Decision Maker

The Question Every Decision Maker Should Answer First

The business community is dramatically more focused than ever before on a powerful set of advanced tools for decision-making, particularly applications of a rich base of research on cognitive biases.  We’re believers in this work, and I’ll reflect on aspects of it in future posts.  Here I’d like to focus on a much more basic… Read more » Read more

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Should We Have Two Leadership Teams?

A number of the entrepreneurs we advise have reached the stage of enterprise-building where there are more executives within their organizations than fit naturally on the top management team. They face the question of whether to have a second, more inclusive leadership team that creates a forum for all the “most senior people” to participate…. Read more » Read more

Making each moment count

The Zen of Work: Making Each Moment Count

We do our work in episodes. We sit, pick up the phone, or gather. We engage in discussion, read, rough out numbers, sketch a thought. We go a certain distance, and then the episode ends, and if the thread gets picked up, it’s later, and another episode’s begun. One very simple way to divide episodes… Read more » Read more

Education of a Strategist

The Education of a Strategist

Great strategists elevate organizations. They see the statue in the marble of the circumstances they face. They gain an understanding, both through analytics and judgment, of the very edge of what an enterprise can achieve — and they push the organization toward this frontier. While an immense amount has been written about the subject of strategy, much… Read more » Read more

1000 Year Scale

Achieving Impact on a 1,000-Year Scale

Over the next thousand years, a succession of human societies will determine the future of life in this part of the universe. We will shape and be shaped by our evolving impact on the environment. We—and the other living things around us—will contain or be overcome by our increasing destructive powers. We will have learned… Read more » Read more

Market Logic

Market Logic of a Business: Seven Fundamental Questions

One of the questions we often see in our work is about whether and how to launch a business that doesn’t yet exist.  This question comes up both in the context of early stage start-ups shaping their strategy and in the context of teams in larger companies considering the launch of new businesses. Answering this… Read more » Read more

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What to Do When Your People Are Leaving

There are few things more unsettling for people-driven businesses like tech companies, professional service firms and asset managers than a spike in attrition.  High attrition can easily become a downward spiral, as the exit of key people causes others to question the firm’s health and the opportunities they’ll have. Often management teams haven’t experienced this… Read more » Read more

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What Does “Taking Ownership” Really Mean?

As we’ve described in pieces like “Self Management: A New Architecture” and “Why Is Micromanagement So Infectious?,” the crux of management exists in the meeting of the minds between what we term a sponsor and an owner. The fundamental act of delegation occurs when sponsor and owner agree upon a brief, giving the owner responsibility… Read more » Read more

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Finishing the Work of Founding a Company

Founders often feel their work can never be completed.  Or they feel that the completion of this work could only be the completion of the company, an exit in which the company becomes someone else’s opportunity, someone else’s problem. Let’s play with the opposing idea: that there is a distinct founding era in a company,… Read more » Read more

Sol Lewitt

Why We Invest in Reviews and Rate Performance

GE made headlines with their decision to eliminate ratings. Accenture’s CEO announced in an interview with the Washington Post last year that they were eliminating their annual reviews: “We’re going to get rid of it. Not 100 percent, but we’re going to get rid of probably 90 percent of what we did in the past…. Read more » Read more

How to Revise Thinking

How to Revise One’s Thinking

Decisions we make, in business and in life, are a function of the way the evidence we get, the inferences we make from that evidence, the background beliefs that shape our thinking and the way we connect all these inputs to our objectives.  Every once in a while, a bad decision bears the fingerprints of… Read more » Read more

After the Election

After the Election

I shared the letter below with our team at Incandescent this morning: a personal reflection on how this moment in our national history connects to our firm as a community and to our work.  In a time when so many of us find ourselves in new territory as leaders and as citizens, wrestling with what… Read more » Read more

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How We Run Incandescent: Principles and Practices

Over the last three years of building Incandescent, we’ve also been building a document we call How We Run Incandescent. The primary focus of this document is to provide an operating framework: a way of thinking about the principles of how we operate that translate effectively into our practices, the shared ways we as a… Read more » Read more

smart-execs

The Stupidest Thing Smart Executives Say

“Don’t bring me a problem without bringing me a solution!” We define micromanagement as what happens when a sponsor – the leader who delegates a goal and specifies a brief articulating what outcome is needed, by when, subject to what constraints – starts doing what should be the owner’s work of shaping the path to the… Read more » Read more

