Creative leaders don’t fear risk — they turn it into a money-making strategy
Our thought leadership
The following articles were written by Strategy& partners and other senior professionals on key topics in the area of people and organization strategy.
There is a golden opportunity today for the leaders of HR, IT, finance, operations, R&D, marketing, sales, sourcing, and other corporate functions and shared services. With routine tasks shrinking and the need for capabilities ascending, functions can become “fit for purpose”: changing their portfolio of activities to focus primarily on those that are strategically important to the enterprise as a whole.
Organization design and organizational DNA
Your strategy is only as good as your company's ability and willingness to execute it. The key to unlocking that potential? Your organizational DNA—the combination of formal and informal traits that determine your company's identity and performance.
Drawing on recent research and real examples, the article’s authors present a new approach to cultural evolution that leverages what’s strongest in an organization’s existing culture, providing a practical road map for real, substantive evolution in employees’ ways of behaving by focusing on few critical shifts.
Organizational success hinges on effective execution, and effective execution is a matter of ability and agility. New research from Strategy& shows that there are two key levers to pull in building an able, agile organization.
Consumer products companies today face a set of challenges that are different from any they have experienced before. On one hand, market saturation, retailer consolidation, and increasingly specialized consumer preferences have slowed growth and made it more important than ever before to be first to market with customer-relevant products. On the other hand, increasing retailer power, customer price sensitivity, and mounting supply-chain complexity are exacerbating cost pressures and distracting management from its core mission.
CFO Thought Leaders
Few business roles have changed as dramatically during the last generation as that of the chief financial officer. The classic model — the CFO as chief accountant and technical expert focused narrowly on the firm’s financial statements and capital structure — has been passé for a decade or more. Today’s CFOs have become a vital part of the corporation’s leadership team and have assumed responsibilities of a breadth and magnitude that make the title “chief financial officer” slightly antiquated.
This book reveals that a clear view is emerging of the changes that lie ahead for the global services industry, as well as of the most effective approach for dealing with these changes.
People capabilities/ Global talent innovation
This article by Strategy&’s Gary Neilson and Harvard Business School Associate Professor Julie Wulf, published in the April 2012 issue of the Harvard Business Review, looks at the logical evolution of a CEO’s span of control and offers advice for managers as they progress in their careers.
Companies must adopt HR strategies that reflect the aging of the working population or they will find themselves at a competitive disadvantage. They need to analyze their workforce demographics to identify areas that will be affected by waves of retirement and develop strategies to fill the gaps. The authors of this “Perspective” Viewpoint call this approach Smart Workforce Management. Smart Workforce Management requires a regular review of HR strategies and programs. First, companies should identify potential skill deficits. Next, they should look at the kinds of programs that mitigate the shortages—e.g., better compensation and healthcare packages—or the introduction of flexible work arrangements and a corporate culture that values older staff. The productivity of the 50-plus generation is key to gaining a competitive advantage in the future. Forward planning will reduce corporate brain drain and strengthen a company’s position in the fight to attract and retain the best available talent. Smart Workforce Management must start now.
In spite of many leaders’ concern that the informal organization operates by its own rules, its impact on performance doesn’t need to be left to chance. By considering how the informal organization can support the formal, and by managing each in its own way, leaders can guide the informal organization and achieve results beyond what their formal organization alone can deliver. This perspective uses case examples to describe how the informal organization drives performance results.
In today’s economic environment, achieving heightened performance and efficiency is more important than ever to improve competitiveness, deliver better service, and reduce costs. To get the best from your people, organisations must first address a set of fundamental “hygiene factors” to motivate employees to deliver standard performance. Only when these factors are addressed can employees be energised by “commitment drivers” to elevate performance. Typically, we find public sector organisations need to focus on, and strengthen, their management capabilities. In contrast, private sector organizations often need to focus on their commitment drivers if they are to engage employees and weather the economic storm.
The challenge of leadership is not what it used to be. For the past few decades — at least since the genre-defining book Leadership by historian James MacGregor Burns was published in 1978 — writers on business and society have understood that the quality of a leader’s character makes all the difference.