Robert Werner, Henning Streubel, Deborah Lovich,  Joseph Halverson

Instead of asking [executive leadership team (ELT)] members to summarize how they are doing (which usually only yields positive reports), one CEO we know focuses the conversation on “What keeps you up at night?” At executive team meetings, she asks her direct reports to share their biggest challenges. Then as a team ELT members help one another by sharing ways they have successfully overcome such … [ Read more ]

For CEOs, It’s About Time

How CEOs spend their time has an outsized influence on performance, engagement, and company culture.

Jony Ive

A lot of mistakes are made when you frame a problem, because you could already be dismissing 60 percent, 70 percent of the potential ideas.

Teppo Felin, Alfonso Gambardella, Todd Zenger

Theories illuminate paths to value that might otherwise remain unseen. Managers and entrepreneurs who hold the flashlight of theory can avoid the streetlight effect—the human tendency to search only where the light already shines, where things are already evident.

Haruki Murakami

Always remember that to argue, and win, is to break down the reality of the person you are arguing against. It is painful to lose your reality, so be kind, even if you are right.

A CEO’s First 1,000 Days Begins with the First 100

The initial 100 days are a time for boldness and clarity—a time when CEOs can express the purest form of their vision for the company.

  • CEOs should create an integrated narrative that lays out their ambition as well as their plans for transformation, stakeholder management, talent assessment, and communications.
  • In addition to laying out their ambition and plans, they also have an opportunity to step outside their

[ Read more ]

Inside the Black Box Crucial to Megaproject Success

Despite their importance to the global economy, most megaprojects fail to be delivered on budget or schedule. Here’s how managers could improve on that dismal record.

Chris Bradley, Rebecca Doherty

If you can achieve consistent growth, that’s the surest ticket to outperformance, but only 10 percent of companies manage to do that over a decade. Those that can’t should consider a strategy we call “shrink to grow.” This is like pruning back and then growing from there. Over a ten-year period, you may have one or two major dips in your growth that represent large … [ Read more ]

Chris Bradley

Oftentimes, companies think that growth is sacrificial—you have to endure long periods of low profit to generate growth. That is not true. The order is not growth followed by profit; it’s high returns followed by growth. In fact, companies that begin with returns on capital higher than the cost of capital go on to grow at double the rate of those that don’t start out … [ Read more ]

Ron Carucci, Jarrod Shappell

Know what your current organization is and isn’t capable of and what capabilities you need to achieve [a] newly articulated strategy. Unlike competencies, which belong to individuals, capabilities are organizational.

Martin Reeves, Arthur Boulenger, Adam Job

Organizations tend to neglect or downplay the ingenuity component in change initiatives. Leaders often prefer instead a simpler, mechanistic view of the world, which assumes they can easily specify and control actions using project management techniques. Moreover, organizations are often averse to change. Ideas like “breaking the rules” or “reinventing the organization” are less accepted in typical projects—and a departure from the norm will often … [ Read more ]

4 Types of Employee Complaints — and How to Respond

Complaining can have both positive and negative effects on organizational communication. Constructive complaining — or structured opportunities for employees to voice their concerns — offers valuable feedback to improve work processes, products, and services, and thus should be encouraged. Venting and chronic complaining have both advantages and disadvantages for the individual and the group and should be given the right space and time, rather than … [ Read more ]

Jan-Benedict Steenkamp

In order to disrupt your own frame of reference, you have to be willing to treat your accumulated experience as sunk cost, to be discarded as circumstances require. It’s a psychologically difficult thing to do. Moreover, ordinary daily pressures make it difficult to find the time to really think about, and thoroughly analyze, environmental trends. Many people, managers among them, suffer from cognitive myopia, the … [ Read more ]

George Stalk, Jr.

In manufacturing, costs fall into two categories: those that respond to volume or scale and those that are driven by variety. Scale-related costs decline as volume increases, usually falling 15% to 25% per unit each time volume doubles. Variety-related costs, on the other hand, reflect the costs of complexity in manufacturing: setup, materials handling, inventory, and many of the overhead costs of a factory. In … [ Read more ]

George Stalk, Jr.

While time is a basic business performance variable, management seldom monitors its consumption explicitly—almost never with the same precision accorded sales and costs. Yet time is a more critical competitive yardstick than traditional financial measurements.

A better way to drive your business

Integrated business planning is a well-known process, particularly among supply chain leaders. But in most companies, P&L owners are missing out.

Deidre Paknad

A way to think about KPIs is that they’re operating metrics. There are dashboards of them, millions of them in big companies. They tell us where we are.

The big difference with OKRs is, of the million things we could measure this quarter, on a certain five or ten measures, we want to move the needle, and this is how far we want the needle to … [ Read more ]

Hans Kuipers, Alan Iny, Alison Sander

Strong deductive capabilities allow companies to go deep, applying insights from a single source across the enterprise. And strong inductive capabilities allow them to go wide and ask, “What might this outlying piece of data foreshadow?”

Alexander Roos, James Tucker, Fabrice Roghé, Marc Rodt, Sebastian Stange

A company’s culture is frequently at the heart of mismanaged planning, with management often rewarding the wrong behavior. Because financial incentives are still frequently tied to the achievement of short-term plans, employees can feel pressured to negotiate financial goals and to sandbag. Consequently, planning begins to feel like a bazaar instead of the organized, top-down process it should be. Employees may be motivated to reach … [ Read more ]