5 steps to an effective sustainability strategy – How to achieve profitable sustainability in owner-led companies

5 Schritte zur Nachhaltigkeitsstrategie - STMG

For the vast majority of the German Mittelstand (owner-led companies including mostly SMEs, but also large firms), sustainability is very important. According to a Commerzbank study from 2021, more than 70 percent of owner-led companies surveyed believe that sustainable action and production are necessary to ensure the future viability of their company. Almost 70 percent … Read more

5 reasons why SMEs should now push their sustainable business development

Sustainable business development - STMG

For medium-sized companies, the sustainability of their business activities has always played a major role. The long-term existence of the company is more important to them than high quarterly profits. Accordingly, CEOs of SMEs generally have a positive attitude towards sustainability. However, their ideas on the content and significance of sustainability for their own company … Read more

Strategic Sustainability – The Billion-Euro Blind Spot of Medium-Sized Companies

Strategic Sustainability - STMG

Medium-sized companies in Germany are currently missing out on business opportunities worth billions. The reason: most companies are pursuing sustainability in too limited a way and without a holistic strategy. Untapped sustainability potential According to a PwC study from 2023, 60% of the SMEs surveyed have recognized that they need to drive the transformation towards … Read more

The three biggest challenges for SMEs in 2023-2024

Wettbewerbsdruck

The German economy is in recession. And German SMEs are right in the middle of it. In addition to short-term economic causes for the slump, there are also longer-term structural reasons. SMEs are therefore facing growing challenges in the short and medium term that require consistent strategic action. The German Institute for SME Research (Institut … Read more

Indo-German IT Collaboration – Prospects and Challenges

Panel discussion - Hannover 2022

There are strong signals that the collaboration between India and Germany in the IT sector is entering a new phase. So far, the focus has been on German companies hiring Indian IT experts and offshoring IT work to Indian branch offices as well as outsourcing software development and business process management services to Indian firms. … Read more

The importance of lived company values in difficult times

Company Values - Strategic Thinking

Values are highly popular among companies around the world. Almost every large enterprise has published a set of corporate values on their website and in glossy brochures. There is a good reason for this, because values can fulfil several important functions: they guide corporate decisions, shape company culture, influence employee behaviour and attract talent. Popular … Read more

The 3 major strategic challenges of the war in Ukraine for EU companies

Global economy - Impact of the war in Ukraine

The Russian war against Ukraine has added another global crisis. It hits the world at a time, when it is still struggling with the effects of the corona pandemic and bracing itself for the growing climate crisis. The Ukrainian people pay the highest price for the Russian aggression in terms of lost lives, injured and … Read more

5 global trends that could influence your business in 2021

Strategic Thinking Outlook 2021

There has been no business forecast for 2020 that came even close to what happened in this extraordinary year. At least I am not aware of any such forecast. Wildcard events like the Corona pandemic and its effects on society and economy are hard to predict for a specific year. Yes, there have been several … Read more

5 economic trends that will influence your business in 2019

The year 2019 has started, and nobody exactly knows how the economy will develop over the coming 12 months. However, there are 5 trends already visible. They will have an impact on every business, no matter if you are self-employed or working for a large company. Even if you don’t think, these trends will have … Read more

5 Wirtschaftstrends die Ihr Geschäft im Jahr 2019 beeinflussen

Das Jahr 2019 hat begonnen, und niemand weiß genau, wie sich die Wirtschaft in den kommenden 12 Monaten entwickeln wird. Es sind jedoch bereits 5 Trends sichtbar. Sie haben Einfluss auf jedes Geschäft, unabhängig davon, ob Sie selbstständig oder bei einem großen Unternehmen beschäftigt sind. Selbst wenn Sie denken, dass diese Trends keinen direkten Einfluss … Read more

5 Signs Indicating You Need Strategy Coaching

Many C-suite and mid-level executives have by now understood and experienced the benefits of business coaching. The range of topics for business coaching is very wide. It includes leadership development, stress management, coping with change, and handling conflicts, to name just a few. One particular branch of business coaching which still requires more explaining is … Read more

