What it takes to be a CEO in the 2020s

7. February 2020

Date: 06‑02‑2020

Source: The Economist

The rules of management are being ripped up. Bosses need to adapt

On paper this is a golden age for bosses. Chief executives have vast power. The 500 people who run America’s largest listed firms hold sway over 26m staff. Profits are high and the economy is purring. The pay is fantastic: the median of those ceos pockets $13m a year. Sundar Pichai at Alphabet has just got a deal worth up to $246m by 2023. The risks are tolerable: your chances of being fired or retiring in any year are about 10%. ceos often get away with a dreadful performance. In April Ginni Rometty will stand down from ibm after eight years in which Big Blue’s shares have trailed the stockmarket by 202%. Adam Neumann got high in private jets and lost $4bn before being ousted from WeWork last year. The only big drawback is all those meetings, which eat up two‑thirds of the typical boss’s working hours.

Yet ceos say the job has got harder. Most point the finger at “disruption”, the idea that competition is more intense. But they have been saying that for years. In fact the evidence suggests that, as America’s economy has become more sclerotic, big firms have been able to count on cranking out high profits for longer. Nonetheless, bosses are right that something has changed. The nature of the job is being disrupted. In particular, ceos’ mechanism for exercising control over their vast enterprises is failing, and where and why firms operate is in flux. That has big implications for business, and for anyone climbing the corporate ladder. Read the rest of this entry »

Disrupting Mr Disrupter

28. November 2015

Date: 26-11-2015
Source: The Economist: Schumpeter

Christensen CCClay Christensen should not be given the last word on disruptive innovation

TWENTY years ago a then obscure academic at Harvard Business School published a career-making article in the Harvard Business Review (HBR), warning established companies that they were in grave danger from being disrupted. Today Clay Christensen is an established company in his own right. He is regularly named as the world’s most influential management guru (his Harvard colleagues affectionately call him Mr Disrupter). He has applied his theory to an ever-wider range of subjects with books such as “Disrupting Class” (on education) and “The Innovator’s Prescription” (on health). He even has his own consulting operation to help him stretch his brand. Businesspeople everywhere treat him as a guide on how to cope with change. But the risk is that by paying too much attention to his theory, they will miss other disruptive threats. Read the rest of this entry »

Die Zukunft der Berater

17. January 2014


Die Zukunft der Berater

Von Clayton M. Christensen, Dina Wang und Derek van Bever, Harvard Business Manager, 15/1

Die Consulting-Branche verdient ihr Geld damit, Unternehmen beim richtigen Umgang mit strategischen Bedrohungen zu unterstützen. Jetzt gerät sie selbst in Gefahr.

Jahrelang hatten sich die Berater von McKinsey & Company mit ihrer Situation auseinandergesetzt. Sie hatten Diskussionen geführt und Analysen erstellt. Im Jahr 2007 schritten sie dann zur Tat. Die globale Beratungsfirma startete eine Reihe von Geschäftsmodellinnovationen, die das Verhältnis zu ihren Kunden grundlegend verändern könnten. Eine der spannendsten ist McKinsey Solutions: software- und technologiebasierte Analysewerkzeuge, die sich in die Systeme von Kunden integrieren lassen. Sie ermöglichen eine Zusammenarbeit auch über die traditionellen Projekte hinaus. Mit McKinsey Solutions entbündelte das Unternehmen zum ersten Mal seine Angebote und machte sein Wissen in Form von Produkten zugänglich.

McKinsey und andere Beratungsfirmen haben sich zwar schon häufiger neu aufgestellt – von universeller zu funktionaler Ausrichtung, von lokalen zu globalen Strukturen und von eng zusammenhängenden Teams zu miteinander vernetzten Experten an unterschiedlichen Orten. Der Start von McKinsey Solutions aber ist etwas gänzlich Neues, denn erstmals geht es nicht mehr darum, Berater zu entsenden.

Doch warum investiert ein Unternehmen, dessen wichtigstes Wertversprechen auf fundierten Urteilen und maßgeschneiderten Diagnosen beruht, in eine solche Neuerung – wo doch sein Kerngeschäft bislang noch floriert? Zum einen verspricht McKinsey Solutions kürzere Projekte mit einem klareren Return on Investment, die helfen, in wirtschaftlichen Schwächephasen Umsätze sowie Marktanteil zu bewahren. Zudem kann die Beratung, wenn sie proprietäre Analyseinstrumente beim Kunden einrichtet, dort auch in der Zeit zwischen zwei Projekten präsent bleiben. Das verbessert die Chancen auf zukünftige Aufträge. Diese geschäftlichen Vorteile dürften für die Entscheidung von McKinsey eine Rolle gespielt haben. Doch letztlich, so glauben wir, ging es um noch viel mehr: McKinsey Solutions ist als Absicherung gegen eine mögliche Disruption der klassischen Beratungsarbeit gedacht. Read the rest of this entry »

Clay Christensen’s Life Lessons

5. May 2012

Date: 05-05-2012
Source: Businessweek

 Christensen with four of his grandchildren in Belmont, Mass.

On a warm April evening, Clayton Christensen arrived at his home in Belmont, Mass., desperate for a peanut butter sandwich. Christensen is diabetic, and with his blood sugar low, he seemed out of sorts. As he crushed the sandwich in a few massive bites, it had the effect on him that spinach does on Popeye. No longer confused about why a reporter had been waiting on his stoop, the 60-year-old Harvard Business School professor and celebrated author of The Innovator’s Dilemma began to form his thoughts with two distractingly huge hands. He said that he’d sometimes regretted calling his most admired theory “disruptive innovation,” because the disruptive part strikes some as more alarming than advantageous. He confided that he read the entire World Book Encyclopedia by age 12. And he shared two intimate encounters he’d had with God, including one on the eve of a “widow-maker” heart attack in 2007, the first of three life-threatening health issues in as many years.

At the turn of the century, The Innovator’s Dilemma became a surprise best-seller and a holy book for entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, where Christensen’s theory arrived ready-made to explain what Internet companies were going to do to established businesses. Andy Grove swore by it. Steve Jobs admired it, although Jobs’s biographer, Walter Isaacson, points out that Christensen predicted that if Apple kept on using only its own software, the iPod would likely remain a “niche product.” Read the rest of this entry »

Why large firms are often more inventive than small ones

18. December 2011

Date: 15-12-2011
Source: The Economist: Schumpeter
Subject: Big and clever

Why large firms are often more inventive than small ones

SOME people say it is neither big nor clever to drink. Viz, a British comic, settled that debate with a letter from a reader who said: “I drink 15 pints a day, I’m 6 foot 3 inches tall and a professor of theoretical physics.” However, another question about size and cleverness has yet to be resolved. Are big companies the best catalysts of innovation, or are small ones better?

Joseph Schumpeter, after whom this column is named, argued both sides of the case. In 1909 he said that small companies were more inventive. In 1942 he reversed himself. Big firms have more incentive to invest in new products, he decided, because they can sell them to more people and reap greater rewards more quickly. In a competitive market, inventions are quickly imitated, so a small inventor’s investment often fails to pay off. Read the rest of this entry »