CD production a future for the record store?">On–demand CD production a future for the record store?

More and more peo­ple down­load their music on the inter­net, and record stores are hav­ing a hard time. How come I’ve never heard any­one talk about on–demand CD pro­duc­tion in the stores?

CD covers. Photo: Fabrizio  Lonzini/CC BY-NC-ND. Click to view original.

CD cov­ers. Photo: Fab­rizio Lonzini/CC BY-NC-ND. Click to view original.

The rapid decline in the num­ber of record stores was dis­cussed in a pro­gram on Swedish Radio P2 a cou­ple of hours ago. (Mitt i musikens veck­o­ma­gasin, SR P2, May 24 2010, 17.00)  This is hardly sur­pris­ing since most peo­ple buy or down­load their music on the net, and so, many (most?) Swedish towns do not even have a ded­i­cated record store any more.

Since the year 2000, the num­ber of record stores has halved every five years, from far more than 1000 stores in 2000, to 613 in 2005 and only 304 as of today. If the trend con­tin­ues, there will be 150 stores left in 2015.

Judg­ing from what I heard in the radio pro­gram, which is sum­marised in this arti­cle, it appears that record store own­ers are trapped in a Catch-22. It is too expen­sive to keep a broad sup­ply of titles, so most stores have reduced their sup­ply. Unfor­tu­nately the same sup­ply is read­ily avail­able online which means that the record store pro­vides lit­tle or no addi­tional value to the customer.

What sur­prises me is that nobody seems to dis­cuss the oppor­tu­nity to pro­duce CD’s on–demand in the stores. If I was in the music indus­try, I would surely think in terms of on–demand pro­duc­tion and find solu­tions equiv­a­lent to the Espresso Book Machine highly interesting.

Imag­ine a record store equipped with a high–quality pro­fes­sional qual­ity CD burner that pro­duces durable discs quickly as cus­tomers wait by the desk. There is also an on–demand case and book­let print­ing machine that swiftly pro­duces a glossy folder to accom­pany your CD. By the way, scrap today’s lousy plas­tic cases. Use some­thing bet­ter, with bet­ter func­tion­al­ity and looks.

What record stores need to do is pro­vide addi­tional value that the aver­age music down­loader can­not get from down­load­ing music at home.

The cus­tomer who goes to a record store should not only get a phys­i­cal prod­uct, but a ser­vice enhanced prod­uct. I would equip my on–demand record store with good lis­ten­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties where poten­tial cus­tomers could sit down while they enjoy a cof­fee break.

Other exam­ples of addi­tional ser­vice could be sem­i­nars where you get the oppor­tu­nity to lis­ten to crit­ics, experts or musi­cians them­selves. Of course, it would not be real­is­tic that every record store pro­vides full world class ser­vices or per­haps not even the oppor­tu­nity for a cup of cof­fee. But my guess is that there is a mar­ket for store own­ers who use their imag­i­na­tion to pro­vide ser­vices beyond a piece of plas­tic with some music on.

An on–demand CD and book­let pro­duc­tion machine tar­geted for use in record stores could change the nature of the busi­ness dras­ti­cally and pro­vide a future for the record store.

With on–demand pro­duc­tion you would not even need to stick to the pre–packaged pro­duced records as pro­vided by the music indus­try today. It would be easy for the store owner to mar­ket his own “blends” with an accom­pa­ny­ing book­let with inter­est­ing facts about the artists or genre. And since there would be no inven­tory involved, it would be pos­si­ble to offer a long tail of music with low turnover, e.g. by new artists or art music for those with spe­cial interests.

Does this sound like a real­is­tic oppor­tu­nity? I believe that it is, and that what I’m describ­ing in this arti­cle is a real and unex­plored gap in the mar­ket that music indus­try strate­gists (if there are any?) should rush to fill. And although music is not my busi­ness, I’d love to have one of these stores around in my town where I could go and lis­ten, explore, learn about and get the music that I want.


Process cost modelling in steel industries: Flexibility, flow and production cost

I’ve writ­ten about how process flex­i­bil­ity and small batch sizes improve pro­duc­tion flow in steel indus­tries in a cou­ple of ear­lier posts (here and here). In this post I’ll dis­cuss how the eco­nom­i­cal con­se­quences of flex­i­ble rolling mill tech­nol­ogy can be stud­ied using a con­cep­tual process cost model.