5 Common Strategic Planning Mistakes SMEs Should Avoid

The experts have been debating the use of strategic planning for some time. Already in the mid-1990s, Canadian management professor Henry Mintzberg questioned the use of a formal strategic planning process in his book “The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning”. And in view of fast, partly unforeseeable changes, there are good reasons to doubt … Read more

10 Common Business Plan Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Every company needs an up-to-date business plan. Although this is most obvious for start-ups, it applies to established firms, too. A business plan keeps everyone on track in implementing the company’s strategy and reaching its business goals. There is plenty of information available via books and seminars on how to write a good business plan. … Read more

Listen to Your Intuition | Business Lessons from the World Chess Championship Match Carlsen – Karjakin, Part 6

After 12 games of the world chess championship between Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin the score was 6-6, and a tiebreak became necessary to get a decision in the match. The tiebreak on Wednesday, 30 November, consisted of four rapid games with 25 minutes plus 10 seconds increment per move for each player. With such … Read more

Face Your Mistakes | Business Lessons from the World Chess Championship Match Carlsen – Karjakin, Part 5

Game 10 of the world chess championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin was a tragicomedy of errors. In a slightly better position, Carlsen gave up his advantage through an inaccurate exchange of bishops in move 19. After that, Karjakin missed two opportunities for immediately forcing a draw. In view of his one-point lead … Read more

Managing Risks with Circumspection | Business Lessons from the World Chess Championship Match Carlsen – Karjakin, Part 4

On Monday, 21 November, the world chess championship match between titleholder Magnus Carlsen and his challenger Sergey Karjakin saw the first decided game after seven draws. Game 8 took a dramatic course and ended in a win for Karjakin with the black pieces after 52 moves. The game perfectly illustrates the fourth success principle from … Read more

Be Prepared | Business Lessons from the World Chess Championship Match Carlsen – Karjakin, Part 3

The Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) coined the famous phrase: “To be prepared is half the victory.” The current world chess championship match between titleholder Magnus Carlsen and his challenger Sergey Karjakin is proof that this old wisdom still applies. Both contestants appear extremely well prepared on three levels: chess openings, mental robustness, and … Read more

How to be Resilient | Business Lessons from the World Chess Championship Match Carlsen – Karjakin, Part 2

The character of the world chess championship match between world champion Magnus Carlsen and his challenger Sergey Karjakin has changed: while they were testing each other’s (and the viewers’) patience in games 1 and 2, just waiting for the other side to make a mistake that never happened, the next two games were characterized by … Read more

Business Lessons from the World Chess Championship Match Carlsen – Karjakin | Part 1: The Importance of Patience

The Norwegian world champion Magnus Carlsen and his Russian challenger Sergey Karjakin started their fight for the chess crown in New York on 11 November 2016. Some commentators were disappointed by the first two games of the world chess championship: they both ended in a draw without any exciting things happening on the board. In … Read more

Strategic Investing Means Long-Term Investing – Interview with Stock Market Expert Thomas Anton Schuster

Thomas Anton Schuster is the owner of a forwarding agency in the greater Munich area. In addition, he has been investing in stocks for more than three decades and is sharing now his investment knowledge as a speaker. In an interview with Milon Gupta he explains exclusively to readers of the Strategic Thinking Blog, what … Read more

3 Core Principles of Strategic Leadership under Uncertainty

We live in uncertain times. Today, leadership may often feel like being the captain of a sailing ship in a heavy thunderstorm. While you are keeping the ship above water, you are struggling to keep your orientation, and you don’t know what will happen next. Just think back 12 months. In August 2015, we didn’t … Read more

What The Brexit Means For Your Business

On 23 June 2016, 51.9% of the British electorate voted in a referendum for leaving the European Union. The consequences of this vote for Brexit, short for ‘British exit’, are not yet fully clear. Many open questions remain, like, for example: When will the British government invoke article 50 of the EU treaty on withdrawing … Read more

