M&A – lessons from failure

The majority of M&A, it seems, end in failure.  They simply don’t produce the expected results, destroying rather than creating value.  And yet every year companies continue down the path with their eyes wide shut.  Books have been written and lectures given but still lessons are seemingly ignored. Sometimes it is because M&A was simply the wrong strategic option, or perhaps because th...

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Events, dear boy, events

When the then UK Prime Minister, Harold MacMillan, was asked what could blow his government off its course he famously replied: “Events, my dear boy, events.”  Things rarely go in a straight line, shit happens (as the phrase goes), and few strategies stand the test of time.  This conflict of strategy meeting reality was probably most eloquently summed up by Mike Tyson who said that everyone h...

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You’ve got no mail

As cheesy romcoms go, You’ve got mail is on most lists.  We all remember the visceral excitement of getting our first emails: the sense of communion, and of being part of a brave new digital world.  20 years later and perhaps we have hit peak email.  Few work-related issues seem to stress people out more than the size of their inbox.  For many, work has been reduced to sending and re...

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Things have changed

I used to think that I was good at change; after all, I coach people and organisations on embracing change and even call myself a change agent.  But, as Bob Dylan said, things have changed.  And I don’t think I’m alone in finding it all rather wearisome.  I sense that one of the chief outcomes of the political, social, environmental and technological turbulence that we’re all experiencing ...

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Interesting times, and how to respond.

May you live in interesting times, says the famous Chinese curse.  Well, it certainly feels as if we’re all cursed at the moment.  Social, political, and economic turmoil, coupled with growing environmental issues, are all combining to such an extent that we’re seemingly suffering from corporate discombobulation. Every day there’s yet more bad news, raising the already raised blood pressure...

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Tomorrow’s Company, today

Regular reader(s) of this blog will know that I find work fascinating. Like Jerome K Jerome, I can look at it for hours. And for a while I’ve been interested in how we organise ourselves to jointly create (*) goods and services that provide a value for society. It has always seemed to me that, given the opportunity, in most cases we would never reinvent businesses the way they are now. They s...

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The truth about post-truth

We are now living in a post-truth world, apparently.  Recent political events have led some to conjecture that truth is passé, that facts are debatable, and that fake news is to blame. Some of this analysis comes from people genuinely concerned by how public discourse has become fact-lite, but the rest seemingly comes from those struggling to make sense of how their side lost.  They perhaps feel...

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Autumn Leaves

Summer is over, annual leave has ended, Autumn is upon us, and it’s back to work. Despite the summer break it is all too easy to settle back into the same old routine and roll downhill to Christmas. All those dreams and ambitions of the summer, the wistful feelings of another way of living, all land with a bump when real life comes back with a vengeance.  It is surprising how many people jump ba...

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The quiet month

In the good old days one could usually rely on August to provide a steady stream of seasonal silly stories. The long, hot month served up nothing but ephemeral flotsam and jetsam which could happily be ignored.  One could set aside newspapers for a few weeks in the sure knowledge that nothing of significance would settle on the idle hills of summer.  This year is different.  We are now, it seems...

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How to change Executive Pay

How to change Executive Pay How to change executive pay?  These words are, frankly, less of statement preceding a solution than a plaintive cry.  We have arrived at a point where pretty much everyone agrees that there is a problem.  However, it’s a bit like London house prices where everyone recognises the issue but no one is prepared to make the first move and shave £200,000 off their ask...

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