m u s i n g s

Wisdom
  • The work begins here.
  • Simple Works.
  • Get out of the way.
  • Change hurts. Risk as you expect others to risk.
  • Create context.
  • Seed hope.
  • Persevere.
  • Find the client in yourself.
  • You are your best intervention.
Geoffrey Bellman - 1990

HOPE

"As technology makes it easier for a business to find and collaborate with outside expertise, a huge and competitive market for consultants will arise."

Bill Gates, The Road Ahead, Viking Books, 1995.


r i s k

The more I've thought about it over the years, the more I've concluded that what really leads to outstanding consultants, and I think then outstanding performance in almost anything you can think of, is the willingness to really take risks, take risks with your thinking, to take risks in how far you're trying to push the client, and not to be conservative and too cautious. I had a conversation with a colleague recently who was learning how to ski, and he said that, in the course of his ski week, he concluded that, if you weren't falling, you weren't learning, and I think that's, you know, a general rule of life. You've got to take risks and be willing to fail.

Fred Gluck, Managing Director, McKinsey & Co, Pinnacle, June 19, 1994.


STRATEGY

"A deliberate search for a plan of action that will develop a business's competitive advantage and compound it. For any company the search is an iterative process that begins with a recognition of where you are and what you have now. Your most dangerous competitors are those that are most like you. The differences between you and your competitors are the basis of your advantage. If you are in business and self-supporting you already have some kind of competitive advantage no matter how small or subtle. Otherwise you would have gradually lost customers faster than you gained them. The objective is to enlarge the scope of your advantage which can only happen at someone else's expense."

Bruce Henderson, Founder, Boston Consulting Group, HBR, 1989


fads??

"The insidious thing about command and control management is that it works."

Marvin Bower, McKinsey & Co.


SCA

People of my generation, seeking to understand why companies succeed, have spent most of their time hunting an elusive animal called the SCA, or, to give its full name, the sustainable competitive advantage. They've hunted it in the belief it was the embodiment of success; a guarantee, if not of corporate immortality, at least, of a long, healthy, and prosperous business life. But they never found the creature. Or, if they found it, they never caught it. It seems the SCA, once found, becomes sand, running through fingers. There is some evidence of the animal's previous existence in the Great Museum of Corporate Profitability. The IBM exhibit, for instance, shows the company could do no wrong -- for a long period. The AT&T exhibit, the DuPont exhibit, and the Siemens exhibit all suggest these firms domesticated the SCA -- for a while. Maybe the SCA is like the Great Awk. It might have existed once, but it became extinct so long ago that no one really knows for sure... I hesitate to say it, but I'm beginning to believe strategic agility is more important than strategy -- that a firm's ability to make money has more to do with its ability to transform itself, continuously, than whether it has the right strategy.

Francis Gouillart, Senior vice president, Gemini Consulting, Journal of Business Strategy, May 1995.


``You may not be interested in strategy, but strategy is interested in you.''

Leon Trotsky


PEOPLE

"The real competition out there isn't for clients, it's for people. And we look to hire people who are, first, very smart; second, insecure and thus driven by their insecurity; and third, competitive. Put together 3,000 of these egocentric, task-oriented, achievement-oriented people, and it produces an atmosphere of something less than humility. Yes, it's elitist. But don't you think there has to be room somewhere in this politically correct world for something like this?"

Ron Daniel, McKinsey & Co, Fortune, November 1, 1993


Change?

Don't let anyone bullshit you--no one's yet reinvented the practice of management for the information age. Certainly the priests of conventional management wisdom--the Harvard Business School, McKinsey & Co. and the exec ed boffins at G.E. don't have the answers. What does their dressed-up, buttoned-down, shiny-toed view of management have to offer Ed McCracken, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison and their ilk? The machine age was an Atlantic phenomenon; the information age is a Pacific phenomenon. Is it mere coincidence that Wang, DEC, IBM, Unisys and Lotus have all fallen victim, to one degree or another, to West Coast competitors?

Revolution, Gary Hamel, Principal of Strategos


THE WORLD

The world is all gates, all opportunities, strings of tension waiting to be struck.

Ralph Waldo Emerson


THAT'S ALL

I keep six honest serving men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

Rudyard Kipling, The Elephant's Child