2017/03/23

Inflación en México se acelera en primera mitad de marzo a mayor nivel en casi ocho años

La inflación interanual de México se aceleró en la primera mitad de marzo al 5,29%, su nivel más alto en casi ocho años, principalmente por alzas de productos agrícolas y la electricidad, dijo el jueves
el instituto nacional de estadísticas, INEGI.
La tasa de inflación fue ligeramente superior al 5,25% que esperaban los analistas en un sondeo de Reuters y del 5,02% de la quincena anterior.
El dato quincenal es el más alto desde el 5,33% reportado para la segunda quincena de julio de 2009.
La inflación de México rebasó desde enero la meta del 3% más o menos un punto porcentual del banco central, lo que lo ha presionado para que suba la tasa de interés de referencia, que actualmente es de un 6.25 por ciento, su mayor nivel en ocho años.
Analistas esperan que a finales de este mes la entidad monetaria aumente de nuevo la tasa clave.
El jefe del banco central, Agustín Carstens, dijo el jueves que la entidad aún tiene cierto grado de holgura para seguir ajustando las tasas de interés. El funcionario espera que la inflación se incremente ligeramente para ir bajando hacia finales de este año.
El índice de precios al consumidor subió un 0,35% en la primera quincena de marzo, mientras que la inflación subyacente -considerada un mejor parámetro para medir los precios porque elimina algunos productos de alta volatilidad- creció un 0,31% llevando la tasa anual a un 4,32%.
Los productos con mayores alzas en la primera mitad de marzo fueron el jitomate, el limón y la electricidad, dijo INEGI.
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Piñera promete volver a sistema tributario integrado y abre debate entre expertos

L. Aravena y C. Alonso  www.pulso.cl

Desde Hacienda, el subsecretario Alejandro Micco criticó la opción, ya que generaría “incertidumbre”. Además, dijo que cualquier cambio en esa dirección “es bajar la carga tributaria”.
Aún no termina por implementarse en su totalidad la Reforma Tributaria y ya se abrió nuevamente el debate. Si bien la discusión nunca estuvo completamente cerrada puesto que ya varios expertos coincidían en que se debía simplificar el sistema, ayer uno de los precandidato presidenciales de Chile Vamos, Sebastián Piñera, señaló que de ser electo presidente volverá a un sistema de impuesto a la renta 100% integrado.
En una actividad en la Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, el ex Presidente sostuvo que “vamos a corregir la Reforma Tributaria volviendo a un sistema integrado, que distinga entre los ingresos al consumo con los del ahorro, ya que queremos volver a incentivar la inversión y el emprendimiento”, dijo. Si bien Piñera no precisó si se reducirá la tasa impositiva para las empresas, ni tampoco si habrá una nueva carga tributaria, puntualizó que eso “dependerá del estado en que encontremos las finanzas públicas. El déficit (efectivo) supera largamente el 3% y es cinco a seis veces más del que dejamos en 2013, pero eso no es todo, porque el déficit proyectado con supuestos realista es déficit imposible de sostener sin perder la inversión”.
Desde el Gobierno, la respuesta no se dejó esperar, ya que el subsecretario de Hacienda, Alejandro Micco, criticó el anuncio entregado por el ex mandatario. “Cambiar a un sistema integrado hoy día, tal cual está la ley, es bajar la carga tributaria y de ser así, el punto en discusión es si el país requiere hoy día los recursos para invertir en educación, invertir en salud, invertir en seguridad”. En ese sentido, enfatizó en que “el país no puede darse el lujo de bajar la carga tributaria en las condiciones en que está actualmente la economía mundial, y en las condiciones que la ciudadanía está exigiendo más bienes públicos”. El personero de Gobierno enfatizó que una medida como ésta “es abrir más ruido a la economía y lo que hoy día requerimos es dar más certeza”.

