terça-feira, agosto 31, 2021

Curiosidade do dia

Comecei em 2008 a utilizar esta metáfora - A caminho da Sildávia.


Assimetria e dizer uma coisa e fazer outra


Como exilado do mundo da Engenharia para o mundo da Gestão, não passo de um autodidacta. Por isso, muitas vezes ao longo dos anos, dei conta aqui no blogue do meu desconserto entre o que lia e ouvia nos media e não só, e a realidade que encontrava no meu trabalho.

Recordo, a título de exemplo:

Ainda ontem, ao ler “Research in Cognition and Strategy: Reflections on Two Decades of Progress and a Look to the Future” de Sarah Kaplan e publicado em Journal of Management Studies 48:3 May 2011 sublinhei as seguintes passagens:

“The cognitive perspective suggested that the environment is not purely exogenous and therefore organizational response to the environment is mediated by the interpretations made of that environment by managers. Cognitive researchers pointed out that this is particularly true because of the uncertainties and complexities of the environment that decision-makers faced. … cognitive frames are the means by which managers could make sense of the environment, and such sensemaking shapes strategic choice and action.

to address a challenge in the strategic management literature posed by asymmetries within industries. [Moi ici: Outro tema recorrente aqui no blogue, existe mais variabilidade dentro de um sector de actividade do que entre sectores de actividade] There was an emerging critique of the tendency (escalated by the publication of Michael Porter’s 1980 book on competitive strategy and industry analysis) to focus strategic analysis at the industry level. Thomas and others suggested that such a high-level grouping omitted asymmetries within industries that could explain outcomes”

O artigo de Sarah Kaplan parte dos 20 anos da publicação do artigo "Competitive Groups as Cognitive Communities: The Case of Scottish Knitwear Manufacturers" publicado no Journal of Management Studies em Julho de 1989”, e que citei recentemente.


O artigo de 1989 refere 17 empresas escolhidas numa zona da Escócia onde se produziam peças de lã clássicas e de elevada qualidade. Sorri ao ler o artigo pois via retratada uma hipótese competitiva que me é muito querida. Estes fabricantes escoceses de malhas definiram seu negócio como a produção de pulôveres de cashmere e casacos de lã de alta qualidade. Elegeram como consumidores-alvo a nata dos consumidores endinheirados e, criaram um modelo de negócio onde lidavam com agentes e lojas focadas nesse tipo de cliente.


Entretanto, em Maio de 2011, no mesmo volume onde Sarah Kaplan publicou o seu artigo, os autores do artigo de 1989 publicaram uma revisitação ao seu artigo de 1989. Nele pode-se ler:

“The question, of course, was whether this focused strategy and definition of the market was a source of competitive advantage or disadvantage. Strategy and organizational theories could no doubt support either conclusion, and our own observations in Hawick provided good grist for considering both possibilities. The Hawick producers were financially successful during the 1980s, and, indeed, we had chosen to study them because of their success. However, a third outcome from our research was the nascent empirical intuition that most of these firms were on borrowed time, and that some had already entered the downward spiral of self-reinforcing decline that Baden-Fuller and Stopford (1992) argued is a central dynamic of a ‘mature’ business. We worked hard in writing the 1989 paper to be as neutral as possible in telling the Hawick story, and thus did not take a stand on the liabilities or advantages of the sector's strong business identity. But, it was pretty clear to us back then that the ‘Hawick Mind’, as we called it, had become more of a liability than a source of spirited innovation in the industry.

The cues were all around us. Hawick Managing Directors spoke proudly about their firms' skill in providing retail customers with flexible small lot production runs. But, when we spoke with these very same customers, they said just the opposite, and remarked that they often had to bargain hard to get their preferred garments delivered on time. And, the production flexibility that managers said existed in the industry was betrayed by the large work-in-process inventories that we observed in many Hawick factories.

Unfortunately, our quiet intuition in 1989 has largely been borne out in subsequent industry developments during the past twenty years. The Gross Value Added of output from the Scottish textile sector decreased by half from 1995 to 2005 (Scottish Executive, 2005), with clothing output declining even more. The Borders knitwear industry, in particular, has significantly shed employment in its ongoing efforts to rationalize production and align with a lower revenue base. Between 1981 and 1998, industry employment declined by over 40 per cent, and has dropped even more in the past decade (Scottish Parliament, 2000). Dawson International, the confident leader of the industry in 1989, has divested many of its operating companies and dismantled the vertically integrated production system that was the hallmark of the company's corporate strategy. Iconic Hawick firms such as Pringles, Peter Scott, and Ballantyne have been sold to Asian and Italian rivals, merged with other brands, or taken into administration. Many smaller producers have permanently closed their doors as well. And, as jobs and tax revenue have disappeared, the community of Hawick has struggled to adapt to the changing economics of the region. A 2004 article in The Scotsman referred to the town as a ‘third world economy’ because of the loss of high paying jobs and the displacement of skilled workers (Chisholm, 2004). To be fair, some firms in Hawick are still doing well, and a recent report on local cashmere production suggests that the worst of the decline may be over and that there is still a viable export business for ‘. . . a flexible, innovative and dynamic cashmere industry which is focused on high quality, niche markets’ (Scottish Enterprise, 2007, p. 37). Then again, the report's recommended actions – i.e. ‘effective brand development’, ‘design creativity and flair’, ‘high quality’, and ‘not competing on price’ (p. 38) – were exactly the same goals of the industry twenty years ago.

This last point, we believe, reinforces our fourth, and perhaps most important, observation coming out of the Scottish study: the cognitive and material aspects of the knitwear industry (indeed, all industries) are thickly interwoven. It seems to us that it is this intermingling that makes strategic imagination, innovation, and new ways of acting so difficult, and the downward spiral of mature businesses so problematic.”


