“The stark truth is that the U.S. has no long-term economic strategy—no coherent set of policies to ensure competitiveness over the long haul. Strategy embodies clear priorities, based on understanding the strengths we need to preserve and the weaknesses that threaten our prosperity the most. Strategy addresses what to do, but also what not to do. In dealing with a crisis, experience teaches us that steps to address the immediate problem must support a long-term strategy. Yet it is far from clear that we are taking the steps most important to America’s long-term economic prosperity.”
That’s the Portermeister in BusinessWeek.
What he’s saying is Vote Obama 🙂
I’m happy to see the Indians go for the moon, joining their Chinese and Japanese counterparts as they jockey for prestige and bragging rights. Is it science or technonationalism? Both of the above, but somehow the politics outweighs the science.
Now let’s all compete (or collaborate) to build green energy power generation projects!
The nerds at Bain give us a few reminders from history:
– Southwest Airlines surged ahead during the 2001 recession
– Intel pulled away from AMD (also in 2001)
– Johnson & Johnson, GE and IBM shifted focus on economically healthier regions in Q2/2008
– Bank of America gobbled up Merrill Lynch (the opportunity of a lifetime) – just a few days ago
So, where are your opportunities?
In this month’s Harvard Business Review, authors John Hagel III, John Seely Brown and Lang Davison provide a road map for the daunting task of shaping strategy as technology-driven infrastructures constantly change.
The article is called: “Shaping Strategy in a World of Constant Disruption” and you can download it here (thanks Deloitte Consulting!) >>
In my view this is a very timely piece of thinking from my heroes JH3 and JSB (and Lang Davison). I’ll dig into it later this month on ecosystemwatch.com…
Wait, there’s more. Check out the podcast >>
Don’t look now, but P&G is trying some direct selling online.
From the Financial Times:
Procter & Gamble is testing its ability to use the internet to sell its toothpaste, household cleaners and nappies directly to US households, in a potential long-term strategic challenge to its retail partners.
…The move brings P&G into direct brand competition with its retailers, underlining the extent to which e-commerce is contributing to changes in the way the two sides have traditionally worked with each other.
OK. The site is called theEssentials.com, but so far it looks like they have very little traffic.
Is this how they intend to fight the private label war? I’ll talk about them later this month on ecosystemwatch.com
This is truly amazing. The folks at SNL get VP candidate Sarah Palin to applaud a song which rips her to shreds… What was the McCain campaign thinking? Total and utter lack of judgment on their part.
Watch as SNL schools the McCain campaign:
Brilliant work by SNL. They get the ratings and trash the Republicans.
Looks like Rupert Murdoch’s WSJ is thinking along the same lines we are (for a few seconds at least).
They’ve gone an dug up an old article Peter Drucker wrote for them: Planning for Uncertainty.
Here are some of the key questions:
– …traditional planning asks, “What is most likely to happen?” Planning for uncertainty asks, instead, “What has already happened that will create the future?”
– “What do these accomplished facts mean for our business? What opportunities do they create? What threats? What changes do they demand — in the way the business is organized and run, in our goals, in our products, in our services, in our policies? And what changes do they make possible and likely to be advantageous?”
– “What changes in industry and market structure, in basic values (e.g., the emphasis on the environment), and in science and technology have already occurred but have yet to have full impact?”
– “What are the trends in economic and societal structure? And how do they affect our business?”
– “What is this company good at? What does it do well? What strengths, in other words, give it a competitive edge? Applied to what?”
He ends with a serious warning for the bean-counters: There is, however, one condition: that the business create the resources of knowledge and of people to respond when opportunity knocks. This means developing a separate futures budget.
The 10% or 12% of annual expenditures needed to create and maintain the resources for the future — in research and technology, in market standing and service, in people and their development — must be put into a constant budget maintained in good years and bad. These are investments, even though accountants and tax collectors consider them operating expenses. They enable a business to make its future — and that, in the last analysis, is what planning for uncertainty means.
And don’t forget his advice for retail strategy >>
A simple rule dictates my buying: Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful. And most certainly, fear is now widespread, gripping even seasoned investors. To be sure, investors are right to be wary of highly leveraged entities or businesses in weak competitive positions. But fears regarding the long-term prosperity of the nation’s many sound companies make no sense. These businesses will indeed suffer earnings hiccups, as they always have. But most major companies will be setting new profit records 5, 10 and 20 years from now. Read all about it >>
Now is a good time to ask yourself these five business design questions (ht to Oliver Wyman):
1. Who is the customer and what do we offer? Which customer segments should we serve, and what is our value proposition for each segment?
2. What is our profit model for each of our offerings?
3. What do we perform in-house and what do we outsource?
4. How do we build in strategic control? Is there a way to create sustainable differentiation?
5. How should we organize ourselves to make it happen? What is the right organizational architecture to execute the business for each segment?
You can download the business blueprint (registration required): level-one flowcharts of how to run a profitable, sustainable, online business.
1) Offer development process
2) Offer creation process
3) Sales process
4) Marketing process
5) Order fulfillment & support process
6) Financial process
7) Licensee certification process
8) Licensee business development process
9) Events process
10) Archival process
As I mentioned earlier, it does seem like the comedians do a better job on serious issues.
In this case, David Letterman stands head and shoulders above our so-called news people like George Stephanopoulos, Tom Brokaw, Katie Couric, and Brian Williams.
Note: Letterman’s interview also turns out to be the first mainstream media mention of the Liddy-McCain connection. So who’s the real terrorist?
In BusinessWeek: Industry observers say that while those retailers can take 60 to 90 days or more to settle up, TJX typically pays within 30. These days, that’s a critical selling point both to vendors, who are more concerned about finding funds to buy raw materials and pay expenses, and to the financers who act as middlemen in many of the deals. It could give TJX—which also owns discounters Marshalls and HomeGoods—an added advantage in getting a wider selection of items.
Makes sense. Can’t sell something that’s not on the shelf, Drucker used to say…
Read the article here>>
There’s another very good reason to pay quickly: goodwill.
Your suppliers will take an extra step or two for you if they know they can count on you. This “trust” makes a giant difference in execution.
There’s a software company I know which used to delay its vendor payments as much as possible as part of its strategy. While it may have gained a few bucks in capital, it lost in terms of responsiveness. Big time. Vendors would move extremely slowly to deliver value. It was frustrating on both sides. And all because a few “brilliant” bean-counters thought they had found a way to squeeze a few more pennies into the corporate treasury.
One of the great things about the late Peter Drucker is that he can be summoned to solve just about any problem.
One of my clients is a web retailer. They’re having serious issues with “customer hesitancy.”
And of course the headlines are now full of bad news in retail.
So we had a long chat about customer hesitancy. What makes the customer hesitant? Is it really the news on TV? Is it the fact that they might be out of a job?
My first piece of advice to them was straight out of Drucker: Stop selling and start buying for the customer.
Are you buying for the customer? Really?
That line of reasoning led to these predictable questions: so exactly who is your customer? Are there segments you aren’t serving that you should? Are there segments you should stop wasting your time with?
We were able to go and look at their historic web-sales data (for the past two years down to the last two weeks) to find out who their customers really were. And surprise, there was no customer hesitancy there!
All they needed was to focus on the right segment. We changed the website to do just that.
Listen to good old (in this case a younger, “1.0 version”) Drucker: