henrietta.poirier

Put Flexibility in Place to Prepare for a Pivot

Kaihan Krippendorff provides three signposts that can direct your organization towards a successful pivot.

 

If people try to tell you that pivoting is the new thing, that it’s the fresh Silicon Valley approach to business designed for today’s fast-paced digital world, don’t believe them. Consider Fairfield University, a private school founded just outside of New York in Fairfield, Connecticut, by the Catholic Church – a 2,000-year-old organization.

In 1941, the society that runs the Jesuit school system had acquired two properties and were finishing renovations on them. One would become a university for college students and the other a preparatory school for younger boys, both on the site of what would become Fairfield University. The plan was to open the university first while renovations on the prep school were still underway.

But then, on Dec. 7, just before the university was scheduled to open, Pearl Harbor was bombed, pulling the United States and nearly all of its college-age men into war. Concerned that they would have a school with no students to fill it, the priests engineered a classic, Silicon Valley-style pivot. They moved the prep school (for younger boys) into the finished building and opened it first.

 

The signposts are:

-Have a purpose

-Create optionality

-Encourage proactivity

 

Read the full article, If a 2,000-year-old Organization Can Pivot… So Can You, on Kaihan’s website.

The Potential Cost Savings with  BPO and RPA

December 9, 2019

If you want to know more about the potential benefits, scope, pros and cons of business process outsourcing (BPO) and robotic process automation integration (RPA), check out this article from the knowledge hub on David Burnie’s company website.

 

Both BPO and RPA aim to achieve the goal of streamlining processes, achieving efficiency and increased productivity, and yielding cost benefits.

BPO and RPA implementations allow organizations to perform back office, internal, and call centre tasks efficiently quickly. This provides enterprises the benefits of overhead cost reduction, improved productivity, better quality, and more.

Both RPA and BPO are most applicable for business processes that are:

  1. Frequent – consistent daily/weekly volumes
  2. Repetitive – e.g. data entry tasks
  3. Rules-based – the process is defined by precise decision rules
  4. Streamlined – stable, without redundant steps.

 

Read the full article, Business Process Outsourcing and RPA Integration, on the BPO & RPA knowledge hub at The Burnie Group website.

The Argument for Going to the Gemba

Dan Markovitz provides a reality check on the concept of management by walking around (MBWA); how the leaders at organizations embracing lean take a different approach, and why the latter is better than the former.

Theodore Kinni argues in Strategy + Business that leaders must practice management by walking around (MBWA), a concept popularized by Tom Peters and Bob Waterman in their seminal book, In Search of Excellence. That’s the best way for them to stay connected to their businesses and understand what’s really happening with their customers. As Peters puts it, “The real meaning [of MBWA] was that you can’t lead from your office/cubicle.”

I’ve got no problem with the concept—after all, it’s similar to the lean precept of genchi gembutsu, or going to the gemba.

But here’s the problem with MBWA: it’s essentially unstructured.

 

Read the full article, Please, Not Another Argument for MBWA, on Dan’s website.

The Priorities of Generation Z 

Christy Johnson shares highlights from the 2019 Project Ascendance Summit and reflects on commonalities among the Gen Zers workforce, including what they expect from companies.

 

Giving back has been at our core from the beginning. The Artemis Connection 4.5% Promise supports our vision of creating a positive impact so everyone can reach their full potential. It is our commitment to helping change lives, communities, and organizations. Each year, we dedicate 4.5% of our time through pro bono work, volunteering, and board involvement in communities across the country.

 

Points included in this article:

-Commonalities among Gen Zers

-Strategies used to respond to the changing workforce

-Microvolunteering

 

Read the full article, We Believe in Giving Back – 4.5% Annual Report 2018-2019, on the Artemis Connection website.

A Brand Messaging Framework that Builds Bridges 

Jonathan Paisner identifies the cause of tension between corporate marketing and brand marketing, and how you can bridge the divide with a brand messaging format that communicates company vision and value for the end consumer.