Volunteer Economy

Self-Management and the Volunteer Economy at Incandescent

Since the publication of Beyond the Holacracy Hype in HBR this summer, a number of people have asked me whether Incandescent has a form of self-managing organization.  For the most part, the firm operates in a clear but loose hierarchy, in which objectives are delegated from clear sponsors to owners who then have great latitude to… Read more » Read more

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Micromanagement 101 and Other Recent Adventures

After publishing Beyond the Holacracy Hype in the July-August issue of Harvard Business Review, we’ve followed up with two digital articles in HBR: How Self-Managed Companies Help People Learn on the Job (co-authored with Ethan Bernstein and Charlotte Dobbs), which lays out some personal learning experiments people can try whatever kind of environment they work… Read more » Read more

Encoding Learning

Encoding My Learning and Teaching: A Personal Reflection

Over the past couple of years, I’ve twice shared my priorities for personal development publicly – partly thinking my reflections might be useful to others, but mostly acting out of a belief that it would be useful to me to publicly state my commitments.  In “Three Lines to a Bird,” I describe the importance of… Read more » Read more

Feedback Flowers

Feedback in the Moment

Experience decays.  While some experiences stay with us vividly for years, most fade in hours.  Rapid feedback matters because it translates experience into learning while the experience is still alive for us.  This translates into registering whatever value there might be in the feedback more deeply, and into internalizing the learning more fully. Feedback in… Read more » Read more

Duck Rabbit

The “Duck-Rabbit” and the Art of Entrepreneurship

Anyone who has built a company knows what it’s like to flip back and forth between just knowing that what they’ve pictured in their head really will get realized in the world – and despairing that the latest just-maybe-insurmountable obstacle could derail the venture entirely. In his Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein writes about the “duck-rabbit” picture. … Read more » Read more

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How to Retain Talent – and How to Lose People the Right Way

Of all the systems relating to talent that I’ve ever had a hand in developing, the most powerful was a system we developed at Katzenbach Partners called “the retention tree.”  The system is extremely simple, and this short post includes everything you would need to implement it yourself. The context: Katzenbach Partners hired many people… Read more » Read more

On Hiring Well

On Hiring Well

Choices about whom to hire are among the most important choices any company makes. Hiring constitutes “choosing the choosers” of what a company will do and how they will do it, whether at the micro scale of delivering service at a car rental counter or the macro scale of building a new business. Unlike domains… Read more » Read more

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Cultures That Yield the Right Divergence

Two posts ago, I shared my thoughts on Adam Grant’s book Originals. As part of Adam’s listening tour to develop his thinking, he visited our office in New York for a conversation about cultures that are both cohesive and that foster divergent thinking and constructive dissent. In preparing for the dialogue with Adam, I wrote… Read more » Read more

Culture: a CEO's manifesto

Culture: A CEO’s Manifesto

This piece is adapted from a letter to a Fortune 500 CEO, building on a dialogue we had about evolving the culture of a company in its second century. The path described here isn’t meant to be a universal recommendation – we’d do very different things in different contexts. Rather, I share this as a… Read more » Read more

Adam Grant

How to Be an Original

All significant achievement demands a journey beyond precedent. Adam Grant’s Originals is not so much a map for this journey as a curriculum for explorers, preparing the “reader as explorer” to handle the kinds of terrain they can expect to encounter. The book is like a mosaic, largely made up of tiles constructed in a… Read more » Read more

Post-Mortems

The Power of Stepping Back: Conducting Post-Mortems

Nothing is more valuable than maximizing the amount we learn from our experiences, individually and collectively. This learning matters too much to leave to chance. A post-mortem discipline is tremendously valuable to institutionalize in a company, with impact that goes beyond the direct learning from the sessions. This impact is felt particularly as part of… Read more » Read more

Charlie Munger

Worldly Wisdom in 80 Models

As a companion piece to Graham’s Duncan’s post What Do You See?, I’d like to share a wonderful passage from Charlie Munger’s 1994 speech at USC, which my colleague Darko Lovric shared with me. Most intellectual progress comes from those who can see one thing more clearly than anyone has seen it, and learned to show that vision to the… Read more » Read more

You Must Change Your Life

You Must Change Your Life

Years turn, and our lives continue the motion they know. We try things, which yield some of the consequences we anticipate. Surprises happen. Most of these unfold at the periphery of our attention, and most of them seem small. And then there are moments in which life feels arresting. Often it isn’t clear why. Or:… Read more » Read more

Guest Post: What Do You See? Graham Duncan

Guest Post: What Do You See?

