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Entries in management (62)


Beer Mat Strategy

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A few ideas can be better than a lot.

What was Steve Jobs first strategic call when he returned to Apple in 1997?

According to biographer, Walter Isaacson, he slashed 90% of existing product development. On a whiteboard he drew a simple alternative plan.

It was a two-by-two matrix. The columns were Consumer and Pro; the rows were Desktop and Portable. Four market segments; four products. Everything else was eliminated. Apple was reborn.

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Management and regulation

There’s a positive to compliance.

A key part of assessing a business acquisition is the “due diligence” process. Few people will buy a venture without thoroughly kicking the tyres.

Sometimes it’s a modest exercise focusing on obvious concerns. In more sophisticated acquisitions, it involves a prolonged examination of every aspect of the business in question. Buyers don’t just want to know the upside; they also want to check the downside.

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What you are thinking is not what will happen

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The problems with planning.

Do businesses turn out exactly like the business plan? None of mine did. Even my most sophisticated spreadsheets never produced anything like the numbers I forecast. Personal plans were not much different.

Some have gone worse, some have gone better, but none mirrored the profile I had so carefully constructed. The late John Lennon was not far off the mark: “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”

Does that mean planning is a wasted exercise?

I don’t know whether Lennon lived by that quote or was just making an observation.

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When you don't know what to do

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Sometimes it’s better just to make a decision.

We learn the theory of momentum early. Sit on a bicycle that’s not moving and it falls over. Pedal a little and it stays upright. You don’t have to go that fast to get some control. Once you are moving, you can go straight ahead or change direction.

You can go faster, but when you do, it gets riskier.

Neither extreme is much help when nothing is clear. In times of uncertainty, to paraphrase Pink Floyd, there’s no one to tell you when to run. Do nothing and you miss the starting gun.

On the other hand, going fast can build up momentum in the wrong direction.

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Surviving tough times

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Plus ca change…...

Last week, I spoke to a father and son team who run a home furnishing store. Business is tough. There’s plenty of competition. Retail is suffering globally. Yet, in the last two years, turnover is up; so are profits.

What are they doing right?

A walk through the mall throws up some answers. Virtually everyone has the “Sale” sign out. Prices have been slashed. Inevitably, some shops are closing. Staff are disinterested. Showrooms lack feel.

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