Photograph of Kay Plantes

Kay Plantes is an MIT-trained economist, business strategy consultant, columnist and author. Business model innovation, strategic leadership and smart economic policies are her professional passions. A former Madison, WI resident, Kay now resides in San Diego, CA. The views on her blog are not those of her employer, IBM.

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March 13th, 2013

Business model success demands strategic leadership, societal consciousness and civil cultures

I wonder if the editors of the January-February, 2013 issue of Harvard Business Review connected the dots among their articles. As a reader I did. “The 100 Best CEOs in the World” is the cover story for an issue that also includes the article “Strategic Leadership: The Essential Skills.”  Too many CEOs and their C-Suite […]


October 6th, 2011

A sad “Kodak moment” business model failure

Louis Pasteur — “Chance favors the prepared mind.” This quote motivated Bill Welter to co-author The Prepared Mind of a Leader: Eight Skills Leaders Use to Innovate, Make Decisions, and Solve Problems (Jossey-Bass, 2006), a thoughtful leadership book. Bill’s also principal of Adaptive Strategies, a small business that specializes in the application of critical and […]


May 30th, 2011

Wall Street ruins many sound business models

Have you ever observed the energy that leaders of publicly traded companies exert to announce and then deliver promised quarterly financial results?  Surely, like me, you’ve wondered how multi-billion dollar companies composed of multiple divisions, and even more business units, achieve their financial forecasts – exactly. My concern is not just about the non-value added […]


May 12th, 2011

Best practices from mid-size gazelles with winning business models

Four fast-growing mid-size company CEOs shared success drivers at the recent Milwaukee Biz-Tech Conference-Expo. With rapid growth rates and distinctive business models, their advice is worth heeding. The panelists Mary Isbister, President of GenMet, a custom metal fabricator Mike Malatesta, founder and president of Advanced Waste Services, Inc. a customized service provider that reduces customers’ […]


April 27th, 2011

Brown goes green with a smart business model strategy

  I have long admired UPS for its continuous improvements in customer value. With a mission to “synchronize the world of commerce by developing business solutions that create value and competitive advantages for our customers,” the world’s largest package deliver company has emerged as a leader in supply chain management services and less-than-full truckload shipping. […]


April 21st, 2011

Businesses start to die when business model innovation stops

Young women and teens are ruthless customers, shifting from one on-trend store to another as quickly as they shift love interests. The retail clothing industry is therefore a great place to learn this vital leadership lesson: In today’s information-age economy, business model innovators emerge as winners, while those delaying business model innovation steadily lose market […]


April 6th, 2011

Leading Business Model Innovation

Craig Schiefelbein, CEO/owner of Wisconsin-headquartered Paragon Development Systems, Inc. (PDS) exemplifies strategic leadership. Is it any wonder then that his Information Technology Solutions (IT) company has grown in twenty-two of the last twenty-four years and strategically partners with healthcare IT departments across the Midwest? Schiefelbein’s strategic leadership rests first and foremost in his willingness to […]


March 30th, 2011

Business model innovation starts with challenging hidden assumptions

Impressionist artists were excluded from top official exhibitions because their “fuzzy paintings” did not fit the mold (i.e., set of assumptions) of what constituted great art of its time.  So Monet, Van Gogh and others formed their own association, held their own exhibits, and attracted an art dealer who needed to differentiate himself from established […]


February 9th, 2011

Three business model lessons that Walmart forgot

Love Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. or hate it, you have to admire the consistent business model strategy its leaders followed to emerge as the world’s #1 retailer. They dramatically improved distribution productivity – in fact, supply chain as a revered specialty arrived with Walmart, as did a measurable bump-up in US productivity due to Walmart’s efficiency. […]


December 30th, 2010

10 best practices of business model innovation leaders

I love the ease with which marketing-guru Seth Godin communicates vital concepts. In a recent blog A Paradox of Expectations he writes: Better than expected might be the level of quality that’s necessary to succeed. Of course, once that becomes the standard, the expectation is reset. The basis of competition has shifted to business models […]