Monday, December 23, 2013

Corporate partnering like a pro

My weekly book post on s+b blogs is about BP executive Luc Bardin's new book on creating partnerships capable of delivering transformational value:

The Price and Prize of Strategic Partnering

There’s no shortage of books on creating and managing strategic partnerships, but Luc Bardin’s new one caught my eye for its where-the-rubber-meets-the-road practicality. Bardin has been sales and marketing chief at BP since 2007, and he founded and leads the energy giant's strategic accounts organization. In Strategic Partnering: Remove Chance and Deliver Consistent Success (Kogan Page, 2014)—a handbook written with his sons, Raphaël and Guillaume—Bardin offers a model and methodology for building successful organizational alliances, based on his experiences and bolstered by the insights and advice of 30 noted executives and consultants.

These days, it seems like the ability to create and manage strategic partnerships is becoming a prerequisite of corporate success. Witness the current volume of announced corporate alliances (more than 10,000 annually, according to Bardin) and plans for future alliances (more than two-thirds of CEOs expect to partner more extensively in the near future, according to a 2012 IBM survey cited in the book).

More strategic partnerships do not necessarily translate into more profits, however. Bardin reports that more than 70 percent of business relationships fail over time, and less than 10 percent deliver on their original targets, so I asked him how a company can beat the his answer here

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Apple's most valuable asset

My weekly book post on s+b's blogs is about a new biography of Apple design chief Jony Ive, which offers valuable lessons to leaders seeking to develop strategic capabilities:

How Apple Built Its Design Capability

In the world of industrial design, 46-year-old Jony Ive is a star. He even received a knighthood for his services to “design and enterprise” in 2012. And he certainly deserves the accolades: As the design chief at Apple, he was instrumental in creating the iMac, iPod, iPad, and iPhone.

That in itself is a good reason to read Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products (Portfolio, 2013), by Leander Kahney. But corporate leaders may find the back story more valuable than the designer’s life story. That’s because starting in chapter four, as Ive moves to California to work for Apple, the book’s backdrop becomes the development and evolution of what is arguably the company’s most valuable asset: its strategic capability for the rest here

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Dave Eggers gets Orwellian

My weekly book post on the s+b blog is about a novel that does a better job of driving home the dangers of digitization than any nonfiction polemic to date:

How Creepy Is Your Company?

The Circle, Dave Eggers’s creepily engrossing novel—about a Google-like company with a user base and product portfolio so broad that it begins to transform the world into a techno-dystopia—got a lot

of attention when it was published in October. It was widely compared to George Orwell’s 1984—a comparison that Eggers purposefully elicits by utilizing, for example, Orwellian slogans, such as “SECRETS ARE LIES” and “PRIVACY IS THEFT.”

Using a model that is currently driving exuberant valuations for real-world social media companies like Snapchat (take the money if you still can, boys!), Eggers’s fictional company provides free services that offer convenience, security, and the warm embrace of society in return for the attention and personal data of their users. Want to know where your kid is? Implant the Circle’s ChildTrack chip at birth. Want to eliminate crime? Place the Circle’s SeeChange wireless micro-cameras all over your neighborhood. Want to ensure a tension-free first date? Use the Circle’s LuvLuv database to ferret out your date’s likes and dislikes in minute detail. There are, of course, a few minor downsides to these services: the death of privacy, dogged commercialism, and the velvet fist of a corporate Big Brother. But, in Eggers’s world, only an anti-social Luddite or a criminal would be so ungrateful as to complain... read the rest here

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A rationale for blockbusters

My weekly book post on s+b's blogs is about Harvard Business School professor Anita Elberse's new book, in which she argues that putting all your muscle behind a few big gambles is a safer long-term strategy than making many small investments.

Make Big Bets

Pop quiz: You’re the CEO of a trade publishing house. Do you split your company’s acquisition
budget among as many promising authors as you can find and launch their books with minimal hoopla, or do you spend the lion’s share of your budget on huge advances for one or two authors who have already published bestsellers and then spend big bucks promoting and advertising their new books?

I lean toward the former strategy. I’d sign a lot of authors—limiting my downside on each and keeping my pipeline full of new product, while betting on my own ability to pick the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling out of the slush pile.

Unfortunately, however, I’d be wrong. Not just because I’m a snooty reader who would have chucked most of the mega-selling manuscripts of recent years into the trash can after reading a couple of pages, but also because Anita Elberse says so.

Elberse, the Lincoln Filene Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, is the author of Blockbusters: Hit-Making, Risk-Taking, and the Big Business of Entertainment (Henry Holt, 2013). In it, she argues that the most successful media and entertainment companies are those that make big bets on big names and then concentrate all of their marketing might on selling them... read the rest here.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The best of the best business books, 2013

Check out the strategy+business slideshow featuring the seven "Top Shelf" selections -- the best of the year's best business books -- here.

And the top seven books are:

The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business
by Rita Gunther McGrath
(Harvard Business Review Press, 2013)
Company Stories
Story of My People
by Edoardo Nesi
(Other Press, 2013)
Rough Diamonds: The Four Traits of Successful Breakout Firms in BRIC Countries
by Seung Ho Park, Nan Zhou, and Gerardo R. Ungson
(Jossey-Bass, 2013)
Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think
by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013)
Simple: Conquering the Crisis  of Complexity
by Alan Siegel and Irene  Etzkorn
(Twelve, 2013)
Managerial Self-Help
Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling
by Edgar H. Schein
(Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2013)
Everybody Ought to Be Rich: The Life and Times of John J. Raskob, Capitalist
by David Farber
(Oxford University Press, 2013)

Monday, December 2, 2013

The year's best business books

This is the sixth year that I've edited strategy+business's review of the year’s best business books and as always, it was an honor and a pleasure to work with our team of expert reviewers. Here's my intro and a link to this year's essays:

Best Business Books 2013

Welcome to the 13th annual edition of strategy+business’s best business books. Every year we strive to assemble a reading list that will not only engross and entertain you, but also provide concepts, tools,
and insights that can help you lead your company to a better future.

This year’s best business books section includes seven essays by expert guides. Walter Kiechel III, former Fortune managing editor, reviews books on strategy that reflect two realities: Competitive advantage is transient, and continuous innovation is an imperative. David Hurst, s+b contributing editor, selects books that tell company stories, each a chronicle of failure, but not always recovery. John Jullens, a Booz & Company partner working in China, presents books that explore the three waves of global competitors that are emerging from developing economies. Howard Rheingold, who’s been surfing the leading edge of digitization since the early 1980s, picks out books that examine three emerging digital phenomena—big data, socialstructing, and spreadable media. Catharine Taylor, a journalist who has been covering the sea change in marketing in the past decade, offers a set of books that eschew the hoopla of social media and instant ads for the essence of marketing: the customer experience. Sally Helgesen, an author and leadership consultant, takes on self-help books for managers. And James O’Toole, a senior fellow in business ethics at the University of Santa Clara’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, finds leadership lessons in the biographies and memoirs of auto industry executives who made the Motor City roll. You can read their essays here...

Killer quotes #5

"I ain't no monkey but I know what I like"

                                             -- Bob Dylan