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think: act – Flexibility builds success

Issue 2, 2005

Companies going for growth have two choices. They can set up and expand their position in existing markets, or they can occupy new markets. Each approach requires its own strategy. Both also demand that companies reach high levels of innovation and flexibility to meet their objectives in a constantly changing business world.

This issue of think: act is dedicated to the challenge of combining overall strategy with on-demand flexibility. So we researched the recipes for success perfected by companies that have been around for centuries, and we analyzed the recent renaissance of decentralization. We also talked with MAN Group AG’s new CEO Håkan Samuelsson about why strategic planning cannot be based solely on finance numbers.

Josephine Green, an innovation wizard at Philips, tells us how the electronics group discovers technological trends and reconciles business requirements with economic efficiency. And because innovation opens up new markets, we met with Renée Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim, both professors of economics, to discuss their “blue ocean” strategy that deals with systematically tapping completely new business segments.

What, ultimately, determines success? Is it a chosen strategy? Yes. Is it the ability to respond flexibly? Absolutely. Yet upper management’s leadership style is just as critical. Should they oversee conflict-ridden work environments? Or rely on harmony and social skills? Management experts Heike Bruch and Seamus Phan argue about the answers to these questions.

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