Strategists have always talked about sustainable competitive advantage, but we face a growing realization that firms are vulnerable to predictable changes in their physical and social environment. Sustainable business goes beyond maximizing today’s profits, and looks toward maximizing profits over the life of the firm (which hopefully is infinite!).
While some sustainable practices are explicitly environmental, many are not. Sustainable businesses are also concerned with the training and availability of their future workforces, the sustainability of their customer base, and the robustness of their sourcing arrangements or inputs. Thus sustainable businesses invest in education, work to improve the health of their customers, and examine the business practices of their partners. Continue reading ‘The Future of Business is Sustainable.’
Almost every science fiction story or movie involves self-driving cars. This technology is now a reality, with “autonomous vehicles” proven safe and legalized in many states. But beyond simply freeing up time, self-driving cars have enormous implications for business.
Of course, the automotive industry will be impacted. Self-driving cars only increase the attractiveness of ZipCar and other car-sharing services (UT Arlington has “Connect by Hertz,” a similar car-sharing service on campus). Previously, these services suffered because when a customer needed a car they needed to get themselves to where the car was. But with self-driving cars, the car can come to you. This will greatly increase the attractiveness of car-sharing services, and might even reduce the demand for cars overall.
Beyond the automotive industry, self-driving cars will have enormous implications for other areas of business. For example, when cars can park themselves, and come when you call them (think Batman calling the Batmobile), the need for convenient and close-by parking will reduce. Real estate and economic development will be significantly changed. Continue reading ‘The Future of Business is Technological (part 2).’
Organizations need to draw on the talents and resources of all their employees. But employees don’t work in a vacuum. They influence (and are influenced by) each other.
Sometimes these influences can be productive. But often they can be destructive (consider groupthink, when individuals conform to the opinions of others regardless of their private information).
How can firms retain the positive influences and minimize the negative? Recent work by Scott Page at University of Michigan demonstrates that diversity is one such tool. Diverse groups, groups whose members are of different demographic backgrounds, personality styles, varying generational cultures, “ways of knowing,” and/or undergraduate majors, make better decisions than groups that are homogenous. Continue reading ‘The Future of Business is Diverse.’