News

The glue we need to fix a fractured world

Jamil Zaki’s The War for Kindness wasn’t always a war. When the Stanford University psychology professor started writing his acclaimed book, which asserts that empathy is a skill that can be built, it was called Choosing Empathy. But then something happened that made the choice seem much more difficult than simply reaching for the top shelf of available emotional capacities.

In 2016, when Donald Trump stunned the world by winning the U.S. presidential election, he exposed deep, acrimonious, and seemingly unbridgeable chasms among people. The election was, at the time, the culmination of a series of such divisive events around the world. By 2016, the Syrian refugee crisis was at its height, with nations arguing over whether to tighten borders. The U.K. had voted to leave the European Union in 2016. And tens of thousands had perished in hate- and terror-driven attacks around the world, including in France; at

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Companies should make it their business to get out the vote

Voters across the United States are casting ballots in what’s likely to be the most expensive election in the country’s history, projected by the Center for Responsive Politics to cost US$10.8 billion. But despite record-breaking spending by the campaigns and the possibility of a once-in-a-century surge in turnout, voter participation in the U.S. is comparatively underwhelming. Only 55.7 percent of eligible voters participated in the last presidential election, below recent voter turnouts in other countries (for example, 66 percent in Mexico, 76 percent in Israel, and 87 percent in Belgium). That means about 100 million U.S. citizens did not exercise their fundamental right to vote four years ago.

Political parties and civic action groups are working hard to increase voter turnout this time around. But they’re not the only ones. Joining forces with them to help get out the vote is a new entity: corporate America.

Hundreds of leading

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The little engine that could

Technology takes all of us for a ride sooner or later. The question is, to where?

In The Magnificent Ambersons, a 1918 novel, the car is author Booth Tarkington’s chosen vehicle for exploring the transformations wrought by technology (of which he was none too fond) and the hazards of standing in their way. The book is a joy to read, for a tragedy. It bristles with ironic wit and insight even as it reveals the terrible price of believing, in a modern market economy, that you can skate by on who you are rather than seeking rewards for what you can do.

Business readers in particular will recognize a host of themes that still bedevil us, including the revolutionary nature of innovation and the environmental costs of affluence. Most dangerous of all, in Tarkington’s view, is affluence itself, which breeds a fatal complacency in the family — frozen in

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An appetite for innovation

The Uncertainty Mindset: Innovation Insights from the Frontiers of Food

by Vaughn Tan, Columbia University Press, 2020

If you’re a foodie, the research that Vaughn Tan undertook to write The Uncertainty Mindset will strike you as a dream gig. The assistant professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at University College London’s School of Management spent much of the past decade studying — and embedded within — the culinary R&D teams associated with a handful of the world’s top purveyors of high-end cuisine, including José Andrés’s ThinkFoodGroup, Nathan Myhrvold’s Modernist Cuisine, Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck, René Redzepi’s Noma, and “Amaja” (a pseudonym Tan uses for a restaurant that sounds a lot like Poul Andrias Ziska’s Koks). Aside from the good eats, Tan came away from his research with unconventional ideas for structuring and stimulating innovation teams.

The innovation challenge facing these rarefied culinary organizations is daunting; the customer expectations of an

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Uncertainty on the menu

The Uncertainty Mindset: Innovation Insights from the Frontiers of Food

by Vaughn Tan, Columbia University Press, 2020

If you’re a foodie, the research that Vaughn Tan undertook to write The Uncertainty Mindset will strike you as a dream gig. The assistant professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at University College London’s School of Management spent much of the past decade studying — and embedded within — the culinary R&D teams associated with a handful of the world’s top purveyors of high-end cuisine, including José Andrés’s ThinkFoodGroup, Nathan Myhrvold’s Modernist Cuisine, Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck, René Redzepi’s Noma, and “Amaja” (a pseudonym Tan uses for a restaurant that sounds a lot like Poul Andrias Ziska’s Koks). Aside from the good eats, Tan came away from his research with unconventional ideas for structuring and stimulating innovation teams.

The innovation challenge facing these rarefied culinary organizations is daunting; the customer expectations of an

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A billion points of light

One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger

by Matthew Yglesias, Portfolio, 2020

The question of how the U.S. should respond to China’s growing economic clout has occupied policymakers for decades. The Clinton administration thought that ushering China into the World Trade Organization would force its government to work within an economic system designed by the United States. Accepting that China was showing little inclination to do so, the Obama administration then sought to strengthen the U.S.’s relations with other Asian powers. Most recently, President Donald Trump has been content to treat China as an economic rival and has tried to hobble its growth.

Journalist Matthew Yglesias, cofounder of the news site Vox, favors a different approach. He thinks the Sino–American battle for supremacy is essentially a numbers game. The U.S. has 330 million people; China has 1.4 billion. If China becomes half as rich as the U.S. on a

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