Finance flash: the TOP-10 articles of week 40, 2017

Do you want to keep up to date with the latest developments in finance, but you are short of time? Don’t worry. CFO South Africa weekly collects 10 of the most important articles from international media for your convenience.

1. How to create an agile organization
Rapid changes in competition, demand, technology, and regulations have made it more important than ever for organizations to be able to respond and adapt quickly. But according to a recent McKinsey Global Survey, organizational agility—the ability to quickly reconfigure strategy, structure, processes, people, and technology toward value-creating and value-protecting opportunities—is elusive for most....

2. How Value Is Destroyed in Acquisitions and Disposals
In the cost reduction plans of most major banks, headcount reduction looms large, while comments about value creation through cost reductions are rarely, if ever, found. Why is this the case? As we explored in our last article, the way costs are allocated in large firms makes it difficult to cut costs when necessary because managers challenge internal cost allocations rather than make value-enhancing changes to their business units.

3. 3 Windows 10 tips to use every day
Microsoft has made regular Windows 10 updates to build an operating system that is both dependable and functional. While some of these features are simply improvements to existing tools, these latest enhancements certainly increase productivity. Here are three Windows 10 tools that should become part of your everyday routine.

4. This Is the Secret of Success, According to Self-Made Billionaire J...
Jack Ma, the founder and CEO of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba (think of it as his country's Amazon), knows something about what it takes to succeed despite long odds. He grew up poor, failed his university entrance exams (twice), and was turned away from dozens of jobs. Now he's worth something like $29 billion. What does he credit for his success?

5. 5 Performance Management Practices You Need to Eliminate Today
If you have been experiencing high employee turnover or low levels of employee engagement and motivation, it might be time to go back to basics and question whether you are utilizing the right performance management tools to the right effect. For businesses that are short on time but eager to turn their companies around, below are practices or issues that might be causing trouble.

6. How AI Will Change Strategy: A Thought Experiment
How will AI change strategy? That's the single most common question the three of us are asked from corporate executives, and it's not trivial to answer. AI is fundamentally a prediction technology. As advances in AI make prediction cheaper, economic theory dictates that we'll use prediction more frequently and widely, and the value of complements to prediction - like human judgment - will rise. But what does all this mean for strategy?

7. Human Capital: Risk vs. Uncertainty
In a world characterized by rapid technological change, perpetual product innovation, economic globalization, and generational and cultural shifts, the life cycle of products and business designs is shortening. Companies are constantly obliged to adapt. It is often human capital, more than financial or physical capital, that enables effective adaptation to these new realities. And it is often human capital that is at greatest risk of sudden depreciation or outright obsolescence within a business.

8. Apple's Secret Critical Sign that Things Are Really Bad for the iPhone
Apple may have other products and services, but the company has effectively become the iPhone. It's the most universally used of Apple's wares and the best known. The number of units sold each quarter leave Macs, iPads, Apple Watches, Apple TVs, and who knows what else in the dust. That's true even if you add all the other unit sales together. The company's financial welfare rises and falls with the fate of the mobile handset.

9. Capitalizing on the Platformization of the Economy
Just as every waiter in Hollywood has a script he's looking to shop, it seems every MBA from Silicon Valley to Wall Street has a platform pitch in his or her back pocket. It's not enough these days to have a great idea for a new tool or clever app. To break out in the marketplace, businesses need a plan for global domination through a platform business model. That evolution is having a big impact on the finance departments of multinational corporations, too.

10. The Shape of Hierarchy and Why It Matters
Most current implicit and explicit thinking about hierarchies within organisations assumes that the span of control at any layer is constant. Our span of control is the number of direct subordinates that a boss has. We had strongly suspected that the assumption of a constant span is not correct, and the data strongly bears this out. Only 12 percent of respondents told us that the span in their organisations remained constant across layers....