 

B2B companies experience an ongoing tension between corporate marketing and product marketing – because their goals aren’t completely alignedFor corporate marketing, the brand is built upon a big idea that aims to capture the promise of the organization at a macro level. In technology and tech-enabled markets, this big idea can be pretty grand (think IBM’s Smarter Planet). For the organization as a whole, this big idea helps to bring different pieces of the company together behind a common purpose and perspective.

 

Read the full article, Bridging the Gap between Corporate Marketing and Product Marketing, on the Brand Experienced Group website.

How to Get Ahead of an Oversupplied Market

December 9, 2019

From Luca Ottinetti’s company, a blog post that explains why business managers should rely on the industry cost curve to guide their actions and find out how supply and demand is impacting profits.

 

Market forces affect the equilibrium between supply and demand all the time. For instance, a typical situation of rising production costs drives excess capacity in the market and a shift in the supply curve. Another scenario of a drop in market demand causes a reduction in the equilibrium price and quantity of that good. In both cases, supply will exceed demand, a condition that can exert considerable pressure on profit margins and, in some case, drive companies out of the market. What can managers do?

 

Points covered include:

-What does the industry cost curve look like?

-Addressing the problem

 

Read the full article, How Are Supply and Demand Impacting Your Profits?, on the Great Prairie Group website.

Legal Advice for Saas, Memberships and Subscriptions

Robbie Kellman Baxter explains how to navigate the legal labyrinth when establishing a Saas business, and save a bundle on legal advice.

 

On my first day of high school, not one teacher talked about math, or history, or German, or literature, or biology. Instead, each teacher handed out and then discussed lists of rules which explained, in excruciating detail, what would happen if we were late to class, or skipped class, or didn’t turn in assignments.

I had two immediate reactions.

The first was surprise. It had never occurred to me that you could just not show up for a class, or refuse to turn in the homework. Yes, I was pretty nerdy, but still, at my good-sized, public middle school, kids attended class and mostly did as we were told.

The second reaction was fear. So many rules! How would I remember them all? And each teacher had slightly different punishments–in some cases, you just had to make up the time, which didn’t seem like such a big deal. But in other cases, your grade might drop a full letter.

 

Read the full article, How to Save a Bundle on Legal Advice, on LinkedIn.

How to Create a Dynamically-Charged Team through Conflict

December 9, 2019

Susan Drumm identifies how conflict can achieve greater results when it grows from cognitive diversity and provides a few factors that can help you build a cognitively diverse team.

 

When you imagine an incredibly effective, successful team meeting, what does it look like?

For some people, it looks like this: One person talking while everyone nods. Someone is taking notes while muttering, ‘Yes, I think so too!’ The leader wraps the meeting by asking, ‘So we’re all in agreement?’ And everyone cheers, ‘Yes!’

Now, I love a smoothly run meeting as much as the next person, but I also know you do not want a completely conflict-free team. It’s not good for your company (or your clients or margins) to be staffed exclusively by people who share the same worldview, the same personality type, or the same approach to business.

In fact, every company would benefit from hiring for cognitive diversity — even if it creates conflict.

Why? Because the conflict that arises from cognitive diversity is good conflict.

It’s conflict that results in better products, happier customers, more effective systems, and fewer missteps.

 

Points covered in this article include:

-What cognitive diversity is

-Types of conflict that arise from cognitive diversity

-How to make sure you have a cognitively diverse team

 

Read the full article, Why You Need Cognitive Diversity on Your Team – Even if it Leads to Conflict, on the Meritage website.

Explaining the Need for Razor-Sharp Precision 

Luiz Zorzella moves beyond the buzzwords to explain how a razor-sharp vision, strategy, and plan inspires buy-in and achieves results.

 

If your organization is not delivering the results you expected, maybe one factor holding it back is a lack of razor-sharp precision.

