Strategy

Platform Sprawl Leaves No Industry Behind

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 5 min 

A decade ago, Apple’s iPhone cornered the mobile phone market by developing a platform interface that expanded its product from a simple one-task tool to a multitask utility. Using platforms to gain competitive advantage is no longer unique to Apple — it is happening in other industries across the board as readily available platform options grow in number.

Using Scenario Planning to Reshape Strategy

Rather than trying to predict the future, organizations need to strengthen their abilities to cope with uncertainty. A new approach to scenario planning can help companies reframe their long-term strategies by developing several plausible scenarios.

Building a Winning Business Model Portfolio

Many companies today are operating several business models at once. But despite the potential that business model diversification has for generating growth and profit, executives need to carefully assess the strategic contributions of each element of their business model portfolio.

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The Board’s Role in Share Repurchases

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 4 min 

Many companies’ decisions about share repurchases are handled mainly by management rather than boards — with repercussions for capital allocation. Boards should carefully balance the capital needed for repurchases against its use in value creation via internal development or external acquisitions — and be skeptical of repurchase programs financed by debt rather than profits.

What You Need to Know Before Starting a Platform Business

There’s a great deal of enthusiasm about platform strategies these days. Entrepreneurs pitch their startups as the next Uber, the next Facebook, or the next Airbnb, while executives in established companies are retooling their strategies around platforms to drive growth and compete digitally. But creating a successful platform business is not easy — as economists Richard Schmalensee and David S. Evans explain in this MIT Sloan Management Review interview.

The Best Response to Digital Disruption

Although digitization’s disruptive influence is growing rapidly, there’s surprisingly little empirical evidence on the magnitude of digital disruption — nor any showing how companies are reacting on a broad scale. A new global survey of C-suite executives looks at how digitization unfolds across industries and how incumbents are responding. With some notable exceptions, the answer is: “Not well.”

The Big Squeeze: How Compression Threatens Old Industries

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 16 min 

Accelerating compression of both revenues and profits may rapidly prove fatal to traditional businesses. Consider the accelerating decline of voice calls as a means of communicating via mobile telephone: From 2013 to 2015, average mobile voice revenue per user declined globally by 19%, and a further decline of 26% is expected through 2020. To stave off disaster, incumbents must transform and renew their core operations — while also growing into new businesses and industries.

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Saving Money Through Structured Problem-Solving

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 6 min 

As busy as they are, leaders need to find ways to observe fundamental work processes in their organizations. When they do, they usually discover that there are gaps between theory and reality in how works get done. Michael Morales’ experience — in which identifying and addressing such gaps led to his company saving $50,000 in just 60 days — is a case in point.

Harnessing the Secret Structure of Innovation

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 11 min 

Innovation, much like marketing and human resources, can be made less reliant on artful intuition by using information in new ways. But this requires a change in perspective: We need to view innovation not as the product of luck or extraordinary vision but as the result of a deliberate search process.

Defining “Material” Climate Risks

Companies know climate change is relevant to their businesses, but they don’t address it in corporate reports because corporate leaders don’t believe it’s material to their business. The effects of climate change are beyond their planning horizon, they think, or they just aren’t clear whether or how climate change might be a material business risk. The Financial Stability Board (FSB) is hoping to change that.

The Most Underrated Skill in Management

Few questions in business are more powerful than “What problem are you trying to solve?” Leaders who can formulate clear problem statements get more done with less effort and move more rapidly than their less-focused counterparts. But stopping to ask this question doesn’t come naturally — managers must put conscious effort into learning a structured approach.

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Building a More Intelligent Enterprise

The authors examine how managers can combine a sophisticated understanding of human decision making with technology-enabled insights to make smarter choices in the face of uncertainty and complexity. Integrating the two streams of knowledge is not easy, but once management teams learn how to blend them, the advantages can be substantial.

To Improve Cybersecurity, Think Like a Hacker

To protect their organizations from cyberthreats, companies need to understand how hackers go about their work. The authors’ research suggests that hackers’ attacks typically involve four steps: identifying vulnerabilities; scanning and testing; gaining access; and maintaining access.

Embracing a Strategic Paradox

Within a business, opposing ideas typically lead to conflict and, in the face of conflicting demands, managers will feel anxiety, stress, and frustration. However, the authors’ research at Aeon Co. Ltd., one of Japan’s largest retailers, suggests that a positive approach to handling conflicts between opposing ideas can create new value for a company.

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