Advice For New MBA Students

Prepare for obstacles on the road to an MBA

Shortly after completing my Fast-Track MBA at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Management in 1992 (now Rotman School of Management), I was invited to address the new incoming Fast-Track class to share my experiences and observations. Read more

Why Visionary Leaders Embrace the Value and Wisdom in Effectiveness

“Effectiveness is evaluated efficiency.” Russel Ackoff

Having completed my book The Business of Walt Disney and the Nine Principles of His Success and building a website, I’ve been able to spend time this spring and summer between work assignments catching up on some reading in areas of professional and personal interest. Read more

Walt Disney’s Method of Optimizing Success Through Failure

Walt Disney’s Persephone: The Goddess of Spring

Looking back at the long and varied career of Walt Disney, it seems that almost everything he touched – from Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and Mickey Mouse to Disneyland and Florida’s Walt Disney World – resulted in success.

Walt Disney surely had the golden touch.

The truth isn’t quite as kind. Walt wasn’t always right and his ideas weren’t always successful.

But Walt Disney was curious and honest, and therefore also committed to recognizing and assessing his own failures and learning from his mistakes. “All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles have strengthened me,” he said. Read more

Walt Disney, Pinocchio, and Lessons for Leaders

Walt Disney’s Pinocchio

One of the attributes that made Walt Disney unique amongst movie studio heads in Hollywood was that he was both a businessman and an artist. Walt worked everyday with the sensitivity of an artist and the hardheadedness of an entrepreneurial business owner, leading and directing his artistic and technical staff to create high-quality entertainment that would bring joy and happiness to ordinary people.

Long-time Disney animator and director Wilfred Jackson (1906-1988) provides insight into how Walt worked on his earliest feature-length films in a series of retrospective correspondence letters with author and musician Ross Care from the mid-1970s through the early-1980s that are newly published in the book Disney Legend Wilfred Jackson: A Life in Animation (Theme Park Press, 2016). Read more

I’m In Love With The Amazon Doctrine (or The Once and Future King)

Jeff Bezos, amazon CEO

I just learned about something called The Amazon Doctrine, which explains why I love amazon so much.

The company’s leaders and guiding minds are committed to treating customers right. They invest, learn, and continually adapt to win and keep customers. They help me acquire knowledge, entertainment, and other solutions-oriented products to make me a more productive and happier person. They are what they proclaim to be: the everything store. And they never seem to stop working to make my life better so that I will continue to buy from them. Read more

Author Barry Linetsky

Why You Should Never Utter “Internal Customer”

When customers collide

It has long been recognized that businesses survive when they create and deliver solutions at a profit that customers desire and will pay for by means of voluntary exchange. Business success is ultimately in the hands of consumers. In this sense, the customer is king. The choices made by customers decide which businesses will succeed and which will fail, and so much more in terms of the efficient allocation of resources in a free-market society.

Peter Drucker famously identified this notion as a broader business philosophy he referred to as The Marketing Concept.

Then along came the TQM gurus. Read more

Organizational Insights into Effective Strategy Development and Execution

I am a huge fan of the value and effectiveness of the research and writings of management science pioneer Elliott Jaques.

Jaques conducted organizational research for 50 years, culminating in an management system he called Requisite Organization. One of the most impactful management books in my education and practice is a book written by Jaques and Stephen Clement, Executive Leadership. Following closely behind two other late career books by Jaques, Requisite Organization and Social Power and the CEO. Read more

Allergan’s David Pyott on Responsible Leadership

In my last blog post I provided my comments on Bower and Paine’s observations in the May-June 2017 issue of HBR regarding two popular perspectives on the purpose of a business: shareholder-centric and company-centric.

In the same issue there is an interview with former Allergan CEO David Pyott.

I like David Pyott’s perspective with regards to the responsibility of executives qua managerial leaders, so I thought I’d share it. Read more

Author Barry Linetsky

Former Allegan CEO David Pyott on Performance and Purpose

Former Allergan CEO David Pyott

A lot of companies think that they need to make themselves more friendly, not just to stockholders but to employees and to society. Having a broader purpose – something beyond simply making money – is how you do that and how you create strong corporate cultures.

I don’t believe that strong performance and purpose are at odds, not at all. My own experience tells me that in order for a company to be a really high performer, it needs to have a purpose. Money matters to employees up to a point, but they want to believe they’re working on something that improves people’s lives. I’ve also found that employees respond really favorably when management commits to responsible social behavior.

Quoted in HBR May-June 2017, “The CEO View: Defending a Good Company from Bad Investors. A conversation with former Allergan CEO David Pyott.”

Author Barry Linetsky

Are Corporate Leaders Adhering To Their Corporate Purpose?

Is my company customer-centric?

The question of the underlying purpose of business and the role of corporate leadership has come up again in an excellent article by Joseph Bower and Lynn Paine, “The Error at the Heart of Corporate Leadership,” in the May-June 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review.

There are two general schools of thought about the purpose of a business, note Bower and Paine. Read more