Bob tailors each presentation to the needs of his audience and is not limited to the topics we have listed below. These are subjects that have proven valuable to customers in the past and are meant only to suggest his range and interests. Please ask us about any subject that interests you; we are sure that we can accommodate you.
Effective Leadership: Learning from the Problems of Sony, Kodak, GM & Others
The absence of strong leadership can doom an organization to mediocrity. Consider the case of Sony, a company that dominated the consumer electronics industry in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
Its Trinitron TVs were the gold standard, its Walkman product invented the mobile music industry, and it was a rare male teenager that didn’t spend hours per day with a Sony PlayStation game player. Its stock sold for $130 per share in early 2000.
Then, in fall of 2001, Apple launched the iPod and established the age of internet-enabled digital music, making the Sony Walkman an antique. TiVo changed the use of television with its ability to automatically find and digitally record all of your favorite shows, every time they’re on, so you can watch them at your convenience.
Why didn’t Sony see these innovative products coming? The reason is the lack of aggressive
leadership to tackle the fiefdoms, bureaucracy and legacy practices at Sony. These new products required the integration of software and hardware capabilities and, at Sony, these skills resided in separate divisions — and they refused to work together. By late 2006, Sony’s stock price was $39 and Sony was struggling to recover.
So why do organizations of all sizes lose momentum, fall behind and seem leaderless? In this presentation, Bob Herbold discusses why businesses fall prey to two major problems: 1) organizational fragmentation and excess hiring, leading to fiefdoms and bureaucracy; and 2) a proud and protective attitude and
a lack of a sense of urgency, leading to legacy practices and legacy people who resist any change.
The heart of the presentation is seven specific steps that leaders must take to avoid or eliminate these problems. He illustrates each step with an actual company that succumbed to these problems and shows how these leadership steps were used — or should have been used — to get the organization back on track.
For example, he describes how excessive staffing led to a very complex and fragmented organization and lack of clear accountability at Unilever. Unilever’s complicated consensus process and slow decision making caused the firm to stumble badly in China. The Principle: Keep the Staffing Lean and the Accountability Clear.
Seduced by Success: How the Best Companies Survive the 9 Traps of Winning
In 1995 Kodak was the king of photography. Its stock price was $90 per share and it was consistently mentioned in the Fortune Magazine list of most admired companies. For
￼the next twelve years, it has been on an uninterrupted downhill slide. It was first embarrassed by Fuji, who hurt its film business badly, and then, starting in 1997, by digital photography, which has basically replaced film, leaving Kodak in a mad scramble to find a place in the new digital world. Its stock price sits at $25 per share.
Why does this happen? Why do successful firms fail?
The fact is, success is a huge business vulnerability. It can destroy an organization’s — or an individual’s — ability to understand the need for change and its motivation for creatively attack ing the status quo. Successful
businesses lose themselves in the legacy approaches they used in their glory days, unable to see that they are not building on their best practices but merely trying to repeat old successes. They don’t notice that the world is changing around them.
In this presentation, Bob Herbold uses the Kodak story and other examples to explain why it’s so hard to handle success. But it’s not impossible. He reviews the three human behaviors that are at the
root of the problem and the nine very dangerous traps that successful organizations and people often stumble into as a result. And he offers practical guidance on how to sidestep these pitfalls and thrive, even when it seems there’s nowhere to go but down.
Avoiding the Commodity Trap
There is nothing worse than being in a market where all of the features of the products are basically at parity and pricing is the only issue. Naturally, the classic examples would be the commodities themselves such as soybeans and grain. Many other product categories share the characteristics of a commodity business, too, though, like lumber, airline travel, insurance offerings, and personal computers.
This presentation discusses ways to get out of that trap if you are in it, or to avoid it if you aren’t. There are many examples in which, after a period of commodity-like behavior, one of the players finds a way to be distinctive and achieve some real leadership in their industry. Bob discusses four approaches to achieving this kind of differentiation:
- Study the User Intently
- Remove Constraints and Ignore Conventional Wisdom
- Diagram the Entire Value Creation Chain and Look for Opportunities
- Changing the Benefits in the Category
Discipline at the Core, Creativity at the Edge: A Strategy for Improving Profitability and Agility
￼￼￼￼When you encourage individual initiative and creativity, you often incur managerial chaos and uncontrolled costs. This presentation offers workable strategies and concrete ideas for achieving the right balance between the two: discipline in the core functional areas and creativity at the edge where products are developed and customers engaged.
