Stephen Wise Blog

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How to be a great leader

Colin Powell, the retired US Four-Star General says to remain calm and be kind. He also has a rule - to have a demanding vision. Vision, he says, is our destination.

  1. Have a Vision of the future

Vision, what is it? Where do I find it?

Vision is not “Establishing vaccination guidelines and agreements, activating a network of furloughed retail workers, and implementing a military supply-chain technology for transportation and storage.” That is the strategy.

Vision is not “Vaccinating all the citizens against COVID by September 2021”. That is a goal, that will be driven by the Strategy.

Vision is higher than that. Vision is not something that exists today. It is something that is imagined that could be created in the future.

Developing a compelling vision is done by looking into yourself. What are your beliefs? What do you believe is possible? Figuring out who you are, why you are here, and what is most valuable to you.

Cultivating vision is a process. It does not emerge during an off-site, or from reading leadership philosophies, or watching an inspiring movie.

To be visionary you need to set aside significant time to percolate these questions.

2. Provide Clarity of desired results

Bruce Lee may have said, “The successful warrior is the average person, with laser-like focus.” Results require change. Without change there is no result. Motivating anyone to change is expecting them to work towards the unseen and unknown. At every level of challenge this is a fundamental issue that needs an answer every day.

Giving your team the answer they need is not difficult, your job is to provide clarity.

You need to communicate to your team the information they need to risk working on the unseen and unknown.

Explain to your team what is most important. Work with them so they understand why the choices made are the best choices. When the team is aligned on what is most important they will have clarity on the desired results.





  1. Demonstrate effective Decision making

Nelson Mandela said that “Action without vision is only passing time. Vision without action is merely daydreaming. But vision with action can change the world.” Standing on the shoulders of giants, I say the sum of the actions will not be productive without a robust decision-making process.

The problem with change is that, only after starting, on the way to achieving results, does the solution emerge. The detail is previously unknown on what is required, how it will come together, and what is needed. Leaders who make the mistake of communicating their vision from on high, hiring the best team, and delegating all responsibility for results will be in for a surprise.

Leaders need to reserve time to develop vision and they need to be effective at engaging others to deliver lofty goals. However, do not let go of the steering wheel and don’t look away from the dashboard.

 You need to ensure that everyone is aware of and reliant on a process for obtaining your decisions on how the strategy and goals are to being met. You need to ensure that you are aware of and broadly communicating key decisions to all stakeholders. If you miss this – you will more than likely not recognise the final product.





Questions for you, the readers.

  • What would be an example of a Vision that is supported by the vaccination goal and strategy mentioned above?
  • How have great leaders from demonstrated these three skills of Vision, Clarity, and Decision-making? (e.g., George Washington, Martin Luther King Jr., Captain Kirk)

























M&A: Top Ten Drivers

Embarking on a strategy to grow revenue or cut costs via M&A acquisition is bold and risky. The failure-rate statistics for deals is not a pretty picture. It is not a leap to draw the conclusion from the high failure rate that the typical acquirer materially overestimates the synergy benefits that will accrue after close. Perhaps the blame for a too high valuation on synergy benefits is over-exuberance. However, I think this is the wrong inference.

I believe that under-estimation of the importance of the post-merger integration planning is the single greatest factor leading to this high failure-rate phenomenon. The preventative action is development of a robust post-merger integration plan that aligns stakeholders’ activities with the deal thesis.

Objectives, Measures, and Benefits

A critical first step to creating this plan is for leaders to communicate a deal thesis with clear success criteria. The objectives, measures, and benefits must be detailed and well defined. For example, if they are not tangible or they are vague, it is highly likely they will lose gravitas as they timeline moves forward. As a starting point, to creating a robust deal thesis, here are the top ten drivers of M&A acquisitions[1]

Top-Ten Drivers of M&A acquisitions

1.    Industry Synergy
Achieve economies of scale by buying customer / supplier, or competitor. Acquisition of a competitor is horizontal, and acquisition of a customer or supplier is vertical.

2.    Strategic Planning
Accomplish strategic goals more quickly and more successfully such as entering new markets or acquiring technology or people assets.

3.    Differential efficiency
Realize a return on investment by buying a company with less efficient processes and making them more efficient

4.    Inefficient Management
Realize a return by buying a company with inefficient managers and replacing them

5.    Market Power
Increase market share and ability to increase price/profit.

6.    Financial Synergy
Lower cost of capital by smoothing cash flow and increasing debt capacity

7.    Under valuation
Take advantage of a price that is low in comparison to past stock prices and/or estimated future prices, or in relation to the cost the buyer would incurs if it built the company from scratch

8.    Corporate Governance
Assert control at the board of directors’ level in an underperforming company with dispersed stakeholder ownership

9.    Tax Efficiency
Obtain a more favorable tax status

10.    Managerialism
Increase the pay and/or power of managers




[1] Lajoux, Alexandra Reed (2019). The art of M & A : a merger, acquisition, and buyout guide. New York: McGraw-Hill Education.


Those Incredible AI Flying Machines

About 120 years ago in Manhattan, Nikola Tesla demonstrated a boat he piloted from the edge of a pond. Apparently, the audience took it as more of a magic show then a technology demonstration.

Today start-ups are promoting flying vehicles that do not require a human pilot. These innovative companies are applying their products to improve productivity and profitability. The business case is easier to understand then the technologies involved – an AI enabled flying vehicle could work longer, faster, and more reliably on certain repeatable tasks then a drone with a human pilot.

A drone without AI is a device with sensors collecting data - a human pilot is still needed. A drone with hard-coded responses to given conditions (such as maintaining height given changing terrain) is fun but not equipped for demanding tasks.

AI enabled capabilities allow human-like performance in reasoning, problem-solving, and planning for specific tasks without ongoing human intervention. No one wants to look at thousands of images 24 X 7 in order to pick up anomalies. The ability to give the drone a general mission and specific tasks to be completed in a safe and reliable way opens the door for commercial applications.

Farmers could continually scout their fields to test for issues related to disease, irrigation, or infestation. For example, follow the crop furrows and identify sectors that require additional spraying. Energy companies could monitor their transmission lines and pipelines for early signs of damage. For example, do a high-speed pass monitoring for signs of encroachment or corrosion and a repeat detailed pass when certain warning signs are found. These are not new practises – but in the future, decisions can be made based on acquiring more complete data faster, and less expensively.

Tesla received a patent[1] for controlling his boat but did not achieve commercial success on that one. New high value enterprise applications for AI enabled flying machines are imminent. What is your company doing in order to participate?

Stephen D Wise

Integration Professionals

Dramatically Improve Traction

[1] Method of And Apparatus For Controlling Mechanism Of Moving Vessels Or Vehicles. Nikola Tesla of New York, N.Y Patent No. 613,809 (1898)


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