"Genius is in-born, may it never be still-born."

"Oysters, irritated by grains of sand, give birth to pearls. Brains, irritated by curiosity, give birth to ideas."

"Brainpower is the bridge to the future; it is what transports you from wishful thinking to willful doing."

"Unless you keep learning & growing, the status quo has no status."
Showing posts with label Robert Kaplan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Robert Kaplan. Show all posts

Thursday, July 2, 2009


I have taken the liberty to extract the following beautiful piece of writing about strategy execution by Konosuke Matsushita (1894-1989), founder of Panasonic Corporation, Japan, from the 'Japan Close Up' Magazine, December 2008 issue:

"Long ago, samurai had to administer a final blow to kill a wounded adversary. In Japan's martial culture, the samurai were guided by stern rules on this matter and followed established formalities.

Leaving an enemy mortally wounded without finishing off the matter cleanly was considered shameful.

For the samurai of old, once a battle or engagement had ended, making certain of the outcome, sizing up the resulting situation and tidying up afterward were important parts of respectable conduct. Their upbringing from a young age was strict, inculcating them through the activities of everyday life with the requisite formalities, from table manners to the etiquette of greetings and salutations. This training prepared them for the tough discipline they would have to practice on the battlefield.

By comparison with such rigorous discipline, the way we work today may often seem untidy and haphazard. How often do we double-check everything we do, see things through to the end, and wrap up loose ends carefully afterwards?

Even when the results of a project are 99 percent in, if one leaves the remaining 1 percent unfinished and inconclusive, everything that was accomplished could be undone. It is always better to check over things once more, to be absolutely sure the job has been completed to your satisfaction, than to remember with regret later something left unattended.

Just as the samurai would have been ashamed not to observe the formalities of their profession, we, too, should have enough pride in our work that we would never leave it without following through to the very end."

While reading the foregoing piece, I am reminded of Prof Henry Mintzberg, who wrote in his excellent book, 'Strategic Safari: The Complete Guide through the Wilds of Strategic Management' (published in 1998), in which he had advocated 'strategy formation as a visionary process' & outlined the role of 'seeing' in strategic thinking as follows:

- Seeing ahead;
- Seeing behind;
- Seeing down;
- Seeing below;
- Seeing beside;
- Seeing beyond;
- Seeing it through;

That's to say, as I interpret it, "Seeing it through" is the vital key to organisational as well as professional success.

In fact, Prof Robert Kaplan at the Harvard Business School had reinforced the "Seeing it though" in his crowning book, 'Execution Premium' (published last year) with this insightful observation:

"In a world of stiffening competition, business strategy is more crucial than ever. Yet most organizations struggle in this area - not with formulating strategy but with executing it, or putting their strategy into action. Owing to execution failures, companies realize just a fraction of the financial performance promised in their strategic plans."

Interestingly, on an amusing note, I think futurist/strategist Joel Arthur Barker, also author of 'Future Edge', is believed to have made the following remarks:

"Vision without action is daydreaming; action without vision is random activity."