Leaders can let go and still be in control.


Technology has made it possible to apply a new management philosophy. Managers can let go and still be in control.


Managing Strategic Alignment Through Corporate Dialogue

By Fred Lachotzki and Robert Noteboom

Leading large organizations involves managing both their performance and their striking-power – i.e. their capability to execute strategy. The latter is best achieved by measuring and managing alignment between the corporate strategy and its execution. Yet for company leaders no amount of travel or motivational sessions can ever be enough to ensure that the strategy is communicated deep into the organization, understood, accepted and executed. CEOs need a proven model to allow them to delegate and decentralize. The management focus must be shifted from structured control to guided interaction.

Managing by strategic pull and operational push achieves this shift. Doing so requires a permanent (often real-time) corporate dialogue between the CEO and key executives. The authors of Beyond Control have learned from experience that for this to work consistently over time, a dedicated communication infrastructure is needed. This executive dialogue centre is an Internet-based portal specifically designed as a virtual CEO office to manage the interaction between the CEO and his or her key people.

Introducing an executive dialogue centre allows the CEO to move to the middle of the operation but keep the corporate agenda alive. It also represents the ultimate commitment to a management style of strategic pull and operational push. By creating a well-defined operating arena that enables people to participate and thrive with clear, responsible freedom, the CEO can measure and manage strategic alignment. The result will be an organization that continuously outperforms the expectations of clients and stakeholders.


A Plea for a Future

30 November 2016

Professor Fred Lachotzki has formally ended his position as professor of Corporate Strategy at Nyenrode Business Universiteit. His valedictory speech was entitled "A Plea for a future" ("Een Pleidooi voor een toekomst").


Download the valedictory lecture:  Dutch version |  English version

View the lecture slides:  Dutch version |  English version

Read the full article about his speech (Dutch) and his royal honor on Nyenrode Newsroom


View the lecture and ceremony on film


Case studies of real-life issues are great tools for bringing out the essence of management dilemmas while enabling students to learn about the consequences of interventions – or the failure to intervene.

The cases listed below either were written by Fred Lachotzki or involved him directly or indirectly. Several cases, teaching notes and possible 'B' and 'C' cases can be ordered at the European Case Clearing House. Contact: 'cases@ecch.com'

See All Cases

By means of a novel exercise called the “Michaelangelo Project,” Prof. Lachotzki and an entire Nyenrode International MBA class worked to assist Nutricia (a leading Dutch-based nutrition company) in working out a common philosophical vision about what defined that company – a vision that would unite all of its varying divisions in a common effort and which was supposed to provide guidance into the future. In this case students evaluate to what degree such an exercise is valuable and the company can be relied upon to follow the guidance that is forthcoming from it.


Being responsible for the fortunes of a fast-growing technology firm can often feel like riding a tiger. As a pioneer in the new accounting service of “audit recovery” (i.e. identifying and correcting systematic Accounts Payable errors for high-volume retail businesses), the Atlanta-based Profit Recovery Group came from nowhere to become a Wall Street darling with its explosive expansion. The inevitable problems cropped up when that growth started to falter. How could it be sustained? Should it be sustained? Students are asked to evaluate the company's growth strategy and its structure of priorities.


Koninklijke Wessanen is a Dutch foodstuffs/drinks/consumer products company with a rich history in its home country and an aggressive record of spreading to international markets after World War II. By the turn of the 21st century, however, the firm seemed to have lost its way: its financial performance was abysmal, mainly due to an ill-advised push it had made into the US market for “wellness” products (i.e. specialty foods). The case is mainly the tale of the executive who came to Royal Wessanen's rescue: Ad Veenhof, formerly of Philips Electronics, who engineered a turn-around (despite an accounting scandal within US operations) with what he called his “Operation Phoenix.” Yet at what point does a savior's aura fade, so that he becomes more of a hindrance than a help? How much must the company's performance decline – and maybe it is just an outlier result - before that once-savior chief executive has to go?


Few other fields have been impacted by the pace of technological change as publishing, and this case illustrates the recent history of what was once a dominant player in the Dutch newspaper, magazine and textbook market. Spurred by the urgent need to change in order to survive, it offloads most of these holdings in favor of becoming mainly a multinational provider of business information, highlighted by the acquisition of Nielsen Media Research. Students are invited to analyze and ponder the necessity of the wrenching transformation its executives put VNU through over a period of less than ten years.


A paragon of the Silicon Valley start-up ethos (and with a solid internal culture known as “The HP Way”), by the turn of the 21st century Hewlett-Packard has become a leading worldwide provider of personal computer equipment (particularly laptops), printers and other accessories. Yet shortly thereafter the company loses its way, in a period marked by a series of chief executive officers unsuited to the task, each in his/her own way, to the point that by 2010 the company seems fundamentally confused about which business it desires to be in. This case provides a history of that downfall of a high-tech icon (still ongoing to this day), with an emphasis on missteps at the Board level (e.g. CEO selection).


High-tech innovation is something not confined to the US, and indeed for decades the Dutch-based company ASMI has been a strong worldwide competitor in the market for the highly-complicated machines which manufacture the semi-conducter chips which are to be found in all modern-day electronic devices. This is largely down to the vision of ASMI's founder, Arthur del Prado, who dominates the both company management and ownership from the moment in 1968 when he establishes it. Yet closely-held status, or even majority share ownership by any one person, is ultimately unrealistic for a firm which such inexhaustable capital needs. By the beginning of the 2000s, the company has seriously underperformed for years, yet the issue of who is responsible for deciding policy only really comes to a head when provoked by Del Prado's later attempt to have his son succeed him as CEO. Then the Del Prados are faced with an insurgent attempt by a coalition of private funds to take the company in a direction they do not desire. These profound questions of shareholder vs. management control provoke a landmark case in Dutch law to resolve them. But legal matters apart, students are asked to examine such issues from the viewpoint of what is best for ensuring the continued success of the firm.