“They called me ‘The Master of ‘I don’t know!’” confesses Anne Mulcahy with a warm smile. For someone who didn’t know much, she certainly knew how to save one of the world’s largest companies. Ms Mulcahy was appointed CEO of Xerox in August 2001 when the company was in dire straights. Xerox had so dominated the world of photocopying that its name had even become a verb. By the time Ms. Mulchay took over however, this corporate giant was two weeks from bankruptcy. Despite the weight of expectation on her shoulders from the various stakeholders, Ms. Mulcahy claims that leaders should not give the impression that they know all the answers. Continue reading
Tag Archives: IBM
So, two of the most prominent and respected professors of finance in the world got it wrong! There are several interesting aspects to the Reinhart and Rogoff spreadsheet error saga and many commentators have jumped in to criticise their work now that we know they omitted out five countries. Perhaps the one thing that has not been said is that they had the good grace, open mindedness and humility to send their data to a graduate student that they had never met and wasn’t even a student at either of their universities. Professors do get it wrong, as do all human beings, but good ones are open to analysis and criticisms from others.
I am very grateful to a colleague at work who clearly to took pity on me after seeing all those book reviews on strategy and management stuff. Thinking that I needed a break but realizing that Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy was probably a waste of time, she offered me a collection of cartoons on office humour taken from The New Yorker. Work is one of those things that unite people across borders. Many of the cartoons are easy to identify with whether you are in Stockholm, Shanghai or Santiago de Chile. It is a nice way to take a break.
The Strategy Book gives a clear and concise introduction to some of the main challenges that organizations face. It has many examples from different industries and challenges the reader to ask some difficult questions about their own practices. It is a useful introduction to the subject and a good book to provoke some discussion for more experienced managers. Continue reading
IBM so dominated the computing industry from the 1950s onwards that by 1980 the US government decided to set up antitrust commission to decide if it had too much power. By the time the commission gave in its report, IBM was heading towards bankruptcy. The man who saved them from that fate was Louis V. Gerstner and this book explains how he brought about a massive cultural transformation.
Written in 1980, Competitive Strategy, has formed the basis of modern strategic thinking for three decades. Amazon says that the book is now in its 60th edition and has been translated into 19 languages. It is still a great book to read though the recent bankruptcy of Michael Porter’s company, Monitor Group, has someone tarnised the image of the management guru.
Strategy, brief history of strategy, corporate, international trade, IBM, technology, resource-based of the firm, knowledge-based view of the firm, Apple, Walkman, Intel, Andy Grove, leadership, Japan, France, USA, UK
Richard Whittington, who has published extensively on strategy, offers a fascinating discussion on some of the key issues in strategic management. The book requires some background knowledge of the subject (perhaps not the first book to read then if you are new to this discipline) and then invites you to develop a personal view.
This is quite a useful book then once you have mastered some of the key elements of strategy. The book states clearly that it is designed more for a graduate or advanced undergraduate level.
Some keys facts:
The word ‘seduction’ comes from the Latin word “ducere”, to lead.
Pascale ( 1982) reports that the Japanese do not even have a phrase for ‘corporate strategy’
When, in 1982, it launched its first personal computers, IBM predicted a market of 300,000 worldwide; a decade later, the installed base was 110 million. (Tate, 1991) Continue reading
Companies and industries studied: Apple, Nucor, Dell, Toyota, GM, GE, Ford, Compaq, HP, IBM, disk drive industry
It is said that this was Steve Job’s favourite book and had a lot of influence on the way he ran Apple. It focuses on disruptive technology and shows why a lot of companies miss out on innovation in markets and why leaders are often ‘leapfrogged’ by challengers. Among some of the surprising theories Christensen states that companies should NOT always listen to their customers (Steve Jobs declared this many times over; so did Henry Ford). Also, it may be better for a company to invest in lower margin products rather than high margin ones.
Arthur Miller’s 1949 play, “Death of a Salesman” deals with the demise of Willy Loman, an American salesman, who finds his professional and personal life simultaneously degenerating. The play could almost be symbolic for the treatment of the subject as an academic discipline over the past last half century. Business schools hate the word “sales”. We love “marketing” and “finance” and “strategy”, but the word “sales” with its second-hand car salesman connotation, is distinctly unwelcome in the classroom. Continue reading
A year on from France’s catastrophic display in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, French football could actually give us some best practices in management thinking. You’ll need to go back to 1998 though. Continue reading