NASA’s interplanetary internet, coming soon to a planet near you (Discover Magazine)

by Troy Farah

NASA is about to make it a little easier to check your Instagram in zero gravity. Two teams, Science Mission Directorate and Human Exploration and Operations, are working together to finally make interplanetary internet a thing. Previous efforts to bring WiFi throughout the solar system haven’t always been successful, but this time, it could become reality.

It will work using something called Delay/Disruption Tolerant Networking, which is pretty similar to the internet you’re familiar with. But conventional internet doesn’t do well in space, plagued with long delays, noisy channels, and high error rates.

With DTN, even if your connection gets disrupted, it will guarantee data packet delivery once the next communication path opens. Normally, if you lose connection, the data gets dumped. But by removing the need to retransmit during a lag, it saves time and frees up the limited memory used by spacecraft.

Click here to read the full article.

3 Ways senior leaders create a toxic culture (HBR)

by Ron Carucci

Whether presiding over the entire company, a function, a region, or a business unit, the people at the top of an organization have a disproportionate level of influence over those they lead. Those further down in the organization look to their leaders for cues on what’s acceptable (and what isn’t), and the team’s habits — both good and bad — will be emulated.

Some of the habits and fixes are:

Scattered priorities

It’s astounding how badly most leadership teams use their time together. They set meeting agendas haphazardly, frequently only days beforehand (if at all). Their conversations veer off topic, often into minutia. They leave unaddressed the decisions and problems needing resolution.

Effective leadership teams have clearly defined charters. They narrowly focus on the most strategic priorities and don’t detour from them. They stick to well-articulated decision-making processes. And they intentionally transfer their disciplined focus down through the organization.

Unhealthy rivalries

Competition among leadership teams isn’t unusual. After all, leaders that made the cut had to distinguish themselves among their peers to get the “big jobs.” But a team of excessively individualistic leaders vying for resources, status, influence, and, most often, their boss’s job, can fracture the organization beneath them.

Unhealthy competition erodes trust. If team members distrust the motivations and unspoken agendas of teammates, they will act with self-protection, even self-interest, to avoid risking personal failure. And when things don’t go as hoped, people point at one another in blame rather than healthy accountability.

Leadership teams must operate as a unified force. Shared goals must be accompanied by shared accountability. In the RHR study, high-performing leadership teams were five times more likely to hold members accountable for shared goals than their low-performing counterparts. Rivalry should be saved for external competition.

Unproductive Conflict

When conflict and information are mishandled among a leadership team, the rest of the organization follows suit.

Speaking negatively behind one another’s backs, withholding honest perspectives, or pocket vetoing decisions after they are made should be unacceptable. Leadership teams should have written norms that they won’t engage in these behaviors, and they should share those norms with the rest of the organization, asking others to hold them accountable.

Click here to read the full article.

From warehouse to patient: mPharma’s approach to increasing the accessibility of medicines in Africa (Rising Africa)

Good news from the continent

Since 2013, the startup mPharma has been trying to build an infrastructure and a drug-monitoring system to connect patients, hospitals and pharmacies. The objective is to enable doctors to know the exact location and availability of medicines in real time, and patients to have better access to medicines.

mPharma is a prescription drug manager for providers and payers in Africa. They manage the drug inventory for providers and design drug benefits plan for payers. mPharma currently operates in three African countries (Nigeria, Ghana and Zambia), serving close to 20,000 patients each month across a network of over 70 hospitals and clinics in Lagos, Warri, Port Harcourt, Benin, Aba, Accra, Kumasi, Cape Coast, Lusaka and Ndola. mPharma aims to build the data intelligence and retail layer to support the future of African healthcare.

mPharma is building a more scalable version of CVS Health in Africa using the Airbnb model enabling mPharma to create a tightly coupled pharmacy monolith with leverage over pricing, distribution and reimbursements.

mPharma has developed supply-chain software that enables them to implement vendor managed inventory for independent healthcare providers in Africa. mPharma takes over inventory procurement of retail and hospital pharmacies while remotely running pharmacy operations using proprietary technology infrastructure. This entails using data generated through their software to forecast demand, and commanding lower pricing from suppliers (distributors and manufacturers) due to aggregated and predicted volumes across hospitals and retail pharmacies in their network.

mPharma supplies drugs to all pharmacies on consignment. Thus, revenues are based on actual drug sales to patients, and not what is supplied to hospitals on a timed basis. This creates a disruptive business model for hospitals and pharmacies because it is different from the traditional “pay-for-supplies” model that distributors offer. This model improves working capital and cash flow for hospitals and pharmacies.

