All you wanted to know about Global Warming – Its cause and its effects

The Earth is warming up, and the phenomenon of the overall temperatures of the planet rising is referred to as Global Warming. This trend of increasing atmospheric temperature has had been observed since as far as 1880. The industrial revolution blew the bugle and marked the beginning of the era of rising annual global temperatures, with an average increase of 0.07 degrees Celsius (0.13 degrees Fahrenheit) every ten years since 1980. The average rate of increase has doubled in the last two decades – and it seems there is no sign of it slowing down.  

There are several elements that affect the Earth’s climate over time, such as temperature, atmospheric pressure, wind, rain, and humidity. This creates a network of intricate ecosystems where plants and animals’ life, growth, and survival are affected by a slight change in the climate and throw it out of balance.

According to an analysis at NASA, Earth’s global average surface temperature in 2020 tied with 2016 as the warmest year on record

Causes of Global warming

The Greenhouse Effect

Increased human activity such as excessive use of fossil fuels, deforestation, and industrialisation has been central to the drastically changing climatic conditions and increased concentration of greenhouse gases.  

The heat-trapping pollutants like carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide, and other fluorinated gases form a layer over the Earth’s atmosphere. Instead of the radiation escaping back into space, this layer absorbs the sunlight and solar radiation reflected from the Earth’s surface. This process traps the heat for years and centuries, leading to rising temperatures and a hotter planet.  

We live in a Greenhouse. Video credit:https://climate.nasa.gov/causes

Natural cycles and fluctuations also influence Earth’s climate. Some have even blamed the Sun for the global warming trend. Proxy indicators such as sunspot records and the amount of carbon in tree rings are generally used to estimate solar irradiance. However, research shows that neither the natural cycles nor solar irradiance can account for more than 10 per cent of the recent global warming.  

NASA with the cutting-edge observations from it’s Earth System Observatory helps to understand our ever-changing planet

Effects of Global Warming

One of the main effects that global warming has is climate change. Commonly these two terms are used interchangeably. However, they are different.  The change in the weather patterns and growing seasons across the globe is referred to as climate change. Melting ice sheets, expanding warmer seas and oceans leading to rising sea levels are the effects of climate change.  

A recent report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reveals some shocking climate change findings. The research conducted by 90 scientists from over 40 countries concludes that limitig global warming to 2 degrees Celsius is no longer a viable option. To curb any further devasting effects of climate change, global warming must be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2040. In the event the world fails to achieve this mark, then events like floods, fires, or varying temperatures will no longer be a statistical anomaly but will instead become a seasonal happening just like changing seasons.  

Though in our daily lives we might not understand the impact of global warming and climate change, the changes to the environment are happening now and, with time, will make a more significant impact than ever before. If we look around closely, what used to be subtle hints, are now taking more devastating effects such as:  

  • Extended periods of wildfires
  • Melting glaciers and ice caps in Antarctica and the Artic.
  • Bleaching of the coral reefs
Coral reef decimation is one of the sad effects of the global climate crisis
  • Warmer and acidic oceans
  • Extreme weather conditions due to rising temperatures
  • Spread of diseases
  • Farming has been affected by changing rainfall patterns, severe drought, and heat waves. The growth of the produce is mutated, and the quality of the crops has also been affected. 

The future is not determined; it is on our hands

David Attenborough

While not a lot, there is still time to act and slow down the pace of global warming. The Earth has already warmed 1.1 degree Celsius above the pre-industrial levels. The need of the hour is to bring all nations together and work towards building a fossil-fuel-free economy. And the next decade is crucial in achieving this target. Countries have the technology, scientific foresight and solutions to reverse the damage for a healthier planet. Using alternative and renewable sources of energy like wind, water and electricity; adoption of a flexitarian diet with less dependence on meat; afforestation drive etc., can save our planet Earth. Do you pledge to save our planet? 

Is your company competitive? Here are 4 strategies to make it one! 

“No competition, no progress”

Bela Karolyi 

I could not agree more with the world-renowned Hungarian-born Romanian American gymnastics coach, who transformed gymnastics coaching in the US and was responsible for bringing home numerous international laurels. His words are not only applicable in sports but are equally fitting in the business world as well.  

