When the new CEO of Campbell’s Soups was put into the job in 2011, she was faced with some big issues; the innovation pipeline was virtually dry and sales of the core products were declining. Even worse, she sensed very little energy within the organization.
Gutsy Leadership Blog
I read an interesting article recently about a start-up of a few years ago called Grockit. It had only 15 employees and was focused on launching a set of online education tools based on a game that would teach students math, English, and other subjects. The CEO of the organization was the key driver of the effort and when the company was right in the midst of developing a beta version of the software, he was riding home on his Vespa scooter and got hit by a truck. The injuries were serious; broken ribs, lacerations, and most critically, a kidney that was severely damaged.
Several years ago leadership guru Rosabeth Moss Kanter described a memorable way to think about the flexibility needed in successfully leading an organization. Specifically, there are times when you need to step way back and look at a broad view of a situation, which she calls “zooming out,” while at other times you need to “zoom in,” looking closely at a particular area to see in detail what is going on. Here are two examples of failure in this area.
Several years ago there was an article in the Harvard Business Review that really stuck with me. It was about an individual moving into a new managerial job and what it would take to become a great leader of that new organization versus just an adequate leader. While the author went into a whole bunch of different issues related to the topic, what I took away, when I blended it with my own set of battle scars from decades in the business world, was a basic framework for thinking about the key dimensions of a leader’s role.
In a recently published book called Driving Honda, the author makes the case that Honda is one of the most innovative companies in the world. That innovation has certainly played out in the financial results of the company in that it has never posted a loss in its history. Honda’s operating profit ratios of about 5% consistently top the industry. Its stock price has just about doubled since September, 2008 when the economy crashed. Most impressive is that 75% of its cars and trucks sold in the last 25 years are still on the road.
In a recent interview with the CEO of the company, he discussed the company’s “protect and attack” strategy. The protect part consists of defending and rapidly expanding its core market in PC’s and the attack part has to do with preparing for a world dominated by mobile and the cloud. Regarding mobile, the plan is for the Motorola acquisition to assist Lenovo in moving from being the number two smartphone player in China and the number four worldwide into a more dominant position.
I am sure you have met people where it didn’t take long before you realized they are highly competitive. They hate to lose; but if they do, they want to play more to prove to themselves that they can prevail.
It is rather amazing to see so many successful companies stare at new ideas, do nothing, and get run over. The classic large-scale examples are Kodak and digital photography, Nokia and smartphones, and Blockbuster and DVD’s by mail and then movies via streaming.
Most managers tend to proliferate projects. Then they attempt to keep them all going forward, rather than regularly assessing things and picking the vital few that are clearly more important and giving them full attention. We know killing projects is hard, and that is why the recent success of United Technologies is worth scrutinizing a bit.
Yahoo recently reported their 2nd quarter, 2014 results. Total revenue fell 3%, its fourth decline in the past five quarters and below the company’s estimates. The item that really took people by surprise was the 7% decline in display advertising. One financial analyst from Pivotal Research who follows Yahoo closely cited, “it’s remarkable how bad […]