Articles Tagged Strategy

Aug 22, 2008
Why I back Starbucks to bounce back

“On July 1st (Starbucks), based in Seattle, said it would close a further 500 stores in America (in addition to the 100 closures it announced earlier this year) and reduce its workforce of roughly 172,000 by around 7%. A remarkable 70% of the stores due to close were opened after 2005, which seems to confirm […]

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Aug 15, 2008
Teams: Why 2+2 is not always 4

“In the late 1920s, a German psychologist named Max Ringelmann compared the results of individual and group performance on a rope-pulling task. He expected that the group’s effort would be equal to the sum of the efforts of individuals within the group. For instance, three people puling together should exert three times as much pull […]

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Aug 01, 2008
The power shifts revealed by the new Fortune Global 500

The 2007 Fortune Global 500: 1. Wal-Mart Stores 2. Exxon Mobil 3. Royal Dutch Shell 4. BP 5. Toyota Motor 6. Chevron 7. ING Group 8. Total 9. General Motors 10. ConocoPhillips Fortune (July 21, 2008) What’s new in Fortune‘s Global 500 List? Well, 6 of the top 10 corporations by revenue are oil companies, […]

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Jun 20, 2008
Business has many casualties – but many do last the race

“Of the 500 companies that appeared on the first (Fortune 500) list, in 1955, only 71 have a place on the list today. Nearly 2,000 companies have appeared on the list since its inception, and most are long gone from it. Dozens of companies on this year’s list did not even exist in 1955. Some […]

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May 16, 2008
When will Kenya produce an African market leader?

“In 2005, the Chinese computer company Lenovo bought I.B.M.’s P.C. division, and the Mexican cement company Cemex acquired the British cement giant RMC. Last year, India’s Mittal Steel paid thirty-three billion for the Belgian company Arcelor, and Tata’s steel company bought the British-Dutch steel producer Corus for more than eleven billion.” James Surowiecki (The New […]

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May 11, 2008
Want success in life? Commit!

There is a lesson we must all learn: life is nothing if you don’t commit to it. In love, in business, in your career: you can’t ‘succeed big’ if you don’t ‘commit big’. If you want to be a winner, you have to decide what you want and how you’re going to get it. And […]

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May 09, 2008
Is coffee a great business to be in?

“For coffee farmers in Meru Central, every waking moment is a constant reminder of the good old days when the berries were synonymous with wealth. In the late 1970s…during the so-called “coffee boom”, many millionaires were made as the region, which lies at the foot of Mt Kenya, benefited from coffee sales. Coffee was to […]

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Mar 14, 2008
How your strategy can blind your company

“Strategies are to organisations what blinders are to horses: they keep them going in a straight line, but impede the use of peripheral vision. By focusing effort and directing the attention of each part within the integrated whole, the organisation runs the risk being unable to change its strategy when it has to. Setting oneself […]

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Feb 24, 2008
Did we really not see it coming?

We didn’t see it coming. That is the horrified standard response to our post-election crisis from our chattering classes (also known as the drinking classes, the pontificating classes, and the not-our-fault classes). This response is uttered in aghast fashion, and reflects the speaker’s disgust at these dreadful goings-on. This response allows many scapegoats to appear: […]

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Feb 22, 2008
Be afraid of your customers – not your competitors

“Yes, you should wake up every morning terrified with your sheets drenched in sweat, but not because you’re afraid of our competitors. Be afraid of our customers, because those are the folks who have the money. Our competitors are never going to send us money.” Jeff Bezos, CEO, (Interviewed in Harvard Business Review, October […]

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Dec 07, 2007
Lesson in capitalism from ‘The Godfather’

Scene from The Godfather: To set the scene, Michael Corleone (played by Al Pacino), the don’s war-hero son who was not ordained to enter the family business, nonetheless finds himself tapped to avenge the attempted assassination of his father (played by Marlon Brando). His mission is to shoot Sollozzo, who engineered the gunning down of […]

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Dec 02, 2007
A family business that’s 4 centuries old

How long do family businesses last? Most make it to the second generation, and then the problems start. Once the visionary founder has handed over the reins to his son/daughter/nephew/brother, an inflection point occurs. What happens in that second generation decides whether the business has a future. Either the company makes necessary changes and undertakes […]

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Nov 30, 2007
Thinking deeply about strategy

“Where is (success) coming from? It’s coming from having, within a company, difficult-to-replicate and usually intangible resources. Things that can generate and sustain competitive success – things like reputation, a good customer group, network externalities, experienced and competent people performing your processes. …we know that companies get good at something by doing it. Now that […]

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Nov 23, 2007
From bricklayers to architects – lessons in development

“The rule of the market economy,” this Communist official explained to me, “is that if somewhere has the richest human resources and the cheapest labor, of course the enterprises and the businesses will naturally go there.” In manufacturing, he pointed out, “Chinese people were first the employees and working for the foreign manufacturers, and after […]

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Oct 14, 2007
Learning from China and India

China and India are undoubtedly the economic phenomena of this generation. Both are in the midst of an economic transformation that is startling in its scale and scope. Both are criticised – China, for still being an autocratic, undemocratic regime, India for not doing enough for its poor people – but there is no doubt […]

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Oct 07, 2007
Is Africa in the right businesses?

