Inevitable strategy

Roger Martin illustrates the difference between Mintzberg‘s emergent strategy and deliberate strategy:

Every company has a strategy. Whether it ‘does strategy’ explicitly or not, the choices that it makes on a daily basis result in the company operating on some part of the playing field (i.e. making a where-to-play choice) and competing there in some fashion (i.e. making a how-to-win choice). It matters not a whit whether the industry is highly uncertain, every company competing in it has a strategy.

Without making an effort to ‘do strategy,’ though, a company runs the risk of its numerous daily choices having no coherence to them, of being contradictory across divisions and levels, and of amounting to very little of meaning. It doesn’t have to be so. But it continues to be so because these leaders don’t believe there is a better way.

Biz best sellers hazardous to health

From Fast company:

So many books promise financial riches and personal professional growth, as long as we abide by the rules. “There is a formula,” Donald Trump assures the reader in his book, Think Big and Kick Ass (No. 8), “a recipe for success that the top 2% live by and that you can follow to be successful.” Naturally, Trump’s formula isn’t the same as Suze Orman’s (No. 7) or John Kotter’s (No. 14). So which road leads to success?

The answer is that, sadly, none of them do. When managers buy those books in bulk for their employees, there may be some well-intentioned hope that the books will provide a useful framework for solving problems. But the real utility of 7 Habits and 12 Disciplines and 50 Ways is that they create the illusion of progress simply by adding another layer of busyness.

Business books let us amble zombielike through our careers, freeing us from responsibility for the quality of our own decision making

… and thinking.

Wall Street Journal most influential business thinkers

Two professors, two journalists and a CEO make up the top five of the list.

Unconventional wisdom about management: Jeff Pfeffer

Question: How should people judge a company’s results?

Answer: By comparison to its peers and by comparison to what its own aspirations are. Companies, as the balanced scorecard notes, depend on customers, employees, investors, suppliers, and others in the ecosystem. It is wrong to give one of those groups priority over the others. Brand loyalty and employee loyalty are both real assets, even if not reflected on balance sheets and income statements. (Ten Questions with Jeffrey Pfeffer)

Related post: Sutton on Pfeffer

Sutton on Pfeffer

our three greatest living academic organizational theorists are, in my opinion, The University of Michigan’s Karl Weick, Stanford’s (now retired) James March, and Jeff Pfeffer. When I say “academic,” I mean scholars who have contributed important theories and published extensively in peer reviewed academic journals. If you look at the work of any organizational theorist who has ever lived, no one except for perhaps Nobel Prize Winner Herbert Simon exceeds the breadth and depth of Jeff’s contributions. (…)

What distinguishes Jeff from other star academic organizational theorists, however, is that he uses so much of this academic knowledge to influence what organizations and their managers actually do. Jeff isn’t as well known in managerial circles as Peter Drucker or Jim Collins. But I believe that his work should be as well-known because his ideas are so research-based and so practical. And unlike most star academics in his field, Jeff is deeply immersed in the stuff of organizational life. (source)

Mintzberg on MBA programs

I describe the MBA in the book as a degree from 1908 with a 1950s strategy. Because the degree was created in 1908 and business schools have had no new degree since 1908 and the strategy was set up based on a couple of reports in the 1950s which made business schools respectable, more research, more theory more depth. All of which made them much stronger and much more respectable academically but it did not strengthen their managerial side, and to this day there is very little management in most MBA programs and what there is, is distorted.

Let me give you an example. The Harvard case study model (…)

The book he refers to is Managers Not MBAs which he discussed at MIT in this video.

See also Henry Mintzberg on heroic managers.

Guru Watch – Porter saving Lybia

Since meeting one of Muammar al-Qaddafi‘s sons at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in 2004, Porter and a group of Western consultants have become deeply engaged in overhauling the Mediterranean petro-state.

Qaddafi’s son, Seif al Islam (Sword of God), is making a career of trying to reform what is by many measures one of the world’s most backward economies. Now, thanks to his relationship with Porter and Monitor Group, a consulting firm with which Porter is affiliated, a roadmap for restructuring is emerging. (BW.com)