Category Archives: Weekly Newsletter

Start-ups: The Founding Team Is a Real Magic Bullet

The majority of new ventures fail prematurely.  A lot of this failure is due to a lack of collaboration within founding teams.  Important, early decisions are prone to conflict. Examples of these decisions include funding, development, etc.  Because tensions are so high, investors often look at the team-dynamic as much as the start-up product itself. Strong teams can overcome and navigate turbulence, leading them to success.  Founders of start-ups are in a unique situation, as they can build and craft their whole team from the ground-up. Teams should be made of both unique skills, and people with interpersonal skills.  The culture that the originating team sets usually lasts long after the staff rotates out.  Read More >>

Think Universities are Making Lots of Money from Inventions? Think Again.

About $75 billion dollars is spent on academic research, and it makes way for little return on investment.  A very small amount of university research products ever makes it to the public market. Colleges and universities only provide a small proportion of the nation’s patents.  In 2016, academic institutions only produced 6,639 of the 304,126 patents according to the National Science Board. A possible reason for this is that faculty are awarded tenure and promotion based on measures such as how much research money they bring in and how many papers they publish, not their numbers of patents or start-ups or the licensing revenue they earn.  Obtaining a patent is a long process that can take seven years. It is easier for universities to calculate merit over papers instead of patents.   Read More >>

Your Work Friends and Enemies are Affecting your Performance

Conflict may appear to be two-sided, but this is not usually true.  The basis of most conflict at work is tryadic: when there are three parties involved.  The third party is often the key to relieving tension and restoring balance. When employees feel socially balanced at work, they tend to perform better.  Researchers from Northwestern University, Harvard Business School, and University of California teamed up to discover how social triangles change over time.  They ruled relationships into four categories: a friend of a friend is a friend, a friend of an enemy is an enemy, an enemy of an enemy is a friend, and an enemy of a friend is an enemy.  If all four rules are satisfied in a tryad, the tryad is balanced. There are two possibilities for this, which are when all three people like each other, and when two friends have a mutual enemy.  Balanced relationships are important because employees tend to make better and more profitable decisions than when they are in an unbalanced situation.  Read More >>

Deciding How Much Equity to Give your Key Employees

The new trend within tech start-ups is giving offering potential talent equity shares.  Giving worthy job candidates a share of equity could be the difference of them picking your company over someone else’s.  This also motivates workers, and decreases employee turnover. Equity encourages employees to stay long-term, because they are motivated by the idea of the company enters the public stock-market, or if it is sold in the future.  Equity acts as a foreign currency, and the amount depends on timing, need, and expertise. It is also very good for attracting potential advisors to the company. Advisors can triple the value of a company, so the equity would eventually pay for itself.  Read More >>

What You can Learn from Being Asked to Resign

Being asked to resign can be an incredibly painful experience.  However, dealing with this confrontation can lead to insight of how the company is doing, and what is going wrong.  Many people asked to resign are caught off-guard, and receive criticism. This honest constructive criticism can lead to one’s future success.  While alarming at the time, constructive criticism is a gift that allows one to listen to others’ concerns and re-evaluate one’s own actions. Listening and allowing oneself to be vulnerable will help one bloom into future jobs, or keep the ones they already.   Read More >>

Why Your Next Brainstorm Should Begin with an Embarrassing Story

New research from the Kellogg school shows that embarrassment can be a gateway to creativity.  It turns out that holding cringe-worthy anecdotes back creates an unintentional barrier of self-censorship.  “When you have a brainstorming session, what you’re hoping is that people are putting out any idea, without regard to any judgment or evaluation,” says Leigh Thompson, a professor of management and organizations at Kellogg and author of Creativity Conspiracy: The New Rules of Breakthrough Collaboration.  Sharing embarrassing stories is also a good way for groups to break the ice, as it creates a humorous space where people are allowed to feel vulnerable. This is opposed to traditional ice-breakers where people share their accomplishments. Adding this sense of pride inevitable turns ice-breakers into a competition.  Bragging about one’s accomplishments may be a confidence boost, but it results in a hindering of innovative thinking. Instead of closing people off from each-other, reinforcing funny or embarrassing stories can lead to trust and better performance.  Read More >>

The Science of Building Great Teams

While teamwork may have been fostered in youth, it is an incredibly useful skill in the workforce.  A study generated over five years of 19.9 million scientific papers and 2.1 patents showed that people produce more work in teams than as individuals.  Teams are more important than they used to be because there is much more to learn within a given field. When it comes to building the teams themselves, team-members’ ability to coordinate effectively trumps the individuals on the team’s respective talent.  Additionally, teams have their own level of intelligence, which is measured by a group’s ability to perform tasks. Read More >>    

In Bed, Bath, or the Bus: The Secret to Solving your Problems

Brainstorming is a task that many people find difficulty in.  Humans tend to hit mental blocks when it comes to problem-solving.  According to Professor Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries, taking breaks from wicked problems could be the key in finding solutions.  The idea is that ‘Eureka!’ moments cannot be forced, and many breakthroughs are found while tapping into one’s creativity. According to the Three B’s of Creativity, the best way to receive a solution from out-of the blue, is by being in bed, bath, or on the bus.  Dreaming, relaxing, and following routine leads the mind to wander, and gives rise to insight previously not thought of. Read More >>

Deep learning for Internet of things

Deep learning is a type of machine learning that leverages multi-layered neural networks that are capable of transforming high-dimensional inputs into an output. Preferred Networks (PFN) a Tokyo-based start-up has been increasingly exploring the concepts of AI in order to reshape IoT ever since they moved on from being a search engine to a deep learning-based company in 2014, The founders of PFN started as a Japanese search engine in the early 2000s and later on as deep learning sectors boomed they readily cashed in their opportunity to integrate IoT and the robust manufacturing sectors of Japan.PFN has a wide range of services that they cater ranging from medical diagnostics to self-driving cars. But their early partnership with Fanuc a large Japanese robotics firm led to one of the biggest breakthroughs of the company in the field of bin picking. Although it is a low-skilled, tedious yet necessary task for the manufacturing sector, machine learning has made it possible to automate these tasks using robotic arms.PFN developed a vision-based solution enabling bin-picking bots to learn quickly from each fumbled attempt and achieved a 90% success rate after 8 hours of work. Recently PFN partnered with Toyota to develop Toyota’s Human Support Robot Platform that aims at making robots that are capable of carrying out mundane tasks autonomously. Read More>>

A False Sense of Progress with Easier Tasks

Maryam Kouchaki, an associate professor of management and organizations at Kellogg, and her colleagues studied people who were overwhelmed with the workload and the approach taken by them to achieve them. They found that many people choose to perform simpler tasks when the workload is heavy and although this gives a sense of satisfaction instantly, in the long run, this strategy definitely fails because it does not contribute anything to the overall goal of the organisation and does not help the individual learn or improve any skills. To tackle this situation at an organisation it is essential that the managers encourage the workers to take up difficult tasks and disintegrate them into smaller subtasks that can be achieved, so they can get the same satisfaction if they had performed an easier task. this not only challenges people but also provides the opportunity to learn new skills every day. It is imperial that the managers educate their employees about the importance of tackling difficult tasks for professional growth. Thus it can be concluded that Getting a sense of progress is so essential and at the same time it should not be mistaken to instant gratification. Read More>>