Articles Tagged Strategy

Sep 13, 2010
Today’s cost-cutting may be tomorrow’s crisis

“I remember an illuminating conversation with a senior executive of a recently privatised water company. I was puzzled that so many companies seemed to be able to issue peremptory edicts to their managers to reduce costs, or headcount, and see these edicts fulfilled. Could it really be that there was so much inefficiency and, to […]

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Sep 06, 2010
Learn from Amazon: zig when others zag

“Last week, Jeff Bezos announced plans to release a new-generation Kindle that will be even cheaper ($139) than the current generation, but will make only a few modest improvements in quality and performance. Even as analysts applauded the success of the Kindle thus far, they wondered why Bezos and his colleagues weren’t making the device […]

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Jul 25, 2010
What your organisation can learn from the World Cup

I suffer from an affliction. Having spent the better part of my life studying management and organisations, I am unable to switch that part of my brain off. Even when I am enjoying myself on holiday, I find myself observing the processes, systems, leadership and strategies that underlie the excellent (or dire) experience I am […]

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Jul 19, 2010
What matters more – strategy or execution?

“The simple fact—frustrating though it may be to the great number of hard-working and capable people inside an organization—is that their best execution efforts can be negated by strategic choices that turn out badly. It may make employees feel good to be told that company performance is 10% strategy and 90% execution. It may inspire […]

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Jun 21, 2010
Who should be losing sleep over the rise of Safaricom?

“Who sells the largest number of cameras in India? Your guess is likely to be Sony, Canon or Nikon. The answer is: None of the above. The winner is Nokia, whose main line of business in India is not cameras but cellphones. Try this. Who runs the biggest music business in India? The answer is […]

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Jun 07, 2010
The sin of hubris undoes many a dominant company

“We will encounter multiple forms of hubris in our journey through the stages of decline. We will see hubris in undisciplined leaps into areas where a company cannot become the best. We will see hubris in a company’s pursuit of growth beyond what it can deliver with excellence. We will see hubris in bold, risky […]

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May 31, 2010
Use rivalry to spur innovation in your company

“It is difficult to overstate the extent to which the Renaissance was built on the professional rivalries of its major figures. While these men generally held each other in deep respect and esteem, they also competed passionately against each other for commissions, recognition, and prestige. Competition can sometimes yield petulance and destructive energy. But rivalry […]

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May 09, 2010
Good business is the only sustainable option

Whether or not Goldman Sachs is found guilty of the various charges laid against it, its reputation has suffered huge damage. It is being fried at the court of public opinion, and faces an uneasy path back to its previously dominant investment banking position. Many other companies face these ordeals, and they are usually of […]

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May 03, 2010
How global-minded European firms are surging ahead

“Contrary to the widespread cliché of American dynamism versus European economic stagnation, over the past decade Europe’s top companies have beaten America’s (not to mention Japan’s) by an often substantial margin. Despite the rise of China and the rest, Europe has held roughly steady, at about 17 percent, its share of world exports since 2000, […]

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May 02, 2010
Why do so many good businesses go bad?

The problem with being a business commentator is that your subject-matter regularly lets you down. Last year I was interviewed by NTV about the importance of ethics and integrity in business (a clip can be seen on www.sunwords.com). Great firms, I asserted confidently, do not become great by cutting corners or greasing palms. They thrive […]

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Apr 26, 2010
Five ways in which the world of work will change

1. No more 9 to 5 2. Productivity will be closely measured 3. Cogs will become redundant 4. The winners will be the linchpins 5. Work will become art SETH GODIN, Regus Business Sense (April 2010) Business guru and author Seth Godin spelled out some of the ideas in his new book, Linchpin, in Regus […]

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Apr 11, 2010
The future of your business is in the palm of your hand

One of the key practices of successful businesses is the ability to follow trends and anticipate market movements. This is extremely difficult: if any of us really knew what next year’s markets would look like, we would be billionaires. Some trends, however, are so predictable that the foolishness lies in ignoring them. And that is […]

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Apr 04, 2010
This childish culture of dirty tricks in our business world

The recent spate of competition in Kenya’s telecom sector has been characterised by something ugly: vandalism. Now that fibre-optic connectivity is commonplace, what easier way to disable your competitor than to hire a few goons to cut their cables? That leaves them in disarray for days, while we gain ground. Or do we? Telecommunications is […]

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Mar 29, 2010
At your next strategy retreat, ask yourself: how different are we?

