Executing Strategy

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The Science of Managing Black Swans

In business, a black swan is neither a bird nor a ballerina — it’s a very rare convergence of factors that leads to catastrophe. New research suggests that by exploiting all types of data, managers can help prevent some black swan events, and reduce the hazards of other risky blind spots. The caveat: less intuition; more data.

Image courtesy of Flickr user abplanalp_photography.
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When Should You Fire Customers?

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  • Read Time: 3 min 

Many customers are simply not profitable. Letting them go is one option, but so is trying to train them out of expensive behavior. Options suggested by Jiwoong Shin and K. Sudhir, both of Yale School of Management, include reducing services to unprofitable customers and educating them to use less costly service channels.

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Acquisitions That Make Your Company Smarter

It’s challenging to successfully integrate any acquired company. It’s even more complicated when you purchase a business for its knowledge. From Pfizer Inc.’s acquisition of Icagen Inc. to Walt Disney’s acquisition of Pixar, knowledge-based acquisitions are focused on acquiring new knowledge — related to product features, customer needs, processes or technologies — and depend on assimilating the two companies’ expertise. Included: a sidebar on “Six Steps for Smoother Knowledge Transfer.”

Image courtesy of Flickr user lowjumpingfrog

The Sweet Spot of Sustainability Strategy

Today’s fringe issues in the sustainability world often become tomorrow’s mainstream and generic market expectations, writes Gregory Unruh of George Mason University. Between these two extremes lies a third territory, which Unruh calls “strategic.” “It is in this strategic territory that proactive companies have the best opportunity to influence the sustainability standards for their industry,” he writes.

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Driving Change Through Corporate Programs

CEOs of large companies introduce corporate programs as a way to foster strategic renewal. But whether the goal is boosting profitability, improving business models or establishing new directions for growth, it’s important to match the design of the program with the desired outcomes.

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Image courtesy of Wal-Mart.

Rebuilding the Relationship Between Manufacturers and Retailers

In the tug of war between manufacturers and retailers, retailers seem to be winning. Retailers control market access and influence consumer behavior. Their power has moved downstream. What can be done to improve the situation? While manufacturers are locked into fixed investments and products with long payback cycles, retailers have a variety of ways of making money. This article explores how manufacturers can benefit by tailoring their approaches to a retailer’s specific business model.

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The Messy Business of Management

In a period of rapid technological and business change, successful executives particularly need the ability to think critically — and to be aware that some of their most cherished assumptions may, at any point, be challenged or invalidated by changing events. Business schools excel at teaching young managers well-structured models, theories and frameworks but need to spend more time helping their students surface, debate and test the assumptions underlying each model, theory or framework.

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Making Mergers Work

For organizations to achieve the psychological synergies required to realize economic synergies from mergers and acquisitions, executives need to attend to a more complex set of identity issues. These issues define the essence of the entity and give employees a clear answer to the question “Who are we?” and external stakeholders a clear answer to the question “Who are they?” Left unattended, these identity issues will diminish engagement and will affect the performance of the merged entity.

Image courtesy of Flickr user wwarby.
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In Defense of Delay

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  • Read Time: 2 min 

A new book, “Wait: The Art and Science of Delay,” argues that while snap decisions can be important in times of danger, our brains need time to assess other factors and resist what economists call “present bias.”

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Achieving Successful Strategic Transformation

Companies that are able to radically change their entrenched ways of doing things and then reclaim leading positions in their industries are the exception rather than the rule. Even less common are companies able to anticipate a new set of requirements and mobilize the internal and external resources necessary to meet them. The article focuses on three companies that transformed themselves and compares them with three other companies from similar industries that hadn’t been required to make a dramatic shift.

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Image courtesy of Apple Inc.

Why Dominant Companies Are Vulnerable

Research has shown that several factors influence a company’s ability to retain market leadership. However, one factor has largely been ignored: the psychological forces that drive decisions consumers make and, specifically, the degree to which people feel they have choices. Once people have learned a company’s technology interface, they become more efficient using that interface and are often reluctant to switch to products requiring new skills or allowing limited transfer of current skills.

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The importance of tolerating failure

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A new working paper tackles an interesting topic: the relationship between tolerance for failure and innovation. In particular, authors Xuan Tian and Tracy Y. Wang looked at venture capitalists' tolerance for failure  -- and its effect on the innovativeness of the young companies they invested in.

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The Strategic Communication Imperative

Companies that continue to take a tactical, short-term approach to communicating with key constituencies will find it increasingly difficult to compete. Developing an integrated, strategic approach to communications will be critical to success.

Showing 1-20 of 52