Expertos

Los expertos tributarios mostraron posiciones encontradas ante el anuncio de Piñera. Claudio Agostini, académico de la Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez sostuvo que “en principio es positivo volver a un sistema integrado, ya que nadie sabe muy bien cómo se llegó a un sistema como el actual donde hay un sistema semi integrado y otro de renta atribuida. Esta es una de las peores cosas que hizo la reforma”.
Ahora bien, el experto aclaró que “todavía falta ver qué es lo que se está pensando, porque si se vuelve a instalar el Fondo de Utilidades Tributables (FUT) no me parece una buena idea”. Por ello, para Agostini si se quiere incentivar la inversión lo recomendable “es moverse a otros esquemas más modernos como depreciación instantánea o el Allowance For Corporate Equity (ACE), el cual permite deducir del impuesto a las utilidades tanto los intereses de deuda como una tasa de retorno libre de riesgo para el capital y que en la práctica es para incentivar la inversión”.
Asimismo, Francisco Saffie, director del área de Derecho Tributario en FerradaNehme y ex asesor de Hacienda, acotó que la idea de Piñera “sería echar pie atrás a lo que se ha avanzado y esto no es solucionar las complejidades de implementación de la reforma, sino que es volver a la política tributaria que estaba incentivando la acumulación de capitales con la desigualdad que eso genera en términos de la distribución del producto social”. Es más, para Saffie la propuesta de Piñera “generaría el principal problema que se tenía antes de esta reforma: dar un tratamiento igual a las rentas del trabajo que del capital. En definitiva, Piñera propone volver a la tributación en base a consumo”.
A su turno, Bernardo Fontaine, economista y consultor de empresas acotó que “este era uno de los elementos estructurales que está entorpeciendo el crecimiento, y que para corregirlo se debe integrar plenamente el sistema a la renta”. Para el economista el anuncio “es una avance, pero se deben conocer los detalles, porque junto con la integración, se debe bajar la tasa del impuesto de las empresas desde el 27% al 25%, incorporando mecanismos para el ahorro y la inversión”.

China urge a Brasil para hacer “una investigación profunda” sobre su carne

Carne Brasil
Las autoridades chinas urgieron este jueves al gobierno brasileño a que la investigación por el escándalo sobre la calidad de su carne sea “profunda”, con castigos estrictos a quienes violen las normas sanitarias.
“China espera que el Gobierno brasileño realice una investigación profunda sobre el problema de la calidad de la carne y que castigue estrictamente a las empresas e individuos que hayan violado las normas”, dijo un vocero del Ministerio de Comercio, Sun Jiwen.
Además, Beijing espera que el gobierno del gigante latinoamericano, liderado por Michel Temer, “comunique a tiempo a China las novedades” que pueda haber sobre el caso y que “tome medidas eficaces para garantizar la seguridad de la calidad de la carne”.
El gigante asiático –el mayor comprador mundial de carne brasileña– suspendió esta semana sus importaciones de este producto debido a la Operación Carne Blanda, que desarticuló una organización criminal integrada por productores e inspectores sanitarios.
Los inspectores eran supuestamente sobornados para permitir a las plantas procesadoras la comercialización de productos caducados o de consumo no recomendado, según la información de las autoridades brasileñas.
Sun agregó que el Gobierno chino confía en que fortalecerán su colaboración para “garantizar la seguridad de la carne importada a China” y “defender de verdad los intereses de los consumidores”.
Además de China, Chile, la Unión Europea, y Hong Kong han suspendido temporalmente sus importaciones de carnes procedentes de aquel país.
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Autor de atentado de Londres era británico, pero tenía conexiones con violencia extrema

