Saturday, 15 November 2014

Gottfried Benn – Ausgewählte Gedichte. 1973



“Lebe wohl den frühen Tagen,
die mit Sommer, stillem Land
angefüllt und glücklich lagen
in des Kindes Träumerhand.
Lebe Wohl, du großes Werde,
Über Feldern, See und Haus,
In Gewittern brach die Erde
Zu gerechtem Walten aus.
Lebe Wohl, was je an Ahnen
Mich aus solchem Sein gezeugt,
Das sich noch den Sonnenbahnen,
Das sich noch der Nacht gebeugt.
Von dem Frühen zu dem Späten,
Und die Bilder sinken ab –
Lebe wohl, aus großen Städten
Ohne Traum und ohne Grab.” (“Lied.” Benn, 1973, p.40).

“Verlornes Ich, zersprengt von Stratosphären,
Opfer des Ion -: Gamma-Strahlen-Lamm-
Teilchen und Feld -: Unendlichkeitsschimären
Auf deinem grauen Stein vonNotre-Dame.

Die Tage gehn dir ohne Nacht und Morgen,
Die Jahre halten ohne Schnee und Frucht
Bedrohend das Unendliche verborgen –
Die Welt als Flucht.” (“Verlornes Ich.” Benn, 1973, p.48).

“Ach vergeblich das Fahren!
Spät erst erfahren Sie sich:
Bleiben und stille bewahren
Das sich umgrenzende Ich.” (“Reisen.” Benn, 1973, p.64).

“Durch so viel Formen geschritten,
durch Ich und Wir und Du,
doch alles blieb erlitten
durch die ewige Frage: wozu?

Das ist eine Kinderfrage
Dir wurde erst spat bewußt
Es gibt nu reins: ertrage
- ob Sinn, ob Sucht, ob Sage –
dein fernbestimmtes: Du mußt.

Ob Rosen, ob Schnee ob Meere,
Was alles erblühte verblich,
Es gibt nur zwei Dinge: die Leere
Und das gezeichnete Ich.” (“Das gezeichnete Ich.” Benn, 1973, p.78).

“Niemand weiß, wo sich die Keime nähren,
miemand, ob die Krone einmal blüht –
Halten, Harren, sich gewähren
Dunkeln, Altern, Aprèlude.” (“Aprèslude.” Benn, 1973, p.89).

“Ich habe mich oft gefragt und keine Antwort gefunden,
woher das Sanfte und das Gute kommt,
weiß es auch heute nicht und muß nun gehn.” (“Menschen getroffen.” Benn, 1973, p.90).

“Hör zu, so wird der letzte Abend sein,
wo du noch ausgehn kannst; du rauchst die >Juno<,
>Würzburger Hofbräu< drei, und du liest die Uno,
wie sie der >Spiegel< sieht, du sitzt allein

an kleinen Tischen, an abgrschlossenem Rund
dicht an der Heizung, den du liebst das Warme.
Um dich das Menschentum und sein Gebarme,
Das Ehepaar und der verhaßte Hund.

Mehr bist du nicht, kein Haus, kein Hügel dein,
Zu träumen in ein sonniges Gelände,
Dich schlossen immer ziemlich enge Wände
Von der Geburt bis diesen Abend ein.

Mehr warst du nich, doch  Zeus und alle Macht,
das All, die großen Geister, alle Sonnen
sind auch für dich geschehn, durch die geronnen
mehr warst du nicht, beendet wie begonnen –
der letzte Abend – gute Nacht.” (“Hör zu.” Benn, 1973, p.95).


Sunday, 26 October 2014

Playing to win – Lafley and Martin 2013

If it wouldn’t be for the authors’ success at P&G this would be a completely run of the mill strategy 101 book. But it was a good refresher for me.

“Too often, CEOs in particular will allow what is urgent to crowd out what is really important.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.3). Moreover we often describe things as strategy which are not. “Grow or grow faster is not a strategy. Build market share is not a strategy. Ten percent or greater earnings-per-share growth is not a strategy. Beat XYZ is nit a strategy. A strategy is a coordinated and integrated set of where-to-play, how-to.win, core capability and management system choices that uniquely meet a consumer’s needs, thereby creating competitive advantage and superior value for a business. Strategy is a way to win - and nothing less.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.50).



