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Author Archives: joel kurtzman

Goodbye To The Quick Fix

Not long ago, Michael Porter, the ultra-manic professor of strategy at the Harvard Business School, told me that a large percentage of businesses now have finished with their cost-cutting efforts, thanks to a decade’s worth of re-engineering, and are about to go to work on their strategies. According to Porter, business is about to enter “a new era of strategy,” ...

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A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste

A few years ago, when NASA went to Congress for funding for its next-generation, heavy-lift launch vehicle, some wag on the committee asked NASA’s administrator why the agency just didn’t rebuild the Saturn 5 rocket. The Saturn, the largest and most powerful American rocket ever built, was the chariot that carried the Apollo space capsule and astronauts to the moon.NASA, ...

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The Skinny On Lean And Mean

Some time long ago, at lunch in Boston, Peter F. Drucker, the grand old man of business thinking, outlined his vision of the future. In it, he said, companies would outsource everything they now consider “support,” or overhead. The bits of the company left intact then could focus on revenue-producing functions. Companies would emerge as lean, mean, revenue-creating machines.So what ...

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In Danger Of Decapitation?

Einstein taught us that time is discontinuous. Two stars twinkling side-by-side in the night often are sending us light from different centuries. It happens on Earth as well. Japan is twinkling from the depths of a financial meltdown reminiscent of what the U.S. experienced when the savings and loan system collapsed in the late 1980s. While a meltdown happens there, ...

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All Eyes On The Great Mitsubishi Whale

Twice a year, I visit Japan to give speeches, consult with companies, and generally schmooze, Tokyo-style. While most of my visits have occurred during good times, when Japan‘s business leaders were confident, my most recent visit a few months ago was different. Right now, most Japanese are, in the words of Robert Azar, president of Tokyo-based Pacific Rim Management Consultants, ...

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Checking The Corporate Crystal Ball

The fund manager in question is a down-home, ten-to-the-ninth man, which means his broad-based fund has more than $1 billion under management. I have known him for years. When this fellow calls on CEOs and CFOs, they always put on a good show. He-and the giant mutual fund company that employs him-moves markets. But while the fund manager appears buttoned-down ...

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Hot Finance

While the electronic economy hums along in the fiber-optic trenches-helping businesses to run better and faster with technologies including electronic funds transfer, imaging, electronic data interchange, and sophisticated point-of-sale systems-a phenomenon has been putting butterflies in the bellies of even the toughest CEOs and CFOs. That phenomenon is “hot money.” Hot money refers to the trillions of dollars that race ...

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Bankers’ Trust

Nicholas W. Leeson, the trader and speculator who lost $1.4 billion of his employer’s money, had a nickname at 233 year-old Barings Bank. They called him the “Wunderkind from Watford.” Watford is a gloomy, gray, working-class neighborhood outside London.For some in the bank, Leeson was a hero. As recently as last year, he earned millions of pounds in profits for ...

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Banking on Technology

Anthony Comper, president and chief operating officer of the mighty Bank of Montreal, says he has the best view in Toronto, From his book-lined office on the 68th floor of First Canadian Place, you can see the sun reflected off Lake Ontario, the gleaming skyline of Toronto, and the future of banking. Tony, as he is called, is a member ...

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