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Amazon is following Sears' roadmap from the late 1920s

Robert E. Wood was a decorated Army officer who retired in 1919 as brigadier general. He was about 40 years old. He quickly joined Montgomery Ward, and was one of the first retail executives to appreciate the commercial impact of the rise of automobiles. Here’s how Alfred D. Chandler describes Wood’s insight, in his book Strategy
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Malcolm Gladwell, Revisionist History, and celebrity CEOs

Malcolm Gladwell has a new podcast called Revisionist History. Gladwell describes the podcast as an opportunity to discuss topics that have either been overlooked or misunderstood. Revisionist History consists of 10 episodes, the last of which was released last week. I just finished the sixth episode, which Gladwell dedicated to educational philanthropy. Strong link versus
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Drowning in busy work? So were Jersey Standard Oil executives...in1923

I have a few rhetorical questions for you: Do you feel like your company wastes too much time on meaningless tasks? Do you feel like reports are created and then sent around, just so people can broadcast that they’re busy? Do you feel like different departments basically just talk past each other, rather than truly
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Obamacare and the importance of customer selection

Aetna announced on Tuesday that it will withdraw its Obamacare offering from 11 of 15 states. One problem that insurance companies have with Obamacare is the customer pool: Insurers have been saying Obamacare customers are, overall, less healthy than the companies need them to be so that the medical costs covered by the plans don’t
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Henry Ford and the 100 year old complaint about sales people

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m reading Henry Ford’s 1922 autobiography My Life and Work. It’s truly fascinating to read the thoughts of a business legend at the peak of his game. It’s also interesting to see how much of Ford’s writing translates perfectly to today’s business environment. At one point in the book, Ford shares
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Businesses have bad strategy because leaders act like my two year old son

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m re-reading Richard Rumelt’s book, Good Strategy, Bad Strategy. I know a book is really good when I can re-read it, and feel like I’m learning just as much as I did the first time. That’s certainly the case with Good Strategy, Bad Strategy. In chapter five, The Kernel of Good
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Why artificial intelligence can't design strategy

I’m re-reading Richard Rumelt’s book, Good Strategy, Bad Strategy. I love it. I can’t recommend it highly enough. In chapter five, Rumelt talks about the importance of diagnosing the most important challenge facing the company. He uses Starbucks in 2008 as an example. Sales were flat. Return on assets was falling. Different executives had different
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The scariest word in corporate finance? "Adjusted"

The Wall Street Journal published an article yesterday on this topic. Here’s the gist: Companies that report significantly stronger earnings by using tailored figures like “adjusted net income” or “adjusted operating income” are more likely to encounter some kinds of accounting problems than those that stick to standard measures, according to research by consulting firm
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Large businesses circa 1900 grew in very familiar ways

In his book Strategy and Structure, Alfred D. Chandler, Jr., outlined the three most common ways that large businesses grew circa 1900: After 1900, the large industrial enterprise met the needs and opportunities of an economy growing more urban and more technologically advanced through three types of strategies. Growth came either from an expansion of
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Wall Street has been a pain since 1922. Just ask Henry Ford

Henry Ford wrote My Life and Work, which was published in 1922. It’s a story of how Ford became interested in automobiles, and how he built Ford Motor Company into an institution that is now 113 years old. I’m in love with this book. One part that struck me was how averse Ford was to the stock
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