If you work in Corporate America, you probably make recommendations to other decision-makers way more often than you actually make decisions yourself. Sadly, most recommendations either lead to bad decisions, or no decision at all. That can be super frustrating when your success depends on someone else’s decision…even though you have zero control over their decision (or lack thereof).
Or do you?
In fact, you have a lot more influence over those decision-makers than you think. But it requires you to think differently about what you’re doing and why you are doing it. This table that I provide in my workshops can help get your head in the right place.
So how do you actually deliver a … [ Read More ]
To paraphrase what Tolstoy famously said about families, teams that execute well are all alike. Teams struggling with execution can trace their woes back to one or more of the seven deadly sins of execution. To keep your team on the path to the Promised Land, familiarize yourself with the sins and repent while there is still time.
1. Lust – There is nothing wrong with an intense desire for success. In fact, it’s often this exact ambition that drives the impact of some of today’s most influential organizations. But an insatiable lust for instant (i.e. quarterly) gratification can destroy your team’s spirit. In the mid-2000’s, Starbucks stores that had once been shrines to coffee became overgrown retail jungles as … [ Read More ]
Virtually every player in the media industry right now from Rupert Murdoch to Jeff Bezos is falling all over themselves to get their hands on Time-Warner’s most valuable asset, HBO. The premium cable channel’s juicy 36% profit margins recently led BusinessWeek to label HBO “the 30-year old cash-printing machine.” Aspiring innovators and change agents can learn important lessons from the revolutionary decision that sparked HBO’s mega success.
A while back, HBO’s Original Programming division received the script for a new show. It told an intriguing story about a complex character named Tommy who was working through some difficult personal and professional issues. While interesting, the story also raised some red flags that made it very clear why first … [ Read More ]
In the 2014 Dartmouth commencement speech, Shonda Rhimes, creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, gives the most honest and useful advice I’ve ever heard about personal success. To give you a glimpse here is my favorite bit:
“Maybe you know exactly what it is you dream of being, or maybe you’re paralyzed because you have no idea what your passion is. The truth is, it doesn’t matter….You just have to keep doing something, seizing the next opportunity, staying open to trying something new. It doesn’t have to fit your vision of the perfect job or the perfect life.
So you think, “I wish I could travel.” Great. Sell your crappy car, buy a ticket to Bangkok, and go. Right now. I’m serious. You want to be a … [ Read More ]
In its simplest form, strategic thinking is about deciding on which opportunities to focus your time, people, and money, and which opportunities to starve. One of history’s greatest strategic thinkers, Napoleon Bonaparte summed it up this way: “In order to concentrate superior strength in one place, economy of force must be exercised in other places.” If dead, despotic French emperors are not really your style, Michael Porter said it like this: “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”
At the highest level, this usually means deciding to sell off one company in order to buy another one. More often it simply means deciding to move some initiatives to the back burner in … [ Read More ]
David Packard once famously quipped, “More companies die from overeating than starvation.” As it turns out, recent studies about dieting show that Packard’s clever metaphor might be more instructive than he ever imagined — and they can provide modern leaders with important lessons about planning and strategy.
Here are four of those lessons.
Limit Your Plate Size. If you feel like your team has “too much on their plate,” you might consider using a smaller plate. Cornell psychologists led by Brian Wansink have found that plate size is one of the biggest predictors of overeating. Simply using smaller plates does wonders for limiting your calorie intake while requiring almost no self-discipline at meal time.
Leaders can shrink their plate size by setting limits on the number of priorities on their … [ Read More ]
There is no question that Martin Luther King, Jr. was a great orator and an inspiring leader. Less has been said about his brilliance as a strategic decision-maker. Here are four key strategic decisions in the life and career of Martin Luther King, Jr.
THREE BRILLIANT DECISIONS
1. Deciding NOT to pursue Claudette Colvin’s case. We all know about Rosa Parks refusing to give up her bus seat. But have you ever heard of Claudette Colvin? Nine months before Parks’ act of defiance, 15-year old Claudette Colvin also refused to give up her bus seat. King and the other members of the Birmingham African American Community decided that the pregnant and unmarried Colvin would not be the most effective poster child for their cause … [ Read More ]
In 2006, McDonald’s sold Chipotle. Since then, Chipotle has become fast-food equivalent of the iPhone. Indeed, I don’t eat at Chipotle mostly because every time I go by, the line is so long you’d swear they were paying people to eat their burritos. So it isn’t surprising that Business Week recently lambasted McDonald’s for their foolish decision.
But I’m not convinced it was a bad decision for 2 reasons:
1. Strategic focus is an investment. On paper (with 20/20 hindsight of course) it looks like a colossal failure of a decision. McDonald’s cashed out on Chipotle for a measly $1.5 Billion. Eight years later, Chipotle is worth an estimated $13 billion. I’m no finance whiz, but I can see that 13 is in fact more than … [ Read More ]
In Amanda Ripley’s cover article “The Case Against High School Sports” in this month’s Atlantic Monthly she explains how American schools get more money from the U.S. government for sports than they do for education. Which some might argue is a mistake. It’s a contentious issue and I for one am a big fan of high school sports. But regardless of which side of the issue you are on, the lead story is utterly fascinating and instructive.
In order to save Premont High School in southeast Texas both financially and culturally, principal Ernest Singleton eliminated all sports for a year including football. This is not unheard of in the business world–focus on … [ Read More ]