IV. Q-Strategy for Turnarounds - Refitting and Changing Course

DRAFT  DRAFT     DRAFT        DRAFT            DRAFT            DRAFT            DRAFT

London Bridge (315 x 395) is a 3-D image



                                    DRAFT                                    DRAFT                                    DRAFT


     A first step is a reality check.  Hold your business units and product/service lines up to the mirror.  Are you seeing any reflections of shooting stars about to fade out, sickly cash cows and dying dogs?  Are you seeing too many "question mark" operations?  You first need to attend to the critically ill and stablize them.  Then one needs to conduct a careful strategy audit and start thinking about one´s new course of action.

     The word new bears emphasis.  Repeating even more vigorously those actions which led to success in the past is seductive indeed. However doing just that has led more than one corporate giant to its doom. Indeed the distinction between brilliant relentlessness and stubborn, mindless repetition can be fine. An urban legend is that Thomas Edison invented the light bulb in 1879 after failing thousands of times.1  On the one hand enigmatic Lady Luck* favors persistance. On the other hand, that very persistance may reflect a failure to "think outside the box," or to think at all. "There is no expedient to which man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking." Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723 - 1792, English portrait painter)

     Unfortunately the labor of thinking sometimes leads to tunnel vision. One is so focused on answering that key question that one never realizes it is the wrong question! Failing to ask the right questions can prove fatal. The classic example is that of Gordon Siu´s bees versus flies trying to escape from a bottle.2


"If you place in a bottle half a dozen bees and the same number of flies, and lay the bottle horizontally, with its base to the window, you will find the that bees persist, till they die of exhaustion or hunger, in their endeavor to discover an opening through (the base) while the flies, in less than two minutes, will all have sallied forth through the neck on the opposite side. . . It is the bees´ . . .  intelligence, that is their undoing in this experiment. They evidently imagine that the issue from every prison must be where the light shines clearest; and they act in accordance, and persist in too-logical action. . . and the greater their intelligence, the more inadmissible, more incomprehensible, will the strange obstacle appear."

"Whereas the featherbrained flies, careless of logic . . . flutter wildly hither and thither, and meeting here with the good fortune that often waits on the simple. . . end up by discovering the friendly opening that restores their liberty. . . "



* For more information and a link to one of the very rare  photographs ever taken of her, click on Lady Luck.

I. Strategy Repair Was Necessary


FAQs - Frequently Avoided Questions

A. Learning from Strategy and Leadership Failures


In Search of Stupidity versus In Search of Excellence

B. Some Exemplary Failures

We begin with some telphone calls by way of introduction and follow with some economic history, one old story, one new, of two exemplary failures.

      -  Introductory telephone call, by satellite
          a high  technology dream


      -  The Stinnes family in Germany, a 200 year old business
           two generations to go from 600,000 employees to 0

      -  The Billionaire Business Coach, the CFS story in the U.S.
           two years to go from 3900 employees to zero


II. Strategy Repair  Services

The StraPower Audit
      -   Strategy Recovery and Reorientation
      -   Crisis Coaching and Turnaround Services



1 The bee/fly example by Gordon Siu is more fully quoted in In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters and R.H. Waterman, Harper & Row, 1982, p. 108.

2 Thomas Edison (1847 - 1931), despite having 1,093 U.S. patents, was really more of a commercializer and ruthless entrepreneur than inventive genius. Major inventions for which he is credited include the phonograph, motion picture camera, and light bulb. Stlll, many of the ideas for which he claimed -- and received -- the credit came about as the result of a team effort in his labs, or were  modifications of brilliant breakthroughs by others.

The Serbian scientist Nicola Tesla (1856 - 1943), who worked for the Continental Edison Company in Europe, and then for a while for Edison in New York, is one of the saddest victims. He invented the alternative current (AC) electrical system, the induction motor, and is the real father of the radio. (The 1899 radio of Guglielmo Marconi was based on an 1897 patent of Tesla.) Tesla had a remarkable memory and knew eight languages (Serbian, Czech, Hungarian, English, French, Italian, German and Latin). He unsucessfully battled Edison for decades. Although he became a close friend in middle age of Mark Twain, he died alone, poor and largely unappreciated at the age of 86 in a hotel room in New York City. Even the Wikpedia (2010) article does not do him real justice, underplaying his debilitating feud with Edison.

Among the many predecesors to Edison for the light bulb were: (1) Sir Humphrey Davy of England, electric filament, 1802, (2) Frederick de Moleyus of England, incandescent lamp, patented 1842 (3) John W. Stein of the U.S., lamp with carbon filaments, 1845 (4) A.N. Lodygin of Russia, incandescent light bulb, U.S. patent in 1874 (5) Henry Woodward & Mathew Evans of Canada, their Canadian light bulb patent of 1874 sold to Thomas Edison in 1879, and the work of William Sawyer. In fact, William Sawyer won a patent office ruling that Edison´s light bulb patents were invalid, as they were based on Sawyer´s prior art. However this ruling was reversed in 1889. Louis Lattimer also worked with Edison on the light bulb, but received no official credit.


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