5. November 2013
Source: The Economist
Strategies too often fail because more is expected of them than they can deliver
EVERYONE, it seems, is in need of a strategy. Governments have lots of them: strategies for health care, energy, housing, and so on. Each area of policy is made to seem more purposeful if there is a strategy behind it. Similarly, no company these days would dare to admit it lacks one. If things are going badly it will often be put down to the lack of good strategy. People even talk about using it to improve their lives—from coping with stress to losing weight or just making other people like them more.
Over time, the word “strategy” has been drained of meaning by ubiquity and overuse. Sir Lawrence Freedman’s aim in his magisterial new book, “Strategy: A History”, is to find a workable definition of what strategy is and to show how it has evolved and been applied in war, politics and business. Above all, he argues, it is about employing whatever resources are available to achieve the best outcome in situations that are both dynamic and contested: “It is about getting more out of a situation than the starting balance of power would suggest. It is the art of creating power.” Read the rest of this entry »
4. July 2011
Source: The Economist
We launch a quarterly review of business books by considering six of the best
THERE are few divisions of the book industry with a worse reputation than business publishing.
Hundreds if not thousands of business books come out every year, all with glowing press releases and effervescent puffs. Literary editors tend to consign them straight to the bin.
This is understandable. An astonishing number are worthless. Celebrity CEOs blow their trumpets, consultants market miracle cures, self-help gurus promise that you can grow rich by working four hours a week. Wait a few months: the CEOs have been caught with their hands in the till, the miracle cures are poisons, the self-help gurus bankrupt. What remains is a tangle of jargon-ridden prose.
Understandable but wrong. It is silly to dismiss a whole genre just because so many business books are bad. There are some excellent titles in among the dross: CEO biographies that capture something essential about business, useful prescriptions for restoring companies to health, even self-help books that help make sense of the contradictory pressures of modern corporate life. The average employed person in the West spends more waking time in the office than at home, so it makes no sense to be so dismissive of writers who focus on such an important activity.
The best books provide an insight into how business revolutionises the world. Why is the centre of growth shifting from the developed to the developing countries? Why do some companies succeed and others fail? Why are we swapping the white collar for the no-collar workplace? Why do managers say the astonishing things that they say? The answers to these questions lie in the business books that many literary editors so casually toss out. Read the rest of this entry »
4. October 2010
Über die Licht- und Schattenseiten des Beratereinsatzes sprach Hartmut Volk mit Johannes Steyrer von der Interdisziplinären Abteilung für Verhaltenswissenschaftlich orientiertes Management an der WU Wien
STANDARD: Professor Steyrer, ohne externe Wegweisung scheint Unternehmensführung nicht mehr zu funktionieren. Hat das Management Angst vor der eigenen Courage?
Steyrer: Externer Rat war zu allen Zeiten gefragt. Denken Sie an das Orakel von Delphi, die weithin gefragte Ratgeberinstitution der Antike. Letztlich sind auch die großen Weltreligionen solche Ratgeber- und Wegweiserinstitutionen. Sich beraten und sich damit eine Wegweisung geben zu lassen, ist also eine feste Institution des menschlichen Lebens, insofern also nichts Außergewöhnliches oder gar Beunruhigendes.
In diesem Sinne sehe ich in der enormen Beraterdichte unserer Tage denn auch weniger ein Indiz für mangelnde Courage des Managements als eine Antwort auf die ungeheure Komplexität des heutigen wirtschaftlichen Geschehens. Die Komplexität der Entscheidungen und der Druck, rascher und immer rascher handeln zu müssen, lösen Unsicher-heitsgefühle aus und das Bedürfnis, sich zu besprechen. So kommen die Berater ins Spiel. Mit anderen Worten wird der Komplexität auf der einen Seite die Komplexität, sprich der massive Beratereinsatz, auf der anderen Seite entgegengesetzt. Dass dabei das ausgeprägte Absicherungsdenken auf der einen Seite die andere Seite zu einer munteren Geschäftemacherei inspiriert, wird niemand bestreiten.
STANDARD: Es gibt also gute Gründe, sich beraten zu lassen?
Steyrer: Mit den Augen des Managements betrachtet, unter mannigfaltigen Aspekten unbedingt. Die Entscheider erhalten eine professionelle Diagnose des Unternehmens. Sie hören zu kontroversen Ansichten eine neutrale Meinung und erhalten eine andere Sicht der Entscheidungspraxis. Sie gleichen mit Beraterhilfe Kompetenzdefizite im Unternehmen aus. Sie bekommen Empfehlungen, was in problematischen Situationen zu tun ist. Sie werden in die Lage versetzt, Veränderungen in Gang zu setzen, die ohne Berater oft nicht anzustoßen wären. Read the rest of this entry »
23. August 2010
13. August 2010, 18:06:13 | Chris Meyer & Julia Kirby
Over the past year, we’ve been researching a book on how capitalism will evolve now that its center of gravity is moving away from mature, western economies. Looking around the world for companies that hint at capitalism’s next phase, we’ve tended to focus on businesses that an economist would say belong to an “emerging” stage of development — an ambulance service in Mumbai, for example, or aircraft manufacturer in Brazil. It hadn’t occurred to us that the cosmetics industry might be a source of inspiration.
It’s an industry, after all, that is so easy to see as representing the ugly excesses of the old capitalism. Made up of large companies who spend billions to create brands that delude us with illusions of eternal youth, its main achievement has been to create marketing channels capable of selling elaborate packaging (as well as some useful products, we acknowledge) at huge margins. If the best argument for capitalism is that it allocates resources efficiently, the cosmetics industry would not seem to be Exhibit A. Read the rest of this entry »
12. December 2009
(Photo: Andrew Feinberg)
Facebook simplified its privacy controls for 350 million users Wednesday. But some users and privacy advocates protest that important controls got lost in translation — including the right to keep one’s data from unscrupulous third-party developers.
Read the full article on Wired with updates and interesting comments from facebook.
12. November 2009
Tom Davenport’s Blog: November 2, 2009
The United States, my beloved home country, has become the General Motors of nations in its lethargy and complacency. This is ironic, because the US (and Canada) own a majority share of GM, but I am focused more on economic similarity rather than ownership. The height of complacency for GM was probably about 2004. In that year the automaker still had the title as the world’s largest maker of cars, a title it relinquished in 2007. GM was still profitable in 2004 — but not very much so — and it was losing market share in many of its major markets. That was the year that GM abandoned the Oldsmobile brand, but it didn’t seem worried about its future overall. Read the rest of this entry »
6. October 2009
We were able to participate on a great lecture on “New Ventures – From Idea to Enterprise” by Prof. Tom Byers, Stanford University.
From a “Helicopter View” participants learn about the life cycle of entrepreneurship. How to find an idea an opportunity? How to find the right team? Where to find investors and how to convince them about your business plan. What kind of funds are best for your new business? What are the major challenges for young entrepreneurs and what their biggest mistakes? Why should one think of how to get out of the new business before even starting it? These questions will make participants aware of very crucial aspects which might decide on failure or success. This lecture will provide a fundamental attitude towards the look at numerous examples of enterprises presented during the whole study week.
Read his Top 10 Elements of Technology Entrepreneurship. We also highly recommend to check out Stanford Entrepreneurship Corner and watch several video clips or listen to a podcast.