Peter F. Drucker

The flaw in so many policy statements, especially those of business, is that they contain no action commitment—to carry them out is no one’s specific work and responsibility. Small wonder then that the people in the organization tend to view such statements cynically, if not as declarations of what top management is really not going to do.

Kyle Hawke, Matt Jochim, Carey Mignerey, Allison Watson

Standard cost-cutting programs typically start with a directive to reduce the previous year’s spending levels. As a result, executives naturally focus on the largest expense categories—the tallest trees in the forest. Xero-based budgeting (ZBB) instead asks everyone to rebuild their budgets from the bottom up, with no carryover from the preceding year. This process identifies many small pockets of waste that add up to big … [ Read more ]

Eric Garton

A well-designed operating model involves far more than the lines and boxes or spans and layers in the organization chart. It includes accountabilities. Who has P&L authority? Who on that org chart has the authority to make which decisions? As companies move to more agile operating models, they must learn to balance accountability with autonomy. A new operating model also requires a governance structure and … [ Read more ]

Randy Cook, Stefan de Raedemaecker, Jacek Fabianowicz, Alessandra Fantoni

Typically, focusing too intently on particular tools points to a deeper issue: people haven’t fully assimilated the ideas underlying the tools, whose point is to reinforce a continuous-improvement culture, not to create experts in the tools.

Reid Hoffman

First-mover advantage doesn’t go to the first company that launches. It goes to the first company that scales.

Ron Carucci

Saying no is one of the greatest gifts an executive can give their organization. Too many leaders overestimate the capacity of their organizations under the ruse of “stretch goals” or “challenge assignments” to justify their denial of the organization’s true limitations.

Amy C. Edmondson

Closing the gap between strategy and execution may not be about better execution after all, but rather about better learning — about more dialogue between strategy and operations, a greater flow of information from customers to executives, and more experiments. In today’s fast-paced world, strategy as learning must go hand in hand with execution as learning — bypassing the idea that either a strategy or … [ Read more ]

Performance Management: Why Keeping Score Is So Important, and So Hard

The elements of a good performance-management system are simple, but integrating them into a business’s fundamental operating system is more difficult than it seems.

Julie Goran, Laura LaBerge, Ramesh Srinivasan

The critical question for executives concerned with their organization’s risk appetite is whether they are trusting their employees, at all levels, to make big enough bets without subjecting them to red tape.

Ed Catmull

One of the things about failure is that it’s asymmetrical with respect to time. When you look back and see failure, you say, ‘It made me what I am!’ But looking forward, you think, ‘I don’t know what is going to happen and I don’t want to fail.’ The difficulty is that when you’re running an experiment, it’s forward looking. We have to try extra … [ Read more ]

Going From Fragile to Agile

Why do companies need to be more nimble? McKinsey’s Aaron De Smet and Chris Gagnon explain what’s driving organizational agility, why it matters, and what to do.

Jim Collins

If your company cannot be great without you, it is not yet a great company. It is merely a group of people who happen to have a leader. The test as to whether it’s a great company is it doesn’t need you.

Jim Collins

When we were studying in Built to Last, we were looking at companies that were visionary through generations, which meant sometimes you had to discount the role of any individual leader. You couldn’t say that Walt Disney was Disney because Walt Disney’s walking around anymore. There’s something about the company. And I still believe that. I still believe that even if you go back to … [ Read more ]

This Matrix Helps Growing Teams Make Great Decisions

Gil Shklarski, CTO at Flatiron Health, has adapted a framework from his executive coach Marcy Swenson to serve as a tool for his team to quickly and efficiently create alignment around decision-making — and at the same time, foster a level of psychological safety that would take fear, self-consciousness and anxiety out of the process.

Danaher’s Instruments of Change

Distinctive capabilities have been central to Danaher’s success since the mid-1980s, when Mitchell Rales and Steven Rales, two brothers who owned a commercial real estate business, discovered they had a knack for buying and turning around ailing manufacturing companies. Over the years, the company had evolved from a highly leveraged startup to a profitable family of ventures with a market capitalization of more than US$40 … [ Read more ]

Sylvie Bardaune, Sébastien Lacroix, Nicolas Maechler

Too many companies do not measure employee satisfaction or the support functions’ performance effectively and so fail to understand the needs of the employees using these internal services. The result is a diminished opportunity to take corrective action.

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.

Joseph Kaeser

How do you manage your company using the data you collect? There’s a technocratic approach in which you look at the numbers. But by the time you get the numbers, it’s too late already because the numbers only reflect what happened in the past. At the end, managing a company is still very analog, because human beings are analog, and the way you manage your … [ Read more ]

Thomas P. Joyce Jr.

You can walk up to a visual board on the shop floor in any Danaher business, and the metrics have the same labels: safety, quality, delivery, cost, and inventory. You can look at progress against clear targets — monthly, weekly, and daily cell-level targets. With that kind of visibility and transparency in performance, it’s easy to call it the way you see it. You can … [ Read more ]