Here is the second part of my post on the July/August 2010 issue of HBR. (First part is here.)
- The Execution Trap, by Roger Martin, the dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. "Drawing a line between strategy and execution almost guarantees failure." The author suggests that, instead of viewing top management as the "brain" and low-level executives as the "hands", companies should envision a "white-water river, where choices cascade from the top to the bottom." Upstream decisions are broader and more abstract, while downstream employees "are empowered to make choices that best fit the situation at hand."
- Power Play, by Jeffrey Pfeffer, the Thomas D Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business. "Any new strategy worth implementing has some controversy surrounding it and someone with a counteragenda fighting it. When push comes to shove, you need more than logic to carry the day. You need power."
- An interview of Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz by Adi Ignatius. (For more information about Starbucks's revival, Economist subscribers can read this February 2009 article, about the company's foray into instant coffee, and this positive September 2009 article on the turnaround.)
- Are You Ignoring Trends That Could Shake Up Your Business?, by Elie Ofek, TJ Dermot Dunphy Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and Luc Wathieu, currently holding the Ferrero Chair in International Marketing at the European School of Management and Technology in Berlin. The authors present three strategies to address the impact of trends: (1) "infuse and augment" (e.g., Coach introducing lower-priced handbags), (2) "combine and transcend" (e.g., Nike with the Nike+ sports kit and web service), and (3) "counteract and reaffirm" (e.g., iToys when it developed a video game encouraging children to be physically active).
- Innovation's Holy Grail, by the late CK Prahalad, who was the Paul and Ruth McCracken Distinguished University Professor of Strategy at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, and RA Mashelkar, a former director general of India's Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. "Affordability and sustainability are replacing premium pricing and abundance as innovation's drivers, but few executives know how to cope with the shift." The authors argue that, while Western executives struggle with this challenge, some companies in developing countries such as India are leading the way "by practicing three types of 'Gandhian innovation.' "