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Today's business leaders are confronted with a variety of obstacles that threaten their very survival. To survive and thrive, the modern manager must know how to lead through adversity while preparing their companies for a new era of success. In Ruthless Execution, Amir Hartman and Craig LeGrande identify the primary approaches and techniques that keep companies from falling prey to the myriad of corporate, economic, and market challenges faced by organizations around the world. In the second edition of this book, managers and executives will learn when and how to recalibrate the balance between performance and growth; how to define a coherent, tightly-drawn business philosophy that maps to specific actions; new ways to promote accountability and business alignment; and how to use performance metrics without burying people in meaningless trivia. The authors give practical advice on how to develop stronger critical capabilities for understanding and managing complexity. This fully updated edition offers new techniques for thriving despite adversity and features new examples and cases illustrating the challenges faced by the modern global organization.
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To address a setback, you first should decide what matters most to you and your company. This will require that you abandon or divest any projects, which are not precisely aligned with where you want to head. In practical terms, there are two basic areas to look at:
The first priority in a time of business reversal is to evaluate where the business should be heading and to focus on doing whatever is needed to generate momentum in that direction. Recalibrating the strategy of a business means:
■ Rearranging the company's portfolio of projects and other growth initiatives.
■ Assessing how resources are allocated over all available options.
■ Deciding what direction the company should be taking to position itself advantageously for the future.
Very few executives have experience in strategic recalibration and therefore their natural inclination is to slam on the brakes and make across-the-board cuts, killing the good and the bad. While this may help meet short-term demands, it will do little to build the company's long-term business prospects. There is also the problem that the business leader's own biases and politics may interfere with this process.
Strategic recalibration will generally follow this sequence:
To succeed at strategic recalibration, the key rules are:
1. Not only hit a good balance between short-term and long-term projects, but also make room for initiatives which:
Cut costs or other fundamentals of the business.
Build operational excellence.
Allow for some rational experimentation with new ideas.
Create some fundamental industry breakthroughs.
2. Build discipline into the process of managing the portfolio, so that new initiatives, which straddle several parts of the business, are tracked accurately and prioritized on an informed rather than an ad-hoc basis.
3. Understand that before attempting something innovative and new, the existing business must first be operating efficiently.
4. Narrow the focus to two or three promising new business initiatives rather than attempting to seed too many growth opportunities to manage.
5. Be clear that different business initiatives in the portfolio will typically achieve different rates of return. Therefore, evaluate each according to its risk characteristics.
In tough times, the natural tendency of most business leaders is to focus on getting their own house in order before worrying about growth. Therefore, operational excellence and cost-cut-ting get prominence. This is not enough, however. Seeding growth opportunities also needs to be an imperative if the company is to do well in the future. The key is to make sure that the kind of growth, which is pursued, actually ends up creating value for the company.
In developing a rational portfolio of business initiatives, the most common mistakes to avoid are:
■ Many companies attempt to do too much at once. They would be far better off focusing on less business initiatives and resourcing them better.
■ Sometimes companies wait and see whether the general business climate is improving before deciding whether to move forward with a new idea. That hands a competitive advantage to others if you're not careful.
■ A large number of companies prefer to stick to a business they are familiar with than enter new industries. That's admirable if the industry they are in faces a strong future, but can cause problems if there are compelling reasons to move elsewhere.
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