atentado londres
La persona que perpetró el atentado de Londres ayer era un británico, conocido por los servicios secretos y con conexiones antiguas con la violencia extrema, según informó este jueves la primera ministra del Reino Unido, Theresa May.
En una comparecencia en la Cámara de los Comunes, la mandataria informó de que el atentado delante del Parlamento fue un “ataque contra todas las personas libres” y que el Reino Unido “no tiene miedo”. Además, agregó, el atacante –cuya identidad no facilitó– actuó solo y que “no hay razones para pensar” que se hayan planificado más atentados contra la población.
La identidad del agresor es conocida de la Policía y por de los servicios secretos británicos MI5 (interno), pero que el caso de este individuo está relacionado con el pasado.  “Fue una figura aislada. Su caso no forma parte de la actual situación de inteligencia. No había (información) de inteligencia previa a este intento (de atentado) o de un complot”, señaló May.
En su comparecencia, la premier también informó de que entre los heridos hay 12 británicos, tres niños franceses, dos rumanos, cuatro surcoreanos, dos griegos, un alemán, un polaco, un irlandés, un chino, un italiano y un estadounidense.
“Este ha sido un ataque contra gente libre de todas partes y, en nombre del pueblo británico, quisiera dar las gracias a nuestros amigos y aliados en todo el mundo que han dejado claro que están con nosotros en este momento”, dijo.
Antes, el ministro británico de Defensa, Michael Fallon, señaló que el gobierno y las fuerzas de seguridad están trabajando sobre la base de que el atentado está “ligado al terrorismo islamista”.
En el ataque, el agresor lanzó su automóvil contra los viandantes que caminaban por el puente de Westminster, se estrelló después contra la verja que rodea el Parlamento y recibió varios disparos tras acuchillar a uno de los policías que custodiaban el edificio.
Cuatro personas murieron en el atentado, incluidos el agresor, un policía británico de 48 años, Keith Palmer, otro varón de entre 40 y 50 años, y una mujer de 43 años, Aysha Frade, que tenía nacionalidad británica aunque era de origen gallego.
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Grupo yihadista Estado Islámico asume autoría de atentado en Londres

El grupo yihadista Estado Islámico (EI) reivindicó este jueves el atentado de la víspera en Londres, cometido por un británico investigado por radicalismo, que dejó 3 muertos y 40 heridos.
“El autor del ataque frente al parlamento británico en Londres es un soldado del EI” y su acción respondió al llamamiento a atacar “a los países de la coalición” internacional antiyihadista, indicó Amaq, la agencia de propaganda del Estado Islámico.
El Parlamento británico volvió al trabajo este jueves tras el atentado en sus inmediaciones, por el que se detuvo a 8 personas y cuyo autor fue un británico que había sido investigado por radicalismo.
Tras un minuto de silencio, la primera ministra británica Theresa May se dirigió al Parlamento y reveló que el autor del atentado fue un británico “investigado hace años en una ocasión por el Mi5 (servicio de inteligencia) por sospechas de violencia extremista”.
La primera ministra tildó al hombre de “figura secundaria”, y repitió la tesis avanzada por la policía de que actuó por motivaciones ideológicas islamistas. Su identidad no ha sido difundida todavía por las autoridades.
“No tenemos miedo”, dijo May desafiante, asegurando: “nunca vacilaremos frente al terrorismo”.
Un hombre arrolló con su coche a los peatones antes de acuchillar a un policía que custodiaba el Parlamento y ser abatido por la policía. El atentado dejó 4 muertos, incluyendo al agresor, y 40 heridos.
La reina Isabel II condenó en un comunicado la “terrible violencia” del atentado.
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Elevan a juicio oral causa contra Cristina Fernández por irregularidades en banco central de Argentina

