How Jeffrey Immelt’s ‘Success Theater’ Masked the Rot at GE

21. February 2018

Date: 21-02-2018
Source: The Wall Street Journal

A culture that disdained bad news contributed to overoptimistic forecasts and botched strategies

Former GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt

Jeffrey Immelt, the longtime boss at General Electric Co. , was a polished
presenter who held court each year at a waterfront resort off Sarasota, Fla., where industrial executives and Wall Street listened for his outlook on the conglomerate.

“This is a strong, very strong company,” Mr. Immelt said at the event last May.

On that Wednesday morning, though, he looked shaky to some people in attendance, running quickly through highlights of 27 slides in the ballroom of the Resort at Longboat Key Club. He defended his long-held 2018 profit goal, an optimistic benchmark Wall Street had long abandoned.

“It’s not crap. It’s pretty good really,” he told the room, referring to GE’s recent financial performance. “Today, when I think about where the stock is compared to what the company is, it’s a mismatch.”

It was a mismatch. On that day, GE shares were trading near $28. They would go on to collapse over the next six months while the stock market set fresh records. Today, they trade below $15. Read the rest of this entry »


IBM’s Growth Comes at a Cost

23. January 2018

Date: 23-01-2018
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Aging tech giant’s revenue finally rises, but investments expected to curb earnings growth for year ahead

Even for IBM , growth doesn’t quite solve everything.

International Business Machines reported Thursday that fourth-quarter revenue rose nearly 4% year over year. Even adjusting for a boost from favorable currency rates, Big Blue’s top line managed its first period of growth in nearly six years. Strong sales of systems hardware business along with IBM’s growing cloud-computing service contributed to the uplift.

Still, IBM’s shares fell Friday, much like they have done following 10 of its last 12 quarterly reports. A bit of growth, as it turns out, isn’t quite enough to assuage concerns about how the company gets there. Fourth-quarter gross margins slipped below the 50% line for the first time in five years for what is typically the company’s strongest seasonal period. And, while IBM did project annual revenue growth for 2018, it is unclear if the company can do that without continued help from favorable exchange rates.

Given that IBM’s stock had jumped more than 15% since its last quarterly report, some disappointment was bound to set in. The company also expects a slight drop in free cash flow in 2018 due to increased capital spending in key segments to drive future growth. IBM did manage to close 2017 with a small gain in adjusted per-share earnings of $13.80 after three years of declines. But the company also projected flat earnings for 2018, given its need to invest more in its business.

Those investments have borne some fruit. The “strategic imperatives” IBM has been so focused on for the last few years accounted for 46% of total revenue for 2017, compared to 41% the year before. While encouraging, for an overall business that has been in steady decline for the last six years, investors are now willing to take only so much on faith.


IBM Revenue Grows for the First Time Since 2012

19. January 2018

Date: 19-01-2018
Source: The Wall Street Journal

A $5.5 billion charge related to the new U.S. tax law pushes fourth-quarter results into the red

International Business Machines Corp. reported higher revenue for the first time in 23 quarters and signaled continued growth into 2018, giving Chief Executive Ginni Rometty breathing space as she tries to turn around the century-old tech giant.

Fourth-quarter revenue rose 3.6% to $22.54 billion. The last time IBM had revenue growth from the prior year was the first quarter of 2012, Ms. Rometty’s first as chief.

Several factors drove growth in the latest quarter: sales of industrial-strength computers—which the company typically refreshes every few years— rose 32% to $3.33 billion, while cloud-computing revenue climbed 30% to $5.5 billion. Also, currency exchange rates have been working in IBM’s favor lately, accounting for 3 percentage points of the quarter’s revenue growth after years of being a headwind.

IBM said it took a $5.5 billion charge related to the new U.S. tax law, helping to push it into the red for the period. Its tax rate, excluding the charge but including certain one-time benefits, was 6%.

In all, the company reported a fourth-quarter loss of $1.05 billion, or $1.14 a share, compared with profit of $4.5 billion, or $4.72 a share, a year earlier. Read the rest of this entry »


A Rare Joint Interview with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Bill Gates

26. September 2017

Date: 26-09-2017
Source: The Wall Street Journal

On the occasion of the publication of Nadella’s first book, out this fall, Nadella and his predecessor talk shop

In February 2014, Satya Nadella became the third CEO of Microsoft . Nadella, more soft-spoken than his predecessors, Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, assumed the company’s helm amid one of its stormiest chapters. Ballmer, toward the end of his 14-year tenure, had purchased Nokia ’s mobile phone business at great cost ($7.2 billion) but failed to make a dent in the market dominance of Apple and Samsung . Nadella quickly nixed those ambitions and instead ramped up investment in artificial intelligence and commercial cloud computing. The result has been a remarkable turnaround, featuring major growth in cloud services revenue, a doubling of year-on-year profits and an all-time stock price high.

In his new book, Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft’s Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone (released September 26), Nadella, 50, explains this corporate transformation, lays out his hopeful vision for technological progress and recounts his own rich personal history. Read the rest of this entry »


Do You Know How Others See You?

29. August 2017

Date: 29-08-2017
Source: The Wall Street Journal By Elizabeth Bernstein

We don’t always correctly read how the outside world reads us; new research shows what we can do to improve our perception and the benefits we’ll see

Most of us are not as self-aware as we think we are.