Most business leaders would benefit from sharpening their strategies: employing more clear language (calling a sword a sword), more accurately defining strategic priorities and objectives. But few actually do it. For example, most financial services companies profess to be “client-centric”, but very few actually explain what that looks like. And if you survey the organization and ask how this principle of “being client-centric” applies to practical matters, you will obtain very different answers.

 

Read the full article, Your Business Needs Razor-Sharp Precision, on the Amquant website.

Why You Should Stop Settling for Safe

December 9, 2019

Life rarely follows the trajectory of a straight line; the ups, downs, obstacles and curve balls tend to throw us off the pre-planned course. Fallon Ukpe shows you how to shift your focus, handle transitions successfully, and create a life of meaningful achievements. Her book, Squiggly Line, was released on Tuesday, November 12th and is now available on Amazon and online from Barnes & Noble.

 

We have been programmed to believe that the line of life is a perfect, straight trajectory up and to the right, but that’s simply not how life works. And now, we have a problem, because perfect is impossible and life isn’t a straight line—it’s a squiggly line.

Yet we continue to strive for something that is unattainable, unfulfilling, and unnecessary. The pursuit of perfection is leaving us overworked and underwhelmed with the trajectory of our lives. If that’s where you find yourself, there is good news: you have a choice.

 

The book, “Life Is a Squiggly Line: Start Embracing Imperfection and Stop Settling for Safe,” is available for sale on Amazon.

Key Presentation Tips Based on the Science of Persuasion

December 9, 2019

Paul Millerd shares a comprehensive guide on how to communicate complex information in simple ways, and how to create memorable presentations with 20 secrets from strategy consulting and persuasion science.

 

How do you build a memorable and persuasive presentation?

I spent over ten years working in the consulting industry at places like McKinsey and Boston Consulting Group and now as a freelance consultant. Communication is central to everything the consulting industry does and in some ways explains why the industry has been so successful for so long. Yet, across the business world and increasingly in the entrepreneurial community, few understand how to present information in a compelling way. Most default to the behaviors of their colleagues or the templates that their company provides. While these methods may result in a beautiful slide, the content tends to fall short.

I am motivated to help people tell remarkable stories, communicate complex information in simple ways, and to teach people how to be memorable. Over the past several years, both through my work and through my research, I have identified many “secrets” of what it takes to create compelling and impactful presentations.

 

The article covers the following points in detail:

-Make your message memorable

-Structure your message

-Designing slides

 

Read the full article, 20 Secrets From Strategy Consulting & Persuasion Science To Create Memorable Presentations, on the StrategyU website.

How to Handle Clients Who Cross Lines

David A. Fields offers actionable advice on how to respond to a client when consulting work veers off the rails.

 

When you, your consulting team and your client all stay on task and positive, consulting is a fun, challenging and rewarding profession. When consulting work veers off the rails, though, how should you respond?

Lines are confusing

Let’s say you want to engage in outreach to your prospects. Rupert, SVP of Everything is next in line. So, you drop him a line. He answers and asks you to hold the line. (Didn’t you just drop it?)

Ugh, you’re on hold, but business is on the line. Two minutes of elevator music. That’s where you draw the line. Is it the end of the line for Rupert? Hard to know—it’s a fine line.

 

Read the full article, How Your Consulting Firm Should Deal with Clients that Cross the Line, on David’s website.

The Problem with the Perception of Lean

While most companies have been focusing on lean, Dan Markovitz explains why they should stop talking about lean and move towards a more practical approach.

 

Lean advocates—and I consider myself one—might do better if they stop talking about lean.

Let’s face it: When executives and workers hear “lean,” not a lot of good happens. They think it’s yet another short-term management fad. Or a cost-cutting program that will lead to layoffs. Or some Japanese thing that only works for car manufacturers.

But when you look at many of the tools and concepts from the lean playbook, they’re really just good management that any leader would want to embrace.

