Tuesday, 2 December 2014

William Shakespeare – King Henry the Sixth

I cannot weep; for all my body’s moisture
Scarce serves to quench my furnace-burning burden;
Nor can my tongue unload my heart’s great
For selfsame wind that I should speak withal
Is kindling coals that fires all my breat,
And burns me up with flames that tears would quench.” (Shakespeare, 1994, p.72).

I’ll leave my son my virtuous deeds behind;
And would my father had left me no more!
For all the rest is held at such a rate
As brings a thousand-fold more care to keep.” (Shakespeare, 1994, p.74).

This battle fares like to the morning’s war,
When dying clouds contend with growing light,
What time the shepherd, blowing of his nails,
Can neither call it perfect day nor night.
Now sways it this way, like a mighty sea
Forced by the tide to combat with the wind;
Now sways it that way, like the selfsame sea
Forced to retire by fury of the wind:
Sometime the flood prevails, and then the wind;
Now one the better, then another best;
Both tugging to e victors breast to breast;
Yet neither conqueror nor conquered;
So is the equal poise of this fell war.
Here on this molehill will I sit me down.
To whom God will, there be the victory.” (Shakespeare, 1994, p.76).

O God! Methinks it were a happy life,
To be no better than a homely swain;
To sit upon a hill, as I do now,
To carve out dials quaintly, point by pint,
Thereby to see the minutes how they run, -
How many makes the hour full complere;
How many hours brings about the day;
How many days will finish up the year;
How many years a mortal man may live.” (Shakespeare, 1994, p.76).

“Lord Clifford:
And, Henry, hadst thouh sway’d as kings should do,
Or as thy father and his father did,
Giving no ground unto the house of York,
I and ten thousand in this luckless realm
Had left no mourning widows for our death.” (Shakespeare, 1994, p.78).

“Earl of Oxford:
… while life upholds this arm,
This arm upholds the house of Lancaster.” (Shakespeare, 1994, p.83).

“Early of Warwick:
Edward will always bear himself as king:
Though fortunate’s malice overthrow my state,
My mind exceeds the compass of her wheel.” (Shakespeare, 1994, p.88).

“King Henry:
Therefore, that I may conquer fortune’s spite,

By living low, where fortune cannot hurt me.” (Shakespeare, 1994, p.89).

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Peter Mead – When in doubt be nice. 2014

“if we always followed the objectives of doing great work and looking after the people who worked for us than there was a real opportunity to create a business which would endure and prosper.” (Mead, 2014, p.5).

In my view people these days are thrashing around desperately looking for things to subscribe to with their emotions. (…) This paucity of things to bind us together is also the reason why football, for instance, plays such an important part in many people’s lives.” (Mead, 2014, p.7). “If we create a set of principles and beliefs that the people who work for us can subscribe to then the benefit to be reaped is enormous.” (Mead, 2014, p.9).

“It is a fact that we allow individuals to get away with reprehensible behaviour during office hours. I believe the same rules that apply to being a good father at home should relate to being a good boss during the day.” (Mead, 2014, p.34). “Very simply, most of the time fear doesn’t motivate, it paralyzes.” (Mead, 2014, p.24). “I thought running a people business like ours was really simple because it was about capturing an unfair share of people’s heads and hearts. (…) if the people in your company are spending 50% of their time feeling worried about their future, politicking or being psychologically bullied then the other 50% of their time is all the productivity you can expect.” (Mead, 2014, p.41). “Never be a shouter: When people make a mistake they know they’ve made a mistake. When they have to face their boss and discuss the consequences of that mistake they are already embarrassed and sorry. (…) We have to assume that they didn’t want to make the mistake and so by definition it was an accident. If the understanding of that is not there and the person who made the mistake is shouted at and demeaned then the guilt and absolute desire never to repeat the mistake is replaced by anger.” (Mead, 2014, p.57).

