Saturday, 19 May 2018

The Lords of Strategy – Walter Kiechel 2010

Lots of interesting ideas, as Kiechel takes the dead and obvious concepts and cracks them open, providing us with a view on them when they were fresh and new.
And, like all ideas, they were exciting before they have been overused and turned into clich├ęs.
“After all, by what other construct but strategy could an executive structure an understanding of the enterprise.” (Kiechel, 2010, p.281).

The strategy as the complete view of the firm:
 “the purpose of strategy was to match a company’s capabilities to the opportunities in its environment.” (Kiechel, 2010, p.26).
“its emphases on treating your company as a portfolio of businesses that might be bought or sold, placing your bets where you had a competitive advantage, and using debt to finance the effort.” (Kiechel, 2010, p.205).

Ideas at the core of consulting:
Strategy has “the ability to take an extraordinary complex, integrated, multidimensional problem and get arms around it conceptually in a way that helps, that informs and empowers practicioners to actually do things.” (Kiechel, 2010, p.122).
Strategy is “powerful oversimplification.”
“I was an idea junkie.” (Kiechel, 2010, p.49).“Or, as one early BCG partner puts it, “We invented the retail marketing of business ideas.”” (Kiechel, 2010, p.21). “Put simply, Henderson cared more about his intellectual explorations and surrounding himself with exciting companions on the voyage than he did about putting the enterprise on a sustainable footing.” (Kiechel, 2010, p.49).

The human side
 “strategists, including Porter, had thoroughly neglected the dimension of the human, the capabilities and desires of the individuals who turn strategy from concept into reality.” (Kiechel, 2010, p.137). “If the economists posited a sort of corporate version of their famous fiction, homo economicus, the consultants endowed it with certain qualities of an army – always in a fight (competition), led from the top, its sense of itself built around its strategy.” (Kiechel, 2010, p.140).

Experience curve:
“businesses should expect their costs to decline systematically.” (Kiechel, 2010, p.32). “your cost position should reflect your share of the market.” (Kiechel, 2010, p.32). “A bigger market share typically means you have more experience (…) which should mean your costs are lower than theirs.” (Kiechel, 2010, p.32).
“What we were doing was pricing it for what it was going to be.” (Kiechel, 2010, p.40).
 It “was a poor basis for strategy in mature industries – beer, cement – where accumulated experience doubled at glacial pace.” (Kiechel, 2010, p.45).The curve “could leave you open to being blindsided by changes in taste or technology.” (Kiechel, 2010, p.45).

“his recommendation “was balancing operating risk and financial risk.” If you had a low level of operating risk, as timber companies did, “beef up the financial risk by the use of debt, to get the appropriate level of debt for the business.” (Kiechel, 2010, p.54).“The vertical dimension was to display expected growth of the market in which the business competed.” (Kiechel, 2010, p.62). “The horizontal dimension would indicate relative market share. (…) Share was plotted on a logarithmic scale.” (Kiechel, 2010, p.62).

Not advice. Profit.
“By virtue of its be-there-with-you-all-the-way approach, Bain & Company stole a march on its competitors in tackling implementation.” (Kiechel, 2010, p.86). ““We don’t sell advice by the hour; we sell profits at a discount.” (Kiechel, 2010, p.87). “At his (Bower’s) firm, the interst of clients would always come first, assignments would be refused if the consultants didn’t add value, and everyone would wear a hat on leaving the office.” (Kiechel, 2010, p.98).

“In the perfect world dreamed of in their philosophy, the laws of supply and demand should quickly compete away any supernormal profit-making advantage.” (Kiechel, 2010, p.123).

Not just cost. Look at differentiation & innovation
“McKinsey was always interested in helping our clients figure out ways they could raise prices. I’m not sure that BCG, with its focus on cost, had the same emphasis.” (Kiechel, 2010, p.191)
“There were essentially three strategies a company could choose, he (Porter) posited: low-cost leadership (beloved of fans of the experience curve), product differentiation (making your offering so distinctive that you could charge more for it), or market specialization (pick a niche and dominate it).” (Kiechel, 2010, p.132).

“S curves almost always come in at least pairs, he argued, with the successor technology experiencing its own slow start but beginning from higher on the performance axis. The evidence also suggested that a company that was a master of one technology and S curve almost never succeeded in jumping successfully to the next one.” (Kiechel, 2010, p.235).
“Defining entrepreneurship as “the pursuit of opportunity beyond the resources currently controlled.” (Kiechel, 2010, p.288).

“Part of the challenge is that value creation, whether in the form of innovation or growth, has never been proven as susceptible to systematization as has cost reduction.” (Kiechel, 2010, p.192).

No Best Practice ever last.
“Managing for survival, even among the best and most revered corporations, does not guarantee strong long-term performance for shareholders. In fact, just the opposite is true. In the long run, markets always win.” (Kiechel, 2010, p.167).

