Stanislav Shekshnia’s picture

By: Stanislav Shekshnia

Corporate boards across Europe are reacting to the coronavirus pandemic in three ways. For some, it’s business as usual. “Crisis is the business of the CEO; the board does not need to adjust its workings,” the chair of one such board told me. Other boards are going in the opposite direction, becoming very engaged, involving themselves in operations and even making key executive decisions. In the words of the leader of such a board: “When the crisis of this scale strikes—we all become executives.”

I am glad that the most widespread reaction is of a third and healthier variety: Boards adapt their routines to reflect the new reality of extreme uncertainty, increase the frequency of meetings, and change their agendas—but stay away from executive functions. The chair of one such board said: “The essence of our work has not changed—we look after the company’s sustainability, we protect shareholders’ value, we provide oversight to management. At the same time, the intensity and formats of our interactions have been adjusted dramatically.”

What exactly do effective boards need to do to navigate the current crisis? My recent interviews with chairs and directors turned up seven questions that could serve as a guide.

Jennifer Chu’s picture

By: Jennifer Chu

The brain is one of our most vulnerable organs, as soft as the softest tofu. Brain implants, on the other hand, are typically made from metal and other rigid materials that, over time, can cause inflammation and the buildup of scar tissue.

MIT engineers are working on developing soft, flexible neural implants that can gently conform to the brain’s contours and monitor activity over longer periods, without aggravating surrounding tissue. Such flexible electronics could be softer alternatives to existing metal-based electrodes designed to monitor brain activity and may also be useful in brain implants that stimulate neural regions to ease symptoms of epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and severe depression.

Led by Xuanhe Zhao, a professor of mechanical engineering and civil and environmental engineering, the research team has now developed a way to 3D print neural probes and other electronic devices that are as soft and flexible as rubber.

The Hechinger Report’s picture

By: The Hechinger Report

Students generally learn about moles, atoms, compounds, and the intricacies of the periodic table in college, but Daniel Fried is convinced kids can learn complex biochemistry topics as early as elementary school.

Fried is an assistant professor of chemistry at Saint Peter’s University in New Jersey, and in his spare time, he creates biochemistry lessons for kids, teaching fourth through sixth graders at a nearby Montessori school and sharing lessons with other teachers and homeschooling parents around the country and world.

“When the kids are young, they’re highly motivated,” Fried says. “It’s easy to teach them. They pick up on the patterns so quickly. They appreciate everything.” High school and college students, by contrast, take a lot more work to engage, and Fried has found getting children interested in biochemistry to be a breeze—especially when they hear they’ll soon be able to correct older siblings or cousins. “The harder part is getting the adults on board to allow it to happen,” he says.

Stephanie Parker’s picture

By: Stephanie Parker

This story was originally published by Knowable Magazine.

An anthropologist looks at the myriad ways we link food to place—and whether it really could make a difference.

“Local food” is a term loaded with virtue for many people. Some with environmental concerns lean toward local because food grown nearby requires less energy for transportation. Others find it reassuring to meet a farmer and know where their food comes from and how it was grown.

Others may think of local food as fresher, more nutritious, and more likely to be grown organically, or they view “local” as a way to boost local economies and invest in their communities.

But the very definition of local food is elusive. If it’s about food that was grown nearby, how nearby should that be? Fifty miles away? One hundred? Somewhere within one’s state or country? And for those whose definition of “local” means pride in regional cuisines, does it matter where the ingredients were grown?

William A. Levinson’s picture

By: William A. Levinson

The phrase “flatten the curve” means to slow the transmission of the coronavirus (Covid-19) in order to spread the total number of cases out over a longer period of time. This will avoid overwhelming the healthcare system.1 The model is accurate as presented throughout the internet, but it also overlooks terrible dangers and enormous opportunities.

Multiple Authors
By: David Dubois, Joanna Teoh

From AI-enabled chatbots to ads based on individuals’ search or social media activities, digital data offer novel ways to connect with customers. These connections can develop into intimate customer relationships that boost satisfaction, engagement, and ultimately, loyalty. Consider Netflix’s recent personalization strategy, which enabled viewers of its series Bandersnatch to choose the main character’s actions throughout the episode, leading to five unique endings.

But there is a point where customer intimacy and invasion of privacy blurs. For instance, as early as 2012, Target predicted a teenage customer’s pregnancy through her historical purchase pattern data and sent her baby-related coupons, to the surprise of her parents.

Knowledge at Wharton’s picture

By: Knowledge at Wharton

When the Mosaic browser, with its consumer-friendly interface, was released to the world in 1993, most had no idea how radically this first foray into the internet era would transform our lives, both personally and professionally. As humans, we are generally poor at detecting and acting on early signals of change. And as business leaders, we don’t fare much better.

Most companies were late to the party on PCs, e-commerce, smartphones, digital payments, the sharing economy, gig work, AI, and now virtual ways of working. And it’s not for lack of trying. Last year, companies spent nearly $1.2 trillion on digital transformation, according to research by International Data Corporation. Yet only 13 percent of leaders believe their organizations are truly ready to compete in the digital age.

Enter the Covid-19 crisis. Although it may not be a welcomed shock to the system, it’s driving the rapid adoption of digital technologies and ways of working needed for companies just to stay relevant and continue to operate. Not only has the stock market experienced a historic drop in value, but companies also have had to dramatically change the way they operate amidst a social lockdown.

Simon Côté’s picture

By: Simon Côté

How can the KTM racing team inspect motorbike parts of various shapes, sizes, and complexity, and account for minuscule material variations and deviations between laps? The team trades microns for milliseconds. Here is how KTM Motorsports used 3D scanning solutions to perform quality control procedures and improve their times on the track.


Pol Espargaró from Red Bull KTM MotoGP

KTM AG is Europe’s leading high-performance street and off-road sport motorcycle manufacturer based in Mattighofen, Austria. Over the years, KTM has built a reputation as a fierce competitor on racetracks around the world. With an established presence in the off-road segments, KTM has progressed through the world of street motorcycles and recently made a foray into sport bike territory.

Norm Friesen’s picture

By: Norm Friesen

As the Covid-19 pandemic forces many U.S. colleges and universities to move their courses online, connecting online via video is now having its moment.

Family, friends, neighbors, and even TV talk-show hosts are now meeting and broadcasting from home. Meanwhile, Microsoft, Google, and Zoom are struggling to meet the demand for their videoconferencing services.

Mark Rosenthal’s picture

By: Mark Rosenthal

Sometimes I see people chasing their tails when trying to troubleshoot a process. This usually (though not always) follows a complaint or rejection of some kind.

A few years ago I posted “Organize, Standardize, Stabilize, Optimize” and talked in general terms about the sequence of thinking that gives reliable outcomes. This is a series of questions that, if asked and addressed in sequence, can help you troubleshoot a process. The idea is that you must have a very clear yes to every question before proceeding to the next.

Question 1: Is there a clear standard for the outcome?

Why is this important? Because if you don’t have a clear expectation of what “good” looks like, then your definition of “not good” is subjective and varies depending on who, what, and when things are being looked at.

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