“Every year just before Christmas we had a party for everybody’s families. The first year this took play it was my turn to dress up as Father Christmas. I was to make a dramatic entrance into the atrium on the ground floor using the glass wall climber lift. Shortly before my descent, David and I stood on the sixth floor peering down at the excited faces of the wanting kids. David said quietly that if ever we thought about playing ducks and drakes with people’s lives we should remind ourselves of those children gazing expectantly up at us. Those were innocent lives we had no right to disturb. During our time as an independent agency we never declared anybody redundant.” (Mead, 2014, p.87). “Every company should devote a small budget and a couple of really concerned people to the simple job of making people feel better.” (Mead, 2014, p.45). “It’s always been my practice to pass on nice things that a third party has said to me about somebody we both know.” (Mead, 2014, p.71). “We were all incredibly fond of one another which allowed each of us the freedom to criticise and bitch about the others, because we knew that the ‘Umbrella of Affection’ was inviolate.” (Mead, 2014, p.33).

And these conviction don’t cost you money or make things complicated. On the contrary:  “The truth is if you have convictions, both in the personal and business sense, then those convictions will probably account for 75% of any decision you’re likely to make. That way you’re only exercising judgement over 25% of any decision you take. So the expression is wrong, it should be called the comfort of your conviction.” (Mead, 2014, p.22).

’Creativity is one of the last remaining legal ways of gaining an unfair advantage over your competition.’” (Mead quoting Ed McCabe, 2014, p.50). “Claude Hopkins, Bill Bernbach and David Ogilvy all produced advertising with ideas. They built bridges between products and users, but beneath the wit charm and friendliness of their ads were always solid foundations.” (Mead quoting Abbott, 2014, p.186b). “When the advertising and communication business is working at its very best it creates for the products or services it represents the golden state of the benefit of the doubt.” (Mead, 2014, p.98). At DDB “It was made quite clear from day one that the role of the account managers at the agency was to handle clients with one aim in mind - to sell the output of the creative department.” (Mead, 2014, p.231). “The creative people were the geese that laid the golden eggs, the rest of us were around to build a nest and make sure that those eggs hatched.” (Mead, 2014, p.231).

“a fundamental change in the relationship between agency and client from that of a trusted business adviser to a supplier of a relatively essential commodity. As an industry, we have failed to affirm the value of the great creative idea.” (Mead, 2014, p.326). “we should get to a situation where we can command a premium price for the very best.” (Mead, 2014, p.328). “Sure, the Guinness Surfers commercial could have been made for less money by cutting out some of the special post-production effects. But that saving would have reduced the efficacy of the commercial and turned it into just another piece of film.” (Mead, 2014, p.329). “It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much you lose a little – that’s all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything because the thing youbought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. (…) If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.” (Mead, 2014, p.83).

“Affection and nostaligia make great marketing weapons: (…) 5% of any new products become winners. (…) There was a great deal of latent affection for this particular product because people remembered it fondly from their youth. (…) There are literally hundreds of products gathering dust that could be reintroduced and bring about the twin rewards of joy and profit. Old product development should be treated with equal importance as new product development.” (Mead, 2014, p.73).

“We took the view that we should treat the City in the same way as we behaved towards our biggest clients in that we should develop a relationship with our major shareholders, give them no unpleasant surprises, make sure that they were fully informed and talk to them often.” (Mead, 2014, p.80).

“I worry that we have lost the ability to create great relationships with our clients. These relationships are at the heart of our ability to persuade our client base to trust us in our assessment of what’s needed in creative terms to solve problems and create whole new markets.” (Mead, 2014, p.329).

“The great agencies that sprang up, with DDB leading the way, didn’t just change the way advertising was used but actually helped create fundamental societal movements.” (Mead, 2014, p.330).

