Author Archives | Brad Power
Silicon Valley around San Jose

Leveraging Silicon Valley — from wherever you are

In business, volatility used to be more limited to the realms of finance and high tech. But as the tech wave has continued to sweep the globe, the environment for all organizations, including non-tech ones, has shifted from stability and predictability to rapid, unpredictable change. Innovations like Amazon price checks, or changes to healthcare or […]

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Customer intimacy, meet operational excellence

What is more important to company success, a strong external focus on customer experiences or an internal focus on effective and efficient operations? Of course, it’s a false dichotomy — you need both. I described in an earlier post how Tesco worked for years to improve its supply chain capabilities, then leveraged this value by using deeper customer knowledge […]

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IT is eating corporate strategy

IT has never been a bigger part of what a company does to compete. That doesn’t necessarily mean the IT department…but your information technology, no matter how it gets delivered and by whom. Driven by social, mobile, big data, and whatever comes next, IT is more core than ever. Will that continue? In order to […]

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The true story of GE’s insourcing

GE’s “insourcing” of appliance manufacturing to the U.S. has been trumpeted as a major reversal of the trend of sending jobs abroad to lower cost locations, and has been characterized in the press as a kind of “onshoring” story. I see it differently: as a “NUMMI deja vu” story. You may recall thatNUMMI was a joint […]

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Organizations need to be anti-fragile

Many large, successful organizations are more fragile than they seem. They break under stress. Remember the travails of Kodak, Digital Equipment Corp., and Washington Mutual? In their heyday, they were dominant players in their sectors. All disappeared. Why do relatively few companies prove resilient and withstand stress? And why are even fewer “anti-fragile” — that is, […]

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Bridging the Gap between marketing and IT

Bridging the ever-widening gap between Marketing and IT

Editor’s note: Faced with declining IT budgets during the recent economic downturn, many CMO’s turned to Software as a Service (SaaS) to fill the gap left by an underfunded and overloaded IT department. This kicked off a battle for budget, strategy and control that continues to heat up in most enterprises. In this piece, Brad […]

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Standard Work

Be much more efficient by defining your org’s work habits

How often do we think about the way we usually operate at work? Whether we’re performing an informal five-step process for evaluating a new proposal, or setting priorities for managing our time, how often do we think about consistency and efficiency? Our ability to improve the ways we do things depends on defining and shaping […]

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Standard operating procedures can make you more flexible

Most people think standard operating procedures are a strait jacket that limits their flexibility. Yet in our increasingly complex world of work, with so many possible decisions and steps, clever use of standards can liberate. They can actually make it easier to tailor customer experiences at low cost. Consider how standards are helping the Cleveland Clinic, rated one […]

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Understanding customers Is everyone’s job

Going to market effectively these days, no matter what business you’re in, means relating to customers as individuals — even if there are millions of them. In a previous post, I described how U.K. retailer Tesco built detailed profiles of customers and then used these insights and a flexible supply chain to customize their products and […]

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Great Shopping Experience

Operational excellence, meet customer intimacy

Most organizations continuously strive to achieve operational excellence, but they spend less effort understanding customer needs — and few marry these two sources of customer value effectively. While a focus on lowering costs, improving quality, and providing consistent, reliable service will continue to be important, I see a shift in the coming decade to combining […]

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Innovating around a bureaucracy

What do you do if you’re a leader in a large, successful organization with an entrenched bureaucracy, and you see the need for innovation? Can you change the way a large organization — such as the federal government — does its work, when all the forces are arrayed for stability and conservatism? Consider the story […]

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Keeping work organized when your team Is fragmented

Companies increasingly use outside specialists to do their work. Driven by the ever-lower costs of global communication and online collaboration tools, Henry Ford’s vertically integrated organization is yielding to Procter & Gamble’s network of external innovators. Almost anything can be outsourced to specialists and reconnected. While companies have outsourced low-value work such as payroll processing […]

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Make agility part of your process

Rational managers for the past thirty years have tightly focused on efficiency, cost cutting, and day-to-day execution — perhaps to a fault. With increasing industry disruption, efficiency is fast becoming of secondary importance to innovation and agility. Many large organizations have too little capacity for external sensing, strategic reflection, and business transformation. As a recent WalMart […]

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Cogs in the Machine

Nationwide talks tangible benefits from social media for collaboration

As we automate more and more routine work, generating ever greater volumes of digital data, managers are focusing ever more on supporting knowledge workers — which these days is just about everybody. Online collaboration tools can help; they can give workers quick answers to questions, speed decision-making, and improve communications from the top to bottom […]

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water cooler

In Praise of Face Time

Almost all work these days is distributed — people interact with one other to make sales and process orders from different locations, for instance. To keep everyone up-to-date, particularly across departments and functions, employees use electronic tools (e-mail, voice mail, conference calls, instant messaging, and social media). In our virtual world, working face-to-face is increasingly […]

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Risk Game

Three examples of new process strategy

There are three fundamental ways that companies can improve their processes in the coming decade: (1) expand the scope of work managed by a company to include customers, suppliers, and partners; (2) target the increasing amount of knowledge work; and (3) reduce cycle times to durations previously considered impossible (as I discussed in my last […]

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