Random Thoughts On Maturing Companies and Start-Ups. When Do You Need A Reset?

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In an interesting conversation with clients this week and discussions were around the question: “should companies plan for the distant future (10 years and beyond) and what is needed to get out of a death spiral where a slow death is in the making?”

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There is a big difference between growing with age and growing old. With age, it sometimes comes with wisdom. With more than a dozen of C-suite execs that I have worked with or coached, for most of them, the wisdom came one day after they had passed the age of 50. Growing comes with age, which sometimes take away the energy and urge to make radical change. Ask…
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Even If You See The End Is Coming. You Still Need A Strategy Out. It Is The Time To Think New Game.

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Almost all companies at some point face some serious crisis. Sometimes it is clear that the end is near or coming and no can see the light at the end of the tunnel, at least not until you see it. Sometimes you know there is a way out but not sure how.Facing with disruptive changes driven by innovative technologies or shifting regulations, it is clear that the strategy is no longer working. You see the demand of your products is disappearing or new business models or low cost payers are eating your lunch. What do you do?

There is often a short window of opportunity to do something radically different; it has to be drastically different. Any incremental change or window dressing will push you closer…
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There Is A Difference Between Business Turnaround and Business Transformation. It Is Easy To Tell Which Is Harder.

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All companies go through some kind of crisis at some point but what does it take to get out of it? There aren’t many successful turnarounds in large companies and the bigger the company and the longer the history, the more difficult it is for any turnaround and its success rate is lower. 

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Harley Davidson in mid-life crisis when Richard Teerlink joined the company in 1981 as CFO, the company had US market share of 15% and reported a loss of $15m. The company was killed by its strong Japanese competitor led…
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In The Near Future, Instead of Choosing Between AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile, You Can Also Pick Google or Apple As Your Mobile Carriers

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The US mobile industry has been in a clear state of duopoly with Verizon and AT&T occupying about 70-75% of both consumer and enterprise market. T-Mobile is attempting to disrupt the current status but the impact will not be sustainable although its Uncarrier attack effort is causing a lot of noise. To maintain competition and sustainability for all is a tricky balance and the key is to ensure it will not endanger the long-term ability for players reinvest in next generation networks. InterDigital, Qualcomm, Ericcson, and Samsung are actively involved in 5G wireless development and carriers need to be ready for the next upgrade cycle in 3 years.

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The Best Kept Secrets Of Breakthrough. Everyone Should Start Practicing Them.

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Everyone is looking for a breakthrough. The massive shift in generation differences in consumer behavior and rapid technological shift are casuing many companies to fail…. and it will happen fast. Companies that are stuck in their old mental model cannot breakout for many reasons. It is usually a combination of all that causes them to be irrelevant. It includes leadership’s blind sight, organization legacies and lack of foresights and the list goes on and on…

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How often companies can act swiftly and not taking a wait and see attitude? All the time. It takes strong leadership to take bold decisions even though…
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Introducing The 4P’s of Management: Peanut, Peter, Penis, and Perfection.


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I used to interview
between 200 to 350 fresh MBA grads a year, and many barely understand the basic principles
of management let alone strategy and organization design. Most people developed some functional skills attending B-schools but
most fail to develop a senior management perspectives despite those case studies method of teaching. Here’s the 4Ps that they need to teach in B-schools.

Here’s the
Management 4Ps which I invented to train young managers: The Peanut Effect, The Peter
Principles, The Penis Theory, and The Perfectionist Syndrome.
If you have not heard all or any one of them, don't worry.

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Tim Cook Has A Far More Difficult Job Than Steve Jobs. He Has Been Making All The Right Moves So Far.

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Congrats to Tim Cook who is over one
year into his tenure as CEO of Apple. Big shoes to be filled and now Apple is moving into a new competitive arena because it is now
the industry leader (defender) – the primary target for attackers. Tim has two jobs: 1/develop a competitive business strategy to defend its market share from the low end and block entrants  2/an innovation strategy to find an industry/category to disrupt leveraging
Apple’s core capabilities. There were a few bumps like the Siri or Googlemap
etc., but those were unavoidable.

Sabotta, a former director of
Apple's federal sales group, criticitzes Apple’s CEO Tim Cook in his…
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It Is Time For India To Think Big And Stop Their Obessions With Jugaad. What They Need Is Bigger Asipirations And Design Thinking Competencies.

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I wrote a blog post about two years ago titled “Is the Age of ‘Indovation’ and ‘Chinovation’ Becoming Real?” and it was very popular piece and I’ve got a few publications calling me including Knowledge@Wharton and others seeking out my point-of-view. Two years later and I am writing this post in India and will be in China next week, perhaps it is time for an update.

Let’s start with the question around innovation in India and is it really happening? Or happening enough? Well the answer varies depending who you talk and what industry sectors you’re referring to.  For the Indian pharma industry, it is not without trying but there were no commercial or very…
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Reinvention Lessons From Karl Lagerfeld That They Don’t Teach You In B-Schools Or D-Schools.

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How many other people do you know with teddy bear replicas of themselves? Karl Lagerfeld is not only the creative force behind some of the top names such as Chanel. He is constantly reinventing with each collection he creates – something that gets harder, not easier, with time. What he did for Chanel with tweed is incredible, his explorations in sable fur were stunning and his creations, for example that signature unfinished trim is endlessly copied and replicated. Sometimes you wonder how can someone reinvent himself season after season and still good at it. Here's a few lessons.

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What Is The Right Organization Design For Your Corporation? And What Test To Use To Know If You’ve Got The Right One?

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Innovation effectiveness is closely linked to organization design. In the past, most organization design objectives were driven by a need to improve efficiency, resource sharing and improving focus. It is not common to see innovation as the core driver or organization design to improve speed, creativity and agility. Many organizations struggle to 1/designing the organization and available options 2/understand the implications of different design option 3/making the decision among different organization design models. So what are the factors that should guide the choice (and criticality) of organization design?

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There are many rules of thumb about things such as spans of control / empowerment and cross functional/business units reporting relationships and revenue and cost allocation. …
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