La Justicia argentina elevó a juicio oral la primera causa por la que fue procesada la ex presidenta de ese país, Cristina Fernández, por presuntas irregularidades en la venta de futuros de dólar por parte del banco central en el último tramo de su mandato, informaron hoy fuentes judiciales.
El juez Claudio Bonadio, a cargo de la causa, dio así por terminada la fase de instrucción e impulsó el juicio contra la exmandataria, que está procesada por un delito de “administración infiel en perjuicio de la administración pública” junto al expresidente del Banco Central, Alejandro Vanoli, el exministro de Economía, Axel Kicillof, y otros 12 exaltos cargos de su Gobierno.
En la resolución publicada en la página del Centro de Información Judicial, Bonadio señaló que los escritos de las defensas lograron “conmover” el estado del proceso y consideró “paradójico” que “quienes debieran ser los más interesados en que este proceso avance” y se “ponga fin a la situación de incertidumbre”, son quienes se oponen a la elevación a juicio.
Bonadio investiga si mediante la celebración de contratos de futuros de dólar, el Banco Central pactó vender dólares a un precio que rondaba los 10,65 pesos por unidad, por debajo del precio establecido en la Bolsa de Nueva York para este tipo de operaciones, que por aquel momento se encontraban en torno a 14 pesos por unidad.
Según el magistrado, esta política habría ocasionado pérdidas millonarias a la entidad bancaria.
Sin embargo, Vanoli y Kicillof apuntan a que fue el actual Gobierno de Mauricio Macri el responsable de dichas pérdidas como resultado de la devaluación realizada en diciembre de 2015, cuando llegó al poder.
Los 15 implicados están procesados por Bonadio desde mayo de 2016, cuando el juez solicitó además un embargo por valor de 15 millones de pesos a cada uno (949.000 dólares).
La causa se inició en octubre de 2015 por la denuncia formulada por los entonces legisladores opositores Mario Negri, de la Unión Cívica Radical, que integra el hoy oficialista bloque Cambiemos, y Federico Pinedo, actual presidente provisional del Senado.
En abril de 2016 Fernández acudió a los tribunales y presentó un escrito en el que defendió que las operaciones investigadas “fueron llevadas a cabo legítimamente por las autoridades del Banco Central” de acuerdo a “la normativa vigente”, al tiempo que cargó contra el actual Gobierno y el Poder Judicial y se definió como “expresidenta perseguida”.
Además de en el caso ‘dolar futuro’, la ex jefa de Estado está procesada en otro expediente por presunta asociación ilícita y administración fraudulenta en la concesión de obra pública e imputada por la Fiscalía en varias causas más.
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2017/03/22

Lo que se sabe del atentado terrorista en Parlamento de Londres

atentado terrorista en Parlamento de Londres . Ultimas noticias: Videos muestran momento del atentado
atentado terrorista en Parlamento de Londres

Las autoridades británicas confirmaron un ataque terrorista registrado en el Parlamento de Londres y en la inmediación del puente Westminster.

Este miércoles 22 de marzo se registra un atentado en el Parlamento de Londres, en donde se reportan al menos doce personas heridas y el agresor abatido por la policía británica.
De acuerdo a los primeros reportes oficiales, se informó que la policía disparó a un hombre que previamente había atacado a un agente en el Parlamento británico con arma blanca y se informó que la primer ministra Theresa May fue evacuada del lugar.
En paralelo al ataque en el interior del Parlamento el conductor de una camioneta UV color gris envistió a peatones en el Westminster Bridge, dejando personas tendidas en el pavimento para después impactar el vehículo contra la reja del Parlamento.
De acuerdo a la BBC la información extraoficial señala una docena de heridos al interior del Parlamento y alrededor de cinco personas atropelladas por el vehículo en el puente Westminster.
En toma aérea de la televisión británica se muestra el lugar del puente y las afueras del Parlamento acordonado, limitando la circulación vehicular a elementos de la policía británica.
Los hechos han paralizado a Londres y se anunció la suspensión de actividades en los lugares aledaños al Parlamento
La estación de metro fue cerrada por seguridad y la vialidad impedida a la circulación civil.

Versiones extraoficiales del atentado terrorista en el Parlamento de Londres

En versiones aún no confirmadas por la policía británica, testigos citados por la televisión indicaron que el ataque se inició en el Westminster Bridge, cuando un hombre atropello a peatones que transitaban por las afueras del Parlamento, obligando la detención de la circulación.
Posteriormente el hombre impactó la camioneta en la maya de contención del Parlamento para salir huyendo e ingresar al inmueble, donde inició su ataque con arma blanca.
Hasta el momento sólo se reporta al agresor abatido por la policía y se especula sobre el número de heridos.

Grocery Shopping Is About To Change Dramatically

(DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
There is a fundamental shift afoot in the grocery world, one that promises to recreate the shopping experience in customers.
Retailers, however, may not be so charmed and some will not survive the transition being driven by the following forces.

