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Business Strategy

This month’s newsletter-All about what’s going on in the #grocery store

It’s ironic – Whole Foods did a great job of teaching all of us that natural and organic are desirable. And for about 30 years, that created a strong, high-margin position for them in the competition to put dinner on your table. Now, though, as I discuss in my recent newsletter, competitors have matched them on the variety of organic material on offer, and beaten them on price.  Transient advantage... read more »

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Innovation and Jobs-to-be-Done discussed in my latest newsletter

My latest newsletter offers observations and ideas that were discussed at two CEO Summits sponsored by Innosight and featuring keynotes by Clayton Christensen and myself.   We discussed Clay’s terrific new book, Competing Against Luck, some of my ideas regarding the management of portfolios of innovation and how to tackle innovation challenges generally. Have a look if you are interested – and I welcome comments and feedback! read more »

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‘If you can’t do it, we’ll find somebody who can’ can be disastrous

Recent corporate scandals and mishaps should remind us that what can feel like the creation of a pragmatic sense of urgency in the “C-Suite” can translate into deeply dysfunctional behavior farther down the organization. Just today, Samsung announced with (one presumes) deep embarrassment that rather than being able to fix their exploding Galaxy 7 note phones that they intended to cancel all production of the devices.  Observers blame the intense... read more »

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Why managing an opportunity portfolio leads to surprising investment decisions

There is no shortage of interesting strategic activity going on in the intertwining worlds of content creation, telecommunications and other forms of distribution.  The recent sales of AOL and Yahoo! to Verizon are representative of a class of strategic moves that make sense in high-uncertainty environments in which anticipating, rather than predicting, is the requirement.  As I point out in a recent article in Fortune, investments like these, even though they... read more »

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Insight into unintended consequences-anticipating the effects of low oil prices

Over the years, I’ve cited and used some of the work done by the Futures Strategy Group principals in their development of very robust tools that help organizations anticipate (not predict) what might happen in the future.  It’s interesting, therefore to read a post by one of their Principals, Patrick Marren, written in 2005.  He was summarizing some topics that had come up many times in the course of consulting... read more »

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Staring down a disengagement decision at Yahoo!

Yahoo and its CEO of three years, Marissa Mayer, have been in the news a lot lately. While Yahoo’s checkered history and frequent changes in leadership have not done the company’s reputation any favors, it still has assets that could be valuable. With investors becoming impatient, Yahoo is apparently in play in a big way. Fortune reports that Starboard Value Fund’s Jeff Smith has launched a proxy fight against Yahoo and is... read more »

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Secrets of the Superbosses – catch up on Syd Finkelstein’s latest book

Lorne Michaels. Ralph Lauren. Alice Waters. George Lucas. Larry Ellison. Miles Davis. And a dozen others. Business leaders and creative icons with tremendous track records who all have something else in common: they helped develop the best talent in their industries, who in turn helped them become the legendary successes they are today. Based on ten years of research and hundreds of interviews, Superbosses describes what these exceptional leaders did,... read more »

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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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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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Organizational agility: The CEO’s top concern?

Last week at the Managing Partners’ Forum held on March 12 in London, Caspar de Bono of the Financial Times opened this high-level conference for leaders of professional services firms with an observation about the biggest single concern besetting CEO’s.  He argues that despite all the other things that could provoke a CEO’s angst – natural events, war, price shifts, competition, whatever – that all these things are wrapped up... read more »

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What are we to use to replace industry analysis in strategy?

In my blog over at the Harvard business review web site, I noted that industry boundaries are blurring and that this can lead to serious strategy miscalculations.  Several people wrote in to say that they thought the 'jobs to be done' perspective offered a better vantage point.  Couldn't agree more! read more »

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Lessons from the Growth Outliers – HBR Article available for download

This is an article about an exceptional group of companies – publicly traded, with market cap as of 2009 of over $1 Billion USD – who were able to grow their net incomes by at least 5% a year for a total ten-year period.  In it, I find that they combine remarkable stability with remarkable change.  The first 500 readers to click on the link below will be able to... read more »

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Growth ambitions, yes.  Growth capability?  Still working on that…

My colleagues over at the growth practice at consultancy Accenture surveyed some of their largest clients about their growth prospects.  The results are in my blog, "ready for growth, but  not prepared" over at the Harvard Business Review site.  Among the more interesting findings are that the firms all believe growth is important and is back on the agenda, but struggle with finding the right capabilities to support it.    read more »

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Analysts or business designers in today’s strategy work?

A LinkedIn Question went like this: Is business strategy as we teach it in Harvard Case Studies Obsolete? Do we need to develop business designers and not strategic planners?   Traditioal strategic planning takes a linear left brain abstract approach to business development and looking at business opportunities. Most famous tool in the toolbox being a SWOT analysis. Business Designing is a more right brain wholistic visual approach to identifying... read more »

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Expanding role for Finance Chiefs - utterly predictable

The Wall Street Journal last week published an article on the expanding role of CFO's and financial people generally in corporations.  Well, it's a trend I've been watching for a while, and it isn't going to go away.  But it does reflect a significant underlying shift in the way strategy gets made in today's corporations.  It used to be the strategy guys would figure things out and toss the playbook figuratively... read more »

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