The lesson plan

Strategy & Leadership

ISSN: 1087-8572

Article publication date: 1 August 2004



Randall, R.M. (2004), "The lesson plan", Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 32 No. 4.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

The lesson plan

Qui docet discit, "He who teaches, learns". He who edits, also learns, with every issue. Sometimes the learning from an issue informs and sometimes it reminds. As an example of new learning, the CEO interview of Darren Carroll by Robert J. Allio ("The InnoCentive model of open innovation") probes how this three-year-old company operates on the cutting edge of two strategic management innovations – managing open innovation and co-creating unique value with customers. The interview inspired me to imagine a number of new business possibilities, and I expect that most readers will have a similar experience.

Another piece of new learning from this issue addresses the perennial question, "Why do so many mergers and acquisitions fail?" Acquirers should learn to "match your merger integration strategy and leadership style to your merger type", propose authors Barbara Lind and John Stevens. They offer a simple diagnostic so acquirers can select an appropriate integration strategy and leadership style to fit each merger situation and thus raise the odds for M&A success.

As for an example of learning that comes as a reminder, everyone who has worked for a family business will have no trouble recognizing their interwoven strengths and weaknesses as described by Michael K. Allio in "Family businesses: their virtues, vices, and strategic path". His prescriptions for leveraging their key virtues, and avoiding their common vices, plus his strategic approach to managing family businesses, teach useful survival strategies for both their family and non-family managers.

As a long-time student of scenario learning, I was also reminded of the power of this technique when I edited "Media and entertainment 2010 scenario: the open media company of the future" by Saul Berman. The scenario provides a new context for reassessing the digital technology threats and opportunities confounding media and entertainment companies today.

Finally, the case study "How a Weyerhaeuser unit executed a winning strategy using Desert Storm's fast-cycle strategic action approach" by Leland Russell, Joyce Jaffe Reynolds, and Sudhir Chadalavada taught me two lessons about keeping an open mind. For one, though as a general rule I don't believe military planning has much relevance for corporate planners, the authors introduced me to the merits of the unique strategic action approach employed in the 1991 Desert Storm Iraq campaign. For another, they convinced me that adapting this approach, using on-line coaching to achieve consensus and rapid implementation, could work in certain corporate situations.

Robert M. RandallEditor

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