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What Your Company Can Learn from Supercompetitors

Idea posted: October 2014
  • Strategy
  • Finance
  • Operations

Competitive strategy is no longer about assets, positions and economies of scale. Supercompetitors such as IKEA or Amazon build on distinctive capabilities that are scalable and relevant to offer one single powerful value proposition that transforms their industries.

Idea #445
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Launch Intentional Communities of Practice in Global Companies

Idea posted: September 2014
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

As professionals in an organization acquire knowledge and experience, they share this knowledge among themselves in informal communities of practice (CoPs). In large international organizations with geographically dispersed professionals, such organic, informal CoPs aren’t possible; however, research shows top management-initiated, deliberately structured intentional communities of practice (ICoP) can fulfil the same function of distributing knowledge throughout the organization.

Idea #441
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Yellow-Red-Blue, Wassily Kandinsky, 1925, Musee National Art Moderne, Paris

Is There an Open Business Model Right for Your Company?

Idea posted: August 2014
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship

As open business models, in which knowledge, competencies and resources from external firms are integrated into the business model of a company, become more widespread, companies with traditional closed business models are striving to determine if they should follow suit, and when. By understanding the antecedents of open business models — the internal and external factors that encourage or require the move to openness — companies can make a more informed decision on whether (and when) to change and adapt their business models.

Idea #432
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The Mexican Stock Exchange (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Why Companies from Emerging Markets Are Putting the Heat on Multinationals

Idea posted: August 2014
  • Strategy
  • Marketing

While multinational corporations typically establish their dominant competitive advantage thanks to their position in the industry and/or access to strategic resources, somehow firms from emerging markets who have neither of these advantages are beginning to dominate globally — or at least compete for domination — in their industries. The reason: while MNCs compete on position or possession, the emerging MNCs are competing on action. They have developed innovative business models, often as a direct result of conditions in their home markets, that give them the edge. 

Idea #427
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How to Turn a Product-Focused Company into a Platform Business

Idea posted: August 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance

The transition from a product-based company to a platform-based company will have a major impact on your organizational identity: how organizational members conceive of who you are. Understand the fundamental shift and broaden that identity while staying true to your values.

Idea #422
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St Nicholas saves a storm-tossed ship, Gentile da Fabriano (c. 1425)

Is Your Supply Chain Prepared for the Unexpected?

Idea posted: July 2014
  • Strategy
  • Operations

Supply chain management is a delicate balancing act in these unpredictable times – on the one hand, there is pressure to keep the supply chain as cost efficient as possible, while on the other, it needs to be flexible and resilient in the face of unforeseen events. How do leaders proactively manage the risk of disruption?

Idea #414
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Foreign Acquisitions: The Path to Better Productivity at Home?

Idea posted: June 2014
  • Strategy
  • Operations

Cross-border acquisitions can be risky and complex but they can also create value and improve productivity in the long term. Much depends on the professional ‘ecosystem’ offered by the host country — and on the acquirer’s willingness to make complementary capital investments at home.

Idea #409
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Family Portrait, Cornelis de Vos, 1631 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Surviving a Recession: Seven Lessons from Family Businesses

Idea posted: June 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Family businesses tend to outperform companies with more dispersed ownership structures during economic downturns. Their ‘star’ quality is resilience — and it results from a set of strategic choices that put the long-term interests of the business first.

Idea #400
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Robert Maxwell, media tycoon and owner of Mirror Group Newspapers, 1991 in London. Maxwell died in November 1991 (Copyright: Shutterstock)

The Curse of the Narcissistic CEO

Idea posted: June 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

In theory, strategic decision-making is a democratic process in which the knowledge and previous experience of all executives is brought to bear. In practice, it doesn’t always work that way. A recent study finds that more narcissistic CEOs fail to pool knowledge effectively, putting themselves and their own experiences first. This underlines the importance of checks and balances on CEO power.

Idea #404
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Decision Support Systems: Under-rated and Under-used?

Idea posted: June 2014
  • Strategy
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Marketing

Technology now provides a range of decision support systems to interrogate, process and analyse data on markets and customers and help companies answer ‘what-if’ questions. The best ones, however, could be being neglected by organizations. Recent empirical research finds a clear discrepancy between users’ perceptions of decision support systems and how these systems actually perform. 

Idea #387
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"Your reputation precedes you" Lord Nelson to Lady Hamilton. Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh in That Hamilton Woman, 1941, produced and directed by Alexander Korda, distributed by United Artists.

How to Measure and Manage Reputation

Idea posted: May 2014
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Marketing
  • Operations
Institutions: Henley Business School

Reputation management is a complex task and the measurement of it particularly so, concerned as it is with diverse stakeholder groups and their respective, sometimes differing, evaluations of an organization. Getting the right level of engagement with stakeholders is a critical factor in a firm achieving its objectives, because from that engagement business recommendation and take-up will flow.

