The classic strategic hierarchy consists of strategy, tactics, operations, corresponding to top management, middle management and workers in Anthony’s triangle (shown below).
Several things have made me uncomfortable with wholehearted endorsement of this over the years; the vagueness in understanding of the terms, the liberality of usage of strategy and the knocking of mere tactics, the import of a military model in ways that were not always appropriate, the way that this triad fails to capture other important aspects of leadership and management practice.
Consider this alternative:
- Guiding: The role of senior leadership in the organisation is to provide guiding principles that shape the organisation. Strategy is one, but culture, vision, innovation design principles, the business model, branding etc are others.
- Astute: Deep immersion in the business over a period of time develops astute judgement that enables better choices; it is these astute judgements based on deep experience and skill in functions, categories and processes (in selling, accounting, logistics, project management, banking or search engine optimisation) that successfully converts guiding principles into an integrated set of actions.
- Practice: Repetition is the soul of business, meaning that things have to be done consistently, reliably, connectedly, but at the same time as people do things and do them again, that practice gains embedded competence in the individuals, teams, workflows of the organisation.
Guiding Astute Practice: a new formula for leadership?
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Found a great comment:
Incidentally, we sometimes imagine the advance of science and culture as increasing the level of sophistication and subtlety, giving a fuller recognition of the range of possibilities, and yet there are many example of concepts being winnowed down and categories eliminated (at least temporarily) as science and culture have progressed. The reduction of Aristotle’s four types of causation (aitia) to the single type (efficient) recognized by modern science is an example of this. This was not done by unifying or consolidating the four original types; three of the four were simply discarded. Another example concerns the modes of musical composition, of which during the middle ages there were seven, namely, the Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolien, and Locrian. Today almost all music is written in either the Ionian or the Aeolian modes, which we call Major and Minor keys, respectively. The other five modes have simply been discarded. Still another example is the different ways in which a set of numbers can be represented by a single number, called the mean. The ancient Greeks enunciated ten distinct kinds of means, but of these ten only three (the arithmetic, geometric, and harmonic means) remain in common use.
This anonymous source also gives us: ” Why can’t somebody give us a list of things that everybody thinks and nobody says, and another list of things that everybody says and nobody thinks?” by Oliver Wendell Holmes
Steve Jobs, 1955-2011.
How I see it.
Steve Jobs believed that individuals were glorious beings, to be exulted and respected. When the first Macintoshs were designed and created, they were first stand-alone and then had only a peer-to-peer network. There was no central hub. The Mac stood in political, social and psychological opposition to the idea of the central mainframe, itself a metaphor for centralised government, the tyranny of the few over the many.
Jobs wanted to empower the individual through the ability to receive and communicate information, beautifully. The human individual, as a glorious being, needed a glorious instrument. As a showman he wanted each individual to be able to show themselves to the best as well as to be shown something beautiful. In this respect he was the paradigmatic Californian.
Of course, in the Cloud there is something that transcends these oppositions. Today’s technology depends on powerful hubs – Facebook, Google, Flickr, SharePoint. The Cloud runs on powerful centralised systems, albeit closely connected multiple devices, in central ‘farms’. At the same time, it enables the individual to transition from one working space to another relatively seamlessly.
He died the day that iPhone 4S was announced, a device that expresses these values.
Contemporary life requires empowered individuals and community, social centres. It requires beauty, expression, discipline and empathy.
IBM is of course one of the great iconic brands, once the world’s pre-eminent company, still a global force and with refreshed aspirations for the 21st-century in its centennial in 2011.
In November 2009, their chief marketing officer, Jon Iwata, one of the most distinguished marketers in America, gave a speech to a distinguished gathering of professional marketers in New York. In his speech he laid out not simply his thinking but the actions and purposes of IBM, the thinking and strategy that he explained that they were engaged in. It is important content, and claims to be, because it does more than simply describe the strategy, it claims to recognise a new role for marketing, and indeed for HR, a new profession.
This is entirely in line with the thinking that the Centre for Integrated Marketing has been standing for since 2002. In the inaugural lecture of the first chair of integrated marketing in the world, Angus Jenkinson spoke about a new vision. Of the earlier launch advertising for the merged Lloyds TSB bank, he said: “Truth to say, the idea and its resonance is worth billions; the investment question is how far such advertising would and could be effective in implanting this idea [ the new bank's commitment to care for its customers]…it matters to all stakeholders, and in particular customers and employees. How they subsequently think and feel will translate into commitment, behaviours and equity. I want to emphasise that I particularly include the employee here alongside the customer as an audience for this communication.” He went on to say that, by itself, the advertising would not work: “…the advertising needs to be backed up by the substance and truth of the brand and its products and organisation”.
