Albrecht Enders

Professor of Strategy and Innovation

Albrecht Enders is Professor of Strategy and Innovation. His work focuses on strategic decision making. Through his teaching, consulting, and writing, he helps companies make important strategic choices, and provides guidance on how to ensure that decision making is effective, and pitfalls are avoided.

He says leaders often fall into the trap of separating decision making from engaging with their stakeholders, only communicating, and seeking to bring stakeholders on board once they have made key strategic choices. Instead, they need to involve key stakeholders throughout the decision-making process, as this can often lead to better choices and create a sense of fair process for the people they lead.

The job of the leader is twofold: provide direction where to go and engage the people so that they want to come along.

Enders is the co-author with Arnaud Chevallier of Solvable: A Simple Solution to Complex Problems, which proposes a simple three-step process for the strategic thinking needed for complex problem solving: frame, explore, decide. They argue that it is important to avoid jumping to solutions and to work through each step of this process instead.

Framing consists of clearly specifying what the problem is and what it is not. Exploring involves an analysis of the full breadth of potential solutions, including innovative responses beyond those that are immediately obvious. And deciding then entails choosing the best available solution after weighing up all of the trade-offs involved.

In addition, Enders has been actively involved in Pathbuilder programs in which a diverse group of employees act as a sort of “shadow cabinet” and present top teams with new ideas for organizational transformation. This approach has been deployed at companies like Stora Enso and has led to impactful solutions, such as Stora Enso’s Eco School concept.

Enders has worked with a range of clients from different industries, including ABB, Agathon, Deloitte, Deutsche Bank, EHL, Siemens, Douglas Holding, Honda, ICBC, Novartis, MTR HongKong, Roland Berger, Safran, Skanska, Telenor, Thyssen Krupp, TUI, Vodafone and VTT.

He is also Co-Director of IMD’s Transition to Business Leadership (TBL) open program, served as IMD Dean of Programs and Innovation until 2020 and previously directed the Advanced Strategic Management program, precursor to the current Advanced Management Program (AMP).

His research has appeared in leading academic journals such as Administrative Science Quarterly, Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review and Research Policy and practitioner-oriented outlets including Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, and the Financial Times.

He has also authored numerous case studies on companies such as Nestlé, Tesco, Nordea, XING and SonyBMG, and his research and case writing have been recognized by awards from the Business Policy and Strategy division of the Academy of Management, the Society for Information Management, European Foundation for Management Development and European Case Clearing House.

He is a board member of Swiss precision tool company Agathon and a founding member of the executive committee of the Enterprise for Society (E4S) sustainability initiative launched by IMD, the University of Lausanne, HEC Lausanne and EPFL.

Before joining IMD in 2009, Enders spent three years as a consultant with the Boston Consulting Group where he worked on projects relating to strategy development, reorganization and efficiency improvement in the financial services, energy, and industrial goods sectors.

