Chunka Mui gave the closing keynote at the recent annual meeting of NIRI, the National Investor Relations Institute. Following that address, he engaged in a wide-ranging interview conducted by Michael Santoli, a senior editor of Barron’s. Santoli writes the “Streetwise” column, offering a forward-looking take on the financial markets, illuminating market trends and themes and identifying investment opportunities. Below is the video of that interview, divided into five parts.
Bill Taylor, on his blog at HarvardBusiness.org, has an insightful post piggybacking off a Daniel Gross dispatch from the 2009 World Economic Conference in Davos, Switzerland. Taylor and Gross observe that there seems to be little soul-searching going on at Davos relative to the roots of the worldwide financial mess. Gross puts it this way: “At least with regard To finance and business, the consensus [at Davos] seems to be clear: Success is the work of Great Men and Great Women, while failure can be pinned on the system.” Taylor is more blunt: “So it goes for the world’s economic elite: We’ll gladly take the credit (and the pay) for good times, but don’t Blame us (or deny us our bonuses) when things go sour. Welcome to the no-fault economy!”
While we’re sympathetic to both bloggers’ ire, we believe that those at Davos are just exhibiting a common human tendency. We’re all simply wired to think highly of ourselves and our efforts, so we don’t dwell on possible failures.
“When You Shouldn’t Go Global,” by Marcus Alexander and Harry Korine, in the December 2008 issue of Harvard Business Review, does precisely the kind of analysis that companies should be doing continually as they evaluate whether to pursue a strategy. In evaluating whether it makes sense for a company to expand globally, the authors don’t just look at success stories–which is what strategists typically do as they search for companies to emulate. The authors dig up examples of companies that went global and flopped. They then suggest pitfalls to avoid.
Trying to avoid failure may not sound as glamorous as aspiring to great success, but, then, having your career derailed because of a catastrophe isn’t so glamorous, either.
While much of Mr. Buffett’s methods can’t be duplicated — genius is genius, after all — “The Snowball” usefully emphasizes a few core Buffett imperatives: taking a close look at an investment’s intrinsic value, making a brutal evaluation of its risks, and calculating a margin of safety. The book also underscores the importance of learning from failures. The Buffett-Munger approach is to “invert, always invert. Turn a situation or problem upside down. Look at it backward. What’s in it for the other guy? What happens if all our plans go wrong? Where don’t we want to go, and how do you get there? Instead of looking for success, make a list of how to fail instead.”
Here’s the link to the full article.