“In the 1980s, competition from Japan was every western CEO’s worst nightmare. Whether it was TVs, VCRs, or fax machines, Japan’s ability to produce high-quality goods at low cost drove U.S. and European competitors out of those businesses. Since then, Japan has floundered for more than a decade. Why? A big piece of the answer […]

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Mar 21, 2010
Why reality usually has nothing to do with plans

Last week this column looked at two words: Event and Process. This week I want to engage you in a discussion about two more: PLAN and REALITY. The need to think about these words came to me on a recent flight. Anyone who has flown on a commercial flight will be familiar with the in-flight […]

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Mar 14, 2010
To succeed, make the crucial distinction between event and process

This Sunday I want to focus your attention on two seemingly simple words: EVENT and PROCESS. The difference between these words, I would like to argue, is that between earth and sky, between success and failure, between dream and reality. Yet we are confusing these words every day in Kenya and retarding our progress. Our […]

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Mar 01, 2010
No company can be all things to all customers

“”It is very true that we do not have the high-end ‘mind share’ product, as we speak, but of course we are working to get there,” said Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, Nokia president and chief executive. At its investor day late last year, Nokia hinted it would produce major new devices this year. Analysts reckon it is […]

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Feb 08, 2010
Toyota’s communication lapses are compounding its woes

“When Toyota told the world of the recall of its cars in January, one of its first public statements was made by a Japanese executive who faced television cameras wearing a surgical mask. Masks are common during Japan’s cold season. However, crisis management experts are seizing on the image as a metaphor for a company […]

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Feb 01, 2010
Apple’s remarkable ability to generate product emotion

“This Wednesday, Steven P. Jobs will step to the stage at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco and unveil a shiny new machine that may or may not change the world. In the magician’s world, that’s called “the reveal.” And the most magical part? Even as the media and technology worlds […]

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Jan 18, 2010
Learning from Toyota’s faltering drive

“Less than two years ago Toyota swept past an ailing General Motors (GM) to become the world’s biggest carmaker. Now its newly installed boss, Akio Toyoda, the 53-year-old grandson of the founder, says that the firm could be locked in a spiral of decline. Toyota is still a hugely formidable company, and some within the […]

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Dec 20, 2009
Are Kenya’s tyres connected to its steering wheel?

A board member with whom I was discussing his company made me laugh out loud recently. When I asked him how effective his board’s policy formulations were, he told me, with refreshing honesty: “You know, sometimes I wonder whether the steering wheel is really connected to the tyres…” Hilarious imagery: a bunch of important personages […]

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Dec 14, 2009
The 5 signs of a dysfunctional Kenyan organisation

“Sign No. 1: Conspicuously posted vision or value statements are filled with vague but important-sounding words like “excellence” and “quality.” Sign No. 2: Bringing up a problem is considered as evidence of a personality defect rather than as an observation of reality. Sign No. 3: If by chance there are problems, the usual solution is […]

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Nov 23, 2009
Here’s a new strategy: telling the truth!

“At last the phoney war is over. For months it has been clear that Britain’s fiscal mess is Augean. Poll after poll has shown that voters know big spending cuts are unavoidable. …So Mr (George) Osborne had much to prove when he stood up on October 6th to give a taste of what his policy […]

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Nov 22, 2009
Like its football team, Kenya is failing to qualify

I was an angry man last weekend. The ill temper was sparked by a football match. I watched Kenya lose 2-3 to Nigeria at Kasarani, and in the process fail to qualify for both the World Cup and the Africa Cup of Nations. That in itself was not news, and should not have made me […]

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Nov 02, 2009
Guess what, Starbucks did bounce back

“Howard Schultz (returned) in January 2008 to run the firm he had made great but which had by then entered a seemingly inescapable spiral of decline. Investors approve: having fallen below $8 last November, down from an all-time high of nearly $40 in 2006, shares in Starbucks have risen above $20, a bit higher than […]

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Oct 19, 2009
Does your company have a distinctive personality?

“When I talk of corporate personality, I mean just that: the company, not the individual. The law created the concept of corporate personality over a century ago, distinguishing the company from the individuals who run it, own its shares, or work for it. I think corporate personality is a useful idea, as a commercial as […]

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Oct 12, 2009
The chains of past success shackle us

“Suppose you went to a doctor who said: “I’m going to do an appendectomy on you.” When you asked why, the doctor answered, “because I did one on my last patient and it made him better.” We suspect you would hightail it out of that office, because you know that the treatment ought to be […]

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Sep 28, 2009
Learn from a comedian: innovation is about trying things out

“Sometimes innovation comes from funny places. For insight into how to balance creativity with the practicalities of commercialisation, we turn to a somewhat surprising source: the Marx Brothers, one of the world’s most famous comedy teams. Each one of the Marx Brother’s acts was developed in small pieces in the creative marketplace. “It was developed […]

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