The fig­ure below illus­trates a con­cep­tual cost model that I’ve been using to illus­trate the effects of improved process flex­i­bil­ity in hot rolling. I’ve pre­sented vari­ants of this model at sev­eral con­fer­ences. Ref­er­ences are found under pub­li­ca­tions.

The level of process flexibility balances costs for work rolls, WIP and reheating energy in a hot strip mill.

The level of process flex­i­bil­ity bal­ances costs for work rolls, WIP and reheat­ing energy in a hot strip mill.

This con­cep­tual model illus­trates how the level of process flex­i­bil­ity bal­ances the costs for work roll con­sump­tion against buffer­ing and reheat­ing energy. A num­ber of para­me­ters are influ­enced. These are rep­re­sented by text labels encir­cling the outer ellipse.

As I’ve writ­ten before, process flex­i­bil­ity yields the capa­bil­ity to process an arbi­trary sequence of prod­ucts with min­i­mum time and cost penalty. It serves as a “buffer against vari­abil­ity” by increas­ing the short-term abil­ity to process an unplanned sequence or com­bi­na­tion of products.

In steel plants, process flex­i­bil­ity deter­mines (at any given time) the capability

  • of the melt­shop to pro­duce a par­tic­u­lar steel grade;
  • of the con­tin­u­ous caster to cast a par­tic­u­lar steel grade and slab geom­e­try; and
  • of the hot strip mill to roll a slab of a par­tic­u­lar grade, width and thick­ness into the desired tar­get thickness.

Unfor­tu­nately, process flex­i­bil­ity improve­ments can appear to yield reduced pro­duc­tiv­ity and increased costs as seen from the per­spec­tive of an indi­vid­ual process step. The over­all pos­i­tive effect is on the sys­tem level, and thus less obvi­ous as the cause and effect are sep­a­rated in both time and space.

When I made this model, I had found that the most impor­tant cost dri­vers were WIP, reheat­ing energy and roll wear in the hot strip mill:

(a)  Reheat­ing energy: If lead­time and buffer­ing is reduced, some heat from the melt­ing and cast­ing is pre­served, and the mean tem­per­a­ture of slabs enter­ing the rolling mill increase. Since slabs must hold about 1250°C dur­ing hot rolling, and reduced lead­time allow fuel con­sump­tion in the reheat fur­naces to be lowered.

(b) WIP: The amount of WIP and hence the cost of cap­i­tal tied up in in-process inven­tory is reduced. This is of par­tic­u­lar inter­est to pro­duc­ers of stain­less steel due to high raw mate­r­ial prices.

©  Work rolls: Increas­ing the num­ber of roll changes also require more fre­quent con­di­tion­ing of the work roll sur­face. This may result in raised over­all roll con­sump­tion, hence caus­ing the tool costs to increase.

I used this model as a basis for a sys­tem dynam­ics model and used some opti­mi­sa­tion tech­niques to deter­mine the char­ac­ter­is­tics of the model. I was then able to get the results indi­cated with “basic model” in the plot below.

Cost curves produced with a simple conceptual cost model and a more advanced dynamic process cost model.

Cost curves pro­duced with a sim­ple con­cep­tual cost model and a more advanced dynamic process cost model.

These results show how reduced setup time in the rolling mill will ini­tially lead to reduced over­all costs. How­ever at some point, the cost curve turns upward because every time the rolls are changed, they are con­di­tioned in a roll grind­ing machine. If the rolls are changed very often, it becomes impor­tant that the roll con­di­tion­ing is done with a cer­tain pre­ci­sion that pre­vents unnec­es­sary removal of fresh roll mate­r­ial under the dam­aged sur­face layer. The “basic model” could not account for this since con­di­tion­ing was always assumed to be “inefficient”.

The next step was that I devel­oped a more advanced model which I used to look at what hap­pened when more adap­tive roll grind­ing tech­nol­ogy was used in com­bi­na­tion with rapid roll changes. These curves are indi­cated in the plot as “dynamic model”. Basi­cally these curves illus­trate the obvi­ous fact that “pre­ci­sion” roll grind­ing that remove lit­tle excess mate­r­ial from the rolls yield bet­ter over­all econ­omy than if you waste the roll mate­r­ial by using an inef­fi­cient grind­ing process.

The next step is to account for prod­uct vari­ety. This com­pli­cates things to the extent that I used much of my PhD the­sis to model and analyse this prob­lem. How­ever, the sim­ple model shown above is still very use­ful because it shows how changes in the degree of process flex­i­bil­ity influ­ence the bal­ance between cost drivers.