 

Read the full article, We Really Need to Stop Talking about Lean, on Dan’s website.

Howard Stern’s Roadmap to Success

This post from Jeremy Greenberg’s company blog identifies five lessons that CEOs can learn from Howard Stern.

Howard Stern has been one of the most controversial entertainers since he hosted his first radio show over 40 years ago. Love him or hate him, he has enjoyed a successful career thus far – building his brand into an empire worth over $600 million as well as transforming the landscape of terrestrial and satellite radio. Stern’s success can teach us a lot about business. The following are five lessons that CEOs can learn from Howard Stern.

The five lessons covered in the post are:

1.Be authentic

2.Build a strong, diverse team

3. Balance work and life

4. Pivot naturally

5. Always be curious

Here is the lesson on building a strong, diverse team:

Howard Stern is not a one-man show. “I’m at my best when I have a bunch of people around me, when I can call on them and collaborate,” he explains. Stern’s core nucleus of co-host Robin Quivers, sound effects wizard Fred Norris, and producer Gary Dell’Abate has been working with him since 1984. Quivers plays the straight woman, Norris rarely speaks, and Dell’Abate runs things behind the scenes. They all differ from Stern in every way, but work together to make a great team. Three different people with different strengths and weaknesses, doing different jobs.
As you build your team, focus on hiring people who are not like you, but make sure they are people that you like. Diverse work and personal experience, philosophies, and talents are essential to building your company.
In fact, studies have found that a work environment that is more diverse causes a decrease in turnover and an increase in productivity. Just remember, you will have to work with these folks, so make sure you can get along with them so that they remain on the team for the long haul.

 

 

Read the full article, Beyond Baba Booey: 5 Business Lessons CEOs Can Learn From Howard Stern, on the website of Avenue Group.

 

Stop the Churn: How AI Can Improve ROI

Karthik Rajagopalan’s company blog explains how machine learning models can facilitate a deeper understanding of the drivers of churn, leading to better solutions that can help customer retention for subscription businesses.

Subscriptions have been around for a very long time. Having come a long way from the hire-for-purchase model introduced by the Singer sewing machine company, the past few decades saw the emergence of memberships in retail, health clubs, and monthly subscriptions to services like telephone and cable television. More recently, the recurring revenue model has been pushed forward by e-commerce and software-as-a-service (SaaS) businesses with the introduction of services for streaming media, connected home, connected car, gaming, etc. According to the Subscription economy index (SEI), the subscription economy has grown by nearly 300% over the last 7 years and is also increasingly correlated with traditional economy, a significant yet not so surprising development.

 

Topics covered in this article include:

-Churn model

-Churn rate

-Customer longterm value

-Promotion campaigns

 

Read the full article, AI augmented retention program is a must for subscription businesses, on the Paramis Digital website. 

How Do You Protect Your Top Talent?

December 11, 2019

Geoff Wilson explains what Andrew Luck’s recent retirement from football should teach executives about protecting top talent.

If you are an organizational leader who is leaning on a few star talents surrounded by a supporting cast of also-rans to ‘gut it out’ on a daily basis, you are playing a very dangerous game. Because when your top talent has had enough–when you have extracted enough of their soul by asking them to jump on yet another grenade dropped by a poor performing organization–it will be fully justified to go elsewhere.

And, if you aren’t doing this explicitly, it might be good to take a moment and reflect on whether you are doing this implicitly.  Take a look at the team you lead and ask whether you are leaning a bit too heavily on a talented few.  Take a look at the organization you lead and ask whether you are counting too much on a few talented teams to carry the rest of the organization.

Do this not because you have the time to do it.  Nobody does.  Do it because you can’t afford to grind your top talent down to a joyless nub.

 

Read the full article, What Andrew Luck just taught us about protecting top talent, on Wilson Growth Partners’ website.