This research focuses on the pharmaceutical industry, although the model it uses is transferable to other industries and therefore offers potential to the wider corporate communication and

Idea #378
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The Sower by Jean-François Millet, circa 1865, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

How Well Is CSR Embedded in Business Strategy?

Idea posted: May 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change

CSR and sustainable development are now widely seen as core parts of business. This does not, however, mean they’re always treated as core parts of business strategy. The management control systems big companies use to design, implement and monitor CSR sometimes suggest a ‘reactive’ rather than a ‘proactive’ approach from leaders.

Idea #374
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Emerging Market Strategy: Creating Order out of Chaos

Idea posted: May 2014
  • Strategy
  • Marketing
  • Operations
Institutions: Henley Business School

New and emerging markets present a wealth of opportunities but they also comprise highly complex business environments that can change rapidly. The key to success is understanding – understanding competitors and what they are up to; understanding consumers and what they want, now and into the future; and understanding the host governments of the countries you are targeting. It’s a complex process but recent research proposes a two-step approach to strategic thinking that can help make sense of these emerging economies.  

Idea #373
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WAAF plotters at work in the Operations Room at No. 11 Group HQ at Uxbridge in Middlesex, 1942 (Courtesy: Imperial War Museum, London) Copyright?

Reallocating Resources to Realize Strategic Goals

Idea posted: March 2014
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

Does your organization keep allocating the same resources to the same business units year after year? Such inertia makes it difficult to realize strategic goals and ultimately undermines performance and profitability. The answer is to regularly adjust resource allocation, but, according to this Idea, failure to pursue active reallocation policies is due to multiple causes.

Idea #342
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HQ Controls and the Speed of Strategic Decision-Making

Idea posted: March 2014
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

How do control mechanisms set by corporate headquarters in large organizations influence decision-making speed at lower levels? In this Idea, six types of corporate controls are identified, their effects on decision speed are discussed, and the key mechanisms accounting for these effects are outlined.

Idea #339
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The Royal Malay Regiment get ready at the Malaysian King Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin birthday parade on June 4, 2011 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Source: Shutterstock)

Rapid Response Teams: Strategic Renewal for Organizations

Idea posted: February 2014
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change

The world changes rapidly these days. Technologies move on and companies adapt – or not in some cases. The problem lies in being able to change as quickly as the environment in which your business operates. But change management need not be crisis management. Through a process of strategic renewal leaders can develop a set of practices that can guide their organizations to a new era of innovation. 

We often find it easier to resist change rather than embrace it, but this process allows leaders to approach the future and all its uncertainties with confidence, while acknowledging the

Idea #331
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John Barrymore as Svengali and Marian Marsh as Trilby, a poster for ‘Svengali’, 1931, produced and distributed by Warner Brothers

Choosing a Venture Capitalist: The Ethical Dimension

Idea posted: February 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship

New and young businesses often depend on equity finance from venture capitalists. This does not, however, mean that they’re indiscriminate in their choice of venture capitalist fund. Recent research suggests that, in certain circumstances at least, entrepreneurs will spurn offers from equity investors who have a poor reputation for ethical behaviour.

Idea #332
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The Steben Twins, famous trapeze artists and innovators of the feet-to-feet catching technique (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Innovation Partnerships — Loosely or Tightly Coupled?

Idea posted: February 2014
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship

‘Loosely coupled’ research partnerships — in which the flow of new ideas and new knowledge tends to be one-way — are often considered the ‘poor relation’ in the quest for innovation. They can, however, be just as successful as ‘tightly coupled’ and more reciprocal alternatives. Much depends on the conditions at the ‘in-sourcing’ company. 

Idea #329
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La Asociación Cultural de Aficionados a LEGO® de España, 2012 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How LEGO® Helps Strategic Thinking and Idea Generation

Idea posted: February 2014
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change

People tend to think of intense brainstorming sessions in a conference room when they imagine idea generation and problem-solving within an organization. In this Idea, an entirely different and much more novel way of developing innovative new strategies and solutions is presented: playing with Lego bricks! Read on to find out more about how Lego® Serious Play® can help you.

Idea #321
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Ideas, Implementation and the Learning Organization

Idea posted: January 2014
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Learning & Behaviour

Employee deviation from official strategy can result in discoveries and innovations that increase profits. It’s not always to be actively encouraged, though. Employees who try to implement the ideas of management — and provide feedback on what works and what doesn’t — can better serve the interests of the organization in the long term.

Idea #314
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Four Ways CEOs Can Align Function Heads with Corporate Strategy

Idea posted: November 2013
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change

Corporate functions often lack strategic direction from CEOs. As well as underperformance, this can also lead to many other issues, such as bureaucracy on the part of function heads. But according to this Idea, four simple changes to normal management processes can help to avoid this and align corporate strategies between CEOs and corporate functions.

