Guarding against complacency in the enterprise

Guarding against complacency in the enterpriseComplacency is a natural, almost inevitable feature of human behavior. It really is very difficult to recognize the need for change, especially as companies that experience hard times have almost always had a very successful past.

Motorola experienced sliding market share for five years before they recognized that maybe they should do something about it. Harley-Davidson almost went bankrupt and saw their domestic market share fall from over 80% to below 5% before their turnaround began. A similar story could be told of many other companies. Complacency is not rare, it is, in fact, systemic. So is there something we can do about it?

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Stories are an essential instrument for change leadership

Stories are an essential instrument for change leadershipThere is an apocryphal story of how President Kennedy visited NASA and came across a janitor who was cleaning the floors. The President asked him what his job was, and the janitor confidently replied: ”My job is to put a man on the moon.”

It does not really matter whether the story is true or not, as we can all, as human beings, recognize the sentiment, and the power of such conviction on the purpose for which we work. Figures do not motivate people, purpose does. My claim is that the only way to instill a strong sense of purpose in a human being is through stories.

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Finland is building and dismantling its data infrastructure

Finland is building and dismantling its data infrastructureThere is an intriguing paradox going on in Finland. The country is hoping to become a key data center location in the digital world (and not without merit), but at the same time the infrastructure needed to access that digital world by the end users is in many places being demolished. Is this a viable path?

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Why LEGO Universe failed and can Minifigures Online succeed?

LEGO has been interested in online gaming for a long time. It first ventured into online gaming in 2005, when it commissioned work on LEGO Universe (released in 2010, shut down in 2012), and it has two newer ventures into that space going on with LEGO Legends of Chima Online and LEGO Minifigures Online.

In this post, I will examine the story of LEGO Universe, look into what success in online gaming looks like, take a look at LEGO Minifigures Online, and consider potential niches for the LEGO brand in online gaming.

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Dynamic capabilities in personal career planning

Have you ever been asked where you will be in five years? Or what is your career plan? With the pace of change in the world being as rapid as it is, and with no signs of it slowing down, these questions do not make quite as much sense as they perhaps used to.

The same applies to strategic management, and there one of the more popular answers to rapid change has been the adoption of the dynamic capabilities framework. Interestingly, its teachings apply equally well on an individual level when it comes to career planning.

I have written about dynamic capabilities in more detail before, but in this post I wish to explore the application of dynamic capabilities to individual career planning as an intriguing analogy.

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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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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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