Articles Tagged Strategy

May 05, 2019
Are your customers enthusiastic about giving you their time?

Photo by Djim Loic on Unsplash Last week I explained: I compete for your attention against Netflix. Time spent with me on this page needs to have a higher payoff for you than switching to streaming something on your device. Netflix, too is competing for your attention. Not just against a local TV channel, but […]

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Apr 28, 2019
I am here to compete for your attention

Photo by Stefan Cosma on Unsplash I want you to read this column. I want you to stay here, not go somewhere else. Who’s my competition? I started writing this column in 2003. Back then, it was simpler to compete. Had I failed to engage your interest in those days by the time you reached […]

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Apr 07, 2019
Are you a vanilla, chocolate and strawberry business?

Image by Andrey Cojocaru from Pixabay Q: Which flavours of ice-cream do you offer? A: Vanilla, chocolate and strawberry How often does that happen to you when seated at a restaurant, thinking about your dessert options? In my lifetime, too many times to count. Vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, it is true, are consistently amongst the […]

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Feb 17, 2019
Need to reinvent your traditional business? Be ready to do these three things

I asked here last week: what makes big, established businesses so reluctant to change in the face of overwhelming new realities in their markets? Their customers may be moving on rapidly, but so many large corporations hang on doggedly to the past. Their widely experienced board members and highly paid executives just refuse to get […]

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Feb 10, 2019
Are you engaged in a war with the 21st century?

I saw a tweet the other day by Robert Colvile that made me laugh out loud: ‘Dear London taxi drivers, if you want to win your war with the 21st century, maybe stop using the phrase “Oh, you’re paying by card, are you?” as though you’re being presented with mysterious spices from the East.’ After […]

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Jan 27, 2019
Small companies, here’s how you whack the big players

Big firms with long histories and huge market shares tend to dominate many an industry. If you’re a small, modest new player trying to make your mark, what should you do? First, a recent real-life story. My family hit an unexpected problem at home. An essential piece of equipment failed, leaving the household in some […]

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Jan 20, 2019
Here’s to the mavericks who light up organizations

I don’t often do obituaries in this column. And certainly not of chief executives. But exceptions have to be made. Herb Kelleher, cofounder of Southwest Airlines, was indeed special. I have talked about him and his remarkable company many times in seminars and lectures. Now he’s gone, and those who love to see business (or […]

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Jan 13, 2019
Pay attention to the ingenuity technology is throwing up

Photo by Isaac Mehegan on Unsplash We were driving back home from the other side of Nairobi. I tapped Google Maps on and connected it to the car’s display. It showed the route home, and indicated that the journey would take 31 minutes. We decided to keep track of this. The road was clear of […]

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Oct 21, 2018
How many more cars do you hope to buy?

Could you have bought your last-ever ‘traditional’ car? It seems unlikely, doesn’t it? But if you live in an advanced economy and have just bought a petrol car, it could well turn out to be your last one. If you’re young and haven’t bought one to date, perhaps you never will. Five years from now, […]

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Oct 07, 2018
In the machine age, the human’s answer must be to become even more human

(Photo by Andy Kelly on Unsplash) I had the pleasure of hosting some people from the future earlier this week. Let me explain. No, I haven’t discovered a time machine. I did not whisk in my guests from a future era by reassembling their molecules in the here and now. I was actually hosting futurists […]

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Sep 16, 2018
To be really successful? Say NO

I’m about to write something down that may be one of the most important things you will ever read. It was said by Warren Buffet, and here it is: “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” If that sentence immediately made perfect sense […]

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Aug 10, 2018
Lessons in customer experience from a trillion-dollar company

I often look at how badly so many companies do this thing called “customer experience” and I wonder. Do you guys understand the power, the unique value of having customers who take joy in the experiences you give them – instead of feeling frustration and anger? If you did understand, why would you regard your […]

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Aug 05, 2018
Who grows the beans, who eats the chocolate?

