Five Myths of a CEO’s First 100 Days

31. January 2012

‎Gestern, ‎30. ‎Jänner ‎2012, ‏‎15:40:55 | Roselinde Torres and Peter Tollman, HBR Blog

It’s tough at the top and getting tougher. CEO turnover in medium and large U.S. companies is speeding up: Today CEOs last just six years on average, down from eight years a decade ago.

More than 15% of current CEOs are freshmen. Starting off on the right foot is crucial, especially during “the first 100 days,” when new top executives are under intense scrutiny to prove they’re equal to the job.

Unfortunately, the 100-day strategy has fallen victim to several myths that make it more difficult for leaders to lead.

MYTH #1: New CEOs should look outward and move quickly, rapidly inspecting personnel and procedures and identifying shortcomings in order to “sort out the mess.” One CEO, newly installed in an ailing industrial goods company, wasted time investigating and disparaging his predecessor. After a year of “I’m-not-the-other-guy” leadership, this executive hadn’t stamped his own identity on the business or made any distinctive decisions.

FACT: New CEOs benefit from introspection, not just inspection. They should reflect on their leadership style in order to adapt and harmonize with the company. One CEO, for example, excelled at communicating to small groups, delegating and team-building. Because he initially concentrated on assembling a strong team and personally communicating with them, he was able to develop a firm launch-pad for a variety of initiatives aimed at transforming the company. Read the rest of this entry »

The Coming Tech-led Boom

30. January 2012

Date: 30-01-2012
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Three breakthroughs are poised to transform this century as much as telephony and electricity did the last.

In January 1912, the United States emerged from a two-year recession. Nineteen more followed—along with a century of phenomenal economic growth. Americans in real terms are 700% wealthier today.

In hindsight it seems obvious that emerging technologies circa 1912—electrification, telephony, the dawn of the automobile age, the invention of stainless steel and the radio amplifier—would foster such growth. Yet even knowledgeable contemporary observers failed to grasp their transformational power.

In January 2012, we sit again on the cusp of three grand technological transformations with the potential to rival that of the past century. All find their epicenters in America: big data, smart manufacturing and the wireless revolution. Read the rest of this entry »

The Rise and Fall of Personal Computing (1975-2011)

26. January 2012

‎Donnerstag, ‎19. ‎Jänner ‎2012, ‏‎17:29:42 | Dustin

A brilliant chart of computer sales. Note the log scale!


Isaacson on Jobs: Should He Have Been a Nicer CEO?

26. January 2012

Date: 26-01-2012

Source: TIME

During Tuesday evening’s State of the Union address, President Obama honored the memory of Steve Jobs by underscoring the creative and technological engines that drive America. He also called attention to one of the necessary evils of progress: risk. “We should support … every risk-taker and entrepreneur who aspires to become the next Steve Jobs,” said the president. “After all, innovation is what America has always been about.”

By embracing risks, Steve Jobs inspired his employees, his competition, and most of all his customers, who developed a cultish attachment to his products. So it was appropriate that even as Congress was applauding Jobs’ impact on the business world, the man who arguably knew the Apple founder best – his biographer, Walter Isaacson – was at the 92nd Street Y on Manhattan’s Upper East Side telling a standing-room-only audience of 600 of insights gained during the two years he spent interviewing Jobs.

In this case, the questions were being asked by TIME managing editor Richard Stengel. Isaacson preceded Stengel as head of TIME – and had been Stengel’s boss – so the conversation included moments of nostalgia as well as some frank discussion about managerial styles. As a boss, of course, Jobs was famously prone to extreme bluntness, which was often construed as intentional meanness. Isaacson saw it a little differently. “He intuitively did not have that filter,” he explained, pointing to an example he witnessed first hand. “When the person at Whole Foods is making his smoothie and she’s taking too long, [most people] have a filter that says, ‘Don’t jump on her.’ But Steve was brutally honest.”  Read the rest of this entry »

How U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work

25. January 2012

Date: 22-01-2012

Source: The New York Times
 People flooded Foxconn Technology with résumés at a 2010 job fair in Henan Province, China.

When Barack Obama joined Silicon Valley’s top luminaries for dinner in California last February, each guest was asked to come with a question for the president.

But as Steven P. Jobs of Apple spoke, President Obama interrupted with an inquiry of his own: what would it take to make iPhones in the United States?

Not long ago, Apple boasted that its products were made in America. Today, few are. Almost all of the 70 million iPhones, 30 million iPads and 59 million other products Apple sold last year were manufactured overseas.

Why can’t that work come home? Mr. Obama asked.

Mr. Jobs’s reply was unambiguous. “Those jobs aren’t coming back,” he said, according to another dinner guest.
The president’s question touched upon a central conviction at Apple. It isn’t just that workers are cheaper abroad. Rather, Apple’s executives believe the vast scale of overseas factories as well as the flexibility, diligence and industrial skills of foreign workers have so outpaced their American counterparts that “Made in the U.S.A.” is no longer a viable option for most Apple products.

