This article was co-developed with Alex van Putten, Partner at Cameron and Associates, and draws from our 2017 article “How to Set More Realistic Growth Targets.”

It’s always easy to project rosy growth goals that will happen in some misty future. The trouble is that you need to be making hard decisions today about appropriately resourcing those growth ambitions.

OK, strategists, let’s talk about growth gaps. A growth gap is the difference between what your base business and any new business you might be developing will deliver, and what your strategic ambitions are. This rather charming explainer video from our…

Talking about digital transformation has a way of freaking people out. They then do the exact wrong thing, which is to throw money and effort at anyone who can promise that — Poof! — digital is right around the corner! Here’s a smarter way to approach it.

There is no doubt that the advent of digital technologies has presented executives in companies with an inflection point of enormous proportions. An inflection point, as I discuss in Seeing Around Corners, is something, typically outside the boundaries of your organization, that exerts a 10X change on the way you operate. Ten times…

Dear colleagues,

Welcome to the monthly newsletter, with a wrap-up of my weekly Thought Sparks and some things to watch out for in September. If you’d like to tap into the full Tuesday sparks, you can subscribe on Substack and get them delivered right to your “in” box every Tuesday.

Subscribers also get an early sneak peek at an on-line capability-building course I’m developing to help with innovation.

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Inflection Points Shift Key Metrics — Are You Paying Attention? (August 3, 2021)

A potentially game-changing inflection point shows up when the key metrics underlying your business have the potential to change…

Every transformation story is a drama. The ebb and flow of interpersonal relationships are what determines whether it becomes a tragedy. Ron Boire contributed to this piece.

Hired to transform a company? The odds are against you

A recent McKinsey global survey found that only 26% of executives they questioned considered their efforts to address specific performance problems and to sustain that performance over time to be successful. Let that sink in — 74% of the time, the initiative fails.

This is the irony. We acknowledge that transformations often fail, that the wrong people are often put in charge of transformations, and that the “C-Suite” is probably ill-equipped to pursue such an effort. Nonetheless, we somehow expect heroic leaders to magically bring major change efforts to fruition…

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to the monthly wrap-up of my weekly Thought Sparks newsletters. I’ll summarize here — for greater depth, check out my channel on Substack and consider subscribing.

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A no-nonsense guide to measuring innovation mastery

(July 6, 2021)

What is it like to work in an organization that has attained high levels of innovation mastery? It’s growth-oriented, future-focused and unrelentingly positive. And by taking small steps, the place you work can be more like that, too.

Forget ‘best practices’ — every firm tackles the innovation challenge in its own way. What you can…

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Not Buying It — When your biggest competitor is non-consumption (June 1, 2021)

We’re used to thinking of competition as the biggest challenge for getting customers to buy from us. But a much bigger challenge is non-consumption — especially when the reasons people aren’t buying have more to do with friction than with what you’re selling.

A recent article in the New York Times got me thinking about how clueless we often are to the barriers that get in the way of potential customers becoming actual customers. It describes a big population of people who…

Akio Morita, Co-founder Sony Electronics

Guest Post By Ron Boire

I know very few CEOs that would say they are good at stopping bad projects. The result is higher costs, lack of innovation, and unmotivated and fearful employees.

So, why is it so hard to stop a project that has not and will not deliver on its goal? In my experience, there are three factors: fear of failure and the results of that failure by managers and leaders, organizational momentum or culture, and lack of processes that produce transparency. According to published research, these three factors contribute to between 70–90% of new products failing. …

Nonprofit organizations are expected to deliver results on multiple fronts. The result can be a nightmare for prioritization. A simple framework that spells out the tradeoffs between mission, resources, advantages and impact can help sort it out.

If you lead a nonprofit, my guess is that you are constantly grappling with the reality of multiple missions. It can lead to a strategy-free, frustrating existence that wastes resources. Here, I’m going to use an approach inspired by my mentor, Ian MacMillan.

Mission and Intended Impact

Nonprofits often have grand mission statements that leave the question of what success would look…

If we don’t want blood in the streets, or a life behind bulletproofing, the former CEO of Young and Rubicam warned, we need more broadly shared prosperity in America

It was July of 2020 (the 24th, to be precise). Joe Biden had only just garnered enough delegates to become the Democratic nominee for a tempestuous election whose outcome couldn’t be called. Pandemic related lockdowns were intermittently being imposed all over the world. The Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to have its opening ceremony on that day, would be pushed back by a year. …

American democracy astonished de Tocqueville — can it be renewed?

Social changes won’t take hold without a vision that a wide swath of stakeholders can get behind — are we too polarized for that?

Thought Spark

D x V x P: A Formula for Change

A useful way of thinking about whether a given scenario is becoming more or less likely is to think about this framework for change — it requires constructive dissatisfaction with the current stage, a vision for the potential of a future state, and processes that remove obstacles for getting from here to there.

This article is focused on the “vision” part of whether we are…

Rita McGrath

Columbia Business School Professor. Thinkers50 top 10 & #1 in strategy. Bestselling author of The End of Competitive Advantage & Seeing Around Corners.

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