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FRED
LACHOTZKI

Leaders can let go and still be in
control.

Books
Technology has made it possible to apply a new management philosophy. Managers can let go
and still be in control.


BEYOND CONTROL:
Managing Strategic Alignment Through Corporate Dialogue

By Fred Lachotzki and Robert Noteboom


Leading large organizations involves managing both their performance and their striking-power – i.e. their capability to execute strategy. The latter is best achieved by measuring and managing alignment between the corporate strategy and its execution. Yet for company leaders no amount of travel or motivational sessions can ever be enough to ensure that the strategy is communicated deep into the organization, understood, accepted and executed. CEOs need a proven model to allow them to delegate and decentralize. The management focus must be shifted from structured control to guided interaction.


Managing by strategic pull and operational push achieves this shift. Doing so requires a permanent (often real-time) corporate dialogue between the CEO and key executives. The authors of Beyond Control have learned from experience that for this to work consistently over time, a dedicated communication infrastructure is needed. This executive dialogue centre is an Internet-based portal specifically designed as a virtual CEO office to manage the interaction between the CEO and his or her key people.


Introducing an executive dialogue centre allows the CEO to move to the middle of the operation but keep the corporate agenda alive. It also represents the ultimate commitment to a management style of strategic pull and operational push. By creating a well-defined operating arena that enables people to participate and thrive with clear, responsible freedom, the CEO can measure and manage strategic alignment. The result will be an organization that continuously outperforms the expectations of clients and stakeholders.


VALEDICTORY LECTURE PROFESSOR FRED LACHOTZKI
A plea for a future
(12 November 2016)


Professor Fred Lachotzki has formally ended his position as professor of Corporate Strategy at Nyenrode Business Universiteit. His valedictory speech was entitled "A Plea for a future" ("Een Pleidooi voor een toekomst").


Download the valedictory lecture: 



Download the lecture slides:



Read the full article about this speech (Dutch) and his royal honor on Nyenrode Newsroom



View the lecture and ceremony on film


Cases


Case studies of real-life issues are great tools for bringing out the essence of management dilemmas while enabling students to learn about the consequences of interventions – or the failure to intervene.

The cases listed below either were written by Fred Lachotzki or involved him directly or indirectly. Several cases, teaching notes and possible 'B' and 'C' cases can be ordered at the European Case Clearing House. Contact: 'cases@ecch.com'   and/or fred@fredlachotzki.com



ALL CASES

    Equatorial Guinea is one of the most extraordinary countries in the world, if also one of the most obscure. Its tremendous yearly revenue from the oil concessions it grants in its Gulf of Guinea territorial waters is little known, but so too is its abysmal record on human rights. The deep-rooted corruption to be found there, on the other hand, with the ruling family of President Teodoro Obiang dominating government and economic enterprises, can probably be assumed but is shocking nonetheless in light of the needs of a native population still largely mired in poverty. This case directly addresses the moral questions involved in working with such a regime, through the eyes of an Amsterdam-based PR and advocacy office that is approached by Equatorial Guinean officials and agrees to do so. Can such involvement be anything other than a cynical money-earning exercise, or is it really possible to influence the behavior of such a regime for the better by working closely with it?


    "PDF: Equitorial Guinea"

    Few other fields have been impacted by the pace of technological change as publishing, and this case illustrates the recent history of what was once a dominant player in the Dutch newspaper, magazine and textbook market. Spurred by the urgent need to change in order to survive, it offloads most of these holdings in favor of becoming mainly a multinational provider of business information, highlighted by the acquisition of Nielsen Media Research. Students are invited to analyze and ponder the necessity of the wrenching transformation its executives put VNU through over a period of less than ten years.


    "Exota Videoclip"

    Few other fields have been impacted by the pace of technological change as publishing, and this case illustrates the recent history of what was once a dominant player in the Dutch newspaper, magazine and textbook market. Spurred by the urgent need to change in order to survive, it offloads most of these holdings in favor of becoming mainly a multinational provider of business information, highlighted by the acquisition of Nielsen Media Research. Students are invited to analyze and ponder the necessity of the wrenching transformation its executives put VNU through over a period of less than ten years.


    "PDF: VNU"

    This case deals with a typical episode of private equity investment, in which a private fund buys out the underperforming division of a larger company in order to improve its operations and profitability, with a view towards a lucrative “exit” several years down the road. In this case the acquired firm, CODI International B.V., is a manufacturer of “wet wipes” cleaning/hygienic products, with a healthy Europe-wide market presence and therefore good prospects if some investment can be devoted to upgrading and rationalizing its operations. The entrepreneur brought in to take over the newly independent firm, however, has even greater ambitions for CODI and pushes a “MAXICODI” plan for yet further investment to attempt a major market push – something ordinarily contrary to the limited “in-and-then-out” aims of the private equity investors. Students must judge whether this plan merits implementation nonetheless.


    "PDF: Codi International B.v. Going Max!"

