There is no shortage of articles about the troubles at Yahoo, which today has its quarterly earnings announcement. The core problem is the lack of a “big idea” that would represent new consumer offerings or dramatic changes to existing products that would generate genuine consumer excitement.

Unfortunately, Yahoo has basically been following a “me-too” strategy. Facebook and Google went big into mobile ads, so Yahoo eventually announced its efforts in this area. Netflix and others became huge in video streaming, so a couple of years later, Yahoo decided to spend $100 million on video, only to write off $42 million recently as the effort faltered.

Is it possible for big companies to find and achieve big success behind big ideas? You bet! Let’s look at two that did just that recently.

Ford F-150

Over the past couple of years, Ford made a bet on a key modification to its highly successful F-150 line of trucks. (read more…)

“I just don’t trust him.”

So said a senior leader of a peer recently during interviews I conducted to learn more about their organization’s culture and how their leadership team operates.

It’s a message I hear all too often when working with executive teams. The demands placed on senior leaders cause them to act in ways that help their functional areas — accounting or manufacturing, for example — even if their behavior causes issues with their peers’ functional areas.

In some cases, it’s not the demands of the organization that cause leaders to demonstrate self-serving behaviors, it is simply the way they are personally wired. In other cases, the organization has actually rewarded the senior leaders’ self-serving behaviors.

recite-13f73r6Let’s agree on what we mean by workplace trust. One of the most commonly cited definitions is from Mayer, Davis, and Schoorman (1995), who define trust as “the willingness of a party to be vulnerable to the actions of another party based on the expectation that the other will perform a particular action important to the truster, irrespective of the ability to monitor or control that other party.”

In simpler terms, trust means that I have confidence in another person’s actions with no guarantee of any desired behavior in return by that person. (read more…)

This post is excerpted with permission of the publisher, Berrett-Koehler, from “The Leadership Capital Index: Realizing the Market Value of Leadership” by Dave Ulrich. Copyright (c) 2015 by Dave Ulrich. This book is available at all bookstores and online booksellers.

Dave Ulrich is the Rensis Likert Professor of Business at the Ross School, University of Michigan, and a partner at the RBL Group.

In recent years, due to changes and uncertainty in markets, information, and globalization — and despite the constant attention reported in the preceding section — the financial data publicly reported by firms has not reflected their value accurately. Earnings reported in a variety of forms (net income, operating earnings, core earnings, and more) have become ever more suspect. As a result, efforts at firm valuation have turned from financial results toward a deeper understanding of the intangibles that influence these results.

Baruch Lev, an accounting professor who is a thought leader of the intangibles movement, has shown the importance of intangibles as indicated through market to book value — suggesting that for every $6 of market value, only $1 occurs on the balance sheet.This means that the balance-sheet number — which is what traditional accounting measures — represents only 10% to 15% of the value of these companies. (read more…)

Water surges over the seawalls of lower Manhattan, businesses are inundated with up to 4 feet of water, and the subway tunnels coursing under the city, as well as out to New Jersey and Brooklyn, are all flooded. Tens of thousands of people are injured, temporarily dislocated or entirely displaced by the storm’s impact. Sound like the future? It’s not.

That was Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and scientists and meteorologists continue to warn of similar storms that will cause as much if not worse damage than Sandy did due to the impact of global warming. Yet, sadly, our greatest struggle may not be in coping with the aftermath of these storms, but in battling against human nature that prevents us from listening to and acting on these warnings.

When it comes to global warming and climate change, there are plenty of reasoned and advanced warnings that aren’t of the last-minute “sky is falling” variety. (read more…)

Digital transformation is at the top of many organizations’ to-do lists. It is a lofty, and necessary, objective, but like any process of true transformation, it’s also complex.

Harvard Business Review, in fact, identified nine discrete elements of digital transformation. While I don’t disagree, my experience has led me to develop my own short list of make-or-break factors that determine an initiative’s success. At the top of that list is a dedicated digital transformation team.

The digital transformation team includes four components:

  • Digital leader
  • Digital tiger team
  • Executive sponsor
  • Digital advisory council

recite-310mlyThe digital leader is the visionary, strategist, and owner of the project. This person should be senior enough to bring significant experience, authority, and respect to the table. That typically translates to at least a director-level role, more often VP, and sometimes C-level, although it varies by organization.

Smaller and more traditional businesses usually pull the digital leader from their existing ranks. (read more…)