Activist investors are smart – what can we learn from them?

1399251Activist investors were busy in 2017. General Electric, AIG, Arconic, CSX, Pandora, and Buffalo Wild Wings are among the companies whose CEOs resigned under pressure from activist investors. Activist investors single out underperforming companies, then force changes, which may include giving the activist a seat on the board, replacing company leaders, divesting a division, or simply cutting costs.

Continue Reading →

Want to grow faster, and smarter? Adopt the New Rules of Fearless Growth

friendship-2366955_1920Growth has always been fundamental to business success, but it’s never been more critical than it is now. Rapid changes in technology, shifting customer expectations, disruptive business models and quickly evolving regulations force organizations to innovate quickly and invest in new lines of business that will fuel future growth. The problem is, the same forces that make growth imperative also can make it incredibly daunting.

I see business leaders wrestling with some tough strategic dilemmas: should we disrupt our own business before someone else does, or focus on protecting it? Do we develop new capabilities internally or partner externally? Do we craft a careful plan or simply plunge right in? If you aren’t careful, these uncertainties and doubts can slow you down, while the competition speeds by.

Continue Reading →

A Kiteboarder’s Guide to Embracing Business Uncertainty

Amanda at Tybee Island, Oct. 2017

Amanda at Tybee Island, Oct. 2017

If it’s a weekend and the forecast shows potential for good wind, my husband and I head to the beach. We aren’t always rewarded with enough wind for great kiteboarding, but if there is wind, we’re often the only ones there, set up and ready to take advantage of it.

Meanwhile, others who have waited for the wind to materialize before jumping in the car often arrive just as the wind is dying.

Just like the wind, most everything in business is subject to change, often when you least expect it. And change brings uncertainty, which often manifests as doubt, delay and paralysis. We don’t know what’s going to happen, so we wait.  According to psychologists, we humans are hardwired to dislike uncertainty; it’s in our DNA. In a recent study, researchers discovered that uncertainty is more stressful to humans than knowing that something bad is definitely going to happen.

Continue Reading →

Want to move fast on a strategic opportunity? Deploy a focused team, and get out of their way!

Jetpack manNo doubt about it: we live in a rapidly changing world. Disruptive technologies, shifting customer behaviors and emerging business models are shaking up nearly every industry. If you are going to survive and succeed amidst this change, you need to move in a fast and adaptable way. Yes…even if you’re a huge global organization with many layers of leadership.

To survive and succeed amidst change, move in a fast and adaptable way. Click To Tweet

For seasoned executives, the knowledge that they must compete with young, energetic upstarts who can switch speed and direction on a dime can be scary. And with good reason: It’s often very difficult for established organizations to move quickly and behave in an entrepreneurial fashion.

Continue Reading →

Five Steps to Achieving Consensus–Even When It Seems Impossible


unnamedWith the fast pace of change in the world today, there is great uncertainty surrounding almost every decision we make. And, when there is uncertainty, there are going to be many different opinions about the best path forward.

Reaching a consensus is important because we need all functions and players in our organization to be aligned and moving in the same direction. Organizations can get stuck at a cross road, unable to pick a path forward, when they place too much emphasis on getting everyone on board with a controversial decision. This is a mistake. Continue Reading →

Change the Game

Change The Game

I recently worked with a large, successful company whose growth had slowed. They needed new ideas—and not just any ideas, but big ideas: new growth trajectories that would generate at least a billion dollars in revenue. Entirely new categories.

They were already one of the largest players in their industry, so taking market share was not easy for them. They needed to build new markets—creating and serving customer needs that had never before existed.

The problem was the ideas just weren’t flowing from the team. Continue Reading →

Unshackle Your Team’s Creativity

Forward Business Planning

Have you ever wished for more input, insights, and ideas from the employees on your team?

Especially when our businesses are not performing as well as we’d like, we really need our teammates’ creative ideas. But when we gather a group and ask for ideas—whether for new product features, cost reduction ideas, or ways to improve service—we often see the same, recycled thoughts. Or ones that are only a smidgen better than what’s currently being done.

It’s not the employees’ fault. Humans are wired to keep doing what they’ve been rewarded for in the past. We are wired to protect our allies, and to avoid risk. These tendencies tend to hold us back when it comes to thinking in new ways. We are shackled by what’s worked before and have a hard time imagining a new way of doing things.

Here are a few techniques for helping your team break free to develop new ways of thinking about your business. Continue Reading →