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Gottfried Benn – Ausgewählte Gedichte. 1973

“Lebe wohl den frühen Tagen,
die mit Sommer, stillem Land
angefüllt und glücklich lagen
in des Kindes Träumerhand.
Lebe Wohl, du großes Werde,
Über Feldern, See und Haus,
In Gewittern brach die Erde
Zu gerechtem Walten aus.
Lebe Wohl, was je an Ahnen
Mich aus solchem Sein gezeugt,
Das sich noch den Sonnenbahnen,
Das sich noch der Nacht gebeugt.
Von dem Frühen zu dem Späten,
Und die Bilder sinken ab –
Lebe wohl, aus großen Städten
Ohne Traum und ohne Grab.” (“Lied.” Benn, 1973, p.40).

“Verlornes Ich, zersprengt von Stratosphären,
Opfer des Ion -: Gamma-Strahlen-Lamm-
Teilchen und Feld -: Unendlichkeitsschimären
Auf deinem grauen Stein vonNotre-Dame.

Die Tage gehn dir ohne Nacht und Morgen,
Die Jahre halten ohne Schnee und Frucht
Bedrohend das Unendliche verborgen –
Die Welt als Flucht.” (“Verlornes Ich.” Benn, 1973, p.48).

“Ach vergeblich das Fahren!
Spät erst erfahren Sie sich:
Bleiben und stille bewahren
Das sich umgrenzende Ich.” (“Reisen.” Benn, 1973, p.64).

“Durch so viel Formen geschritten,
durch Ich und Wir und Du,
doch alles blieb erlitten
durch die ewige Frage: wozu?

Das ist eine Kinderfrage
Dir wurde erst spat bewußt
Es gibt nu reins: ertrage
- ob Sinn, ob Sucht, ob Sage –
dein fernbestimmtes: Du mußt.

Ob Rosen, ob Schnee ob Meere,
Was alles erblühte verblich,
Es gibt nur zwei Dinge: die Leere
Und das gezeichnete Ich.” (“Das gezeichnete Ich.” Benn, 1973, p.78).

“Niemand weiß, wo sich die Keime nähren,
miemand, ob die Krone einmal blüht –
Halten, Harren, sich gewähren
Dunkeln, Altern, Aprèlude.” (“Aprèslude.” Benn, 1973, p.89).

“Ich habe mich oft gefragt und keine Antwort gefunden,
woher das Sanfte und das Gute kommt,
weiß es auch heute nicht und muß nun gehn.” (“Menschen getroffen.” Benn, 1973, p.90).

“Hör zu, so wird der letzte Abend sein,
wo du noch ausgehn kannst; du rauchst die >Juno<,
>Würzburger Hofbräu< drei, und du liest die Uno,
wie sie der >Spiegel< sieht, du sitzt allein

an kleinen Tischen, an abgrschlossenem Rund
dicht an der Heizung, den du liebst das Warme.
Um dich das Menschentum und sein Gebarme,
Das Ehepaar und der verhaßte Hund.

Mehr bist du nicht, kein Haus, kein Hügel dein,
Zu träumen in ein sonniges Gelände,
Dich schlossen immer ziemlich enge Wände
Von der Geburt bis diesen Abend ein.

Mehr warst du nich, doch  Zeus und alle Macht,
das All, die großen Geister, alle Sonnen
sind auch für dich geschehn, durch die geronnen
mehr warst du nicht, beendet wie begonnen –
der letzte Abend – gute Nacht.” (“Hör zu.” Benn, 1973, p.95).

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Playing to win – Lafley and Martin 2013

If it wouldn’t be for the authors’ success at P&G this would be a completely run of the mill strategy 101 book. But it was a good refresher for me.

“Too often, CEOs in particular will allow what is urgent to crowd out what is really important.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.3). Moreover we often describe things as strategy which are not. “Grow or grow faster is not a strategy. Build market share is not a strategy. Ten percent or greater earnings-per-share growth is not a strategy. Beat XYZ is nit a strategy. A strategy is a coordinated and integrated set of where-to-play, how-to.win, core capability and management system choices that uniquely meet a consumer’s needs, thereby creating competitive advantage and superior value for a business. Strategy is a way to win - and nothing less.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.50).

