21 September 2009 • 7:00 am

What’s Your Proposition?

Amazon is shaking up retailers, both big rivals and small independent stores, as it speeds its way beyond books toward its goal of becoming a Web-sized general store. Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Amazon is shaking up retailers, both big rivals and small independent stores, as it speeds its way beyond books toward its goal of becoming a Web-sized general store. Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Try to imagine the largest bookstore in the world. Aisle after aisle, floor after floor of books, maps, audio books, music, video, you name it (if you’ve ever had the unique and wonderful experience of visiting Powell’s Bookstore in Portland, Oregon, you’ve got a great visual image to begin with). But this bookstore isn’t limited by physical size, or shelf space or inventory cost; it carries nearly every title in print, and a huge back catalog of used and out-of-print books. And in the unusual case where they don’t have the book you want in stock, they can try to get it for you from other stores or the publisher. Every time you enter this store, you’re immediately recognized and greeted by name at the door, and your personal guide stands ready to recommend books and other goods you might be interested in. Of course, you don’t have to get in your car to visit this store, it is as near as your computer. Of course, the largest bookstore in the world is


8 July 2009 • 7:00 am

Taking the Initiative on Initiatives

Expert facilitators of strategy and change programs understand that an important result of the process of strategic management is the concept of the initiative. We use the word initiative perhaps a bit too casually, for the concept of the initiative is the essential ingredient for accomplishing change. But, like many of the terms we use, the definition of an initiative is not self-evident, and means different things to different people.


16 June 2009 • 10:55 am

Consonance vs. Dissonance in the Change Agenda

(After two consecutive posts on the topic of the Strategy-Focused IT Organization, and two well-received posts on strategy map design, I return to one of my favorite themes: musing about organization behavior and its impact on strategy and change. Don’t like this topic? As the number of readers of the Tenacious Blog grows, I will rely ever more on your feedback to know which postings are most valuable to, so please share your comments and criticisms below every post that you read.)

One key benefit of having an outsider facilitate an organization’s change process is the outsider’s objective viewpoint. In preparing to facilitate a strategy development workshop, I insist on prior, separate, one-on-one interviews with each member of the leadership team charged with developing the strategy. My aim during these interviews is not to promote a particular change agenda, but to understand the extent to which the members of the team have identical, aligned, or divergent beliefs and values about the change agenda for the organization. In short, I look for consonance or dissonance (wonderful musical terms that apply here as well) in the strategic song of the leadership team. The understanding I gain is of vital importance when facilitating the team as a whole.


25 May 2009 • 11:19 am

Hygienic Strategy?

Much of my work with organizations has been influenced by two classic theories of human behavior and motivation. Many of my clients have been familiar with Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, in which human needs are arranged like rungs on a ladder. According to Maslow, the most basic needs at the bottom of the ladder are physical, such as air, water, food, and sleep. Next are safety needs, followed by psychological, or social needs; for belonging, love, acceptance. Next are esteem needs; to feel achievement, status, responsibility, and reputation. At the top of it all are the self-actualizing needs; the need to fulfill oneself, to become all that one is capable of becoming. Maslow felt that unfulfilled needs lower on the ladder would inhibit the person from climbing to the next step. Published in 1943, Maslow’s Theory of Human Motivation has been a remarkably durable set of ideas, given the advances in behavioral science in the decades since.