Graham Duncan, founder of East Rock Capital, is one of the people I’ve most enjoyed thinking with and learning from over many years.  Graham’s a student of the human mind and human development, particularly as applied to the field of investment.  Over breakfast not long ago, we were discussing the luminous moments in the work… Read more » Read more

Self Managment is One Part Architecture, Two Parts Culture

Self Management is One Part Architecture, Two Parts Culture

In the first of four posts on self management, I tried to name the distinct building blocks that constitute the foundation of a self-managing organization. After a second post characterizing the strengths and weaknesses of Holacracy, the third and most recent post laid out an architecture for self management that I believe would in many cases be… Read more » Read more

Performance Management - Beyond the Ritual of the Annual Review

Beyond the Ritual of the Annual Review

An awful lot of ink in the past couple of years has been spilled about whether performance management is a fundamentally flawed idea, and whether formal reviews generally – and performance ratings in particular – should be scrapped. For people who would like to understand the arguments on both sides, two articles by friends capture… Read more » Read more

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Self Management: A New Architecture

In the second of four posts on self management, we looked at Holacracy as an attempt to solve for a fully-specified structural framework for self-management. Holacracy is thoughtfully designed and elegant. However, most companies interested in unleashing energy by flattening their structures don’t need the air-tight system the Holacracy constitution provides. They need to be… Read more » Read more

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Try to Praise the Mutilated World

Elaine Scarry writes about how pain “exhausts and displaces all else, until it seems to become the single broad and omnipresent fact of existence.” Pain staggers the imagination, in opposite ways for the sufferer and the bystander. At the end of October, The International Organization for Migration counted the year to date figure that 3,329… Read more » Read more

escher swans

Is Holacracy the Answer?

This is the second of four posts on self management. To start with the first post, click here.   In “The Building Blocks of Self-Management,” we started to examine four propositions that characterize different potential features of self organization: 1. Autonomy of execution: once an objective has been delegated to someone, they can decide how… Read more » Read more

The Building Blocks of Self Management

The Building Blocks of Self Management

Self management is increasingly in the spotlight, touted as a new form of management for the 21st century. Companies such as Zappos, Medium and Buffer have made big, high profile bets on self management—at times grappling publicly with the challenges inherent in the transition. Frederic Laloux, Brian Robertson, Dennis Bakke and other authors have attracted… Read more » Read more

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What is Entrepreneurship?

A recent conversation brought me back to Howard Stevenson’s classic definition of entrepreneurship (see Eric Schurenberg’s Inc. piece for a useful elaboration): Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled Over a long enough time horizon, almost any significantly ambitious person’s quest begins to take on a significant element of entrepreneurship… Read more » Read more

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Talent, Development, and Achievement

As the first anniversary of the On Human Enterprise blog approaches, I’ve been looking back on some of the most central threads discussed here. One significant line of inquiry has been the question of human performance: what makes people good at things, how people get better and how talent translates into achievement over time. In… Read more » Read more

do button

Sasha Dichter’s “Do Button”

I’m a great fan of Sasha Dichter’s: of his work at Acumen, where he’s Chief Innovation Officer and I’m a longtime advisor, and of his blog reflecting on fundraising, non-profit organizations and the practice of leading a life of impact. It’s Sasha’s birthday today, and I can’t imagine a more fitting “present” given Sasha’s value… Read more » Read more

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Growing Our Team at Incandescent

The formative era for any firm is important not only because it establishes the capabilities that enable the firm to create value, but also because it generates the DNA that shapes and constrains the firm’s later development. I founded Incandescent in February of 2013, and we began building a broader team in the fall of… Read more » Read more

Deliberate practice

Always Be Practicing Something

With a small homage to David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross, one of our touchstones in terms of how we think about professional development at Incandescent is “always be practicing something.” Anders Ericsson’s research on the acquisition of expertise, popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers, underscores the importance of accumulating many, many hours of “deliberate practice.”… Read more » Read more

Elise Waxenberg

Guest Post: Elise Waxenberg’s Advice from an Intern

  I had the opportunity to work closely with Elise Waxenberg at Bridgewater — she’s someone who has always reflected deeply on professional development and on “how work works.”  She’s now a rising second-year student at Harvard Business School and spending her summer working with Lincoln Center.  Her email response to the Advice to an… Read more » Read more

Becoming the Perfect Instrument Part 9

Josh Waitzkin on “Slowing Down Time”

