strategy+business Winter 2019

Experience the ideas and stories that raise the game for management, written and expounded clearly enough to provide the basis for thoughtful action. Through in-depth feature stories, thought leader interviews, and strategic commentaries, each issue of strategy+business provides an informed global perspective for decision makers in organizations around the world.

United States
PwC Strategy& LLC
4 Issues

in this issue

2 min
mythical business creatures

Why are we so fascinated with the billion-dollar startups known as unicorns? Surely, part of it is the immense wealth they generate, but I think it’s also the name — evoking the image of fantastical horned animals gamboling down the alleyways of Palo Alto, Shanghai, and Bangalore. Even if you subtract those that fail to meet their financial targets, the U.S. still has the greatest number of highly valued tech upstarts. But China and India are rapidly catching up. In “China’s herd of unicorns” (page 66), Jianbin Gao and Yuqing Guo of PwC note that, on average, one Chinese company hits the billion-dollar valuation marker every week. In “India’s new unicorns” (page 80), Vishnupriya Sengupta and Suvarchala Narayanan take us inside a startup sector that was seen as low-status just…

4 min
why your customers should be central to your innovation efforts

There’s a big mistake that a lot of companies make. It’s one that until a few years ago was common in my own organization, and it stems from the worthy goal of boosting innovation. The mistake is adopting what I call the “science fair” mentality: encouraging employees throughout the organization to innovate freely but without much, if any, direct contact with the very customers these innovations are intended for. Unconstrained innovation may sound exciting, like the sort of thing startups do. But the truth is that successful startups actually don’t do that, because they know that innovation without a framework rarely leads to business success. It does lead to inventions that, although impressive and creative, ultimately prove impractical or irrelevant for driving business growth. How, then, can you get employees to innovate…

6 min
how to manage mavericks

The maverick needs a rebrand. The term, usually defined as someone who is independent or unorthodox, can carry negative connotations that imply complication, contrariness, and chaos. In a society in which echo chambers create siloed workforces, where algorithms and the march of artificial intelligence threaten to inhibit human creativity, talented freethinkers need to be cherished, or they will walk away. The more managers can get along with mavericks, and the more their co-workers can understand their contributions, the better the results for all. The world of soccer, in which the most talented players are often the hardest to manage, has wrestled with this issue for a long time. So how do soccer coaches cope, and what can we learn from them? First, let’s explain the type of maverick we are talking about:…

8 min
how cities can stay cool on a warming earth

Air conditioning, a necessity of modern life, is unique because it perpetuates the very problem it solves. As the planet warms and as it prospers, more people demand air conditioning. Traditional systems consume a lot of energy, which requires burning fossil fuels. That leads to greater carbon dioxide emissions, further warming the planet and intensifying the demand for air conditioning. Traditional air conditioning systems are inefficient by design. They are designed to meet peak loads, such as a fully occupied building on the afternoon of the hottest day of the year — even though that load rarely occurs. Most residential buildings are empty during working hours, and most office buildings are vacant at night. Fortunately, a more effective alternative for areas of high-density demand exists: district cooling. District cooling, which is…

11 min
the catalytic co-investor: how siemens us keeps r&d alive

Siemens has been in the industrial technology business since it was founded as a telegraph company in Berlin in 1847. Its U.S. businesses began soon afterward, and evolved over years of cross-Atlantic collaboration into a US$90 billion industrial conglomerate, incorporated in its current form in 1970. Siemens US continues to distinguish itself as a technological leader. Linked closely to Siemens’s global role in defining and developing Industry 4.0, Siemens US is a source and incubator of innovations in artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning software, cyber-security, and 3D printing. How does a large-scale industrial manufacturing enterprise, with subsidiaries all over the world, continue to grow through R&D? To find out, strategy+business sat down with Barbara Humpton, CEO of Siemens US, on the sidelines of the company’s recent…

2 min
how to identify gaps in your distribution model

It’s estimated that somewhere around 65% of all small businesses in the U.S. close within their first ten years of operation. Of course, there are thousands of companies across the county that remain stable and profitable well beyond the ten-year mark. So what’s the secret that’s kept the remaining 45% afloat? “We focus on feedback,” says Jen Moon, Marketing Manager at Kaput Products. Kaput recently celebrated their 20th year in the pest control industry and continue to show signs of growth after two decades of operation. The company’s business model runs through a diverse network of distributors and dealers that serve a specific territory. Customers looking to take care of a pest infestation must go directly through their local dealer to acquire any of Kaput’s products. If there is no local…