What is the coffee business? What is the football business? What is the athletics business? What is the flowers business? For us in Africa, the answers to those questions are very simple indeed. The coffee business is BEANS. The football business is PLAYERS. The athletics business is RUNNERS. The flowers business is GREENHOUSES. In all […]

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Oct 05, 2007
The amazing magic of the market

“In a single day, on July 16, 2005, the American and British economies delivered nine million copies of the sixth volume of the Harry Potter children’s book series to eager fans. Book retailers continually restocked the shelves as customers snatched up the book. Amazon and Barnes & Noble shipped preordered copies directly to customers’ homes. […]

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Sep 28, 2007
Big firms should not pick fights with the small fry

“In a meeting convened to explore opportunities, I asked my client’s managers how they intended to grow faster. The sales & marketing manager confidently replied they would destroy smaller competitors. My client, the leader in their industry, held a dominant share of the market. Small regional companies had been nibbling away at their heels for […]

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Sep 21, 2007
Building a great company takes patience

“Consider…the evolution of Wal-Mart. Most people think that Sam Walton just exploded onto the scene with his visionary idea for rural discount retailing, hitting breakthrough almost as a start-up company. But nothing could be further from the truth. Sam Walton began in 1945 with a single dime store. He didn’t open his second store until […]

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Sep 07, 2007
Stop competing and start re-imagining

“…imagine a market universe composed of two sorts of oceans: red oceans and blue oceans. Red oceans represent all the industries in existence today. This is the known market space. Blue oceans denote all the industries not in existence today. This is the unknown market space. In the red oceans, industry boundaries are defined and […]

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Aug 17, 2007
Strategic planning has become a tiresome ritual

“…the annual strategy review frequently amounts to little more than a stage on which business unit leaders present warmed-over updates of last year’s presentations, take few risks in broaching new ideas, and strive above all to avoid embarrassment. Rather than preparing executives to face the strategic uncertainties ahead or serving as the focal point for […]

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Jul 08, 2007
Bold actions to transform Kenya

I have no idea who the next president of Kenya will be, and neither do you. Given that our politicians are driven by the overwhelming need to take office rather than stick to principle, anything is possible. Anyone can yet team up with anyone else. Any number of permutations can emerge. I find all of […]

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Jun 29, 2007
Michael Porter in Nairobi – Part 3: Time for business to lead

Sunny Bindra, Executive Fellow at Strathmore Business School, concludes his special three-part series on the ideas of Michael Porter. This final article looks at the professor’s prescription: a new collaborative approach for Kenya. Michael Porter came, spoke and left. So what did he leave behind? I believe he left us with the intellectual framework that […]

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Jun 28, 2007
Michael Porter in Nairobi – Part 2: Let businesspeople be our heroes

Sunny Bindra, strategy consultant and business writer, continues his three-part series on the ideas of Michael Porter. Harvard’s Professor Porter was in Nairobi on Monday and delivered a memorable address on “Global Competitiveness” at the Strathmore Business School. This second article examines the question: What are the sources of national competitiveness? “You can become very […]

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Jun 27, 2007
Michael Porter in Nairobi – Part 1: The power of productivity

Professor Michael Porter, world-renowned authority on competitiveness, was in Nairobi this week. He met government leaders and delivered a keynote address to executives and students at the Strathmore Business School. Business Daily asked Sunny Bindra, the Sunday Nation’s business columnist and a member of Strathmore’s Advisory Board, to convey the legendary don’s ideas and recommendations […]

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May 06, 2007
When elephants dance with hounds

Sir Richard Branson was in town recently, and everywhere he went he was received like royalty. How come? Not too long ago, we would have viewed him as a neo-colonialist come to exploit us, to take our business away, to expropriate profits, to hurt our national carrier, to prevent us from developing our own skills […]

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Mar 18, 2007
Why don’t we take more pride in our businesses?

Why would anyone open a restaurant when: the renovations are not complete; the staff are not adequately trained; and the chef hasn’t quite got his act together? Happens all the time in Kenya. How often do you go to new establishments to encounter exposed wiring, waiters who have no clue what the dishes are, and […]

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Feb 11, 2007
Originality is the new business way

There are very few good books about business written in the world. Most seem to be exercises in futility: lots of seemingly well-educated people telling you the blindingly obvious and making it sound like a dramatic breakthrough in management thinking. The style of writing covers the full spectrum: from painfully dull to messianic. But most […]

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