The differences between those who achieve greatly and their peers are evident at both the longest and the shortest time horizons. The length of one’s horizon shapes the magnitude of the aspirations toward which one can effectively reach. The quality of one’s ability to see, choose and act in the finest demarcations of the moment… Read more » Read more

Advice to an Intern

Advice to an Intern

I’ve heard from many readers how useful they found Advice to a Student, which lays out an extremely demanding regimen for someone thinking about pursuing a first job in management consulting. This piece tries to answer a parallel question: what are the disciplines that, applied well, will help an intern in any field get the… Read more » Read more

Photo credit: Tiffany Franke

What I Need to Learn Next

Last year, I shared with my team and publicly on this blog what I needed to learn next: My priority for my development could be sketched as “three lines to a bird.” By this I meant that while a moderately good artist might take hundreds of lines to convey a bird, an artist like Picasso… Read more » Read more

Founder and COO

Founder & COO: Pulling Out the Tangles

Highly creative founder-CEOs almost inevitably reach a point where they want or need their companies to run better.  Often, this leads to the hiring of a Chief Operating Officer.  Perhaps no single pair in organizational life is as hard to manage as the founder/CEO and COO relationship. Part of the challenge of turning an obvious,… Read more » Read more

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On Working for the Wrong Boss

You’ve been living with this for a couple of years. You have a job that’s enviable: a company you like, a leader in its field with a culture you genuinely admire; high compensation, higher than you could readily replace; leadership of the function in which you’ve made your career. But you aren’t sure what to… Read more » Read more

napoleon crop

Admit Ignorance! Ask Dumb Questions!

Page 72 of Andrew Roberts’ new biography of Napoleon, a book I’m sure will take me a year to read, paints a compelling picture of ignorance in action. Napoleon has just been made a general while still a few months shy of his twenty-seventh birthday. Roberts quotes a fellow officer observing him as he prepares… Read more » Read more

Patients with their eyes bandaged sit after their cataract surgeries at a hospital of the Aravind Eye Care System in Madurai, in India's Tamil Nadu state

Who Are the Social Impact “Billionaires”?

In a recent post “Economics in a World Where Everyone Matters Equally,” we looked at the world through the lens of “integrated return on investment” (IROI), defined as the total surplus captured by all stakeholders affected by an endeavor. This could be expressed as a percentage annual return on the total investment made, including both… Read more » Read more

Photo Credit: Tiffany Franke

Time is the Medium in Which We Sculpt Achievement

Time is the medium in which we sculpt achievement. The longer the horizon of time across which an individual is capable to conceptualizing a goal and pulling that goal all the way back to effective action in the present moment, the greater the magnitude of that individual’s potential to achieve. Robert Grudin articulates how a… Read more » Read more

acumen water crop

How Economic Progress Happens

In Economics in a World Where Everyone Matters Equally, I explored the concept of “integrated return on investment” (IROI), defined as the total surplus captured by all stakeholders in an endeavor. This could be expressed as a percentage annual return on the total investment made, including both the capital invested directly in the enterprise as… Read more » Read more

Photo credit: Acumen.org

Economics in a World Where Everyone Matters Equally

Economics through the eyes of a financial investor revolves around return on investment, a measure of how much value the investor can capture and extract. Let’s imagine a metric, perhaps hard to measure but easy to conceptualize: the total surplus, as captured by all stakeholders in an endeavor. This could be expressed as a percentage annual… Read more » Read more

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How to Run a Company

Most companies aren’t run any particular way. There’s a kind of default Fortune 500 management style in which certain elements predominate – performance management built around an annual goal setting process, engagement surveys, spans of control between six and eight, and dozens of other informally understood constructs – without anyone really being able to say… Read more » Read more

Part 7

Going with One’s Grain

People differ. Great achievement rarely goes against the grain of an individual’s particular strengths. Twyla Tharp’s metaphor of focal length conveys this notion of with and against one’s grain: When I apply a critic’s temperament to myself, to see if I’m being true to my DNA, I often think in terms of focal length, like… Read more » Read more

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The World’s Best Customer Experience Executive

I recently wrote about how difficult it is to differentiate a company on the basis of customer experience. Taking this perspective suggests there are four rational ways for companies to think about customer experience differentiation: Take the plunge and commit to a radical path that passes the three litmus tests outlined in Is “Customer Centricity”… Read more » Read more

The Prague Astronomical Clock in Old Town

How to Think About the Future

Yogi Berra said, “Prediction is very hard, especially about the future.” There’s certainly a place in the world for prediction. Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise describes that place well – its extent and its limits. Generally, prediction is a more relevant way of thinking in operations than in strategy. So how should leaders… Read more » Read more

B&W

Stop Being a Ghost!

