“Weekly Picks” (April 9th)

We have been asked to share our weekly top picks! Here they are for the week ending Thursday, April 9th. As we move forward, we will see if we can get them out on Friday afternoons.


Are You Ready to Lead Work Without Jobs? by John Boudreau and Jonathan Donner (MIT Sloan Management Review)

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 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 will constantly be evaluated with a Net Promoter Score asking “How likely are you to recommend us [the leader] to a colleague?” Interesting to think about such a future


Campbell’s Soup & How To Design A Category Breakthrough In The Roaring 2020s by Nicolas Cole

This article lays out an approach to how you create a “different” future. In a step by step sequence, the author provides a detailed example where he performs a deep dive on market dynamics and its 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.


None this week. I had selected an article on leveraging analytics to measure the cost of complexity in growing product portfolios, but I, as the reader, needed too much understanding to internalize the case study. Loved the detailed data approach, but I couldn’t easily tie a bow on the case findings!


The secret recipe for organizational culture is no recipe by Eric J. McNulty (strategy + business)

Enjoyed this simple post on 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. It is unique to every organization. Therefore, we need to constantly be watching and soliciting what’s working and what’s not about our culture so we can evolve it appropriately. I hope that we will all take stock of our corporate cultures and use much care to craft it for the benefit of our teams. It’s powerful. By the way, I’m still working to find the best oatmeal chocolate chip cookie.


None this week. I had selected an article on the use of project stage gates to monitor and kill bad new product initiatives, but, to me, the case study was slightly confusing and I found myself re-reading it too many times to pass it along. However, I really appreciate the very hard challenge of killing bad projects.


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

I’m trying to track alongside the AI technique of reinforcement learning and the business momentum it is gaining. As an aside, I happened to stay up late nights to watch the various stages of the America’s Cup sailing regatta (which is discussed), 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 New Zealand team – and spurred it on to its second consecutive win. Acknowledging my limited acumen in this area, I still believe that reinforcement learning is going to be the future of preparing and running businesses amidst uncertainty. Well worth reading this article if not studying the topic.

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.