Businesses do not operate in isolation. Gone are the days of monopoly where companies could dominate a market or industry. Today, in the fast-moving-digital-world, every business, big or small, faces stiff competition to hold a fair share of the market.  

Carefully analyze company’s competitive environment when formulating a business plan

When formulating a business plan, it is essential to analyse the company’s competitive environment. The competitive environment is the intricate external system in which the business operates and comprises of several factors or elements that affect and shape the industry. These elements include, and are not limited to:  

1. Competitors – Direct and Indirect  

2. Government regulations and laws  

3. Suppliers  

4.  Substitutes  

5. Technological trends  

6. Demographic Composition  

7. Network of Distribution  

8. Corporate culture  

Industrialists, innovators, and entrepreneurs need to think critically about these factors that affect the company’s profitability and success. (Also, check out our blog on 7 ways to improve critical thinking). It is imperative to understand the competition landscape and scope. This is necessary to prepare the kind of resources, investment, and technology required to build a sustainable and profitable business. In the good ol’ days, companies could thrive with little or no competition. In comparison, companies now must adopt new and innovative means to compete with other firms in the business environment and to have a competitive advantage over them. Strategic forecasting, planning, and implementation can lead to success in competition. Various strategies can help businesses build undefeatable and sustainable products and services.  

Caption – PESTEL model (reference)

Here are 4 strategies that can help build competitive advantages for your business:  

1. Cost Leadership  

Businesses run for profit. By definition, profit is a financial gain realised due to the difference between the amount earned and the amount spent on buying, operating, or producing a product or a service. It is one of the oldest tricks in the (business) book to be a cost-leader. When a business decides to pursue the cost-leadership strategy, it vows to provide the goods or services at a competitively lower price than any of its rivals can ever offer.

Such firms operate on the lowest cost structure, have reasonable control over the entire supply chain, suppliers, and raw materials, and have tight controls on the whole value chain activities. Walmart, IKEA, McDonald’s, Primark, and RyanAir are a few examples of firms that attribute their business success to a cost-leadership strategy.  

2.  Differentiation  

“You can’t look at the competition and say you’re going to do it better. You have to look at the competition and say you’re going to do it  differently”.

Steve Jobs  
Why HERMES?

Offering a low-cost product is not always an option in a competitive environment. Different consumers have different demands. Companies, by providing high-end quality products, also influence many customers’ buying decisions, who would otherwise choose the cheaper alternative. Even though companies always intend to keep their costs low, they are willing to spend on research and development costs, marketing, customer service, or innovation to develop a niche product or service, for which consumers are willing to pay a premium price. Apple, Starbucks, Tesla, Tiffany & Co., Emirates, and Hermes are examples of companies whose thoughtful approach to differentiation and compelling storytelling strategy makes millions of consumers spend premium prices for their products and services.  

3. Focus  

This strategy is quite different from the above two strategies. Business here focuses its primary strategy, i.e., operating at a lower cost or adding value but on a limited market, much narrower in scope than the broader cost leader or differentiator. The company intends to make concentrated efforts based on either a particular buyer group, geographic uniqueness, a unique product line, or a special attribute appealing to a niche customer class to cater to the specific demand of a limited number of customers. Gucci, Rolls Royce, Diet Coke, NetJets, and DC Design are a few examples of companies that have successfully adopted the focus strategy.  

4. Strategic group  

“Anytime you find someone more successful than you, especially when you’re both in the same business, you know they are doing something that you aren’t”. 

Malcom X  
The Cosmetics Industry has close knit competition and companies follow similar strategies to build competitive advantage

Groups of businesses of comparable size and range that operate in the same industry and follow the same strategies to build competitive advantages are termed strategic groups. The competition is so closely knit in such environments that even a small movement by the competitor affects the others’ market position. It helps build a strategic group map to identify businesses’ closest competitors and evaluate how your company is positioned in the industry. Common examples of strategic groups are the restaurants, retailers, cosmetic brands, and the aviation industry.  

