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A big breakthrough for early 20th century businesses? Forecasting demand

It might seem obvious that, to build a compelling business strategy, you need foresight. You need to understand where market forces are pushing you. In Wayne Gretzky’s words, you “need to skate where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” This observation wasn’t always obvious. In fact, the idea of using
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Good strategy requires central planning. But isn't central planning bad?

I am slowly rereading Richard Rumelt’s Good Strategy, Bad Strategy. It’s the best discussion of business strategy I’ve ever read. Rumelt on centralization vs. decentralization I just read the section where he discussed the tension between good strategy and decentralization. He points out that good strategy requires a lot of coordination across an organization. In
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Sears battled the challenges of big data...in 1932

In his 1962 book Strategy and Structure, former Harvard business professor Alfred Chandler Jr. chronicled the growth of four iconic companies: DuPont, General Motors, Standard Oil of New Jersey, and Sears, Roebuck. Specifically, he looked at how they redesigned their organizations in the early 20th century to meet emerging strategic challenges. I have already written
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Wells Fargo CEO's strangest comment to the Senate Banking Committee

Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf was called before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday. He was asked to explain the fraud at his bank that led to the unauthorized creation of two million customer accounts. There was one throwaway comment he made that struck me as legitimately bizarre. It came during Mr. Stumpf’s conversation with
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Citigroup ex chairman's take on the financial crisis is so tone deaf it's poetic

On Monday, I listened to my first episode of the Fortune Unfiltered podcast, hosted by Aaron Task. Specifically, I listened to Mr. Task’s conversation with Dick Parsons, a decorated businessman and the former chairman of Citigroup. About 11 minutes into the interview, Mr. Task asked Mr. Parsons about any connection he might see between the aftermath
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All sales incentives are incentives "to do bad things"

Last week, Wells Fargo was fined $185 million for fraudulently opening new deposit and credit card accounts. Wells Fargo employees opened these accounts for customers without their knowledge. Why would the Wells Fargo employees do that? Because their compensation incentives were tied to opening new accounts. When they couldn’t make enough legitimate sales to hit
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Are Tesla and Solar City really a "walking solvency"?

Tesla and Solar City, two companies tied deeply to Elon Musk, are planning to merge. That might sound strange, since Tesla makes electric cars, and Solar City installs solar energy systems. The overlap between the companies isn’t entirely clear. What is clear is that both companies are dedicated to the mass adoption of renewable energy.
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Henry Ford and the anti-intellectual argument against organizational design

Here’s how Henry Ford opens chapter 6 of his autobiography My Life and Work, published in 1922: That which one has to fight hardest against in bringing together a large number of people to do work is excess organization and consequent red tape. To my mind there is no bent of mind more dangerous than
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Apple did not selfishly kill the headphone jack

In its special event on Wednesday, Apple disclosed that iPhone 7 will not have the standard 3.5mm headphone jack. As you might imagine, panic ensued. Not really. But I saw plenty of editorials about how Apple was pinching the headphone jack just to boost its wireless headphone sales. Here’s a perfect example from The Verge:
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iPhone 7 and Apple Watch show the evolution of Apple's story

Apple hosted a special event on Wednesday to announce the iPhone 7 and the Apple Watch Series 2. I watched some of the event, and I came away with two main observations: Apple Watch shows the company’s strength around innovation and experimentation. iPhone 7 shows the company’s strength around positioning mature technologies. Apple Watch — innovation
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