"CEOs can't wait to read Sunny Bindra's articles every week."

Feb 13, 2011
Is your business about to disappear from under your feet?

Consider this product. The life of the product begins when mammoth trees are grown on a huge scale, then pulled down and turned into pulp with massive machinery. The pulp is taken to giant mills and turned into huge rolls of paper. Those rolls are trucked and shipped around the world. The rolls are then […]

Read More
Nov 29, 2010
Should you walk the talk, or talk the walk?

“Managers are repeatedly urged to practice what they preach so others will take their preaching seriously and try to implement it in their own work. Hypocrisy is the culprit here and to exorcise it, managers are told to “walk the talk”… Part of the reason people fail when they try to walk the talk is […]

Read More
Nov 28, 2010
Since when is misleading customers a winning strategy?

Suppose you go into a shop to buy a drink. You notice that instead of saying “1 litre” on the carton, it says “up to 1 litre” instead. You buy the drink, go home and empty out the contents and measure them. You find there was only half a litre in the box. How do […]

Read More
Nov 22, 2010
Think of strategy as an act of seduction

“Successful strategies are compelling and persuasive in the eye of the beholder – put more vividly, they are seductive. The real power of any strategy is the power it affords to entice people into sharing an image of the future. Notice that I said entice – not delude or manipulate. That is not an easy […]

Read More
Nov 15, 2010
Could you reduce your mission statement to 8 words?

“Most companies, regardless of their sectors, have a mission statement. And most are awash in jargon and marble-mouthed pronouncements. Worse still, these gobbledy-gook statements are often forgotten by, misremembered, or flatly ignored by frontline employees. To combat this, (Kevin) Starr insists that companies he funds can express their mission statement in under eight words. They […]

Read More
Nov 01, 2010
Planning for tomorrow is not about forecasting

“…three financial economists — Itzhak Ben-David of Ohio State University and John R. Graham and Campbell R. Harvey of Duke — found that chief financial officers of major American corporations are not very good at forecasting the future. The authors’ investigation used a quarterly survey of C.F.O.’s that Duke has been running since 2001. Among […]

Read More
Oct 18, 2010
Microsoft’s moment of truth is here

“Microsoft made its final roll of the dice in the global smartphone market today, launching a new mobile operating system which the software powerhouse hopes will rival iPhone and Android devices. The Windows Phone 7 marks a complete break from its past efforts – and the suppression of internal politics in favour of the man […]

Read More
Sep 20, 2010
Nokia’s search for a viable market positioning continues

Nokia, the leading maker of mobile phones, replaced its chief executive, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, on Friday with the head of Microsoft’s business unit in a bid to turn around the company’s struggling smartphone lineup and stop a decline in American market share. Nokia said it had appointed Stephen Elop, a 46-year-old native of Ancaster, Ontario, to […]

Read More
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 […]

Read More
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 […]

Read More
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 […]

Read More
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 […]

Read More
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 […]

Read More
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 […]

Read More
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 […]

Read More
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 […]

Read More
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 […]

Read More
Oct 05, 2009
Does your organisation pass the teamwork test?

“Managers build their plans and strategies on the assumption that people in their firm are ready and willing to be team players, acting collectively to create or achieve something in the future. The truth, however, is that these attitudes cannot be assumed to exist. In fact, they’re notably scarce. In many firms – even in […]

Read More
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 & […]

Read More
Jul 20, 2009
Your brand may be way less effective than you think

“Every marketer is up against this new reality: The world is overflowing with brands, and consumers are having a hard time assessing the differences among them. In 2006, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued 196,400 trademarks, almost 100,000 more than it had in 1990. The average supermarket today holds 30,000 different brands, up threefold […]

Read More
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 […]

Read More
May 18, 2009
Business lessons from 2008’s economic meltdown

“After 2008, it’s understandable that the average American would be as mad as hell at America’s business leaders. Executives, even in a good year, tend to rank towards the bottom in credibility with the public…The current economic crisis provides all the ammo for a populist backlash, as you – and your portfolio – know too […]

Read More
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 […]

Read More
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 […]

Read More