How to Engage Your Team in a Successful Strategic Planning Process

David A. Fields provides an eight-week plan for an effective strategic planning process that will engage and enthuse your team of consultants for the year ahead.

If you develop an annual plan for your consulting firm, there’s a decent chance you sit down with your senior team and/or advisors for a day or two to hammer out your objectives, strategies and tactics. (If you don’t engage in any strategic planning for your consulting firm then, as the old saying goes, ‘When you don’t know where you’re going, any road could end up in Newark.’) The annual rigmarole requires substantial effort, time, M&Ms and endurance. It’s a chore.

 

The six steps covered in this article are:

-Report the facts

-Lessons learned and implications

-Revisit vision, values, and mission

-Goals, gaps and objectives

-Strategic Initiatives and Success Metrics

-Quarterly Objectives

 

Read the full article, 8 Weeks to Get Juiced – A Better Strategic Planning Process for Consulting Firms, on David’s website.

Hiring a New Manager? Consider This

December 11, 2019

Jesse Jacoby identifies a few of the core issues that can arise when bringing a new manager into the workplace.

Good things are possible when new managerial blood is brought into an organization. For one thing, there are often fresh ideas. You know yourself how easy it is to get so close to something that you can’t see the forest for the trees. You can’t see a solution that’s obvious to someone from the outside. And, of course, if you don’t grow, then the status quo will feel normal. It will be the thing that you sub-consciously pursue. If you were asked point blank if this was your goal, then you’d deny it outright; nevertheless, it wouldn’t change the fact that you were in a rut and loving it.

 

This article covers:

-Changes to an organization’s culture, or that of a department or unit

-The dangers of bringing in new blood

-Recognising and dealing with repercussions

 

Read the full article, A Managerial Transfusion: The Danger of New Bloodon the Emergent Consultant’s website.

Will a Regulated Asset Base Model Work for a New Nuclear Power Plant?

December 11, 2019

Edward Kees provides the commentary from consultation on the Regulated Asset Base (RAB) model for new nuclear power plant investment in Great Britain.

The challenges of delivering new nuclear power plant (NPP) investment in the reformed electricity industry in Great Britain are significant and there is no simple or easy approach to resolve those challenges.
The RAB model may be a useful tool if properly developed and implemented, but:

-Is complex and may be difficult to implement;

-May not clearly reflect the objectives for the British nuclear power industry;

-May not be relevant without a broader review and/or re-opening of the overall approach to the electricity industry structure and electricity market approach in Great Britain; and

-May not deliver desired new NPP investment, or may only deliver new NPP investment with EdF and/or other State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), such as CGN from China.

We provide a response to the Consultation questions, as context for later sections of this Commentary that describe some issues that must be addressed to attract new NPP investment.

 

Read the full article, #30 – UK RAB Model, on the Nuclear Economics website.

One for All or One for One

December 11, 2019

Jason George tackles the intricacies of tariffs and taxes and discusses the potential of a fair system that takes into account concentrated benefits and diffuse costs while dealing with the interests of the few vs. the masses.

Observers who dig even a little into government policy in areas like tariffs or taxes might note some peculiar features. Regulations are often crafted to provide benefits to a favored constituency, while the corresponding costs are borne by the broader population in some opaque way that individuals can’t discern. As a result everyone ends up paying slightly more for healthcare, or cars, or chocolate bars, while the folks who sell those things get some economic protection.

 

Topics covered include:

-The handshake problem

-Hidden group costs

-The cumulative effect of multiple narrow interests

 

Read the full article, The Collective Action Problem and True costs, on Jason’s website.

A Weird Life and Shorter Workweek

December 11, 2019

Paul Millerd shares greetings from Taipei and his thoughts about shorter workweeks, including recent news from Microsoft Japan where they implemented a four-day week and saw productivity jump 40 percent.