Idea #274
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Balancing Local and Global Efficiency with Anchored Agility

Idea posted: October 2013
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations
Institutions: IMD

If your organization is struggling to balance local flexibility and global efficiency, it is not the only one; even leading multinationals are facing the problem of managing fixed vs. local needs. According to this Idea, the solution lies in adopting a framework called ‘anchored agility’. 

Idea #247
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U.S. Social Security Administration early accounting operations in Baltimore circa 1936 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Computer Says ‘Yes’ – The Impact of IT Investment

Idea posted: September 2013
  • Strategy
  • Finance

The impact of information technology on an organization’s profitability can be significant but it needs to be strategically managed, from the top down. View your IT management as a corporate rather than a departmental issue.

The key message for today’s leaders is, choose the right kind of IT projects, spend your money wisely, and focus on growth over cost savings. 

Idea #219
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Aircraft Workers on Lunch Break, 1942 (Source: Wikimedia)

Reenergizing Lunch Breaks and the Role of Autonomy

Idea posted: September 2013
  • Strategy
  • Learning & Behaviour

Intuitively, a lunch break will give employees a chance to stop working and restore some energy for the rest of the day. New research, however, shows that not all lunch breaks are restorative. Indeed, it is not only what employees do during lunch but whether they had a choice in what they did that makes a difference. The researchers demonstrate that the less choice or ‘autonomy’ given to employees over their lunch breaks, the less rested or reenergized they will feel by the end of the workday.

Idea #208
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The Education of Alexander the Great by Aristotle, Charles Laplante, 1866 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Aristotle, Ethics and the ‘Art’ of Leadership

Idea posted: September 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

Aristotle’s ‘master virtue’ of phronesis, which combines ethics and action so that people can ‘live well’ and be happy, is often seen as the key to effective leadership. But it tends to be too narrowly defined. A re-reading of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics reveals that phronesis is linked not only to knowledge, skill, wisdom and intelligence but also to sensory perception, intuition and aesthetics. For Aristotle, doing the right thing partly depended on seeing and appreciating the fine thing. This raises important questions about how leaders reach their

Idea #202
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Flexibility Vs Commitment in the Entrepreneurial Process

Idea posted: August 2013
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Operations
Institutions: EMLYON Business School

Academic literature has provided valuable insights into ways to manage the uncertainties inherent in new ventures — but failed to produce a consensus. Some scholars advocate an approach in which critical decisions are delayed and early commitments avoided, others one that ‘marries’ (to a greater or lesser extent) commitment and flexibility. ‘Re-conceptualisation’ of the main models can help reconcile the different schools of thought — and provide clearer guidance for entrepreneurs.

Idea #191
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Argentinian Tango, Buenos Aires, 2009 (Source: Wikimedia Commons

Smart Moves – the Tango and Modern Leadership

Idea posted: June 2013
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: IE Business School

The tango is presented as a metaphor for leadership in the modern world. Although it has adapted to changing social structures and attitudes to gender, it remains a passionate and emotionally powerful pastime. It also provides leaders with a novel approach to assessing their own management capabilities.

Idea #159
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Belshazzar's Feast, Rembrandt van Rijn, c.1635-1638, National Gallery, London

CFOs Reborn as Agents of Organizational Change

Idea posted: June 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change

After the financial crisis of 2009–10 and the subsequent global recession, CFOs have suddenly found themselves thrust under the spotlight like never before. They are no longer being seen merely as ‘chief number crunchers’ or even as senior accountants; organizations now want more out of their CFOs, and expect them to act as agents of ‘organizational change’. In this idea, some guidance is offered on how to effectively undertake such change management.

Idea #161
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Think difference

How Social Intrapreneurs Get Heard

Idea posted: May 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Institutions: INSEAD

Corporate social entrepreneurship initiatives, usually the work of intrapreneurs (entrepreneurial executives within the corporation) keen to solve social problems, have important macro- and micro-economic implications. They create value for people who are not current stakeholders - and they create opportunities to innovate and diversify. There are, however, barriers to their development. A model that counters the conventional logic of the organization and puts financial sustainability before growth could be the solution.

Idea #151
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Humanoid with his knowledge of universe on space background

Embed the Strategy (Do Not Rely on Cascading)

Idea posted: May 2013
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

It’s not enough to ‘cascade’ strategy down through the chain of command. Senior leaders need a ‘direct line’ of communication with employees. Decisions about the future of the business need to be explained by those who make them. Supervisors and middle managers help to embed strategy by creating the working conditions that make it possible — not by ‘parroting’ the ideas of senior leaders

Idea #143
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