Tag Archives: Economy

3 Strategies for Overcoming the Threat of Disruption

The topic of the April CEOtoCEO Breakfast was “Can You Survive the Age of Disruption?”

In the current business environment, operational excellence has become an imperative for business rather than a competitive advantage. The ability to rapidly adapt to a change in circumstances is what really sets companies apart today.

Consequently, chief executives need to deliver more than quality control, cost control and continuous improvement. They need not only to manage the continuous threat of disruption and ride the waves of change, but to overcome them, rather than be overwhelmed by them.

Here are 3 ways chief executives can out-fight the disruption beast.

“Companies should not fight disruptive ideas, but try them out on a small scale to see if they work.”

  1. Reinvent your company, don’t just optimize it.As Theodore Levitt explained in his classic “Marketing Myopia”, one of the reasons for the decline of the railroad companies in the U.S. was that they saw themselves as railroad companies rather than as transportation companies. This led them to a focus on optimizing their companies, while the entire railroad business model was being outflanked by newer means of transportation: car, trucks and airplanes. So define your business on the basis of the customer need you are trying to meet, not the product or service you are currently offering.
  2. Disrupt your own business.As Arie de Geus documented in his “The Living Company”, one of the keys to corporate longevity is a willingness to trying out new things. Using what essentially is a lean approach, companies should not fight disruptive ideas, new ways of meeting the customer need, but try them out on a small scale, see if they work, and take things from there. (I would recommend undertaking such activities in isolation from the core business. Let it be done by different people and house them in a different building. As Kodak experienced when it came to the digital camera business too late, new ideas have a habit of not developing well or soon enough when surrounded by those they could potentially disrupt.)
  3. Manage your company as a “portfolio of opportunities”.This includes moving away from the traditional, linear strategy process. Strategic planning should not be about identifying the most likely future, but the range of possible futures, including extremes. (Often it is the extremes where your competition makes advancements, so it’s critical to keep informed about these.) Strategy formulation discussions should then be about how your company could best position itself, and which business to give prominence in each of these futures. Final commitment of resources should be delayed as long as possible and, thus, made part of strategy execution, when you know how the market is really changing. This enables you to optimize utilization of the resources of your company whatever the future turns out to be.

GE is an excellent example of how this is done in practice. It recently launched “Current”, bringing together its various businesses of relevance to Renewable Energy – LED, Solar, Energy Storage, Electric Vehicle and Predix, its predictive analytics technology. It had been developing and trying these technologies for years, and now feels the time is right to push them forward and make them a focus for the company.


Best Business Books of 2014?

strategy + business logoIt’s that time of year where we all talk about books that we read this past year and which ones stood out in our minds. These lists will start pouring in over the next couple of months. I will share some of these with you along the way. But to give you an early start, here are the top Business Books for 2014 as put together by Strategy+Business. Let us know if you have read any of these and what you thought…good or bad…it will help the rest of us that haven’t read them get a better idea if it is worth our time our not. Here’s the list…by topical category…

Business Strategy


Executive Self-Improvement

Organizational Culture




So if you were looking for things to fill your time during the holiday season, this should solve that problem. Enjoy…and let me know what you think of these books or if you have some of your own you would like to add to the list. If you have read a book and want to give our readers a brief summary, please e-mail me (Blaine Millet) and I would be happy to put your review up as a blog post.

Pat Chestnut talks about Healthcare Reform

During our CEOtoCEO breakfast in late November, we had the privilege of having Pat Chestnut, CEO of AAOA Healthcare speak to us about the Healthcare Reform Act.

As you saw from an earlier post, he talked about a variety of aspects relating to business owners and top executives of small to middle market companies in the State of Washington. We wanted to share a small portion of the speech where Pat talked about the “Three Acts” as he called it. These are taking us from the beginnings to today and what each of these acts represent.

Let us know what you think. How is this impacting you and your company? Have you figured it out yet and what costs is it presenting to you? How is it going to help motivate or de-motivate your employees? Share your thoughts…

Andy Cates from Moss Adams talks Taxes

Yesterday at the CEOtoCEO Breakfast event, we had the privilege of having Andy Cates from Moss Adams speaking to a group of CEOs, Business Owners, and other professionals about both some key Tax Issues that were critical to be aware of in 2012 and some planning.

Andy covered a lot of areas for us – you can listen to him briefly describe the agenda of the meeting in the video.  We will be sharing more videos of him talking about certain areas that will be important to virtually any business owner and individual.  It was very timely to have Andy as part of our speakers group since a number of the opportunities (if there is such a thing when someone talks about taxes) he discussed would be “closing” the end of 2012 and we wanted to share this with our leadership audience.  There was incredibly strong interest in learning more about these opportunities from the leaders in the room and from the feedback, most will be changing what they are doing to take advantage of some of these.

He also got to spend some time on the “planning” side of taxes for a business.  The great part about Andy is that he is not just a “tax dweeb” but he is a “tax business guy” that understands how these issues pertain directly to a business and the best way to take advantage of these opportunities through proper planning.  As he reminded all of us in the room, these were known in 2010 and this is when planning should have begun (I know, he told us so).  But like most of us, it didn’t happen and now we are down to the final months and hours to incorporate some of this into our planning for the rest of the years.

Thanks Andy, very insightful, helpful, and in a language we could all understand.  We will share more on this in some later posts on specifically the areas to be aware of and his planning ideas.  Stay tuned…and don’t forget to join our CEO Discussion Group on LinkedIn where some of these questions will be posted as well.  If you aren’t a member, it’s free and it’s a completely private place to have a discussion with ONLY your peers, other CEOs and Business Owners.

Is EVERYONE optimistic about the economy in 2012?

It seems like this question is back in front of everyone’s mind these days we as we enter into an election year and have now finished the first quarter of 2012.  I have been asked this question more in the past month than the past three – so there must be a reason.  The primary question, “As I talk to hundreds of CEOs, am I hearing that they are more optimistic about the rest of 2012 or less optimistic?”

One article that came out from the Chief Executive.net group was interesting and while it focused on larger organizations, there we some interesting take-aways that smaller and mid-sized ($250M and below) can take away from this type of study.  The article, “CEOs of Billion-Dollar Companies Most Optimistic in April.”  They surveyed 276 people in developing this confidence index – not a huge group but certainly enough in this larger size space.  Here are a few highlights for you in case you don’t want to read the entire study…

  • Over 71% of the CEOs of companies over $1B in revenue said they expect business conditions to be “at least good” in 2012 as compared to 2011.  Companies from $100M to $1B felt almost exactly the same, 70.5% of their CEOs said the same thing.
  • Most predictions and feelings depended heavily on the November presidential election.
  • Most felt that economic growth would be “hindered” if Obama was reelected – mostly because of tax structures and programs he is supporting and not supporting for business

How do you feel?  Is this the same sentiment you have as a CEO and Business Owner?  We would love to hear your thoughts/comments and allow others to share them as well.  We have also posted this question on our CEOtoCEO Private Discussion Group on LinkedIn if you would rather comment “behind closed doors” with just your peers.  But if you would like to have all our readers hear what you have to say, just click “Leave a Comment” below and give us your thoughts.  Thanks…