Changing Consumer Habits
The shift to healthier eating has already changed grocery retail. There is more emphasis on fresh foods, prepared foods, organics and those considered "free from" artificial flavors or ingredients. This move to cleaner eating has migrated from certain geographic and demographic pockets and taken off throughout America.

Retailers from Kroger to Walmart and Aldi have increased offerings in these categories, driving prices down and increasing access for U.S. consumers to healthy foods. Whole Foods has already felt the impact of this--posting six consecutive quarters of sales declines--and has ceded ground that used to be exclusively theirs. Natural foods and exotic ingredients are now more available and more affordable.
Watch On FORBES: Clean Up Your Career With The KonMari Method
New European Formats
Lidl is readying its first U.S. store and the German-based chain has changed U.S. grocery retailing, even before the first grand opening.

Lidl is a hard discounter, similar to Aldi. In Europe, the two are fierce competitors and that competition is expected to be just as heated in the States.
The two European retailers' virtues extend beyond price, although Lidl and Aldi will usually beat just about any traditional grocer or mass merchant in that regard. Both offer mostly store brands and strive to create a unique in-store experience. Think Trader Joe's but for the average Joe.

Lidl's newest format offers a peek at what's to come and is already forcing change at Aldi. Aldi plans to spend $1.6 billion to remodel 1,300 U.S. stores complete with expanded fresh foods, organic selection and crisp new logo.

U.S. shoppers are in for a treat, as traditional retailers also remodel and revamp assortment. Kroger is a leader here but is by no means alone, adding organic and free-from store brands at competitive pricing and building out the store perimeter, where fresh offerings are found.

Amazon vs Walmart And The Rise Of Online Shopping
For some months now, I've been writing about the battle between Amazon and Walmart. This competition is not exaggerated for headline's sake but is a very real conflict that will impact shoppers.

Walmart is the largest retailer in the U.S., followed by CVS Health and Kroger. Amazon sits at No. 4, according to Euromonitor. How can Amazon conquer Walmart? "They need to conquer fashion and grocery," says Michelle Grant, Euromonitor's head of retailing. "Grocery is definitely in its sights."

Online shopping for grocery items - both fresh and packaged goods - is very low and this trend is only beginning. Both Amazon and Walmart have a number of tests in the works. Amazon Fresh has been delivering groceries in many major markets and Walmart launched its first effort in 2011, with a dedicated pickup location for online grocery orders. Both these tests have grown exponentially and what Amazon and Walmart are doing will have the greatest impact on how we grocery shop than any other factor.

Increased Consolidation
All this positioning and posturing among grocers will result in more consolidation, particularly among the remaining independent and regional retailers.

Just 36.9% of U.S. grocers are independent, according to Euromonitor.  "We see these going out of business or being acquired," Grant says. "They can't compete on this scale."
All this adds up to big change for shoppers. There are few things more personal to consumers than grocery shopping. Supermarkets are the places we frequent most. We trust them to stock safe products and then feed our family from their shelves. Some customers will lose their favorite stores. Most will see big changes inside, with new fixturing, services and products. Many will take advantage of new technology that delivers goods to home or office.

How this all will shake out is unknown, but one thing is certain--grocery is about to get very interesting.

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Meaningful Work: What Leaders Can Learn from NASA and the Space Race