Selected publications
Book
Solvable: A simple solution to complex problems
Problem solving skills are in high demand, yet we’re not taught how to develop and apply these skills appropriately. Solvable offers a simple solution with a 3-step process—Frame, Explore, Decide—a...
Published 18 June 2022
Article
Silver bullet or ricochet? CEO's use of metaphorical communication and infomediaries' evaluations
We combine literature on rhetoric and socially situated sensemaking to illuminate the challenges that emerge when chief executive officers (CEOs) try to influence infomediaries by using metaphorica...
Published 16 August 2018
Article
How the world's oldest company reinvented itself
The decline in demand for paper hit Stora Enso hard. By 2011 the pulp and paper giant — the world’s oldest corporation, dating back to 1288 — had laid off over one-third of its 30,000 employees. Th...
Published 31 January 2018
Article
Stop jumping to solutions!
When faced with strategic business decisions, executives often quickly home in on a narrow set of options. Systematically expanding the “decision frame” can result in better solutions that reflect ...
Published 13 June 2016
Article
CEO narcissism, audience engagement, and organizational adoption of technological discontinuities
We examine the responses of major pharmaceutical firms to the advent of biotechnology over the period 1980 to 2008 to explain why established firms vary in their adoption of technological discontin...
Published 1 June 2013
Article
The family innovator's dilemma: How family influence affects the adoption of discontinuous technologies by incumbent firms
We integrate research on family business and discontinuous change to better explain why incumbents vary in when and how they adopt discontinuous technologies. Family influence induces companies to...
Published 1 January 2013
Book
Strategies for e-business : creating value through electronic and mobile commerce: Concepts and cases
Strategies for E-Business provides realistic and compact coverage of the key concepts linking strategy and e-business, illustrated by original case studies. Ideal for MBA students and upper level u...
Published 5 May 2014
Academic publications
Book
Solvable: A simple solution to complex problems
Problem solving skills are in high demand, yet we’re not taught how to develop and apply these skills appropriately. Solvable offers a simple solution with a 3-step process—Frame, Explore, Decide—a...
Published 18 June 2022
Article
Debiasing competitive irrationality: How managers can be prevented from trading off absolute for relative profit
Managers sometimes sacrifice profits only to improve their relativecompetitive standing, a behaviour that is known as “competitive irrationality.” Previous research has generated a wealth of insigh...
Published 1 August 2012
Article
Inertia in response to non-paradigmatic change: The case of meta-organizations
We add a new perspective to research on organizational response to non-paradigmatic change by studying an irregular yet increasingly important form of organizing: meta-organizations (MOs), i.e., as...
Published 1 October 2012
Article
CEO narcissism, audience engagement, and organizational adoption of technological discontinuities
We examine the responses of major pharmaceutical firms to the advent of biotechnology over the period 1980 to 2008 to explain why established firms vary in their adoption of technological discontin...
Published 1 June 2013
Article
The long tail of social networking. Revenue models of social networking sites
Benefiting from new Internet technologies and altered user behavior, social networking sites have become the poster child of a series of new web services that have been emerging with the advent of ...
Published 1 January 2008
Article
Stop jumping to solutions!
When faced with strategic business decisions, executives often quickly home in on a narrow set of options. Systematically expanding the “decision frame” can result in better solutions that reflect ...
Published 13 June 2016
Article
Silver bullet or ricochet? CEO's use of metaphorical communication and infomediaries' evaluations
We combine literature on rhetoric and socially situated sensemaking to illuminate the challenges that emerge when chief executive officers (CEOs) try to influence infomediaries by using metaphorica...
Published 16 August 2018
Article
The converging business models of Internet and bricks-and-mortar retailers
The authors discuss the advantages and disadvantages of traditional store-based and online retailing. To minimise the drawbacks, the emerging trend in retailing is a covergence of the two business ...
Published 1 January 2000
Article
Intensity, timeliness, and success of incumbent response to technological discontinuities: A synthesis and empirical investigation
The extant literature highlights numerous different factors influencing the timeliness and intensity of incumbent response to discontinuous technological change. However, this literature has so far...
Published 1 January 2011
Article
Leveraging multichannel retailing: The experience of Tesco.com
Online retailing has become a pervasive phenomenon that has profoundly affected the structure of many different industries. Yet the challenges for retailers in some industries have been more diffic...
