Why Most CEOs Are Bad at Strategy

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A blog post by Roger Martin* makes a good case that CEOs find it hard to simultaneously make a good choice of where to play and how to win. He concludes they need to go beyond these basics and ‘creatively integrate’ these two views. True enough if performance were all about formulating strategy, but it forgets that order-of-magnitude differences in performance more often arise from relentless expert management of strategy, than from unique choices of where+how to play. 

He also claims that ...

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Dubai strategy disaster

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Strategy is not solely of concern to firms of course, but to public services, voluntary organisations and others [though you would hardly know it to read the strategy textbooks and journals, which largely ignore these vast sections of the modern economy]. The collapse of Dubai is a spectacular case of strategic incompetence, but also throws up an issue of wider importance.

Dubai followed recommendations by Michael Porter to design its strategy, building on ideas from his Competitive Advantage of Nations, See Continue Reading →

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Strategy error at Shell

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Sad to see Shell cutting 5000 jobs, making staff re-apply for 15,000 jobs, and aggressively driving down suppliers’ prices in an effort to cut its debt. This just 4 years after desperate efforts to hire 1,000 experienced oil engineers due to past failures to develop enough of these key staff. I guess Shell’s Annual Report will not be declaring staff to be ‘our most important asset’, but it’s still shocking to see the massive damage firms and even entire industries can inflict on themselves with this kind ...

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Balanced Scorecard is not Strategy

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Harvard Business Publishing is again pushing its balanced scorecard stuff, but under the misleading strap-line Strategy has never been more important. Don’t get me wrong – BSC is a much better tool for on-going performance management or for strategic initiatives than the crude finance-only metrics that too often dominate, but it’s a very long way short of being a strategic management. A few shortcomings:

  • Whilst the causal logic behind the 4 dimensions of a BSC or strategy map are plausible enough, there’s no ...
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More ‘transformation’ hype

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Just had to pour some cooling water over another bit of hype on this issue. Harvard Business Publishing just promoted ‘Constant Transformation Is the New Normal‘ by Scott Anthony. See below for my reponse:

Please be careful about this kind of journalistic hype! There are plenty of less-thoughtful folk out there who will just pick up the headlines and set off doing dumb things urged on by discussions like this.
‘Transformation’ is about the most exaggerated and over-sold concept ...

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