The Case Against Corporate Short Termism

Despite strong pressures to focus on the short term, it is possible to manage for the long term and reap considerable rewards.

Camilo Becdach, Shannon Hennessy, Lauren Ratner

Managers either love or hate benchmarks. Those in the former camp see benchmarks as valuable metrics for understanding the competitive landscape and for triggering important internal discussions; they believe companies should strive to meet or exceed benchmarks. Those in the latter camp argue that every company is unique and that it’s therefore unhelpful and illogical to compare one company’s decisions, structure, and head count to … [ Read more ]

What Makes a CEO ‘Exceptional’?

We assessed the early moves of CEOs with outstanding track records; some valuable lessons for leadership transitions emerged.

Shannon Hennessy

Everyone loves to hate on benchmarks, and I can understand where that comes from. There are people who have deep scars from watching benchmarks get misused and from trying to compare one company to another in a way that they aren’t similar.

That said, I have not seen anything be as effective as benchmarks in triggering some hard questions, such as “Why does it take 50 … [ Read more ]

Steven Sinofsky

Business is a social science which leads to lots of crazy advice that arises from doing whatever seems to be working at a given moment for a visible and successful company. […] Conversely, if something isn’t going well then it won’t be long before the collective wisdom concludes that you need to go with the other end-point of the pendulum.

Duncan Watts

You’re trying to understand what makes something successful, but you’re only studying successful things. But of course, most of the things that successful people do are also done by unsuccessful people. So all successful people have breakfast, right? Maybe having breakfast is the key to being successful. Well, it turns out that’s not a very predictive feature. But you already know that if you study … [ Read more ]

Agility: It Rhymes with Stability

Companies can become more agile by designing their organizations both to drive speed and create stability.

How Aligned Is Your Organization?

Most executives today know their enterprises should be aligned. They know their strategies, organizational capabilities, resources, and management systems should all be arranged to support the enterprise’s purpose. The challenge is that executives tend to focus on one of these areas to the exclusion of the others, but what really matters for performance is how they all fit together. Consider the following questions, ideally with … [ Read more ]

What Great Managers Do Daily

Most companies understand the importance of having highly effective managers, but few invest heavily in training to help them get there. One reason is that it’s difficult to measure and quantify what good management actually looks like. While there has been a lot of great work done to identify qualitative traits of great managers — they create trust, focus on strengths, instill accountability, avoid politics, … [ Read more ]

Are You a Superboss? Here’s How to Tell

You’re a good boss. You care about your people. You have vision. You inspire others. But do you have what it takes to be a “superboss”?

The 5 Elements of a Strong Leadership Pipeline

Investments in traditional leadership development are often misguided and a waste of money. It’s not that development itself isn’t important. But there’s little evidence that much of it works. I’ll share some findings from a study my colleagues and I just completed at Deloitte. We surveyed and interviewed executives from more than 2,000 companies, asking extensive questions about how they develop leaders, how their companies … [ Read more ]

Eric J. McNulty

It can be easy to reduce malfeasance to the acts of a few bad apples. This kind of thinking absolves the organization, and even the larger system, of blame — it’s a comfortable place for those invested in the status quo. I take a lesson from a healthcare system where I conducted a number of interviews earlier this year. Their quality ratings had gone from … [ Read more ]

These Management Practices, Like Certain Technologies, Boost Company Performance

Management practice acts exactly as a new technology might in giving companies competitive advantage—and there is a right way and a wrong way to do things, says a new study by Raffaella Sadun and colleagues.

Mehrdad Baghai, Sven Smit, and S. Patrick Viguerie

Although good execution is essential for defending market share in fiercely contested markets, and thus for capitalizing on the corporate portfolio’s full-market-growth potential, it is usually not the key differentiator between companies that are growing quickly and those that are growing slowly. These findings suggest that executives ought to complement the traditional focus on execution and market share with more attention to where a company … [ Read more ]

Jess Whittlestone

Does following Peters and Waterman’s eight principles guarantee you business success? Almost certainly not. One big problem with their research was that they only looked at successful companies. Knowing that all successful companies have something in common tells us nothing unless we also know that unsuccessful companies lack those things. We might find that all successful business founders displayed an interest in entrepreneurship from an … [ Read more ]

Jess Whittlestone

Though we’re unlikely to ever distill success into a neat formula or set of principles, there is an alternative approach, which might bring more promise. [Jerker] Denrell suggests that rather than trying to demystify success, we should spend more time studying failure, which may come down to much more consistent principles. Understanding what not to do, if based on more solid evidence, could be much … [ Read more ]

Creating a Strategy That Works

The most farsighted enterprises have mastered five unconventional practices for building and using distinctive capabilities.

Editor’s Note: Perhaps it’s just me, but these capabilities don’t seem particularly unconventional. They are also like many secrets-to-success studies in that they look good on paper, but offer little in the way of practical recommendations for realizing them. And, you have the ever-present correlation-causation problem. At the least, it … [ Read more ]


Google has launched what it calls a “curated platform” on the Web for sharing management ideas—both its own and those of other companies. The site features research-backed examples of how Google approaches things like hiring and anti-bias training, providing free public tools such as slide decks and checklists that the company uses internally. The site will also feature other companies: case studies of employers like … [ Read more ]

Do You Have the Right Leaders for Your Growth Strategies?

It takes a mix of leaders and talent to pursue a variety of growth strategies simultaneously. Few executives can do it all.