I’ve argued before that process cost mod­el­ling can help indus­tries to become more inno­v­a­tive since they can be used to show how process flex­i­bil­ity improve­ments yield high level strate­gic capa­bil­i­ties that com­peti­tors do not pos­sess. When a process cost model is devel­oped using sys­tem dynam­ics or some sim­i­lar sim­u­la­tion approach, it becomes pos­si­ble to see dynamic effects that are oth­er­wise very hard to quantify.

Video shows European airspace rebooted after ash cloud

This visu­al­iza­tion shows how the Euro­pean air­space returns to nor­mal after the clo­sure due to the ash cloud from the Eyaf­jal­la­jökull erup­tion. The inten­sity of the traf­fic is amaz­ing when seen in this way. It’s easy to see why advanced auto­mated flight posi­tion­ing con­trol sys­tems are required nowa­days.

Air­space Rebooted from ItoWorld on Vimeo.

Note how the flight inten­sity goes up and then down again as air­ports open and close when the ash plume changes.

92nd Four Stone Hearth blog carnival

My arti­cle about iron­mak­ing at the Stock­holm National Museum of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy (Tekniska museet) is fea­tured in the 92nd Four Stone Hearth blog car­ni­val which went online yes­ter­day at Sort­ing Out Sci­ence.

Other top­ics include botany at Easter Island, a newly exca­vated fig­urine seated on Odin’s high seat Hlid­sk­jalf found in Lejre in Den­mark, a series of arti­cles dis­cussing the tran­si­tion from atlatls to bow and arrow in North Amer­ica, and the rev­o­lu­tion­ary dis­cov­ery that the genome of mod­ern non-Africans con­tain bits of Nean­derthal DNA.

Well worth read­ing! I rec­om­mend that you go over there and spend some time read­ing high qual­ity anthropology/archaeology blog posts.

Anchor your ideas and make quality decisions at meetings

Colleagues of mine in discussion at a meeting in Tällberg 2008.

Col­leagues of mine in dis­cus­sions dur­ing a meet­ing in Täll­berg in 2008. Photo: Joakim Storck.

If you call to a meet­ing because you need a deci­sion, make sure a solu­tion is agreed upon in advance. In that way you reduce the gen­eral level of frus­tra­tion and strength­ens the meet­ing morale because atten­dants feel more involved and feel that they too own the solution.

Meet­ings are a won­der­ful sub­sti­tute for work or responsibility.

I find the above quote from the book How to Lead by Jo Owen (2005) to be both humor­ous and strik­ing. Many times I’ve been involved in dis­cus­sions about the frus­trat­ing inef­fec­tive­ness of meet­ings. Cur­rently, I work as a uni­ver­sity lec­turer in an envi­ron­ment where deci­sion is often thought of as a col­lec­tive process. Meet­ings are often called with the mixed intent of find­ing and agree­ing upon a solu­tion. This pro­vides the per­fect turf for frus­tra­tion to grow.

Meet­ings were very dif­fer­ent in my pre­vi­ous life as con­sul­tant at ÅF, a major Swedish engi­neer­ing con­sul­tancy firm. Over time I’ve col­lected a good share of prac­ti­cal expe­ri­ence on meet­ings, as well as good advice from friends, col­leagues and var­i­ous man­age­ment books. A few days ago I also hap­pened to come across a cou­ple of blog posts on the same topic: “Don’t Use Meet­ings to Make Deci­sions” by Sean Sil­ver­thorne, and “Prepar­ing for Decision-Making Meet­ings” by Stever Robbins.

Why is it that meet­ings so often are a source of frustration?

I think that the frus­tra­tion is often due to a neg­a­tive feed­back loop. The causal loop dia­gram below shows the mechanisms.

Frustration,  poor preparations and poor anchoring of ideas lead to low quality decision making in meetings.

Frus­tra­tion, poor prepa­ra­tions and poor anchor­ing of ideas lead to low qual­ity deci­sion mak­ing in meetings.

