Knowledge at Wharton’s picture

By: Knowledge at Wharton

Real-world, face-to-face communication—complete with eye contact, body language, and other important sources of information—is a rarity in business today, and the potential for failing to convey an intended message or giving the wrong impression has grown. Neuroscience research has uncovered specific ways that you can fine-tune your message—whether it’s giving performance feedback, persuading your team to embrace a change initiative, or selling a product or service.

Two of the most effective methods for connecting with your audience, whether an individual or a group, are making eye contact and mirroring (i.e., subtly mimicking the gestures of the other person). Both of these methods lead to synchronized brain waves, which are linked to engagement, learning, and good rapport. Both methods are much harder to do when you’re not meeting in person, but that doesn’t mean you can’t engage. Try one or more of the following ideas to improve your chances of being heard.

Craig Tomita’s picture

By: Craig Tomita

Are the days of standard industrial robots numbered? Absolutely not. In part one of this series, we looked at the unique attribute of cobots. In this article, we’ll see how industrial robots do what they’re designed to do extremely well—high speed, high repeatability, heavy payloads, and more. There are many reasons why industrial robots are here to stay.

Nader Moayeri’s picture

By: Nader Moayeri

I am part of a grassroots effort at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) that is developing an exposure notification system for pandemics in general, though we hope it could be used in at least a limited fashion during the current Covid-19 pandemic. We are fortunate at NIST to have all the expertise required to tackle this multidisciplinary problem, solutions to which have the potential to save many lives and hasten economic recovery by helping to reopen our nation.

Contact tracing has been used to blunt the spread of pandemics since the 19th century. In its usual form, health workers conduct interviews with folks who have tested positive for the infectious disease to find out whom they have been in contact with during a certain period before testing. They also learn the length of time people were together and how close they got to one another. The health worker then traces those contacts to let them know they may have been exposed so that they can self-isolate or get tested. This process can be slow and labor-intensive and may not identify every contact. It relies on the infected person remembering all their contacts and the health worker being able to locate those individuals in a timely fashion to stop them from further spreading the disease.

Klaus Wertenbroch’s picture

By: Klaus Wertenbroch

From a customer perspective, the only thing more frustrating than being denied a product or service is when that denial comes without a satisfactory explanation. As humans, our ability to deal with disappointment depends on understanding why it happened. Without an acceptable rationale, we’re apt to assume the worst: deliberate disrespect, and blind prejudice.

This aspect of consumer psychology may create problems for companies relying on decision-making algorithms for vetting purposes, fraud prevention, and general customer service. We’re seeing widening adoption of AI in fields such as marketing and financial services. On balance, this is great news, allowing companies to serve customers with unprecedented speed and predictive precision. However, while bots beat humans hands down at making accurate decisions at scale, their communication skills (so far, anyway) leave much to be desired. As algorithms assume a more prominent role as gatekeepers, where will rejected customers turn for an adequate explanation? And how can companies provide one without revealing too much about their proprietary algorithms—which are, very often, essential IP?

Sébastien Breteau’s picture

By: Sébastien Breteau

As commercialization strategies evolve amid Covid-19, and supply chains continue to trend toward diversification, the only way for businesses to control their destiny is to double down on quality standards. If cash is king, then quality is the king’s closest confidant since high quality protects and guides the bottom line.

To gain a competitive edge, many businesses are planning to digitize their supply chains so they can use real-time data to infuse quality safeguards into all the materials and products they buy, move, and sell through their entire supply chain. In a July 2020 survey of more than 200 companies conducted by QIMA, two-thirds of respondents reported that the pandemic has accelerated their company’s path toward digitizing their supply chain, including the use of new digital inspection and audit solutions.

Here are some of the ways digital transformation can help businesses enhance quality throughout their supply chain networks.

Identify quality challenges faster and reduce charge-backs

Consistently poor quality leads to exponential costs for a business, both internally and externally, and eventually hampers brand image, market share, and long-term growth if not properly addressed.