“strategy is an integrated set of choices that uniquely positions the firm in its industry so as to create sustainable advantage and superior value relative to the competition.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.3). “a strategy is a coordinated and integrated set of five choices: a winning aspiration, where to play, how to win, core capabilities and management system.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.5).

“the abstract concept of winning should be translated into defined aspirations. Aspirations are statements about the ideal future.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.19). “The winning aspiration broadly defines the scope of the firm’s activities; where to play and how to win define the specific activities of the organization.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.20). “Remember, it is not how to win generally, but how to win within the chosen where to play domains.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.24).

What is winning?
“What does winning look like for this organization?” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.35).
“As a rule of thumb, though, start with people (consumers and customers) rather than money (stock price). Peter Drucker argued that the purpose of an organization is to create a customer, and it’s still true today.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.36).

“When setting winning aspirations, you must look at all competitors and not just those you know best.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.45). “Do craft aspirations that will be meaningful and powerful to your employees and to your cosumers.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.47).

Where to play?
“It’s a choice about where to compete and where not to compete. (…) Geography (…) Product type (…) Consumer segment (…) Distribution channel (…) Vertical stage of production.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.57).

How to win?
“All successful strategies take on of these two approaches, cost leadership or differentiation.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.84). When products are perfect substitutes the cost leader drives the market and makes the largest profits which it can re-invest. “When a firm offers a product or services that buyers consider unique, the pricing and profic dynamics are quite different. The firm provices a uique offering is a price-setter, not a price taker; the demand for the unique offering depends upon the price the firm sets – the higher the price, the lower the demand and vice versa. But this time, because the producer of a unique offering serves the entire market, the firm feels the shift in demand directly.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.235). “At some point, the marginal revenue us lower than the marginal cost and the firm has pushed price too far.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.236). “For a particular group of customers, the firm is a monopoly supplier.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.237).

A differentiation strategy implies deep and holistic understanding of customers and commitment to innovation while the former means sacrificing nonconforming customers. (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.86).

“Do work to create new how-to-win choices where none currently exists.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.97). “Do consider how to win in concert with where to play. The choices should be mutually reinforcing.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.97). “Industry dynamics might be changeable.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.97). “In Peter Drucker’s terms, Pampers disposable baby diapers “created customers.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.98). “Determine whether a product innovation is really brand specific or ultimately category generic. Never give your current brand user a product-based reason to switch away.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.101).

Play to your strengths
“Capabilities that both fit with one another (…) and actually reinforce one another.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.112). “In 2000, P&G’s where-to.play chouces were coming together (i.e. grow form the core; extend into home, beauty, health, and personal care; and expand into emergin markets), and its how-to-win choices were also becoming clear (i.e. excellence in consumer-focused brand building; innovative product design; and leveraging global scale and retailer partnership). These choices needed to be translated into the set of capabilities required ti deliver.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.113).

“things you are currently good at may actually be irrelevant to consumers and in no way confer a competitive advantage. Rather than starting with capabilities and looking for ways to win with those capabilities, you need to start with setting winning aspirations and determining where to play and how to win.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.114).

Manage what matters.
“A strategy discussion is not an idea review. A strategy discussion is not a budget or forecast review. A strategy discussion is how we are going to accomplish our growth objectives in the next three to five years.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.131).

“I found that clearer and simpler strategies have the best chance of winning, because they can be explained in a few words and internalized by the organization. Strategies that can be explained in a few words are more likely to be empowering and motivating.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.156).

Shorten your odds
“In the end building a strategy isn’t about achieving perfection; it’s about shortening the your odds.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.183). “Do stay focused on the most important questions (what would have to be true for this to be a winning possibility?)” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.201). “Rather than have them talk about what they thought was true about the various options, I would ask them to specify what would have to be true for the option on the table to be a fantastic choice. The result was magical. Clashing views turned into collaboration to really understand the logic of the options.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.204).