E isto faz-me seguir duas linhas de pensamento:

  • O paradoxo de Ícaro, recentemente referido no blogue
  • E, sobretudo uma linha desencadeada por:

“The cues were all around us. Hawick Managing Directors spoke proudly about their firms' skill in providing retail customers with flexible small lot production runs. But, when we spoke with these very same customers, they said just the opposite, and remarked that they often had to bargain hard to get their preferred garments delivered on time. And, the production flexibility that managers said existed in the industry was betrayed by the large work-in-process inventories that we observed in many Hawick factories”


Esta é uma linha de pensamento triste... a realidade não existe, a realidade é o que seleccionamos, vêmos e pensamos dela, nada mais. Quantas vezes um empresário adopta uma estratégia e, de boa-fé ilude-se porque só tem acesso ao feedback que reforça o seu pensamento. Por outro lado, quantas vezes um empresário adopta uma estratégia facialmente, mas por trás toma decisões deliberadas que a minam, porque se acha mais esperto que os outros, porque acha que pode vender gato por lebre. Há dias estava a pensar num empresário que está a seguir este caminho e pensei nos anfíbios que andam por terra, mas quando sentem perigo fogem para a água a toda a velocidade. Aqui a água é a recordação de um tempo anterior onde se sentia à vontade e tinha bons resultados. O que é interessante, é a falta de coragem para assumir abertamente as escolhas feitas. Parece que aguarda, estilo governo com a TAP quando começou a pandemia, que a evolução dos acontecimentos torne inevitável as escolhas que já fez, mas não tem coragem de verbalizar.

segunda-feira, agosto 30, 2021

Qual o impacte disto?

Há dias citei:

"the word ‘strategy’ derives from the Ancient Greek position of ‘strategos’. The image that the Greeks liked to use to convey the skill of a great strategos was that of the kubernetes – the helmsperson on an inshore fighting ship. The kubernetes’ skill lay in his recognizing that because he could not make waves he had to passively accept the currents, but at the same time he was active working the rudders so as to change direction within the parameters of what was possible."

Ontem publiquei um relato sobre a disrupção nas cadeias de fornecimento.

Hoje, durante a caminhada matinal, li "Shipping chaos gives top importers ‘massive competitive edge’":

"The largest importers are paying far lower freight rates than smaller importers, the playing field is becoming increasingly uneven, and foreign ocean carriers are in position to pick the American import sector’s winners and losers.

“We’re seeing a price differential of $15,000 [per forty-foot equivalent unit or FEU] between the lowest short-term price in the [trans-Pacific] market and the top price,”


“That implies a huge competitive advantage for established players, which has consequences across the economy and for everyday life, and also, from a point of view of lowering competition and increasing barriers to entry for future competitors.”

Patrik Berglund, CEO of Xeneta, added, “Everybody’s seeing price increases but … being really big is really a massive competitive edge in this market.”


“To put this price differential of $15,000 into context, last year, it was $500.”"

Qual o impacte disto no próximo Natal? 

Qual o impacte disto nos preços para os consumidores? 

Qual o impacte disto no campo de possibilidades para os produtores na proximidade dos centros de consumo?

Como minimizar, ou como aproveitar o dominó de situações gerado por este evento? 

Que realidades podem ser criadas?

domingo, agosto 29, 2021

"ou passará a ser uma doce recordação de um passado que não volta?"

"The vision for the future of organization studies created for me by La Condition PoMo is contained in the aphorism that 'it is our business not to supply reality but to invent allusions to the conceivable'. [Moi ici: Interessante frase... nestes tempos em que dizemos que as empresas não fornecem nem produtos nem serviços, mas recursos que as as pessoas empregam para atingir um resultado nas suas vidas] To date, our field has largely assumed itself to be a supplier of reality. This has produced twin problems. First, the bloody stuff was devilishly difficult to obtain; we have far less inventory than the optimistic prediction of theorists up to about 1970 would have led us to expect. Second, it appears that reality is a highly perishable commodity, at least when the reality pertains to the constructed web of interpersonal, institutional and discursive threads with which organizing is accomplished. In a rapidly changing world, what little reality we have stockpiled will do more good if we are asked to consult to Cadbury's or Ford in 1930 than if we are asked to 'predict and control' the interactions of a Japanese firm engaged in a virtual relationship with Indonesian manufacturers using smart technologies to produce intangible goods for African-Americans living in Montreal in the year 2000."

BTW, o WSJ de sexta-feira passada trazia um artigo, "Your Hot Tub and the Snarled Supply Chain", sobre uma empresa que fabrica banheiras de hidromassagens:

"The global supply chain is an intricate ballet of container ships, airplanes, trucks and trains. The coronavirus pandemic threw it out of whack. This is why you often can’t buy the goods you want.

Hot-tub maker Bullfrog Spas saw demand soar as homebound consumers upgraded their backyards. Yet its supply chain spans thousands of miles across continents and oceans. On a typical day, its Herriman, Utah, factory takes delivery of 40,000 gallons of chemicals, 400 sheets of plastic and up to 60,000 additional components."

 É impressionante, o artigo descreve ao pormenor a origem de toda uma série de componentes e subpartes do todo. É mesmo um bailado a convidar uma catadupa de riscos para também participarem. Por exemplo:

"WATER PUMP - Electric motors from China are assembled into water pumps in Tijuana, Mexico, and trucked to Utah. The pandemic has snarled both container shipping and trucking. Bullfrog and its suppliers now have meetings as much as daily, instead of monthly, to figure out solutions."

Ao fim dos primeiros parágrafos o que me veio à cabeça foi a primeira descrição que recordo, talvez de Peter Drucker, sobre o que era a NASA nos gloriosos anos 60, uma organização de reuniões, aqui sem conotação negativa, para alinhar milhares de fornecedores e subcontratados, a NASA se bem me lembro não construia os foguetões, subcontratava a sua construção.

Há cerca de um mês um empresário de calçado contou-me que um cliente na África do Sul optou por transportar a nova colecção de avião e não arriscar com os habituais contentores marítimos.

"CABINET - Material for the exterior cabinets is made near Shanghai, China, moved on container ships to the ports of Long Beach or Oakland in California, and then trucked to Utah.

Port slowdowns in China have stalled the exit of goods, and in California, shortages of staff and equipment have held up unloading. More recently, the crush of catch-up and pre-holiday orders has overwhelmed shippers.

