Business

Leadership and work-life balance

According to the Harvard Business Review (HBR), it is possible to be a business leader and still have a personal life with careful planning, but most people wouldn’t know this if they look at some of the most successful CEOs out there. Tesla CEO Elon Musk rarely sleeps or sees his kids and had a public meltdown, and Apple’s Tim Cook is on email before the sun rises.

These intense work styles are often celebrated as the only way to get to the top and be a super-productive leader. Surveys show that managers and executives describe the ideal worker as someone with no personal life or caregiving responsibilities.

Elon Musk bans remote work

Elon Musk has ordered all employees to return to the office full-time or resign. In two leaked memos, he makes it clear that remote work will not be allowed except for "particularly exceptional contributors for whom this is impossible". These memos have been reported on news networks and Twitter feeds. The news network CNBC transcribed the first memo.

Nonprofit business: Clean the World

One night at a hotel in 2009, tech executive Shawn Seipler thought about how many bars of soap guests use for a night and then leave. He called the front desk to find out what they did with the used soap and learned that they just throw it away. In the U.S. alone, hotels throw out about 3.3 million bars of soap every day.

So, Seipler started Clean the World, a nonprofit that recycles soap, in his garage. He quickly discovered that major hotel chains, airlines, cruise companies and casinos were happy to pay him to take their waste. The business has since grown into a $750k production facility in Orlando, Florida, with branch operations around the world.

Health is a sustainability issue

Rare and neglected diseases remain a serious problem in our modern world, despite advances in science and technology. Big pharmaceutical companies don't fund research and development into treatments for these diseases because they aren't profitable. The drugs end up costing much more to make than they'll earn back, so they remain un- or underfunded.

Each rare disease affects relatively few people, so the market is too small to make a profit on treatments. Neglected diseases affect about 1 billion people, but most are in underdeveloped, tropical countries. So, although the market is big, treatments are a poor return on investment because the countries can't afford to pay for them.

Elon Musk vs Twitter

Elon Musk is a famous Twitter user. He wants to change Twitter rules on what is allowed to be posted. However, recently he surprised everyone by saying that he would buy this social media company. Musk has been offered loans of $25.5 billion from big American banks and he promised to pay the rest of the $21 billion out of his pocket.

The next day after Musk’s proposal, the board announced they will implement a "poison pill"—a measure that forbids anyone to buy more than 15% of the company’s shares. People fear that Twitter’s shareholders will pressure the board to accept Musk’s offer. Shareholders may want to do it because the share price that Musk has offered is much higher than the current one. On the other hand, this deal means that Twitter will become private, which may lead to unknown consequences for the company. 

Two types of digital transformation

To prosper in the digital age, companies must undergo two types of digital transformation. Firstly, they need to become digitized. Secondly, they have to become digital.

Though both transformations depend on new technologies, they require different strategies and rules to implement. Digitization requires companies to update their operational backbones. In the past, core operations, such as delivering goods and services, maintaining accounts, and completing back-office processes, were handled by people. These days, however, they can be enabled by software-as-a-service. In addition to digitizing themselves, companies also need to become digital, which means creating a digital platform for the company’s digital offerings. Not only does this facilitate business development and connection with partners and customers, it also allows companies to better target revenue growth.

How to be more productive

It’s difficult to be productive when you work at home. Sometimes, you are busy all day and don't make any progress on important work.

Some people tell themselves to “Try harder!” or blame themselves for not achieving enough. Other people work with a long to-do list and try to do many tasks at the same time. But these solutions aren’t helpful.

Instead, you should do this:

Benjamin Hubert: Designing for all

Benjamin Hubert, founder of the design company LAYER, believes that design should be for the people, not for galleries. LAYER’s vision is to solve everyday problems in the best way possible. For example, a client approached them about a new wheelchair. This was a company with no relationship to design—they just needed a better wheelchair. According to Hubert, “clients approach us because they want a functional and affordable product that’s also beautiful.” 

Leading across cultures

Cultural differences in leadership styles often cause unexpected misunderstandings. Americans, for example, tend to consider themselves egalitarian and think of the Japanese as hierarchical. But American leadership can be confusing. Though American bosses are outwardly egalitarian—asking subordinates to use first names and to speak up in meetings—they can be extremely top-down in the way they make decisions.

I find that it’s common for people from different countries to grapple with mutual incomprehension. In this case, it is usually because managers fail to distinguish between two important dimensions of leadership culture.

Design for humanity

On one hand, designers aim to make useful, attractive products or services. On the other hand, capitalism aims to make money for investors. When these two things are put together, designers can lose. Designs become more a means of profit than things of beauty and utility.

Investors want to get a high return on investment. So, they continually push for new products. If there isn't a demand for that product, they try to create demand. They use advertising to persuade consumers to buy unneeded products. On top of that, profit-driven companies create products that don't last and can't be repaired easily, so people have to keep buying new ones.

Designers, unfortunately, have little or no say in the matter. Designers often want to make beautiful, sustainable products, but can't. They simply have to satisfy the profit-driven execs.