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…

Thought Spark

In March of 2020, one of the possible scenarios for 2021 was a revival of FDR’s rendezvous with destiny approach to the New Deal — are we there yet?

Which scenario will it be?

D x V x P: A Formula for Change

Before you can have lasting, change, you need constructive dissatisfaction with the current state, a vision for the future state, and a process that removes obstacles from where we are and where we’d like to get to.

We can check the “dissatisfaction” box. We’re on shakier ground with a unifying vision for how we might move forward. With the advent…

When uncertainty is high, discovery is critical

Growth programs need a different plan for progress than the operating business needs

Executives without experience in bringing new ventures to life — whether as entrepreneurs, business leaders, those with transformation responsibilities or other change agents — often think that planning a new venture is like planning for an existing business. It isn’t. It really isn’t, as I’ve written about for many years.

One of the main differences is that new ventures are best planned to take advantage of option value. You do this by working through a series of checkpoints, so that as you meet each checkpoint, your knowledge…

Thought Spark

Back in March of 2020, I applied the techniques from “Seeing Around Corners” to what kind of economic and social future we might anticipate post-pandemic. One of the scenarios I outlined was a return to the kind of large role for government that defined the New Deal. My “Time Zero” headline was “In an Echo of FDR’s “rendezvous with destiny” speech, officials turn to government programs and taxation to combat economic “tyranny.”

Well here we are just around the beginning of a new administration, and that scenario is looking more and more likely. I was asked by…

Whatever your process for creating strategy was, chances are its changed.

Rita McGrath and co-founder of Extraordinary Women on Boards, Lisa Shalett

Thought Spark

“What’s next” is the question on everyone’s mind.

The reality is, we don’t — and can’t — know for sure. What we can do is articulate our best hypotheses and assumptions and then pay close attention to the early warnings that might suggest which are bearing out.

This thought spark is based on a recent meeting of Extraordinary Women on Boards, a community of women corporate board directors focused on advancing board excellence, modern governance, and…

Thought Spark

Successful innovation isn’t magic — it’s a discipline all on its own

When you ask why large companies have a problem building an innovation proficiency, you get back all the usual suspects: “We have silos.” “It’s nobody’s job.” “We’re afraid of failure.” “It’s unpredictable.” And what do all of these things have in common?

Every single one of them is self-imposed.

While there are some true barriers to innovations — rules, regulations, laws of physics — by and large, the biggest roadblocks are the things we do to ourselves. Now, they’re usually done for very good reasons — they serve the core business, perhaps they were important at one point…

Thought Spark

An inflection point exerts a 10X force on your business

In Part 1 of this story, I outlined the reasons why I believe a “pitchfork” moment may well have arrived, in that the imbalances in our social contract have reached a breaking point. It’s one thing, though to say that may be the case. It’s quite another to consider what to do about it from a strategy point of view. In this article, I’ll walk you through the technique that I use, derived from Chapter 2 of my book Seeing Around Corners: How to Spot Inflection Points in Business Before They Happen.

This one feels like a bit…

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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