Early this year, a ship carrying the cabinet pieces was held up off the West Coast waiting to unload-often dozens of ships at a time had to wait for port space. Bullfrog paid to transport cabinet materials from China by plane to Utah."

O que é a realidade, o que é concebível? Em que condições o inconcebível se torna realidade? Que implicações terão a vivência destas experiências? Voltaremos a um estado de "aparente equilibrio" ou passará a ser uma doce recordação de um passado que não volta. [Não tem nada a ver com o que escrevi neste postal, mas fica o registo, a propósito de recordações. Na primeira auditoria que fiz a uma empresa de calçado, durante a auditoria à gestão de topo, dou com um dos sócios a contar-me como era bela a vida para eles no tempo do escudo e da desvalorização programada, ("crawling peg" se bem me lembro), a certa altura o sócio ficou com os olhos humedecidos] 

Trecho retirado de "Classic Review The Empire Strikes Out: Lyotard's Postmodern Condition and the Need for a Necrology of Knowledge'" de Roy Jacques.

sábado, agosto 28, 2021

Vivemos neste fluido de percepções

Atrai-me esta percepção que vivemos num mundo assente neste fluido de percepções resultantes de interpretações subjectivas que se objectificam através de acções e comportamentos. Abre muito mais alternativas, aliás, há sempre alternativas. Nós é que podemos não querer tentar algumas delas, mesmo quando as outras falham. No caso das empresas, o dinheiro pode acabar antes de termos tentado a que ia transitoriamente resultar. Já não sei se foi com Kahneman ou Gigerenzer que li sobre como dois adeptos de clubes diferentes, de boa-fé, conseguem olhar para a mesma realidade e ver coisas diferentes. Por isso, um deles escreveu: a realidade é o que vemos, nada mais! 

E o que vemos é o que o nosso trajecto de vida nos permite ver. Se estivermos abertos e atentos, podemos intuir novas possibilidades de interpretar a realidade e reformular a actuação.

"In this article we argue that one important link between group-level and firm-level competitive phenomena are the mental models used by key decision makers to interpret the task environment of their organization.


material decisions ultimately reflect the intuition and cognitive constructions of decision-makers. At a cognitive level, business competition must be analysed in terms of the mental models of decision-makers and how such mental models lead to a particular interpretation of the competitive milieu.


The interpretive approach rests upon four long-standing assumptions. First, activities and structures of organizations are assumed to be determined in part by the micro-momentary actions of their members. Second, such actions are assumed to be based upon an information-processing sequence in which individuals attend to cues in the environment, interpret the meaning of such cues, and then externalize these interpretations via concrete activities. Third, it is assumed that 'meaning' is problematic, and that individuals must construct actively an interpretation by linking received cues with well-learned and/or developing cognitive structures. Finally, individuals are assumed to possess a reflective capability such that they are able to verbalize at least the contents of their interpretations if not the processes through which such interpretations were generated. Taken together, these four assumptions portray human activity as an ongoing input-output cycle in which subjective interpretations of externally situated information become themselves objectified via behaviour.


Through processes of induction, problem-solving, and reasoning, decision-makers construct a mental model of the competitive environment which consists minimally of two types of beliefs; beliefs about the identity of the firm, its competitors, suppliers and customers, and causal beliefs about what it takes to compete successfully within the environment which has been identified. 


Just as mental models are determined by cues from transactions within the value chain, such transactions are themselves partially determined by the cognitive constructions of organizational decision-makers. Beliefs about the identity of competitors, suppliers, and customers focus the limited attentional resources of decision-makers on some transactional partners to the exclusion of others.


the strategic choices of individual firms take place within the context of many shared beliefs about how and with whom to engage in transactions in the marketplace.


It is axiomatic that a first step in a firm's formulation of competitive strategy is the identification of its major competitors (e.g., Porter, 1980). [Moi ici: Não penso assim, não sigo este axioma. Tenho receio dos Dick Dastardly desta vida, e dos motards. Prefiro imaginar uma paisagem competitiva cheia de picos. Prefiro começar por determinar quem são os clientes-alvo e qual o ecossistema que deve ser mobilizado para os seduzir, satisfazer e desenvolver]

Trechos retirados de "Competitive Groups as Cognitive Communities: The Case of Scottish Knitwear Manufacturers" publicado no Journal of Management Studies em Julho de 1989.

sexta-feira, agosto 27, 2021

Nichos, problemas e ofertas

Interessante ter apanhado este artigo de Seth Godin, "Which problem are we solving?":
"Solving a problem puts value creation first.

Who’s it for?

What problem does it solve?

Would we miss it if you didn’t build it?"

Quando ainda tenho este outro no bornal, "Steve Blank Your Product is Not Their Problem": 

"“So why should anybody in the concrete industry care? Do you really think they’re looking for bacteria made in fluidized bed reactors? Do you think there are a significant number whose number one issue is to buy bacteria? Do you know what if any of the features you mentioned actually matter to a potential customer?” There was silence for a moment. And then he said, “I don’t know.”

I wasn’t completely surprised because as a young marketeer, I made this mistake all the time – thinking that my product was a solution to someone’s problem  – without ever understanding what problems the customers really had. And that I needed to have all the answers when in fact I didn’t even understand the questions."

Este outro também relevante para o tema, "Niching Down For Success": 

"Talk about niching down! She’s found a lot of success focusing on this slice of the wedding market and recommends you get just as granular. 


niching down allows you to get really good at the details. ... When you master your niche, you will naturally get really good at recognizing the small but impactful details that make you stand out."

A diferença entre "Think “outcome before output”"

quinta-feira, agosto 26, 2021

A realidade não existe

Apanhei um capítulo interessante, mais um, em “Images of Strategy”, o capítulo 12, “Strategy as Numbers”.

Já escrevi aqui muitas vezes que gosto de olhar para o lucro não como um objectivo, mas como uma consequência, para minimizar a tomada de decisões orientadas para o curto-prazo. Esta abordagem, no limite, escreve o autor, pode fazer crer que o motor é a estratégia quando o motor tem de ser o lucro. Sem lucro uma empresa não existe, não tem futuro, não é viável, depende de terceiros além dos clientes, depende de Pedros Nunos e Sizas Vieiras.