Sunday, 19 October 2014

The Second Part of King Henry The Sixth – William Shakespeare

As far as I understand a play about ambition, too much of it and the tension between being Christian and being passive in the world.



“Duchess of Gloster:
Why droops my lord, like over-ripen’d corn
Hanging the head at Ceres’ plenteous load?
Why doth the great Duke Humphrey knit his brows,
As frowning at the favours of the world?
Why are thine eyes fixt to the sullen earth,
Glazing on that which seems to dim thy sight?
What seest thou there? King Henry’s diadem,
Enchased with all the honours of the world?
If so, gaze on, and grovel on thy face,
Until thy head be circled with the same.
Put forth thy hand, reach at the glorious gold: -
What, is’t too short? I’ll lenthen it with mine;
And, having both together heaved it up,
We’ll both together lift our heads to heaven,
And never more abase our sight so low
As to vouchsafe one glance unto the ground.” (Shapespeare, 1994, p.34).

“Queen Margeret:
(…) And Humphrey is no little man in England.
First note, that he is near you in descent;
And should you fall, he is the next will mount.” (Shapespeare, 1994, p.44).

“Dick:
They are all in order, and march toward us.
Jack Cade:
But then we are in order when we are most out of
Order. Cmoe, march forward.” (Shapespeare, 1994, p.56).

“Queen Margaret:
Away my lord! You are slow; for shame, away!
King Henry:
Can we outrun the heavens? Good Margaret stay.
Queen Margaret:
What are you made of? You’ll nor fight not fly:” (Shapespeare, 1994, p.64).


Monday, 22 September 2014

The End of Competitive Advantage – Gunther McGrath 2013

Most of the time the book follows the path of scaring reader by stating how everything is getting faster and faster and how all of us need to be more and more flexible. There are some interesting thoughts, though, as well:

"Texts on strategy and innovation are full of great ideas and new things that leaders should do. (...) "There aren't any textbooks on what to stop doing."" (Gunther McGrath, 2013, p.53).

The ability to disengage from a former competitive advantage is as important as launching a competitive advantage (Gunther McGrath, 2013, p.13). “it is through reconfiguration that assets, people, and capabilities make the transition from one advantage to another.” (Gunther McGrath, 2013, p.27).

“Although dynamism and rapid change are all around us, people are not very effective when facing extreme uncertainty – it tends to be paralyzing. The outliers, therefore, have crafted social architectures that bound the amount of uncertainty and change their people have to face.” (Gunther McGrath, 2013, p.34).

“that wrenching change seldom characterizes strategic shifts at the outlier companies.” (Gunther McGrath, 2013, p.40). “instead, it seems, that outlier firms, relative to competitors, embed change in their normal routines. They reallocate resources flexibly and on an ongoing basis, rather than going through sudden disvestitures or restructuring.” (Gunther McGrath, 2013, p.41).

“”When we decide to get out of something, we slow down on allocating resources to those things. They find their way to insignificance in a period of time .. you don’t need to chop it off, you need to let it live its live.” (Gunther McGrath, 2013, p.43). “At IBM, for instance, stopping projects such as OS2 and exiting the PC business were both moves that freed up resources, time and attention to be able to focus on opportunities.” (Gunther McGrath, 2013, p.79). Also: proactively retiring limiting older IT assets.

“I contrast to their competitors, the outlier firms also appeared to have fewer big, high-risk all or nothing bets, which is also consistent with an options orientation.” (Gunther McGrath, 2013, p.48). “it could simultaneously invest in the renewal of its core business while exploring new alternatives.” (Gunther McGrath, 2013, p.49).

“Strategy is often carried out by a small group of people. (…) Often the people who see changes coming are not those in charge of making major organizational decisions. They are technologists, scientists, and oattern recognizers. Often, also, the people who are in a position to make difficult choices face the prospect of personal and career catastrophe if the predictions turn out to be true.” (Gunther McGrath, 2013, p.139).


“Psychologists tell us that we all have a pervasive bias in our thought processes, namely, to seek out information that confirms what we believe to be true. (…) Part of the new playbook for strategy is to do what Justus did at Berlitz and actually seek discomforting evidence.” (Gunther McGrath, 2013, p.145).