In times like these, we need every customer we can get, right? Actually, at most companies, nearly one in three customers aren't profitable. The bottom 20% -- the discount shoppers and hard bargainers -- can drain profits by 80% or more, says Larry Selden, a Columbia University professor emeritus. Segmenting the customer base is time-consuming and expensive, but the expense is more than worthwhile.
When it comes to announcing results, it's not just what CEOs say but how they say it. A linguistic analysis of 20,000 corporate earnings announcements finds that "soft information" -- the executive's unverifiable assessment of how the company is doing -- can boost share price for the next two months. Language that conveys optimism and certainty works best.
Citigroup, swamped by red ink and splitting in two, has promoted board member Richard Parsons to chairman. Parsons has political connections and is a natural consensus builder, but critics charge that the selection of a Citi director isn't radical enough.
Successful transformation isn't about doing the same things better, says innovation consultant Scott Anthony. Take courage from Procter & Gamble. It boldly dropped many food businesses and moved into health and beauty. "The 'new normal' of constant change requires every organization to improve its ability to master transformation," Anthony says.