Top Articles on Strategy Execution – April 2021

We have begun a newsletter of our Weekly Top Picks for each of our stated categories of Strategy Execution. If you would like to receive our Weekly Top Picks in your inbox as well as our Monthly Top Ten, please register here.

Below is a curated list of our Monthly Top 10 articles in Strategy Execution for the month of April – as well as our quick comments on why we found them interesting!

As a quick reminder, below is a picture of the categories of organizational capabilities for which adaptable is collecting and curating content.

Top Ten List

1Building a learning culture that drives business forwardMcKinsey & CompanyCultural Cohesion
2Are You Ready to Lead Work Without Jobs?MIT Sloan Management ReviewManagement Innovation
3The sharing economy’s next target: Business-to-businessFast CompanyResource Fluidity
4It’s time for businesses to chart a course for reinforcement learningMcKinsey & CompanyPrepared Minds
5Campbell’s Soup & How To Design A Category Breakthrough In The Roaring 2020sNicolas ColeStrategic Clarity
6The secret recipe for organizational culture is no recipestrategy+businessCultural Cohesion
7Algorithmic Nudges Don’t Have to Be UnethicalHBR.orgEnabling Technology
8Try this NBA strategy to help manage hybrid workFast CompanyManagement Innovation
9BMW’s Virtual Factory Uses AI to Hone the Assembly LineWiredEnabling Technology
10The strategy-analytics revolutionMcKinsey & CompanyPrepared Minds

Editor’s Top Ten


Building a learning culture that drives business forward by Matthew Smith and Elizabeth Young McNally

This podcast, and accompanying transcript, is a discussion of how to create a “learning culture” in your company. It begins with the simple challenge to “learn how to learn” and then goes on to discuss topics of the need – to engage leaders in learning, to align learning with strategy and future organizational capabilities, and to incorporate learning goals into performance reviews. As one might note from this [adaptable’s] curated feed, I’m a huge fan of maintaining a growth mindset, and this discussion was a rich discussion on the topic. The podcast ends by suggesting that resilience and adaptability be developed in employees, if it is not hired in the first place. I’d like to see that training!


Are You Ready to Lead Work Without Jobs? by John Boudreau and Jonathan Donner

Do you ever wonder about the nature of the future of work? This article posits that people will be like free agents with skills and talents that can be leveraged or lent out across the organization regardless of their department or reporting relationships. Leaders will be more like orchestrators of cross-boundary collaborations, and (I loved this part) they, the leader, will constantly be evaluated with a Net Promoter Score asking “How likely are you to recommend us to a colleague?” Interesting to think about such a future.


The sharing economy’s next target: Business-to-business by Navi Radjou

An interesting article foreshadowing the added benefits of the sharing economy when not only B2C businesses but also B2B businesses begin to fully share tangible and intangible assets with one other. Quite a unique twist. At first, I wanted to read this piece as only a play on leverage and resource fluidity. However, upon my third or fourth re-reading of this article (which happens when you try to create a Top 10 list!), I clicked through the link on “mecosystems” which turned into a fun diversion to a 2015 post that explored the possibility of digital ecosystems – ecosystems where partnering organizations bring contextual and fully connected experiences to a common customer. This is a simple article on resource sharing, but it presents so many rich paths to explore.


It’s time for businesses to chart a course for reinforcement learning by Jacomo Corbo, Oliver Fleming, and Nicolas Hohn

I’m trying to track alongside the AI technique of reinforcement learning and the business momentum it is gaining. As an aside, I did stay up late nights (Boston time) to watch the various stages of the America’s Cup sailing regatta – which is discussed in this article, and I find the evolution of the hydrofoil design of sailboats to be amazing! This article shares how reinforcement learning allowed thousands of hydrofoil designs to be considered by the Emirates Team New Zealand – and spurred it on to its second consecutive championship. Acknowledging my limited acumen in this area of sailing, I still believe that reinforcement learning is going to be the future of preparing and running businesses amidst uncertainty. Well worth reading this article iand studying the topic of reinforcement learning.


Campbell’s Soup & How To Design A Category Breakthrough In The Roaring 2020s by Eddie Yoon, Nicolas Cole, and Christopher Lochhead

This article lays out an approach to visualize and create a “different” future. In a step by step sequence, the authors provide a detailed example on how to perform a deep dive on market dynamics and their effects on consumer behavior. It’s a long piece, so be sure to find a quiet place and a cup of coffee so you can pay attention. However, I appreciated the challenge to get out of my incrementalism and truly consider what could be a real breakthrough.


The secret recipe for organizational culture is no recipe by Eric J. McNulty

Enjoyed this simple post on organizational culture. Using a metaphor of a cookie, the author talks about how the same basic ingredients of flour, butter, etc.. often add up to very different end results – cookies! The same with culture. Culture is unique to every organization. Therefore, we need to constantly be watching and soliciting what’s working and what’s not about our organizational cultures so we can evolve them, as appropriate. I hope that we will all take stock of our corporate cultures and use much care to craft them for the benefit of our teams. It’s powerful. By the way, I’m still working to find the best oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. Recipes are welcomed.


Algorithmic Nudges Don’t Have to Be Unethical by Mareike Möhlmann

The term “algorithmic management” has to make some of us shudder – especially in the aftermath of Cambridge Analytica – but, it’s here, and I think it is here to stay. The question is whether we can harness these digital behavioral nudges for good. Just quickly – algorithmic management uses AI algorithms to watch, monitor, and process our individual behavior via our data emissions (phones, watches, wifi device usage like vehicle or home appliances, apps, and digital assistants, etc…) in order to prompt us to adjust our behavior. Algorithmic management leverages it’s knowledge of our patterns of behavior and our current context to suggest that we act in a certain way. The author encourages us to think about how we leverage these nudges in a win-win way (with our employees or customers) without crossing ethical and regulatory lines.


Try this NBA strategy to help manage hybrid work by Tim Sanders

Interesting article that tips off by highlighting how the NBA champion Toronto Raptors used bench players to rest and preserve Kawhi Leonard throughout the 2020-2021 season. The authors use this analogy to talk about how corporations should leverage remote freelancers to preserve their best people. They suggest building a “virtual talent bench” of strong utility players/partners that can relieve the pressure at any given moment.


BMW’s Virtual Factory Uses AI to Hone the Assembly Line by Will Knight

The idea of a “digital twin” may never cease to amaze me. The term simply makes me smile. Having worked in analytics, corporate performance management, and strategy execution for many years, the possibility of creating a digital replica of a business, so environmental effects can be varied and business scenarios tested is simply amazing. This article shares the story of a digital twin that has been developed for a BMW assembly line in Regensburg, Bavaria. The simulation allows the team to do detailed planning of the entire robotic process, and they hope to have the robots actually learn from the simulation, itself, over time. My, oh, my.


The strategy-analytics revolution by Chris Mulligan, Nicholas Northcote, Tido Röder, and Sasha Vesuvala

I like the way that this article “fuses” together the ideas of both data science and strategy. As we become more and more versatile in leveraging our corporate data to replicate, or “twin”, our internal and external environments, it only makes sense to begin to simulate strategy and to test our strategic thinking with advanced digital tools.

About George Veth

George Veth is a consultant in the areas of strategy execution and initiative management. Most recently, he has been leading a cross-boundary collaboration program with teams from cities across North America and Europe. He lives in Cambridge, MA, and runs a nonprofit SME Impact Fund in East Africa. His subject matter interests are organizational culture, management [system] innovation, and public value management.