Strategist, Entrepreneur, Executive, Advisor, Mentor, Inventor, Innovator, Visionary, Author, Writer, Blogger, Husband, Father, Brother, Son, Christian

From Gas to Electric Vehicles — Easier Said Than Done

Last week, General Motors’ Chairman and CEO Mary Barra increased the company’s commitment to electric vehicles from $20 billion to $27 billion by 2025 and announced the company’s plan for an all-electric future. More than half of GM’s product development resources are focused on electric vehicles, a significant tipping point from the company’s deep heritage in gas-powered internal combustion engine cars and trucks.

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“We are resolved as a management team to move even faster to expedite the transition to EVs. …

Wireless carriers are great at operating mobile networks

One of my favorite recent series of television commercials was the ones by AT&T wireless that ended with the tagline “JUST OK IS NOT OK,” and in that series, the one called “Tattoo Parlor” may be my favorite. In it, the customer says to the tattoo artist “Aren’t you supposed to draw it first?” which earns the rejoinder “Stay in your lane, bro!” Maybe I’m being as over-confident and overly reactive as that inkman, but it seems that AT&T and their brethren in the mobile industry could benefit from that advice.

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This week, BuzzFeed announced that it was acquiring HuffPost (acquired by Verizon in 2015 as part of the $4.4 billion AOL acquisition) in a complex deal with Verizon Media. Meanwhile, AT&T is still looking for a buyer for DirecTV (which they acquired in 2015 for $49 billion). Also announced this week, T-Mobile is shutting down their TVision Home service that they aquired in 2017 (while confusingly launching a similar service also called TVision). These transactions are just the latest in a long line of symptoms of a consistent problem. While mobile operators are great at operating wireless networks, they fail their stakeholders when they stray beyond their strategic boundaries. …

A fun “graphic novel” teaching about strategy development

Brief Summary

Title: StrategyMan vs. the Anti-Strategy Squad: Using Strategic Thinking to Defeat Bad Strategy and Save Your Plan
Authors: Rich Horwath
Illustrated By: Nathan Lueth
2018 by Greenleaf Book Group Press
What It Teaches: The author, Rich Horwath, is a consultant who helps companies with their strategic planning. StrategyMan uses a super-hero vs. super-villain comic book to teach Horwath’s approach to strategic planning. It does so by introducing the factors common in businesses that lead to “bad strategy” in the form of the villains who are set on killing the strategy for TechnoBody, a fictional company. At each step in the process, the villains show up, only to be defeated by the heroes from the Strategic Thinking Institute (Horwath’s company). The heroes teach basic principles and tools that lead to successful strategic planning.
When To Use It: StrategyMan is a fun and informative book. While a relatively quick and enjoyable read, it contains much to help business leaders recognize common behaviors that can impede strategic planning and learn tools and principles for doing it right. Optimally, the book would make a good pre-read for a team heading into the strategic planning process. Unfortunately, Horwath leans heavily on the terminology and some frameworks that are unique to his approach to strategic planning. …

Add the Strategic History of Sprint Corporation to Your Bookshelf

The print version of A Sprint to the Finish, my book about the history of Sprint, is now available at Amazon. This small and affordable volume discusses the history of the telecommunications innovator through the lens of strategic decisions made by the company throughout its 120+ year history.

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Specific decisions discussed include:

  • The Launch of the Brown Telephone business (1899)
  • Growth Through Consolidation/United Telephone (1911–2020)
  • Entry into Long Distance/Sprint (1981–1988)
  • Purposeful Entry into Wireless (1995)
  • OneSprint and Transformation (1998–2004)
  • Merger with Nextel (2004–2005)
  • Long Distance Extreme Discipline (2004–2005)
  • Local Exit (2004–2005)
  • 4G Launch and Clearwire Formation (2007–2008)
  • Acquisition of Virgin Mobile…

When customers vote positively with their wallets, we all win!

This week the whole world is watching the national elections in the United States.

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Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Maybe it’s just that I’m getting older and more perceptive (or perhaps more cynical) but with each election cycle, voters seem increasingly to be voting against a given candidate rather than for the one that gets their vote. So much of campaigning these days is trying to convince voters why the competitor is a bad choice rather than making the case for why the candidate is a good choice. It’s sad. And I’m glad businesses, for the most part, don’t work that way.

Early in my voting life, I came to realize that it’s really hard for politicians to please most of the people. On many issues there are more than two positions, so whatever stand one takes, the politician will disappoint more than half the people. Even when issues are more clear cut, a politician may please a given voter on one topic, while disappointing that same voter on another. And if, on election day, more voters are displeased with you than they are with your opponent, then you lose. It’s a tough job! …

I have just published a new eBook titled Six Questions: What Every Business Leader Needs to Know About Their Business.

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Here’s the description:

Business success requires making hard decisions. Making hard decisions well requires a depth of understanding about the business and its environment that, unfortunately, many business leaders lack, or at least they haven’t formulated their understanding of the business into a framework that makes it easy to consistently and confidently apply.

In this book Russell McGuire asks six simple questions that any leader should be able to answer about their business. The answers to those six questions provide a mental framework that can help leaders navigate the challenges their organizations will undoubtedly face. But more than simply asking the questions, McGuire provides the tools and approaches leaders can use to thoughtfully develop the answers to those questions. …

A solution to no one’s problem is no solution, even if well funded

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Media mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg formed startup NewTV early in 2017, landed Meg Whitman as CEO in March 2018, announced $1 billion in funding in August of that year, and two months later renamed the business Quibi. The service officially launched in April of this year and now, two years after its naming and six months after its launch, the service is being shut down.

Katzenberg and Whitman have had many successes in their careers that they should be proud of. Quibi won’t be one of those. …

When a company’s purpose changes, it is no longer the same company.

IBM recently announced plans to split into two companies. The company continuing on with the IBM name will focus on cloud and AI solutions, while IBM’s traditional managed infrastructure services will reside in a to-be-named NewCo.

I’m a huge fan of focus, so this is a good thing, perhaps even overdue.

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Photo by Carson Masterson on Unsplash

However, I have often said that a company’s purpose should be “forever” and if a company changes its purpose, then that probably means it’s no longer the same company. This planned change is a good opportunity to reflect on the fact that IBM is no longer International Business Machines. …

It’s not often that I get an extremely strategic piece of direct mail, but that’s exactly what happened yesterday.

Our family has benefitted greatly from the work of Ligonier Ministries over the years. Ligonier was founded by R.C. Sproul in 1971 and over the past five decades a community of smart people who love God and the Bible gathered around him. Together they have provided rich insights into what the Bible teaches and how it applies to our lives.

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Since Dr. Sproul’s passing at the end of 2017, the ministry has worked hard to continue the work he began and to assure Ligonier’s supporters that the work is still important and still true to the principles that he established. …

Lights and cameras teach us how manufacturers need to consider trade-offs as they develop products for this new era

Last week I started a new series of articles on the Connected Intelligence Revolution and the challenges that companies face in this new era. Specifically we took lessons from the residential irrigation industry and connected garage door openers.

Today we’re going to look at security cameras and connected lights to learn the simple lesson that companies need to make trade-offs in developing products for the Connected Intelligence era.

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Photo by Tobias Tullius on Unsplash

For some reason that escapes me now, several years ago we decided that it would be good to have a security camera watching the front of our house, so we bought a Ring doorbell. …

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