These are four strategies, more commonly known as Michael Porter’s ‘generic’ business-level strategies as these can be applied to any business, by any firm in any industry.  

Which strategy do you think is the most powerful in building a competitive business advantage in your own context? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.  

Can entrepreneurship and innovation be taught? 

Can you think ‘out of the box’?

When I was in school, let’s just say a decade ago.. okay two decades ago, I remember being taught the principles of economics – theory of demand and supply, demand and supply curve, market equilibrium, price ceilings and floors, so on and so forth. Later as a business student at university, I learned about economic models and even more complex financial terms about running a business, such as behavioural economics, macro and microeconomic policies, government policies, international trade and its impact. I have no recollection of ever being asked to or being taught to ‘think out of the box’ (the economics book in this case).  

The businesses, usually large traditional corporations, family-owned companies big and small, ran on the business theories and principles established many years ago.  

Fast forward to the 21st century; I see a new world around me. The businesses are no longer just large corporations run on an old-school of thought. There has been a paradigm shift in the way the companies are run and how they are conceptualized in the first place. I am sure everyone remembers the time of late 90s and early 00s – ‘the infamous dot com/bubble era’ that vowed to change the world and as a matter of fact, it did change the world! 

The bubble burst vowed to change the world

The bubble era engendered a trend of entrepreneurship of a scope like never before. The entrepreneurs – the new gurus of the business world – worked on very different business principles and business plans. Business plans were mainly driven by the strategy of growing big fast, being ubiquitous, insanely high stock market valuations, and focusing on branding and marketing to gain market share. And to establish a new trend, the essential ingredient was innovation.  

Hence, the birth and rise of entrepreneurship and innovation.  

In today’s evolving business environment, entrepreneurship and innovation have become increasingly popular. There has been a notable rise in the entrepreneurial activities around the globe in the last decade. Even the corporations are paying heed to the increasing value of innovation and the entrepreneurial mindset in the workplace. It is now believed to correlate to organisation’s profitability and growth directly.  

There are several forms of entrepreneurship, such as Innovative entrepreneurship, social, scalable start-up business entrepreneurship, big and small entrepreneurship. To give some real-life examples, Tesla aimed to innovate the automobile industry by introducing luxurious yet affordable and efficient electric cars. On the hand, Uber, a scalable start-up business entrepreneurship, started with an idea to disrupt the taxi industry and attracted various capitalists’ interest and bagged millions of dollars in investment, scaling the business to an otherwise inconceivable level, growing the company worldwide.  

All entrepreneurs have one thing in common – Innovation

And all the entrepreneurs (and their companies) like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Jack Ma, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Walt Disney, J.K Rowling, Jeff Bezos (the list cannot be exhaustive), have one thing in common – Innovation. Microsoft, Apple, Alibaba, Tesla, Facebook, and Amazon witnessed tremendous business success through innovation by triggering a paradigm shift or evolving an old product with new technology.  

The benefits and increasing importance of innovation and entrepreneurship are manifold. As mentioned earlier, corporations are also realising their impact on their success. A study by Microsoft and McKinsey states that organisations show a direct correlation between employee retention and innovation, and innovative firms are more likely to retain employees. The study also reveals that companies that were assessed as having ‘innovative cultures’ were twice as likely to expect double-digit growth.  

So, the question remains if someone is a born Entrepreneur, is naturally innovative, or such attributes can be learnt, and whether individuals can be  adequately trained to be innovative entrepreneurs.  

The question remains if someone is a born Entrepreneur

“Profound growth requires innovation and, to foster innovation, you need people to feel trusted and supported to experiment and learn. There can be real returns for leaders who learn to let go and coach teams to constantly improve.”

Dr. Parke.  

To answer the question, yes, entrepreneurship and innovation can be taught, and with proper education, these skills can be mastered. By studying entrepreneurship and innovation, you can learn the underlying principles of starting a business, how to avoid common pitfalls, pitch ideas effectively, validate your product, develop a solid business model, and how to set yourself up for success in a field where failure is common. A good entrepreneurship and innovation programme will expose you to the challenges, contexts, and implications of entrepreneurship and provide you with a sense of the difficulties inherent in starting up and running a new enterprise. You will develop a critical understanding of contemporary discourses surrounding entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship as they are found in a range of national cultures and organisational contexts. The programme brings together relevant contemporary academic theory and research with a practical understanding of activities.  