A verdade é que gosto de começar os projectos relacionados com a estratégia pela tal visão concreta, em detrimento da abstracta, "Do concreto para o abstracto e não o contrário".

O que significa começar pela vantagem competitiva? Responder à pergunta: como é que esta organização pode ter lucro? Em que teoria podemos visualizar esta organização a ter lucro?

Confesso que não me recordo de já ter pensado assim, desta forma estratégia é organizar, é concatenar esforços e prioridades alinhadas com a teoria inicial sobre como a empresa pode dar lucro.

BTW, no capítulo 9, “Strategy as Systems Thinking”, os autores citam tanto os textos de Humberto Maturana que resolvi ir à fonte e ler alguns. O que  me pôs a divagar para algo como: se a realidade existe ou não é irrelevante, nunca o saberemos e nunca a vamos conhecer, estamos condenados a viver com as representações da realidade que conseguimos criar. 

Diferentes observadores da realidade captam coisas diferentes e, por isso, fazem diferentes interpretações da realidade. Desta forma, ainda que exista uma realidade, diferentes observadores terão sempre a sua própria representação da realidade. Basta imaginar como um portista ou um benfiquista interpretam uma queda do Conceição, ou um fora de jogo do Yaremchuk. Cada um, de boa-fé, vê o que aconteceu de forma diferente ponto.

Assim, um consultor não deve chegar para apresentar “a estratégia” que vai dar a volta à organização. Só pode aspirar a tentar co-construir com a empresa uma teoria na qual se revejam e que permita aspirar a ter lucro. Entregar numa bandeja uma estratégia que as pessoas não conseguem interpretar é crime! 

quarta-feira, agosto 25, 2021

"sales rank among the less efficient and less effective functions in most companies"

"More Effective Sales Activities
My decades-long experience tells me that sales rank among the less efficient and less effective functions in most companies. Perhaps that is inevitable because there is a participant in the sales process that cannot be controlled like a machine: the customer. Sales efficiency means that the best possible sales result is achieved with the available resources. Effectiveness means that sales do the right thing. The “right thing” is ultimately the achievement of profit, which depends on sales volume and price. Sales also influence costs, directly through its own expenses and also through obligations that sales agree to in the negotiations.
In our projects, we see over and over that sales teams have many levers they can pull to achieve higher volumes and generate higher profits. That long list starts with increasing the effective time that the salespeople spend with customers. That often accounts only for 15% of their time. The list also includes administrative tasks that are often done by hand instead of with modern information technology. Another bottleneck is improving the skills of the salespeople so that they can sell on the basis of value communication, not through price concessions. Many companies, if not most, incentivize their sales teams to achieve revenue, not profit. When this incentive structure applies to teams with price negotiation authority, one can assume that the team will maximize revenue, and probably sales volume, but will almost certainly not achieve the highest possible profit.
Profit-oriented leadership of the sales function brings complex challenges with respect to talent selection, training, motivation, incentives, and organization. In general, sales departments have considerable latent profit potential, but admittedly it is difficult to tap that potential quickly."

Trecho retirado de “No Company Ever Went Broke Turning a Profit” de Hermann Simon.

terça-feira, agosto 24, 2021

"Companies are people too?"

"there is growing evidence to suggest that people do not conceive of companies as lists of objective stakeholder responsibilities, mission statements or lists of values. It appears that they tend to make sense of them as if they were like other people. Hence, while they are increasingly concerned with a corporation’s efforts to be ethical in a deontic sense, people are at once happy to accept that different companies will, and should, have a ‘face’ that is unique. They do not expect a corporation, any more than an individual, to be able to be all things to all people, and do not seem to trust them when they attempt to.

For example, market research carried out into terrestrial television channels in the United Kingdom has revealed that people attributed particular characters and, correspondingly, different standards to each channel. Perhaps, this highlights a postmodern paradox, that in a poly-dimensional world it is better to have a particularly clear sense of one’s different ‘personality’ so that people can make well-informed choices as to who they want to connect or relate to, rather than attempting to represent all things or try to dutifully be all things to all people?"

Trechos retirados de "Images of Strategy" de Stephen Cummings e David Wilson. 

segunda-feira, agosto 23, 2021

the decline of 'best practice'

"Let us explore the decline of 'best practice' a bit further by critiquing its application to strategy from two angles: first, from a simple economics perspective and, second, from a social or psychological perspective.

If firms seek to copy others then their products and services and values become increasingly similar. And when that happens, the main means of customer differentiation between competitors is price. Competition is therefore reduced to a price war, and, because everyone's costs are similar (because they have sought to replicate best practice production methods), everyone's margins decline (one study has shown that this sort of 'strategic herding' led to a 50 per cent decline in margins in the five years to 1999 among German wireless telecommunications providers). [Moi ici: Recordar Youngme Moon] In other words, the cream is only a treat worth stretching for when the rest of the bottle is milk, and everything being creamed is a recipe for stagnation. As managers become more focused on developing the 'technologies' necessary for copying, the less concerned and able they are to promote substantive innovation or to get anything different 'out of the bottle'.

From a social or psychological point of view, we can analyse the decline of best practice in the twenty-first century by taking the classic motivation theories of Maslow and Herzberg and combining and playing around with them in a postmodern manner ...

While Maslow suggested that all humans move from satisfying food and shelter needs at base; up to safety needs; then on to belongingness or family or love needs; then once this is satisfied status; and finally self-actualization at the tip of the triangle, nowadays we do not believe that people are so uniformly linear. While our lower order or physiological needs may be common, as people satisfy their basic needs, such as food, shelter, safety, and efficiency, they generally look for ways to differentiate themselves. People want different things and once their basic needs are satisfied they increasingly seek to differentiate from others by associating with products that express or augment their identity.


