About Kim Korn

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Kim at workThe path we take in life shapes us while shaping the world around us. From as early as I can remember on my path I wanted to design and development of things of value. This led to nurturing of my sense of design for two years in architecture school at Iowa State University. But my dream of being the next Frank Lloyd Wright was off the mark so I moved on to explore creating value elsewhere.

What I discovered—my intrigue for business—surprised me. My initial interest soon turned into a life-long passion. I pursued finance at the University of Iowa —the field blending ethereal economics with analytic accounting that provides a lens into the world of business. This turned out to be one of many steps towards understanding businesses and the organizations that carry them out. Taking a real liking to finance in particular and business in general, I not only earned an MBA in Finance, but supplemented it with a year’s worth of computer science courses, tutored statistics, taught the undergraduate corporate finance course for two years, performed research that became published, and took a bunch of doctorate level finance courses just for fun.

Next I stepped into Arthur Andersen’s (now Accenture) three week programming boot camp in St. Charles, Illinois to begin my consulting career designing and developing information systems. Between my years there and many more at Andersen Corporation (the window maker), my career encompassed full-fledged business process design, organization development, innovation of current businesses, development of startup businesses, several corporate, business, and departmental strategy formations and strategic initiatives to carry them out, and a plethora of company transformation efforts.

During this time I acted as an external consultant, internal consultant, staff manager, line manager, corporate program manager, and executive. This stage of my journey had lots of action, incredible progress, dramatic victories, some painful failures, and abundant learning. But throughout this whole time, a notion nagged at me more and more, a proverbial elephant in the room largely ignored.

From leading, participating directly in, and advising a host of strategy develop efforts, involving well-intended executives, outside-the-box independent consultants, prestigious academics, and several iconic paragons of the strategy consulting industry—not once did we develop a corporate or business strategy with an explicitly defined competitive advantage nor did we directly address how become capable of doing such a thing. Ouch! But we were not unusual. I noticed this to be true of most other companies as well.

Upon leaving the corporate world, the nagging question took over my life – just how does an enterprise create persistent advantage? I pledged I would find the answer to bring to a world that sorely needed it. I launched into, as I now see with hindsight, an unbelievable depth of research to get to the bottom of what enterprises ought to do in order to thrive indefinitely.

My first revelation: this was not an issue of strategy creation, strategic planning, or strategic management. It was a management challenge. I came to realize that the ultimate objective of management is to create persistent advantage in a world where all enterprises tend toward mediocrity over time. Management needs to generate new opportunities to create value first, next create value for customers in the present, then avoid destroying value second, and lastly administer companies. It seems most management, both the business leaders and management methods, have this exactly backwards at best and only focus on administration as the norm.

During my research I also drew upon my line, staff, project, and program management experiences with responsibility for literally hundreds of projects in various companies with teams managed under a wide variety of methods. I recalled that the wide variety of methods achieved different behaviors, performance levels, and results.

Along with the assistance and support from others, especially Joe Pine’s unflagging support and direct assistance, my initial journey to discover how enterprises can produce persistent advantage bore great fruit. It resulted in the definition of a new way of managing that creates perpetual enterprise rejuvenation, what I call regenerative managing.

As it turns out, strategic success and competitive advantage is not a plan or planning expertise, as I once thought it was, but it comes from the capability within a company to perpetually discover and develop new ways of creating and capturing value. Any particular advantage is contextual, unique to a particular business and time. Therefore the question of a given company’s strategy cannot be answered directly, but only one step removed, by its way of managing designed from the bottom up to produce artistry – the business competence to thrive indefinitely.

So the answer to that nagging question: Get your enterprise’s managing right – make it regenerative. From there emerges your enterprise’s artistry competence to orchestrate robust exploration and effective exploitation to continually recreate unique value within its ecosystem. Only firms that exhibit such competence regenerate themselves to thrive indefinitely.

I hope you have as much enjoyment learning about regenerative management as I have had in discovering and defining it.

 

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Email me at kim(at)CreateAdvantage.com

Call me at +1 (651) 402-3900