What Leaders (And The Rest Of Us) Can Learn From Benedictine Monks

In this age of fake news, information overload and social media stress, we easily lose our sensible selves. We stress out and do, feel, say and think exponentially strange things (see this post for some examples). This applies to political and corporate leaders, but just as well to managers, employees, students and anyone else. With so much…

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Accenture Report Shows: The Large Majority Of Leaders Use Just Half Their Brain

Last month, Accenture published an interesting report, carrying the title “Striking Balance with Whole-Brain Leadership.” The gist of that report: leaders need to dramatically increase the use of the right part of their brain—the part allowing us to be creative, empathetic, self-aware and use our intuition and holistic thinking. Why? First, because today’s volatile, uncertain,…

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How To Align Your Strategy In 3 Simple Steps

At its core, strategy is about alignment. It aims at creating a coherent whole of all the different bits and pieces of which an organization consists. This doesn’t mean that everyone in the organization has to think the same or even agree with the strategy. No, it means that everything the organization does, in one…

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The Single Question That Every Strategy Should Answer

In one sense, strategy is very complex. As discussed in my previous article, strategy consists of no less than ten elements that are all related, constantly changing and even complex in and of themselves. Gaining good insights into these elements and their relationships, managing them and changing them is a real challenge, especially in today’s VUCA market conditions. In another sense,…

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The 10 Ingredients That Every Strategy Should Have

In a recent post, I asked the overly pretentious question “What Does Strategy Really Mean?” and I answered this question by giving the following definition: an organization’s strategy is its unique way of sustainable value creation. This definition tells you that a strategy explains how an organization creates value for its customers in a way that is distinct from its…

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What Does Strategy Really Mean?

After breaking the ten most important myths about strategy in my recent series of articles, I owe an answer to the question as to what strategy is and how organizations are supposed to deal with it. After all, if strategy is not what we thought it was, what is strategy then? Let me, therefore, start with giving a…

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Strategy Myth #10: Strategy Should Be Formulated

This is the last article in a series on the ten myths of strategy. As argued in previous articles, the field of strategy suffers from ten strong myths that have been hindering progress for a couple of decades. In those articles, I have summarized and evaluated each myth one by one. In this article, I close this series by breaking…

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The Secret Of Coolblue’s Success? Their Tagline

Coolblue is a Rotterdam-based Dutch company which sells electronics online. They have a few physical stores, but their main business is selling whatever piece of electronics that you can imagine—from laptops and washing machines to leaf-blowers and drones—via their webshop. They are amazingly successful. Launched 20 years ago, they have grown to an annual turnover of…

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Strategy Myth #9: Strategy Requires Offsites

The ideas about what strategy is and how to generate and execute it have hardly changed over the past four decades. This is a problem because the world has changed. And it is even more of a problem because research shows consistent low success rates in strategy. So, why do we keep on approaching strategy…

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PwC Report Shows: Why Leaders Can’t Make Strategy On Their Own

In most organizations it is leaders who are responsible for setting out the organization’s strategy. Because of their position at the top, they have insights and oversight that others in the organization don’t have. Furthermore they have the power and capabilities to make sure that the rest of the organization conforms to the strategy. Therefore, leaders…

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Strategy Myth #8: Strategy Derives From Data

To make progress with the way we generate and execute strategy in our organizations, it is crucial to have a realistic picture of what strategy is and what it can and cannot do. Trivial as this may sound, it is unfortunately worthwhile saying because the way we think about strategy is hindered for decades already by ten…

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Strategy Myth #7: Strategy Can Be Made By Consultants

In this series of articles on the ten myths of strategy I intend to break the ten strongest myths about strategy that circulate today—and for a long time already. The main reason is that breaking these myths can help the field move forward. After all, as long we we are clung to false beliefs, we can’t…

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Strategy Myth #6: Strategy Resides At The Top

Learning is the motor of progress. Over time, new insights emerge that replace older ones. This is how we mature from kids to adults, how companies develop and grow and how science works. But it hardly applies to the field of strategy. Of course new insights have appeared over the years. But the level of actual…

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Why The i3’s Success Is Bad News For BMW

The BMW i3 is a great electric car. I owned one for over two years and enjoyed it very much. With its distinct looks and suicide doors it is a bit extravagant perhaps. And its range and size aren’t exactly generous for 2019 standards. But it is well-designed, well-crafted and driving it is a fantastic experience. Just read a…

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Strategy Myth #5: Strategy Should Be Simple

To make strategy more successful and effective, we need to think about strategy in a useful way. However, if we look at the dominant way of thinking about what strategy is and how it is made, it turns out this way of thinking is not so useful. On the contrary, strategy suffers from no less than…

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Strategy Myth #4: Strategy Should Be High-Level

Strategy suffers from a number of strong myths. These myths make that the field shows little progress over the past decades and is stuck with a not-so-useful idea of what strategy is and should be. In this series of articles, I review the ten most important myths and explain why they are myths. In this article…

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Seven Tips For Developing Goal-Directed Collaborations And Ecosystems

Ecosystems, co-creation, platforms and other types of collaborations gain increasing attention as attractive ways of doing business. As a recent report by Innovation Leader shows, their potential value can be significant and diverse: cost reduction, a stronger position in the market, faster time to market, new ideas,  more innovative products and services and so on. Along those lines, many…