    Issues of supervision take on another nature entirely when what is at issue is a major public infrastructure installation and the major political struggles which arise over the question of its disposition. Such was certainly the case when it came to the issue of privatizing Schiphol Airport, one of the major publicly-owned assets in the Netherlands, which enjoys worldwide fame while fostering an extensive and lucrative hive of economic activity (extending even into neighboring lands) around itself. The economically liberal Dutch national government of the late 1990s and early 2000s (known as Paars, or purple, from the mixture of coalition party partners) was determined to privatize Schiphol in order to make its operation more efficient, to enable it to compete against dynamic foreign airports, and at the same time to harvest financial gains for the public treasury. However, quite apart from questions which still remained as to how best to accomplish that, the initiative steadily encountered resistance from various political quarters. Can it ultimately succeed? This case provides students with a wide survey of the points-of-view of all major parties to this episode.


    "PDF: Schiphol Airport Crashlanding"

    This case presents the extraordinary turn-around engineered at Royal Numico (a specialized nutrition company, previously covered in another Nyenrode case under its old name Nutricia) by a team of managers formed and led by Jan Bennink. Company fortunes were at a low ebb by the beginning of 2002, as massive collective effort and finances were required to try to shore up an ill-advised venture into the American “neutraceutical” (i.e. over-the-counter health aid) market. Bennink put Numico on a brand new course by divesting the neutriceutical assets and re-orienting the company to a sustained strategy of gaining greater “share of stomach” among an expanded target audience of not only infants but also small children (or rather, these children's parents).


    "PDF: Royal Numico N.V. Resurrecting Shareholder Value"

    Cultural organizations offer their own unique challenges when it comes to effective supervision and management. This case examines changing structures of control over Het Muziektheater, Amsterdam's modern city opera house which houses both The Dutch Opera and The National Ballet companies, from their halcyon days prior to 1993 when they had no independent supervision to which to answer, through the forming of Articles of Association in that year, and then especially to the reform of this system spurred in 2006 by the promulgation of a national Code of Cultural Governance. That Code reflected the increased attention to the proper supervision of societal organizations of all types that was characteristic of the time, but since 1993 various institutional strains and imbalances had come to light within the governing structure of Het Muziektheater's resident companies. Students are asked to devise a new structure better able to take these latter into account to ensure the best future combination of accountability with artistic dynamism.


    "PDF: Het Muziektheater a change of governance"

    Being responsible for the fortunes of a fast-growing technology firm can often feel like riding a tiger. As a pioneer in the new accounting service of “audit recovery” (i.e. identifying and correcting systematic Accounts Payable errors for high-volume retail businesses), the Atlanta-based Profit Recovery Group came from nowhere to become a Wall Street darling with its explosive expansion. The inevitable problems cropped up when that growth started to falter. How could it be sustained? Should it be sustained? Students are asked to evaluate the company's growth strategy and its structure of priorities.


    "PDF: The PRG: Upping the pace in audit recovery"

    Under the leadership of Dutch entrepreneur Xander van Meerwijk, Merison seized an exclusive niche as being solely responsible to the Dutch supermarket giant Albert Heijn (an Ahold subsidiary) for the selection of non-food products (e.g. household goods, cooking utensils, crockery) offered for sale in its stores, which soon came to include customer loyalty campaigns using luxury non-food products as rewards. It was a lucrative position – but also a vulnerable one, with heavy dependence on one big customer and on contracts that had to be renewed periodically. Students are asked to evaluate Merison's various efforts to ensure a more stable financial future for itself, including an effort to branch out into providing information and other wholesale services via the Internet to national white goods retailers.


    "PDF: Merison: Riding the tiger"

    By means of a novel exercise called the “Michaelangelo Project,” Prof. Lachotzki and an entire Nyenrode International MBA class worked to assist Nutricia (a leading Dutch-based nutrition company) in working out a common philosophical vision about what defined that company – a vision that would unite all of its varying divisions in a common effort and which was supposed to provide guidance into the future. In this case students evaluate to what degree such an exercise is valuable and the company can be relied upon to follow the guidance that is forthcoming from it.


    "PDF: Nutricia: Michelangelo. A strategy Tool"

    Few other fields have been impacted by the pace of technological change as publishing, and this case illustrates the recent history of what was once a dominant player in the Dutch newspaper, magazine and textbook market. Spurred by the urgent need to change in order to survive, it offloads most of these holdings in favor of becoming mainly a multinational provider of business information, highlighted by the acquisition of Nielsen Media Research. Students are invited to analyze and ponder the necessity of the wrenching transformation its executives put VNU through over a period of less than ten years.


    "PDF: Vestia: Failure has many fathers"

    Few other fields have been impacted by the pace of technological change as publishing, and this case illustrates the recent history of what was once a dominant player in the Dutch newspaper, magazine and textbook market. Spurred by the urgent need to change in order to survive, it offloads most of these holdings in favor of becoming mainly a multinational provider of business information, highlighted by the acquisition of Nielsen Media Research. Students are invited to analyze and ponder the necessity of the wrenching transformation its executives put VNU through over a period of less than ten years.


    "PDF: Brunel: Balancing Freedom and control"

    Few other fields have been impacted by the pace of technological change as publishing, and this case illustrates the recent history of what was once a dominant player in the Dutch newspaper, magazine and textbook market. Spurred by the urgent need to change in order to survive, it offloads most of these holdings in favor of becoming mainly a multinational provider of business information, highlighted by the acquisition of Nielsen Media Research. Students are invited to analyze and ponder the necessity of the wrenching transformation its executives put VNU through over a period of less than ten years.


    "PDF: SHU/Nutreco Takeover"