Articles Tagged Strategy

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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Sep 14, 2009
Learning from the Crocs shooting star phenomenon

“For a while, they were just right there, in the middle of American culture,” says Richard Polk, the owner of Pedestrian Shops and, based in Boulder, Colo. Polk’s store was the first real shoe store to stock the crazy-looking plastic shoes, a few years back, when they first roared out of nearby Aurora to […]

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Sep 07, 2009
Real strategy is about saying “No”

“The very essence of having a strategy is being selective about choosing the criteria on which a firm wishes to compete, and then being creative and disciplined in designing an operation that is finely tuned to deliver those particular virtues. …Strategy is deciding which business you are going to turn away.” David Maister, Strategy & […]

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Jul 06, 2009
How one famous family oversees its business

“G.M.’s managers must answer to a new majority owner, the federal government, which in turn hopes to sell off its stake to other investors. Chrysler executives are learning to work with the Italian automaker Fiat, which acquired most of its assets. Ford’s top managers said they have no such worries about their controlling shareholders. “These […]

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Jun 22, 2009
Is your ‘great’ company sowing the seeds of its own future failure?

“When you are at the top of the world, the most powerful nation on Earth, the most successful company in your industry, the best player in your game, your very power and success might cover up the fact that you’re already on the path of decline.” That question—how would you know?—captured my imagination and became […]

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Jun 08, 2009
‘Me-too’ strategies are a waste of time

“When United Airlines decided in 1994 to compete with Southwest (Airlines) in the intra-California marketplace, the company tried to imitate Southwest. United put its gate staff and flight attendants in casual clothes; it flew only Boeing 737s; it gave the service a different name, “Shuttle by United,” and used separate planes and crews; it stopped […]

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May 31, 2009
Learn from this failing football club

Newcastle United got relegated from the English Premier League last week. “Say what”? I hear some (but not all) of you shout in unison. Don’t we get enough mania about foreign football in this country, without ‘A Sunny Day’ adding to the madness? Is it not enough that a deranged young Kenyan recently killed himself, […]

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Apr 12, 2009
Future success is not guaranteed – for anyone

Icarus flew too close to the sun, and came crashing down into the sea. He became giddy with excitement at his ability to fly, and was punished for his over-confidence. That is a Greek fable, but all societies have their tales about the phenomenon of hubris – the excessive pride or arrogance that so many […]

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Apr 06, 2009
To prosper in life, expect the unexpected

“It is easy to see that life is the cumulative effect of a handful of significant shocks. It is not so hard to identify the role of Black Swans, from your armchair (or bar stool). Go through the following exercise. Look into your own existence. Count the significant events, the technological changes, and the inventions […]

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Mar 30, 2009
Do yourself a favour – burn your mission statement!

Vision: To be a leading provider of quality products and services in the region. Mission: To deliver quality solutions and excellent returns and service to all our esteemed stakeholders through consistent best practice. Values: Excellence Teamwork Quality Customer Focus Professionalism Social Responsibility Do your vision, mission and values statements look anything like what I’ve put […]

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Mar 02, 2009
Don’t mistake your humdrum annual plan for your strategy

“There is nothing like a crisis to clarify the mind. In suddenly volatile and different times, you must have a strategy. I don’t mean most of the things people call strategy – mission statements, audacious goals, three- to five-year budget plans. I mean a real strategy. For many managers, the word has become a verbal […]

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Feb 23, 2009
Lessons in competition from the demise of GTV

“Gateway Broadcast Services announced today that its Board of Directors has unanimously approved a plan to liquidate the Company. The current financial and global crisis has severely interrupted the company’s ability to secure further funding for the continued operation of the business. Gateway Broadcast Services, suppliers of the GTV service to subscribers across Africa has […]

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Feb 09, 2009
The herd instinct gets us all into trouble

“One thing this crisis has proved is that the herd instinct is alive and well and global. It led Bear Stearns and Citigroup and Lehman Brothers and AIG to believe that risk was a thing of the past, that housing markets could only go up and that unregulated mortgage-backed securities would forever yield unprecedented returns. […]

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Feb 01, 2009
Why are our shops so awful?

I remain stunned by the experience offered to customers by our supposedly excellent entrepreneurs. I am particularly appalled by our retail shops, most of which are woefully, bafflingly bad. I am in the market for a couple of computer printers. A relatively straightforward issue, you might think, since we seem to have a large number […]

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Jan 19, 2009
Want to be truly excellent at what you do? Practice!

“This idea – that excellence at a complex task requires a critical, minimum level of practice – surfaces again and again in studies of expertise. In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is a magic number for true expertise: 10,000 hours. “In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice-skaters, concert […]

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Jan 18, 2009
It’s back to basics for big business

Surely it’s impossible for a company listed in three stock exchanges to falsify its accounts for years on end? Surely you cannot put a fictitious $1 billion in cash on your balance sheet, and get it past your auditors? Surely you can’t just keep recording fake profit margins? Actually, you can. Satyam Computer Services, an […]

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Jan 12, 2009
No one saw the shocks of 2008 coming

“The past year has been full of big surprises, particularly for banks. One minute it was 85-year-old Bear Stearns that collapsed, the next it was 158-year-old Lehman Brothers, and then the whole financial system needed bailing out as confidence in free-market capitalism itself all but evaporated. Who would have thought, at the start of 2008, […]

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Jan 11, 2009
Corporate reputations came crashing down in 2008

Nothing in this world creates more wealth than private companies. And that wealth is spread around – to shareholders, employees, governments, suppliers and customers. The interconnected micro-world around the private company is the world’s most powerful economic ecosystem. Those at the top of the corporate world tend to have a halo around their heads. We […]

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Nov 30, 2008
What Kenya needs: Shock therapy

I touched on a subject before being interrupted by the US poll. I wrote in early November that we cannot advance as a society until we learn to respect rules, and that most of us only behave well when we are compelled to do so. I termed the phenomenon ‘moral entropy’: if you don’t force […]

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Nov 28, 2008
Repeat after me: Strategy is about difference

“A company can outperform rivals only if it can establish a difference that it can preserve. It must deliver greater value to customers or create comparable value at lower cost, or do both. …Operational effectiveness means performing similar activities better than rivals perform them…in contrast, strategic positioning means performing different activities from rivals’ or performing […]

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Nov 14, 2008
The changing face of business gurus

The Top 10 most influential business gurus: 1. Gary Hamel 2. Thomas L. Friedman 3. Bill Gates 4. Malcolm Gladwell 5. Howard Gardner 6. Philip Kotler 7. Robert Reich 8. Daniel Goleman 9. Henry Mintzberg 10. Stephen R. Covey The Wall Street Journal, 5 May 2008 Academics might be expected to dominate the Wall Street […]

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Sep 26, 2008
Can the Volt electrify General Motors?

“(General Motors) turns 100 this year, but amid the birthday celebrations it can expect a slap in the face: in 2008 GM is likely to be demoted to No. 2 among the world’s carmakers. Memories of past glory make being overtaken by Toyota all the more galling. In the 1950s and 1960s, GM poured forth […]

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