Entries by Geoff Wilson

How do you respond to adversity?

Things are going to go sideways…so how do you respond? No strategy survives contact with the enemy. That’s a timeless truth that, while written for a military crowd, is valid in all parts of life. If you don’t like that one, how about this one:  “Man plans…God laughs.” In other words, no matter how much […]

When one more is too many, what do you do?

Focus need not be only about doing less. Focus is a frequent theme in our work.  Often, action-oriented teams do what they do, which is to take on more and more “things” until the collection of things is basically overwhelming. When organizations place one management layer of achievers on top of another management layer of […]

The strategic executive’s enduring dilemma

The hardest part about giving excellent advice is the hardest part about being an executive. One of the real disasters of the consulting profession is the consultant who really, sincerely, thinks he has it all figured out.  He’s the guy for whom no problem is unsolvable.  Usually, the advice on complex topics is distilled into […]

You are what you eat, whether you like it or not.

Your sources of revenue (and income) say plenty…mind them closely.  The New York Times released an article this week on McKinsey’s work with authoritarian and otherwise dangerous regimes across the world.  The article raises some questions on McKinsey’s choices on whom to serve and how such choices align with McKinsey’s Firm values.  There have been […]

Real dirt on your uniform

Sure, you want to show how hard you worked. But sometimes it’s better to just do the work.  “The optics aren’t good.”  Ugh.  That phrase is the start of something bad in many circumstances.  Sometimes, bad optics and a good outcome is much better than a really pretty but really awful outcome. Allow me a […]

So smart you don’t have to listen…

Lack of listening betrays lack of empathy.  Are you too smart to listen? You know that feeling: It’s that feeling that you already know the end of the discussion, so you don’t really have to be patient enough to listen?  Or, maybe it’s that feeling that your position of authority means you don’t have to […]

The hobgoblin of business strategists

If your strategy can’t be wrong, it’s not right. Business strategy, like any real strategic pursuit, is fundamentally ambiguous.  It involves estimating the future along many axes–regulatory policies, competitive behavior, customer tastes, supply shocks, organizational zeal, and investor requirements are just a few. Ambiguity has a terrible consequence for some senior management teams and most strategy consultants: It […]

Strategy is hard when you’re scared

Thinking long is hard when things are short. Have you ever been in a circumstance where short-term shocks completely derail long-term plans?  You might see it in your family life when an illness strikes, or in your professional life when the loss of a customer leads to wholesale panic. On average, we are poorly prepared […]

The bare essence of professionalism

The bare essence of professionalism is reliably doing real work on the right things, and doing it well. One of the benefits of my position as a management adviser is that I get to see a lot of different management and leadership styles. And I get to see them from all perspectives: executive, buyer, seller, consultant, […]