Friday, October 5, 2012
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
This year, much to my surprise and pleasure, four of the six presenting teams made their presentations completely without powerpoint, relying instead upon visuals provided by the two full-time visual facilitators [artists] that we had as part of our team.
While the content in nearly every case was convincing, the visual approach, sans powerpoint, made it compelling! The lesson: when you have an important argument to make, just say "no" to powerpoint!
Thursday, December 8, 2011
One of the few advantages that I have found to be associated with aging, however, is that sometimes people ask for your opinions, and then actually listen. This happened to me recently, when a friend and colleague -- Ellie Weldon -- from both IMD and CEIBS days, who is presently at CEIBS as both Professor and Academic Director of Custom Executive Education Programs, asked me to reflect on several topics regarding ExecEd. I thought that the questions, and the opportunity to reflect on accumulated experience, were interesting enough to publish here in a slightly extended format, so here goes -- the questions are Ellie's, and the responses, for better or worse, are my own:
Monday, October 10, 2011
|The "real thing": a Barcelona tapas bar|
From Moroccan cooking to fading Finnish stars: Here's the logic of what is clearly a prototype -- first the original tweet in bold, and then my extended thoughts on it:
- If you read one bookreview this weekend, make it this one! Moroccan cuisine: tradition vs.
#innovation (& Kerouac too) http://nyti.ms/plTe4p My wife Marie is the most amazing, and instinctively natural, cook that I have ever met, and a professional one at that. Over the years, certain names in her life have become instantly recognizable in my own, and one of these is Paula Wolfert, originally from Brooklyn [as are Marie & I] and well-known for her Mediterranean cookbooks (especially France & Morocco). Ms. Wolfert now has a new Moroccan cookbook out and the The New York Times book review cited above is both delightful but also professionally provocative, at least if you're interested in the contradictions between innovation and tradition. What they did was to review Ms. Wolfert's book in parallel with a new book by Moroccan-born, San Francisco chef, Mourad Lahlou. The argument is that Ms. Wolfert, who lived in Morocco many years ago, but who is still an "outsider", is nonetheless "the stickler for authenticity and tradition," whereas Mr. Lahlou, the "insider" yet living abroad, is struggling to break-out of the "few narrow ruts" that has confined the development of Moroccan cuisine. To be fair, Ms. Wolfert observes of Mr. Lahlou: "He has made this incredible jump, but his food is not the Moroccan cooking I know. He took steps that only he could take." I find this fascinating. Wolfert was a catalyst in the evolution of Moroccan cuisine when she started collecting recipies from families who had no tradition or sharing such treasures. Her recipes are "the real thing" -- authentic Moroccan cuisine. Without such codification of knowledge, it might never have been possible to move on to the next step of evolution of the cuisine? Lahlou, on the other hand, is sort of a "lead-user", struggling to find that next step that he feels the authentic receipes are not providing. He needs the foundation of knowledge that Wolfert codified for such exploration, but it is his "unique" experiences, as an insider living outside, that prepare him to "take steps that only he could take." In a very real sense, both Lahlou and Wolfert are coexisting in similar but different universes -- or S curves-- but they are, nonetheless, still indespensible to each other, and we are all better off for their efforts!
- Iberia's new low-cost airline: what chance do I give this? Zero without a completely new star! on.ft.com/nd9YWX I was delighted when my assistant @KatrinAtWork saw fit to retweet this the other day! Why? Because this is very much a part of the leitmotif that runs through so much of what we have been working together on: Strategy is all about choice & execution! This is the familiar IMD mantra, but yet we see it violated over and over again. Here's an example: Iberia, the Spanish airline part of International Airlines Group [which resulted from the merger with British Airways] has announced the launch of "Iberia Express", a new low-cost airline. It has kept the "Iberia" name as part of the new one, and the new airline's routes are explicitly tied to the hub & spoke needs of the parent airline. The question arises immediately: How different is this really going to be? And, why do we think that with simply a new name [I realize I'm exaggerating here, but not by much] that anything is really going to change? Not surprisingly, the Spanish pilot's union has already claimed violations of contractual agreements as a result of this new offer, and cabin-crew grievances are also expected. What a mess, and they're not even operating! Real change needs new choices, and frequently new organizational cultures as well, and there's no immeditate reassurances here that that is really going to happen. Instead, it appears to be a "half-way" effort to reduce costs and "half-way" nearly never work. My reference in the tweet to the "star" is to Jay Galbraith's framework for considering managerial choices that are necesary to achieve the "cultural outcomes" one hopes for. This is one of the most useful frameworks that we rely upon, and I've blogged about it earlier on these pages.
- Look at the smile on Carlos Ghosn's face in Brazil. You can tell that he's in a BRIC & not back in Japan or Europe! on.ft.com/pvvW7a The smile says it all! You can tell that Ghosn is in a market where growth is possible, where the future appears limitless, where people are dreaming bigger! Not so long ago, I had the pleasure of having dinner in an emerging market and was seated next to a young European who was an IMD-alum. I asked him "why he was living out-here" and his response was perfect. He said "At home [in Europe], people have stopped dreaming. Here they dream big!" Is there any wonder why Mr. Ghosn's smile is so big? Can you imagine what his face looks like when he gets back home --either Europe or Japan -- and once again has to listen to the litany of why nothing is possible?