Three years ago I was an office worker in New York City, working in a prestigious job making more money than I ever imagined (some of my peers in New York had much different standards!) yet a storm was brewing inside and one that had been totally invisible to many who knew me my entire life

As I got better at my job and better in navigating the corporate world, I struggled to find a deeper reason for why I was there. Early in my career I was learning a lot, but over time it seemed that no one really cared about learning at all. Working on your career narrative, pleasing executives and making money seemed to be the only thing people worked on. Not the kind of learning I was excited by.

This led to a creeping nihilism which I only clearly see now. I’m really just going to make PowerPoint slides and work 48 weeks of every year?

 

Points covered in the article include:

-My weird life and living the dream

-Shorter work week: A real trend in 2020

-The happiness ruse

-A poem by Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī

 

Read the full article, My Weird Life & Shorter Workweek Zeitgeist, on Paul’s website.

 

How to Catch a Customer with these Communication Hooks

Robyn Bolton shares five techniques that can help you understand your toughest customers in this post recently published on Forbes.

Let’s be honest, we love talking to people who just ‘get’ us. I believe this is because we often must hold a number of conversations with people who don’t ‘get’ us.

In business, the people who don’t understand us are the ones we desperately need: Our customers. Many might not understand why your products or services cost so much, why your offerings are so complicated or why they should choose your service over a competitor’s.

 

Points covered in this article include:

-How to open the conversation

-How to learn from customers

-How to ask the right questions

-How to share your opinions

-Knowing your limits

 

Read the full article, Five Techniques To Help You Understand Even Your Toughest Customers, on Forbes.

The Best and the Worst According to Yeats

December 11, 2019

Jim Klass shares a short but poignant excerpt from a Yeats poem that is appropriate for today’s environment.

A poem on the confusion of our era.

 

Read the full article, Although almost 100 years old Yeats poem is appropriate for today, on LinkedIn.

What’s the Definition of Your Business?

Discover how Amazon’s battle with Netflix is teaching us to rethink competition and question how business should be defined in this article from Stephen Wunker’s company blog.

For many years now we’ve seen the dangers of defining your business too narrowly. Think about Borders, which pioneered the book megastore model. Rather than using the Internet’s rise to consider how new technologies or business models could allow it to better satisfy customers’ jobs to be done, it defined itself as a bookseller. When times got tough, it doubled down on trying to sell more of the items its customers happened to be buying — books, CDs, and DVDs. It last turned a profit in 2006 before ultimately declaring bankruptcy and closing its doors in 2011. Online retailer Amazon now reigns supreme in the space.

 

Read the full article, How Amazon’s Battle with Netflix is Teaching us to Rethink Competition, on Medium.

tags Strategy

Why Cash is Still King

December 11, 2019

There are four good reasons for holding on to a cash-based economy. Tobias Baer reveals the hidden economic benefits and explains why cash is still king.

Do we still need cash? More and more stores are going cashless. A whole country—Sweden—is intent on becoming the world’s first cashless nation in 2023. The attraction is the savings from avoiding the substantial handling costs of cash. In many places, increasing numbers of consumers have stopped carrying wallets because their phones have become viable substitutes. And government agencies fighting tax evasion love the trail electronic payments leave.

 

Four reasons to keep cash explored are:

-Operational risk

-Privacy

-Hidden economic benefit

-Financial exclusion

 

Read the full article, Why We Need Cashon LinkedIn.

How to Get on Board with the Membership Economy

December 11, 2019

Robbie Baxter explains why companies need to prioritize their mission over their products to take advantage of new technologies and services and build a new kind of relationship with today’s–and tomorrow’s–members.

As association leaders, many of you are Membership Pioneers. Membership is something you probably have been thinking about for years. But in the last 10 years, membership has reinvented nearly every industry. Companies like LinkedIn, Amazon and Salesforce have created forever transactions of their own with their customers by using many of the tactics that are core to the deep relationships trade groups, professional societies and other not-for-profit associations have been building for decades.