Creative business units often innovate with everything, developing unique financial systems and measures, independent information systems, distinctive human resource practices, manufacturing standards and measures—in addition to new products and services. This fragments procurement so you can’t leverage your size and makes vendor management both complicated and people-intensive. All this leads to excess cost, limited flexibility, slow response times, and difficulty in measuring cost and performance—in a word: chaos.
The answer is to apply a strong dose of discipline to core functional areas, while continuing to emphasize the need for creativity in evolving the products and dealing with customers. Areas that typically need major housecleaning are finance, procurement, human resources, planning, manufacturing, information systems, and marketing (preserving the creative process, but being very disciplined in defining target audiences, developing strategic messages, selecting the media devices, and putting tracking measures in place).
You also can expect resistance. Heads of businesses and geographies usually feel they need the unique
systems they’ve developed. Top management therefore must champion the agility, speed and efficiency this balance will achieve and back the effort.
The Fiefdom Syndrome
The fiefdom syndrome is the inclination of the leaders and employees of an organization to become fixated with their own activities, their own careers, and captivated by their own success to
the detriment of those around them. The fiefdom syndrome tends to make them dangerously insular, to lose perspective on what’s happening in the world outside their own, and to lose the ability to change positively and react successfully to new situations. Fiefdoms also tend to hire excess resources and strive to do everything their own unique way, leading to runaway costs, bureaucracy, and slow response times.
In this talk, Bob Herbold describes practical ways to avoid becoming either a personal or corporate victim of the fiefdom syndrome with specific, must-do tactics and metrics.
Balancing Discipline and Creativity: A Strategy for Marketing Excellence
Nothing wastes time and money—and confuses customers—like sloppy, fragmented marketing. In this presentation, Bob Herbold provides managers with an overall strategic approach and a set of specific tools for applying discipline to the fundamental areas of marketing while nurturing an environment that fosters genuine marketing creativity and impact.
Marketers are notorious for not carefully defining their target audience, for failing to make the tough priority decisions on the key message point, for basing media decisions on emotion rather than effectiveness, and— most importantly—for pursuing outlandish creative approaches that are too “far out” to impact the customer. Herbold’s answer to these issues is a common-sense approach to achieving the right balance between rigor and discipline in the areas that need them and freedom to be creative when real creativity is essential.
The key areas for discipline are:
- defining the target audience by analyzing who buys and who influences buyers;
- clarifying the message (one or two key points), defining its tone, and establishing credibility;
- qualifying a set of media alternatives that reach the target audience very efficiently;
- agreeing on a methodology for testing marketing materials when big expenditures are involved; and
- developing a plan to regularly quantify the impact of marketing efforts via market research tools.
The areas that need creativity are:
- attracting the best talent at the ad/marketing/pr agency to work on your business;
- developing ads and marketing materials that are distinctive, engaging, and effective in delivering the message; and
- assembling innovative media plans that leverage the breadth of qualified media alternatives to create real ‘buzz’ among your target audience.
Topics from The Fiefdom Syndrome
How Turf Wars and Bureaucracy Can Undermine Careers and Companies—and What To Do About It
Bob starts with some good examples of fiefdoms and then moves into the human behavior principles that cause fiefdoms. He follows this with a discussion
of the disciplines that can help you overcome fiefdoms and the measures that will ensure that
your organization is not paying for it with a loss in creativity.
Balancing Creativity and Discipline For Maximum Organizational Impact
How do fiefdoms erode discipline within an organization and undermine creativity—or evolve toward polar extremes: excess discipline/no creativity, or no discipline/excess creativity? Bob describes the basic human behaviors that fiefdoms are built upon and how you can achieve an effective balance between the creativity and discipline in your organization.
Developing an Industry-Leading Strategy
The key to achieving a leadership position in your industry is a disciplined approach to strategy. Bob leverages examples from Coca-Cola, General Electric, and the steel industry to show how very simple great strategies are—and how very difficult it is to excite an organization about preparing for the future when it has been successful in the past.
Achieving Superior Profitability
You can dramatically improve
profitability by getting basic business processes under control and developing superior products through innovation. Bob’s done it and he knows how to teach it.
The Secrets of Superior Cost Management
Bob outlines in detail how to use the principles
in The Fiefdom Syndrome to achieve significant competitive advantage by streamlining costs in a full range of business areas.
Tools For Unleashing Breakthrough Creativity
In this presentation, Bob reviews tested techniques for improving rates of innovation within your organization and he outlines the organizational disciplines that unleash creativity.