If we add in Herzberg’s idea that there are some things that really motivate us to go that little bit extra, and others that are simply ‘hygiene factors’ – things that we expect and so therefore take for granted (e.g., cleanliness in a restaurant, air bags in cars), so that their presence does not act as a motivator but their lack is a positive demotivator  [Moi ici: Recordar o exemplo dos factores que se estiverem presentes não geram satisfação, mas se estiverem ausentes geram insatisfação]  – we can say that increasingly, in the West at least, the physiological functions of a product or service are hygiene factors. 


Thus, the basic attributes of products or services – function, efficiency, safety, cost, etc. – increasingly become ‘hygiene factors’; things that dissatisfy customers if they are not present but do not motivate them to purchase if they are. Motivators to purchase are thus increasingly the things about a product or service that go beyond these hygiene factors to indicate a particular identity or lifestyle choice. And, because people are different, it is increasingly difficult for one company to be all things to all people ... Hence, there may no longer be a general ‘one best way’. It depends upon which particular identity or cluster of identities you are trying to target or relate to."

Trechos retirados de "Images of Strategy" de Stephen Cummings e David Wilson.

domingo, agosto 22, 2021

Atenção ao preço

Primeiro, recordar os números de Marn e Rosiello sobre o impacte do preço no lucro:

Depois ler estes trechos retirados de “No Company Ever Went Broke Turning a Profit” de Hermann Simon:

"Given its extraordinary role as a profit driver and its unusual effectiveness as a marketing instrument, one would expect that entrepreneurs and top managers pay a lot of attention to price. But in practice, that is often not the case. Instead, cost is what preoccupies managers’ thinking and consumes most of their energy. Volume—driven by marketing instruments such as advertising and sales—also tends to attract more management attention than price. Many companies do not treat price with the professionalism and seriousness it warrants.


A price increase of 1% is relatively small, but its effects on profits vary dramatically.


In one project for an industrial supplier we recommended an “anti-discount” incentive. When salespeople granted smaller discounts, their commissions would rise. The new system worked quickly and effectively. Within three months, the average discount granted by salespeople declined by 2% points, without any losses in volume or customers. That is the equivalent of a price increase of 2% with no volume decline. The resulting profit increase was 16%, which corresponds to a profit elasticity of price of 8. In absolute terms the profit increase was more than $100 million. Price is an extremely effective profit driver. That makes optimizing price worthwhile."

sábado, agosto 21, 2021

Risco e foco e passividade

Em Julho de 2008 desenhei este esquema:

Que chama a atenção para um dilema que algumas organizações podem viver. As exigências de rentabilidade, por exemplo pagar o custo do capital (algo pouco relevante nos dias de hoje), podem impor uma pureza estratégica, um grau de foco, que também aumenta o grau de risco. Mais risco mais rentabilidade. E uma organização pode ter muito sucesso aplicando uma estratégia pura até ao dia em que o mundo muda. Quando o mundo muda, a especialização anterior serve de barreira para a transformação necessária.

Entretanto, ontem li este trecho em "Images of Strategy" de Stephen Cummings e David Wilson:
"SWOT lists are also not particularly good at dealing with a complex and often paradoxical world. For example, once you have listed something as a strength then you can not really use it in another category; right? Looking at the mesh of self-referential arrows again one can recognize the problem with this sort of listing in terms of general classifications.
A company's greatest strength is paradoxically also its greatest weakness, and potentially its greatest threat. Its system of competitive advantage is so connected, such a tangled web, that it is ‘closed’. It knows very well what it does and how it does it, but does this come at the expense of not questioning this system as the environment in the ‘wider world’ changes? Being the best acquirer of low-tech mature manufacturing companies is a sustainable route to growth, so long as the environment remains constant and that market keeps expanding. What does a company do if it does not? Its strength is a clear vision of what it does. Its weakness is that this clarity of vision can, over time, diminish its ability to see other opportunities or develop other strengths. A company's greatest threat is that the environment will change without this being recognized, and without its strengths being questioned. Rather than discrete categories of separate points, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are very interrelated.

This double-edged sword of strengths potentially being weaknesses is often referred to as the Icarus Paradox. This is named after a character in Greek mythology who was so pleased with the wax wings that he had made that he kept flying up and up, increasing in confidence and proficiency – until he got so close to the sun that his wings melted and he fell to earth.


This suggests that there is a need for companies to be very active in questioning their observations and conversations, their institutionalized frames and their traditional ways of thinking. When we combine this insight with the need to recognize that strategic management requires a relatively passive, tilting, pruning and trellising approach, we can see that strategists require quite a deft touch, one that is both active and passive. Within the boundaries of what is structurally possible, companies have to find ways of reinventing themselves as the world changes. Existing identities need to provide a springboard for developing new identities, while not acting as a set of unquestioned blinkers that blind people to radically changed external circumstances that might threaten the viability of the firm."

sexta-feira, agosto 20, 2021

"because he could not make waves he had to passively accept the currents"

Em Novembro de 2008 escrevia aqui:

"Uma empresa é como uma casca de noz no meio do oceano… uma casca de noz não pode ter a veleidade de mudar o mar, mas se conhecer as correntes, se perceber as marés e se percepcionar os ventos, pode posicionar-se e procurar aproveitar activamente em seu benefício as circunstâncias do meio envolvente, em vez de esperar passivamente que lhe caia a sorte grande em cima… por acaso."

Ontem em "Images of Strategy" de Stephen Cummings e David Wilson encontrei este trecho:

"the word ‘strategy’ derives from the Ancient Greek position of ‘strategos’. The image that the Greeks liked to use to convey the skill of a great strategos was that of the kubernetes – the helmsperson on an inshore fighting ship. The kubernetes’ skill lay in his recognizing that because he could not make waves he had to passively accept the currents, but at the same time he was active working the rudders so as to change direction within the parameters of what was possible."

"to think that strategic opportunities and threats just exist 'out there'"

"It follows that it is oversimplistic, for example, to think that strategic opportunities and threats just exist 'out there'. The opportunities and threats that do exist depend on who is doing the looking' and on the various processes through which this is done. To the extent that there is a 'world outside', we characterize it on the basis of ourselves, on the basis of the language that we use and - by implication  - on the basis of our actions and daily practices. In this sense the firm's strategic environment which people seek to know, to understand, to predict and control, is not something in which they exist. Rather it is something that exists through them."

