The enemy is already within. The flood gates are open. Can GE recover?

Managing cash, balancing this out with your liabilities and obligations, knowing your market dynamics, and equally, having a good understanding of where the future growth lies, are all essential for managing any healthy business.

It is then by utilizing robust research and development projects, combined with an acquisition strategy that augments growth, management creates sustainable and evolving business model.

These are the hallmarks of effective leadership. through managing your future development, mostly through research and development, that when combined with a sound acquisition strategy, that you believe will augment your present internal growth, so as to look to sustain the business, longer-term, becomes your contribution as a leader.  These are the bedrock of good corporate management. It seems within GE, all of these have been forgotten or collapsed. Why, I mean how can that have happened?

For a company reputed to have a good management discipline and focus, yet this year, 2017, for GE, it seems all of these are lying in tatters, or some parts will lose out as a consequence, into the future. What has gone wrong at GE?

The last few months have been some of the most shocking ones in GE’s history. GE has been around since 1892 and was one of the corporate titans of the 20th Century. Since the crisis of 2008, GE has been struggling to fully regain its position but all its actions were regarded very highly as “making good progress” as it maintained a relentless momentum of shedding and acquiring operations, as well as pursuing a buying back of its shares, and paying out the beloved GE dividend. This certainly provided a highly dynamic environment for managing the business. There has been a consistent muttering that this was not fast enough or clear enough. Well, GE faces a very different set of realities today.

Today, GE is in a very dark place at this moment. It is managing a full-blown set of crisis, that has investors highly spooked and demanding answers. Its share price is hovering around $17 per share, whereas, in February of this year, it was ranging in the $31- 32 price. Its market valuation, once over $400bn, is now closer to $150bn.

This is a long read, as the story itself is only just emerging and is a complex one. I simply have to step outside my own innovation comfort box to try to get to grips with the breaking GE story. It has shaken me.  I assume you already have some awareness of what is happening in a company that has been held up over so many years, as a model of good management. Continue reading

Advertisements

The Pressures Placed on the Innovator

There are multiple “stretching and straining points” that make the life of the innovator increasingly uncomfortable. These build into increasing frictions where the eventual performance of innovation seemingly disappoints the leadership of organizations. So why is that?

It is only when we can truly understand the constraints innovation works under, can we provide more robust solutions to reduced all these frictions and pain points that innovators are struggling with. There are many.

We often can’t seem to break down the rigidity win the organization’s system, to allow innovation to speed up, connect and deliver on its promise. Organizations continue to struggle with obtaining that higher level of agility and flexibility required for innovation speed of response and delivery.

The culture within organizations still is rather more closed-up into the silo mindset and not encouraged to be more open, engaging across functions in collaborating ways. We attempt co-creation to test ideas and try to deploy these but they come against institutional resistance to change. We continue to rely on emotional and gut decision-making and still have not fully embraced the data-driven cultures to make more informed decisions. All these constraints create that pressure to perform. So much around innovation is not optimal.

Continue reading

Are We Crushing Real Innovation?

Well, this morning I came across an article in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, entitled “America has become so anti-innovation – it’s economic suicide written by Ben Tarnoff, a writer on technology and politics, living in San Fransisco.

This article did disturb me, it triggered a number of validations in my own mind. Once you get past the opening rant about the infamous Juicero juicer, that has now been used as an illustration of how investors funded something that automates something that you can do faster by hand.

The article opens up the doors to questioning much that is going on under the Silicon Valley umbrella. The juicer got funding of $120m from a number of blue-chip VC’s but it was not this that actually disturbs me, it was this “ant-innovation” tag the writer was attaching to (North) America.

The article goes deeper in questioning where we are in our innovation thinking. We do have a real innovation growth dilemma that we can’t lay at the door of Silicon Valley alone, it is part of the Western world’s current sickness. It has lost that ability to take a positive risk in so much, ‘kicking the can down the road’ for others to resolve, be these societal, educational, health, infrastructural or institutional reforming and so much more. All really important innovation opportunities. Continue reading

No Company deserves to survive with apathy in its future

The grim reaper of innovationI have always found April a difficult month. It seems to be the defining month for transition between winter and summer. It can fool us on the first day (April fools day) and its weather for us in Europe does exactly the same, usually all month long, confusing us.

One where it is offering up a healthy mix of rain, stronger sun, a little flurry of snow and some heavy wind too.

It can constantly confuse us as it can rapidly alter within the same 24 hours to often keep the heating on, when it should be switched off and visa-versa. It can be an uncomfortable month of adjusting constantly, second guessing of what might be ahead.

On the innovation front I have been experiencing the same feeling of adjusting to uncomfortable days.

Continue reading

Uncharted Waters Disrupting the Corporate Boardrooms

The storm clouds of Radical InnovationWhen you read a report that has within its executive summary this: “In combination the boards stand unarmed to enter the battlefield of future business creation in a disrupted world it makes you want to read on.

In a recent report called Radical Innovation and Growth: Global Board Survey 2016 (link opens the pdf) we have results from a survey jointly conducted by Deloitte Denmark and Board Network – The Danish Professional Directors Association, that opens up much that can concern us about the current boardroom and its great difficulty with managing more radical innovation.

It seems within our boardrooms they are ill-equipped to managing in today’s world, grappling with the past, holding on, perhaps too tightly, to the present and certainly being unsure of the future. It is struggling to adjust to all that is entering their world.

In this report, they surveyed 614 global board professionals from a total of 50 countries during the period covered from November 2015 through to February 2016 and then published in February 2016.

Continue reading

Disruption, Destruction, Digital – Our Way of Future Life?

disrupt gaping voidI wanted to depart from just focusing on extolling innovation within this post – a sort of sound off, of sorts.

It seems in all I keep reading that we are being extorted to disrupt our enterprises before someone else does.

The constant threat of both those known to us and those unknown competitors who can simply raise money based on a disruptive concept, provide a different business model and then attack tomorrow. It is not a comfortable feeling is it?

We are told It is in our ‘complacency’ that we are losing our competitive advantages, even face extinction from these that attack and tear down, replacing it with something different and supposedly better. Did we really need it?

Can we learn to adapt as fast as all that is seemingly coming towards us?

There is so much disruptive power being harnessed that we are all facing an exponentially more complex and challenging environment. Why is there seemingly this determination to tear down many parts of the fabric of our society by challenging institutions, businesses and government structures?

Continue reading

Eight possible pitfalls or sinkholes around innovation

Sinkholes or potholesWhy is it we always seem to fail back into the same traps or pitfalls? Bad habits seem to always reoccur even when we work on trying to eradicate them. Or we ignore the warning signs that were ‘signaling’ the problem until it is too late?

For me, innovation has eight possible pitfalls or sink holes that we need to consciously try to avoid. Some are in our hands, others are clearly out of our hands but all we can do is try to be aware of them so we can avoid them the as best we can. We sometimes need to be more prepared for these traps based on our judgement and experience.

1. Failing to make innovation explicit

If we don’t set the appropriate context, provide the background understanding or provide what we know up to now, we leave our ideas, innovation or intents far too open. We end up with thousands of ideas, with 95% useless as the context was not explained. Meeting agenda’s that have no structure do the same thing, we end up rambling and in a worse outcome than when we started. Making innovation explicit and aligned to the organizations vision, its objectives, its strategy and knowing what is core and what is not, makes innovators activities far more explicit.

Continue reading