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The Forum Focus: Inaugural Edition

November 3rd, 2011 by The Forum Corporation
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Welcome to the first edition of The Forum Focus, a roundup of the best headlines in the world of corporate leadership, innovation, and L&D. This week we’ll take a look at culture in the workplace, why best practices are bad for business, marketing lessons from McDonald’s, and how corporate alumni networks can assist former employees.

Barry Jaruzelski, John Loehr and Richard Holman put together a great piece in Strategy + Business that emphasizes the importance of corporate culture. According to this year’s Global Innovation 1000 study, only about half of all companies say their corporate culture supports their innovation strategy. But, those companies whose business goals and culture are aligned with their innovation strategy delivered 33 percent higher enterprise value growth and 17 percent higher profit growth on five-year measures. Their finding backs up data from the Center for Global Innovation, which found that not only is the internal culture of a firm is the strongest driver of radical innovation, but that its’ impact exceeds that of all other factors. It’s not how much money you invest in your company, but how you invest it.

Beyond investing in one’s employees and correcting corporate culture, it’s important to focus on the leadership tactics in the workplace. But often ‘best practices’ are bad for business.  According to Mike Prokopeak’s piece in Chief Learning Officer magazine, leaders too often believe that what led to past success will lead to future wins.

Sometimes your customers know your products better than you do. That may be the case with the McRib. In Inc. magazine, Nicole Carter takes a look at the marketing practice behind the “elusive” McRib sandwich, which, since 1982, is only available for a limited time each year in U.S. stores. Customers may miss the McRib when it is taken off the menu, but that is exactly why the product is so appealing. Hungry customers never have a chance to get sick of the boneless barbeque-pork sandwich and McDonald’s keeps making money – and its sense of humor. This is reminiscent of an 2007 interview with CEO Jim Skinner, who outlined a critical few points to ‘get better, not bigger': faster, friendly service; more appealing ambiance, better value; and sharper marketing. Leadership like this keeps McDonald’s among the most admired companies for leadership.

We conclude with a concept that’s well known: It’s all about whom you know. In an Oct. 24 Wall Street Journal piece, more employers that are finding it difficult to fill skilled positions are tapping into corporate alumni networks to re-recruit employees. The article says these networks can be social in nature but also have an online component, such as message boards, blog posts from executives, profiles of prominent alumni and job postings.

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