Don’t forget the strategy!

Many tactics can be mistaken for business strategy.

Geoff Wilson

Have you ever been part of a “strategic” effort that just doesn’t feel … strategic? For example, I’ve written about how “strategic” cost-reduction efforts can become merely “whacking.” That’s the kind of thing I have in mind, but there are many others.

I’m reminded of a classic (to me) scene from the movie “Revenge of the Nerds”. John Goodman, playing a college football coach (and looking as svelte as I’ve ever seen him), delivers a speech to his team on the field about the importance of homecoming. He gets the players really fired up about it. They get so amped up, in fact, that they—as victims of a practical joke involving jock straps and liquid heat balm—run off the field and into the locker room after the speech. Here, see for yourself:

The coach, oblivious to the practical joke, simply yells “Shower up!” at the end of his speech. As his players frantically sprint into the locker room, he looks at the ground and says a powerful thing, almost in passing:

 “Sh*t, we forgot to practice.”

It’s that end point that’s important: “We forgot to practice.” The coach expends all of his and his team’s energy on a speech and forgets the core activity of the moment.

How often do you go through strategy efforts and end up saying “Sh*t, we forgot to do the strategy”? Here are some examples I’ve seen.

  1. Forming a strategic “show” for the board vs. a strategic plan for the business. The board wants a strategy; you deliver a shiny document. Seems like a fair trade, right? No. The dazzling document is the equivalent of the coach’s speech above. It makes the business the object of the conversation vs. the subject of the conversation. The board is the subject.
  2. Mistaking a financial model for business strategy. A good financial model has to underpin a good business strategy, but a business strategy is not a financial model. If your strategy is to gain 200 bps of margin through SG&A reduction, you’ve set a goal, but you haven’t set a strategy. This brings me to my next point …
  3. Mistaking organization for strategyThis one cuts both ways. It may be very strategic to reorganize, but tell me why. If your answer is that you end up with lower costs, then great. Tell me about your cost-leadership strategy: How does that create a sustained competitive advantage in the market? If you can’t answer that, you’re likely not forming a strategy. The same can be said for a strategic hire. I once advised a CEO that his VP of HR would be the most strategic hire he would make—in this case because of shoddy systems, style, engagement, and a host of other ills that the hire would be tasked to cover. There was strategy behind my recommendation, but too often our shiny new hires come with no strategy behind them.
  4. Missing the market. Management teams often fall into this. They forget that the reason for a company’s existence—really any organization’s existence—is to serve someone else. That’s the only way value is created. However, too many strategy efforts are focused inwardly. In fact, points 1-3 above can be summed up that way: They are internally focused failure modes. If  you’ve forgotten the market, you’ve forgotten your strategy.
  5. Using “strategy” as code for “my agenda.” You don’t see this one too often, but occasionally executives spin up elaborate strategy efforts to get to answers they already have in their heads. That can be fruitful if the answers are grounded in fact and built for the market, as it brings other people on board. However, if the strategy effort is simply a ruse to quiet the masses while pursuing an adverse agenda, the executive has missed the point.

Those are a few examples, but there are many other ways to forget strategy. Some of them come while running the business and others while leading people. Strategy synthesizes market, organizational, financial, and other knowledge sources into direction via a logical argument. If you take only one element and make that the strategy, you’ll fall short.

Don’t be left staring at the ground and saying “Sh*t, we forgot to do the strategy.”

What do you think?

Your organization is a good expression of your strategy, so get it right

How you allocate talent and prioritize functions directly reflects your business strategy.

Geoff Wilson

What is an organization, really? It’s almost that time when many companies begin hard discussions about budgets for next year. In most cases, that conversation crosses at least partially into the topic of organization structure, so it’s good to think about what an organization really is.

The old-school theory of the firm argued that firm structures form at the point where owning a service is more efficient and valuable than buying a service from another firm. It’s usually more efficient for you to own your own sales force than to try to get alignment with a third party to outsource sales (or to hire sales people like day laborers). Therefore, one discussion about organization structure must consider the own-vs.-rent decision.

On another axis, a firm really exists to do two things: capture opportunities and manage risks. Those two objectives aren’t always mutually exclusive to individual parts of the organization (for example, a CEO has to do both, as do many other people in the organization), but they are the two considerations when designing an organization.

