Here are our weekly picks of articles on Strategy Execution for the week ending Thursday, July 1st. Enjoy!

MANAGEMENT INNOVATION


Why Companies Must Embrace Microservices and Modular Thinking
by Mark J. Greeven, Howard Yu, and Jialu Shan (MIT Sloan Management Review)

adaptable comment: I like this focus on reducing what the authors call “coordination complexity”. Beyond the simple administrivia and extreme time sink of many transactional encounters, (and… acknowledging that this may be moving beyond the intent of the article) I think that much bureaucracy and debilitating power dynamics play out in process bottlenecks and/or with gatekeepers. This article explores how to simplify, if not automate, the interactions at the boundary of person-to-person or group-to-group work. I really appreciate the continued push to reckon with complexity and to think through new models that enable more time and more freedom for the life-giving aspects of work!


STRATEGIC CLARITY


From Chasing To Being Chased
by Dr. Richard Shrapnel PhD (Dr. Richard Shrapnel PhD – Medium)

adaptable comment: The idea of knowing your customer and staying focused on solving a specific customer need is nothing new. However, I appreciated the author’s depiction on how this focus allows you to transform your business from imitating to leading – and unleashes a creative freedom to imagine the future.


PREPARED MINDS


What every business leader should know about “knowledge reuse”
by FASTCO WORKS (Fast Company)

adaptable comment: There were some good business analytics articles this week from McKinsey and from Bain, but I totally identified with this simple post on “knowledge reuse”. It is such a great reminder of how we must begin to accumulate and provide simple access to collective know-how and institutional memory within our organizations. In this day and age, our businesses (if not ecosystems) should be one giant collective brain; with the ability for anyone to have access to the knowledge of the other(s)! This article shows how several companies are doing just that – leveraging technology and corporate culture to capture and to reuse knowledge.


CULTURAL COHESION


How Compass Gets Complex Projects Done on Time
by Robert Reffkin (Harvard Business Review)

adaptable comment: I find that what this author calls an “SPOA, single point of accountability”, is critical to getting things done. Being a practitioner of strategy execution, I try hard to make sure that there exists group recognition of who’s doing what and by when. The particular assignment(s) can always change, but, if responsibility is not assigned, it will seldom get done. This article lays out the basic idea of an SPOA and talks through some of the specifics of implementation.


RESOURCE FLUIDITY

[no recommendation this week]


ENABLING TECHNOLOGY


Can Industrial Companies Fix Their AI Engines?
by Lorenz Dolezalek, Nico Geisel, Jan Friese, and Andrej Levin (BCG)

adaptable comment: This article is an interesting challenge to, if not a quasi rebuke of, industrial companies for what the authors surmise as a premature move away from AI. The article admits the underwhelming success of AI in industrial businesses (to date), but it proceeds to counter the objections to AI as well as to lay out some learnings for a renewed push forward.

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.