Spring 2018 Issue
Volume 59, Issue # 3

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Strategic Agility

Turning Strategy Into Results

September 28, 2017 | Donald Sull, Stefano Turconi, Charles Sull, and James Yoder

Businesses develop strategies to address complex, multi-layered business environments and challenges — but to execute a strategy in a meaningful way, it must produce a set of specific priorities focused on achieving clear goals. Rather than trying to boil the strategy down to a pithy statement, executives will get better results if they develop a small set of actions that everyone gets behind.

Sustainable Thinking

Business Needs a Safety Net

Business leaders must partner with policy-makers to improve disaster preparedness and resilience.

From the Editor

The Trouble With Tweets

February 27, 2018 | Paul Michelman

A powerful idea can be stood on its head — and deeply misunderstood — when it passes through the filter of viral sharing on Twitter.

Features

The End of Scale

New technology-driven business models are undercutting the traditional advantages of economies of scale.

Frontiers

Exploring the Digital Future of Management

CIOs and the Future of IT

For digital success, CIOs must oversee all of IT, collaborating with marketers and business units.

Columns

Which Rules Are Worth Breaking?

Disrupting the status quo is often valuable, but taken too far, it can lead to ethical crises.

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Finding Applications for Technologies Beyond the Core Business

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 17 min 

Too often, companies with products that have alternative potential markets miss their opportunity: Either they fail to see the possibility of alternative markets, or they simply lack the will to do the necessary groundwork to explore the opportunity. Leveraging existing technology for new uses can be tricky, but the return is greater profit and a revitalized business model.

CIOs and the Future of IT

  • Opinion & Analysis
  • Read Time: 12 min 

Chief information officers need to oversee all of IT — in close collaboration with marketers and the business units. Only then can companies deliver digital experiences that win, serve, and retain increasingly demanding customers.

Business Needs a Safety Net

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 6 min 

As the effects of climate change become more prominent, business needs to grapple with its own attitudes toward government. A more destructive physical environment requires a more nuanced relationship in which government is viewed as a partner in enabling and supporting markets rather than as a regulator that needs to be managed.

Focusing on What 90% of Businesses Do Now Is a Big Mistake

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 5 min 

It’s not smart to base any part of your strategy on what you see in the rear-view mirror — and that’s particularly true when you develop strategies for navigating modern, thorny environmental and social challenges. The norms and expectations about how companies manage sustainability issues are shifting fast: Just six years ago, only 20% of the S&P 500 companies produced sustainability reports, while by 2016, 82% did. Change is coming to business — and executives need to adjust.

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Why Companies Should Report Financial Risks From Climate Change

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 8 min 

Meeting the recommendations for disclosure put forth by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures might seem like a tough job. But if the oil & gas industry is any example, it’s not as difficult as some might imagine — and there are excellent reasons for corporate boards to consider it.

Your Company Doesn’t Need a Digital Strategy

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 6 min 

As sexy as it is to speculate about new technologies such as AI, robots, and the internet of things, the focus on technology can steer the conversation in a dangerous direction. Because when it comes to digital transformation, digital is not the answer. Transformation is. In various industries, including banking, paint, and shipbuilding, digital leaders are finding that technology’s value comes from doing business differently because technology makes it possible.

Putting an End to Leaders’ Self-Serving Behavior

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 5 min 

Business leaders are often selfish. They honestly think they are entitled to more resources than anyone else, and that they have earned the right to take more. Their self-serving behavior is usually enabled by their organizations. But three strategies can help: Organizations can choose leaders who tilt away from self-serving frameworks; create systems that reinforce fairer evaluations; and recognize the added complexities that arise on the global stage.

Turning Strategy Into Results

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 14 min 

Businesses develop strategies to address complex, multi-layered business environments and challenges — but to execute a strategy in a meaningful way, it must produce a set of specific priorities focused on achieving clear goals. Rather than trying to boil the strategy down to a pithy statement, executives will get better results if they develop a small set of actions that everyone gets behind.

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Which Rules Are Worth Breaking?

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 5 min 

Creating innovative products and services that disrupt the status quo requires creativity, and creativity involves thinking differently about constraints. But too much of a “the rules don’t apply to us” attitude can lead to ethical crises. That’s what’s happened at Uber, where a string of controversies led to a mass exodus of executives, including the company’s president and CEO. Organizations intent on innovating need to understand ahead of time the consequences of breaking certain rules.

Six Reasons Why Companies Should Start Sharing Their Long-Term Thinking With Investors

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 6 min 

Most CEOs have detailed long-term plans, which are often closely held secrets out of concern that competitive advantage may be undermined by detailed disclosure. Yet disclosing a long-term plan provides an opportunity to identify financially material sustainability issues and demonstrate how the company manages business-critical issues — information that’s valuable to investors.

The Hybrid Trap: Why Most Efforts to Bridge Old and New Technology Miss the Mark

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 16 min 

Mature companies often lack the vision and the commitment to fully commit to new technologies — even when consumers are ready for them. This leads firms to develop watered down products with limited capabilities and leaves them exposed to upstart competitors.

The Store Is Dead — Long Live the Store

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 20 min 

At the same time that many traditional retailers are closing offline stores, digitally native vertical brands such as Bonobos and Warby Parker are aggressively expanding into offline locations. And both online and offline retailers are converging in experience-oriented “showrooms.”

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The Secret to Successful Knowledge Seeding

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 8 min 

Launching a peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing platform is not easy. Online support forums have two distinct segments: those who seek product support, and those who provide it. Knowledge seekers are hesitant to ask questions if knowledge contributors are few and far between, and knowledge contributors will not sign up if there are not enough problems to solve. It is a classic chicken or egg challenge that can be effectively addressed by seeding the platform with expert knowledge.

The End of Scale

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 16 min 

For more than a century, economies of scale made the corporation an ideal engine of business. But now, a flurry of important new technologies, accelerated by artificial intelligence (AI), is turning economies of scale inside out. Business in the century ahead will be driven by economies of unscale, in which the traditional competitive advantages of size are turned on their head.

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Why the Influence of Women on Boards Still Lags

  • Opinion & Analysis
  • Read Time: 9 min 

Research indicates that the reason women aren’t making more rapid inroads on corporate boards is that few have reached the most influential board leadership positions. Although more women are on boards now than 10 years ago, very few have been promoted to a post that would give them influence beyond their seat at the table.