Strategy involves change. People have to change something to bring strategy to life. But people can only help if they know what is expected. And they will only help if they feel engaged with the direction of the strategy.
The end seems nigh for ailing UK-based computer game retailer, Game. And as Max McKeown observes, the company's demise goes to prove that all success is successful adaptation, while all failure is failure to adapt.
Anyone living through 2011 has learned that the waves of change are bigger than any individual, company, or nation. They are also more complex. The trick is to learn to read the signs and then ride the surf all the way to shore.
The name given to an innovation matters. A great innovation may survive without a great name but the name helps - particularly if it is also a product, a service, something you will be trying to sell, something that needs a brand.
Which kind of ideas culture do you have? If someone in your organisation has an idea, what happens to it? Is it welcomed? Or has hierarchy and history conspired to disconnect the part that thinks from the part that does – making innovation is impossible?
Learning new things is at the heart of innovation. That's why it's far more important how a person learns rather than what they know. You need to hire people not for what they know now, but because they can adapt to the future.
Revolutionaries everywhere understand that sometimes incremental changes are not enough and you have to gamble everything to change the world. Hundreds of thousands of protesters in Egypt were prepared to do that – so perhaps you should, too.
Inspired by lively debate about parenting styles in the east and west, Max McKeown explores whether there is any evidence that managers in the West can learn anything from the 'Tiger Managers' who are leading China to greatness.
Successful strategy is often about reacting to events. Planning only takes you so far because you can only guess what will happen in the future. The smart strategist allows strategy to be shaped by events. Good reactions can make great strategy. So being reactive is as important as being proactive.
However great an idea, it will never be perfect. There will always be room for improvement, either in the detail of the idea or its implementation. But this is good news for anyone who wants to contribute and for any business that wants to grow.
When a bubble bursts, optimism is replaced by pessimism and fear. Fear makes bad decisions. It stops people working. It encourages short-termism, protectionism and hostility towards others. If we want growth, we need optimism. We need to fight the fear.
The useful thing about habits is they are efficient. Without them, you're constantly struggling to find an appropriate response to every situation no matter how many times you've experienced it. But how do you change an old habit or create a new one?
Failure is commonplace. Ninety-nine percent of all species and organisations that exist will eventually disappear. Once you accept this and understand that every innovation begins with a series of aberrations, you will be better placed to succeed now and in the future.
A sense of urgency is vital to an organization and sometimes it's impossible to get things done without jumping past politeness. That's why not all expressions of anger or impatience are examples of bullying - even if you're the British Prime Minister.
Calling something "strategic" does not make it smarter. Which leads to two important questions: Why don't strategies work in the real world? And how can we make strategies work for real people doing real things in the ihe real world?
I'm often appalled at the physical spaces and meeting formats in which people are meant to open their minds, solve problems and inspire progress. Desks are for filling in forms and filing papers – not for creating, thinking, making, learning, or collaborating.
It's easy to think that something is so simple that you couldn't improve it or so low-tech your intellect would be wasted even thinking about it. But you'd be wrong. Because anything that is invented can - and often should - be reinvented.
It was Oscar Wilde who noted that "in all important matters style, not sincerity is the essential". For Trevor Phillips, beleaguered chairman of the UK's Equality & Human Rights Commission, Wilde's words are proving all too accurate.
Innovation promises benefits without all of the costs. The aim is to have your cake and eat it – to deliver two benefits that contradict each other. But to come up with things that do this, you need to learn to think better.
Most innovation is quick-and-dirty. And that's particularly true in a recession when people try to do more with less, to invent rather than buy and experiment rather than live with the status-quo. So rather than dismiss them, pay attention to quick fixes.
As recent events have demonstrated, waves are bigger than any individual, company, or nation. To survive them, you need to learn to read the signs and then ride the surf all the way to shore.
Right now, you need to be thinking about how you will emerge and thrive from the recession ahead of your competition. But how? To point you in the right direction, here's Max McKeown's advice on dealing with the financial crisis.
Every now and then there will be a crisis. Look around and you might even conclude that there is always a crisis. Crises force a choice between inertia and innovation. So when faced with one, ask: How can we use this crisis to make thing better?
Carla has just started a senior government job to find herself with a deputy who was passed over for the same job. He is hurt, angry and causing trouble. Is there anything she can do salvage the situation? Max McKeown thinks there is.
The best way to deal with a recession is not to hide until the storm has passed, it's to innovate your way out of it. If you sit still, you'll get left behind. While your competitors are full of uncertainty and doubt, you can introduce innovations that others cannot easily imitate.
To make improvements you will have to make changes. But to make successful changes you need to understanding why change happens, how it starts, continues, and stops.
Many meetings are not dialogues. They do not invite contributions. Their style discourages openness. Their structure does little to capture collective and individual opinions. Here are some practical ways to get out of the meeting rut and have meetings them matter.
Big companies want big products. They want big ideas. They place big bets on a big future. But what they're doing is putting all their eggs in one big basket. Or worse – putting all their faith in just one egg.
Some people argue that innovation is impossible to measure. But if innovation is not measured it can't be managed and you end up relying on luck. The secret to measuring innovation is to keep it simple.
It just isn't possible for one organisation to realise the benefits of all its ideas. Which means that there any numbers of good ideas out there just waiting to be exploited. All it takes is someone to see their potential. Just ask Steve Jobs.
Very few ideas succeed without powerful support. Because powerful people need ideas - and ideas need powerful people to facilitate, legitimise, popularise and even legislate for their adoption.
Everything new is made from something old. Nature has mixed and remixed matter to arrive at our current universe. Mankind has mixed and remixed ideas to arrive at our current global society. So if we want to make the future better, we need to look for new combinations of old ideas.
Chindōgu – the Japanese art of the unusual – describes inventions that solve a problem but cause so many new problems that for most people, they are effectively useless. But far from being a joke, we could all benefit from the Chindōgu philosophy.
If you're looking for that ground breaking, market changing new idea, you need to think big, right? Well, not necessarily. The biggest advances often come from focusing on the smallest things.
Instead of our irrational distrust of immigrants, we ought to be thanking them for coming. All the DNA in North America originated on some other continent and almost all of it has arrived over the past 200 years. So it can hardly be concluded that immigrants have hurt the American economy.
Whether we like it or not, life is about pressure. So we might as well get used to dealing with it and lay some ground-work so that we can learn to make the right decisions when things get tough.
The console war between Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft demonstrates that winning doesn't have to mean being the biggest, baddest or most burnt-out. The Mario Generals have out-strategized their competitors. Not outworked, outgunned, or outfought, but outflanked and outthought.
Far too many organisations are stuffed with sycophants prepared to overlook anything shady, illegal, or unethical as long as they are getting to hang around and share some power. Even if that means pandering to a corporate psychopath.
Max explains why cultures can be mashed-up: call centre can be mixed with nightlife, accountancy with football team, or government with Hollywood, so that old opposites becomes new best blends.
Change management models don't tend to worry about what happened before. They start as though everything just "was". But with all the evidence suggesting that change is inextricably linked to the past, it's no wonder it so often goes wrong.
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