“Weekly Picks” (August 19th)

Here are our top picks of articles on Strategy Execution for the week ending Thursday, August 19th. Enjoy!


Agility as the Discovery of Slowness
by Christiane Prange (California Management Review)

adaptable comment: This article is fascinating; possibly one of my favorites of the year so far. From research (with examples), the author constructs a two-sided definition of agility – the agility for “speed” AND the agility to go “slow”. The author explains why specific situations may warrant slowness for certain dimensions of their organization. For example, for some companies, they may want to preserve identity or to be known for a set of stable client offerings while other organizations are willing to quickly pivot their identity or reorient their offerings. Noting that I have only touched on the depth and breadth of this tantalizing article – and its accompanying frameworks, it is really a required read for curious management thinkers. I wish I could have applied these ideas to a failed merger to which I was an equally responsible party! It’s unfortunate that this scholarly article is behind a rather hefty paywall. I’ve linked to a video summary. In addition, the author, Christiane Prange, has a book called Agility.X: How Organizations Thrive in Unpredictable Times. The book may be a cheaper option even though I highly recommended a subscription to California Management Review!


A new role for business leaders: Moral integrator
by Liz Sweigart (strategy+business)

adaptable comment: Important article on the need for “ethical leadership” and a leader’s role in doing so. Ethical leadership is the need to engage with and “navigate a world in which accountability is defined in different ways by different audiences”. Hence, it can be terribly disorienting. The challenge of engaging such multistakeholder environments is pertinent to all corporate leaders. The article recounts two different stories of poor ethical conduct and how each corporation responded. One company used a traditional playbook to respond while the other walked into the issue with humility and a growth mindset – focused on being a different organization in the future. The different responses are informative.


Preparing Organizations for Greater Turbulence
by Paul J. H. Schoemaker and George Day (California Management Review)

adaptable comment: I like this article’s concept of a Vigilance Quotient – “defined as [the] distinctive ability to anticipate major shifts and spot opportunities ahead of rivals”. It suggests that advantage goes to those organizations that constantly push themselves and their companies to explore their internal and external environments for ideas for the future. It goes on to outline four basic design principles for improving vigilance. I kept returning to the comment that “vigilant companies seek out anomalies as early warning signs”. I’ve linked out to a video, outside the paywall, which is worth watching.


Managers: Compassion and Accountability Aren’t Mutually Exclusive
by Amy Gallo (HBR.org)

adaptable comment: This title says it all, “Compassion and Accountability Aren’t Mutually Exclusive”. Many times, both will be needed! Managers should have compassion and take account of the individual contexts of their employees (especially after the challenges of this past year), but they can also hold their employees accountable to the tasks at hand. This article lays out helpful hints to do both at the same time.


[no recommendation this week]


Horizon Workrooms: Facebook’s Metaverse Is a VR Meetaverse
by Peter Rubin (Wired)

adaptable comment: This is a follow on to Mark Zuckerberg’s recent announcement that Facebook will become a metaverse company – moving from 2D to a 3D “embodied [online] world”. In this article, the author explores what currently exists in the beta release of Facebook’s Workrooms – a product that, in name, seems to be focused on 3D work meetings. I am late to this game, so I will refrain from saying more! However, I think it may be time for fast followers to dive in! Read on to gain a quick understanding.

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.