“Weekly Picks” (July 22nd)

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


How to Achieve Sustainable Remote Work
by Cal Newport (The New Yorker)

adaptable comment: Here is another article this week referencing an aspect of the decade long re-creation of Best Buy. Using remote work to grab our attention, this article describes the move toward ROWE (a results-only work environment) where worker autonomy is optimized by leveraging fully flexible work arrangements and structured negotiations between requestors and providers of work product (“both parties had to agree on a plan that balanced the urgency of the task and the reality of its executor’s workload”). The outcome was a shift from in-person surveillance to outcomes that reduced staff turnover. Unfortunately, the cultural experiment has since been reversed. We’ll see what happens. It’s a must-read for management aficionados!


Better, Simpler Strategy with Felix Oberholzer-Gee
by Felix Oberholzer-Gee and Aidan McCullen (The Innovation Show)

adaptable comment: This book, “Better, Simpler Strategy”, and its big idea of the Strategy Stick has really grown on me. In this weekly podcast, one of my favorites – The Innovation Show, the author talks through the concept and offers several examples of companies that have harnessed its power. These companies have built a culture on their customer’s Willingness-to-Pay (over the Price to own) and their employee’s Willingness-to-Sell (under their offered compensation) in order to drive customer delight and build employee satisfaction. I can’t do justice to it in my comment, so I must encourage you to listen here, grab the book, or read a book review.


Insights on Organizational Environment
by Paulo Soeiro de Carvalho (Paulo Soeiro de Carvalho – Medium)

adaptable comment: This post is the third in a series on scanning the business environment for strategic maneuvering (understanding and planning for trends, competitive threats, etc…). The bottom line is that the complexity of the environment makes it very hard to scan/sense/internalize things on the frontline or “periphery” of our organizations or, even, beyond the boundaries of our ecosystems. I’ve added this post to Prepared Minds due to the fact that our organizations must work hard to get better and better at sensing and capturing these “weak signals” in order to “understand and manage the uncertainty”. Don’t let the slow start to the post deter you.


Sheep, Wolves, and Employee Motivation
by George Bohan (Management Matters – Medium)

adaptable comment: I really enjoyed this tantalizing post on the “sheep and wolves”. The post references a computer simulation that provides extrinsic rewards and penalties for wolves trying to eat sheep – leading to perverse behavior. The author then walks through how intrinsic motivation is sufficient to build a healthy culture that supports employees who already want to do good work! Love it. Great post.


A Strategy for Embracing Uncertainty
by Nikhil Prasad Ojha, Miguel Simoes de Melo, and Rajiv Karna (Bain & Company)

adaptable comment: This is an extremely well-written summary of scenario planning. Having just written a joint post on the same topic, I appreciated the clarity of thought as well as the methods that are outlined. Especially significant were both the lenses for identifying the uncertainties at the beginning of the process and the “signposts” to detect early evidence of marketplace shifts at the end of the process. I would suggest bookmarking this post, so it is ready to be shared with your colleagues.


Reconstructing the workplace
by Peter Evans-Greenwood, Sue Solly, and Robbie Robertson (Deloitte)

adaptable comment: I love how this post addresses the ‘now normal’ of remote teams not as a threat but as an opportunity to “construct a workplace digitally, around a problem or issue that needs to be managed, and pull in the workers and resources required in virtual space”. There is no equivocating around the idea of remote work. Instead, the authors share how technology enables virtual workspaces if we are willing to bring a positive attitude and proactive mindset to the table. Again, another well-written article.

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.