Archive | June, 2013

End of Competitive Advantage by Rita Gunter McGrath is worth a look

24 Jun


So fresh from a webinar on this from the good lady herself – very impressive. And the HBR article (June edition) is also worth a read. She’s succeeded in (what I imagine to be) a key objective from the webinar – I’m going to buy her book. Also signed up to her newsletter, which promises me access to the mystic arts (viz, I get a password to the tools section on her website, and I’m a great collector of tools).

Two points struck me. The first is that her model of the new career paradigm (build networks, manage your own career, don’t expect a job with one firm for life) sounds a lot like management consultancy to me. Second, she clearly despairs of the non-profit sector – too much fragmentation, not enough competitive pressure. To which I would add – often, very limited management ability.

There are clearly debts her to the resource-based view of the firm and the exploitation of “core competencies”. So one assumes that Gary Hamel is an admirer – or perhaps, dare one say it, a competitor, who is worried that Rita will undermine his competitive advantage?

Interesting week on “not [just] for profit” front

21 Jun

Social entrepreneurship

So an excuse this week to visit both alma maters – LSE Alumni on Monday evening to hear Georgia Keohane speak about her book (shown above – US-centric but highly recommended) and then, yesterday, a very English event at the Humanitarian Centre, in Cambridge  – strawberries & cream & Sangria with Fenners in the background, on a “rained out” English summer afternoon (my wife, being German, doesn’t believe there is any other kind).

No real content to report from Fenners. But several interesting discussions at the LSE, where Georgia picked out the role of social impact bonds, and their complex interaction with public sector safety nets (i.e. you need public expenditure savings from delivering cheaper public services to fund the bond coupon). Chasing around Twitter/YouTube afterwards, there was also a great clip on what levels of financial returns should be expected from BoP/social impact investing. General view seemed to be at least a “normal” return, but potentially over a longer timescale.

Interesting to think social entrepreneurship could both be more socially useful and more financially rewarding than hedge funds.

The answer to savers’ prayers?

4 Jun


So a couple of articles caught my eye in Friday’s FT (31st May – I know this post is a bit late but the weather really has been good!). The first was a prequel to the Banking Commission’s final report – due in June apparently (let’s hope it doesn’t clash with Wimbledon).  This whinged on about the need for a more diverse banking ecosystem (“Rivals sought for Big Five banks” – of course, it would have been the Big Four a few years ago, so perhaps the arrival of Santander means a 20% increase in competition??).

The second article contained the potential solution – it featured the arrival of the new head of PopeBank – or, for the more traditionally minded, the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR), a Teutonic gentleman by the name of Herr von Freyberg (appointed by the outgoing pope, who helpfully gave him a rosary). No it has to be said that there are a few technical difficulties to be sorted out at PopeBank, but just think of the impact it could have on the UK High Street:

  • guaranteed ethical standards
  • free advertising at every mass
  • cash distribution system already there – just drop another envelope with your account number into the collection
  • plenty of premises for extra ATM machines
  • no need to “bail in” bondholders in the event of difficulties – just ask the faithful to stump up
  • ready-made cadre of financial advisers (viz priests – touch of extra training should do it)

One might even call it a solution made in heaven!