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Strategy Myth #3: Strategy Starts With Goals

In this series of articles, I intend to break the ten most widespread myths about strategy. This is necessary because the field of strategy is stuck with an image of what strategy is supposed to mean that doesn’t exactly match the real world around us. In this turbulent world, strategy is needed more than ever. However,…

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Why Fit Beats Best Practice

In business we are fond of best practices. We study successful companies, distill key lessons from how they have done it and try to adopt those as best practices in our organizations. This is how best-selling books like “In Search Of Excellence” (Peters & Waterman), “Good To Great” (Collins) and “Blue Ocean Strategy” (Kim & Mauborgne)…

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Strategy Myth #2: Strategy Equals Planning

Strategy has a hard time. In this volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world, it is increasingly questioned what strategy should look like and whether it is still useful in the first place. Looking at the core functions of strategy, the latter is most certainly the case. We need strategy more than ever. However, not the kind…

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Strategy Myth #1: Strategy Is About War

Strategy is clouded by a number of persistent myths. As argued in a recent previous article, there are no less than ten of them. These myths are a barrier towards progress. Therefore, in this article and the next nine in this series, my aim is to articulate and break them one by one. Let me start with Myth #1: Strategy Is…

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What’s Next If Even Our CSOs Think Strategy Is A Mess?

I started my previous article on The Ten Myths Of Strategy with stating that strategy is a mess. That is not just my own observation. A recent study by Strategy&, PwC’s strategy consulting practice, shows that our Chief Strategy Officers (CSOs) think the same. And if anyone would know, it is our CSOs, right? For…

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The Ten Myths Of Strategy

Strategy is a mess. I mean the way of thinking about strategy that we know from our textbooks and that is taught at MBA programs all over the world. It is the approach to strategy that is driven by missions and visions, relies heavily on external and internal analysis, is supported by numerous tools, and targets at formulating and…

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How To Turn Strategy From Opera Into Jazz

If you think about the way strategy has been taught and practiced over the past decades, opera is quite an accurate metaphor. Like opera, traditional strategy is about preparation, planning and perfection and it is a bit of an elitist thing with grandeur being strived for. Opera can be beautiful. But maybe it is not the…

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Strategy In An Ambiguous World

This is the last in a series of four articles on what strategy should look like in a world that is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA). In the previous three articles I outlined the demands put on strategy by a world that is volatile, uncertain and complex. In this last article I close this discussion with outlining how your…

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Strategy In A Complex World

Strategy as we know it, is all about simplicity. Organizations are supposed to choose from three or four generic strategies, come up with simple, preferably one-phrase mission and vision statements and ideally have one key objective to which everything else contributes. Furthermore, the strategy toolbox is full of simple models and two-by-two matrices  – SWOT, BCG matrix, growth matrix,…

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EasyJet Vs. Ryanair: How Low Can Low Cost Go?

For a while already, the airline industry is suffering. This hits not only the traditional full service airlines, but also the low-cost carriers that challenge them. This has led to various profitably warnings, bankruptcies and industry-wide drops of share price over the last years. As Europe’s most dominant low-cost carriers, also easyJet and Ryanair suffer. Fuel…

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Why Our CEOs Lack Confidence And What We Can Do About It

This week, PwC shared the results of their 22nd Annual Global CEO Survey. As we can already infer from its title, “CEOs’ Curbed Confidence Spells Caution,” a key message of the report is that CEOs’ confidence has dropped significantly compared to last year. This is a bit of a gloomy message. After all, we want our CEOs to…

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Why Is Primark So Successful? The Power Of Alignment

Last week, on January 17 2019, Primark announced its Q1 results to January 5. As these results show, the company is doing well. Their sales grew 4 percent compared to last year and both their market share and operating profit margins increased. These are not isolated quarterly results. Of course, like other retailers, last year’s unseasonal weather and exchange…

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Strategy In An Uncertain World

In a world that is characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA), we can question whether the idea of strategy as we have known it for long is still valid. After all, under such challenging conditions, it is far from obvious that long-term plans, objectives and systematic analysis still serve their purpose. And if…

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Strategy In A Volatile World

Traditionally, strategy is about making long-term plans and identifying the actions and resources that are needed for realizing those plans. Such a straightforward definition of strategy might have worked for a long time, but it doesn’t really work anymore in today’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world. After all, how can you make reliable long-term plans…

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The Six Functions Of Strategy

It is quite popular to question the role of strategy in today’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world. Strategy under such challenging conditions is pointless, so the argument goes, because things change so fast and are so uncertain that any strategy is outdated as soon as it is formulated. And the world is too complex and ambiguous to…

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Is The World Really More VUCA Than Ever?

Wherever we look around us, we find claims and concerns that the world is increasingly getting out of control. Whether it is the business press, the media more generally, or our personal conversations, we are witnessing an increased feeling of uncertainty, turbulence, and change. This feeling has recently culminated in the notion of ‘VUCA’, the idea that…

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What Does VUCA Really Mean?

Throughout the past decades we find numerous terms in the popular business press and academic literature that refer to an increasing inability to grasp the world and deal with the things happening around us. Examples include uncertainty, turbulence, rapid change, dynamism, disruption, complexity, hyper-competition, high-velocity markets and flux. For a couple of years, the notion of…

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