Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Secrets to Successful Strategy Execution: The Idea in Practice - Ilona Steffen, Niko Canner, and Gary Neilson - Harvard Business Review

The Secrets to Successful Strategy Execution: The Idea in Practice - Ilona Steffen, Niko Canner, and Gary Neilson - Harvard Business Review

There are several critical lessons from this company's experience in the Idea in Practice. Here is a preview:

Find a common language. Make sure everyone can talk about the execution issues you face in the same way.

Walk the talk. People at the top of the organization need to believe in the changes and visibly support them so that the rest of the organization is motivated to change behavior.

Focus on both organizational and behavioral changes. It is more effective to change both rather than focusing on one or another.

Know your organization. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to improving an organization's ability to execute. You must find what works for you.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Taking People With You By David Novak: Great Read and Most Useful - Bob Sutton

Taking People With You By David Novak: Great Read and Most Useful - Bob Sutton

Innovation Requires Great Projects

Innovation of any type requires the successful execution of project-based work. A recent MIT Sloan Management Review article (What Great Projects Have in Common by Dov Dvir and Aaron J. Shenhar) captured the essence of successful projects based on research across different industries. These seven reinforce what practical experience has shown as critical for success in a rapidly evolving business environment.

As part of a decade of research, Dvir and Shenhar collected quantitative and qualitative data on more than 400 projects that were undertaken in various industries since the late 1950s. ... They searched for projects with unusual success and long-term impact and found that seven managerial characteristics were common.  A great project:
  • Creates a unique competitive advantage and/or an exceptional value for its stakeholders.
  • Begins with a long period of project definition dedicated to defining a powerful vision and clear need and selecting the best execution approach.
  • Creates a revolutionary project culture. The execution of great projects often requires a different project culture, which can later spread to an entire organization.
  • Needs a highly qualified project leader who is unconditionally supported by top management.
  • Maximizes the use of existing knowledge, often in cooperation with outside organizations.
  • Has integrated development teams with fast problem-solving capability and the ability to adapt to business, market and technology changes.
  • Has a strong sense of partnership and pride.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Culture is Key to Succesful Innovation

Booz & Company has an excellent set of accessible PDFs on culture and innovation.  Culture is a critical element of our Stanford Advanced Project Management program (seats still available for delivery on campus at Stanford in March) and these results reinforce its importance for innovative strategy execution.

...Booz's annual Global Innovation 1000 study looked at two particular qualities — strategic alignment and a culture that supports innovation — that truly innovative companies have put in place that allow them to outperform the competition.
Every company among the Innovation 1000 follows one of three innovation strategies — need seeker, market reader, or technology driver. While no one or another of these strategies offers superior results, companies within each strategic category perform at very different levels. And, no matter a firm's innovation strategy — culture is key to innovation success, and its impact on performance is measurable. Specifically, the 44 percent of companies who reported that their innovation strategies are clearly aligned with their business goals —and that their cultures strongly support those innovation goals — delivered 33 percent higher enterprise value growth and 17 percent higher profit growth on five-year measures than those lacking such tight alignment.
... In a comparison of the firms voted the 10 most innovative versus the top 10 global R&D spenders, Booz & Company found that the most innovative firms outperformed the top 10 R&D spenders across three key financial metrics over a 5-year period — revenue growth, EBITDA as a percentage of revenue and market cap growth.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Changing Meetings At Google

Buisness Insider  brings some insights from Google CEO Larry Page on running meetings.

  • Every meeting must have one clear decision maker. If there's no decision maker -- or no decision to be made -- the meeting shouldn't happen.
  • No more than 10 people should attend.
  • Every person should give input, otherwise they shouldn't be there.
  • No decision should ever wait for a meeting. If a meeting absolutely has to happen before a decision should be made, then the meeting should be scheduled immediately.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Jim Collins Meets Michael Porter

Joan Magretta has an insightful post on Jim Collins and Michael Porter--interested in strategy...read this and her new book, Understanding Michael Porter: The Essential Guide to Competition and Strategy.
... Porter's five tests of good strategy can help you to tell the difference between good choices and bad.So what are good choices?
First, you must choose a distinctive value proposition. Which needs will you serve, which customers, at what relative price? Have you staked out a positioning that's different from rivals?
Second, and far less intuitive, you must choose to tailor your activities to that value proposition. Competitive advantage lies in the activities, in choosing to perform activities differently or to perform different activities than rivals. These ultimately are the choices that result in a company's ability to charge premium prices or to operate at lower cost. (Remember, we're talking about quantifiable performance.)
The third test of strategy, making trade-offs, may well be the hardest. It means accepting limits — saying no to some customers, for example, so that you can better serve others. Porter explains why trade-offs are an important source of profitability differences among rivals, and why trade-offs make it difficult for rivals to copy what you do without compromising their own strategies. The essence of strategy, says Porter, is choosing what not to do.
Fit is the fourth test. Great strategies are like complex systems in which all of the parts fit together seamlessly. Each thing you've chosen to do amplifies the value of the other things you do. That's how fit improves the bottom line. It also enhances sustainability. Says Porter, "Fit locks out imitators by creating a chain that is as strong as its strongest link."
Continuity is strategy's fifth test. While managers are often berated for changing too slowly and too little, it is also possible to change too much, and in the wrong ways. Faced with the latest New Thing, managers must choose whether to embrace it or not. Continuity of strategy helps companies to make good choices about whether and how to change in the face of turbulence. Good choices will strengthen tailoring, sharpen trade-offs, and enhance fit.