Jessica Ellspermann’s picture

By: Jessica Ellspermann

How you communicate a message is as important as the message itself. When it comes to internal communications, this certainly holds true. Company culture can give your organization a major strategic advantage in these changing times. But what your culture consists of—goals, values, and practices—must be effectively transmitted according to best practices if employees are going to understand and act upon them. Therefore, it’s essential to focus not just on what you’re communicating but also how you’re communicating it.

The 18 internal communications best practices below can improve your internal communications strategy and get your team connected, engaged, and motivated.

1. Envision, strategize, and plan communications

“Good ideas need good strategy to realize their potential.”
Reid Hoffman, founder, LinkedIn

What do you want internal communications to do for your team and your company? How will you get there? Where does your communication process stand right now, and what needs improvement? How soon would you like to reach your goals?

Robert Sanders’s picture

By: Robert Sanders

The U.S. Department of Defense and more than 80 companies, universities, states, and research institutes will invest at least $275 million during the next seven years to scale up the microbial production of biomolecules. The effort will enable a growing biomanufacturing industry to supply a broad range of businesses with large quantities of chemicals at the low prices necessary to make them competitive with petroleum-based alternatives.

Biomolecules on the market today are mostly drugs or fragrances made by small-batch fermentation in yeast or bacteria, a process much like that of a craft brewery. The goal of the public-private partnership, the Bioindustrial Manufacturing and Design Ecosystem (BioMADE), is to employ the same principles of genetic engineering and engineering biology used in the pharmaceutical industry to produce chemicals other than drugs on a scale similar to that used to ferment corn into ethanol for transportation. The new bioindustrial manufacturing innovation institute was announced on Oct. 20, 2020, by the Department of Defense (DoD).

Anju Dave Vaish’s picture

By: Anju Dave Vaish

T his year’s unprecedented lockdown happened just as we started moving forward with our 2020 goals. There has been a lot of speculation about Covid-19 and its consequences, much of it dire, but there has also been something that has kept us all rolling: the human mindset. With constraints come new creative ideas.

Our imagination, creativity, and innovation helps to lead us far away from stagnation, depression, and pessimism. According to Nielson India, there was a 44-percent rise in social media usage during the lockdown. There also was a 72-percent increase in ad content by influencers.

This year, in the midst of us all running to meet goals, climbing up career ladders, acquiring more, selling more, or aspiring for materialistic gains, Covid-19 suddenly arrived and put the brakes on all of it. For the first time in decades, Himalayan peaks became visible from many nearby cities, twittering birds could be heard, and deer wandered into urban areas. Perhaps this was a sincere greeting from nature—and a request to humans to learn to coexist?

Jérôme-Alexandre Lavoie’s picture

By: Jérôme-Alexandre Lavoie

With the increasing popularity of electric vehicles (EV), a lot of engineers and quality control specialists are facing new challenges when inspecting parts. Whereas traditional cars had primarily mechanical parts, EVs now feature complex electrical-mechanical devices controlled by software. Although they have fewer moving parts than gasoline vehicles, EVs have myriad complicated subsystems—all of which affect the performance and handling of these vehicles.

In order to improve product safety and production throughput, more EV manufacturers are turning to automated quality control systems in plants and right on their production floors. Anomalies can be instantaneously reported back to the engineering staff for quick corrective measures. Speeding up inspections leads to more throughput and a faster time to market.

Inefficient quality control, lack of skilled labor slow throughput

In today’s tough labor market, there is a clear lack of skilled labor with the experience and expertise required to perform effective quality control inspections.

Amitava Chattopadhyay’s picture

By: Amitava Chattopadhyay

For conventional, profit-seeking companies, moving into social impact carries huge contradictions. An ad hoc, small-scale initiative is an inexpensive way to do a bit of good and receive a nice warm glow in the process. But any attempt to achieve more serious impact through scaling the initiative will likely trigger awkward discussions about how much that warm glow is worth to the firm.

Thus, the ceiling remains low on social impact unless it can be justified in “win-win” terms. Needless to say, this is no easy feat.

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