The 3 Best Ways to Avoid Bad Decisions Caused by Groupthink

Do you remember Swissair? In the 20th century, this airline used to be as economically solid as a Swiss bank, which is why some people called it the “flying bank”. And yet, it was the first airline to collapse in the crisis of 2001. Researchers Aaron Hermann and Hussain G. Rammal from the University of … Read more

5 Reasons Why You Need Strategic Thinking On All Levels Of Your Organisation

Generally, the assumption still prevails that strategy and strategic thinking are an exclusive domain of a company’s executives. This assumption is historically well founded. And it is wrong in today’s business environment. The Greek word “strategos”, of which the term “strategy” is derived, means “general”. And the general in ancient Athens as well as in … Read more

Success and Failure of Strategic Management in 2015 – Part 2

In part 1 of “Success and Failure of Strategic Management in 2015” I had presented three cases of what I consider good strategic management. In part 2, I will now focus on examples of bad strategic management that emerged in 2015. Bad Strategic Management Usually, bad strategic management only becomes visible to the public when … Read more

Success and Failure of Strategic Management in 2015 – Part 1

For many businesses, the year 2015 was challenging. At first glance, the opportunities outweighed the threats. Cheap money and cheap oil stimulated the business of many companies. However, not every company was able to benefit from the opportunities. The year 2015 saw interesting examples of success and failure, which were significantly influenced by the quality … Read more

Why Climate Change is Relevant for Your Business

When the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference ended with the Paris Agreement on 12 December, one of the first to comment was Paul Polman, CEO of multinational consumer goods company Unilever. In a statement published on the same day, Polman praised the agreement as “a clear path to decarbonise the global economy”. He considers … Read more

5 Reasons Why Every Company Needs a Cybersecurity Strategy

It happened on Saturday, 14 November 2015: unknown hackers accessed the app store database of VTech, a global supplier of electronic learning products with headquarters in Hong Kong. The hackers captured a significant amount of user profile data of children and their parents, as BBC News reported. The profile data included name, email address, encrypted … Read more

How to Cope with Business Complexity

Business complexity has globally increased in the last three decades. Scope and diversity of products, services, processes and stakeholder relationships have significantly grown. The growth of complexity has come at a price: The world’s largest companies are on average losing more than 1 billion dollar each due to unnecessary complexity. At least this is what … Read more

How to Increase the Odds of Startup Success

Nine out of ten startups fail. Or, if you prefer to look at the bright side, one out of ten startups succeeds. The crucial questions is now: what could you do to increase the odds of being the one in ten? There is no easy answer, and you will get ten different answers, if you … Read more

How Strategic Leaders Use Storytelling

Storytelling has proven to be an effective leadership tool in business communication. Or like US psychologist Howard Gardner said: “Every great leader is a great storyteller”. Thus, it is not surprising that executives at many major companies, like 3M, Nike, and Procter & Gamble, have embraced storytelling. A number of strategic leaders at these and … Read more

The Power of Strategic Questions

Let me start with a question: how frequently do executives and employees ask general, business-related questions in your organization? If your answer is ‘Not too often’, I would recommend to ask yourself ‘Why?’ and ‘How could we change this?’. A tool for strategic leaders Questions are an indispensable tool for strategic thinking. Questions are the … Read more

Balanced Scorecard Revisited – How to Use BSC in Strategic Management

One of the most popular tools for strategy implementation is the Balanced Scorecard (BSC). More than two decades after it was presented to the public by Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton in 1992, the BSC has turned out to be one of the most popular management tools, which is not only used by … Read more

How to Use Key Performance Indicators for Strategy Implementation

Key performance indicators (KPIs) have become commonplace in large and medium-sized companies worldwide. However, despite the widespread use of KPIs, many companies still have not managed to get a high benefit from KPIs. Frequently, KPIs are just seen as a tool for measuring performance on an operational level. This approach misses the benefits KPIs can … Read more

The Strategic Importance of Corporate Core Values

Despite their widespread use, corporate core values are probably one of the most underrated factors for competitive advantage. Rise of Corporate Values After the Dot-com Bubble All major companies nowadays have defined corporate values for themselves. See for example the results of a study conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton and the Aspen Institute already in … Read more

