Digital Transformation Is Less About Digital

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A few industrial leaders have always been at the forefront of innovation and set the trends for their respective industries, but banking and financial services are just going through their transformation journeys. They are all driving digital transformation throughout their enterprise with a relentless commitment to rethink every asset, process, and architecture of these enterprises. Digital transformation is widely talked about, with consultants lining up to show endless PowerPoint slides of the state of the digital revolution that they claim boardrooms cannot ignore. No industry is immune to the risk of being “Uberized” (an overused term), and companies need to become 100% digital at the core. There is no question about the external forces of change, such…
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Are You One Of Those Top Performers That Are Now Consumed By Endless Meaningless Meetings And Operating On Outdated Management Theories?

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The very idea of ‘management’ itself is changing and many core concepts are becoming irrelevant. According to Henri Fayol (father of modern management methods) management is to forecast, to plan, to organize, to command, to coordinate and control activities of others.” It seems the what has not changed, but the how has. The way we work is changing and machines are slowly taking over making or at least influencing important management decisions for us.

The increased complexity in the interconnectivity of organizations and individuals to a point companies have almost given up on any org chart. It’s difficult to fully understand the sequence and system-level behavior, which makes the true risk exposure of…
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My Best Advice To All of You High Potential Talents: Don’t Try Too Hard.

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Throughout my career as an executive coach, and mentor of young people including fresh MBAs, creative designers and motivated managers, there has been one common piece of advice that I always give: Don’t try too hard. Of course, this seems contradictory to what we usually hear, especially when the greatest B-schools and D-schools in the world are encouraging their students to try their best and push beyond their own limits. Every day they are asked to try harder, to achieve excellence and perfection. That’s the academic world.

However, perfection is nearly impossible and often useless. Most of the time, emphasizing perfection acts as an obstacle to progress. A perfectionist makes a terrible strategist or manager. And…
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What to Do When Your Growth Stalls?

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In business, a growth curve is certainly a great ride for executives, managers, and employees. They enjoy an expanding market, healthy gross margins, and unlimited demand for their products and services. For public companies, a high valuation also opens up an appetite for more aggressive acquisition. But all growth eventually comes to an end, and management will quickly shift their focus to managing costs, putting any non-core play projects on hold, and delaying major systems upgrades.

Even the most innovative companies in the world eventually need to wrestle with this challenge. So what are the typical signs for companies heading into an ex-growth phase? Let’s take Apple as an example. Unit growth is likely to come increasingly…
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The Real PPE: Profit, Purpose, and Empathy.

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The PPE (Philosophy, Politics, and Economics) degree is probably the most sought-after to get you places – at least in the UK, and particularly if you want to get into politics. PPE at Oxford University has been preparing people for important jobs for decades, or at least that’s how it’s seen. The list of those who studied it includes David Cameron, William Hague, Jeremy Hunt, and Philip Hammond. The list goes on with notables like Tony Abbott (former Prime Minister of Australia), Ian Davis (former Global MD of McKinsey), Antony Jenkins (former CEO of Barclays Group), Stephen Hester (for CEO of RBS Group), Liaquat Ali Khan (first Prime Minister of Pakistan), and Abhisit Vejjajiva (former Prime Minister…
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With or Without Us: Strategic Management in the Age of Cognitive Technology.

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Let’s talk strategy. The history of strategic management began when companies had to deal with strategic choices, products and service scope, geographic choices, positioning on the market place, and organization design. It all began in B-schools, and was known as Business Policy when it was first taught at HBS in the 60s, designed to integrate all other courses in the second year. A number of scholars had influenced the topic of strategic management, including the following:

Taylor’s principles of scientific management Robinson and Chamberlin’s economic theories of imperfect competition Schumpeter’s creative destruction Cyert and March’s behavioral theory of the firm

The birth of strategic management can probably be credited to the following three scholars who collectively…
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The Real Battle Of Virtual Reality: Who Will Be The Winner For Round One?

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There are a few big tech trends making a sea change in the next three years, including driverless personal transportation, intelligent homes, and, of course, virtual reality. While none of these concepts are new, they are now a reality – and on a trajectory to become as commonplace as a smartphone.

Engineers and designers have been playing around with virtual reality, a technology that immerses users in an artificial world, for almost 30 years. Last year, we’ve finally seen their achievements through the Oculus and Vive launches, but this is the year it will finally take off. Electric cars, for example, have been promised for more than a century, and now that Tesla nailed it, everyone…
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The 5 Year Plan Is The New Long-Term Plan.

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The most common complaint among senior executives is that the short-termism of capital markets and the board, along with the need to meet or beat quarterly earnings, is limiting a company to invest in riskier innovation – but many supposedly game-changing innovation projects that align with long-term business strategies are not getting board level approval. The short-term performance pressures result in an excessive focus on quarterly earnings, with less attention paid to strategic fundamentals and long-term value creation. Many executives respond to these pressures by cutting research and development and foregoing innovation investment opportunities.

It’s important to manage earnings, but companies must avoid short-termism. By optimizing for the current quarter, can this really impact the strategic health of an organization over time? Believe it or not, it’s…
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Stop Blaming The Culture. Check If Your Business Models Have Long Expired.

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I walked into an event last week in San Francisco to a panel discussing how culture is everything when it comes to innovation. I had to interrupt, because they didn’t really know what they were talking about. Everyone puts an emphasis on culture – understandable, as it’s an easy target to blame as the biggest and single root cause of a company’s inability to reinvent themselves.

I’ve talked to many strategists in my company, telling them that no one should be writing any whitepapers on cultural change, as they have no idea what it means. It’s easy to say that something is a culture problem, and that transformation is needed. But no one knows the “how” – and the “how” is not that simple. At the core of that is…
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Corporate Turnaround? Here’s What You Should Do To Get Your Organization Out From A Crisis.

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If you look around, you’ll notice many once high-flying companies get stuck. They are either in a downward spiral or simply experiencing a slow death. Instead of looking for creative ways to break out, many choose the safest paths of cost cutting and settling in order to fix yesterday’s problems – but they aren’t taking advantage of tomorrow’s opportunities for a bounce back. Boards and C-suite executives need to start a new dialogue about the complex and wicked challenges ahead of them. This takes strategic foresight and resilience.

Resilience, says psychologist Robert Wicks, is “the ability to learn from and rebound from challenges, adversity, and stress.” When you’re resilient, you’re able to keep going mentally and physically in spite of the…
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