Why do some companies consistently outperform their peers?

The debate on CEO pay may seem to be only simmering for the moment, while other events dominate the news cycle, but it has not gone away. Working where I do, one of the things we study is the value of, and how to recognize, effective leadership – now, the Best Companies for Leadership; later, the Most Admired Companies. Read the rest of this entry »

Innovation = invention + commercialization.

A couple of years ago, when my friend and colleague Chris Gammill and I were working on creating and then driving IBM‘s brand strategy, we narrowed in on innovation as one of not only IBM’s critical attributes, but also one of the US’s as well, as participants in the National Innovation Initiative that Sam Palmisano sponsored for the Council on Competitiveness.

One of our struggles was why IBM, which perennially leads the world in number of patents, was not seen as an innovator in our brand research, of which we had very, very detailed data. We researched and attended conferences and interviewed experts and debated incessantly, until we finally arrived at this formula. When we realized what we had, I called up the EVP for technology, Nick Donofrio, and said I needed to see him – his frustration with brand data was legendary. Read the rest of this entry »

From Hay Group:  

Winners and losers in the M&A game

After a period in the doldrums, M&A activity is beginning to bounce back, with rich rewards for those who make mergers and acquisitions work. So what should companies looking to conduct a merger or acquisition in a challenging economic climate be focusing on to ensure success?

Companies tend to concentrate on integrating tangible assets – such as IT systems – and on achieving cost synergies, to the detriment of their customers and this tendency is even stronger during tough economic conditions. The balance between these issues and the integration of intangible capital, such as people, processes and structures is often not planned for far enough in advance during the M&A process. Knowing where to start is half of the battle. For a merger to deliver on its promise, organizations must address these issues – while at the same time managing the risks of integration and extracting the maximum value from it. It’s a difficult balancing act. Read the rest of this entry »

Lord Horatio Nelson

For several decades now, I’ve been a student, observer and participator in strategy (corporate, branding and marketing) and organization – getting these right is, of course, critical to success. But I’ve seen many cases where carefully prepared plans and their support structures have not resulted in the desired results.

Reading To Rule the Waves, a gripping history by Arthur Herman, I was struck by the role communications played in two Royal Navy engagements, 25 years apart, each of immense strategic consequences: Yorktown in 1781 and Trafalgar in 1805.

Communications dictated the outcome of each, one a failure that lost a continent and one a victory that established naval pre-eminence for more than a century. The lesson: everyone in the organization must understand what needs to be done for a plan to be successfully executed. Read the rest of this entry »

I continue to be fascinated by Carlota Perez’ work on Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital. Briefly, she identifies 50 or so year periods of great economic advancement, followed by a bust which then creates the conditions for a period of steady growth and prosperity; each period goes through five phases: Read the rest of this entry »

Anyone who travelled in the Northeast US in the first two weeks of February has a story to tell – I heard a few in crowded trains and lounges. For example, in the midst of the blizzard, many of the eateries in Philadelphia shut down (imagine that!), and hotels did their best to serve their clients even with limited staff, many of whom had to overnight on the properties. By and large, no one complained, and there was a sense that we were all in this together.  

My intercity travel was by train and I found the Amtrak on-board and station personnel both helpful and cheerfully positive as they dealt with passengers trying to get somewhere in the face of cancelled and delayed trains. Read the rest of this entry »

Once again, I find myself flabbergasted at service levels in the midst of the worst recession most of us have ever seen.  In my post How not to make a sale, I describe how a retailer drove us from a physical establishment after we had committed to buy. But it appears that direct retail operations are also not immune mistakes in organization, job design and incentives that result in lousy service.  Read the rest of this entry »

Hay Group‘s research on the Fortune Most Admired Companies shows that those who make the matrix work get results: better and faster decisions. The seemingly simple trick is getting managers to act in the best interests of the company as a whole, not just maximizing their own results.

But this has implications for jobs, rewards, behaviors, culture and structure. Most critical: command-and-control management styles must give way to collaboration and cooperation. To crack the matrix code, organizations must: Read the rest of this entry »

Since 2005, Hay Group has researched the Best Companies for Leadership. In previous years our research focused on understanding how organizations were planning on meeting the impending leadership shortage, driven by growth in emerging markets coinciding with the retirement of the baby boomer generation. Read the rest of this entry »

Thanks to my Hay Group colleague Scott Spreier, who has done a lot of work with CEOs, for this guest post. NOTE – since the original posting, I’ve received a number of partisan comments, which was far from our intent; we were really looking at how leaders communicate and so, to be fair, we are going to code one of Reagan’s early term speeches for comparison. Stay tuned…
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Memo to senior executives in the finance and auto industry:

Regardless of your political persuasion, before you leave the office today have your assistant print out a copy of President Obama’s Cairo speech. When you get home, pour yourself a Scotch, pull it out of your briefcase, and read it – slowly and carefully. It may be the most productive time you’ve spent all day. There’s a lot you can learn from the President on how to talk to the public and regain your credibility. Read the rest of this entry »

Have you ever been so put off by bad selling that you simply walked, even when you were really, really ready to buy?  

My wife and I did just that yesterday – stunned that the retail establishment drove us do this in the midst of the worst recession most of us have ever seen. But the really sad thing to me is that management wasted all its marketing, branding and PoS advertising investments by cutting investments in its people.  Read the rest of this entry »

The last year has seen an increased focus on perceived excesses in executive pay, leading to a new level of involvement by the federal government. In particular, under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA) and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), institutions that are receiving financial assistance through the Treasury Department’s Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) became subject to several rounds of increasingly intrusive restrictions on executive pay. 

While these restrictions do not directly impact companies that are not participating in TARP, few companies will be immune from the impact of the legislation. A common question we are receiving from clients is how these rules and restrictions may affect their own companies and the future of executive compensation in the United States.

Click to read more on Hay Group’s view of key restrictions and their potential impacts

I was intrigued by an online discussion the other day about what marketing is – or isn’t. So I decided to find some giants’ shoulders to stand on, and herewith share some of my favorites:

Phil Kotler:  “Marketing is the social process by which individuals and groups obtain what they need and want through creating and exchanging products and value with others.”

George Day: “Understanding, attracting, and keeping valuable customers.”

Sergio Zyman: “Selling more stuff to more people more often for more money more efficiently.” 

Peter Drucker: “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him [or her! – DH] and sells itself.”

Theodore Levitt: “Marketing is a stepchild in most corporations because of an overemphasis on creating and selling products. But selling is not marketing. [Selling] is not concerned with the values that the exchange is all about. And it does not, as marketing invariably does, view the entire business process as consisting of a tightly integrated effort to discover, create, arouse, and satisfy customer needs.”

What are your favorites? Leave a comment.

While CEO succession is much in the news, it is often discussed from the point of view of board members, consultants and search firms. To understand the perspectives of today’s CEOs on succession planning, we spoke with 18 sitting CEOs, one recently retired CEO and one sitting chairman…They shared practical suggestions on how to make CEO succession work more effectively for the company, the board, potential candidates and the CEO in this Chief Executive magazine article entitle Succession in practice.

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