“strategy is an integrated set of choices that uniquely positions the firm in its industry so as to create sustainable advantage and superior value relative to the competition.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.3). “a strategy is a coordinated and integrated set of five choices: a winning aspiration, where to play, how to win, core capabilities and management system.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.5).

“the abstract concept of winning should be translated into defined aspirations. Aspirations are statements about the ideal future.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.19). “The winning aspiration broadly defines the scope of the firm’s activities; where to play and how to win define the specific activities of the organization.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.20). “Remember, it is not how to win generally, but how to win within the chosen where to play domains.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.24).

What is winning?
“What does winning look like for this organization?” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.35).
“As a rule of thumb, though, start with people (consumers and customers) rather than money (stock price). Peter Drucker argued that the purpose of an organization is to create a customer, and it’s still true today.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.36).

“When setting winning aspirations, you must look at all competitors and not just those you know best.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.45). “Do craft aspirations that will be meaningful and powerful to your employees and to your cosumers.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.47).

Where to play?
“It’s a choice about where to compete and where not to compete. (…) Geography (…) Product type (…) Consumer segment (…) Distribution channel (…) Vertical stage of production.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.57).

How to win?
“All successful strategies take on of these two approaches, cost leadership or differentiation.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.84). When products are perfect substitutes the cost leader drives the market and makes the largest profits which it can re-invest. “When a firm offers a product or services that buyers consider unique, the pricing and profic dynamics are quite different. The firm provices a uique offering is a price-setter, not a price taker; the demand for the unique offering depends upon the price the firm sets – the higher the price, the lower the demand and vice versa. But this time, because the producer of a unique offering serves the entire market, the firm feels the shift in demand directly.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.235). “At some point, the marginal revenue us lower than the marginal cost and the firm has pushed price too far.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.236). “For a particular group of customers, the firm is a monopoly supplier.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.237).

A differentiation strategy implies deep and holistic understanding of customers and commitment to innovation while the former means sacrificing nonconforming customers. (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.86).

“Do work to create new how-to-win choices where none currently exists.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.97). “Do consider how to win in concert with where to play. The choices should be mutually reinforcing.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.97). “Industry dynamics might be changeable.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.97). “In Peter Drucker’s terms, Pampers disposable baby diapers “created customers.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.98). “Determine whether a product innovation is really brand specific or ultimately category generic. Never give your current brand user a product-based reason to switch away.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.101).

Play to your strengths
“Capabilities that both fit with one another (…) and actually reinforce one another.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.112). “In 2000, P&G’s where-to.play chouces were coming together (i.e. grow form the core; extend into home, beauty, health, and personal care; and expand into emergin markets), and its how-to-win choices were also becoming clear (i.e. excellence in consumer-focused brand building; innovative product design; and leveraging global scale and retailer partnership). These choices needed to be translated into the set of capabilities required ti deliver.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.113).

“things you are currently good at may actually be irrelevant to consumers and in no way confer a competitive advantage. Rather than starting with capabilities and looking for ways to win with those capabilities, you need to start with setting winning aspirations and determining where to play and how to win.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.114).

Manage what matters.
“A strategy discussion is not an idea review. A strategy discussion is not a budget or forecast review. A strategy discussion is how we are going to accomplish our growth objectives in the next three to five years.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.131).

“I found that clearer and simpler strategies have the best chance of winning, because they can be explained in a few words and internalized by the organization. Strategies that can be explained in a few words are more likely to be empowering and motivating.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.156).

Shorten your odds
“In the end building a strategy isn’t about achieving perfection; it’s about shortening the your odds.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.183). “Do stay focused on the most important questions (what would have to be true for this to be a winning possibility?)” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.201). “Rather than have them talk about what they thought was true about the various options, I would ask them to specify what would have to be true for the option on the table to be a fantastic choice. The result was magical. Clashing views turned into collaboration to really understand the logic of the options.” (Lafley and Martin, 2013, p.204).