We have certainly seen the consequence of this!
In the speech, and subsequently in the research the Centre carried out, there was an emphasis on the tools and ideas that enable this to actually work.
IBM’s marketing leader articulates how IBM is approaching this, with an agenda that aims to engage the hearts and minds of more than 400,000 people globally. The new profession explicitly engages with both marketing (and marketing communication) and HR related issues and also articulates a new possibility for agency contribution.
It is a vindication for the importance of ideas as organising and leading principles within the organisation, a vindication of the idea of the brand as more than simply a communication device, but rather a force whose home is in the system of the organisation, and of the unique values of the organisation as core to the creation of unique value.
It’s mistaken when it hangs some perfectly reasonable comments onto complexity, when the ideas are not essentially connected to complexity. It’s wrong when it misunderstands what complexity is really about. It’s right to say that there is a difference between complication and complexity.
That which is complicated can be easily, if painstakingly, broken down into its component parts and then reassembled, in the way that one might with a motorcycle or a mechanical watch. You can’t do that with complexity.
Drawing on the insight of Einstein, when we say that a mechanical system is complicated, what we really mean is that we do not understand it. A watchmaker does not think that a watch is complicated; it is complicated when you don’t understand its parts, e.g. if you don’t have enough bandwidth for the mechanical system. Our client, IBM, has Distinguished Engineers, individuals with exceptional engineering capability. One of their characteristics is that what is complicated to others seems simple to them.
Complex means connected. Organic systems are all complex systems. They are also whole systems. They are a different kind of system. Because the examples belong to the organic world, of course they relate to complex systems, but they are not signature examples. Complexity is not essentially about unpredictability. Indeed complex systems can be quite predictable; indeed the point of many complex systems is in order to be able to achieve predictable efficiency. For example, we maintain heartbeat within a very narrow range most of the time, and the body’s organisation is designed to return it to the normal state. Similarly, ants use pheromine trails in order to achieve efficient foraging. So just as complicated means not understood in the case of mechanical systems, unpredictable means uncomprehended and the case of complex systems.
A key part of our work is in fact designing interventions in complex systems that produce predictable results and a significant feature of this is that they work independent of the size of organisation. Even a huge “complicated” organisation like IBM can be changed when you work with it as a complex system, in a way that cannot be achieved when you conceive of it – as almost all managers in Western business do – as a complicated mechanical system.
Design magazine has launched its annual Benchmark design award for branding programs that demonstrate skill in creating a total brand experience on behalf of the client. They require three or more treatments across more than one platform (the new fancy name for medium), which covers all the usual suspects as well as “other platforms”, items that fall beyond their stated examples but clearly demonstrate delivering a brand message through design.
For a number of years the Centre for Integrated Marketing gave its Integrated Marketer of the Year awards, so I understand the principle and applaud it. However, from my experience with clients like IBM, UNICEF, NSPCC and British School of Motoring (BSM), I would suggest that they could usefully add two elements to their competition.
Firstly, I think there is a contact channel that is not explicitly recognised in their award: people. This often represents one of the most important brand leverage points, as a primary interface with customers (IBM’s Watson computer taking on the top guns in Jeopardy; the design of a working or customer space – as we did with IBM in India; the performance of a leader in communicating to staff – IBM has 500,000 IBMers, including its contract staff, so internal communication is significant; redesigning the employee performance measurement system, and the managerial interactions that go with it – we found single-point entries in IBM that could have dramatic effects on sales performance and client perception, and indeed the whole business model and culture; at BSM, the interaction between the learner driver and the instructor is absolutely fundamental to the brand and to its protection).
At the moment, most of these would at best sit in the area of “other platforms”. I suggest therefore that there could be a further category, namely the co-worker/associate/employee/service person as a brand interface and the design interventions that affect this performance/treatment area.
It might be argued that this is difficult to judge, butthere exists a very good tool in the concept of “talking actions/action talking”. Talking actions are actions that tell a story, that communicate emotion, meaning, significance. Action talking is more conventional communication that brings its own message to life, perhaps by storytelling, and indeed is one of the staples of design and advertising communication.