Five Strategic Lessons from the Volkswagen Emissions Scandal

The resignation of Martin Winterkorn as chief executive of Volkswagen on 23 September has so far been the climax of the emissions cheating scandal. On 22 September, Volkswagen admitted to using software to change emissions test results for 11 million of its diesel engine cars sold between 2009 and 2015. The cheating and the emissions … Read more

The Five Major Strategic Challenges for HR

Human resource management plays a key role for the sustained success of a company. While this has always been true, the relative importance of HR in today’s business environment of fast change and high complexity and uncertainty has even further increased. At the same time, the challenges for HR have changed, as two recent studies … Read more

Why Artificial Intelligence is Relevant for Your Business Strategy

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been around for a long time. The term was coined in 1955 by John McCarthy. The concept goes back to the early days of computing when British computer pioneer Alan Turing hypothesized about intelligent machines in his seminal paper on “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” (1950). Progress of AI has been slower … Read more

The Five Key Traits of Strategic Leaders

The prevalent pressure for good quarterly results has led to the dominance of executives with a short- to mid-term focus. This applies particularly to large corporations. Truly strategic leaders have become rare these days. However, in the current times of uncertainty and rapid change, strategic leaders are needed more than ever. What are the distinguishing … Read more

Business lessons from the World Chess Championship Match Carlsen – Anand | Part 4: Paying attention to details

Chess offers useful insights for business. On occasion of the current World Chess Championship 2014, I will highlight in a series of articles different business lessons to be learned from the game of kings. In part four, I explain why paying attention to details pays off in chess and business. Top chess players can focus … Read more

Business lessons from the World Chess Championship Match Carlsen – Anand | Part 3: Prepare for success

Chess offers useful insights for business. On occasion of the current World Chess Championship 2014, I will highlight in a series of articles different business lessons to be learned from the game of kings. In part three, I explore the role of preparation for success. Already three centuries ago, a famous American chess player knew … Read more

Business lessons from the World Chess Championship Match Carlsen – Anand | Part 2: Seizing the initiative

Chess offers useful insights for business. On occasion of the current World Chess Championship 2014, I will highlight in a series of articles different business lessons to be learned from the game of kings. In part two, I explore the topic of seizing the initiative. The second game of the World Chess Championship Match between … Read more

Business lessons from the World Chess Championship Match Carlsen – Anand | Part 1: The importance of resilience for success

Chess offers useful insights for business. On occasion of the current World Chess Championship 2014, I will highlight in a series of articles different business lessons to be learned from the game of kings. In part one, I will focus on the importance of resilience for success in chess and business. On 8 November 2014, … Read more

Book contribution on strategic action published in GSA Top Speakers Edition

In August 2014, German publisher GABAL released volume 5 of the GSA Top Speakers Edition: “Die besten Ideen für erfolgreiche Führung” (The best ideas for successful leadership). For this anthology by the German Speakers Association (GSA), editor Lothar Seiwert, Germany’s leading time management expert and founder of the GSA Top Speakers Edition, had assembled 24 … Read more

Strategic thinking – The key competence of successful business leaders

Business leaders need a broad skillset in order to be successful. This includes a wide range of social and intellectual capabilites. However, the one competence that distinguishes sustainably successful leaders is their ability to think strategically. This is the key results of a study by Management Research Group, conducted in 2013 among 60,000 managers in … Read more

Business Insights from the World Chess Championship 2013

The game of chess is a model for strategic thinking and decision making under highly competitive conditions. Understanding how the world´s top chess players achieve success can give executives valuable insights on how to improve their own strategic thinking and decision making. What executives can learn from Anand versus Carlsen The World Chess Championship in … Read more

The need for strategic thinking in a complex world

My name is Milon Gupta, and I am the author of the Strategic Thinking Blog. The current financial crisis in Europe is for me another proof that decision-makers on all levels in politics an business need to expand their strategic thinking skills. The issues at hand have reached a level of complexity which cannot be … Read more