“Weekly Picks” (April 22nd)

Here are our weekly picks of articles on Strategy Execution for the week ending Thursday, April 22nd. Enjoy!


[no recommendation this week]


Streamlining Your Company’s Strategy by Curt Nickisch and Felix Oberholzer-Gee (HBR IdeaCast)

This podcast, and accompanying transcript, is a conversation with the author of a new book titled “Better, Simpler Strategy”; which introduces readers to the idea of a Value Stick. The top of the stick represents a customer’s Willingness-To-Pay (WTP) for the products or services of a company, and the bottom of the stick represents the employee’s or partner’s Willingness-To-Sell (WTS) their time and talents to produce said product or service. The author wants the company to have a “simple” focus on increasing the value at both ends of the stick, thereby increasing the value to its customers (translating into higher prices) and increasing its value to its producers (lowering the required cost to produce the products of the company). I’m intrigued enough to suggest the idea to others – but I think I need to read more! It’s a book to read and an idea to watch.


The Future Of Work Now: Product Managers At Shopee by Tom Davenport (Forbes)

This article is about the online shopping platform, Shopee, and the way that the organization is aligned to integrate data-driven insights into new product features and offerings. The firm currently has market-facing business owners, internal engineers (including data science teams), and product managers – with the product managers bridging the gap between the other two. Historically, the business owners and product managers have worked together to design the future products. However, the data science insights (coming out of the engineering department) are beginning to inform these decisions. The article hints at the need for an enhanced two-way dialog (top-down and bottoms-up) on the product roadmap, as well as the need for product managers to have data science fluency.


Building a learning culture that drives business forward by Matthew Smith and Elizabeth Young McNally (McKinsey & Company)

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 how to engage leaders, to align learning with strategy and future organizational capabilities, and to incorporate learning goals into performance reviews. As one might note from this curated feed, I’m a huge fan of maintaining a growth mindset (as an individual and as a company culture), and this podcast was a rich discussion on the topic. The episode ends by suggesting that resilience and adaptability be developed in employees, if not hired. I’d like to see that training!


The growth driver — S&OP the ultimate engine aligning business plans by Dr. Svend Lassen and Michael Detampel (Anaplan)

Great video interview (and complementary article) that discusses Tata Steel and what appears to be a corporate wide transformation initiative focused on value creation and agility. I recommend watching the video in its entirety. Around minute twelve of the video, the speaker transitions into a deep dive on their work to enhance both their demand planning and their sales and operations planning. I loved the way that Dr. Svend Lassen of Tata Steel speaks to the enhanced visibility, the evolving cross-boundary collaboration, and the value capture from developing better PLANNING. I’m sure it was a ton of work, but it’s exactly what we should be seeing at all of our corporations! Nice work.


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 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. It 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.

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.