Effectiveness is not strategy
“a world of ever-faster change, you didn’t need a strategy and might even be held back by one when you should be reinventing yourself.” (Kiechel, 2010, p.250).“failed to distinguish between “operational effectiveness” and “strategy.”” (Kiechel, 2010, p.250). “operational effectiveness thus boiled down, for Porter, to pretty much performing the same activities as your competitors, but more efficiently than they do. In contrast – drumroll here – “Strategic positioning means performing different activities from rivals’ or performing similar activites in different ways.” (Kiechel, 2010, p.251).“competitors quickly copy one another’s techniques and technologies, pushing what he called the industry’s “productivity frontier” ever outward.” (Kiechel, 2010, p.251).

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Shakespeare 1994 – The taming of the shrew

Not really sure what to make of this one. It makes me want Katharina to strike back. 

“Petruchio: Myself am moved to woo thee for a wife.
Katharina:Moved! In good time: let him that moved you hither
Remove you hence: I knew you at the first,
You were a moveable.
Petruchio:                   Why what’s a moveable?
Katharina: A joint stool.
Petruchio:                   Thu hast hit it; come, sit on me.
Katharina: Asses are made to bear, and so are you.
Petruchio: Women are made to bear, and so are you.
Katharina: No such jade as you, if me you mean.
Petruchio: Alas, good Kate! I will not burthen thee!
For knowing thee to be but young and light -
Katharina: Too light for such a swain as you to catch;
And yet as heavy as my weight should be.
Petruchio: Should be! Should – buzz!
Katharina:                              Well ta’en, and like a buzzard.
Petruchio: O slow-wing’d turtle! Shall a buzzard take thee?
Katharina: Ay, for a turtle; - as he takes a buzzard.
Petruchio: Come, come, you wasp; I’faith, you are too angry.
Katharina: If I be wasish, best beware my sting.
Petruchio: My remedy is then, to pluck it out.
Katharina: A, if the fool could find it where it lies.
Petruchio: Who knows not where a wasp does wear his sting?
In his tail.
KatharinaIn his tongue.
Petruchio:                               Whose tongue?
Katharina: Yours, if you talk of tails: and so farewell.
Petruchio: What, with my tongue in your tail? Nay, come again,
Good Kate, I am a gentleman.
Katharina: That I’ll try. (she strikes him)

Monday, 2 April 2018

Shakespeare 1994 – King John

A play where everything and everyone, every opinion, every wish and every act is constantly turned upside down and inside out. A play in which the ground is always shaking and probably a book about our always shaking ground.

“King John: (…)
Behold, the French, amazed, vouchsafe a parle;
And now, instead of bullets wrapt in fire,
To make a shaking fever of your walls,
They shoot but calm words, folded up in smoke,
To make a faithless error in your ears” (Shakespeare, 1994, p.307).

“First Citizen:
That can we not, but he that proves the king,
To him will we prove loyal: till that time
Have we ramm’d up our gates against the world.” (Shakespeare, 1994, p.307).
“First Citizen:
Till you compound whose right is worthiest,
We for the worthiest hold the right from both.” (Shakespeare, 1994, p.307).

War! War! No peace! Peace is to me a war.” (Shakespeare, 1994, p.312).

“Cardinal Pandulph:
All form formless, order orderless,
Save what is opposite to England’s love.” (Shakespeare, 1994, p.313).

“King John:(…)
“if the midnight bell
Did, with his iron tongue and brazen mouth,
Sound one into the drowsy ear of night;
If this same were a churchyard where we stand,
And thou possessed with a thousand wrongs;
Of if that surly spirit, melancholy,
Had baked thy blood, and made it heavy thick,
Which else runs tickling up and down the veins,
Making that idiot, laughter, keep men’s eyes,
And strain their cheeks to idel merriment, -
A passion hateful to my purposes;
Or if that thou couldst see me without eyes,
Hear me without thine ears, and make reply
Without a tongue, using conceit alone,
without eyes, ears, and harmful sound of words;
then, in despite of brooded watchful day,
I would into thy bosom pour my thoughts.
Good Hubert, Hubert, Hubert, throw thine eye
On yon young boy: I’ll tell thee what, my friend,
He is a very serpent in my way;
And wheresoe’er this foot of mine doth tread,
He lies before me: - dost thou understand me?
Thou art his keeper.
Hubert de Burgh:
                                   And I’ll keep him so,
That he shall not offend you majesty.
King John:                                         Death.” (Shakespeare, 1994, p.315).

“King Philipp:
You are as fond of grief as of your child.
Grief fills the room up of my absent child,
Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me,
Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words
Remembers me of all his gracious parts,
Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form;
Then have I reason to be fond of grief.” (Shakespeare, 1994, p.316).

“Cardinal Pandulph:
If you hd won it, certainly you had.
No, no; when Fortune means to men most good,
She looks upon them with a threatening eye.
‘Tis strange to think how much King John hath lost
In this he accounts so clearly won:” (Shakespeare, 1994, p.316).

“King John:
To your proceedings? Do not seek to stuff
My head with more ill news, for it is full.
But if you be afeard to hear the worst,
Then let the worst, unheard, fall on your head.” (Shakespeare, 1994, p.320).

“Earl of Salisbury:
That, for the health and physic of our right,
We cannot deal but with the very hand
Of stern injustice and confused wrong.” (Shakespeare, 1994, p.324).

What in the world should make me now deceive.
Since I must lose the use of all deceit?
Why should I, then be false, since it is true
That I must die here, and live hence by truth?” (Shakespeare, 1994, p.326).