The title of Wharton management professor Andrew Carton’s latest research is playful. But there is an important lesson to be learned from his paper, “I’m Not Mopping the Floors, I’m Putting a Man on the Moon: How NASA Leaders Enhanced the Meaningfulness of Work by Changing the Meaning of Work” (forthcoming in Administrative Science Quarterly). Carton analyzed reams of NASA documents from the 1960s to understand how thousands of employees with vastly different roles were able to rally around the common goal of a lunar landing. He found part of the answer in the persuasive rhetoric of President John F. Kennedy. Carton talked with Knowledge@Wharton about his research and what it means for business leaders today.
An edited transcript of the conversation follows.
Knowledge@Wharton: What led you to study meaningfulness of work?
Andrew Carton: I had a long-standing interest in the problem of how leaders tend to communicate about the organization’s ultimate goals. It is a well subscribed view at this point that one of the most inexpensive and effective ways that leaders can motivate employees is by articulating a compelling depiction of where the organization is ultimately trying to go. Yet the empirical evidence on that particular tactic is actually surprisingly mixed. On some occasions it has worked quite well; it’s yielded the expected results. It has motivated employees, led them to transcendent achievements that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to attain. But in other contexts it hasn’t had that intended effect. In fact, sometimes it has backfired because employees oftentimes will hear lofty rhetoric that’s used by leaders and will think to themselves that the work I’m doing right now doesn’t seem to be very aligned or connected to these grand conquests that you are saying it serves. It ends up leading to a form of cynicism and pessimism and can end up demotivating them.
I became interested in what was going on with this rhetorical tactic that we would expect to work effectively, yet wasn’t working effectively — or at least as consistently as we would think. I started to probe the literature in this area a bit more, and it dawned on me that it could relate to a fairly interesting paradox that ties to cognitive psychological findings specifically if you think the type of work that most people do every day tends to be fairly circumscribed and clearly defined, concrete, small in scale. It usually is very time constrained and time limited. You might have something to do by 5 p.m. or by 11 p.m., a deadline or something by the end of the week. It also tends to be done in small groups or by people working alone.
Yet the types of purposes, the types of organizational missions that people find most inspiring tend to be quite grand in scale. They tend to be timeless or set on an indefinite time scale. They tend to be quite abstract in the sense that they focus on the essential merits of what the organization is trying to achieve, rather than any specific concrete situation that an employee might find him or herself in. For example, one company has the vision of becoming the world’s most customer-centric company. Another company — a health care company — has a vision of spreading care, compassion and well-being across the world. These visions are very grand in scale. And they’re lofty. And they’re timeless. But they don’t have a clear connection to the type of work that I do every day. What really struck me was this paradox that as a purpose and as a mission becomes inherently more meaningful, it starts to feel more disconnected from the kind of work that I do every day as an employee in a given organization.
“Even people who were quite far removed from the famous goal of landing a man on the moon reported feeling an incredible connection to this ultimate goal.”
That’s when I decided to delve into this case at NASA [in the 1960s], where there were many reports of employees who said during that period in their lives they were involved in more meaningful work than they had ever experienced before and would ever experience again.
Knowledge@Wharton: Regardless of what they were doing?
Carton: Yes. It’s interesting because even people who were quite far removed from the famous goal of landing a man on the moon reported feeling an incredible connection to this ultimate goal and would often define their everyday work in terms of that ultimate goal. Rather than talking about, “I’m fixing electrical wiring” or “I’m stitching space suits” or “I’m mopping the floors,” they would actually identify their work as, “I’m putting a man on the moon.” It was a strikingly unique period of time where many people — this is a 400,000-person organization — across the entire organization had these kinds of perceptions.
It was also a period where there was a lot of very rich information that was available in terms of leader communication tactics and how employees were experiencing their work, a lot of internal memos and documents that allowed me to dive in to get a really rich sense of what was going on.
Knowledge@Wharton: So it was an inductive study?
Carton: It was an inductive study in the sense that most research that we do here at Wharton and that I do involves crafting a set of hypotheses and then collecting data to test them. This was diving into a rich, very detailed analysis of a single case and then trying to get a sense of what some key relationships are between how leaders communicated about the organization’s ultimate purpose and how employees perceived their work. It’s a little bit of a departure from the norm, at least from the type of research that’s done around here. But it allows you to get a rich sense of the process and how employees’ perceptions shift across time.
