Newsletter – August, 2011

On My Mind

Long-range plans and performance targets can become suspect in a hurry. I’ve been reminded the past few months of how challenging it is for leaders of organizations to anticipate the future. The unexpected Arab Spring events have involved violent protests in the Middle East and Northern Africa. The March 11 earthquake off the northeastern coast of Japan and the subsequent tsunami caused untold human suffering and infrastructure damages. The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and many other companies had to modify their business plans because of the devastation and supply chain interruptions. The lesson is that we should develop our long-range plans and performance targets knowing that we might need to make adjustments quickly in response to emergent events. Preparedness, awareness, adaptability, and flexibility are clearly important organizational capabilities.

Interesting Stories

Rikuzentakata, Japan was one of the communities hardest hit by the tsunami in March. The Wall Street Journal article by Gordon Fairclough on July 18, 2011 (Page A7) was a moving account of how the Takata High School Baseball Team from Rikuzentakata has resumed play. The article states, “When the tsunami struck, the team was practicing at its hilltop training ground behind the school. The players, along with scores of others fleeing the waves, spent the night huddled in the frigid dirtfloored field house.” The team is truly inspiring and the coaches and players are displaying incredible resilience. According to the article, “For many, baseball has helped restore some semblance of normalcy to upended lives and offered an escape from the often discouraging realities off the field as Rikuzentakata struggles to rebuild.” I wish them the best and will be cheering for them from a distance. On another note, the Japan Women’s National Football Team (Nadeshiko Japan) demonstrated amazing perseverance in its win over the U.S. Women’s National Team in the recent 2011 FIFA World Cup Final. They never gave up during the final.

Company News

The Strategic Improvement Systems, LLC website was launched the end of July and so there were a lot of final development and launch activities to undertake. Significant time was spent developing three presentations to be delivered during my upcoming trip to India. Research on strategic management continued which will aid in the design and development of the upcoming Advances in Strategic Management course. Several courses were delivered including the Root Cause Analysis course twice. This is an enjoyable course to teach because of its importance and it gives me the opportunity to help people solve critical organizational problems.

Intriguing Reads

Two excellent books kept me awake at night: