51st Edition — January 26, 2020
To succeed consistently, good managers need to be skilled not just in choosing, training, and motivating the right people for the right job, but in choosing, building, and preparing the right organization for the job as wellClayton M. Christensen, The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail
1. Remembering Clayton Christensen
We lost a great man this week. Clayton Christensen was only 67, but I’m sure those who knew this special person will remember him for being a great family man who cared more about others than himself.
When I think of Christensen, I think of critical and important concepts that he brought to our attention such as disruptive innovation, a refreshing approach to reinventing business models, and his own mental model framework – a shelf of theories.
The concept that I probably use 2-3 times a week is his Jobs to Be Done mental construct which every marketer and operations person should understand. There is no better place to get introduced to this brilliant thinker than watching this short video on this simple heuristic.
2. A Short Clayton Christensen Reading List
The first Christensen book I ever read was How Will You Measure Your Life? With my birthday coming up in a few days, I’m going to reread it. If you don’t have it, the digital version is only $2.99.
Here’s a starting point if you want to read the way he thought about strategy and results:
- You need to start with The Innovator’s Dilemma originally published in 2013. I tend to pair this book with Geoffrey Moore’s, Crossing the Chasm.
- I’ve already mentioned it, but How Will You Measure Your Life should be read by every CEO, financial leader, and manager of any kind.
- There are way too many HBR articles to point to, but skim, then read Innovation Killers: How Financial Tools Destroy Your Capacity to Do New Things. Another important, and go-to article is Reinventing Your Business Model which you’ll probably read more than once.
Like Drucker, you don’t read Christensen, you study his ideas and figure out how they fit into your existing worldview. In many cases, your business paradigms will be shifted. In short, Christensen causes us all to think long and hard.
3. Are You a Strategist?
For some time, I’ve been practicing a tool that becomes more interesting each time I attempt to use this abstract map with nothing more than a pencil and paper.
Simon Wardley is a scientist, recovering management consultant, and former CEO. His teaching on strategy is the best I’ve ever studied in depth. His pioneering approach to mapping is fascinating, yet difficult to apply when getting started. If Wardley Mapping intrigues you, here’s a learning path that will require some perseverance –
- You can read Wardley’s 18 chapters on this subject which is part memoir, part theory, and part application.
- If you are in a hurry, this 13-minute video on value chain mapping is excellent.
- Want more? Check out the free 15-minute course by Ben Mosior.
4. A Financial Leader Vision
There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t think or ask, “How do I make this message simpler and easier to understand?” CEOs are busy. So my job is to remove as many barriers to resistance in their hectic world of making hundreds of decisions every single week.
I’m reminded of the AICPA’s CPA Vision Project in the late 1990s which I’m not convinced took hold. The CPA Vision Project states in part that we will communicate the total picture with clarity and objectivity and translate complex information into critical knowledge (and action – I added this part).
Are we doing this uncommonly well?
This past week, I listened to a panel discussion about the management systems CEOs use such as Scaling Up, The Great Game of Business, and The Entrepreneurial System (EOS).
Okay, good stuff. But I kept waiting, and waiting, and waiting.
All of them flunked by never mentioning the customer or innovation. I wish the authors of these management systems who are excellent at packaging and marketing would steal a few pages from the scale-ups in Silicon Valley and beyond where the focus is on finding, getting, and keeping a customer which is driven by value creation.
Do leaders need great culture? Absolutely. Great systems and processes? Of course. But customer and business development need to be core modules in each of these management systems.
My favorite management framework by a dozen miles is the Table Group’s on organizational health. Yet, you have to search long and hard for any discussion on customer development.
Every CEO will say it’s not so, but inadvertently, many business leaders are placing process over purpose when using these systems–it’s an easy trap to fall into. Packaged management systems are nothing more than a coordinated set of projects executed throughout the organization. I’m reminded of this Gallup quote which I think is apt in this discussion:
When it comes to project management, most organizations put their practices before their people. They place more emphasis on rational factors — the process itself — and less on emotional drivers that could lead to project excellence — like their employees’ engagement with the project and company.The Cost of Bad Project Management by Benoit Hardy-Vallee, February 7, 2012
As you live and apply your company’s management system, remember the customer. They pay your salary.
Thank You For Reading
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Take care and have a great week. Always be learning.