We offer an online MBA Entrepreneurship and Innovation programme specifically designed to foster entrepreneurial and innovation skills to enable you to have a career managing innovation in existing firms and found new ventures. You will learn how organisations build value by applying entrepreneurial practices, the challenges and opportunities typically facing new and existing businesses, and the ability to design and implement creative strategies. Talk to one of advisors to find out more about the programme. 

How to declutter your life and get more organized

It has been on my to-do list since as far as I can remember - to declutter my life and get more organized. While I do get organized occasionally, it does not usually last for long. It is more of an effort than being a habit or a blessing to be born with.  I believe one wins half of their battles, personal or professional, if they are organized. Other attributes, such as better time management, efficiency, etc., are correlated and codependent. 

Better time management and efficiency are co-related

Moreover, this is one of the most common advice our current students and alumni give to the prospective students: to be organized right from the beginning of the master’s programme (please follow our #DILO series for more alumni experience and advice).  

“Clutter is the physical manifestation of unmade decisions fueled by procrastination.”  

Christina Scalise  

We usually see clutter as a tangible physical item around us. However, clutter exposes a much deeper issue than what you can see with naked eyes. It stems from a mind full of unmade decisions. It may be seemingly small initially: clutter permeates every aspect of your life, affecting your personal and professional lives. One may feel overwhelmed, anxious and defeated even with simple things in life.   

Though it is not an overnight process, and the inherent procrastination will make it even more challenging to achieve, decluttering brings with it a plethora of benefits. It may require a great deal of motivation and inspiration.   

Here are some benefits of decluttering:  

  1. Less is more: Minimalism as a way of life. The fewer things you have, the fewer things you have to worry about.   
  1. Improves focus: With fewer things to manage, you will have improved focus on things that matter the most.   
  1. Save time and energy: While earlier you could be struggling to find time to finish even basic tasks, you will be surprised to have adequate resources to start the book you always wanted to read or hobbies and passions you wanted to pursue.   
Decluttering helps save time and energy
  1. Builds confidence: You will feel more confident when you are in-charge and in-control of your life.   
  1. Better decision making: Once you master the art of decluttering, you will become better with your decisions.   

Now, it is easier to preach than to practice. But I found some easy and effective ways to declutter life and become more organized overall. Here are five ways how:  

You’ll never get organized if you don’t have a vision for your life.

Linda L. Eubanks
  1. Have a vision: It is challenging to plan a journey if you do not know your destination. So, it is essential to set the ground right with an unobstructed vision for your personal and professional goal.   
Have a vision for a personal and professional goal
  1. Start small: Living in a cluttered environment brings a lot of stress and anxiety. Even after gathering all courage and motivation to declutter your life, it might be overwhelming to bring in the new change. Start by taking small steps and get accustomed to the changes.   

“Tidying is the act of confronting yourself.”  

Marie Kondo
  1. Be true to yourself: Everyone has some idea (and if not, they should!) of their strengths and weaknesses. Make a concerted effort to win over your weaknesses (and play to your strengths) and make sure weaknesses do not hinder the achievement of your goal.   
  1. Make a schedule/calendar: Create a daily schedule for yourself and note down your priorities. Cluster similar tasks and optimize them. When you are set in the routine, make weekly and monthly tasks’ schedules and write down everything. The calendar will help you stay focused and enables you to stick to your priorities.   
Create a schedule and set your priorities
  1. Be positive: It is essential to remain positive during the entire process of decluttering. As it is a gradual and ongoing process, do not lose your calm or give up. Stay focused on the benefits you would receive from decluttering.   