A third axis of organization decisions involves what I’ll call centering. In a given company, there is efficiency to creating centers of skill in some cases, and to distributing skill in others. You might easily centralize procurement operations, but you might need to keep your sales force distributed and close to the customer in order for it to be most efficient. This is the old division-of-labor argument that is subtly written into every organization: Do you expect your general managers to be great at HR and IT, or are those functions better handled by true experts elsewhere in the organization (or by outsiders, if you’re thinking about own vs. rent as noted above)?

The interesting discussion during the annual budget cycle should then be on four levels:

  1. Have we established the right boundaries for our firm? Should we stop doing some things in house that somebody else can do effectively? Should we rent vs. own? Many companies have decided to outsource activities that were traditionally in house. Information technology is an example of a function that is easily outsourced to a third party that is both better and more cost-effective than in-house operations. One cautionary note: Don’t outsource your competitive advantage.
  2. Have we covered key risks with the right organizational investment? Legal, human resources, accounting, finance, credit, and many other areas are examples of risk-management functions (in most cases). They are investments made to manage risk, not necessarily to capture opportunities.
  3. Have we covered opportunities sufficiently? This is usually the toughest of these questions for companies to answer with confidence. Do you have the right investment in product development, engineering, sales, and other potential revenue-producing resources. I’m always struck by companies that consistently operate understaffed—at least a person or two down—on their sales force, but never allow their accounting function to be shorthanded.
  4. Have we centered and distributed functions appropriately? Are there competencies that need to be concentrated and improved? Are we properly structured to ensure we get the best of those competencies and the best distribution of their use across the company? A good example of this can be R&D staff. They may be best placed in a center that can allow quick knowledge sharing and effective processes vs. having a broad set of individual researchers spread throughout a company. But they also might be best positioned right next to the customer in a distributed form. Your mileage may vary.

As you look at your organization, can you answer these questions? I’m not sure most management teams can. Like my anecdote about companies with fully-staffed accounting functions yet people-starved sales functions, I see resource imbalances in organizations all the time. One company I encountered had an accounts-receivable function that was staffed with excellent people, and many of them. In fact, the company had more and better talent evaluating customer-credit decisions than it had in pretty much any sales function. That allocation of talent says a lot about management’s priorities.

I’ve noted in past posts that your budget is the best expression of your strategy. It turns out your organization is a pretty good approximation of your budget.

Now, what do you think? Share your thoughts on this topic.

Links that made me think: Leadership ROI, Resilience, Chinese Innovation, and more

This week’s reads and resources to provoke thoughts on strategy, leadership, life, and other things.

Geoff Wilson

Every week, I get to devour a hefty heap of digital content in service to our clients and partners. As I sift through the internet on this mission, I discover things that are relevant to business, strategy, leadership, and life in general. As I do so, I’ll share some pieces that I think are thought-provoking treasures. Here are a few articles and resources I found particularly interesting and valuable this week. Enjoy the feast—or at least whet your appetite.

  • If you say it, you probably ought to mean it. How a corporate mission can drive young workers away. – BBC
  • Why venture capitalists might stop trying to be friendly, and how it could be Uber’s fault. The end of founder-friendly. – Fortune
  • Turns out overly resilient people either stay with bad bets too long, or have tendencies to lead as authoritarians. The dark side of resilience. – Harvard Business Review
  • How a new model of innovation being deployed in China shows the value of short decision loops in the product development process. – Boston Consulting Group
  • Invest your time and energy in the right things. What your leadership return on investment is. – ThoughtLEADERS

Dig in, let me know what you think, and have a great week!


The cure that kills

Corporate change programs can be toxic treatments unless heavily dosed with honest communication.

Geoff Wilson

Early in my career, I had a conversation with a mid-level manager (let’s call him Carl) within a large company undergoing a tense operational change. Carl was responsible for multiple small sites in the organization’s footprint. He led tens of people. It wasn’t hundreds or thousands, but still significant.

I was a fledgling consultant to top management at Carl’s company. My team was focused on designing the approach to the company’s change. In my conversation with Carl, I asked how things were done and what would help with the change.

The conversation was productive, but then Carl paused. I now know it was the pause that comes before someone actually breaks through the facade of their professional life. At that point in my career, however, I just thought he was thinking.

Carl then laid it out there: “All these corporate programs—I can’t tell which way things are going or why we are doing what we are doing.” He paused again, and then unleashed the words that have stuck with me ever since: “It makes you feel like a beaten dog. You flinch every time the corporate hand comes toward you because you are more used to it beating you than it helping you.”

