Management and strategy consulting articles – November Digest

  • To improve employee morale and productivity, increasing compensation may be precisely the wrong tack.
  • To succeed globally, “multilatinas” — and all aspiring international companies from developing nations — must make rapid strides in governance, transparency, and executive appointments.
  • “Worst Financial Crisis since the Depression.” Enter that phrase into Google and you get 1,290,000 hits, most of them from the media. Certainly, in the midst of our panic, it’s very easy to draw a parallel to the 30’s. It’s also very easy to lose a sense of perspective. As my friend Jim Sherbloom points out, the U.S. has endured many, many other downturns , some of them very nasty indeed.(Doing a little research myself, I found that downturns in the U.S economy occur with amazing…
  • CEOs must learn to manage the media if they want to influence how their stories are told.
  • Effective product innovation depends on fast access to critical design and engineering data. At Whirlpool, the challenge turns out to be as much human as it is technological.
  • Plotting the structure of industries across markets and geographies reveals a startling and increasing inequality in size and performance among even the largest companies. What emerges is a “power curve” pattern characterized by a short “head,” comprising a few companies with extremely large incomes, and quickly dropping off to a long “tail” of significantly smaller competitors. These power curves can be a useful diagnostic tool for understanding the structural dynamics of an industry and a…
  • What can the U.S. do to maintain its competitive position against the E.U. and China? Foreign policy scholar Parag Khanna believes the answer lies right under our noses.
  • As President-elect Barack Obama assembles his transition team, he is turning to experienced hands like Leon Panetta, who served as chief of staff for President Clinton from 1994 to 1997, to advise him. In this interview conducted with the Quarterly before the election, Panetta shares his views on making things work in the public sector, developing strong leadership, and the challenges confronting the US government. Emphasizing the importance of honest conversation and dialogue in government, Panetta…
  • Published: November 13, 2008 Paper Released: September 2008 Author: Zeynep Ton Executive Summary: Determining staffing levels is an important decision in retail operations. In 2006, retailers spent $393 billion on employee wages, more than 10 percent of their revenue that year and more than their inventory holding costs. Hence, staffing levels have a major impact on retailers’ costs. But at the same time, staffing levels affect conformance quality—how well employees execute prescribed…
  • Frozen financial markets. A rising wave of home foreclosures. Plunging consumer spending. Soaring unemployment. GM, Ford, and Chrysler teetering on the brink. As Washington lurches from crisis to crisis, one thing is clear: The United States needs a coherent strategy that will help it better respond to unforeseen events and long-term challenges in public education, energy, health care, and the environment. In recent weeks, Harvard Business School’s Michael Porter has been an ardent proponent of such a…
  • How John Deere bucked industrial trends to become an international growth star.
  • US health care insurers are missing an opportunity to convert members when they move between major product classes—for example, when they leave group coverage and move to the individual market. Lessons from a few best-in-class payers offer successful conversion strate Read more on the McKinsey Quarterly >   Topics: Health Care Strategy Update your Quarterly feed preferences
  • In this interview, Tim Brown, who has been at the forefront of innovation formore than two decades, distills lessons from a career spent helpingscores of companies, nonprofits, and government agencies to become moreinnovative. Brown doesn’t emphasize a philosophy of design or suggestthat what works at IDEO will work everywhere else. Rather, he focuses onthe importance of leadership and incentives, as well as on understandingthe forces that undermine innovation. Read more on the McKinsey Quarterly >  …
  • Published: November 10, 2008 Author: Jim Heskett The Internet and related technology has freed customers to express their feelings, exchange information, and act in ways that previously were unheard of. Several recent writings suggest that the next phase in the activation of customers will be putting them to work in the service of an organization. Characteristic of this thinking is an article in the October issue of the Harvard Business Review by Scott Cook, Co-Founder and Chair of the Executive…
  • President elect Barack Obama made history Tuesday night, but his gains won’t be replicated in the C-suite until there’s some real shift in the culture of business . Harvard Business School professor David Thomas, an African American scholar who has written extensively on race and diversity, has expressed concern that some executives may assume from Obama’s success that the race problem is solved, while huge disparities persist in corporate world. Of course, some African-American CEOs run large…
  • Published: November 14, 2008 Paper Released: September 2008 Authors: Kevin J. Boudreau, Nicola Lacetera, and Karim R. Lakhani Executive Summary: The innovation process is fraught with uncertainty. Managers often do not know ahead of time the ideal mix of individuals and skills needed to solve innovation-related problems. One way around this uncertainty is to have multiple paths, approaches, or designs explored at once. The “parallel search” principle can be used inside the firm just…
  • With the right support and judgment, the corporate “heretics” of today could become tomorrow’s most effective leaders.
  • I have never encountered the phrase “fell off a cliff” with such frequency as I have this month. This week reports on U.S. retail sales are invoking that terrifying metaphor. People are surprised by the suddenness of their decline. As the Wall Street Journal points out, drops in retail sales (and jobs) usually lag other effects of economic downturns. When something shifts too suddenly, it’s usually because other seismic forces are in play, and the shift contains energy that was somehow being…
  • Although an elusive goal, cooperative relationships between retailers and suppliers can be wildly profitable.
  • What the deaf can teach us about listening — and making ourselves heard.
  • US baby boomers are not prepared for their retirement, and neither are the US and world economies. Boomers can help mitigate the consequences by remaining in the workforce beyond the traditional retirement age. Read more on the McKinsey Quarterly >   Topics: Americas Economic Studies Update your Quarterly feed preferences
  • I have a confession: I like my BlackBerry. I like checking my work email at home at all hours. I like reading about what’s happening at work when I’m supposed to be decompressing on vacation . It comforts me somehow. I know what’s happening. I’m not missing something important, delaying my response to something crucial, or walking back into the office unaware of a brewing crisis . Now if I’m being honest, almost never IS there a brewing crisis–certainly not one that I can’t deal…
  • Published: November 12, 2008 Author: John Quelch Editor’s Note: Harvard Business School professor John Quelch writes a blog on marketing issues, called Marketing Know: How , for Harvard Business Online . It is reprinted on HBS Working Knowledge . When the book is written on this election, it should not be titled The Making of a President but The Marketing of a President . Barack Obama’s campaign is a case study in marketing excellence. True, it was always going to be a Democratic year.…
  • The US health care industry has outperformed the S&P 500 for two decades, creating more than $700 billion in shareholder value creation since 1985. This strong overall growth, however, does not mean the industry’s performance has been uniform across companies and subsectors. In this narrated interactive chart pack, McKinsey expert Susan Nolen Foushee offers a snapshot of the ebb and flow of total returns to shareholders in various health care sectors over the past 20 years. Read more on the McKinsey…
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