business is fixated by the here and now,
but sometimes wisdom is eternally useful.
ON A DANCE
The business world has a
healthy appetite for learning
from unusual role models. In this
article from the 2006 archives,
Jamie Anderson, Martin
Kupp and Jorg Reckhenrich
reveal the entrepreneurial side
of an entertainment legend.
When most people think of
entrepreneurs, they think of energetic
young people who have developed an
idea into a thriving business. A thriving
business that has grown from two
employees to hundreds or thousands
of employees, which has resulted in the
company being worth millions. The
founders have taken an idea that was
out of the mainstream and turned it
into a lucrative, mainstream business.
What about an entrepreneur who
is not in the usual line of business?
Consider the following:
In 2005 this entrepreneur reached
new heights of success in a competitive
industry. Her documentary film
debuted, showcasing her behind the
scenes during a world tour, and she
released her tenth studio album. The
first single on the album went straight
to the top of the UK Singles Chart,
marking her 11th chart-topping UK
single. During its first week the single
was the number one download on
iTunes stores around the world, and in
the same year the entrepreneur opened
the MTV European Music Awards
with a stage performance of the track.
This dynamic entrepreneur is Madonna
Louise Veronica Ciccone Ritchie.
How has Madonna achieved such
success? And why should we care?
Because the five dimensions of
her successful strategy (vision,
understanding the customer and
industry, leveraging competences and
addressing weaknesses, consistent
implementation and continuous
renewal) are equally important to
success in the business world.
One of the most important drivers
of Madonna’s success has been
her vision of becoming the world’s
foremost female performer. Between
1983 and 2005, her ten studio albums,
multiple world tours, and a dozen
or so movie roles established her
with an image and persona beyond
any single field of entertainment. In
delivering upon her vision she has also
made a great deal of money: she is
easily the world’s top earning female
entertainer with a net worth estimated
at over €300 million. Her spectrum
of personal and professional activities
— stage performances, television
appearances, albums, music videos,
Hollywood films, books, and links to
charity — all evidence a remarkable
dedication to this single goal.
Madonna has demonstrated focus
in pursuit of her goal throughout
her career. Her aspiration to be a
performer started in high school,
where she was a straight-A student and
excelled at sport, dance and drama.
She continued her interest in dance
during brief periods at colleges in
Michigan and North Carolina, and in
1977 went to New York, studying with
noted choreographer Alvin Ailey and
taking modelling jobs. Two years later,
Madonna moved to France to join a
show featuring disco singer Patrick
Hernandez. There she met musician
Dan Gilroy; back in New York, the pair
formed club band The Breakfast Club.
Madonna played drums and sang
with the band before setting up pop
group Emmy in 1980 with Detroitborn drummer and former boyfriend,
Steve Bray. Together, Madonna and
Bray created club tracks, which led
to a record deal with Sire Records.
With leading New York disc jockey
Mark Kamins producing, she recorded
“Everybody”, a US club hit in 1982.
In the same way that Madonna
developed career plans and long-term
goals to achieve success, firms must
have a vision of where they want to go
and how to get there. A major player
in the global telecommunications
industry has spent much of the
past two years debating whether it
is a pure-play mobile operator or
whether it should move into the