Trecho retirado de "Images of Strategy" de Stephen Cummings e David Wilson 

quinta-feira, agosto 19, 2021

“It’s a difficult proposition to be all things to all people, as opposed to doing one thing really well”

Há textos que lemos e nos fazem sorrir. Ontem li "The Next Generation of Resale Sites" onde sublinhei:
"part of a new generation of resale start-ups that sees a big opportunity in filling in the gaps not already dominated by the category’s giants,
many niche resale sites pitch themselves as an antidote to e-commerce sites that stock tens of thousands of items. They’re counting on shoppers getting fed up with sifting through an endless online garage sale.

“There is just so much stuff on [large resale sites], sometimes it gets overwhelming,”
If a site is known for selling one certain category, and they do it well, they bring a level of trust,” 
“That’s how you get virality,” Chan said. “They will remember that it’s tailor-made for a particular hobby they identify with.”
“It’s a difficult proposition to be all things to all people, as opposed to doing one thing really well,” Rose said. “There’s value in community and building deep resonance.”"

Em sintonia com algo que fui lendo ao longo dos anos e que adoptei muito cedo, pode e deve haver estratégia em todo lado, não é winner-take-all! Assim ao longos dos anos citei aqui:

""It soon became apparent that much of the received wisdom about network effects was wrong. The first-mover advantage and winner-take-all theories, for example, were shaky at best.


Economists missed the fact that matchmakers, just like any other businesses, can differentiate themselves."[Fonte em 2016]

A todos os que acreditam que as plataformas são uma coisa de "Winner take all"[Fonte de 2019

Seth Godin pôs-me na rota certa [Fonte em 2014

 E por que é que as plataformas bem sucedidas cavam a sua própria sepultura? [Fonte de 2015] Too big to care é um primeiro passo para a suckiness, para perder perante tribos apaixonadas e irmãos de sangue.


quarta-feira, agosto 18, 2021

“Revenue makes you proud, but profit makes you rich” (parte I)

"In my research I am surprised time and again by the sheer number of companies that generate losses. For some, that situation persists for years. Why do the banks remain quiet? One reason is that they are effectively held hostage by their own loans. If they call in a loan, the company could go bankrupt and in the worst case the loan would be a total loss for the bank.

The reasons behind these ongoing losses are numerous, but rarely are they due to a lack of effort on the part of the entrepreneur. Some struggle their entire lives and never earn a satisfactory margin. Profit not only has a financial side for entrepreneurs. It also provides personal validation, proof of their abilities, and fun at work. Those aspects contribute to profit as an important motivator.

In this context, how the entrepreneurs think and how they motivate themselves play an important role. Do they understand that profit is more important than revenue? Do they want to appear “big” to the outside world and become the center of attention, or keep to themselves and enjoy their profit? A favorite saying of a friend of mine gets straight to the point: “Revenue makes you proud, but profit makes you rich.


an analysis of the world’s current profit situation revealed that a considerable portion of companies earn only modest profits. Many do not generate an economic profit, which means that they do not recover their costs of capital.


Why does one company go under while an apparently similar firm not only survives, but prospers? 


Wrong Goals


revenue, volume, and market share goals serve as proxies for long-term profit orientation, but are not sufficient as stand-alone goals. So practically speaking, how do companies deal with goal setting? In my experience, only a few entrepreneurs and managers truly put the highest priority on profit. That certainly applies to their real behavior, though not necessarily to their official declarations during investor conferences or shareholder meetings. Key metrics such as margin, returns, or the absolute level of profit often get short shrift."

Trechos retirados de “No Company Ever Went Broke Turning a Profit” de Hermann Simon.

terça-feira, agosto 17, 2021

Nem uma vez o ouvi falar de subsídios ou apoios

Na semana passada, depois de sair de Mirandela a seguir ao almoço, liguei o rádio do carro e fiz algo que não fazia há muito tempo, sintonizei a rádio do regime, a TSF. Estavam a dar uma entrevista, julgo que a repetição de uma entrevista a um cantor brasileiro. Um tal Midé(?)

A companhia parece que já estava farta da pen com as canções dos anos 80. Por isso, fiz um sacrifício e lá continuei a ouvir a conversa com o Midé. A certa altura dei comigo a simpatizar com este desconhecido para mim. Alguém a residir há quatro anos em Portugal, deu-me uma lição sobre o que fez, o que inventou, o que testou, para sobreviver durante as quarentenas.

Nem uma vez o ouvi falar de subsídios ou apoios. Quando precisou de dinheiro para lançar um CD foi para a rua pedir um euro de financiamento. Falou de diversas experiências que fez e produtos que lançou ao longo do tempo.

A quantas empresas falta esta flexibilidade e experimentação.

Jogos infinitos

Em 2007 escrevi sobre a guerra que Israel travou no sul do Líbano. O que escrevi na altura em "Israel e os jogos infinitos" é o que penso acerca do Afeganistão.

Guerras como jogos infinitos:

"the players come and go, the rules are changeable, and there is no defined end point. There are no winners or losers, just ahead and behind"

segunda-feira, agosto 16, 2021

Que mais exemplos são precisos?

Em Julho de 2011 escrevi sobre a pedofilia empresarial em:
Também em 2011, mas em Fevereiro escrevi sobre o caso da Raporal em "Especulação à volta da carne de porco" que se confirmou em 2015, recordo "A prova do tempo... tudo por causa de um Pingo Doce".

Ontem, apanhei isto na internet "Agricultor espanhol vende 6 mil quilos de mangas em duas horas após apelo nas redes socias". Que mais exemplos são precisos para confirmar que o mercado está maduro para aproximar os produtores dos consumidores através da internet?

domingo, agosto 15, 2021

"The solution is not surrendering to the system"


"Because industrial systems hate variability. They work to mechanize as many steps as they can, and if forced to use a human, work hard to keep that human within very specific boundaries.

