Final Day of the Semester!

Semester three was the hardest semester from a workload standpoint, so I am glad to report that I just finished the last day of it!  With three projects involving outside partners, and one project which results in a product or service prototype, this semester has certainly kept me busy!  I have also enjoyed it the most out of my career at Presidio so far.  The classes were interesting, and the integration of learning between classes is phenomenal.  After building foundational knowledge in year one, year two starts connecting the dots, and that's really exciting.  Now, time to do some skiing!

Profit with Values

A great introduction talk about merging investing with sustainable values, and the value of diversity in decision making.

Social Media Tools to Aid Mid-cycle Strategic Planning

Mintzberg’s article, the Fall and Rise of Strategic Planning in Harvard Business Review set off a lightbulb for me.  By clearly defining strategic thinking apart from strategic planning, Mintzberg explained the curiosity of companies that hold strategy meetings despite continued lack of success.(Mintzberg, 1994)  When this subtle difference between strategic thinking and strategic planning is not successfully imprinted on strategy meeting attendees, causing epic brain shutdown in the annual stretch between strategy meetings.

To be fair, it is difficult to change course in large companies.  Once a strategy is decided upon, everyone breathes a sigh of relief, plops the old train cart on the new train tracks, and once again chugs along with blinders on.  Bringing decision makers to the table again mid-year is just too much trouble.  But it needs to be done, because strategic thinking never stops.  Or at least it shouldn’t.  There needs to be ways to differentiate between strategic thinking that can be tabled for the next big meeting, and the ones that must be acted upon ASAP.  In addition, since Strategic Thinking = Systems Thinking, all functions of the company needs to engage in it.  But how do we engage so many people in a meaningful conversation outside of the planning cycle?  I believe social media can provide some answers.  Google Moderator can be a useful way to capture thoughts and garner support.  Can you think of other tools that can help with mid-cycle strategic thought capture and strategy planning?

Hoskisson, R. E., Hitt, M. A., & Ireland, R. D. (2008). Competing for Advantage. Cengage Learning.
Mintzberg, H. (1994). The Fall and Rise of Strategic Planning. Harvard Business Review, 72(1), 107-114. doi:Article

Ethical Challenge: Sustainable for the Company, Unsustainable for the Planet

Business Sustainability practitioners frequently face ethical challenges.  Planned Obsolescence is a marketing technique with such an ethical challenge.  A product with Planned Obsolescence is retired earlier than the product’s real useful life so that the supplier can sell more products sooner.  The technique also masks the true cost of the product by inducing users to buy the replacement sooner.  Inkjet cartridges set to “expire,” new textbooks versions that change very little, and annual release of new cars are examples.
People wrested with planned obsolescence as an ethical issue in the 30s during the rise of manufacturing. Now, planned obsolescence is a common strategy.  Established industries build product lines based on planned obsolescence.  In addition, today’s disposable culture stemmed from planned obsolescence thinking.  Disposable plates, cups, toothbrushes, cameras and phones crowd our landfill.  These entire industries now depend on obsolescence to fuel their next quarterly report.  Planned Obsolescence is also responsible for the death of the repair industry.  Why fix if you can buy the newer, sexier one? 
The implications are vast.  Entire industries stand to fight the wave of the good life where products are made to last instead of disposed fast and early.   How do we market the virtues of a product that lasts in a disposable culture?