The process of decline goes some­thing like this:

  1. Some­one calls a meet­ing because a deci­sion is needed.
  2. Peo­ple show lit­tle inter­est and arrive unpre­pared at the meeting.
  3. The deci­sion is not suf­fi­ciently anchored in advance.
  4. Lengthy and unpro­duc­tive dis­cus­sions fol­low dur­ing the meeting.
  5. The per­son that needs the deci­sion gets frus­trated because noth­ing gets decided.
  6. The other atten­dants get frus­trated because they feel that their time is wasted.
  7. The gen­eral agree­ment is that some­body needs to do some­thing about the problem.
  8. Peo­ple become weary of attend­ing meetings.

As the loop is closed, peo­ple grow more frus­trated and show less inter­est, and they attend the meet­ing poorly pre­pared. Also the caller gets demor­al­ized and less moti­vated to spend the time needed to anchor the deci­sion next time. As a con­se­quence, the qual­ity of deci­sion mak­ing goes down and the level of frus­tra­tion goes up.

Meet­ings are not the place for deci­sion mak­ing. Or more pre­cisely, meet­ings are not the place for decid­ing what to decide. In gen­eral, a much bet­ter process is to anchor the deci­sion with each atten­dant in advance. In that way, mis­un­der­stand­ings and objec­tions can be dealt with in advance and not dur­ing the meeting.

When you anchor your deci­sions in advance, you reduce the risk of fail­ure. If you man­age to sell an idea in advance, peo­ple will be on your side dur­ing the meet­ing. If you can’t sell the idea, then the meet­ing would be a waste of time any­way. And although hav­ing your idea turned down can be frus­trat­ing, being turned down in pub­lic at the meet­ing is much more frus­trat­ing and demoralising.

Many think that they don’t have the time to anchor deci­sions in advance. That is a big mis­take. Always anchor your impor­tant ideas in advance. In that way you can make qual­ity deci­sions at meet­ings and at the same time raise the level of work sat­is­fac­tion both for you and for every­one else involved.

Intense set of earthquakes at Eyjafjallajökull and approaching Katla

I’ve been fol­low­ing the devel­op­ment of earth­quakes near Eyjaf­jal­la­jökull and Mýrdal­sjökull at the web­site of the Ice­landic Mete­o­ro­log­i­cal office.

The activ­ity at Eyjaf­jal­la­jökull has been more explo­sive over the last few days than it was in the pre­vi­ous week.

I’m stunned by the seis­mic activ­ity over the last two hours, which must indi­cate that there is some­thing going on down below the vol­cano. Earth­quakes are trig­gered when magma is mov­ing up from the deeps below. Notably, this time there is a reg­is­tered earth­quake near the Katla vol­cano which is located under Mýrdalsjökull.

The recent activ­ity is indi­cated in red in the plot below:

Earthquakes near Mýrdalsjökull on 12 May 12.25. Red dots indicate activity over the last four hours.

Earth­quakes near Mýrdal­sjökull on 12 May 12.25. Red dots indi­cate activ­ity over the last four hours.

Although I’m not an expert, I would expect to see some­thing like this, with inten­si­fy­ing activ­ity near Mýrdal­sjökull in case the Katla vol­cano was about to erupt.

I’m increas­ingly sus­pect­ing that the Ice­landic drama is not over yet.

Update 10 May 17.15 ECT+1:

Oddly enough the indi­ca­tion under the Mýrdal­sjökull ice cap on the map above has now dis­a­peared from the map at vedur.is. I sup­pose the geol­o­gists over there are check­ing out any signs of activ­ity at Katla more care­fully than usual.

Facebook “like” button

I took a minute to install a Face­book “like” but­ton plu­gin. If you like a post that you read here on Man­u­fac­tur­ol­ogy, please hit the but­ton and rec­om­mend it to your friends.

EU">Sweden most competitive nation in the EU

The World Eco­nomic Forum (WEF) has just released its 2010 Lis­bon Review. Accord­ing to this report, Swe­den is the most com­pet­i­tive nation in the EU [SvD].

Accord­ing to the WEF press release, Swe­den is “the most com­pet­i­tive econ­omy as mea­sured by the Euro­pean Union’s (EU) own com­pe­ti­tion bench­mark, the Lis­bon cri­te­ria”. As I under­stand it, accord­ing to the cri­te­ria used, WEF also ranks Swe­den as the most com­pet­i­tive nation in the world.

As a Swede, I’m of course happy to read about how great things are over here. But seri­ously, it all depends on how you define com­pet­i­tive­ness. And is it even pos­si­ble, or even mean­ing­ful, to mea­sure the com­pet­i­tive­ness of nations? Many argue that it’s not.