And there, my friends, was a life-changing moment. It was life changing for two reasons:

  • Carl was an honest guy. He was trying to comply with corporate mandates—and was getting crushed in the process. He lacked access to any rhyme or reason for the change.
  • I had a core belief (now solidified) that no senior executive walks into the office seeking to foist valueless initiatives on his or her people for the sheer joy of creating confusion and frustration. (Side note: After years as an advisor and executive, I’ve known one or two executives who propagate valueless initiatives for the sake of their own ego, but not as real sadists. The end result is the same, but the intent isn’t)

In Carl’s case, the two sides of the circuit—top management and line leaders—had strong values and desires to do great jobs. But they weren’t connecting. The missed connection was consequently crushing drive and initiative where it was needed most.

In other words, initiatives, mandates, and highly valuable corporate performance programs driven from the top looked—to those most needed to buy into them—more like beatings than opportunities. They were systemic “cures” handed down from corporate offices that could literally kill local energy and focus. The programs dulled the edge of the very people meant to be sharpened by them.

Not only that, but the entire situation very quickly made senior leaders look like the “doctors” in this post photo. Not folks you’d seek out for a cure, eh?

In the history of medical science, many so-called cures have proven lethal not only to diseases, but also to patients. The history of cancer chemotherapy is rife with such instances. Actress/playwright Anna Deavere Smith deftly illustrated this concept in her solo play “Let Me Down Easy” when she wrote that cancer therapy is “like taking a stick and beating a dog to get rid of fleas.”

Corporate change programs—especially the big ones—sometimes have the same feel: indiscriminate cure targeting incorrigible disease launched against unassuming patients. A stick swung against the body, and then again but in a different way. Again. And again. And again. Striking nerves and tissue they don’t intend to strike, but doing damage anyway.

It’s a way of targeting performance that is often effective but sometimes lethal. Corporate change programs, like a stick used to beat a dog or a powerful chemical used to decimate a disease, can be a cure that kills. But the analogies break down at that point.

Why? Because we as corporate leaders are able to package and prepare our patients for our cure in a way that no canine or cancer patient’s body can ever be readied. We can turn the stick into a staff, or the chemotherapy into a nourishing concoction.

How? We can use the power of “why.” We can communicate not only what’s coming, but why it’s happening. We can explain the meaning of the action and its upside for stakeholders. In the cases of the worst outcomes—change programs that have necessary but terminal impact on some individuals—we can quite literally let those afflicted down easy.

We just need to take the time to do it. And do it repeatedly. And then to do it again. But how? Simon Sinek’s TED talk that encapsulates the concept of “starting with the ‘why'” is a helpful guide. For leaders to inspire action and minimize confusion, angst, and ultimately departure, we should ensure that the “why” reaches everyone the change impacts.

Summarizing change in a change story is a great way to start. Delivering it personally is even more captivating. Living the change out visibly is the ultimate approach. But there’s a catch: If you as an executive leader don’t change at all OR you change too often—especially if your “why” keeps changing while the world around you isn’t—you’re just swinging the stick in a different way.

Being outstanding at operations one quarter, great at growth the next, and excellent at efficiency the following only serves to show that you’re untethered from principle. That, or your principles aren’t what you’re packaging into your “why” to begin with. Either way, you resort to more of the same—except now, instead of death by confusion and randomness, you’re propagating death by disingenuousness.

Don’t be untethered, and don’t be disingenuous. You have to have vision and integrity.

Change leaders of all stripes: Stop beating your dogs. Use the power of preparation and communication. Drive performance by leading with the “why.”

Prescribe a cure that cures by preparing people for the treatment.

What do you think?

Be who you are, especially in business

Strategy must solve for the core before testing boundaries.

Geoff Wilson

Remember when Michael Jordan left basketball to be a professional baseball player? The topic was covered by an ESPN “30 for 30” documentary, “Jordan Rides the Bus“. It wasn’t a total disaster, but it does make you cringe to think about. The greatest basketball player of all time took significant time off from his main sport to play baseball. Jordan was basketball. Basketball was Jordan.

Google, a company that is fantastically sound in its core business of search-targeted advertising, has spent millions (perhaps billions) looking for the next big thing. Nevertheless, a huge portion of Google’s revenue and profit comes from its AdWords platform. AdWords is what Google “is.”

While my home state’s Birmingham Barons loved the spectacle that Jordan offered them by testing the baseball waters, and though Google has doubtless made many millionaires by dipping its toes into new venture areas, both of these anecdotes offer lessons for those of us who focus on strategy. Strategy, in so many ways, is about being who you are, first—then testing the boundaries.

