Guided by Values

Peter Jones Wu Wei

In  the latest HBS Working Knowledge, Rosabeth Moss Kanter makes the case in SuperCorp: Values as Guidance System that an organization’s strategy is best steered by establishing a clear and committed foundation of values. Organizational commitments to a way of being, not the meaningless kind that sit flat on the wall plaques in most of corporate America. For vanguard companies, grounding strategy—which businesses to pursue and how—in a sense of wider societal purpose provides many significant advantages and only a few potential disadvantages. Values and principles of this sort not only speak to high standards of conduct but also stretch the enterprise beyond its own formal boundaries to include the extended family of customers, suppliers, distributors, business partners, financial stakeholders, and the rest of society. Vanguard companies gain both a moral compass and an entire guidance system. The range of advantages for vanguard companies through their strategic use of values and principles include the following. Competitive differentiation Public accountability via end-to-end responsibility. Common vocabulary and guidance for consistent decisions. Talent magnets and motivation machines “Human” control systems—peer review and a …

Who really killed the American Car?

Peter Jones Transformation Design, Wu Wei

Perhaps it isn’t all about the product. Adam Hanft makes the point that clumsy marketing and mediocre corporate culture with no sense of its own creative force led to “a marketing failure, probably the biggest one in history. It takes years of monumental incompetence to squander the biggest, deepest love affair the American consumer has ever had.” “Car companies have so many levels of creative approval that even a crash dummy would have trouble surviving the process.” Hanft suggests a couple of transformational ideas, that may sound obvious, but they hint at the most basic transforming precepts. 1. If what you’re doing (advertising) is not working, first stop. Then do something else. 2. Be honest about your weaknesses, and turn them into benefits. Authenticity works. “Detroit should have sought the best, talent in the world. They needed to open up to smaller, independent agencies that are the idea factories for the industry. And they should have commissioned film directors, not car hacks, to direct their spots. It happens in Europe all the time. Turn Judd Apatow, Spike Lee, Spike Jonze …