August 2010

Essential summer reading

These are the dog days in the Northern Hemisphere. The usual torrent of e-mail has abated—at least a bit.(Right?) The beach beckons, or the mountains do. It's time to clear your head. But it's never time to stop thinking and learning.

In this issue of Strategy& foresight, we highlight four recent pieces of research and analysis from Strategy&, chosen because they offer fresh — even refreshing — perspectives on issues we all face. Time to think implies time to look in the mirror and reflect on how to improve your leadership skills, a topic addressed in two articles here. For 10 years, we've been studying patterns in CEO succession. This year's survey looks back on the decade of data and draws some useful and counterintuitive inferences about what makes for CEO success. We've also been looking deeply into the mysteries of corporate culture. Trying to change a culture is as futile as nailing Jell-O to a wall, somone once told me. Could be. But Jon Katzenbach, who may know more about the topic than anyone else, argues persuasively that you can enlist a culture as an ally for change if you understand how to mobilize the "informal" organization while managing the formal.

In the summer sky, meanwhile, an industry is being born with the explosive energy of a new star. Odds are many of you are reading your (minimally abated) torrent of e-mail on an iPhone, Android, or similar device — a category David Carr of The NewYork Times calls "app phones," because that's what they are: containers for mobile applications. The growth of the app industry has been nothing short of astonishing; according to our analysis, by 2014 it will be a $40 billion industry — about the size of the entire music industry — and our article maps the path its development will follow.

Finally, in a summer of unusually brutal heat, those wishing to get away from it all should take a look at Green Tourism: A Road Map for Transformation, the report from a project Strategy& undertook with the World Economic Forum. I can't imagine a better break than one that combines pleasure with peace of mind.

In this issue

Our analysis of 10 consecutive years’ worth of detailed data on CEO turnover shows that the tenure of a CEO is becoming shorter and more intense, the margin for error or underperformance is narrow, and increasingly, CEOs no longer hold the chairman's seat in the boardroom.
There will be clear winners and losers in the mobile app market, however. Players like Apple and Android have significant head starts. And e-tailers and retailers such as Amazon and Best Buy will be well positioned going forward. But every member of the mobile app ecosystem must begin positioning itself now for the evolution of the market into a system of stores offering downloadable apps that transcend the mobile markets and can be accessed on multiple devices.