I have the pleasure of serving many companies on strategic issues. I’ve now consulted with well over 50 companies at the top management level. Without a doubt, the biggest strategic blunder management teams commit is chasing shiny new things at the cost of their core business.

Loss of focus on the core is the critical risk for a business in transition. Companies have core assets. Those may be people, machinery, locations, patents, or products. A strategy that ignores the core is likely to fail.

Why? It comes down to risk. Let’s use Jordan as an example. When he played basketball in the 1992 Olympics for the United States’ famed “Dream Team,” he had to adapt to a new style of play. There were different rules, a differently shaped key on the court, and the 3-point line was at a different distance. He even had to watch out for being called for traveling, which is rarely enforced in the NBA. But it was the same ball. It was the same dribble, drive, shoot he’d mastered for years as a pro, and he was successful while the Dream Team dominated its way to a gold medal.

What about Jordan’s foray into baseball? Well, that was a different story. Baseball was, literally, a whole new ballgame. Different ball, different skill set, different rules, and different player mentality. It was a whole new world. Jordan hit for just a .200 average in the minor leagues. The whole scenario basically proved he was a fairly flexible athlete, but a very average baseball player.

See the issue? New ball, new rules, new skills, new mindset? Jordan tried to enter a change of pace that had too many degrees of uncertainty. Companies do this all the time. They seek to enter arenas with new technologies, new customers, new channels, or all three—and they commit resources that should probably be focused on their core businesses.

Combining the risky trifecta of new customers, technologies, and routes to market with your existing skills is a recipe for disaster. Doing it at the expense of your core business is just plain obtuse.

I once served a diversified firm whose explicit, vociferous strategic focus was on new product development within a very narrow set of businesses, but whose bread and butter was really in driving cost reduction within a vast core business that wasn’t pursuing a cost-leadership strategy. You get that? To be clear: Driving cost reduction as the key strategic move while not pursuing a cost-leadership strategy is, in itself, a strategic blunder.

Though this company’s new product-development areas were promising, they were also extremely long cycle. And they ate a tremendous amount of resources (as those things sometimes can). Still, management treated the core business as if it were on autopilot while suckling away at the cost-reduction teat without a discernible cost-leadership end point.

The issue with this is that strategies have to be focused against end games, and this particular company had a vast core whose strategic end game left the company itself out of the mix. It would not be a cost leader in its market, but was depending on cost reduction to ensure its financial performance. Meanwhile, new initiatives focused on new technologies, customers, and channels—not to mention new skills—were front and center, resourced heavily but not exclusively, and extremely long cycle to maturity.

The end result of such a quasi-strategic scheme is predictable: a stumbling core and an immature periphery. Why? Because the core business in such a scenario has such mass that a trip up in the core overwhelms any “big” wins in the new, new thing. The core would eventually trip, and the periphery would not be significant enough to save it. It’s the industrial equivalent of the savings and loan crisis: savings and loan institutions borrowed from depositors’ short-term funds and lent long term, automatically setting up a liquidity crisis somewhere down the line.

You have to focus on the core, no matter how ugly it is. The core is your short and intermediate term. You have to be who you are.

The lesson is this: Your core has to have a strategy, and that strategy must reflect who you are in terms of strengths, skills, and competences. You can (nay, must) look for the new, new thing—but you must do it with a core strategy that is effective, extensive, and sound.

Now, none of this matters if you are fat and happy. If you’re a multi-millionaire athlete who has millions upon millions of dollars in endorsements (like Jordan did), or if you’re a high-margin juggernaut like Google (excuse me, Alphabet, Inc.), you can afford to emabark on a diversion that is totally against your strengths.

But if you’re like most of the world, you have strengths, and you only have a finite amount of time to exploit them. You also have a finite amount of time and resources to commit outside your strengths. Be careful with those.

Be sure to form a strategy for who you are first, and then keep a little margin to test who you might be. It can be a liberating thing.

What do you think?

A business strategy that’s everywhere is actually nowhere

If you define your strategic focus too broadly, you don’t have a strategic focus.

Geoff Wilson

Remember when Steve Jobs returned to Apple in the late 1990s—more than a decade after being fired from the company he co-founded? Apple lore says one of the first things he did was cut through all the diverse initiatives and products to establish four focus areas with a very simple matrix. On one axis was “Pro vs. Consumer” and on the other was “Portable vs. Desktop.” By doing this, Jobs created a relentless focus for a relatively large organization around only four possible core products.