Better to have a three-hour Zoom call where everyone listens to the rules than risk having someone make a mistake, even one with no negative impact. Better to parcel out jobs to the cheapest available cog than depend on a linchpin to make a difference. And better to know in advance exactly what to expect.

The industrial system would rather settle for mediocre than suffer between moments of brilliance and occasional defects.

The solution is not surrendering to the system. It’s to realize that in a competitive marketplace, automating human performance is a shortcut to becoming a commodity. If you can automate it, so can your competitors.

Instead, we have the opportunity to do work that is unexpected, generous and original. It won’t be perfect, it won’t be the cheapest, but it will matter."

 Recordar Agosto de 2016, "Confundir o Estanhistão com Comoditização... suspeito (parte III)" e A importância da interacção.

sábado, agosto 14, 2021

"ver certas árvores no meio da floresta"

Em BE 2.0 de Jim Collins e Bill Lazier encontrei uma figura parecida com esta:

Se pesquisarem este gráfico na internet como "industry evolution stages" vão encontrar associado à fase de "Declínio" características como:
"Negative Growth
Excess Capacity
High Competition"

Como uma caracterização deste tipo é fácil perceber qual é o campeonato na fase de "Declínio": Low Cost 

No livro BE 2.0 a caracterização da fase de "Declínio" é mais completa e deu-me para sublinhar algumas características.

"Sophisticated customers

Low/falling prices and margins

Industry over-capacity

Shift back toward specialized channels

Move back toward shorter production runs; higher costs

Fewer competitors

Product stagnation

Can be an ideal time to re-invigorate an industry with a dramatic new innovation"

Quem olha para as estatísticas na fase de "Declínio" vê o primeiro conjunto de caracteríticas e conclui que o negócio é "custo unitário baixo". Quem está dentro do mercado pode ver certas árvores no meio da floresta e perceber que há outras alternativas.

Recordo aqui a Fase IV para o calçado em Portugal:

Em vez de estágios de evolução de uma indústria talvez faça mais sentido pensar em estágios de evolução de um modelo de negócio.

sexta-feira, agosto 13, 2021


Por vezes acontece-me!

Quando tomo consciência do facto fico aborrecido comigo mesmo.

Ler algo e perceber que finalmente acordámos para a mensagem do que já lemos, mas antes não ligámos, não realizámos. Quantas vezes já terei lido e terá ocorrido o famoso “Entrar a 100 e sair a 200”

Esta semana ao ler BE 2.0 de Jim Collins e Bill Lazier fixei este trecho “In an interesting and surprising study, David Birch analyzed the data from 34,000 exporters and found that those companies with between 50 and 500 employees were actually more likely to be exporters than large companies.”. Fui à fonte e encontrei “Trading Places: Small Businesses and Global Trade”. 

"Small companies don't export -- I hear it all the time. Join a discussion about the state of our global competitiveness any you'll hear it, too. Perhaps you'll be the one who says it.


Data exist for about 40,000 companies involved in international trade, 34,000 of which export (the rest are importers only). It's not a complete sample. The international activities of many smaller companies are hard to track, so the database inevitably overemphasizes -- and better represents -- larger manufacturing-related companies. Still, what it indicates about smaller companies is fascinating.

First, the businesses most likely to be exporters today are small, not large. The second biggest group of exporters consists of companies with just 20 to 49 employees"

A edição original deste livro foi escrita algures no final do século passado. O artigo citado acima é de Abril de 1988. Como será agora? E como será em Portugal?

Dados de do INE relativos a 2019:

91% das empresas exportadoras têm menos de 50 trabalhadores. Em termos de valor estamos a falar de 19% das exportações são feitas por empresas com menos de 50 trabalhadores.

Ser pequena não implica que uma empresa não exporte. Tenho um especial carinho por empresas pequenas. Se a hipótese Mongo vingar as empresas pequenas têm mais hipóteses de exportar porque podem exportar o que é diferente, o que é específico. 

Recordo este exemplo. Empresa sofreu o choque de 2007/2008, teve de encolher, sofreu com isso e recomeçou com feiras, com mais inovação, e um bom trabalho de servir o cliente, de dar a cara. Depois, o word-of-mouth também começou a dar resultado. 

Por exemplo, esta semana, talvez na sequência deste postal recebo mensagem no Linkedin:

"Quando vir nas notícias que as exportações estão a crescer, sorria, e lembre-se dos anónimos como nós. Hoje vamos carregar o contentor número 11 do ano 2021. Uma faturação recorde e com um staff mínimo."

Logo perguntei:

"11 contentores em 2021? Magnífico!!! Parabéns!!! Foram contratos ganhos antes, durante ou depois da pandemia? Como é que os clientes conheceram a empresa? Feiras anteriores? Word of mouth? Internet? Em que países estão esses clientes? Por que é que esses clientes escolheram a Maquinol?"


"Tenho que arranjar tempo para uma resposta completa. Os clientes vem de recomendação de outros clientes, e feiras anteriores. Três dos quatro nos USA 🇺🇸 e um no Chile 🇨🇱. Escolhem a Maquinol porque temos uma máquina que mais ninguém tem. A tal oferta diferenciada que, já existe há alguns anos mas agora há mais provas em clientes satisfeitos como referência."


E recordo Mais um dos "37" lamed waf - foi uma travessia difícil, mas resultou!

quinta-feira, agosto 12, 2021

No país dos fragilistas

“It’s what you do before the storm comes that most determines how well you do when the storm comes. Those who fully embrace productive paranoia don’t wait until they’re caught high on a mountain in a raging storm to secure extra oxygen canisters. Far better to be a paranoid neurotic freak, preparing and marching ahead of potential disruptive shocks that may never come than to get crashed by disruptive shocks because you failed to exercise productive paranoia all the way along, in good times and bad.”

Recordar os rinocerontes cinzentos e os fragilistas:

A 2 de Janeiro de 2016 escrevi em "O não-fragilista prepara-se para os problemas":

"Os fragilistas partem do princípio que o pior não vai acontecer e, por isso, desenham planos que acabam por ser irrealistas ou pouco resilientes. Depois, quando as coisas acontecem, chega a hora de culpar os outros pelos problemas que não souberam prever, não quiseram prever, ou que ajudaram a criar."

