Knowledge at Wharton’s picture

By: Knowledge at Wharton

CEOs are stepping forward to confront public policy issues that often extend beyond their core business, in part at the urging of their employees, write Caroline Kaeb and David Scheffer in this opinion piece. Kaeb is co-chair of the Business and Human Rights Pillar and a senior fellow of the Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research at Wharton. David Scheffer is the Mayer Brown/Robert A. Helman professor of law at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law.

It was not that long ago—less than two years—when The New York Times put a spotlight on “the moral voice of corporate America.” Little did we know how prominent the interventions of CEOs and companies would become in the public square to confront extremism, polarization, discrimination, and governance gaps. True, CEOs and corporations are still beholden to more conventional metrics of corporate success. But a growing number of corporate leaders are publicly taking a stand on policy issues that were formerly the province of politicians alone.

Jennifer Rosa’s picture

By: Jennifer Rosa

It takes more than a flashy website and clever promotional emails to compete in the manufacturing marketing arena. Chances are, your larger competitors are pitching similar products and services to the same client base. Your company’s industrial solution may be to offer state-of-the-art features at a reasonable cost, but do these benefits really outshine your larger competitors? Why should a potential customer choose you from a sea of manufacturers? To stand out in the crowd, you must first define your company’s unique value proposition.

Taking the first step: How to define your unique value

A value proposition goes beyond delivering your promised products and services. Your unique value proposition should explain how you plan to solve your customers’ problems in a way your competitors can’t.

To define your unique value, you may want to ask yourself these questions:
• What exactly are we offering in the way of products and services?
• Who are our target customers?
• What are our target customers’ needs and problems?
• How is our company uniquely qualified to solve these problems?
• What is the unique benefit we offer to solve these problems?

Multiple Authors
By: Chad Kymal, Gregory F. Gruska

During the early 1980s, GM, Ford, and Chrysler established the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG), a not-for-profit organization with the mission “To improve its members’ competitiveness through a cooperative effort of North American vehicle manufacturers and their suppliers.” In the late 1980s, U.S. automotive suppliers, through the auspices of the American Society for Quality (ASQ), approached the VPs of purchasing for GM, Ford, and Chrysler and explained the burden of multiple standards that were being imposed on the supply base. Not only where there multiple OEM standards, there were hundreds of tier one standards as well.

Isaac Maw’s picture

By: Isaac Maw

How often do you check your phone at work? Maybe you’re reading this article on it right now (Don’t worry; we won’t tell.). Smartphones were a revolution for workplace distractions, but they can also be tools for productivity.

I recently attended the IBM Watson IoT Exchange event in Orlando, Florida, the AI giant’s annual conference for its Watson solutions. It brings together users and developers of multiple IBM IoT products, including Maximo enterprise asset management.

As I attended the keynotes and workshops of the Maximo stream, I noticed a trend: Several of the featured monitoring, analytics, and asset management solutions required or recommended the use of a consumer electronic device, such as a smartphone, consumer tablet, or augmented reality headset.

Jyoti Madhusoodanan’s picture

By: Jyoti Madhusoodanan

A frog the size of a fingernail. A poncho-clad farmer leading his mule. A tree, some intertwining leaves, a silhouetted figure holding a pot. Such logos are stamped on labels of coffee, cocoa, mangoes, jeans, and myriad other products, certifying that the object for sale is in some way “sustainable”—made, in other words, in a way that meets humanity’s needs without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to meet their own.

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

Midwest Metrology Solutions (MMS) is a company in Indiana that provides onsite precision measurement services using state-of-the-art metrology equipment and software. With an extensive knowledge of geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T), a primary focus on quality, and a proven track record in manufacturing expertise, MMS strives to ensure its customers have a competitive advantage.

Midwest Metrology Solutions employs laser tracker technology for large-part inspection and alignment. The company’s main customers are those that cannot justify a full-time tracker and operator setup, but still require high precision measurement on large parts.


Although laser tracker systems are the technology of choice for large-volume measurements, they do have an inherent operational challenge: line of sight.

“The Achilles heel of the laser tracker is always line of sight,” explains Cody Thacker, owner of Midwest Metrology Solutions. “There’s always some place you just can't get a tracker into. Whether there’s a deep hole you need to reach down into, or a small surface that’s just around a corner from your tracker’s line of sight, for instance.”

Lawrence Lanahan’s picture

By: Lawrence Lanahan

Ryan Tillman-French sat at his seventh-floor desk early on a Thursday morning, the skyscrapers of downtown Boston crowding the windows behind him.

On a laptop in the nearly empty office, he worked on code for a web page he was developing for his employer, the learning materials company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. In half an hour, he needed to join a conference call about changes to the company’s website.

He had been at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for four months. Coding he liked. Meetings, not so much.

“That’s one thing I wasn’t warned about when it comes to the corporate world,” he said. “So many meetings.”

Ryan Tillman-French, a developer for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in Boston. Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

Jason Furness’s picture

By: Jason Furness

One of my hobbies is building and flying radio-controlled model aircraft. Not the small foam ones from Kmart but larger 2-m wingspan craft. It is a lot of fun and usually very relaxing.

My birthday was a few months ago, and for the first time I was given a plane. Somehow my family read my mind, and I ended up with exactly what I wanted.

I have not spent a lot of time on this hobby during the last year or so. These days you can buy the aircraft in what they call ARF (almost ready to fly) format where the plane really just needs final assembling, fitting the control gear and motor, and it’s done. The process should take about 4 hours or so. This was the type of plane I was given, and I was really looking forward to spending the day assembling the kit and making it ready to fly the following weekend.

I wanted to fit an electric power setup and started to look through the plane to see if any modifications were required. There were a few mounting holes that had to be relocated; nothing major, I thought.

Annet Aris’s picture

By: Annet Aris

Even tedious jobs like cleaning out archives can sometimes lead to great insights. Sifting through my old files recently, I was pleasantly surprised to find a treasure trove of old memories and forgotten facts. Among these papers were notebooks from my engineering studies; I realized that I no longer remembered the math formulas I had so diligently noted. The everyday pressures of business have blurred these lines.

There are, however, some basic concepts that have stood the test of time. Most are simple intuitive relationships such as extrapolated trend lines, the normal distribution curve, and scale effects that taper as volume increases.

For most of us, these stick in our heads and have been useful in an analogue world where goods were scarce and the cost of transactions significant. As business becomes digital, however, other rules and relationships apply. If the old curves and concepts are rooted too deeply, we run the risk of making the wrong decisions based on our default ideas.

Larry Hardesty’s picture

By: Larry Hardesty

MIT researchers have developed a computer interface that can transcribe words that the user verbalizes internally but does not actually speak aloud.

The system consists of a wearable device and an associated computing system. Electrodes in the device pick up neuromuscular signals in the jaw and face that are triggered by internal verbalizations—saying words “in your head”—but are undetectable to the human eye. The signals are fed to a machine-learning system that has been trained to correlate particular signals with particular words.

The device also includes a pair of bone-conduction headphones, which transmit vibrations through the bones of the face to the inner ear. Because they don’t obstruct the ear canal, the headphones enable the system to convey information to the user without interrupting conversation or otherwise interfering with the user’s auditory experience.

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