Research shows that people who have a high level of self-awareness—who see themselves, how they fit into the world and how others see them clearly—make smarter decisions, raise more mature children and are more successful in school and work. They’re less likely to lie, cheat and steal. And they have healthier relationships.

Tasha Eurich, an organizational psychologist from Denver, spent three years conducting a study on self-awareness and has a new book on it titled “Insight.” When it comes to self-knowledge, she says there are three types of people: those who have it, those who underestimate how much they have (she calls them “underraters”) and those who overestimate how much they have (“overraters”). Un derraters beat themselves up unnecessarily. Overraters believe they do everything well. She found no gender differences in her research.

Read the rest of this entry »


Companies Look to Make a Quantum Leap With New Technology

7. May 2017

Date: 07-05-2017
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Volkswagen is among a growing number of firms experimenting with quantum computing to push their businesses forward

Companies have started to tap into quantum computing, like this D-Wave 2000Q System, in an effort to gain a competitive edge.

Quantum mechanics has fascinated, confounded and even alarmed scientists for nearly a century with the notion that particles can exist in two states at once and communicate with each other across vast distances. The underlying science that Albert Einstein famously called “spooky” could soon become one of modern computing’s core tenets.

Computers that utilize quantum mechanics are moving beyond pure scientific research and inching toward the commercial sector, with companies such as Volkswagen AG beginning to harness their unprecedented power to solve complex problems in nanoseconds.

“This technology is not futuristic,” said Martin Hofmann, Volkswagen chief information officer, who oversees information technology for the group’s 12 brands including Audi , Porsche and Bentley. “It’s a question of years until it’s commercialized, and investing right now in the technology is a big competitive advantage.”

Companies including D-Wave Systems Inc. and International Business Machines Corp. have been pioneering quantum computing, and experts say that within five years the technology could be powerful enough to solve new classes of problems that are currently beyond the grasp of even supercomputers. Read the rest of this entry »


Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Outlines How He Tries to Keep Retail Giant in Startup Mode

13. April 2017

Date: 13-04-2017
Source: The Wall Street Journal

In a shareholder letter, Mr. Bezos stressed the importance of putting customers first and staying nimble

Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos earned a base salary of $81,840 last year, and because of his large stake in the company, has never taken stock-based compensation.

Amazon.com Inc. Chief Executive Jeff Bezos says he recently thought a new show the Amazon Studios team was considering was too boring and complicated to produce. But he gave it the green light anyway because the team thought it had potential.

Mr. Bezos told his team, “I disagree and commit and hope it becomes the most watched thing we’ve ever made,” he wrote in a shareholder letter published Wednesday. “Consider how much slower this decision cycle would have been if the team had actually had to convince me rather than simply get my commitment.”

The letter, an annual exercise, offers a window into Mr. Bezos’s management philosophy, describing how he can disagree with employees but still back their projects, as well as his opposition to relying on market research and other core company tenets.

Amazon also released data on compensation, which showed Andy Jassy, who runs the Amazon Web Services cloud division, was the top earner at $35.6 million last year, including stock awards. Read the rest of this entry »


How AI Is Transforming the Workplace

13. March 2017

Date: 13-03-2017
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Artificial intelligence is changing the way managers do their job—from who gets hired to how they’re evaluated to who gets promoted

The growing use of AI in the workplace raises many questions. Among them: Is it too intrusive?

Move over, managers, there’s a new boss in the office: artificial intelligence.

The same technology that enables a navigation app to find the most efficient route to your destination or lets an online store recommend products based on past purchases is on the verge of transforming the office—promising to remake how we look for job candidates, get the most out of workers and keep our best workers on the job. Read the rest of this entry »


The Benefits of Being Distracted

29. November 2016

Date: 29-11-2016
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Older people’s lack of focus is associated with greater creativity in problem solving, studies show

Most people are more easily distracted as they get older. There might be a benefit to that.

Research is finding that greater distractibility and a reduced ability to focus—what scientists call decreased cognitive control—is often associated with greater creativity in problem solving. It also can facilitate learning new information, according to a review of more than 100 studies that was published in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences earlier this month.

There are things that people learn faster and remember better when they are not exercising careful control over what they’re doing,” says Lynn Hasher, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto and senior author of the study. “Younger adults are focused on their goal and they’re missing all this other information. Read the rest of this entry »


How a $250 Billion Industry Lost Its Bad Reputation

2. November 2016

  Looks like a lot of rubbish in its conclusions! (hfk)

Date: 02-11-2016
Source: The Wall Street Journal

kipping-bookA new book charts the evolution of management consulting

Frederick Winslow Taylor popularized the notion of restructuring factory operations to strip out wasted movements. Taylorism was widely used to optimize work processes. Above, assembly-line workers inside the Ford factory in Dearborn, Mich., in 1928.

Before the term “management” referred to a multibillion-dollar industry with enormous influence over business practices, it applied to women’s skills overseeing their households. The first management best seller was “Beeton’s Book of Household Management,” a cookbook published in 1861.

Today, management advice is everywhere—taught in business schools, practiced by consulting firms, and disseminated by Harvard Business Review and The Wall Street Journal. Even the Vatican engaged McKinsey & Co. and other consulting firms recently. Read the rest of this entry »