Apple has become one of the best-known, most admired and most imitated companies on earth, in part through an unrelenting mastery of global operations. Last year, it earned over $400,000 in profit per employee, more than Goldman Sachs, Exxon Mobil or Google.

However, what has vexed Mr. Obama as well as economists and policy makers is that Apple — and many of its high-technology peers — are not nearly as avid in creating American jobs as other famous companies were in their heydays. Read the rest of this entry »

The shackled boss

24. January 2012

Date: 24-01-2012
Source: The Economist: Schumpeter

Corporate bosses are much less powerful than they used to be

EXHAUSTED after a shipwreck, the hero of “Gulliver’s Travels” wakes up on the island of Lilliput to find that he has been tied down by lots of “slender ligatures”. Gulliver is far stronger than his tiny captors; but by working together the Lilliputians subdue the giant.

The bosses who will gather in Davos on January 25th-29th are more like Gulliver than they care to imagine. They may feel big, as they hobnob with politicians and stride from one soirée to another (in sensible shoes, to avoid slipping on the Swiss resort’s icy pavements). And pundits will fret, as they always do, that Davos Men are carving up the world. But when those bosses return to work they will discover that the tiny ligatures that non-Davosites have attached to them bind ever more tightly.

Two decades ago bosses were relatively unbound. American chief executives struck heroic poses on the covers of Forbes and Fortune and appointed pliable cronies to their boards. Europeans such as Percy Barnevik, the boss of ASEA Brown Boveri, a Swedish-Swiss conglomerate, imported the American cult of the CEO to the old continent. But since then a succession of catastrophes—most notably the implosion of Enron in 2001 and the financial crisis in 2007-08—have empowered the critics of over-mighty bosses. In 2010 two legal academics, Marcel Kahan and Edward Rock, published a seminal article on “Embattled CEOs”. Since then they have become ever more embattled. Read the rest of this entry »

Executive pay: Money for nothing?

13. January 2012

Date: 12-01-2012
Source: The Economist

Executive pay levels rise because of globalisation, not poor oversight

HARD work builds character, and should be rewarded. But many Britons believe the link between graft and gain has broken down. At the bottom, they see a dependency culture that costs them billions in welfare spending. At the top, pay for executives seems to soar regardless of the fortunes of their businesses.

Even some on the right are rounding on corporate excess. David Cameron, ever alive to the public mood, announced on January 8th that he would reform executive remuneration. His ideas include giving shareholders binding votes on the pay, perks and severance packages handed out by companies. Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat business secretary and perhaps the most left-wing member of the coalition, is leading the raid on boardrooms.

Ed Miliband, the Labour Party’s increasingly criticised leader, wants to go even further. He argues for putting workers’ representatives on company boards and making corporate pay more transparent. Labour is the party of equality, yet the issue is a bind for him. If he is much more radical than Mr Cameron, he risks reviving his “Red Ed” reputation. If he is not, the government’s efforts will grab all the attention.

The debate over executive pay is likely to heat up over the next few months, fuelled by disclosures of bumper bonuses for bosses. The timing will be particularly embarrassing to public companies and politicians, as median real incomes are forecast to fall sharply as the economic slump continues. Read the rest of this entry »

China’s Top 10 Business Stories in 2011

3. January 2012
Author: Patrick Chovanec · January 2nd, 2012 · RGE EconoMonitor

As the year comes to a close, and we look forward to 2012, I continue the tradition I started last year and offer a brief look at the top stories that shaped China’s business and economic climate in 2011:

1. High-Speed Rail. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times — China’s ambitious high-speed rail program embodied the highest highs and the lowest lows the country experienced this year. In January, President Obama cited the planned 20,000km network in his annual State of the Union address as a prime example of how America need to catch up to the Chinese. As if to prove his point, June saw the grand opening of the much-heralded Beijing-Shanghai line, timed to coincide with the Communist Party’s 90th anniversary celebrations. But even before then, there were signs of trouble on the horizon, starting in February when the powerful head of China’s railway ministry — the project’s godfather — was abruptly fired as part of a massive corruption scandal. Then a crash on a line near Wenzhou, in which at least 35 people were killed, unleashed a wave of fury on the Chinese internet, forcing the government to re-think the entire project amid charges of cover-up and sloppy construction. By November, with high-speed trains running at chronically low capacity and construction debts piling up, the railway ministry was asking Beijing for a rumored RMB 800 billion (US$ 126 billion) bailout just to pay the money it owed suppliers.

2. Inflation. Few issues preoccupied the average Chinese citizen — or Chinese policymakers — this year as much as rapidly rising prices. Read the rest of this entry »