What Is the Theory of Your Firm? – Harvard Business Review

What Is the Theory of Your Firm? – Harvard Business Review, June 2013 Edition: “If asked to define strategy, most executives would probably come up with something like this: Strategy involves discovering and targeting attractive markets and then crafting positions that deliver sustained competitive advantage in them.”

Key points: your corporate theory should be assessed against the three “sights”: Foresight, Insight and Cross-sight.

  1. Foresight: you understand what the customers want.
  2. Insight: you know what can me the difference internally (assets and activities).
  3. Cross-sight: You look into complementarity outside your current business for potential value creation.

The author is Todd Zenger. He uses the cases of the Walt Disney Company, Apple and Mittal Steel as good examples. He highlights AT&T as an example of a company that could not get its strategy together.


Desai – The Decentering of the Global Firm

This paper describes recent changes in the relationship between firms and nation

(from Harvard Business School Working Paper 09-054 by Mihir A. Desai)

This paper takes a look at the market reality whereby it is becoming very difficult to pinpoint the nationality of a global firm that has its stock listed in a country, its headquarter in a second one and operations scattered accross the globe.

The paper also examines the case of Dual listed companies (DLC) and Cross-border listed companies.

Companies listed in the article:

  • Caterpillar
  • Honda
  • Celanese AG  (Celanese Corporation)
  • Warner-Chilcott plc
  • Nestlé (Alcon AG, Alcon Inc.)
  • News Corporation
  • Stanley Works
  • Accenture
  • BHP-Billiton
  • Reed Elsevier (Reed Elsevier PLC, Reed Elsevier NV)
  • Royal Dutch Shell
  • Unilever
  • GE (Genpact)
  • Lend Lease
  • ABB
  • GKN Brambles

Goleman et al. – “Primal Leadership: The Hidden Driver of Great Performances”

When the theory of emotional intelligence at work began to receive widespread attention, we frequently heard executives say – in that same breath, mind you – “That’s incredible,” and, “Well, I’ve known that all along.”

(from Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee’s Primal Leadership: The Hidden Driver of Great Performance published by HBR)

Key points:

Ask yourself those questions:

  1. Who do I want to be?
  2. Who am I now?
  3. How do I get from here to there?
  4. How do I make change stick?
  5. Who can help me?

Pfeffer and Sutton – “The Smart-Talk Trap”

Consider two stories, both sadly true and sadly typical

(from Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton’s The Smart-Talk Trap published by HBR)

Key Points:

As a leader:

  • Know and do the work
  • talk in a language people understand
  • do not ask “Why” but “How”
  • Close the loop
  • learn from experience

In short:

Walk the Talk

Daniel Goleman – “Leadership That Gets Results”

Ask any group of businesspeople the question “What do effective leaders do?” and you’ll hear a sweep of answers.

(from Daniel Goleman’s Leadership That Gets Results published by HBR)

Key points:

what type of leader are you?

  1. Coercive leader
  2. Authoritative leader
  3. Affiliative leader
  4. Democratic leader
  5. Pacesetting leader
  6. coaching leader

Knowing it, do you lead accordingly?

Daniel Goleman – “What Makes a Leader?”

Every businessperson knows a story about a highly intelligent, highly skilled executive who was promoted into a leadership position only to fail at the job.

(from Daniel Goleman’s What Makes a Leader, published by HBR)

Key points:

The five components of Emotional intelligence at Work are

  1. Self-Awareness
  2. Self-Regulation
  3. Motivation
  4. Empathy
  5. Social Skill

This is a great article. Hopefully, Emotional intelligence can be learned.

Let’s start.