How do you declutter your life and become more organized? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

5 key skills and attributes for effective Legal Leadership

Leadership is a subjective term. We see and hear about effective leaders leading a department, a company or a country. But it is difficult to really quantify or describe what leadership is. You can recognize good leadership examples when you see them but it’s difficult to define. Some leaders are ‘born leaders’, they are a natural, and excel at what they do, while others learn to become good leaders by cultivating attributes and skills, behaviours,  or sets of competencies, that are practiced and mastered to become an effective leader. 

I have talked in the past about Sustainable Leadership in our blog – what it is, and what its principles are. There could be several styles and types of leadership, and areas where leadership is required. One such areas is law and that is called legal leadership. Legal leadership particularly identifies how leaders behave, and how they govern others directly and indirectly, by controlling organizational structures and processes in a legal department or a law firm. 

Douglas B. Richardson says, “All great leaders do five things well, Imagine, Invent, Inspire, Inform, and Influence”. Though all leadership is fundamentally the same, legal leadership can take many forms, involve distinct roles and have different objectives. In a legal department, leadership has many faces: the chief legal officer (CLO), the managing attorneys, the servicing lawyers who work each day with the clients, and all of them should be leaders. Therefore, a legal leader is faced by a unique challenge of leading leaders as more often than not they end up leading other lawyers who are independent identities, individual contributors, pretty much people who do not follow anyone, do not like to be led, trust their own gut, and do not collaborate easily.  

Phew! Legal leaders have to be one hell of a leader!! 

Legal leadership can take many forms

Being a leader in a legal environment is challenging and may not be everyone’s cup of tea. So, what is required to be an effective legal leader? Law firms and corporate legal departments have identified some basic qualities and attributes that a leader should possess. Here are the five skills and attributes that are important for effective legal leadership: 

1. Collaborative skills 

Legal leaders usually find themselves managing large teams and complex cases. They usually have different and difficult sets of people at both ends of their stick. On one end are their own team members. And at the other end are the clients from diverse backgrounds, personalities, education levels, experience levels and requirements. The legal leader plays a key role in coordinating all the aspects, and people in bringing out the desired legal outcome. 

Exercise collaboration with effective communication.

A good legal leader should hit the ground running through effective and early communication amongst the team members, and letting everyone know their tasks after a brainstorming session. Follow up and make sure to listen to their colleagues’ ideas or the issues they are facing, and help them overcome their obstacles and provide the resources if required.  

A legal professional must weigh in everything, facts of the case, potential risks and their consequences

2. Good Judgement 

Success in any profession is highly dependent on good judgement, and this is especially true for the legal profession! It is one the most critical attributes that a legal leader must possess – to apply good judgement and make sound decisions. Legal professionals are faced by situations every day where they must make complex decisions by weighing in the facts of the case, evaluating potential risks and their consequences on the case and on the firm/organization.

Good judgement also requires excellent problem-solving skills. A good legal leader must be able to pre-empt the issues, and must have ideas and many solutions to a problem.  

However, the leaders must not isolate themselves or feel solely responsible for a decision. Though they are leaders, they are still a part of the team, and must seek input of their peers and other experienced legal professionals on critical matters.  

Self-awareness is an important quality of an effective legal leader

3. Self-awareness 

While most of the legal professionals, lawyers, and para-legals would call themselves lone-wolves and individual contributors, they are still part of a legal team. As they become leaders, most lawyers face a hurdle what’s called ‘expert identity trap’.  This means they identify themselves as subject matter experts but do not necessarily see themselves as a leader. Though several attributes are required to be a good legal leader, self-awareness is one of the key qualities of an effective one.  

All legal professionals are bound by the model rules of professional conduct

4. High ethical standards 

The legal profession is heavily based on trust, and each member’s ability to demonstrate highly ethical behaviour. Failure to do so will have many adverse outcomes such as not being able to gain the trust of their client and/or colleagues, and even more critical, being disbarred or legally charged and disciplined for misconduct. All legal professionals are bound by the model rules of professional conduct and they must understand their responsibility as the stakes involved are high! 