I’ve been grateful for the many comments I’ve received on the Living Two Stories post about the question of “what to do about not knowing what we want.”  One of the themes that has come up in conversations about the piece relates to authenticity: how to be authentic in the context of work one is… Read more » Read more

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Democracy as Problem Solving

Near the end of his 2008 book Democracy as Problem Solving, Xavier de Souza Briggs reflects: Many ideas about making democracy work stop at asking the question: how might we improve the relationship between citizens and their government? That is an important question, but I have pursued a broader one: how might we improve the relationships… Read more » Read more

Is “Customer Centricity” a Strategy?

One of the biggest and most frequent mistakes of top managers in big companies is to make statements about vision and strategy that aren’t differentiating, or that they aren’t committed to translate into reality, or – more than occasionally – both. Among the most tempting such statements is that it is strategically central for this… Read more » Read more

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Living Two Stories: What to Do about Not Knowing What We Want

It is part of the human condition to feel compelled to move forward, even when it isn’t clear where forward really is. Forward motion involves agency: intending something and realizing that intention. Agency takes flight as a narrative, a story about who are we and where we’re going. People get uncomfortable when they don’t have… Read more » Read more

Part 6

Beyond “The Dream of Safety”

Leap Before You Look The sense of danger must not disappear: The way is certainly both short and steep, However gradual it looks from here; Look if you like, but you will have to leap. Tough-minded men get mushy in their sleep And break the by-laws any fool can keep; It is not the convention… Read more » Read more

Part 5

Deliberate Practice in the Making of Large Things

Where a practice session in sports or music might last a couple of hours, a writer trying a new novelistic form, in order to stretch his way of writing, or an entrepreneur learning to build a company in a new way, plays on a practice field that might have a span of several years. The… Read more » Read more

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My Unlikeliest Favorite Business Book

I spend most of my time thinking about how to run companies well. Of course a fair amount of that time is spent absorbed in the particular challenges of running this firm or that firm, and of navigating the specific terrain that a given client or venture has encountered. But an awful lot of time… Read more » Read more

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Beginnings

My daughter Minh was born on December 10th. I watch her quiet in contentment; watch her engage with the world, letting in just as much as she’s ready to let in. I watch her force of will: hunger, wet, gas; and often, simply, her wanting things to be otherwise, without her or me quite knowing… Read more » Read more

Part 4

What Makes Practice Deliberate

Influence helps to transmit the ways of seeing and working that accelerate progress toward mastery. That path to mastery is fundamentally shaped by the application of what researcher Anders Ericsson termed deliberate practice. Geoff Colvin distills the essence of this well: Deliberate practice is characterized by several elements, each worth examining. It is activity designed… Read more » Read more

Mixing Power

Mixing Power Right

Jeremy Heimans, cofounder and CEO of Purpose, a social business that builds movements, and Henry Timms, executive director of the 92nd Street Y and founder of #GivingTuesday, a global philanthropic movement, have done us all a service with Understanding “New Power”, their Harvard Business Review piece published this week. Their article delineates the two constructs… Read more » Read more

On and Against Striving

On and Against Striving

I have always been someone whose work is mostly about striving. My clients are people trying to achieve something big enough to be beyond their easy reach. My own ambitions have always been to discover, to build, to reach a standard. As a thinker, my subject is about how people and the organizations build can… Read more » Read more

Part 3

Shaping Our Influences, as They Shape Us

Any influence both shapes and limits. The sculptor Giacometti described how hard it is to stop seeing reality in the way our strongest predecessors have seen it: It’s true that people see things very much in terms of what others have seen. It’s simply a question of the originality of a person’s vision, which is… Read more » Read more

Strategy and Myth

Strategy and Myth

Rereading Peter Schwartz’s classic The Art of the Long View recently, I came across a characterization of myth from James Robertson’s American Myth, American Reality: Myths are ‘the way things are’ as people in a particular society believe them to be, and they are the models people refer to when they try to understand their… Read more » Read more

Part 2

A Life that Emanates from a System of Ideas

None of us are truly self-made, but when it comes to shaping capacity to achieve, there’s at least some degree to choose one’s parents. Shaping influences matter a great deal, and the best such influences can prove enormously powerful. Architect and architectural theorist Bill Hubbard describes what this kind of influence can be: It was… Read more » Read more