Em Julho do mesmo ano em "O fragilismo" escrevi:

"O fragilismo espera sempre o melhor do futuro, não prevê sobressaltos. Acredita que os astros se vão alinhar em nosso favor, não vê necessidade de precaução, just in case."

Trecho inicial retirado de BE 2.0 de Jim Collins e Bill Lazier.

quarta-feira, agosto 11, 2021

Falar verdade

Joaquim Aguiar costuma falar e escrever acerca da necessidade imperiosa de reconhecer e falar a verdade acerca do que nos levou a um desastre, para podermos ultrapassar esse desastre. Quando se mascara e maquilha a realidade, para evitar falar do que nos levou ao desastre, não conseguimos seguir em frente, ficamos condenados a dar voltas a uma rotunda que nos traz empobrecimento, apesar dos amanhãs que cantam segundo os chefes e seus acólitos.

Ainda ontem em “O dilema da descontinuidade” pude ler:

“Depois de uma crise de descontinuidade, quem governa tem de escolher entre recuperar e mudar. A crise sanitária trouxe para a superfície o que há muito estava submerso: duas décadas de estagnação da economia, uma dívida pública excessiva sem que ela tenha servido para financiar a melhoria dos indicadores de competitividade, uma dependência absoluta da política monetária e da tolerância do Banco Central Europeu para manter a taxa de juro baixa e para comprar títulos de dívida portuguesa. Esta é uma crise de descontinuidade que já existia antes de ser reconhecida e declarada oficialmente, sendo a crise sanitária usada pelo poder politico como pretexto que lhe permite retirar o véu diáfano da fantasia sem ter de reconhecer os erros do passado.”

Escrevo isto aqui a propósito de uns trechos que acabo de ler em BE 2.0 de Jim Collins e Bill Lazier acerca daquilo a que chamam o Stockdale Paradox:

“You must retain unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time you must confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be. … Never fall into the leadership trap of creating false hopes soon to be destroyed by events. Yet equally, never capitulate to despair and lose faith that you will prevail in the end. … You need the Stockdale Paradox to navigate turbulence and disruption. You need the Stockdale Paradox to reverse decline and engineer a return to success.”

Acerca das exportações

Como andam as exportações daquele grupo de sectores que acompanho há mais de 10 anos?

Não me interessa comparar com 2020. 2020 não existe! Como se comportou o 1º semestre de 2021 em comparação com o 1º semestre de 2019?

A maioria dos sectores teve um 1º semestre de 2021 melhor que o de 2019. As exportações totais do 1º semestre de 2021 foram superiores às do 1º semestre de 2019.

terça-feira, agosto 10, 2021

Esqueçam o subsídio para compensar o custo mais elevado, trabalhem para merecer um preço mais elevado

Terminei o último postal com esta frase:
"When something is commoditized, an adjacent market becomes valuable"
No tempo de Jaime Silva e de Conceição Cristas eu escrevia aqui sobre o futuro da agricultura. Um país seco, um país pequeno, deveria apostar na agricultura de joalharia, deveria apostar na marca Portugal, deveria apostar na agricultura sustentável.

De então para cá os governos de turno têm apostado na direcção oposta, agricultura intensiva, agricultura que exige muita água, agricultura de volume elevado e margem baixa.

Oliveira, amêndoa, abacate, são alguns exemplos. Há duas semanas vi uma plantação intensiva de amendoal em Idanha-a-Nova que metia impressão, a densidade e o verde. Quanta água estará a ser gasta naquela zona? 

Claro que quem produz através da agricultura intensiva, ao externalizar os custos ambientais, consegue custos mais competitivos do que quem pratica a agricultura tradicional.

Como é que quem pratica a agricultura tradicional pode competir?

No semanário Vida Económica da passada semana encontrei este artigo "Urge criar uma “Estratégia Nacional para a Valorização do Olival Tradicional Português” escrito pelo Presidente da Direção da APPITAD – Associação de Produtores em Proteção Integrada de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro.

A certa altura pode ler-se:
"Relativamente à fileira do olival e do azeite, as preocupações são enormes. Se o olival intensivo e superintensivo de regadio apresentam maior rentabilidade, a realidade do olival tradicional é bem diferente."
Depois, o autor avança com ideias e sugestões para subsídios e apoios ao azeite de produção tradicional.

Primeiro, voltemos à frase "When something is commoditized, an adjacent market becomes valuable"

Segundo, esqueçam a "Estratégia Nacional", é muita gente, é muito heterogeneidade, não vão conseguir fazer nada, a não ser tornarem-se ainda mais reféns do governo de turno e da máquina burocrática normanda. O vosso cliente passará a ser o estado, o vosso produto será abastardado em termos de valor. Esqueçam o subsídio para compensar o custo mais elevado, trabalhem para merecer um preço mais elevado.


Criem uma marca associada à produção do olival tradicional transmontano. Comecem a colocar nas garrafas informação sobre a localização da produção, sobre o tipo de azeitona usada/produzida, sobre o tipo de produção, sobre o ano da produção. Trabalhem para valorizar o vosso produto, trabalhem para educar, criar o vosso cliente-alvo. Participem em concursos que tragam notoriedade e valor. Estudem o artigo referido neste postal de Janeiro de 2020: Azeite e Trás-Os-Montes.

O olival intensivo e superintensivo de regadio apresentam maior rentabilidade, porque têm custos mais baixos. OK, recordemos os números de Marn e Rosiello e de como o burro era eu. O olival tradicional pode aspirar a praticar preços mais altos se trabalhar para desenvolver o gosto dos seus clientes-alvo. 

Usem as redes sociais para começar a seduzir clientes, o vosso alvo tem de ser o consumidor final. Na actual situação não têm qualquer hipótese de convencer a distribuição grande a aceitar preços superiores. Por isso, impõe-se paciência estratégica e trabalhar para que sejam os consumidores a pressionar a distribuição grande a aceitar as vossas condições. Estudem o exemplo da Purdue