Click here to read the full article.

How digital leaders inspire engagement (MIT Sloan Review)

by Jane McConnell

An engaged workforce positions a company’s digital initiatives for success.

Digital leaders should,

  • Clarify the role of digital transformation within the company’s strategic vision, then walk the talk. The three best practices to start with are:
    • Make it compelling and relevant. The “why” of a digital program has to be integrated into the organization’s overall vision and purpose.
    • Make it a priority.
    • Walk the talk. After clearly articulating the value of a particular program, leaders need to demonstrate the value they attribute to digital through their own behavior.
  • Share decision-making, especially with people on the edges of the organization.
    Leaders should encourage participatory decision-making. Digital initiatives cannot be defined in an executive black box. The customer-facing workforce, exposed to clients and competitors, is an often-untapped source of information and market intelligence.
  • Embed ongoing experimentation and learning in the work culture.
    Leaders should also encourage experimentation. A critical component of encouraging this experimental mindset is to break out of bureaucracy. Making processes and policies intrapreneur-friendly is a still deeper change. Traditional bureaucratic processes for getting project budgets are complicated in many companies.

Click here to read the full article.

Which 7 countries hold half the world’s population? (Pew Research)

by Conrad Hackett

According to the UN, the world’s population would have reached 7.63 billion the end of July. And, more than half of the world’s population live in seven countries only.

The UN further projects the number of people living to at least a 100 will increase 140 fold – 150,000 in the year 2000 to over 21 million in 2100.

Click here to read the full article.

Which professions are most vulnerable to automation? (MIT Sloan Review)

Scott Latham and Beth Humberd in their article “Four ways jobs will respond to automation”, outline the professions most vulnerable to automation.

Popular narratives are that low-paying jobs are at risk, while college-educated professions will remain largely untouched. According to the authors it is not so cut and dry. To survive, employees need to understand the four paths of job evolution – disruption, displacement, deconstruction and durability.

Click here to read the full article.

Latest publication from Prof Helena Barnard on the value of a foreign PhD

Research Policy, 47(5), pp. 886-900


When seeking to improve science in emerging economies, uncertainty exists whether PhD training in an emerging economy can yield comparable results to PhD training in the developed world. Scientific achievements may vary because of excellent training at good universities, but also because excellent students select (and are selected by) good universities. This paper compares the career effects of overseas and domestic PhD training for scholars working in an emerging economy, South Africa. We differentiate between and examine both selection and training effects for PhDs from three tiers of South African and two tiers of foreign universities. South African academics with PhDs from universities in industrialised countries generally achieve greater career success than those with local PhDs, but training by universities in industrialised countries is not necessarily better than local training. Our results suggest that the perceived superiority of foreign PhD training stems from selection rather than do training effects, and pure selection effects in fact explain career outcomes better than training effects. Focusing on training rather than selection, PhDs from top South African universities produce a similar quantity and quality research output to those trained by the leading universities in the developed world. From the perspective of an emerging economy with limited resources wishing to advance science, the development of local universities should thus be stressed, although it is clear that individuals who are able to study for a PhD abroad gain personally when they return.



One of our Top 2017 MBA report – The impact of technological change on jobs and workplace structures

by Chandon Bezuidenhout

Significant advancement in technologies, such as artificial intelligence, machine-learning, and robotics, has sparked broad debate amongst economists, futurists, and current business leaders regarding the future of jobs. The purpose of this research was to determine the impact of technological change on jobs and workforce structures. The study involved a structured collection, classification, and analysis of secondary data. It aimed to: (i) determine a relationship between futures and labour economics literature, (ii) identify occupational groups with higher susceptibility to job automation, and (iii) project changes in workforce structure for various industries.

This study found that there is alignment between predicted probabilities of job automation and parameters of task routineness and task complexity from the routine-task-biased and complex-task-biased technological change models. Routine-simple occupations are more susceptible to job automation, followed closely by nonroutine-simple occupations. Complex occupations are least susceptible. Stratum I occupations were more susceptible to job automation than occupations in higher strata of work. The projected change in workforce structures is higher for large hierarchical industries, such as machine bureaucracies and divisionalised forms (Type 1 and 2 industries). Technological change will bring about both productivity improvements and technological anxiety. Business in affected industries must develop appropriate innovation and workforce strategies to manage this disruption.

Supervisor: Prof. Albert Wöcke

Click here to access the research report