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By The Numbers

Workplace Survey, Findings

1.Workers are struggling to work effectively. 

When focus is compromised in pursuit of Collaboration, neither works well.

2. Effective workplaces balance focus and collaboration. 

Workplaces designed to enable collaboration without sacrificing employees’ ability to focus are more successful.

3. Choice drives performance and innovation. 

Employers who provide a spectrum of choices for when and where to work are seen as more innovative and have higher-performing employees.

 

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THE VALUE OF THINKING OPPOSITE


According to the Newton's third law of physic, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Can the same be said of thought patterns? Could thinking opposite solve some of the planet’s greatest challenges?


An opposite mindset is at the heart of Muhammad Yunus’ business, the Grameen Bank (GB), and his pioneering work in the field of microcredit. The economist won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for proving that lending money to the poor to run their own micro-businesses can transform lives. Yunus proposes a worldwide shakeup: solve problems by creating self-sustaining social responsible businesses.

 


Yunus’ own awakening came in 1974 when, as an economist at Chittagong University (Bangladesh), he took his students on a field trip to a remote village. When he met a bamboo-stool seller who was forced to pay back lenders at an interest rate as high as 10% each week, leaving her with pitiful profits, he realised that the kind of economics he taught was fundamentally wrong.


Against the advice of banks and government, Yunus arranged microloans at market interest rates and in 1983 formed the GB – “village bank” – founded on principles of trust instead of so-called collateral.


Yunus’ first battle was with other banks. Bankers told him that lending to the poor was absurd. They said, ‘Banking is a process in which you lend money to people who need it’. But Yonus replied, ‘You lend money to people who already have lots of money but you don’t lend money to people who have nothing’.”


Yunus learnt how conventional banks went about their business – and then he did the opposite. “I created a bank that was almost the mirror image of the traditional bank. They go to the rich, we go to the poor. They choose cities, we choose remote villages. They focus on men, we focus on women.”


And it worked. By 2015 in Bangladesh, GB had 2,568 branches with 21,751 staff serving 8.81 million borrowers in 81,392 villages. Of the borrowers today, 97% are women. The loans are paid back at a higher recovery rate (97%) than any other banking system.


Yunus’ work in some of the poorest villages highlighted difficulties ranging from healthcare to education. Again, he tackled each issue in a radically opposite way. “Every time I solved a problem, I did so with a business engine behind it. I wanted to avoid the charity route. Charity money has one life. Social business money has an endless life.”


Wrapped up in the characteristics of a social business is a think opposite mindset. Are you able to close the loop on your product cycles? Should profit always be your first motive? Could you fund a social business instead of offering conventional aid?

Within this context, can the thinking opposite mindset help to tackle some of the business' biggest challenges?