Strategic Thinking for Executive Management Teams

March 5, 2019

“One-third to one-half of new chief executives fail within their first 18 months.” —Harvard Business Review  A popular mantra today is “fail fast and fail often.” If you follow this practice as a senior leader, research shows you will soon be an unemployed senior leader. As Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey said, “What’s the worst advice you see or hear given…

Do You Have an Invisible Plan?

February 1, 2019

In the novel by H.G. Wells entitled, The Invisible Man, a scientist by the name of Griffin works on a process to become invisible by changing the body so that it neither absorbs nor reflects light. Interestingly, the same phenomenon occurs when a leader does not have a plan. The leader neither absorbsinsights about the business nor reflectson the business…

Zombies in the Conference Room

November 5, 2014

When you get around to your annual strategic planning process, do you feel like one of the extras in a zombie-apocalypse movie? Looking around the room, you notice the enthusiasm being sucked out of the group. A half-hearted SWOT analysis reveals a too-long laundry list of exactly what the group already knew and nobody actually does anything with it. Then…

Strategy Camp

June 28, 2013

As a young boy, all my friends went to a beautiful wooded summer camp where they swam, shot arrows and frolicked. Being highly allergic to frolic, I was sent to strategy camp instead. One night around a bonfire roasting spinach and tofu on sticks, the strategist-in-training camp counselor wearing a tan short-sleeved dress shirt, plaid shorts, black socks and Cordovan wingtips told us…

The Strategylight Zone

May 16, 2012

There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to most managers. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between art and science, between the qualitative and quantitative and it lies between the pit of a manager’s fears and the summit of their knowledge. That’s the signpost up…

Strategic Thinker or Strategyless?

April 27, 2011

Here’s a quick quiz you can share with folks in your group to see how strategic people are (answers follow the quiz): 1. At the heart of business strategy is: A. The intelligent allocation of limited resources. B. Distributing resources across all potential growth opportunities. C. Working to be better and faster than the competition. 2. Successful business strategy is about: A. Being…

SWOT’s “So what?”

March 25, 2011

How often have you and your colleagues completed a SWOT Analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) and asked, “So what?” What did you actually do with it? Too often SWOT Analysis become a “check-the-box”; exercise, adding little or no value to your business planning efforts. I’ve created a sequence of three steps to go from SWOT Analysis to strategy. Step…

It’s Lonely At the Top

June 28, 2010

If strategy were a physical summit in your company, business unit or functional area, would you be the only one standing at the top? For many leaders, the depressing answer is ‘yes.’ While you may have built a mountain of expertise shaped by strategic insights, the great leaders are the ones who help the rest of their team scale those…

Top 5 SWOT Analysis Traps

February 5, 2010

As with any business model, the reason a SWOT analysis is performed is to generate insights about the business and drive planning efforts. There are five SWOT traps that we need to be aware of to prevent our efforts from being an exercise in futility: 1.  The Laundry List When listing the individual elements under each category, careful thought should…

SWOT Analysis Gone Wrong

February 2, 2010

Like most things utterly familiar, SWOT analysis has been taken for granted to the point that it has become perhaps the most misused tool in the manager’s box. A good SWOT analysis is one of the cornerstones of sound strategy. A half-baked SWOT analysis (and most of them are) prevents businesses from realizing their full potential and weds them to…