Posts tagged strategy
Concerned your poor strategic thinking will be exposed? Time to write a book.

Wool-suited, french-cuffed and tied (at that time), executives can sit cooly for hours in 40C heat but don’t ever extinguish the projector. Nothing brings on a perspiratory flash-flood faster than the prospect of delivering a slide-less presentation. 

An executive should be able to communicate her or his strategy in 10 mins or less. They should be able to do so engagingly and with clarity. 

Any Executive who cannot do this surrenders their right to admonish sub-ordinates who are similarly fuzzy in their communication of the strategy.

Can’t past the test? Fortunately a remedy is at hand.

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O Brother (Steve Jobs) where art thou?

It’s official. Tim Cook has stepped out of Steve Jobs’ shadow. 

Under his watch (no pun intended), the stock price has doubled, market capitalisation has gone from ~ $300bn to $660bn, and contribution of revenues from subscription services has boomed. 

Cook filled a big pair of shoes—and now he’s using them to walk to a destination far from Apple’s roots.

But at what price?

Apple is about to lose it's key competitive advantage: making us creators and communicators

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What did the Ancient Greeks ever do for us? Quite a lot it seems.

The Ancients knew a thing or two about Strategy. 

The early Greeks viewed life as a voyage in which you would head in a general direction. Constantly navigating between Cosmos and Chaos—Order and Disorder with the realisation that winds from both sides could provide useful momentum. But sailing too close to the craggy shoreline of either extreme would lead to destruction. 

Contrast this with the modern, titanic, corporate warriors. Insulated out of necessity (internal meetings, financial reviews, presentations to analysts, fear of bad customer feedback), they delegate strategy to staff who, with finger-crossed confidence, report that every future has been anticipated, every contingency planned. This well engineered business will withstand any iceberg. Nothing left to chance. 

Or so they believe. It usually ends in tears—or an unfriendly take-over.

So what can we learn?

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Why do businesses continually enter races they can't win?

Last week both Dennis Kimetto and I were in Germany. I was there to conduct a Problem-Solving Leadership workshop, and Kimetto was there to run a marathon. And though my programme went well, it was Kimetto’s performance that made the newspapers. 

Dennis broke the marathon world record in Berlin by completing the course in 2:02:57, beating the previous record by almost 30 seconds.

This is a remarkable feat, but remarkable feats in distance running are not uncommon within Kimetto’s, Kalenjin tribe of Kenya. Their five million members have won an incredible 40% of the major international distance races since 1980. 

Let’s put this into context: There are 17 American men in history who have run under 2:10 in the marathon. There were 32 Kalenjin men who did it in October 2011.

What is the secret of their success, and what can it teach organisations?

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Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave: Can you handle the brutal truth?

Like any patient participating in a check-up, the leadership team has to be braced for any results arising from an examination.  For some, this thought alone prevents an appointment from being made. But for those who do proceed, the feedback provides a prodigious increase in corporate confidence about future organisational health. The process lifts the fogginess on possible routes to growth.

Investigating if there's a gap between culture and strategy is unnerving for some. Participation means exposing ourselves to the brutal truth, and dealing with the consequences of the results. Our corporate bodies are no different.

We can, though, may the process more comfortable.



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Corporate indigestion: or what happens when strategy tries to eat culture for breakfast

This CEO of global pharma business was never a shrinking violet. But this year, at his global Town Hall meetings he was positively pugilistic.

The strategy, wrestled for many hours on the 21st floor at Bockenheim headquarters, was failing to deliver. Well, in reality, it wasn't being implemented well enough to know if it could deliver.

The issue was crystallised for the CEO in a conversation late one evening. During post-presentation beer and sandwiches at their largest R&D facility, he exasperatedly asked the Site Manager, "why aren't you implementing the strategy?" To which the long-standing, retiring-in-a-year-after-20-years of service, replied, "why don't you give us a strategy we can implement?"

There are few occasions in business when scales from the eyes, but this was one of them. In one pithy response, the consequences of a mis-match between strategy and culture had been laid a bare.

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S1 E2: This I have learnt—Tom Schmidt, Managing Director, Norton McMullen Corporate Finance

Large organisations are characterised by the size of their employee population. Engaging the group to co-operate for combined and individual benefits is the single largest challenge of leaders in such in an organisation. In fact, in some ways, it is the only thing they do.

Tom Schmidt has had a successful career within a number of large organisations. In this episode of 'This I have learnt' he shares with us some of his experiences on how to lead others, but also how to lead and develop oneself in order to be a better leader. 

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What makes a good brand? The predictable delivery of an exciting promise.

Goodness we make things difficult for ourselves.

Before Christmas I participated in a conference on Strategy and Branding. I gave a presentation entitled, “Market-driving vs market-driven: consequences for organisational culture,”

I will amplify the content of the presentation in future articles, but I want to focus on a question which came up in subsequent presentations, and whose answer clearly has implications for the way we drive a business.

What constitutes a good brand?

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What is digital marketing? And why the answer should bother you

In conventional marketing, you provide the recommendation. You broadcast the signal to buy. Peer-to-peer chatter is distracting noise. 

Digital marketing is the reverse. Peer-to-peer referral is the signal to buy and your broadcast is distracting, even annoying, noise.

And there you have it. The thrill and the threat, the opportunity and the danger of digital marketing.

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More signal, less noise: the quest for differentiation

For the next few weeks, a restored Abbaye in the Dordogne is acting temporary HQ for the Riot Point. We are bringing certain projects to a close, and commencing others.

Constant renewal based on past successes (and tolerated failures) is a constant theme, all fuelled, of course, by a motivation to provide value to others and while receiving improvements in self. And we’re making progress. The beams emanating from the library in the photo above reflect the brilliance of some of the new material!

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Simon Luntbranding, strategyComment
Does your strategy method build muscle or bend spoons?
It is always good to present your research findings to an experienced and expert group, particularly if the material is set to challenge their current thinking. Robust debate is an excellent method for material development; but the dialectic dines best on meaty issues and in the absence of frail personalities. I’d been asked by the CEO of a financial services retail unit to critique the approach to strategy taken by his strategy planning group. Such an assignment often takes on the air of a “tell me which of my children is the ugliest?” inquisition. However you address it, you know it will end in tears.
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Where do you start? The end or the beginning?
I was asked yesterday to summarise my approach to strategy how it compares to that of others. Using the graphic above I explained about the two extremes of the strategy generation spectrum and the placement of my approach. By far the common strategy approach commences with construction of an idealised future proceeded by reverse engineered a plan laying out a path to the 'broad sunlight uplands.'
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