain. The underground reservoir in northwestern India, for instance, would need 54 times more rainfall to replenish the water that’s currently being used by farmers and the local population. In the map . . . the blue areas mark where rain can replenish the amount of water being used by humans. Orange or red areas indicate places where people draw out more for irrigation and drinking water than rain can refill. The gray areas show the extent of the “groundwater footprint” by representing how much water people are drawing from the aquifers compared with how much water each holds.    –   Ackn.  Gleeson et al. / Nature


Shifts in the global workforce 

An estimated 31% of employers worldwide find it difficult to fill positions because of talent shortages in their markets, reports the 2010 , Talent Shortage Survey from Manpower, an international employment agency

With a growing population, one might assume global employers have a large workforce to recruit from. However, that is not the case as the availability of skilled workers is actually shrinking. As populations begin to age, a demographic divide has begun creating talent shortages in various markets around the world. Also, a report from E&Y, Carolyn Buck Luce refers to 6 trends shaping the global workforce:

  • Labor force demographics will shift profoundly  – Despite projected growth in the global population from 6.9 billion in 2010 to 7.6 billion in 2020, the working-age population is expected to decline in many countries. Japan already has more people exiting the workforce than there are workers prepared to enter it.In the European labor market, 2010 marked the first time more workers retired than joined the workforce. While this labor gap is a relatively manageable 200,000, it will surge to 8.3 million by 2030.
  • By the end of this decade, other large economies such as Russia, Canada, South Korea and China will also have more people at retirement age than are entering the workforce. Other, younger countries stand to profit from those trends.
  • One-third of India’s population is now under the age of 15.
  • Other emerging market economies with young labor forces such as Brazil, Mexico and Indonesia may benefit from a demographic dividend, a surge in productivity and growth as those workers join the labor pool.
  • But the dividend pays off only if the country provides its youth with adequate educational and economic opportunities to develop their skills.
  • There is a growing mismatch between the skills employers need and the talent available.


How to create a company that won’t fail? Put women on your board

New research suggests that companies with a larger female presence on their boards did far better during the economic downturn than those with only men.  When choosing stocks and investment during a tough economy, look for companies with women on the board. That’s what the results of a new study would suggest. According to the report, which comes from Credit Suisse’s research division, companies with at least one female board member have outperformed those with only men over the past six years. The new report analyzed the performance of 2,360 companies around the globe with and without female board members from 2005 onwards. To put those numbers in perspective, only 41% of companies on the MSCI World Index, a collection of global stocks, had any women on their boards at the end of 2005. By the end of 2011, it had increased to 59%.

How great companies manage their people / Paul Michelman  – HBR Morning Advantage Blog

“High-performing companies recognize that leadership is about more than just steering the business. It’s about nurturing, energizing, and challenging the people who help make it run — and who keep it competitive,” write Rainer Strack and four co-authors of the exhaustive Boston Consulting Group study, Realizing the Value of People Management. To sustain success, the BCG consultants say, “a company needs leaders who care about and develop their people — leaders who understand that building a talent pipeline should extend beyond successors to top management to include everyone whose contributions are essential to the company’s future.” So, what specifically do high-performing companies do differently? Here’s a start:

• They are 1.5 times more likely than average to have in place a leadership model that describes expected contributions and behavior and that is grounded in company values.
• They make leaders’ compensation and career advancement dependent in part on leaders’ people-development efforts — 3.4 times as often as low-performing companies do.

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