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Shell decides to “stick to its knitting”

Posting by former Shell Executive Paddy Briggs on the article “Shell defends continued focus on fossil fuel-paper“: Mar 2nd, 2010 at 11:20 am

Tom Peters seminal book “In Scarce of Excellence” was first published in 1982 and in it there were eight themes for success in business one of was “Stick to the knitting” – i.e. stay with the business that you know. It has taken Shell quite a while to acknowledge Tom Peters’ truism – ironically as there is no major corporation which has made more of a mess of diversification than Shell. Along the way there have been failed ventures in Coal, Mining, Nuclear Power, Electricity Generation, Forestry, Wind Power, Solar, Convenience Stores, Home insulation…

Take the eye of the ball to try and manage things for which you have no corporate memory and no distinctive competences and not only will you not make these things work – but you will also damage the core businesses. But the really venal behaviour was when so much of Shell’s corporate advertising was focused on the essentially trivial “Renewables” sector. Now Shell has come clean (!) and essentially walked away from this segment entirely. Biofuel has always been an interesting sector and there is a long history of biofuel use in some of Shell’s markets – especially Brazil. But in the main Shell has at last decide to “stick to its knitting” – and about time to!

Paddy Briggs website:

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