How­ever, I’m not going to enter that dis­cus­sion. Instead, I’ll use the results of the report to reflect on the new Euro­pean cri­sis. (In today’s Swedish news: SvD, SvD, DN, Expressen)

The Lis­bon Strategy

The Lis­bon Review is a bi-annual eval­u­a­tion of the out­come of the Lis­bon Strat­egy. The Lis­bon Strat­egy aimed “to make the EU ‘the most com­pet­i­tive and dynamic knowledge-based econ­omy in the world capa­ble of sus­tain­able eco­nomic growth with more and bet­ter jobs and greater social cohe­sion,’ by 2010.” In 2009, Swedish prime min­is­ter Fredrik Rein­feldt admit­ted that the Lis­bon Strat­egy had been a fail­ure. [Wikipedia]

I down­loaded the report and looked it through for myself. It con­tains scores for each indi­vid­ual coun­try in the EU, which could be used for rel­a­tive com­par­i­son of com­pet­i­tive­ness. Because of the cur­rent eco­nomic tur­moil in Greece, I thought it would be inter­est­ing to com­pare Swe­den and Greece.

Com­par­ing Swe­den and Greece

I made an over­lay of the plots for Swe­den and Greece, which is shown below. Data for the U.S. and East Asia are included for comparison.

Lisbon treaty dimensions of competitivenes: Sweden (blue), Greece (red), USA (grey) and East Asia (black).

Lis­bon treaty dimen­sions of com­pet­i­tivenes: Swe­den (blue), Greece (red), USA (grey) and East Asia (black).

Eight dimen­sions of com­pet­i­tive­ness are measured:

  1. Cre­at­ing an infor­ma­tion soci­ety for all
  2. Devel­op­ing a Euro­pean area for inno­va­tion and R&D
  3. Lib­er­al­iza­tion (com­plet­ing the Sin­gle Mar­ket; state aid and com­pe­ti­tion policy)
  4. Build­ing net­work industries
  5. Cre­at­ing effi­cient and inte­grated finan­cial services
  6. Improv­ing the enter­prise environment
  7. Increas­ing social inclusion
  8. Enhanc­ing sus­tain­able development

As seen in the plot above, Swe­den per­forms bet­ter than or equal to East Asia on all dimen­sions of com­pet­i­tive­ness. Swe­den also per­forms bet­ter than or equal to the U.S. on all dimen­sions except inno­va­tion and R&D. Greece, on the other hand, is far behind Swe­den in all dimensions.

Does this reflect real dif­fer­ences in com­pet­i­tive­ness between nations?

Crit­i­cism

There are plenty of hooks for the crit­i­cally inclined to pick up. I’ll use the goal of “build­ing net­work indus­tries” as an example.

To start with, it’s not intu­itive to me what “build­ing net­work indus­tries” means. When I look into the report, I under­stand that it has to do with inter­con­nected mar­kets, with telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and avi­a­tion as exam­ples of mar­kets that have already been suc­cess­fully liberalized.

The report goes on and states that “a sin­gle Euro­pean energy mar­ket [is] not yet a real­ity. Build­ing up these indus­tries at an EU level would pro­mote greater effi­ciency and qual­ity of ser­vice, and bet­ter sup­port a com­pet­i­tive eco­nomic environment.”

Any­one who fol­lowed the Swedish debate about the dereg­u­la­tion of the power mar­ket knows that there is no con­sen­sus that the cur­rent dereg­u­lated sys­tem is an improve­ment. From most cus­tomers’ per­spec­tive, I’d say that the result has been higher energy prices and annoy­ance when a few com­pa­nies can dic­tate their terms of busi­ness on an oli­gop­o­lis­tic market.

Con­clu­sion

I think that the Lis­bon Review mea­sures some indices of com­pet­i­tive­ness that may be poorly sup­ported by facts at best, and plain wrong at worst. Still, I find the review to be inter­est­ing and worth con­tem­plat­ing. I’m not going to join those who say that such com­par­isons are of no value.

Instead, I feel pretty con­fi­dent that the data indi­cates real dif­fer­ences between coun­tries. My plot above sug­gests that there is some sort of struc­tural prob­lem in Greek pol­i­tics. Invest­ments in national devel­op­ment of infor­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy, inno­va­tion & R&D, mar­ket inte­gra­tion, etc. have been insufficient.

