Why Tim Cook is Steve Ballmer

What happens to a company when a visionary CEO is gone? Most often, innovation dies and the company coasts for years on momentum and its brand. Rarely does it regain its former glory. Here’s why.

Editor’s Note: for more on this theme, read “Visionary, Salesman and Pragmatist Model of Business Succes.”

Why Agile May Be Fragile

The hype around Agile organizations needs some debunking, so that Agile’s actual value can be salvaged.

Popular Management Theories Decoded

Theorists and social scientists have long speculated on what type of management is best for man: especially in the professional setting. In response: they created management theories and compiled vast collections of ideas that have now provided a framework for an effective management strategy for man. These strategies are implemented in modern workplaces to motivate and bring the best out of employees.

At the end … [ Read more ]

Five Ways Companies Can Be More Nimble

In order to manage and surmount uncertainties, companies need to become intelligence-driven, and that is achieved by understanding and acting upon five types of agility, notes Baba Prasad. He discusses these concepts in his book Nimble: Make Yourself and Your Company Resilient in the Age of Constant Change. Prasad spoke with Knowledge@Wharton about his book in a recent interview.

25 Employee Incentive Ideas that Won’t Break the Bank

Employee recognition is the timely informal or formal acknowledgement of a person’s or team’s behavior, effort or business result that supports the organization’s goals and values. It is a known fact that appreciation is one of the top motivators for employees to work harder and to be more committed to their companies. Even cost-efficient forms of appreciation show employees that they are valued. Therefore, here … [ Read more ]

How to Shape Remarkable Products in the Messy Middle of Building Startups

Scott Belsky’s new book, The Messy Middle, covers an expansive range of topics, from constructing teams (“If you avoid folks who are polarizing, you avoid bold outcomes”) to culture and tools (“Be frugal with everything except your bed, your chair, your space, and your team”) to anchoring to your customers (“empathy and humility before passion”). We’re pleased to present Belsky’s introduction to his “Optimizing Product” … [ Read more ]

The Next-Generation Operating Model for the Digital World

Companies need to increase revenues, lower costs, and delight customers. Doing that requires reinventing the operating model.

There Are Only 3 Types Of Companies In The World. Which One Are You?

What kind of company do you run, and why does it matter? The key to answering this questions is positioning, which is an articulation of your overall business strategy as it relates to the customer in a way that reflects your company culture. I advocate for DNA-based positioning, which defines a company as a customer-centric Mother, a product-focused Mechanic, or a concept-oriented Missionary. That’s it: … [ Read more ]

What Seven Years at Airbnb Taught Me About Building a Company

I first joined Airbnb as an engineer, and then as one of the first members of the budding PM team. Back then there were a couple dozen engineers, a few designers, and two very cute dogs. Over the next seven years as the company scaled to thousands of global employees, countless cute dogs, and over $30b in value, I took on a lot of interesting … [ Read more ]

The 4-Letter Word That Makes My Blood Boil

“JUST” is one of the worst four-letter words I know. Whenever I catch myself using it, I stop and apologize. And when I hear it, I hold up my hand and stop the person speaking. If you use the words “just” or “simply,” you might have forgotten how hard the technical details can be.

How Fearless Organizations Succeed

Amy Edmondson describes three steps leaders can take to create psychological safety, the prerequisite for greater innovation and growth.

The Bionic Company

Businesses need to develop their behavior, cognitive, and network capital so they can create and capture value that competitors can’t erode.

When Cultural Values Lead to Groupthink, the Company Loses

As a business shapes its public reputation, hidden conflicts can undermine its effectiveness.

Adam Grant’s Simple Matrix to Get Employees (or Kids) More Engaged and Creative

When it comes to praise, leaders of any type (be they managers, parents, or coaches) hold unique power. The actions they exalt become standards of success, while those they critique become standards of failure.
 
Too often, leaders praise the wrong things and leave good work unremarked upon. The effect is that the people over whom they hold influence (be they employees, children, or mentees) are more … [ Read more ]

I hate MVPs. So do your customers. Make it SLC instead.

Product teams have been repeating the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) mantra for a decade now, without re-evaluating whether it’s the right way to maximize learning while pleasing the customer.
 
Well, it’s not the best system. It’s selfish and it hurts customers.
 
MVPs are too M and almost never V. Customers see that, and hate it. It might be great for the product team, but it’s bad for … [ Read more ]

How This Head of Engineering Boosted Transparency at Instagram

Not long after James Everingham joined Instagram as the head of engineering, results came back from the employee satisfaction survey that’s conducted every six months. The marks were pretty good, but one problem spot caught Everingham’s eye: the low transparency score.

Transparency is a persistent, thorny problem because we’re not all on the same page about what it even means. To Everingham, transparency was about building … [ Read more ]

The agile manager

Who manages in an agile organization? And what exactly do they do?

The Real Value of Your Company

When your company establishes a credible long-term strategy — including a way to play in the market and the capabilities to deliver — it sets up a high level of certainty. In valuation terms, your market value (your shareholders’ expectations) will more closely reflect your intrinsic value (the profits you consistently create). This is a tremendous source of strength, but it also triggers the paradox … [ Read more ]

Hypergrowth and The Law of Startup Physics

Khalid Halim notices patterns in startups that how companies scale and break matches military groupings. In this exclusive interview, he pulls at the strings of this scaling-and-breaking phenomenon to articulate what he calls the law of startup physics. He explains how companies and people grow at different rates — and what this tension means for how both will break while scaling. Halim shares how he’s … [ Read more ]

Stress Test Your Company’s Competitive Edge with These 4 Questions

Executives should be thinking about four different types of competition to maintain relevance in a changing environment. These four competition types can be positioned along two dimensions, which reflect two distinct questions: (1) “Are there customers for which to compete?” and (2) “Are we being outcompeted?”

These questions will help you identify the type of competition that currently exposes you to the greatest existential threats. … [ Read more ]