Knowledge@Wharton: When you dove into all this information, what did you find?
Carton: The conventional wisdom around how leaders should orient themselves when communicating about the organization’s ultimate goals is that they should be visionaries. They should paint a grand picture of what it is that we’re all trying to achieve, this destination that we’re all trying to reach. What I found is that it’s absolutely critical that leaders do depict a compelling picture of where ultimately we want to go. But just as important — and also more time consuming and requiring even more investment — is that they communicate about how each employee in the organization can get a sense of how their work connects to the organization’s mission or vision. That process of connection-building took more steps and was more time intensive and more complex than the process of just selling somebody about the importance and beauty of this ultimate goal that we’re trying to achieve together. In some sense, that was the easy part. The hard part is helping people see a connection between their work and the organization’s mission.
Knowledge@Wharton: What surprised you the most?
Carton: I think there were a few surprises, and they mostly revolved around the specific communication tactics that leaders used to help employees see that connection. It’s pretty well known at this point that articulating a common goal or a common purpose has powerful implications, especially for groups, collectives and organizations, because it galvanizes collective energy. It gives people a common cause that they can all rally around. It coalesces their energy and effort and can build what are called social contagion effects, where one person’s excitement spreads to another person. It also is a boon for coordination because it gives us a sense of what we’re trying to achieve as an organization.
But what I also found interesting was that President [John F.] Kennedy’s ability to articulate a common purpose was highly useful for individuals working alone because it allowed them to get a better sense of how their work connected to the organization’s ultimate aims. Again, drawing from cognitive psychology, the reason is fairly straightforward when you think about it. A lot of times we might look down the hall at what our colleagues are doing, or maybe we are working with somebody across the country on the same project. What we’ll often do is look to see what other people are doing and piece together what they’re doing vis-à-vis what I’m doing. When it turns out that, without exception, every time I look to what my coworker is doing I recognize that they are channeling their effort toward the same end goal that I am, then I get a sense that there’s this broader puzzle and we’re all working on a critical piece of that puzzle; I’m working on a small piece, but an irreplaceable and essential piece of that puzzle. And I can see how it fits in within this broader organizational system. Because of that, I can see how my work connects to the organization’s aims.
Even if you just have two organizational purposes, this starts to break down because oftentimes we’ll look to what our coworkers and colleagues are doing, and we won’t do that process of disentangling what we’re doing relative to them and then putting it back together, seeing this puzzle. This puzzle metaphor was used by some NASA employees as an illustration of how they made sense of their work. The surprise here is that articulating a common goal was not just effective for galvanizing collective energy, but also for helping individuals see how their work connected to the organization’s aims.
Initially NASA had three overarching missions: to establish superior technology in space, to establish preeminence in space relative to the Soviet Union, and to advance science by exploring the solar system. NASA was founded in 1958; Kennedy became president in the early 1960s. He decided on his own to restrict all of NASA’s attention just to that third ultimate aspiration of advancing science by exploring the solar system. Of course, we all know what he did after that — he made an announcement to Congress in one of the most famous speeches to date in which he talked about how we’re going to refocus our energy on a specific incarnation of that broader goal, which is to land a man on the moon before the decade is out and return him safely to earth.
“People didn’t lose sight of what they were ultimately trying to achieve, so they continued to be invigorated by it.”
Knowledge@Wharton: If you had to distill this down to some key takeaways for leaders, what would you say?
Carton: One is, as I just mentioned, the criticality of articulating a common goal, not just to galvanize collective energy but also to help people build a connection between their work and the organization’s highest aims. Another critical piece of the puzzle is, again, always keeping in mind the importance of not only selling a grand vision but also helping people see a connection between their work and that vision, the usage of subgoals. Kennedy had a very unique way of using subgoals. It was pretty surprising.
