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Dear Learn & Perform Subscriber

November was a special month as Deepavali; the Festival of Lights was on November 13th that happened to be my birthday and wedding anniversary date, as well. I was intrigued to read about Harvard Professor Anita Elberse’s work on High Performance and her work on football legend Sir Alex Ferguson. And, now to November E news.

  • High Performance in Creative Industries
  • The Question of Strategy
  • Understanding your Customers
  • SMR News

High Performance in Creative Industries
Harvard Professor Anita Elberse has recently authored a case focusing on the high performance of Manchester United British soccer club manager who turns out to be as incredible a performer as any of the lot. For 26 years, Sir Alex Ferguson has kept his Manchester United soccer club either at or near the top of competition, both in England and internationally. Sir Alex Ferguson is incredibly successful by any performance standard – titles and trophies, branding over a lengthy tenure. She says: "I think his willingness to develop young talent lies at the heart of his long-run success". Compare his track record with leading executives in any industry who have managed to succeed with the same firm at the highest levels for nearly three decades. His success can be attributed to deft management and motivation of some of the greatest (and most high-strung) athletes in the world, staying current on the latest training regimens and technology, and plotting strategy both for on-field play and organizational success. Under Ferguson’s leadership, United has become one of the world's most successful franchises in all of sports. Four key ideas from the case struck me in particular:

  • His focus on giving young players an opportunity to win a place in the first team. Many of the players he developed—Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Gary Neville, Paul Scholes—became true standouts in their generation, providing the club with a strong pipeline.
  • His willingness to let go players who have been once good but no longer right.
  • Despite his age, the willingness to change with changing times.
  • He developed rather just acquire talent; his contention: development and mentoring young players led him to greater success.

The Question of Strategy
Author Cynthia Montgomery uses a free association exercise to gauge feedback to the question: What are the first three words that come to mind when you hear the word 'strategy'?" She says she is dismayed as very often experienced executives respond with "plan," "vision," "direction," "focus," "advantage."In her book: The Strategist: Be the Leader Your Business Needs, Montgomery states that strategy has been narrowed to a competitive game plan, separate from a firm's larger sense of purpose.

According to Montgomery, strategy has been narrowed to a competitive game plan, separate from a firm's larger sense of purpose. This has led to the eclipse of the leader's unique role as arbiter and steward of strategy. Too much focus on sustainable competitive advantage has deviated from the fact that strategy must be a dynamic tool for guiding the development of a company over time. "Strategy has become more about formulation than implementation, and more about getting the analysis right at the outset than living with a strategy over time," There is a need to address four questions:

  1. What does my organization bring to the world?
  2. Does that difference matter?
  3. Is something about it scarce and difficult to imitate?
  4. Are we doing today what we need to do in order to matter tomorrow?

To her, for a leader, becoming a strategist starts with getting clear on why, whether, and to whom your company matters. To her, strategists also must lead the charge in creating organizations that can deliver on their intentions. That means building business models with mutually reinforcing parts. Rich in organizational detail and anchored on purpose, such systems of value creation "make strategy the animating force in a company as they are the crucial link between lofty ideas and action."

SMR News

For the year 2013, the annual training calendar is ready. SMR will be running their flagship programmes – Accredited Training Professional, Accredited Competency Professional, Accredited OD Professional, Certificate in Learning & Development and Certificate in HR in Malaysia, GCC (Middle East) and India.

The 2013 Asia HRDCongress will be held in Jakarta, Indonesia, the Trainers Meet Trainers in three locations Malaysia, Bahrain, India, the Asia HRD Awards in Jakarta, Indonesia and the Asia HRD Round Table for Senior HR decision makers in Phuket, Thailand. The Asia HRD Awards nominations are now open. For more details of any of these events, please email

With the year end appraisals fast approaching, there will be a need to accelerate performance appraisals completion. The software as a service option with SMR HR Technologies – E Appraisals will be a very cost effective option. Sign up for a FREE 2 Weeks Trial! For more details please email

Do visit to review and have access to my books on line at

Have a good month ahead, will be in touch in mid-December.


With best wishes,


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