Strategic Leadership

Leadership at the Winter Games

April 12, 2010

In some ways, David Atkins was under more pressure than anybody at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and he’s not even an athlete. As executive producer of the opening ceremony, Atkins had a tough act to follow: the 2008 Olympic ceremonies in China. Yet he succeeded with a budget 30% less by using less manpower and relying on tech-driven illusion.

Nixon’s final act of leadership

April 12, 2010

Richard Nixon suffered the stigma of being the only U.S. president forced to resign, and his leadership suffered greatly under the weight of Watergate. But the disgraced president did fire off one flare of good leadership as his administration crashed. Ironically, it ensured the end of his presidency.

American Beauties: Tips from the Dead

April 12, 2010

We never saw this coming: scholars studying the business model of the Grateful Dead. But a handful of fans did. Emerging from their archives is a portrait of visionaries in what’s now called customer value, social networking and strategic planning. Here’s how the Dead pioneered business practices embraced much, much later by corporate America.

Just do it: Why Nike boss kept Tiger

April 12, 2010

If you believe Nike president Charlie Denson, sticking with Tiger Woods as a Nike product endorser has more to do with Woods’ reputation as a golfer than as a philanderer. “A lot of people seem to overlook that very, very important component of the relationship with the athlete,” says Denson. “If we’re going to create the greatest product in the world, it’s the greatest athletes in the world [who] are going to confirm that.”

A flexible strategy at Office Depot

April 12, 2010

Strategic planning has always accounted for changing circumstances. But leaders have now shifted their planning habits to allow for on-the-fly adjustments. For example, Office Depot began updating its annual budget monthly at the start of 2009. “This downturn has changed the way we will think about our business,” says Steve Odland, Office Depot’s chairman and chief executive.

Bottom-line leadership: Slow and steady–best approach?

March 19, 2010

Jerry Galison struck gold twice—not by great new ideas or luck alone but because of careful setup and follow-through. Galison/Mudpuppy hit the Inc. 500, an index for fast-growing businesses, in 1989 and the Inc. 5000 two decades later.

Meeting the PayPal challenge

March 12, 2010

Entrepreneur Shvat Shaked, who parlayed his training as a former Israeli intelligence soldier into co-founding a cyber security firm, had the chutzpah to accept a dare from PayPal’s president that he and his handful of technicians could do a better job at detecting online fraud than thousands of PayPal engineers. Not much later, PayPal bought Shaked’s firm for $169 million …

Finding talent in nooks & crannies

March 12, 2010

Looking at a list of where the past 25 Americans to win the Nobel Prize in medicine earned their undergraduate degrees, you’d expect to see Harvard, MIT and Stanford. You wouldn’t expect to see Gettysburg College …

Steve Jobs focuses on a few good ideas

March 12, 2010

Apple Inc. is a $30 billion company, yet it offers fewer than 30 major products. The company’s incredible revenue-to-product-line ratio is due largely to one factor: Steve Jobs’ focus. “I’m actually as proud of … the things we haven’t done as the things we have done,” says Jobs.

Customer service when hell freezes over

March 12, 2010

During a lull between monster snowstorms on the East Coast in February, with snowplow operators already in their ninth shift of 12 hours on, 12 hours off, we witnessed a breathtaking performance of how not to lead. It came during a delivery of snow shovels and ice melt to a neighborhood hardware store in Virginia: