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Everyone loves a good story. One of the oldest and most human art forms, story-telling can inspire us or break our hearts, fire our imagination or prey on our greatest fears, make us laugh or make us cry, help us both to understand ourselves better and to connect with those around us. In short, through story-telling we can make more sense of the world we live in.
When it comes to effective management, there is no such thing as one size fits all. Take the examples of Toyota and Hyundai. Both are successful vehicle manufacturers. Both specialize in mass-market products - although Toyota does have its luxury Lexus range. Both operate on a global scale. But the companies' leadership strategies could hardly be more different.
The art of public speaking isn't a skill needed only by those people who have to stand at a rostrum and address a packed meeting. It's essential for anyone who has to get across an effective message to an audience, whether that assembly comprises hundreds of strangers or just half a dozen or so work colleagues. That's why many organisations have recognised the worth of sending managers and executives to brush up their skills in speaking effectively.
List 10 world-beating products of recent times, and they are likely to include Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office, the Sony Walkman and the Sony PlayStation. All four had the 'wow' factor that transformed their product categories and even the way we live our lives. For a number of years after they were introduced, Microsoft and Sony could do no wrong.
Weak consumer demand because of the recession is hitting many companies hard. Think no further than international book and music retailer Borders Group, 60-year-old US airline Aloha and UK van manufacturer LDV Group, all of which have closed in the past two or three years.
It started with expressions such as 'going forward', 'touching base' and 'at the end of the day', but management speak now goes much, much further. Today's executives routinely talk about getting all their ducks in a row, picking the low-hanging fruit and sprinkling their magic.
More than half of the world's 6.9 billion people live in cities. By 2050, this is likely to reach 70%, or 6.2 billion people. Almost all the growth will be in the emerging markets of Asia, Africa and Latin America. The United Nations estimates that by 2100, Europe's share of the world's population will halve to 6%, while Africa's will double to 25%.
When the Chilean authorities first made contact with 33 miners trapped underground following a cave-in at the San Jose copper-gold mine on 5 August 2010, they estimated that it would be Christmas before the men could be brought to the surface.
For 40 years from the late 1960s, Japan was a powerhouse of the developed economies. From cars to computers and from television sets to telecommunications equipment, many of the world's most efficient producers and respected brands were Japanese. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Japanese motor industry had established such a lead over its western rivals that populist politicians in the USA and western Europe took to attacking consumers for buying Japanese cars.
Psion's hand-held personal organizers were the iPad of their day. Light and small enough to fit in a pocket, they threatened to make diaries, address books and filofaxes obsolete. The ultimate yuppie device of the 1980s, they helped to take Psion into the FTSE 100 of top UK companies.
For around 40 years from the 1960s, US aircraft-maker Boeing's performance was sky-high. The world's airlines were clamouring for such market-leading passenger jets as the short-haul Boeing 737 and the long-haul Boeing 747 Jumbo jet. The company's leaders, who would 'eat, breathe and sleep the world of aeronautics', could apparently do no wrong. But when, in 1998, they shifted their focus to shareholder return and return on investment, the company took a dive.
The US Defense Department has been telling legislators for the last three years that it has enough C-17 cargo aircraft, yet Congress keeps on authorizing more. This year's budget contains $2.5 billion for an extra 10 of Boeing's giant transporters, which would bring the US military's Globemaster fleet to 215.
With all the impudent wit for which he is famous, US journalist and critic of American life Henry Louis Mencken once said that democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage.
In the late-1980s and early-1990s, marketers widely recognized the power of the number 2000 to portray something positive and new. Companies from airlines (Air 2000) to private-hire firms (Car 2000) to hairdressers (Style 2000) cashed in on the cachet of a date that was close enough to convey excitement and innovation but not so distant as to be difficult for consumers to grasp.
Research spanning 10 years into succession planning reveals that organizations lacking effective succession management are five times more likely to disappear, and three times less likely to enjoy ‘organizational success’, than those with robust practices.
US carrier Southwest branded itself 'the love airline' in the 1970s and dressed its stewardesses in hot pants. Three decades later, as one of its flights was preparing to depart, an airline employee asked 23-year-old passenger Kyla Ebbert to change her miniskirt, top and sweater - or get off the plane!