Strategy

To drive innovation, you must understand your ecosystem

In 1878 Leo Tolstoy released what would become one of his most acclaimed works, the novel ‘Anna Karenina’. The book started with a quote that over the centuries has transcended disciplines: ‘Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way’.

When taken literally, the quote is a good reflection on family life and family conduct. […]

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    Digital transformation in the wake of a crisis: focus on people

Digital transformation in the wake of a crisis: focus on people

Some technologies came of age during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic. Millions of people were forced into homeworking for the first time. Unable to see each other face to face, families worldwide had to quickly master Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and a host of other connecting technologies. Zoom’s daily users mushroomed to more than 200 million in March 2020 from […]

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    How to survive as a business amidst an unexpected lockdown of the economy

How to survive as a business amidst an unexpected lockdown of the economy

We are in unchartered territory. We are in the midst of a health crisis that is creating an as yet unknown economic legacy that no one can predict with any accuracy. As business leaders we have lost control of how and when we operate, and it is impossible to know when we will get back to what is likely […]

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    Amidst the coronavirus chaos, businesses need resilience thinking

Amidst the coronavirus chaos, businesses need resilience thinking

When I started running the numbers at the end of January, I reluctantly began to draw my own conclusions regarding plausible future scenarios. I had a hard time convincing myself. I subsequently (re) learned that good old fashioned ‘denial’ is the first step of dealing with any crisis. As any good academic, I had written about it, but was […]

March 18th, 2020|Strategy|0 Comments|
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    Tough times call for transformations in leadership development

Tough times call for transformations in leadership development

How does leadership development need to change in the light of the turbulent and fast-changing economic, political and social environment organisations find themselves having to operate in? This was the questions global management network EFMD explored in a research project involving a special interest group of 12 member companies, including Bayer, L’Oreal, Nokia, Engie, Swiss Re and Siemens.

The group […]

March 16th, 2020|Strategy|0 Comments|
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    Building your competitive strategy? It’s all down to methodology

Building your competitive strategy? It’s all down to methodology

In late 2019, headlines around the world trumpeted the collapse of global travel giant Thomas Cook. Amid news of stranded families and freshly-redundant airline pilots volunteering to bring people home for no pay, what most onlookers and pundits alike wanted to know was: what went wrong? How could an organisation with 19 million customers, 22,000 staff in 16 countries […]

Avoiding strategic surprises: beware of the lurkers!

Usually, we talk about two types of surprises in strategic projects: those that hit you like a flash out of a blue sky, and those that creep up on you, nudging you off track, bit by bit. Either type requires a specific approach to manage – efficient contingency plans and crisis response for the former, improved monitoring and detection […]

How to turn trust into a competitive advantage

Business is facing an existential trust crisis, a recent article found. Companies from Boeing to Facebook are losing the public’s faith by paying insufficient attention to trust as an important ingredient for answering their stakeholders’ needs. But where there is a crisis, there is an opportunity, too. How can business leaders turn trust into a competitive advantage?

Trust matters because […]

November 20th, 2019|Management, Strategy|2 Comments|
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    Creating momentum for digital transformation without a burning platform

Creating momentum for digital transformation without a burning platform

We know: the most important factor to drive change is a blazingly obvious reason to act. Change management calls these drivers ‘burning platform’ as a metaphor for urgent crises that demand immediate and swift reaction. A blazingly obvious reason to act. Yet, when it comes to venturing into a daring digital transformation strategy, most organisations have no immediate reason […]

November 8th, 2019|Strategy|0 Comments|
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    What if the failure of a business strategy is due to its flawed design?

What if the failure of a business strategy is due to its flawed design?

It is fashionable to attribute the failure of a business strategy to its poor execution: “It was a great strategy, but the team totally bungled its implementation.” Some people even state that implementing a winning strategy is tougher than coming up with one in the first place.

While the strategy-execution gap is real, we find that many supposedly great strategies […]

August 26th, 2019|Management, Strategy|0 Comments|
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    Surprise: leveraging the unexpected in strategy implementation

Surprise: leveraging the unexpected in strategy implementation

The favourite saying of one of the executives we work with is: “The opposite of well done is well planned.” While we do not fully agree, he has a point: We love to emphasise the importance of details in strategy planning. This leads to a false confidence that all we need to do is “push the button” and lean […]

On timing and rhythm for strategy implementation

We know that time is important – after all, timing is everything! And time is money! If used skilfully, time and timing can be allies in strategising. But, surprisingly (or maybe not-so-surprisingly), getting time right is hard; it involves a complex balancing act. For example, if you push your strategy too much, you overwhelm your team, whereas if you do […]

Smart and simple strategy decisions to minimise regret

We like to think that for our strategy work, we will have plenty of time and resources. Armed with both, out of the 10s or 100s of options we have on the table, we will pick the best one.

In this article, we will make the opposite argument. Not only do we not have much time or resources available to […]

Uncertainties and risks of strategy implementation

In a previous post, we talked about how two major dimensions shape the type of strategy work we need to do: 1) the degree of people impact, i.e., how many people the task at hand affects and how much it affects them; and 2) the degree of uncertainty it faces and subsequently addresses.

With this post, we are going to […]

October 11th, 2018|Strategy series|0 Comments|

The importance of resilience for delivering strategies

You are responsible for the success of your strategic initiatives. Your results will be measured and you will be judged. As long as we have success, we consider this to be perfectly fair. But let’s be honest: your results will depend to a large extent not only on what you do (or not do), but also on events and […]

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    The four types of strategy work you need for the digital revolution

The four types of strategy work you need for the digital revolution

Strategy work is always hard, but particularly so when senior executives know less about emerging trends than the 19-year-old intern that just brought them coffee. Blockchain-based bank accounts, Artificial Intelligence lawyers, smart cities, collaborative robots, autonomous cars and online dating – wherever you look, pervasive digitalisation is turning businesses upside down. “I have been doing this for 50 years” […]

Business relationships boost firms’ performance

In the quest for identifying barriers to firm growth, much attention has been paid to barriers that act at the level of the individual firm. But firms do not operate in a vacuum: business relationships are potentially central. We conducted an intervention in China to measure their importance.

A field experiment with 2,820 firms

In 2013 we invited tens of thousands […]

September 6th, 2018|Management, Strategy|0 Comments|

Ten questions to help you turn strategy into reality

Sustainable growth depends on delivering the right strategies the right way. Yet this is something that organisations appear ill-equipped to do. Our work at the Brightline Initiative is examining what causes the gap between strategy and implementation and how it can be closed. Our research suggests that business leaders need to answer ten key questions for their strategies to more effectively […]

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    Charting a course for investment management in the 4th industrial revolution

Charting a course for investment management in the 4th industrial revolution

The problem with the future is that it is not here yet. Virtually every aspect of our lives is in a state of flux. While change may have always been a constant, several factors come together to make this an industrial revolution of a fundamental kind. Every profession is having to grapple with existential questions as well as questions […]

Digital China is coming to Europe

Often unnoticed by business leaders in Europe, Chinese technology companies are on the move. Hardly a week goes by without news that Alibaba has acquired a company in Southeast Asia, Tencent has invested in an Israeli startup or that Baidu is entering a new industry. Western onlookers may think that this is unlikely to have a direct impact on […]