Matrix Organizations: Transcending Time and Space

Matrix organizations first emerged in the aerospace industry in the 1960s, when U.S. government bids required firms to develop detailed charts outlining how their project management teams would get the job done. Rather than upending their management systems to adapt to contract requisites, companies created horizontal units and superimposed them across existing vertical hierarchies. And voilà! The matrix was born and life in the multinational labor pool was never the same again. For many in the global workforce, the upshot of this… Read More

Design Thinking: Solving Complex Problems Using Novel Approaches

Although it may conjure images of creative types donning black turtlenecks and hip glasses, design thinking is far more than innovating new products to dazzle the masses. As Tim Brown, CEO of innovation and design firm IDEO, notes, “Design has become too important to be left to designers.” Originating from the 1960s and evolving ever since, design thinking is a human-centered problem-solving methodology that can be applied at every level of the organization. It is especially useful to tackle complex or poorly… Read More

Leadership in Times of Tumult

By Fred Krawchuk “The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order.” These words were written by British philosopher Alfred North Whitehead in the 1920s, yet they perfectly describe the challenge of global leaders in times of VUCA – short for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. During my career in the U.S. Army Special Forces, I frequently focused on managing multi-stakeholder collaboration in VUCA environments to align divergent factions around a common mission. One assignment took me… Read More

A Roadmap to Supercharging Your Sales Force

An optimized sales network is crucial to a company’s long-term success. On the front lines of the marketplace, sales teams are charged with maximizing profit while delivering the best possible value to customers. Firms rely squarely on them to generate revenue, yet how often do they analyze whether they’re operating at full potential? Not often enough, according to Prof. Julián Villanueva, head of IESE’s Department of Marketing. “Companies will spend countless hours poring over financial statements, but few dedicate the same amount… Read More

Crafting a Strategic Marketing Plan

When done right, marketing plans serve as a strategic guide to a company, complete with facts, figures and objectives to help attract, engage and retain customers. Boiled down to their essence, they define the company, what it’s offering, who it’s targeting and what its core strategies are to generate sales. But crafting an effective marketing plan is complex, involving the following phases: Marketing plan preliminaries Marketers need to do some homework before designing a marketing plan. To get “the lay of the… Read More

10 Keys to Improving Your Strategic Thinking

Almost all executives complain that they don’t have enough time for strategic thinking. But strategic thinking is one of the key skills required of top executives, and essential for a company to perform well over time. Can strategic thinking be learned? Professor Miquel Lladó thinks so and gave 10 points to help you incorporate strategic thinking into your daily life. Blinders off: learn to see what nobody else sees As a general rule, the frenetic pace of daily life prevents us from taking… Read More

A Roadmap to Getting Things Done

“The best-laid plans of mice and men often go astray,” penned the poet Robert Burns in 1765. His poem “To a Mouse” laments the sad state of affairs of a field mouse whose winter nest has just been plundered by a plow, yet it also offers lessons for global executives who lead corporate strategy. Legions of management annals, research studies and academic articles have been written over the years on strategic leadership and its essentials for success, many of which overstate strategy… Read More

Creative Solutions Where Everyone Wins

Do you know the story of the 17 camels? A man left his three sons 17 camels when he died. The eldest son received half of the camels, the middle son got one-third of the camels and the youngest son received one-ninth. But what to do? There were 17 camels and they couldn’t be divided. Stumped, eventually the sons sought the advice of the village wise man. The old man thought about it for a moment and then suggested a very creative… Read More

Putting Brainpower to Work to Make Things Happen in Your Company

How can you get things done in your company, not just today but every day? It’s impossible to have a specific operations plan for every idea you want to implement, for every potential problem that needs resolving or for every possible scenario that arises. But don’t despair. As IESE Prof. Beatriz Muñoz-Seca writes in her book How to Make Things Happen, there’s much you can do, and much of it revolves around your company’s collective brainpower. Here are five steps to help… Read More

When It’s Time to Decide, What Does Your Intuition Say?

When managers learn to take decisions, they are taught that there are two elements to take into account: the analytic and the intuitive. However, we tend to pay more attention to the rational process: how to gather the correct information, when to know if we have sufficient data, whether we should reconsider our sources, what criteria to use to increase our chances for success, etc. Rational analysis only goes so far, however, and, after that, it is intuition that guides the final… Read More