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Strategy Execution

‘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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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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Sustainable advantage, Transient Advantage and Organizational Change

In an insightful blog that is part of a series HBR is running on the intersection between Strategy and Innovation, editor Sarah Cliffe interviews colleague Don Sull, who argues that you can think of the “sustainability” school as the thesis, the “transient advantage” camp as the antithesis and the organizational change folks as the synthesis of the two, requiring a degree of ambidexterity on the part of managers. In support... read more »

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Continuous reconfiguration – commended paper by Emerald Insight

Emerald Insight commended the research behind a recent paper, Continuous Reconfiguration in the Transient Advantage Economy.  In a nutshell, what I found was that firms that were capable of delivering consistent performance over a relatively long period of time did not tend to have dramatic downsizings, firings or major restructuring.  What you see instead is that they change in small ways, but with a quick pace.  In fact, you don’t... 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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Can Your Career Survive Transient Competitive Advantage?

Theodore Kinni of Strategy & Business highlighted a chapter in Rita McGrath’s book dealing with career change: If our employers begin rejiggering their businesses’ portfolios at a faster pace, our jobs are going to get rejiggered more often too. And if that starts to happen, are you ready? McGrath offers the following 10 yes-or-no scenarios to help you figure that out.   1. If my current employer let me go,... read more »

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Ron Adner’s response to my “Better Place” question

As promised, I asked Ron what he thought about A Better Place, a company that I'm very struck with that has the potential to transform our relationship with energy.  Turns out he'd given them a lot of thought already – here's what he said:   To date, the electric car has been a poster child for ecosystem mismanagement.  We’ve seen a lot of great innovation in the individual pieces: improved... read more »

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New HBR article:  Living with Complexity and Link for Free Download

Gokce Sargut and I are working together on the fascinating subject of how organizations can sensibly and strategically cope with the demands of complex situations.  One of the papers from our ongoing research project is out in this months' Harvard Business Review.   We offer a perspective on why complexity is so hard to deal with (because it has interactive qualities that make outcomes unpredictable) and offer some suggestions on how... read more »

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Humanities Graduates Bring …well…Humanity to Bear at Work

I thought this extremely thought provoking blog post by fellow Harvard Blogger Tony Golsby-Smith  was a great reminder that although analytical tools and frameworks can help solve certain kinds of problems, they are hopeless facing other situations. Among the advantages humanities training offers that Golsby-Smith points out are: The ability to deal with ambiguity and see richer patterns Creativity and curiosity, correlates with innovation Skilfull writing and presentation of ideas I would... read more »

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Prioritization - never an easy thing

Scott Anthony of Innosight wrote a great blog post:  3 ways to prioritize a long list of ideas which provides some good insight into how to start.   I'll add to that::  I also try to think of contrasts.  Good projects (and what made them good) vs. not so good (and what made them that way).  Good customers vs. not so.  Great opportunities vs. things you wish you hadn't done…and eventually... read more »

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What Lynda Gratton has been up to

Lynda is a good friend and a gifted analyst of organizations in the wild.  I thought my readers might be interested in her latest news update, which follows: Dear Rita, I’m really excited to update you on what’s going on in my world. First of all, many of you have heard me mention my new book on the future of work. I’m happy to announce that the book, called The... read more »

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T-Mobile & AT&T!  Oops…just kidding around about the network thing, honest!

Apple has certainly inspired a lot of imitators. Among them a series of ads in the "I'm a Mac / You're a PC" vein basically insulting AT&T's network coverage.  Oops.  And worst of all, they can't even pull the ads – once its out there on the Net it never goes away.  Hey, was that Verizon smirking in the background…? 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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Advice for would-be media darlings - A hilarious YouTube series

I ran across some truly hilarious examples of desperately awful speaking to the media on YouTube.  The series is a set of short clips, beginning with Media Coaching Example #1, in which a beauty contest competitor answers … well, tries to answer…a question about poor educational standards in the United States.  It's deliciously ironic that although she is talking she makes no sense.  The advice?  Be prepared.  Media Coaching Example... read more »

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