What should Hachette do to survive digitalization?

The Hachette versus Amazon battle keeps going on as the most visible symbol of the changing landscape of the publishing industry. I have written about it before, but this time I want to take a look at the situation from a bit broader scope: What should Hachette do to survive not just this battle, but digitalization itself?

Lagardère, the parent company of Hachette, gave a presentation on its views on the publishing market and Hachette’s position in it on their investor day on 28 May 2014. This gives us a good starting point to examine what Hachette thinks it should do, and whether its conclusions and claims are sound.

(Also, I participated in a strategy MOOC recently, so some analysis was good practice for that one as well and I examined Hachette in my final project there.)

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Moore’s category maturity life cycle and innovation types

I have been looking for ways to make sense of product life cycles in environments where there are no real products as such, but in which offerings are instead tailored to customer needs. Yet, even in such environments, it is not profitable to always start from scratch, so a form of product management needs to exist, even if that management is more concerned with modules, technologies, and general applications than mass produced products.

So far, the only model I have found that seems adequate for the purpose is Geoffrey Moore’s category maturity life cycle, which he presents in his book Dealing with Darwin: How Great Companies Innovate at Every Phase of Their Evolution.

In this post, I will examine this model.

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The PDSA cycle is a core 21st century skill

What are the skills we need nowadays? Have they changed from what was needed before? The Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills research program, headquartered at the University of Melbourne, strives to provide answers to these questions.

They have identified multiple skills that are crucial to life in the 21st century, and one of particular interest is what they call collaborative problem-solving (CPS), which comprises both social and cognitive processing skills. This social nature of problem-solving is the aspect that is considered to be new.

However, if we take a deeper look at the applications of the PDSA cycle, we can easily notice how problem-solving has been social already before, and that these existing methods may also have more to contribute to the class room.

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Dynamic capabilities, the scope of strategy, and Lean

Dynamic capabilities framework is a promising framework for strategic management. Based on and expanding upon the resource-based view of the firm, its founding paper by David J. Teece, Gary Pisano, and Amy Shuen, Dynamic Capabilities and Strategic Management (1997), has been cited in almost 20,000 articles.

In this post, I will examine the basics of the dynamic capabilities framework and point to some interesting areas for future examination regarding its significance for the adoption of a variety of operating models, such as Lean, Lean startup, and social business.

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How to learn a new area of expertise in two weeks

The amount of information available online has continuously increased, and it is now easier than ever to learn new skills. The key to such learning is the ability to find relevant information online and evaluate its usefulness.

In this post, I will detail a process I myself use to get started on a new field in a business environment. I have successfully used this method to get started on Lean, project management, social business, and sales management to name a few areas. (How do I know? Because I’ve applied these skills for some years by now. There are other, more recent, fields where I cannot yet tell for sure.)

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Vision, purpose, and manners – a framework for strategy and culture

The internet is full of corporate vision, mission, and value statements. What all of these statements contain can be ennobling at best, and downright bland and meaningless at worst. What each part should include is also a mess: one company’s mission is akin to another’s vision. Often it is impossible to even tell two companies apart based on their visions and missions, and at worst it can even be impossible to figure out what business they are in, when the statements are sufficiently general.

In this post, I will examine some aspects of these statements and their roles in a world characterized by change and multiple cultures. I will also propose a framework that is internally coherent and brings these statements to a practical and usable level.

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“Best practices” are not the best practices

It is a rare firm where managers are not encouraged to seek “best practices” in order to improve operations. But how effective are best practices, really? Such ways to arrange activities might not make the firm quite as competitive as desired.

In this post, I will examine best practices from a resource-based and dynamic capabilities point of view, partially based on the insights provided by Lynda Gratton and Sumantra Ghoshal in their 2005 article, Beyond Best Practice.

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A Porter plus approach to strategic analysis

Michael Porter’s influence on strategic management can hardly be overemphasized. While his work has come under increasing criticism, it remains vitally relevant. Porter has been able to answer much of the criticism, but the critics have also been able to spot some holes in Porter’s frameworks.

In this post, I will examine Porter’s main frameworks for strategic analysis, the five forces analysis (industry analysis) and value chain analysis (relative analysis), and point a way towards a “Porter plus” approach that uses Porter’s frameworks as a basis, but adjusts and augments them with crucial insights from others, notably on dynamic capabilities.

For a comprehensive view on Porter’s strategic thinking that spans a large number of books and articles, I recommend Joan Magretta’s Understanding Michael Porter: The Essential Guide to Competition and Strategy, which collects and updates Porter’s thinking up to 2011. It also points at some of the criticism directed at Porter, although perhaps not to the most important pieces.

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