Thursday, January 9, 2014

Recommended Readings

In the January-February 2014 issue of the Harvard Business Review, I found numerous articles worth reading.

First, I encourage those interested to read “What VUCA Really Means for You” by Nathan Bennett and G. James Lemoine. A two paragraph article with a dynamic diagram explaining how to prepare and think about working in a VUCA, i.e. volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, environment.  For those executives thinking about 2018 and 2020, this is a great little article to read before communicating about the future. The diagram alone is worth the effort. Here is a link:

Second, I thoroughly enjoyed reading “Building a Game-Changing Talent Strategy” by Douglas A. Ready, Linda A. Hill and Robert Thomas. Based on their research of BlackRock, the Tata Group and Envision, the authors found that these “three companies  demonstrate the essential attributes of a game-changing organization: They are driven by purpose, oriented toward performance, and guided by principles.”  However, in the process of conducting interviews with these three companies, the authors discovered a “fourth thread that weaves them even more tightly together: Each is supported by a game-changing talent strategy.” As they write, “those talent strategies balance four inherent tensions: They support both strategic and operational superiority; they are globally scaled yet locally relevant; they foster a collective culture yet enable high potentials to thrive as individuals; and their policies endure yet are agile and open to revitalization.” For those in the financial services industry in particular, this is a must read for 2014.  Others will find the content helpful and thought-provoking. Here is the link:

Third, I was delighted to read “The Big Lie of Strategic Planning” by Roger L. Martin, who is the coauthor with A.G. Lafley of Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works (Harvard Busines sReview Press, 2013). This is a must-read article for all who are doing or planning to do strategic planning.  As he points out, “In an effort to get a handle on strategy, managers spend thousands of hours drawing up detailed plans that project revenue into the future. These plans may make managers feel good, but all too often they matter very little to performance.” What we as executives and leaders often forget is that “strategy making is uncomfortable; it’s about taking risks and facing the unknown. Unsurprisingly, managers try to turn it into a comfortable set of activities.” As I noted in this blog yesterday, the current result is a turn toward modest aspirations.  To help leaders reconcile with feeling uncomfortable during strategic planning, Martin recommends the following:

- “Keep it simple. Capture your strategy in a one-pager that addresses where you will play and how you will win.”

- “Don’t look for perfection. Strategy isn’t about finding answers. It’s about placing bets and shortening the odds.”

- “ Make the logic explicit. Be clear about what must change for you to achieve your strategic goal.”

A wonderful article and another great read for every senior team thinking about the future.  Here is the link:

Happy reading!

Geery Howe, M.A. Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change Morning Star Associates 319 - 643 - 2257

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