Daniel Gilbert, who will be presenting at World Business Forum New York in October, offers some insights on business and happiness.
1. In your book Stumbling on Happiness, you covered the psychological, scientific, economic and other aspects that shape our search for happiness. Tell us how the human imagination can steer us away from happiness?
All animals make “predictions” about the future. When a mouse or a pigeon or even a sea slug learns to avoid an experimenter’s electric shock, it is successfully predicting its future and taking steps to change it. Human beings use the same trick, of course, but they supplement it with a different one: Imagination. We are the animal that can simulate events in our minds and thus learn from our mistakes without actually having to make them. You don’t need to bake a liver and onion cupcake to know that doing so is a fabulously bad idea because you can imagine how it would taste.
Rita McGrath, who will be presenting at World Business Forum New York in October, offers some insights on strategy.
1. For years, companies have established their niches, put up barriers to protect those niches and have fought to protect their competitive advantages. Does this approach to strategy still carry relevance today, or can it be dangerous?
It can be extremely dangerous if it causes a firm to ignore or overlook potential threats to their position. Some firms are able to get away with this approach (Heinz Ketchup comes to mind) but they are increasingly rare. Among the issues company executives are grappling with is what to do about competition that emerges from players in other industries. Google Maps and Apple iPhone didn’t intend to put Rand McNally out of business in many of their traditional markets, but that’s what happened.