Steven's Blog

No More New Strategy Tools

In photography, new cameras do not make for better art, just as in strategy, new tools do not make for better business results.

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Tsukiji, Sayonara

Saturday, October 6th, marked the end of an eighty-year era as the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo closes following its final tuna auction. The fish market has been moved to a new site in Toyosu about two kilometers away, and opened on October 11th. Tsukiji is undergoing a dramatic change. Continue reading


Empathy Trumps Projection

Projection and empathy are not the same thing, but they are often confused. Empathy is the ability to understand how someone is thinking, whereas projection is presuming a person thinks like you. Be careful not to project when it is empathy that you intend. Continue reading


The Ethics of Symbolism

There is nothing inherently wrong with symbolism. It is only symbolism that masquerades inaction that is unethical and destructive.

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Ideology is No Ersatz for Strategy

A friend of mine recently observed that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s strategy to deter a Chinese seizure of the disputed Senkaku Islands makes no sense.

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Forget Recruiting. Poach.

Don’t recruit. Poach. In a tight labor market, there is no percentage in tentativeness. If there is any time to go on the offense, it is now.

I don’t know why recruiting firms call what they do a “search.” Who cares about a search? A search is easy, and often consists of little more than trawling through LinkedIn. Continue reading


Increase Your Attrition

Many companies are struggling to find the qualified people they need, so they resort to retaining the people they have whether qualified or not. They fight to eliminate or at least reduce rates of attrition when it is increased attrition that can do the business the most good. Retention of the best is all that matters.

Recently, the head of a large business unit of a major international company here in Japan told me that the company’s rate of attrition is of no particular concern to him, even though it is higher than industry average.

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When Risk Aversion is Personal

There is nothing wrong with risk aversion.

It is only aversion to reasonable business risk that is a problem. When a business leader complains of excessive risk aversion in his staff, the underlying concerns are frequently personal. Continue reading