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Ideas for a new business model for F. A. O. Schwarz

Well, no sooner had the digital ink dried on my piece about F. A. O. Schwarz closing their famous Fifth Avenue shop, when I received a communication from the company saying that I had it all wrong.  They said “The company is completely committed to building on the legacy of the FAO Schwarz brand through a flagship location in midtown Manhattan and unique merchandising offerings.”  Which sounds wonderful, and will... read more »

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Looking forward to the mach49 Mothership Blitz on Friday

As someone who has spent much of my life watching organizations fall victim to what I call the ‘transient advantage‘ economy, I’ve always been puzzled that despite its obvious importance, large organizations do a lot more talking about innovation than actually doing it.  When you dig a little deeper, what quickly becomes clear is that most of the factors that inhibit innovation success – fear of failure, inadequate funding or structures,... read more »

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Corporate entrepreneurship’s latest incarnation-the virtual startup

In this insightful blog post, Steve Sokol runs through the pluses and minuses of being part of a startup within a large corporation, what he calls a “virtual startup.”  The pluses are many – a salary, funding and office space among them.  There are also some minuses – having to play nicely with corporate systems and staying within the rules of protecting the brand are some. What I found intriguing... read more »

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Workers of the World…upsides and downsides of the on-demand workforce

In an article that appeared the other day on CNBC, reporter Cadie Thompson mulls over the effects of all these on-demand companies that make their money by connecting people with tasks to be done or resources that in a previous era would not have been connected at all.  While some enjoy the flexibility and control of the on-demand environment, for many other workers the unpredictable, precarious earnings they generate can... read more »

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Lost that Lovin’ Feeling? Target (and other) CEO’s try to get the love back

In my column over at Fortune, I note that a common pattern for companies who get themselves into trouble is that they somehow ‘lose touch’ with their customers.  I attribute this in many ways to the dangers of the ‘exploitation’ phase of a competitive advantage. When things seem to be going exceptionally well, it can be really easy to coast a bit, let the best practices of customer intimacy slide a... read more »

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4 Ways To Improve Unproductive Meetings

In my Experts column at the Wall Street Journal, I describe the kinds of behavior that sap energy, time and general usefulness out of meetings, and suggest four specific remedies. Have a look. read more »

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Why the failure of Google Glass Might be a Boon to Google

It’s official. The nerdy glasses with augmented reality and all kinds of image capturing technologies have been pulled from the market. Already, the pundits are dissecting what went wrong. It is indeed a juicy story, with hints of mad scientists hard at work in a secret building that most Googlers didn’t even know about, an affair between one of the staff on the project and Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin, and... read more »

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Porter and McGrath on the same program at the Dong-A Business forum in Korea

I’m often asked whether there is any debate between Michael E. Porter and myself, since he is so strongly associated with the concept of sustainable competitive advantage. So I was wondering whether it would come up when both of us landed on the same program in Korea, the Dong-A Business forum. It didn’t. For the record, I should say that I have deep respect for Porter’s ideas and for the... read more »

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We were poor, but we didn’t know it – new transparency at #GPDF14

A topic of discussion at the Global Peter Drucker Forum last week was the effect that widespread digital information has on less well-off people’s views of their own situations. In the past, it was possible for people to remain ignorant of how the other half lived, because the information was not readily available. Today, ubiquitous messages on mobile phones, easy access to social media and ready-at-hand information from search engines... read more »

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Links to International Editions of End of Competitive Advantage

It’s gratifying to see that the ideas in The End of Competitive Advantage are starting to get traction in various parts of the world. Clicking on the links below should take you to the site for the appropriate language: Japanese Portugese Turkish (thanks to one of my twitter followers for this! Still working on getting the right links for Russian and Chinese editions. Tell me, how big do you think... read more »

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Pressuring customers for profits can be a loser in the long term

I was recently asked by a reporter whether there are times when a company is too generous to its customers. The company in question was JetBlue, and the issue was whether perhaps it was being too kind to customers in the legroom department, with the result that it doesn’t squeeze every last drop of profits out of every flight. The real question to me in cases like this is whether... read more »

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Stop expecting applause for just doing your job!

It happened again this morning – after taking my car to get some necessary maintenance, I received a breathlessly enthusiastic email asking whether I had any reason not to be thrillingly ecstatic with the service I received.  Don’t you find this as well?  You call a phone company, newspaper, cable company or any other large organization and after fighting your way through their robotic voice processing system, they then want... read more »

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Whither golf? The iconic old boy’s game facing erosion?

If you spend any amount of time at corporate retreats, offsites and workshops, as I do, golf is ubiquitous.  Bonding takes place on the course, the post-game conviviality is shared, and team-building exercises pairing golfers and non-golfers are part of the fabric of many such events.  Indeed, a lack of proficiency at the game has even been blamed by serious scholars as a source of career disadvantage for women. But,... read more »

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Don’t listen to what your customers say, watch how they behave

I am often asked by companies with whom I work whether focus groups, surveys or customer panels are useful in learning what customers want and more importantly, what they will pay for.  Sure, these techniques are helpful and sometimes can lead to useful insights. But it is usually a huge strategic mistake to base investment decisions or innovation projects on data gathered through these means.  Why?  A benign explanation is... read more »

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Colleague Jerry Kim on why Apple may be moving from products to platforms

In my Columbia Business School Executive Education course, Leading Strategic Growth and Change, Jerry Kim shares his research on platform versus product strategies and the pluses and minuses of the two.  Rather counterintuitively, he proposed to the class that Apple actually missed a big opportunity to create a platform by pursuing a product strategy.  With a product strategy, everything serves to create a superior product, which in turn is priced... read more »

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