What are you relentlessly focused on?

That question is a good test of your strategy. If you can answer it honestly, you probably find that “focus” can be a hard thing to pin down. Many business strategies start with goal-based focus areas: grow revenue, reduce cost, improve delivery time, etc. The problem with goal-based focus areas is they rarely constrain the scope of activity enough to create real focus. You end up “focusing” on something that actually can drive a lack of focus.

Focusing on sales growth is a great example. If you’re focused on sales growth, any sale might seem like a good sale. You might take that really complex deal that promises a lot of revenue at the expense of working to develop a customer base that is both simpler and more profitable over the long term. Your sales “focus” creates strategic diffusion.

And there’s the rub. Your relentless focus shouldn’t necessarily be on a goal, but rather on an outcome that creates sustainable advantage. Who cares if you grew sales 20 percent last year when the way you did it isn’t profitably replicable over time? The Steve Jobs example above is actually pretty vague: We are going to focus on four product types. But it created focus on being great in four areas, and four areas only, on the way to broader success on the metrics. The rest is history with Apple.

This post is not to denigrate tactical wins. If you have the capacity and can afford the distraction, by all means, take the money or invest in the new thing. Apple certainly has. But all too often a distraction breeds more distraction. It also creates confusion for those who don’t know the difference between a tactical decision (“Sure, we’ll take that complex project.”) and a strategic aim (“We aren’t strategically focused on complex projects.”).

The takeaway from this one is simple: If you define your strategic focus too broadly, you don’t have a strategic focus.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Links that made me think: Automated Sewing, Emojis, Passwords, Fat Cattle, and more

This week’s reads and resources to provoke thoughts on strategy, leadership, life, and other things.

Geoff Wilson

Every week, I get to devour a hefty heap of digital content in service to our clients and partners. As I sift through the internet on this mission, I discover things that are relevant to business, strategy, leadership, and life in general. As I do so, I’ll share some pieces that I think are thought-provoking treasures. Here are a few articles and resources I found particularly interesting and valuable this week. Enjoy the feast—or at least whet your appetite.

  • Yeah, but can you automate this? An Atlanta-based company automates complex sewing. – Innovation in Textiles
  • Using emojis in work emails might make you look less competent. – International Business Times
  • Turns out PuppyMonkeyBaby (creepiest advert ever?) is probably a better password than 5223@@#. Old password rules were … wrong. – WSJ
  • If you help people learn how to care, they tend to engage more. Kids who are taught to be more empathetic grow up to be voters. – NY Mag
  • It’s probably not because of smartphones and Netflix. How did U.S. cattle and hogs gain so much weight? – Sara Menker

Dig in, let me know what you think, and have a great week!


May the Force be with your business strategy

How do you create change? Move. How do you overcome inferior mass? Move faster.

Geoff Wilson

Strategy is a combination of direction and applied force. It’s the force of assets deployed, talent assigned, new products launched, or new initiatives driven. In short, strategy is applying what you have to achieve what you want.

But wait a minute. What if what you have isn’t enough? What if your assets, talent, products, and other “things” are inferior? What if you just think they might be inferior? Well, I have news for you.

The laws of physics teach us about force. Newton’s second law states that force—the “thing” that creates change in the motion of an object—is derived via mass and acceleration. That is to say, if you want to create a change in something, you have to use a mass and move it at some rate over time.

So what does that mean for a business strategy? It means two things:

1. If you have a mass of assets to apply, you need to move them in order to create change.

You can’t just sit on your laurels and expect change to happen. This is a key issue when it comes to critical strategic moments in a company’s life. Need to change the basis of competition in your market? Better get moving, redeploy assets in a new configuration, and do something rather than do nothing. (And no, I’m not imploring you to just “do something.” Think first.)

When we look at well-worn examples of companies that shape and reshape industry segments, we see constant motion. Walmart stores look nothing like they did 25 years ago. Walmart has led all these years not by sitting still, but by shaping and reshaping a set of retail concepts around a juggernaut of a supply chain. They created force by maintaining a massive base of assets in a constant state of acceleration.

2. If your mass of assets is inferior, you have to move faster than the competition.

That’s right, you can overcome inferior mass with superior acceleration of the mass. What this means in business is that you can, in fact, outwork the other person. You can move faster than the competition.

Some might say this is exactly what Samsung is currently doing to Apple. Samsung has settled into a device product-launch velocity that is a multiple of Apple’s. While Samsung may not have Apple’s brand and market weight, the velocity of what it does have is applying real force to change the market.

