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

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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

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

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

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

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

Setting Strategy

Setting strategy: 6 Cs

In “What Does It Mean to Have a Clear Strategy?” I articulated a definition of strategic clarity that forms a primary goal of the work of setting strategy: Commitment to a destination and to core concepts that shape the choices for how to get there In addition to the work of building this clarity of vision, setting… 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