Chocolate is one of the world’s most beloved sweet treats. It is consumed pretty much everywhere. You are probably a chocolate lover. So where does your favourite brand of chocolate come from? A recent white paper from data provider Gro Intelligence gathered the facts: Europe dominates the production, consumption and exportation of chocolate – and […]

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Jul 22, 2018
Another World Cup, a familiar set of lessons

It’s time again to dissect what just happened at the FIFA World Cup, and see what we can learn for our own lives. Regular readers of this column will know that this is something I do every four years. In 2010 I wrote that to win in football (or any collective, team-based endeavour), four ingredients […]

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Jul 01, 2018
Bricks or clicks, those who play for distinction win

Retail seems to be a tough business to be in right now, anywhere in the world. Consumers seem to prefer the convenience of online browsing and buying. They get things delivered to them rather than venture out into inclement weather and frustrating traffic; they curl up on couches rather than brave public transport. As online […]

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Jun 17, 2018
AI is right here, right now

I recently received an email from the folks over at Medium, an online publishing platform I subscribe to. Here’s what it said: “Hello! It looks like you’re into artificial intelligence, so we rounded up a few of our favorites for you this week. Because you’re a member and an avid reader, we want to make […]

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Mar 18, 2018
Are you succeeding, or just looking like you’re succeeding?

When Jeffrey Immelt, long-time boss of giant conglomerate GE, held his annual address to investors last May his corporation’s stock was trading at close to $30. He painted a rosy picture of his long tenure, and retired as CEO soon afterwards. Today the stock price is around $15. His successor decided to bare all and […]

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Dec 31, 2017
The lifelong lesson of sunk cost

It’s the last day of the year – always a good time to reflect on the months that went before. We all do this: we look back, we reminisce, we try to learn from the past. Except, most of us just don’t. We let the past enslave us, not teach us lessons for the future. […]

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Dec 24, 2017
How do you behave at the buffet table?

It’s the holiday season, a time for wining and dining with family and friends. If you are fortunate, there may be some lavish buffets coming your way this Christmas: an enticing range of sumptuous dishes: starters, salads, mains, desserts, afters. I don’t wish to be a party pooper, but I do want to share a […]

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Nov 19, 2017
Think hard before taking on established competitors

Google makes the world’s most popular mobile operating system, Android. Nearly two billion mobile devices are powered by this ubiquitous system. Not content with this, Google looked askew at rival Apple some years back and felt envious about the ability to make both software and hardware and to fuse the user experience. Google has the […]

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Oct 15, 2017
Does your brand understand customer experience?

I was looking for footwear in foreign climes recently. I walked into a promising-looking store, and noticed something interesting: the shop assistant attending to me was wearing a bluetooth earpiece. What that was for soon became evident. You have all had this experience when buying shoes, I am sure: you choose some possible pairs; and […]

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Oct 01, 2017
Turning your bank of today into the bank of tomorrow

What does the disruption journey look like to those who can think ahead of the curve and transform their successful traditional businesses ahead of time? I covered this topic here last week, and received many requests to show the roadmap for banks in particular. It seems many of you are worried about the future of […]

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Sep 24, 2017
How old businesses must reinvent themselves

Every business in the world faces overwhelming uncertainty. The explosion of new technology shows no sign of abating. Indeed, we may only have seen the opening chapters of the book of technological disruption. The later chapters – containing plot twists, deaths, rebirths and the like – have not even been written yet. We only have […]

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Sep 03, 2017
Is counting on patriotism a winning business strategy?

Many years ago our local brewer, East African Breweries Limited (EABL), was facing a major new threat. Castle, a huge brand owned by South African Breweries, had announced its entry into our local market. It was coming in with big money, a big plant and big plans. One of the key strategic decisions made in […]

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Aug 27, 2017
What a flight not missed teaches us

We were flying in the rainy season. We set off on the first leg, needing to arrive at the hub airport on time and then catch a connecting flight to our final destination. We had allowed two hours transit time to catch the next plane – more than enough, said the airline staff at the […]

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Jul 23, 2017
The auto industry faces a twisting ride

This column often considers the possible futures of different industries. In 2015 I wrote about the advent of driverless cars, and what that might do to carmakers and to our lives. There were many sceptics at the time; but in 2017 with a whole range of autonomous vehicles already being piloted on roads in many […]

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Jun 25, 2017
What’s going wrong at Uber?

It was launched barely seven years ago. In that time it has expanded explosively to be present in more than 570 cities in the world. It had revenue in 2016 of $6.5 billion, and its market valuation of $70 billion makes it the world’s most valuable tech startup. It has brought easy and cheap transportation […]

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Jun 11, 2017
3 words to stop saying in your organization

I spend a lot of time interacting with boards and senior teams in leading corporations. In boardrooms and workshops, in strategy retreats and seminars, there are three words that of late you are guaranteed to hear. I usually play a mental ‘bingo’ game to count how many minutes it takes for the first of the […]

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