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SSA Notebook | April 2014

G100 Companies Exclusive: Borrowing Next Practices from Other Industries to Leapfrog the Innovation Process

This winter, G100 Companies hosted a dinner to celebrate the work of Michael Dowling, Chief Executive Officer, and Kathleen Gallo, Chief Learning Officer, of North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System (LIJ). An early proponent of pay-per-performance contracts and transparent publishing of quality outcomes, North Shore-LIJ is a studied leader in healthcare. North Shore-LIJ provides a great example of how to look beyond your own industry to adopt others’ best practices for continuous improvement in your enterprise. For example, North Shore-LIJ modeled its supply chain after Tiffany & Co.’s, using the jeweler’s disciplined processes to transport small, expensive medical device components across its 16-hospital system. Having looked outside the walls of its organization to innovate, North Shore-LIJ will likely change American Healthcare as we know it. You can read a small sample of the G100 Companies Ideas Dinner Playbook here.

How to Turn Data into Dollars: An Example from Bank of America

When Bank of America’s call centers suffered turnover rates as high as 40%, the firm looked to its data to understand why. As this Business Insider piece describes, nothing about individual employees’ behavior could reliably predict performance. However, analysts found that groups of employees who interacted with one another completed calls faster and left the company less often than groups who didn’t. Centers with higher rates of intra-office cohesion — overlapping lunch breaks — succeeded. This simple change of analytical focus — from individual behavior to patterns resulting from group behavior — allowed the bank to change its management policy, encouraging employees to take breaks together, not separately. This modification saved Bank of America $15 million. Big data isn’t enough on its own. Leaders must ask the right questions and take a creative problem-solving mindset to translate data into insights that create tangible results.

Amazon Combines Big Data with Customer Focus to Patent “Anticipatory Shipping”

Understanding that delays between ordering and receiving products “may dissuade customers from buying items from online merchants,” the e-commerce giant Amazon recently patented “anticipatory shipping,” a system that will ship products to customers’ areas before they buy them. According to this Wall Street Journal piece, Amazon will foresee purchasing cycles (e.g. recurring purchases, new releases from bestselling authors) and track customers’ behavior (e.g. previous purchases, shopping-cart contents, and how long a user’s cursor hovers over an item). After predicting likely purchases, Amazon will leave items in localized shippers’ hubs or in trucks until the customer clicks “buy.” Amazon knows a lot about its customers, and that competitive advantage, along with its ubiquitous supply chain, allowed it to invent this new system. Winning companies predict were markets will be and design better, simpler experiences for their customers and enterprise.

Will New T-Mobile and USPS Banking Services With a Lower Cost and Lighter Footprint Create Surprising Competition for Banks?

As The Economist Intelligence Unit reports, T-Mobile recently released Mobile Money, a personal finance product that offers virtual checking account services by combining a smartphone with a prepaid Visa card. Although many bank customers can already pay bills or deposit checks remotely, Mobile Money targets the one in five “underbanked” Americans, who cannot get a traditional checking account and currently pay high fees to check-cashing or payday loan services. The opportunity also has proven exciting to the USPS, which may soon take deposits, accept bill payments, and make small loans. Today’s CEOs must be able to anticipate unforeseen competition. As players blur industry lines to offer smaller-scale bank alternatives, the landscape of options available to consumers may change and require a competitive response from traditional financial institutions to avoid loosened bargaining power.

The Future of Supply Chain Outsourcing: A Discussion with SSA, General Atlantic, and Celestica

Earlier this month, SSA & Company’s Managing Director of New Products and Innovation, Jason Meil, co-hosted a webinar with Erwin Hermans, VP of Supply Chain Services at Celestica, and Cory Eaves, MD at General Atlantic. After an examination of the evolution of outsourcing over the past 30 years, the presenters engaged in a thoughtful discussion of what the future might hold for supply chain planning and management outsourcing. The dynamics of outsourcing have changed throughout history, shifting from an emphasis on cost and economies of scale to today’s more strategic focus on gaining unique competencies, talent and technology. If businesses look to outsource their supply chain planning and management, what challenges can they expect, and how can they get past them? You can view a complete recording of the discussion on Supply & Demand Chain Executive’s website.

Exclusive Content on Modern Leadership from Stephen Miles, CEO of The Miles Group

Each quarter, Stephen Miles, CEO of The Miles Group, offers frank, pertinent insights on the challenges of modern leadership. TMG develops talent strategies through CEO successions, executive transition, board succession, and Chairman/Lead Director transitions. All G100 Companies businesses share the belief that human talent development is today’s best long-term differentiator for business, so we are delighted to share Stephen’s perspectives with you here.

Stephen Miles Exclusive: 11 Key Challenges for CEOs in 2014

Informed by his work with CEOs and boards (as well as joint research with Stanford University on CEOs and board directors), Stephen Miles offers his list of the top challenges CEOs and their teams will wrestle with this year.


Stephen Miles Exclusive: What Behavior Derails Even the Most Talented Executives?

The inability to say “no” is one of the most common factors preventing high performance in leaders. It’s easy to get caught up in the fire drill, or fire hose, of the day — multiple direct reports coming into your office with the latest “crisis,” urgent emails, long meetings, longer reports. Such events — repeated many times throughout the day — can derail executives who get distracted by them and lose their focus. In the normal course of business, attention to these details can drown out strategic thinking. In a real crisis situation, the danger is even greater. Ruthless prioritization — knowing when to say “no” and not letting other people’s agendas take control — is essential to effective leadership. The best leaders identify the tasks that only they can do, delegating the others to someone else, even if they might be able to do them better or more quickly themselves. Watch Stephen’s video on Ruthless Prioritization here.

Sign up to Subscribe to Stephen’s Full Quarterly Newsletter “Miles to Go” here.