Swe­den has appar­ently man­aged to develop capa­bil­i­ties that accord­ing to the cri­te­ria of the Lis­bon Strat­egy, makes it more com­pet­i­tive gen­er­ally speaking.

Remains the ques­tion whether Swe­den is the world’s most com­pet­i­tive nation? Of course it is! Or is it? Well, who knows. Next ques­tion please…

Is Greece the beginning of a larger European crisis?

I’m read­ing that Nobel lau­re­ate Paul Krug­man pre­dicts that Greece will have to leave the Euro­pean Mon­e­tary Union (EMU) and aban­don the euro. Going to the source, I found that this piece of news ori­gins from a post on Krugman’s own blog.

The European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt. Photo: Tinyfroglet/CC AT. Click to view original.

The Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank (ECB) in Frank­furt. (Tinyfroglet/CC BY. Click to view original.)

Greece aban­don­ing the euro would rock the very foun­da­tions of the EMU and even the entire EU.

Krug­man argues that Greece could increase it exports if the Greek soci­ety could arrive at a “col­lec­tively agreed reduc­tion in wages across the board — an ‘inter­nal deval­u­a­tion.’” Krug­man believes that this will not hap­pen. I’ll refrain myself from being as pes­simistic as Krug­man is, if only because pos­i­tive out­comes often turn out to be “black swans” in cases when log­i­cal rea­son­ing arrives at neg­a­tive outcomes.

Nev­er­the­less, events may turn out such that Greece are forced to leave the EMU. What would hap­pen then?

Most impor­tantly it would, I believe, show that the sta­bil­is­ing effect of a com­mon polit­i­cal sys­tem and a com­mon cur­rency is lesser than we believed or hoped. It sig­nals that the new Euro­pean polit­i­cal sys­tem is inca­pable of han­dling sit­u­a­tions of real cri­sis. Cre­at­ing polit­i­cal sta­bil­ity in Europe is an over­ar­ch­ing goal of the entire EU, which was once con­ceived after WWII to ensure that war between mem­ber states would become impossible.

Sec­ond most impor­tant is that it might trig­ger an eco­nomic down­turn that is worse than the one we just left behind. As Krug­man points out, a mere admit­tance from the Euro­pean cen­tral bank (ECB) that the option exists for a nation to exit from the euro would lead to spec­u­la­tive attack on Greek banks. All in all, the sit­u­a­tion is so unthink­able that “the whole thing is effec­tively undis­cuss­able.” More­over, the economies of Spain and Por­tu­gal are appar­ently as rot­ten as the Greek is.

What does this mean? It’s not easy to say. Media reports con­tra­dic­tory sig­nals. On one hand the econ­omy appears to be ramp­ing up and finally gain­ing some real momen­tum after the last cri­sis. On the other hand the Euro­pean econ­omy, as well as the econ­omy of the USA, is based on mas­sive loans that keep up con­sump­tion in an arti­fi­cial way.

The new Euro­pean cri­sis gets a lot of atten­tion in Swedish news today: [DN, DN, DN, SvD, SvD, SvD]

As I already said, logic rea­son­ing often tends to lead towards the bad ends. Let’s hope that a whole bunch of black swans soon appears at the horizon.

The two faces of strategy

Like an ancient gen­eral, a born leader from a noble fam­ily, the strate­gist screens the site for the upcom­ing bat­tle from a nearby hill. Decides on what resources are needed, and where they should be applied. Direc­tions are given to the offi­cers. Rein­force­ments are called in from a nearby friendly town if avail­able. The bat­tle can begin. When it does, it’s too late for any regrets, no infor­ma­tion can make its way in either direc­tion dur­ing the course of battle.

Is this how strat­egy works? Unfor­tu­nately I have the impres­sion that the metaphor is more strik­ing than one would wish or hope. The born leader has been traded for a business–school trained MBA. The hill has been traded for an exec­u­tive office equipped with full fledged busi­ness sys­tems. Rein­force­ments are avail­able in the form of out­sourced man­u­fac­tur­ing capac­ity. Strat­egy reviews are car­ried out annu­ally on sta­tic information.

So what’s the prob­lem? Well, here’s how I see it.

Strat­egy has two main tasks.

  1. To build the resources that are needed to act on a market.
  2. To apply resources and act on the market.

These two roles are reflected by the plethora of dif­fer­ent views that exist, suf­fi­ciently many for Minzberg, Ahlstrand and Lam­pel to name their best sell­ing book “Strat­egy safari”.

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