Achieving Big Things

A Short Guide to Achieving Big Things

I recently had the opportunity to give a workshop for World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders called “A Short Guide to Achieving Big Things,” with some help from friends and fellow “YGLs” Angela Sun, Kristin Rechberger and April Rinne. The workshop highlighted underlying patterns for how people accomplish very large goals that require the efforts… Read more » Read more

Work Life Balance

Work and Life: One More Truth

Boris Groysberg and Robin Abrahams look at a great deal of data on the life contexts and choices of executives, and their Harvard Business Review piece suggests three truths that emerge from amidst great individual variety:  Life Happens  Knowing that, focus on things that matter before they’re gone and build in the capacity to respond… Read more » Read more

China 2024

Ying’s Story: A Macro-Miniature

We know that within a decade or so, China will be the world’s largest economy. Who will shape its business institutions, and what kinds of institutions will they shape? The China 2024 study that Stacy Palestrant and I launched nearly a decade ago, with Katzenbach Partners, now Strategy &, as the founding sponsor, is a… Read more » Read more

Great Achievement

Aravind and the Choice of Great Achievement

Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy, known as Dr. V, was an entrepreneur and humanitarian of the highest order.  He founded Aravind, an organization based in Madurai, in the south of India, that has delivered nearly 4 million eye surgeries, more than half as many eye surgeries as the entire UK National Health System, at levels of quality… Read more » Read more

Advice to a Student - Campus Recruiting

Advice to a Student

I have spent the better part of twenty years in strategy consulting; I began at McKinsey & Company, co-founded a practice at Mitchell Madison Group and built Katzenbach Partners from a start-up to a firm of $50M annual revenue. After selling Katzenbach Partners to Booz & Company, I was a Senior Partner there before founding… Read more » Read more

Revisiting Strategy

Revisiting Strategy One Year Out

Last year, we had the honor to work with the team at Solutions Journalism Network, helping them define their strategy. Co-founders David Bornstein, Tina Rosenberg and Courtney Martin, and their team, have a very large aspiration: they seek to make rigorous journalism about solutions as much a part of the fabric of the profession as… Read more » Read more

Mind's Eye

Working from the Mind’s Eye

On a flight back from South Africa, reading John Reader’s panoramic Africa: A Biography of the Continent, I came across a passage that evoked the irreducible essence of what it means for a person to do work. Homo habilis had been fully capable of making tools from cobbles, and that talent served its need for… Read more » Read more

Setting Strategy

Setting strategy: 6 Cs

The work of setting strategy aims at a clear “where by when and how” that I’d articulated in the prior post as: Commitment to a destination and to core concepts that shape the choices for how to get there At the same time, this work involves deep consideration of dimensions that can be influenced but… Read more » Read more

Clear Strategy

What Does it Mean to Have a Clear Strategy?

Too often companies treat the crux of “having a strategy” as a formal question – is there a document that lays out in writing a direction forward, a set of targets and a plan?  Really, “having a strategy” is both an operational and an intellectual question – a matter of what people are doing and… Read more » Read more

When Is No Hierarchy Best?

When Is No Hierarchy Best?

All too many companies think they will be great by accident. It is unlikely that the recipes for greatness are one of the following: A) Operating in whatever way people see fit right now B) Doing what seems natural in light of the things in front of you C) Operating according to the general norms people learned… Read more » Read more

What Work Is

Watching Others go to Work

In a meeting with my friend Jennifer McCrea, she described standing on the subway and experiencing an overwhelming sense of people being captives of their routines and their contexts. Montaigne wrote about a very similar idea, in his late essay “Of husbanding your will”:   Men give themselves for hire.  Their faculties are not for… Read more » Read more

Macro-Miniatures

Macro-Miniatures

How can we see the way large forces shape the world? Social sciences give us frameworks and patterns to understand forces in their separate functions.  Economics tells us the difference it makes to have an independent central bank.  International Relations teaches what realism means, and what to expect when realists and fundamentalists encounter one another. Often,… Read more » Read more

Photo Credit: Tiffany Franke

On Human Enterprise

Human achievement can reach as far as our ability, individually and collectively, to shape the enterprises that propel us toward our purposes. The spread and consolidation of railroads; the lifting of brands to a global scale; the interlocking efforts of prevention and treatment that have contained the epidemic of HIV/AIDS in the West and made… Read more » Read more