So, if a strategic direction is known, here’s the question that should come to mind next for the management strategist: How are you applying force? Are you relying on massive assets moved at a steady pace, or are you counting on a rifle shot—a bullet fired at high velocity—to achieve change?

How do you create change? Move. How do you overcome inferior mass? Move faster.

Don’t just take it from me. Take it from one of the most brilliant military strategists in history:

The strength of an army, like the momentum in mechanics, is estimated by the weight multiplied by the velocity. A rapid march exerts a beneficial moral influence on the army and increases its means of victory. – Napoleon Bonaparte

What do you think? Is the force with your strategy?

The importance of doing career due diligence

A little research and a few hints are plenty when you’re looking for your next job.

Geoff Wilson

Picture it: You’re thinking about joining a new organization. You just so happen to know a few people with very solid inside knowledge of the organization. One of them gives you this pearl: “On a scale of 1 to 10, the leadership team you would join is a solid 8—but the leader is a 4.”

What would you do? You might say “8, wow. That’s pretty good. I could do much worse.” Or you might say “Ugh, a leader who’s a 4. Back to the drawing board.”

Here’s what I’d tell you …


Any leader who has engendered enough bad will to have innocent observers rate them a 4 probably deserves elimination from your solution set. Of course, I write this with the assumption that you have other options; if you’re desperate, take your chances with a bad leader. After all, bad leaders deserve to have teams of desperate people.

Why does this matter to your career? Because a little due diligence is a good thing.

I’m actually wary of people who take jobs without asking questions. Like, really wary. Scary wary. Why? Because a person who will take a job with you without a question asked is probably just looking for a job. And you know what? There are lots of jobs out there.

People with purpose ask questions that relate to their purposes. I’ve had people ask questions about firm strategy, the career path, and even faith in the workplace. None of them were off-putting; these people showed sincere curiosity about where their own skills, purposes, and beliefs fit. But people without purpose just ask for offers; they don’t do any due diligence.

And those candidates deserve no offers when it comes to professional roles. “Ouch,” you might say. “What about junior people who don’t know any better?” Yep, they get a pass. But anyone who’s been around the block even once should know better.

I know of an executive who left a role with a firm after years within it, and the particular role he left was open and advertised for months and months. He constituted what I would consider a juicy due diligence target. Why? Well, he was there for all the world to see, regardless of what he could or couldn’t say about the role. He did, in fact, receive dozens of calls about the role and the organization. While I’m not sure how he talked about the role to those who were interested, I do know one thing: The person who actually took the role never called him. That would be a glaring red flag for me if I were filling the role. It says a lot about the depth of curiosity of the person who took the role, doesn’t it?

It’s not a sin to ask questions about a role that might be offered to you. And if you encounter resistance from your potential future organization when you do ask questions … run away! Any team that questions your motives for doing due diligence on them, particularly if you’re a very senior executive, doesn’t deserve to attract top talent.

Go ahead and look them in the mouths. Gift horses, they ain’t.

What do you think? Have you ever encountered resistance from an organization when you asked about it during an interview cycle? 

Links that made me think: 3D Printing, Autonomous Deere, Obamacare, College Football, and more

This week’s reads and resources to provoke thoughts on strategy, leadership, life, and other things.

Geoff Wilson

Every week, I get to devour a hefty heap of digital content in service to our clients and partners. As I sift through the internet on this mission, I discover things that are relevant to business, strategy, leadership, and life in general. As I do so, I’ll share some pieces that I think are thought-provoking treasures. Here are a few articles and resources I found particularly interesting and valuable this week. Enjoy the feast—or at least whet your appetite.

  • Turns out, this stuff is hard. John Deere has learned that autonomous tractors aren’t easy to make. – Quartz
  • This can’t hurt the resale value. Daimler starting to 3D print parts for old trucks. – Digital Trends
  • When it comes to Obamacare, the things that drive up premiums are the things nobody wants to get rid of. In other words, politicians are grandstanding … again. – The Weekly Standard
  • A 75-year study shows that there is one thing that keeps us happy, and it isn’t money. – Ideapod
  • The next big technology trend could be made of really tiny things. – Strategy+Business
  • Hey, it’s almost football season, so why not have a look at the seedy underbelly of big-time college football? Did you know that your favorite team probably voted against schools having the option to provide four-year scholarships to athletes? – Slate

Dig in, let me know what you think, and have a great week!