I just got used to the idea of not saying “Happy new year” and here it is, February. It’s been fun so far – I returned to teaching in person on campus in our gorgeous new building in Manhattanville. It’s an amazing space with gorgeous views.
My course on growth and change, called Leading Strategic Growth and Change is scheduled to run next May, for a week, in person! Click here for more information.
If you are curious about my upcoming schedule, your go-to resource is my “events” page. Click here to view it.
This month’s Thought Sparks
Strategy is about making choices (January 4, 2022)
Few business concepts are as muddled as that of strategy. In this article, to kick off the year, I offer a definition I find helpful, following a classical definition of strategy created by Don Hambrick and James Frederickson. It defines strategy as the “central, integrated, concept of how you plan to meet your objectives.” Each of these words matters. Have a look at the article for a richer exposition.
A practical conversation around racism with Robert Livingston (January 18, 2022)
Harvard’s Robert Livingston wrote a great book about addressing racism, “The Conversation” which we discuss in our Friday Fireside Chat. One of the insights I found fascinating was that he draws a distinction between stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination.
Stereotyping refers to a belief. “Blacks are athletic”, or “Asians are good at math” might be examples. These are cognitive factors.
Prejudice refers to a feeling, attitude, or emotion. I like (or don’t) members of this or that group. These are not cognitive factors, they are emotional.
Discrimination is behavioral. It’s how you act, regardless of the stereotypes in your head or your emotional preferences. So how you treat people is where discrimination exists, or not.
This is one of the first keys to dismantling racism. By exhibiting non-racist behavior, interacting positively with people who are from another background, research shows that it can go a long way toward eliminating negative emotions or feelings about people from that group. One of the biggest remedies for unconscious bias is positive contact. You don’t need to reprogram people’s beliefs. Focus first on promoting equitable behavior, and through sustained contact, the beliefs may well follow.
Why Is Insulin So Expensive? (January 25, 2022)
Even though it was discovered over 100 years ago, its prices remain high, patients are dying because they can’t afford their treatments and huge profits are being directed to shareholders of the companies that make the drug. With this much suffering going on, calls are growing to change the system, new competitors are entering and alternatives have been developed that can offer relief. This article takes us through the peculiar history and current state of the insulin markets.
In the Press
Category expert Ritesh Patel and I discuss the future of innovation in healthcare, what kinds of companies are likely to thrive and where the opportunities for growth lie.
Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP) invited me to talk about the end of competitive advantage and how that might affect the work that they do. It was a great interview and podcast
I weigh in on the Supreme Court’s decision not to allow the Biden Administrations’ vaccine requirement for most major employers to stand. It will put the onus, once more, on individual employers.
Why Peter Drucker Still Matters and what’s up with the “guru industrial complex” – in this article I’m asked to comment on how much Peter Drucker’s thinking cut through the clutter that comprises so much of management speaker hood today.
This compilation of great leadership books has me right in there with some of the great thinkers of all time. What great company!
February 11: Friday Fireside Chat with Whitney Johnson
Sought after author, consultant, and speaker, Whitney Johnson, already laid the groundwork for personal and professional development in her previous work on how people can traverse the “S-curves” of learning. It’s delightful that she has published an even deeper dive in her new book “Smart Growth: How to Grow Your People to Grow Your Company”. At a time when we are questioning every single assumption we make about work, accomplishment, and growth, it is particularly topical.
February 18: Friday Fireside Chat with Frank Rose
We are told that human beings make decisions based on data and facts. Not so fast, suggests my Friday Fireside Chat guest, author, speaker, and Columbia faculty member Frank Rose. We are instead hard-wired to respond to stories. His new book, “The Sea We Swim In” is a masterful exposition on storytelling, including the elements that make a story compelling and how stories can genuinely change hearts and minds.
Get in Touch, Keep in Touch and an invitation to shape the agenda
We’re all about learning new things in 2022. You can follow me on Twitter (@rgmcgrath), on Instagram (@ritamcgrathofficial), on LinkedIn and on YouTube.
And an invitation: If there are topics you’d like to see me explore in a Thought Spark, let me know!