- "If U're in a commodity business, it's because U deserve it!" Words by Tom Vollmann; proof by Steve Jobs! C: nyti.ms/oajaQs Tom Vollmann was someone who changed my life. A close friend for many years, an IMD colleague, and someone who was instrumental in the launch of at least three revolutions within the Operations Management field. Tom had a gift for insight and the ability to articulate in memorable ways. He always said of struggling competitors: "If you're in a commodity business, it's because you deserve it!" This all came back to me while reading James B. Stewart's Common Sense column in the International Herald Tribune, New York Times. The pc business has been a commodity business for a long while, and, to be fair, Apple's fate was to languish near the bottom of the pile, condemned to single-digit market shares. Dell, on the other hand, currently unfashionable today but a real high-performer in this industry for over two decades, loved being in a commodity business because it knew what it was doing and made great choices. Apple often appeared to be confused -- price and elegance were not what the consumer was looking for. What Apple did that so many other players didn't do, however, was to hold true to its beliefs. It would rather remain desirable and unaffordable in the pc industry than to compromise who it was and how it went to market. What really saved Apple, however, was not that steadfast allegiance to its values in the unappreciative pc business, but, rather, the ability to open-up entirely new markets in music [iPod], smart phones [iPhone] and connectivity [iPad], where the very essence of each of these industries today is a reflection of Apple's inner beliefs. So, when Steve Jobs is quoted in this article in The New York Times, as saying: "Design is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends-up expressing itself in successive out layers of the product or service" this speaks to everything that we are trying to do in advancing a product or service through multiple generations of S-curves. If we can ever figure out what that "fundamental soul" is we will know what the ordinate of the "progress" curve's graph really is as well.
- Elcoteq from
#innovation star 2 bankruptcy. @Reuters suggests value-chain failure, I hear #leadership? reut.rs/njT8GJ Tom Vollmann, who was mentioned in the comment just above this one, and another IMD colleague Carlos Cordon published a small book a few years ago on supply-chain management that I absolutely love. The Power of Two recognizes that once you strip-down the strategically abstract concept of a supply-chain to its' essentials, it's all about people dealing with other people. Did Elcoteq plunge from the heights because it chose the wrong value-chain partners? Or, did it not work well with the ones it had? I guess that either way you answer, it's all about leadership!
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
The onset of August always brings with it a bittersweet reminder that summer's end is not that far away, but it also means that there is still one month of summer remaining, and that that time can be well-spent reading. What better to read about, this year, than lessons from accomplished idea-hunters? There are a number of suggestions in this vein that I'd like to offer (in no apparent order):
Thursday, July 21, 2011
For me, one of the best parts of summer is the ability to sit on the beach -- in Liguria, or North Carolina -- and catch-up on my reading. Without exception, I always start with Homer and the Greeks [except this year the cycle is Virgil and the Greeks], but (to paraphrase NC's own James Taylor) I always have "China on my mind" as well! Recently, I was asked by some colleagues in the IMD Dutch alumni community to suggest some summer China reading. In response, I've tried to come up with a brief but interesting list that would be good for the beach:
To Change China by Jonathan D. Spence. Originally published in 1980, this is the book that I always use to start any reading list on China. Spence, a distinguished China scholar, offers us a sobering view of the futility that has marked the efforts of past generations of Western missionaries, aid-providers, and business people engaged in attempting to change the mind of China in a variety of what appeared to them as logical and attractive ways. This was the book that left the biggest impression on me prior to our moving to China in 1980, and the one that I think of instinctively whenever I hear the dreams of a new-to-China enthusiast.
On China by Henry Kissinger. Published only a few months ago, Kissinger's book (reviewed by Jonathan D. Spence in The New York Review of Books) is the only book on this list that I have not yet read, but it is in my pile for this summer. Although the book hardly mentions China of the 21st century, I am including it because Kissinger is in a unique position to offer us a historical and politically-interperative overview of Chinese history, and I think that such a historical treatment is a well-worthwhile foundation upon which to build an awareness of contemporary and future China.
When China Rules the World by Martin Jacques. We have used this book as a primary reading for IMD's EMBA discovery expedition to China for the past two years, and it has served us well as a platform for bridging China's omnipresent past with it's accelerating drive into the future. Jacques, who writes for The Guardian, offers an informed and wide-ranging view of China's political and social infrastructure and how they interact with the rampaging economic machine that it transforming the global economy.
The Party: The Secret World of China's Communist Rulers by Richard Mcgregor. In the midst of our adulation of the Chinese growth experience, it is always a danger to discount the role of the Communist Party in all of this. As the old song title indicates, it's very likely true that: Without the Communist Party, there Would be No New China. The Financial Time's Richard Mcgregor has produced a very accessible and informative introduction to this most mysterious of growth catalysts.
The Beijing Consensus: How China's Authoritarian Model will Dominate the Twenty-First Century by Stefan Halper. Could China's success persuade other emerging markets to give-up on democracy and market mechanisms and adopt a more "directed" approach to economic growth and social organization? Halper provides a good overview of this recent political movement.
Ultimatum by Matthew Glass. Just as I was about to post this, my good friend Katrina Garner pointed out that no beach reading list would be complete without a good novel. I think that she's right and Matthew Glass's first novel is an amazing one for the beach. Climate change and US-China rivalry combine in an incredibly realistic and gripping yarn. Even if you are not interested in China, this is a good one for the beach!