Management development

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Management development

Generally, if you ask a manager what they manage, they will tell you that they manage people and budget. Similarly, if you talk to many HR directors, management development appears to be synonymous with people development, working with the manager to build their self-awareness and self-management, and assisting them to do the same with their

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Getting away from TINA …

Even when people don’t actually use the mantra of TINA – “there is no alternative” – in strategic decision making, very often it permeates the thinking of management teams. Something has happened out there in your strategic environment, some competitor has stolen a march on you, or some new innovation has come along and it’s

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Strategy and the Long Tail

There’s a lot written about strategic fit, about being agile and change-hungry, ready to create or seize market opportunities. But there’s a whole class of strategies about doing the opposite of that, being slow, holding onto what is. The Long Tail refers to the large numbers of products with low sales volumes (compared to the

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Strategy and memes

The concept of a gene is familiar, a biological element transferred from parent to child, and which affects the child’s characteristics. Despite this, there’s a longstanding debate about how much of behaviour is shaped by nature, that genetic inheritance, and how much by nurture, the upbringing and experience of the child. Looking back through family

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Strategy for high-growth markets

A remora is a fish which holds onto a larger marine host using a sucker, and benefiting from protection and dropped food from the host. And the Remora strategy is one often used by suppliers, linking very tightly to their customers and being very responsive to their needs. Linking to a fast-growing customer is a

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Delivering strategic transformation: a role for the Extended Leadership Team

Delivering strategic transformation can be hard, and one factor which makes it difficult is having the resource to pull it off, in a time frame which is useful. A lot of organisations describe themselves as resource-constrained, in both the public and private sector. There’s a couple of reasons for this. Perhaps the main reason for

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Strategy and the regulator

Looking at the papers recently, there were several examples of regulators in different sectors flexing their muscles. The EU Competition Commissioner blocked the planned merger of telecoms giants O2 and Three. In their view, this would have reduced the number of operators to a level where competition could be undermined, driving up costs for consumers

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Strategic risk

Risk management is important for any company of any size and, broadly, risk can be categorised into two main types, depending on what would happen if the risk turns into an issue. Thinking about risk impact in terms of a ship, some risks are operational, in that the emerging issue would damage the ship’s superstructure. Challenging,

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Brexit, Drucker, & Systems Thinking

“There is one fundamental insight underlying all management science. It is that the business enterprise is a system of the highest order: a system whose parts are human beings contributing voluntarily of their knowledge, skill and dedication to a joint venture. And one thing characterizes all genuine systems, whether they be mechanical like the control

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Strategy and defensibility

There’s an English proverb: An Englishman’s home is his castle. And what it means is this: that his home is a place where he can do as he pleases, and exclude anyone he pleases. And across the world, humankind have built castles, literal and metaphoric, ever since we figured out how to make them stay

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Strategy: communicate or conceal?

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading an article about incoming CEOs of private sector organisations, and how the market really likes it when they communicate the strategy they are adopting for their organisation, as reflected by an uplift in the share price. The underlying premise was that this shows the CEO in a

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Five systems laws and what they tell us about the financial crash: Part 1

In 2008, Her Majesty the Queen asked academics at LSE why nobody had seen the financial crash coming. It was four years before she got anything resembling an answer from an economist and then the answer seemed to boil down to observing that everyone seemed to think it was someone else’s job to look out

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Strategy and David Bowie

David Bowie. Musician, innovator and, style icon, he died on 10 January 2016 after 5 decades in the creative arts.  Since then, there have been many, many profiles, tributes and obituaries, looking at his development as an artist and his huge and varied body of work, citing his influence on music and on style more generally.

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Strategy and decisions in a time of uncertainty

Imagine the intelligence arm of a national government, with all its reach, secrecy and resources, throwing a competition open to Joe and Jane Public, with no domain-specific knowledge, and asking them to forecast answers to geopolitical and economic trends. Imagine individuals and teams competing to see who could get the most accurate prediction on the

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But what is Enterprise Architecture actually for?

We do a lot of work on designing organisations. Organisation structure has a massive impact on how well organisations perform: how well they can fulfil their purpose, how well they can set and execute strategy, and how efficient they are. We also tend to look at the information in the organisation. Part of this is

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Encoding tacit knowledge for use in complex situations

The Greek architekton and the Latin architectus both literally mean masterbuilder, a person responsible for the design and construction of the built environment. We tend to think of Master Builders as those men who oversaw construction of cathedrals, and usually they came to their Master Builder profession from one of the trades, and the role

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Innovation

Recently we were working with a large engineering firm. And one of the really striking things about them was their distinctive ability to look outside their organisation and into the future, and identify potential new technologies and ways of working which could improve their operations. We were particularly struck by the range and sheer number

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Seeing into the future – 200 years ago…

200 years ago this week was the battle of Waterloo which saw Wellington defeat Napoleon and left him as the foremost soldier of his day. One of Wellington’s best known quotations was: “All the business of war, and indeed all the business of life, is to endeavour to find out what you don’t know by

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Scenario planning and decision support

Recently, I was on the 14th floor of the Shell building in London.  It is right next to the Thames, overlooking the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye, with the familiar shapes of the Gherkin and BT tower in the middle distance, with the rest of London fading into the haze.  Pretty apt, then,

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Designing organisations for strategic decision making

When we talk to managers about organisation design, we are, initially at least, talking about the operating structure and the management structure.  The operating structure shows the way in which the work of the organisation is actually organised, and the management structure covers the additional elements which sit alongside that, to bind it all into

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How to build a crisis

If one major thing goes wrong, most reasonably healthy organisations – and most people – can manage. If two go wrong at the same time, most will still cope. When three go wrong together, typically that’s more than most can cope with and we have the conditions for a crisis. You have to wonder, then,

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Organisation Models Clients Can Use

Before I was a consultant, I had a “proper job”. This involved persuading recalcitrant pieces of steel to be a different size and shape to the one they naturally wanted to be and often this was in the production of architectural steelwork to match the designs of architects. These were “real architects” designing real buildings.

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Overcoming the challenges of multi-organisation working

Austrian Franz Klammer was arguably the best downhill skier the world has ever seen. He dominated the event for four seasons between 1975 and 1978, winning the Hahnenkamm (regarded as the most demanding course on the World Cup circuit) four times. He won 25 World Cup downhill races, including 12 in a row. He took

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Building Synergy in M&A – It’s the difference that makes a difference

“Crisis? What crisis?” “So what are the synergies you’re after?” He looked back at us blankly – this was one of those tumbleweed moments – we’d asked a question to which there was no answer. We were there to help the M&A “manager” for a global player who had just acquired a company for a

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