Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

Rotman Management

Rotman Management Spring 2013

Published in January, May and September by the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, Rotman Management explores themes of interest to leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs. Each issue features thought-provoking insights and problem-solving tools from leading global researchers and management practitioners. The magazine reflects Rotman’s role as a catalyst for transformative thinking that creates value for business and society.

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Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto
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3 Issues

in this issue

11 min
culture, communism and the modern chinese consumer

AMIDST ALL THE CHAOS in the global economy, very few things are certain, but one of them is that to secure a productive 21st century, we in the West must achieve a deeper understanding of what makes the Chinese tick. While the Chinese are often described as inscrutable — even by some who have spent long stretches of time in China — this viewpoint is misleading. Despite China’s growing significance on the world stage and an explosion of new Chinese material and lifestyle opportunities, local culture remains intact and, to those with cultural curiosity, knowable. Having said that, in order to establish a productive relationship with the Chinese, we must reorient ourselves to engage with a profoundly different worldview. After a four-year stint in Hong Kong, I arrived on the Chinese mainland…

10 min
framing the innovation challenge

INNOVATION AIN’T WHAT IT USED TO BE. Once the responsibility of a single department with a clear mission — new product development — today it is everywhere and involves not just products and services, but processes, technologies, business models, pricing plans and performance management practices — the entire value chain. As a result, innovation is now the responsibility of the entire organization. As the VP of innovation for a leading food group recently told us: “A key learning was that most of our innovation efforts (above 80 per cent) had been focused on products, but less than 10 per cent of the benefits were coming from this area. The challenge was no longer to continually launch new products, but to build a culture of innovation that brought ideas that worked to…

11 min
skunk works: how breaking away fuels breakthroughs

IF YOU HEAD NORTH FROM LOS ANGELES ON INTERSTATE 5, hang a right on the Antelope Valley Freeway toward Palmdale and the Mojave Desert, and cut east past the Antelope Valley Country Club, you’ll run into the Sierra Highway, off which you can see Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works building, not far from Air Force Plant 42 and Edwards Air Force Base. You’ll know you’re in the right place because you’ll see a white building with a cartoon skunk on it — the Skunk Works logo. As you drive around, you’ll see a good bit of barbed wire, a high concrete wall, and plenty of ‘No Access’ signs. You’ll see an F-104 Starfighter on display near the main entrance off Lockheed Way and pass Kelly’s Way, named for Lockheed’s legendary chief engineer,…

2 min
the positivity self-test

How have you felt over the last 24 hours? Look back over the past day and using the 0-4 scale below, indicate the greatest amount that you’ve experienced each of the following feelings: 0 = not at all 1 = a little bit 2 = moderately 3 = quite a bit 4 = extremely 1. What is the most amused, fun-loving or silly you felt? ___ 2. What is the most angry, irritated, or annoyed you felt? ___ 3. What is the most ashamed, humiliated or disgraced you felt? ___ 4. What is the most awe, wonder or amazement you felt? ___ 5. What is the most contemptuous, scornful or disdainful you felt? ___ 6. What is the most disgust, distaste or revulsion you felt? ___ 7. What is the most embarrassed, self-conscious or blushing you felt? ___ 8. What is the most…

11 min
how social entrepreneurs unleash human potential

THE YEAR WAS 1995. A young, smart actuary and self-described ‘hardened capitalist’ named Taddy Blecher had accepted an offer from U.S. consultancy Monitor, packed his bags, and was about to board a flight from Johannesburg to Boston when he changed his mind — and as it turned out, the course of his life. Blecher’s native South Africa was in President Nelson Mandela’s first term, its fledgling democracy freed at last from the scourge of apartheid. Looking around him, Blecher saw “aching poverty, but also the greatest and most valuable resource: human potential.” Today, Monitor is bankrupt, and the once-hardened capitalist is a dedicated social entrepreneur, founder and executive leader of the Community and Individual Development Association (CIDA), the parent organization for a series of ventures that provide disadvantaged South African youth with…

7 min
q &a

Negative thoughts pervade the ‘self talk’ of many people. Why is this, and what are the implications? We are actually shaped, by nature’s design, to have our attention drawn to negative things that might be signs of threat or danger — and we should be thankful for that, because that’s how our ancestors stayed alive. But as a result, we’re hard-wired with a negativity bias, and in a way, our culture exploits that. If someone wants to get your attention, all they have to do is show you something negative. Our minds are so attuned to looking for the negative that we often ‘leave’ our present mental moment to find it: we worry about things that happened in the past, or become anxious about something negative that might happen in the…