All treatments, whatever the medium/channel/platform, depend on an understanding of the system of the brand. Which brings me to a second suggestion: I believe that Design is a perfect place to host an award for the design of the brand system itself, as well as for the interventions and treatments that affect its performance. In the work that we’ve done, we found that most brands/enterprises are exceedingly fuzzy and fragmented in their understanding of the brand as a system, which includes such elements as the business model, culture, core competency, vision, and purpose alongside more conventional branding elements such as product design principle, positioning, brand personality and brand essence. This is one of the key areas of the research and practice that I’ve found represents the cutting-edge of branding today.
This open letter to Mr. Cameron illustrates the fact that problems can be fixed elegantly if you know the right point of entry.
Please find below our suggestion for fixing the UK’s economy.
Instead of giving billions of pounds to banks that will squander the money
on lavish parties and unearned bonuses, use the following plan.
You can call it the Patriotic Retirement Plan:
There are about 10 million people over 50 in the work force.
Pay them £1 million each severance for early retirement with the following
1) They MUST retire.
Ten million job openings – unemployment fixed
2) They MUST buy a new British car.
Ten million cars ordered – Car Industry fixed
3) They MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage -
Housing Crisis fixed
4) They MUST send their kids to school/college/university -
Crime rate fixed
5) They MUST save in a pension fund.
- Aging population problem gone.
Posted by Joanna on May 25, 2011 @ 12:35 pm in Paul Biba Publishing
I want to start off by apologizing for the generic greeting; in spite of my best efforts to determine just who is actually responsible for the problem I’m having, nobody’s saying a word about whose job quality control of ebook editions actually is. I have asked authors when I have written to them about errors in their books. I have asked the president of Kobo himself, both in person and via email, to give me an email address, a contact number, a job title, anything. And everybody shrugs because it isn’t their problem; so I am addressing this generally in hopes that this letter goes as viral as it’s possible for these things to go and somebody out there in publishing land will read it, and care.
Anyway, I want to explain to you about the $9.99 that you lost today. It involves a purchase I made in good faith this morning from that stalwart (and lone) Canadian ebook seller, Kobo Books. They will shortly be refunding me this money—learning from the past experience of at least four previous complaints of a similar nature, I submitted fairly substantial documentation along with my customer service query—but for now, let’s still call it a purchase so that you can understand what’s happened here.
The short version, publishers, is this—somebody at your company is running a PDF or Word file or whatever through some kind of meatgrinder converter, and then failing to give it a final proof before slapping a full, non-discountable retail price on it. And what’s arriving in customer’s hot little e-hands are shoddy books with basic errors that are just appalling. As a customer, it is completely unacceptable to me to pay full sticker price and get an inferior product. And I don’t just mean inferior in the ‘I can’t re-sell it like I can with paper and it’s crippled by DRM’ sense. I mean ‘inferior’ as in my teenaged brother could spend twenty minutes reading it and run out of fingers on which to count the really obvious mistakes.
Some examples from today’s book—and, remember, this was with half an hour of reading during my lunch break, I am barely through the introduction of the book here—
‘if sugar created an opioid effect, it would en- hance self-esteem.’
’92 percent of the graduates were sdii clean and sober’
‘I want you to sue- ceed on this plan.’
‘Did you make a special trip to get a bigjar?
See what I mean? If you found yourself with a box of printed books that had such obvious mistakes, you’d recall them and not send them out to the stores. If you learned about it after the fact, you’d issue an apology and refund your reader’s money. If this was a book that you yourself had purchased, you’d be driving back to the store to return it—why should you pay your hard-earned money for something that’s so obviously not yet ready for sale? And…to bring it back to my little problem of this morning…why should I?
Somebody has to proofread this stuff, you guys. I have tried in vain to find out just which job title at each of your illustrious firms is the responsible party. But I do know whose job it should NOT be, and that’s mine, after I have already shelled out money. Get it together, people. Hire a college lit major for minimum wage or whatever and have them wade through your final output before you release it to your e-vendors. Or hire back the intern you fired when you got rid of the slushpile and have them do it. But somewhere between your ‘convert to epub now’ button and my wallet, there simply has to be another set of eyes, because—and this is the part that makes this so tragic, for both of us—I’ll happily take back the $9.99 that Kobo will refund to me. But I would have rather had the book.
You will be familiar with MECE, mutually exclusive – collectively exhaustive.
And if you have read the blog, you will be familiar with Stellar®, the identity tool. Stellar was created MECE.
It consists of a circle of 12 nodal points such that each two adjoining nodes represent the proximal, mutually exclusive, non-redundant, logical concepts in a collectively exhaustive, functional circularity defining organizational identity.
Highly condensed but hopefully rigorous. Give us your feedback.