News

Get ready for the post-cookie world

Almost every company — including, very likely, your own — uses them. Every phone, computer, and smart device stores them. They’re cookies, or small text files that keep track of activity as people browse websites. Third-party cookies are those that follow people from site to site, gathering data on their preferences and behavior as they go. They’ve been the foundation for marketing, sales, and consumer experience strategies. But they’re about to go away.

In January 2020, Google announced that it would phase out support for third-party cookies by the start of 2022. Cookie-based data is typically collected without consumers’ explicit consent. This has raised privacy concerns and set companies on a quest to find better, more privacy-conscious ways to gather and share consumer data. Google isn’t first in responding to these privacy issues. Some browsers, such as Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox, already block third-party cookies by default. Apple’s operating

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Why employee surveys, like political polls, are misleading

When results of the 2020 elections began to come in, a familiar question resurfaced: Why did so many polls get their predictions so wrong? The question has sparked all sorts of analysis, with Stephen Engelberg, editor-in-chief of the nonprofit news agency ProPublica, describing a “big failing.”

It isn’t just news media and political groups that need to take note of the mismatch between polled behavior and actual behavior. This moment should also serve as a wake-up call to businesses. The systems our society uses to measure how people feel simply aren’t, at some level, working. That includes the surveys organizations use to try to gauge the sentiment of their workforces.

Through my work helping businesses of all kinds, from tech companies to the U.S. military, design successful workplace cultures, I run into this problem all the time. The internal data businesses collect gives them what they believe is

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Do people work better without a crowd?

On June 20, Manchester United’s star player Bruno Fernandes scored a late penalty to earn his team a draw against English Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the stands at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium were empty when he took the shot. It was the first of many soccer games to be played behind closed doors, and afterward, Fernandes was asked if it was easier to take the penalty without the distraction of the opposing team’s home fans. “I like the pressure,” he said. “With the crowd, it would be better.”

With fans across the world mostly forbidden from attending sports venues, it’s been possible to compare performances with and without the presence of crowds. In soccer, for example, there have been more goals, more mistakes leading to goals, more penalties scored, and more away wins. In Germany in particular, one analyst described a “

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Running a global hospitality business in a pandemic

Minor International is a hospitality industry powerhouse. Based in Bangkok, Minor operates more than 530 hotels in 56 countries, with a large presence in Asia (where it operates chains across the region, including the Anantara luxury hotel brand), Europe (where it runs the NH chain of hotels), and Africa. The company also owns brands in the well-being and lifestyle sectors and runs 2,300 restaurants. Founded in 1967 by American William Heinecke, who was then 17 years old (hence the name Minor), the company began as an advertising and cleaning business. A decade later, Minor began its journey into hospitality, opening a resort on the coast southeast of Bangkok, in Pattaya, that today is part of Minor’s Avani chain. In 2019, the company’s group revenues reached US$3.8 billion, with profits topping $343 million.

Then came COVID-19, and the hospitality industry, which traditionally accounts for 10 percent of global GDP,

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What made the NBA bubble work? Data

While the world is waiting for vaccines and enduring renewed lockdowns, the NBA has shown that there’s a simple, relatively inexpensive way for whole nations to get control of this pandemic and mute the next one: Send every family two little health-tech gadgets.

The NBA played its basketball season in a highly controlled bubble in Orlando, Fla. The bubble turned out to be a useful laboratory, albeit one that relied on enormous men instead of small rodents. One of the league’s goals was to spot any possible COVID-19 case early and keep the affected player from infecting others. So, upon waking each morning, each player was required to pop a smart thermometer in his mouth and stick his finger in a smart pulse oximeter, then complete an online health questionnaire. The whole routine took a couple of minutes.

Both devices connected wirelessly to apps, which tracked the data and showed

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Use social design to help your distributed team self-organize

The corner office. The water cooler. The cubicle farm. So many of our place-based work clichés feel suddenly anachronistic in a world of remote work and Zoom fatigue. Many people will be happy never to return to the office, and some organizations will be OK with that. And as we navigate toward the new normal, it isn’t just where we work that will change — how people work together will evolve, too.

We’ve also redefined what it means to be an essential worker. Clerks, technicians, health aides, and others once dismissed as a low-skill, high-turnover segment of the workforce have now been recognized as being just as worthy of esteem, gratitude, and, in some cases, hazard pay, as doctors, nurses, and first responders. The bottom line is that employees at all levels of an organization matter.

Together, these two developments suggest we need to realign our organizations to

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