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How the Mighty Fall

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What, if anything, have we learned from Enron , WorldCom and other corporate failures? What have we learned from the collapse of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers ? What have we learned from the alleged misdemeanors  of media giants, Hollywood moguls, unicorn leaders, and others who we treated as icons till recently? It appears that we refuse to learn anything . When Carlos Ghosn arrived in Japan in 1999, many expressed surprise. After all, Renault was not in good shape and taking on the responsibility of the troubled Nissan appeared to be an unnecessary risk. In fairness to Ghosn , he proved his critics wrong. With a ruthless focus on cost-cutting measures combined with engineering precision, he turned the company around . The success of Nissan was instrumental in the acquisition of Mitsubishi . The conglomerate of Renault , Nissan , and Mitsubishi became one of the world leaders in automobiles. The success story was not without its d

Personalization and Marketing Strategy

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Extraordinary changes have occurred in the customer experience landscape over the last few decades. The notion of standardized products and services for in inter-connected world has given way to the imperative for  personalization as the key driver for marketing success . The Problem : Customers expect  to be recognized on every channel. Customers assume  that any experience they initiate on one channel or device can be picked up right where they left off when they switch to another channel or device. Customers expect  to be able to interact with a company  24/7  – whenever and wherever it is most convenient for them. The Challenge : Organizations find it  exponentially difficult  to  execute a personalized marketing strategy  across channels and devices, because of the increasing number of technologies and the resulting complexity. The Solution : Organizations need to learn  (and learn fast) how to  declutter  the marketing technology stack (please see  BCG ’s illustration b

Genius ≠ Great Leadership?

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Intelligence Quotient (IQ) is one of the most hyped characteristics while determining the potential effectiveness of an individual. Fanciful figures of 175 or more are associated with certain categories of people – Nobel laureates, chess prodigies, and corporate titans – among others. The truth is quite different. The “ average ” IQ is supposed to be 100 and a score of 120 is considered adequate for success in any field. Strangely, there is a consensus among experts that beyond a certain level, IQ by itself means nothing although the level is not fixed. Now, Emotional Intelligence (EI) guru Daniel Goleman argues that while there is a correlation between intelligence and leadership performance for leaders up to an IQ of around 120, there is none for an IQ above 120 – what is more, there is a negative impact on leadership effectiveness for an IQ above 128 ! This surprising research finding from the University of Lausanne surmises that the super-high-IQ leaders may not know how to

Complicatedness and Firm Performance

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Nobel laureate Paul Krugman wrote in The Age of Diminished Expectations that “a country’s ability to improve its standard of living depends almost entirely on its ability to raise its output per worker.” At the peak of its economic prosperity, Japan had the highest human productivity in the world. Today it is in the 7 th position – even though the average Japanese works 80 hours a week and 100 hours a week is not uncommon. Japan ranks at the bottom among countries on the vacation dimension. Unfortunately, there is no relationship between hours worked and performance. In a desperate attempt to encourage people to spend a little time away from work, Japan introduced a “ Friday Premium ” program under which employees were required to leave their workplace at 3 PM on the last Friday of every month. The result? Nothing. In a culture that places the welfare of the group far ahead of the individual, no one wanted to be the first to leave.  Contrast this with countries that literally fo

Better Decisions - In 3 Steps

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We can all be wise in hindsight. How about being wise looking into the future? Managers make decisions every day, often several times a day.   Have you ever thought how you could significantly improve the quality of your decisions ?  HBR editor Walter Frick  has some sage advice – in three simple steps. 1.    Be less certain – make no mistake – while confidence is a desirable, indeed necessary characteristic, overconfidence is a killer. We tend to think that failure is due to incompetence. While sustained incompetence can lead to failure, by itself incompetence is a correctable deficiency. You can acquire new skills, seek a mentor, or turn to colleagues for help. If you are overconfident, you are in a league of your own. Consider this example:   Jimmy Cayne was the CEO of Bear Stearns and considered to be among the brightest fund managers in the world. When the first signs of trouble appeared in 2007, you would think that Cayne would be keen to address the p