5. Diplomacy 

Diplomacy is one of the skills that a legal leader must have to climb the ladder of their legal career. A good leader must exercise diplomacy in handling clients, project the professional image of the firm, and must be respectful of their colleagues. The legal profession is an intensive and demanding career. It is critical for leaders therefore to keep calm and show virtues such as understanding, compassion, and integrity. Diplomacy is not something that one can learn overnight, it is a gradual, self-grooming process that can be effectively used to resolve any conflicts, and manage differences and disagreements. 

To be the best legal leader, it takes lot more than just being book-smart too; one needs to be street smart. Our MBA Legal Leadership prepares you just for that by providing a deep understanding of the key concepts and theories of leadership and their application in a law-oriented organization. Talk to our advisors today to learn more about the programme. 

Top 5 differences between an MBA and an Executive MBA. Which one is better for you?

Pursuing the master’s degree is a big decision in many people’s lives. Choosing which programme will be most beneficial for one’s career development can be nerve wrecking too. Because there are choices – too many choices! For example, one might decide to go for an MBA programme, however, there is a choice to pursue an Executive MBA (EMBA) too! As an aspiring student, which one should you choose? Let us explore the differences, pros and cons of both so that you can make an informed decision. 

1. Admission criteria 

One of the foremost differences between an MBA and the EMBA programme is the admission criteria. For most of the MBA programmes minimum experience required varies between 1-3 years. Sometimes, even fresh under-graduates can also apply for MBA programmes given a good academic record.  

On the other hand, an EMBA typically requires candidates to have on average 3 to 6 years’ work experience with at least 2 to 5 years of managerial work experience. Our current MBA students and alumni for example, possess on average 5 to 10 years of work experience, holding leadership and management titles in companies such as risk and quality managers, heads of sales, senior corporate trainers, marketing directors, lawyers, consultants, politicians and diplomats, company presidents and CMOs. 

2. Pace of study 

The MBA programmes are typically pursued on full-time or on-campus basis, and have very demanding schedules. They have more traditional and rigid course structures. An EMBA on the other hand, offers a more flexible study schedule, and are typically delivered in blocks (weekends, once a month, etc.) or online. The majority of the EMBA students are working professionals with busy work schedules. Thus, to optimize their time, EMBAs offer lecture sessions at rarer, but more intense intervals than their MBA counterparts. When done online, these really put flexibility at the forefront. 
 

3. Intensity of the programme 

While both programmes focus on the same core modules, the degree of intensiveness in both varies. For the EMBAs, I will use an analogy of a multi-vitamin supplement – a power packed mix of various vitamins all together in one. Similary, EMBAs are intensive, and one should be ready to absorb a lot of knowledge in a short period of time.  

A regular MBA programme however, spreads the modules over a period of time. The course material is widely distributed and thus is comparatively less intensive than EMBAs. 

Group of students at the Residency in Zurich (At the moment we are conducting Online Residency in light of Covid-19 restrictions).

4. Curriculum and focus 

In an MBA programme, since it accepts candidates with fewer years of experience, the focus is on teaching and developing management knowledge from the basics. It has a broader choice available in terms of the electives that a student can choose from. An EMBA programme, however, has a higher bar set in terms of experience from its candidates. While some of the core modules are same as an MBA programme, an EMBA programme has a more focused approach.  
 

Celebrating our Graduates – University of Cumbria

5. Financial implications 

An EMBA wins over an MBA programme any day when we talk about financial implications of both. Firstly, an EMBA candidate can continue their day jobs and get paid to support their education. MBA programmes with full-time study schedules make it more difficult for students to continue with their jobs. Secondly, since a large portion (or in our case, all of the programme) is studied online, one saves a huge amount of money in travel and living expenses. Thus, the return on investment on an EMBA is typically much higher than a regular MBA programme.  

Money matters..

There is of course the issue of programme cost – these vary wildly though, and you can find really expensive programmes in both EMBA and MBA settings. 

I hope the above provides a few points to help you make the distinction between an MBA and an EMBA programme. 

Robert Kennedy College offers online MBA programmes – which are much closer to EMBAs than they are to MBAs because of their flexibility and incredible value for money. We do that in exclusive partnerships with the University of Cumbria and York St John University. Check out the list of various MBA progammes that we offer and choose the one that best suits your interests and career.