Published 1 June 2009
Article
From e-banking to e-business at Nordea Bank
Since the beginning of business computing, financial services firms have been major innovative users of IT. In particular, banks have used IT internally to enhance their efficiency and effectivenes...
Published 1 January 2006
Article
The family innovator's dilemma: How family influence affects the adoption of discontinuous technologies by incumbent firms
We integrate research on family business and discontinuous change to better explain why incumbents vary in when and how they adopt discontinuous technologies. Family influence induces companies to...
Published 1 January 2013
Insight for Executives
Article
Why CX professionals must unlock their problem-solving potential - and how to do it
The late, great father of management Peter Drucker turned the world of business on its head. “The important and difficult job,” he said, “is never to find the right answer – it is to find the right...
Published 6 July 2022
How to strategize your way out of complex problems
Article
How to strategize your way out of complex problems
In Solvable, Arnaud Chevallier and Albrecht Enders have developed a three-step process for complex problem solving: frame, explore and decide.
Published 10 June 2022
Article
Complex, ill-defined, and non-immediate problems
Lots of people want to be popular. Googling the term ‘popularity’ returns more than four billion results (‘successfulness’ manages just 590,000). There are innumerable online resources — aimed at e...
Published 27 May 2022
Article
A good night’s sleep: The best decision you will ever take
Warning: late nights and early starts will lead to memory loss, illness, recklessness, lack of sociability and failure to spot a good business opportunity.
Published 17 March 2022
Article
How reskilling can soften the economic blow of COVID-19
In the early months of 2020, millions of workers worldwide were laid off as the Covid-19 pandemic shuttered entire industries. Yet not all industries suffered contractions: the healthcare sector, f...
Published 8 June 2020
Article
Husk det store bildet når det gjelder vanskelige beslutninger
Making complex decisions that produce the best results is a crucial part of all leadership roles. To make these decisions, you must be able to have difficult conversations where there are often a l...
Published 12 October 2019
Article
How the world's oldest company reinvented itself
The decline in demand for paper hit Stora Enso hard. By 2011 the pulp and paper giant — the world’s oldest corporation, dating back to 1288 — had laid off over one-third of its 30,000 employees. Th...
Published 31 January 2018
Article
What BMW's corporate VC offers that regular investors can't
We believe that the venture client approach is unique and has enormous potential, not just at BMW but also at other companies. Perhaps the most important reason for its success is that all stakehol...
Published 22 August 2017
Report
Stora Enso and IMD: A pathbreaking partnership
Stora Enso, a leading global company in the paper, biomaterials, wood products and packaging industries, realized that to compete in an increasingly digital world it had to rethink everything from ...
Published 1 March 2014
Article
Case study: Response to a social media attack; Nestlé faced damage to Kit Kat brand
The story. On March 17 2010, environmental group Greenpeace launched a social media attack on Nestlé's¦Kit Kat brand.¦In a YouTube video parodying the "Have a break; Have a Kit Kat" slogan, it high...
Published 4 December 2012
Article
Bright side of narcissistic CEOs
What might best be used to describe seminal business figures such as Thomas Middelhoff or Jean-Marie Messier? Quite a few, you might think - and not all of them necessarily complimentary.¦If we con...
Published 15 November 2011
Article
How not to become a casualty of the next media revolution
According to Nielsen, in the first quarter of 2010 CNN had roughly half as many prime-time viewers as it did a year earlier. It's easy to forget that CNN was revolutionary when it was launched 30 y...
Published 14 June 2010
Article
Adapt or die with technology
IT IS easy to forget that CNN, which launched 30 years ago on June 1 1980, was once revolutionary - it was the first to bring real time war coverage into our living rooms.¦In April, research firm N...
Published 8 June 2010
Article
Wie Unternehmen radikalen Wandel meistern
Gerade Unternehmen, die lange Zeit erfolgreich waren, unterschätzen oftmals die Bedrohung durch radikale Innovationen und bekommen Probleme, weil sie nicht oder zu spät reagieren. Trotz zahlreicher...
Published 1 August 2009
Article
Why most companies can't handle change
Apple and other PC manufacturers took over the computer industry from giants like IBM in the 1980s. Southwest and other no-frills airlines drove traditional aviation companies into bankruptcy in th...
Published 30 July 2009
Article
The simple reason most companies can't handle major change
Apple and other PC manufacturers took over the computer industry from giants like IBM in the 1980s. Southwest and other no-frills airlines drove traditional aviation companies into bankruptcy in th...
Published 10 June 2009