Rock Balancing

The Biggest Choice You Don’t Even Know You’re Making

It’s three o’clock in the afternoon, and four washed-up recent entrepreneurs sitting in a dive bar go over, again, how their dreams got wrecked. One says: “We didn’t focus.  We overbuilt our team.  We pursued too many products.  When the music stopped, our core business wasn’t profitable.  Another start-up that was two steps ahead in… 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

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

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

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

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

SueNokes.jpg

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

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