Weekly Pulse by William Meller | Week 01, 2023

Weekly Pulse by William Meller | Week 01, 2023
Weekly Pulse is content curation and highlights from readings, books, podcasts, insights, ramblings, and other interesting things I discovered and digested during the week.

So, let's go with some discoveries from the week!

#1 - Stop Making Plans Start Making Decisions
#2 - A To-do List Won’t Help You Master Your Life
#3 - Manage Your Organization as a Portfolio of Learning Curves
#4 - The Long Tail
#5 - Why do so Many Strategies Fail
#6 - What Is Project Management
#7 - Book Notes: The Principles of Scientific Management - Frederick Taylor

Stop Making Plans, Start Making Decisions

Source: Harvard Business Review 
Author: Michael C. Mankins and Richard Steele
Year: 2006

Summary: Is strategic planning completely useless? That was the question the CEO of a global manufacturer recently asked himself. Two years earlier, he had launched an ambitious overhaul of the company’s planning process. The old approach, which required business-unit heads to make regular presentations to the firm’s executive committee, had broken down entirely.

3 Highlights:

"... Frustrated by these constraints, executives routinely sidestep their company’s formal strategic planning process—making ad hoc decisions based on scanty analysis and meager debate. Result? Decisions made incorrectly, too slowly, or not at all..."

"... How to improve the quality and quantity of your strategic decisions? Use continuous issues-focused strategic planning..."

"... Your reward? More rigorous debate and more significant strategic decisions each year—made precisely when they’re needed..."

A To-do List Won’t Help You Master Your Life

Source: Carl Pullein Blog
Author: Carl Pullein
Year: 2021

Summary: A to-do list won’t help you become a master of your own life — it will simply make you feel like you’re not doing enough. You’re ultimately sabotaging yourself. To truly grow, you have to learn life management skills instead of just piling more tasks on your plate.

3 Highlights:

"... Meaningful tasks are tasks that move things forward..."

"... So, if you haven’t thought about what you want out of life, stop, move away from your keyboard and think about it..."

"... The biggest problem with to-do lists is that we often feel we must keep adding to the list instead of removing from the list..."

Manage Your Organization as a Portfolio of Learning Curves

Source: Harvard Business School
Author: Whitney Johnson 
Year: 2022

Summary: As people develop competence in a new domain of expertise, they move along an S Curve: Growth is slow and effortful at the outset, or launch point. It then progresses rapidly as people acquire new skills in a stretch known as the sweet spot. At the peak is mastery, when work becomes easier but the curve flattens. Understanding where your employees are on this S Curve of Learning will help you coach them appropriately, craft thoughtful succession plans, and build a team with diverse but complementary strengths.

3 Highlights:

"... When that happens, it’s key to surround an employee with the right supporting team. A good team will include members from all phases of the curve, who can contribute diverse perspectives and skills..."

"... Often the employees don’t even realize they’re ready to take the leap, but their managers push them anyway..."

"... The S Curve is a tool that smart managers use to launch conversations with their reports and create tailored development plans for them..."

The Long Tail

Source: Wired
Author: Chris Anderson
Year: 2004

Summary: Forget squeezing millions from a few megahits at the top of the charts. The future of entertainment is in the millions of niche markets at the shallow end of the bitstream. The long tail is a business strategy that allows companies to realize significant profits by selling low volumes of hard-to-find items to many customers, instead of only selling large volumes of a reduced number of popular items.

3 Highlights:

"... The first is the need to find local audiences. An average movie theater will not show a film unless it can attract at least 1,500 people over a two-week run; that's essentially the rent for a screen. An average record store needs to sell at least two copies of a CD per year to make it worth carrying; that's the rent for a half inch of shelf space. And so on for DVD rental shops, videogame stores, booksellers, and newsstands..."

"... The problem with MP3.com was that it was only Long Tail. It didn't have license agreements with the labels to offer mainstream fare or much popular commercial music at all. Therefore, there was no familiar point of entry for consumers, no known quantity from which further exploring could begin..."

"... All this, of course, applies equally to books. Already, we're seeing a blurring of the line between in and out of print. Amazon and other networks of used booksellers have made it almost as easy to find and buy a second-hand book as it is a new one. By divorcing bookselling from geography, these networks create a liquid market at low volume, dramatically increasing both their own business and the overall demand for used books..."

Why Do So Many Strategies Fail

Source: Harvard Business Review
Author: David J. Collis
Year: 2021

Summary: Strategy today demands more than classic competitive positioning. It requires making carefully coordinated choices about the opportunities to pursue; the business model with the highest potential to create value; how to capture as much of that value as possible; and the implementation processes that help a firm adapt activities and build capabilities that allow it to realize long-term value. Neglecting any of those imperatives can derail a strategy, but CEOs frequently zero in on just one. Entrepreneurs tend to focus on identifying a golden opportunity and don’t think enough about how to monetize it; leaders of incumbents, on capturing value but not new ways to create it.

3 Highlights:

"... A lot of young ventures, on the other hand, raise vast sums of money and attract tens of millions of customers, only to collapse when they can’t figure out how to fend off imitators..."

"... The CEO’s job of crafting a strategy that creates and captures value—and keeps realizing it over time—has never been harder. In today’s volatile and uncertain world, corporations that have dominated their markets for decades can be blindsided by upstarts with radically new business models, miss the boat on emerging technologies, or be outflanked by competitors that are more adept at shaping consumer preferences..."

"... By tackling all the elements of strategy and integrating them well, however, firms will greatly increase their odds of success..."

What Is Project Management

Source: Article of the Week

A temporary endeavor to create a unique product, service, or result.

A project is temporary. It starts and it will end. The temporary nature of projects indicates a beginning and an end to the project work or a phase of the project work.

A project is unique. The result of a project cannot be the same as another project. It could be similar, but not equal.

These two main things (temporary and unique) are key concepts to understanding the difference between projects and operations.

Book Notes: The Principles of Scientific Management - Frederick Taylor

Source: Book Notes of the Week

For more than 80 years, this influential work from 1911 by Frederick Winslow Taylor has inspired administrators and students of managerial techniques to adopt productivity-increasing procedures. 

Indeed, this book laid the groundwork for modern organization and decision theory.

As an engineer for a steel company, Taylor made careful experiments to determine the best way of performing each operation and the amount of time it required, analyzing the materials, tools, and work sequence, and establishing a clear division of labor between management and workers. 

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