Usually subgoals are thought of as ways to break down a broader goal that could be daunting or intimidating or [too large in] scale … into smaller, bite-sized pieces and to focus on each increment one at a time in piecemeal fashion. Kennedy took a completely different approach. Rather than thinking about having subgoals be a way to divert your attention away from this broader goal and just focus on one bit at a time, he thought of subgoals as a way to let people focus even more of their attention and effort on the ultimate goal — in this case, the goal of landing on the moon. He did this by upending conventional wisdom. At that time — and even to date — most people tended to think of subgoals as being better as they increased in number: A great number of subgoals is good, because it allows us to monitor our progress more effectively. It makes the problems that we’re tackling more manageable.
Kennedy took the opposite approach. He articulated at first just three subgoals: to put a person into orbit, to perform rendezvous and docking missions in space, and then to ultimately reach lunar orbit prior to landing on the moon. These subgoals ended up being the objectives of the three space programs. First the Mercury program in the early 1960s, then the Gemini program in the mid-1960s, then the Apollo program in the late 1960s.
What happened was that employees saw a plausible path to the goal of landing on the moon. At first they thought it was impossible. Even Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon, in the early 1960s said that he thought this was an impossible goal and they would never achieve it. So, it helped them realize or at least think that the goal was plausibly achievable. But it was simple enough of a pathway that they didn’t get completely diverted away from the goal of landing on the moon. It remained in the forefront of their minds and retained its motivational power. People didn’t lose sight of what they were ultimately trying to achieve, so they continued to be invigorated by it.
Setting subgoals is [something we all do]. We do it at work; we do it oftentimes in our own lives. For example, let’s say I’m trying to run a marathon. I’m going to set a series of incremental goals, a number of miles that I’ll run each week. But this is a very different way of thinking about the usage of subgoals: It’s to pave the path to focus our intention on the end goal rather than to divert our attention away from it.
Knowledge@Wharton: Seems like a vast area to study. Are you working on anything that’s related to this?
Carton: I have a concurrent line of research that speaks to an exercise that Kennedy engaged in that was also quite effective, which is translating the abstract mission of advancing science by exploring the solar system into this concrete, time-limited goal of landing a man on the moon before the decade is out. That kind of twist where leaders focus on redirecting their attention and everyone’s attention from an abstract, overarching mission to a more concrete instantiation of the mission is extraordinarily difficult.
“Articulating a common goal was not just effective for galvanizing collective energy, but also for helping individuals see how their work connected to the organization’s aims.”
In my research, I found that a vast majority of leaders don’t do that. They tend to communicate abstractly. This is very useful because it makes people feel as if the goal that they’re striving to achieve is closer. It’s more proximal in time because it’s going to occur at some point. In this case of the moon, it was a tangible, palpable goal. It was a concrete goal. You could walk outside of your door at night and look in the night sky and see the moon. But this kind of transformation of an abstract principle into a concrete manifestation in reality is extraordinarily difficult.
I have a line of research that can help identify what we call a nudge, which is just tweaking the way that we tend to think about the goals so that our first instinct is to articulate a concrete, organizational objective that we can all rally around rather than an abstract general principle. One caveat, though — and this is something else that Kennedy did remarkably well: He focused everybody’s attention on a concrete goal, but it was a concrete goal that retained a sense of gravity and challenge and ambition that could then allow people to cast it as a symbol that embodied the organization’s ultimate grand abstract ideals. In this sense, people didn’t think that they were just striving to land on the moon. They also felt like just by landing on the moon, they actually were realizing these abstract ideals.
Kennedy very carefully crafted his rhetoric to make people feel this way. He would talk about abstract principles as if they existed in the physical world. For example, he would say, “We want to go to the moon because knowledge and peace are there.” If you think about the literal phrasing of it, it’s pretty fascinating. Knowledge and peace are on the moon? It’s something that is impossible, an abstract idea existing in a physical location. But what it did when he and other NASA leaders continually reinforced the idea that these two concepts were inextricably linked, the physical and the abstract, it allowed them to cast the moon as a symbol of what they were trying to achieve in the abstract sense, rather than just an impressive physical feat of engineering.
Think about one of the most famous one-liners of all time — Neil Armstrong talking about one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. Right there, he’s actually connecting one very trivial human action of just taking one step to this broader idea of advancing science. That’s the twist: getting leaders to articulate more concrete objectives, without those objectives losing the gravitas that allows them to be reconstrued as representations or embodiments or vessels that carry the organization’s ultimate aspirations.