In the early noughties, I undertook an academic research project into business strategy, marketing and leadership, looking specifically at the role non-executive directors can play in adding value to businesses. I probably read 45 business books cover to cover and about 300 academic articles. Blah! It brings me out in a cold sweat just thinking about it, but it did culminate in a dissertation and master’s degree. It also formed the foundation of a methodology (developed together with my friend and colleague Richard Hardy) to support managing and value creation in private equity and venture capital invested SMEs.
In truth, I actually read 44 and a half books because as soon as I had submitted my dissertation, I could not bear to read about a new idea or a reaffirmation of a developed view without being able to include it in my work. During the two or so years of research, the only books I read for escapist pleasure were JK Rowling, and that was to keep up with my kids. So having submitted my dissertation, I put my business books to one side: it was time for me to persue some other interests and reading passions. But I certainly did not stop thinking about business or on each occasion striving to realise the quality of the strategic conversation in the numerous board meetings I attended.
Then about a year ago, having found a little more time on my hands, my business reading slowly crept back into life. Linking up again with Richard and another friend and former colleague Andrew Blatiak, we started looking into developing another methodology, this time focused on larger, national SME growth accelerator programmes. We needed to check what was the latest thinking on business strategy and how to apply it. Has someone finally found a new simple and seemingly magical solution to a complicated problem? Well, we found some new words like ‘gazelles’ and ‘unicorns’, and new business activity such as the ‘Internet of Things’ (or as Steve Case claims in his book The Third Wave, the ‘Internet of Everything’) but the silver bullet? Hmm, you’ll have to wait and see…
My intention is to start blogging with reasonable regularity, providing a glimpse on current thinking. Where relevant I hope to compare and contrast these to what was hot 20 years ago. And by the way, I don’t claim any academic rigour in my choice of reading or views and opinions developed, some of which quite possibly could be entirely wrong.
Finally, some further context. Amongst a couple of other activities, I am the non-executive chairman of an exciting and growing company called Miramar Executive Search. Part of my aim is to introduce, nurture and develop a wider perspective through the quality of the strategic conversation with my colleagues in this excellent headhunting company.