Masterclass with VG

Masterclass with VG


Imagine it is 1990 and you are at the board meeting of Hasbro, Inc the family entertainment giant. Imagine you are determining strategy. How would you go about this?

Recommend course of action for all the three boxes. 
Better Monopoly? 
Are your customers only US kids less than 15 years of age? 
What customer discontinuity is happening? 
What are the non-linear changes that can fundamentally change the family entertainment space? 
What are the new channels of distribution? 
Traditional competitor is Mattel. Who are the non-competitors who could become competitors? 
What new capabilities need to be acquired for leadership in 2016? 
What new distribution channels would need to be developed? 
If technology is changing, are we present in South Korea, China and India? 
The aim of the traditional games was to get people together. Would the future lifestyle allow us the luxury of physically being present together? 
Everyone today is hardpressed for time. It is a leisure game today. Would it be serious in the future?

If you cannot forget, you cannot learn. Learn to unlearn. We all hear about learning organisations. No one talks about

unlearning organisations.

We need to selectively forget out past to pave our future. We need to nurture, fertilise and take care of the future. We need to forget, we are just a US company. Forget we are a family owned business. Forget that we need to manufacture ourselves. Forget that we are physical products company. Remember, we are competing with technology.

Strategising for box 3 is not a prediction excercise. It is about imagining the future. Proposing hypothesis for future. Of course, you could be completely wrong, but you will only know when you test them.

What are the weak signals available today in 1990, which can significantly change our industry? Develop hypothesis based on these signals. Listening to these weak signals admist all the noise, is the real challenge. This needs to be imbibed into the company culture.

Personal computers have been introduced in the market. Atari has introduced a basic video game. Remember that the power of technology increases over time even as the price decreases.

Selective forgetting is the biggest problem. We allow the dominant logic to take over.

To illustrate dominant logic, VG narrated the 4 monkeys and coconut tree tale.

Dominant logic is dangerous as it is often unchecked. It gets ingrained in the policy manuals and culture of the companies. Past success determines this dominant logic. We rationalise that since we were successful, we must have done something right, and then blindly try to repeat it. The reason you are successful is you did something smart. Now be smart about your next move.

Planning for future is meaningless, as you can barely predict it. Preparing for future is needed. Jot down your beliefs on a single sheet of paper. Check if our organisation is aligned for non-linear changes. The best way to predict the is to create it. To create it, you need to imagine it first.

1. Non-linear changes 
2. Strategic intent 
3. Current core competencies 
4. Annual priorities 
5. New Core competencies

Detailed discussion on one topic:

2. Strategic intent: is not the motherhood statement or mission statement. If you go to various organisation in the middle of the night and replace their mission and vision statements, would any of the employees notice the difference?

Hence the strategic intent needs to have:

a. Direction : Let us go north. 
b. Motivation : Compelling reason, not generic 
c. Challenge: Employees like challenges.

It needs to be about the big picture, not the next steps. Every beginning should be with the end in mind.


We will put a man on the moon and bring him back before the end of this decade. JFK

Draw a picture. Let people imagine and get challenged. Strategic thinking is about thinking big. Setting unrealistic goals. Performance is dependent on expectations. We rarely outperfom out ambitions. Imagine the greatness. We may be mediocre today, but

can you imagine future leadership?

That is the first step.

A marathoner does not think of all the 26 miles at once, he just concentrates on the next 400 meters. Don’t take a deep breath and burst. That is okay for a sprint, but not a marathon.

How are your resources and time focussed on the future? Strategy is about folding the future backwards, not pushing the present forward. Dream for 2025. Every 400 meters, test your hypothesis. Check the weak signals.

11 things to do with a dead horse:

1) Change riders
2) Buy stronger whip
3) Harness several dead horses together for increased speed
4) Emulate the best practices of companies riding dead horses
5) Outsource the ridership of the horse
6) Affirm that “this is the way we have always ridden this horse”
7) Change the requirements, declaring that “This horse is not dead”
8) Perform cost analysis to see if contractors can ride it cheaper
9) Promote the dead horse to management position
10) Have the lawyers bring suit against the horse manufacturer
11) Put out news release that, in the unlikely event the horse is dead, it was dead before it ever came to the company.

Similarly plan forward for 2025 as a board member at Hasbro.

We have tremendous human assets, there are so many possibilities.

What are we waiting for?


Heartfelt thanks to Harvard Business Review press and MYRA for organising the VG Masterclass here in Mysuru. Thanks to Dr Shalini Urs and Prof Dr Vijay Govindarajan for all your wisdom. You guys are real visionaries. You can see beyond what we can think.

Buy books authored by VG, Reverse InnovationBeyond the idea or pre-order The Three box Solution here.

VG’s aim is to

impact the broader world.

He is excited about his new book and plans a 6-week online course to go along with it. This would help with both structure and smart implementation.

VG is an authority on strategy and innovation. Click here for more about VG. Hear VG speaks about three box solution here.

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