Newsletter – December, 2021

On My Mind
An organizational vision is not necessary or sufficient for organizational success. However, many leaders of organizations have found having a vision extremely valuable in directing and guiding strategic improvement efforts. The following is an excerpt on timing from my Visions & Visioning paper: “Timing is important when creating and communicating a vision. Lou Gerstner, former CEO of IBM, convened a press conference in July of 1993 after his first 100 days as CEO. He made the controversial statement (Gerstner, 2002): ‘What I’d like to do now is put these announcements in some sort of perspective for you. There’s been a lot of speculation as to when I’m going to deliver a vision of IBM, and what I’d like to say to all of you is that the last thing IBM needs right now is a vision.’ Fast forward to today, Jane Fraser—who became the CEO of Citigroup in March of 2021—is in the process of creating a vision (Benoit, 2021): ‘The bank [Citigroup] is planning an investor day for early 2022, where Ms. Fraser will spell out in further detail her vision for the bank, the first such presentation for Citigroup since 2017.’” If you are going to create an organizational vision, then make sure you get the timing right.

Interesting Stories
Magnus Carlsen (Norway) is defending his World Classical Chess Champion title against Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia). Carlsen holds the early lead after eight games of potentially fourteen games. All eight games have been interesting and exciting, but sometimes not until each player has made 20 or more moves. Players at their level are thoroughly prepared and have memorized the best-known moves for various openings which is referred to as chess theory. Their games become especially interesting and exciting when one of the players departs from the theory (i.e., preparation) leading the duo out of their preparation and into unknown territory. Mikhail Tal—the Eighth World Classical Chess Champion—was famous for his ability to take an opponent into the unknown. According to Tal: “You must take your opponent into a deep dark forest where 2+2=5, and the path leading out is only wide enough for one.”

Company News
I hosted the sixth of six sessions of Analytics Laboratory 2021. This series focused on sharing and learning analytics together. It was inspired by the Monday Night Beer & Statistics sessions hosted by Dr. George E. P. Box who became a mentor and friend of mine during my time at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. There are a number of SIS events on the horizon: the Strategic Improvement Green Belt course starts December 13, 2021; the Visions & Visioning webinar will be held on December 21, 2021; the Strategic Improvement Yellow Belt course starts January 4, 2022; and the Strategic Improvement Black Belt course starts January 24, 2022. The brochures are available on the PUBLIC SEMINARS page of this website.

Intriguing Reads
Max Euwe—a mathematician from the Netherlands—was the fifth World Classical Chess Champion from 1935-1937. Euwe was known for his ability to incorporate strategic planning ideas into the game of chess. He wrote a classic book titled Judgment and Planning in Chess which was published in 1953. I especially like Chapter 1 – First Steps in Judging and Planning and Chapter 10 – Illustrative Games. If you are interested in strategic planning and chess, then this is the book for you.