From Being Business Leaders Ourselves...
Experience in strategy and leadership has shown us that:
- Sustainable success depends on finding, facing and speaking the truth. Companies and leaders can find many ways of making life difficult for people who do so.
- Companies often under-estimate how the past shapes their culture and behaviour. People can miss what is new or different in front of them, or not even look for it.
- Good leaders need the honesty and humility to recognise what they do not know. Together with resilience and curiosity, this helps them to succeed when there is volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.
- Making assumptions and generalising about other people is inherently risky, whether they are customers, colleagues or other interests. Empathy and fresh insight are essential for productive connectio.
Here are some books we have read recently that we recommend to New Zealand companies.
- ‘The Ten Trillion Dollar Prize’ by Michael Silverstein, Abheek Singhi, Carol Liao, & David Michael. They bring to life the new middle class consumers in China and India. They spell out challenging truths about these markets and what is needed to succeed in them. They warn of the ‘boomerang effect’, when companies that create new ways to win in these markets apply them elsewhere, for instance in New Zealand.
- ‘Hard Facts, Dangerous Half Truths & Total Nonsense’ by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton. They ask companies to be suspicious of management fashions and ‘breakthrough solutions’. They encourage a more rigorous and evidence based approach to meeting organisational challenges. It includes a good chapter on conventional but questionable assumptions in talent management.
- 'Immunity to Change' by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey. They address the question of why people typically don't turn into action their good intentions over tackling important issues. They help to explain why conventional development plans are usually too superficial to make a difference. It's full of real world cases and practical tools.
- 'Playing to Win' by A.G. Lafley and Roger Martin. This is a highly authoritative and practical book on strategy. Drawing on examples from Procter and Gamble's success, a central theme is the need to make five essential, interlinked and often tough choices. It would be valuable reading for any ambitious New Zealand company.
- ‘The End of Competitive Advantage’ by Rita Gunther McGrath, with a slightly different take on strategy. She addresses how it’s increasingly hard to develop USPs that can last for any significant time. She suggests an alternative approach, one that involves making continual dynamic shifts in a company’s internal capabilities.
- 'The Opposable Mind' by Roger Martin. At first sight, some strategic choices seem to require unwelcome trade-offs or compromises relating to conventional options. This book explains why they don't need to. It offers an alternative way of thinking for people who want to do something more innovative and creative.
- ‘Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking’ by Susan Cain. Conventional leadership thinking favours extraverts, as she describes vividly, and as many business schools explicitly encourage. She explains why this is often counter-productive and always a waste of talent.
- 'Taking People with You' by David Novak. This is an excellent book on inspirational leadership. The author is the Chairman and CEO of Yum! Brands Inc, a global business centred on KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, and which has been very successful in China. It's full of valuable insights and practical tools.
- 'What Matters Now' by Gary Hamel. This should be thought provoking and encouraging for anyone who wants to build a business with greater meaning for all who associate with it. At its heart is the author's concern that conventional corporate capitalism has lost legitimacy in the eyes of many people.
From Outside Business...
We follow the main global political, social and economic currents in order to stay aware of the external forces that govern the strategic risks and opportunities for New Zealand companies.