5 TED Talks About Business and Finance

Learning as much as you can about the reality of the business world can help you decide whether or not to pursue a degree in the field. TED talks provide unique insights on current trends and thought patterns that are influencing the business world. These five talks offer a window into some of the changes and challenges you may face as a business graduate.

Got a Wicked Problem? First, Tell Me How You Make Toast – Tom Wujec

In this entertaining talk, Wujec shares a three-part exercise that he believes can help businesses become more aligned and engaged when solving problems. It involves asking people to draw the process of making toast:

• On their own using a single sheet of paper
• On sticky notes or cards
• Together with a group

Each step is meant to help the visualization become more refined, and Wujec proposes that the same process can be used to untangle the problems that companies face every day.

How Data Will Transform Business – Philip Evans

If you’ve read anything about digital marketing lately, you’ve heard of the trend of big data and how it’s forcing companies to rethink the way that they approach doing business. Evans addresses this rapid shift away from older concepts of competition and the value chain and toward a world where the sharing of information underpins every business transaction. He emphasizes linking the small and the large together to create a scalable model that takes advantage of the modern landscape of perpetual connectivity and supports a sustainable strategy.

How to Manage for Collective Creativity – Linda Hill

Using the process of making a Pixar movie as an example, Hill’s talk encourages business leaders to nurture innovation within their companies. She proposes that success is based on allowing the creativity of individuals and teams to be an integral part of the daily process of problem solving. Shared creativity spurs growth and helps companies overcome obstacles in new ways. By embracing trial and error and being willing to try out new ideas, leaders empower their employees to be innovative as individuals and in groups.

How We Can Predict the Next Financial Crisis – Didier Sornette

The economic crash that occurred in 2007 and 2008 surprised many people, but Sornette claims this type of crisis doesn’t have to take anyone by surprise. He outlines patterns of warning signs that he calls “dragon-kings” and explains these patterns can predict economic doom before it strikes anywhere in the world, not just the United States. Such a concept could be a lifesaver for those in the business world whose money is tied up in the uncertainties of a fluctuating market.

Two Reasons Companies Fail – And How to Avoid Them – Knut Haanaes

According to Haanaes, companies fail because they spend too much time on either:

• The process of searching, discovering and developing
• Implementing and refining discoveries

Dubbing these “exploration” and “exploitation,” Haanaes urges business leaders to find a balance between the two, warning that, although both are necessary, it’s possible for a company to get mired in one or the other and become obsolete before its time. His solution is to find a way to make both processes “parallel” each other in a fashion that allows you to anticipate coming trends and make the most of them.

Watching these and other TED talks as part of your business studies lets you stay on top of the latest developments. Return to the TED site for new talks as they’re posted, or search the archives to find even more information to guide you in your understanding of the field.

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