But they’re using new tactics–streaming content, frictionless checkout, recommendation engines, artificial intelligence–to create dramatically improved experiences. As a result, consumer expectations about what membership means have changed. And the drivers of this new perception are not coming from other associations, they’re coming from Silicon Valley tech.

Maybe this is a good thing though. In times of great change, there are big winners, and big losers.

So what can your organization do to be one of the winners?

 

Points covered include:

-Product market fit

-Taking advantage of new technologies and services

-Prioritizing your mission over your products

 

Read the full article, Memberships Are Changing and What it Means for Your Association, on LinkedIn.

Fixing the Supply Chain Sustainably

December 11, 2019

Shane Heywood provides an article that reveals how beer manufacturers are collaborating with smallholder farms to get a more secure supply chain, lower the cost of raw materials, and empower more households with income, and all in addition to improving yields from farming that could change lives for the 2 Bn+ smallholder farmers in the world.

While interacting with 20+ smallholder farmers in Kenya, I, in addition to charities like One Acre Fund,  had the chance to see first hand how improved yields from farming could change lives for the 2 Bn+ smallholder farmers in the world.

Yet, it’s not only NGOs / charities that recognize the  value of farmers; beer manufacturers also work to collaborate with smallholder farmers. By incorporating the outputs from farmers as raw material, firms can get a more secure supply chain, lower the cost of raw materials, while empowering households with income.

 

Read the full article, Beer and Farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa: What’s next?, on Shane’s website.

Can Manufacturing Join the Membership Economy?

December 16, 2019

Robbie Kellman Baxter reviews the progression of the subscription business model, from the early days of SaaS to a future of manufacturing based on the subscription model.

My first job after business school was as a product manager at an enterprise software company. I picked it because it was one of the first companies experimenting with what today we call Software-as-a-Service, and I could see that was going to be the futureIt just made so much sense. The old business model had been a licensing one. You paid a one-time (huge) fee to own the software and be able to run it on your site, using your own hardware. If you wanted to customize the software, you hired a professional services person to code it. Most people also paid for a maintenance contract for basic upgrades and bug-fixes. But if you had customized the software at implementation, then anytime you wanted to upgrade the software, you had to bring the professional services person back.

 

Points covered include:

-The benefits of Saas

-Transformation in manufacturing

-New business models

 

Read the full article, Why manufacturing is about to be disrupted by the Membership Economy, on Robbie’s website.

Six Questions to Find the Right Sponsor

To inspire successful innovation, Kaihan Krippendorff explains why the composition of the founding team is crucial and why the first step should be to find a sherpa. He provides six questions to help you assess and secure a powerful advocate to lead the team.

That historic moment when the perfect team unifies beyond an opportunity, pregnant with possibility, is the essential scene of any great innovation legend: think Jobs and Wozniak when they created Apple, Gates and Allen with Microsoft, or Page and Brin with Google.

This is why so many books and professors and venture capitalists focus on the composition of the founding team – you want more than one person but fewer than seven, the right mix of personality types (Roger Hamilton offers a useful framework), and a balance of skills (the hacker, hustler, and hipster).  But here is the problem. More than 70% of society’s most transformative innovations have come from employees, not entrepreneurs, and forming a team around an innovation idea as an employee is a fundamentally different challenge.

 

Read the full article, Your Innovation Needs a Sponsor… Here are 6 Signs You Have the Right One, on the Outthinker website.

Technology is Changing How We Learn — and Think

December 18, 2019

Jason George takes a look at the mind maps of the London Cabbie to illustrate the difference between storing knowledge in the brain and accessing knowledge stored elsewhere.

Having been built up over hundreds of years into its current dense and meandering tangle, London’s road network shows few signs of the regularity that characterizes its counterparts in younger countries. Prior to the advent of cheap map technology, anyone wanting to explore unfamiliar neighborhoods would need a detailed atlas to find addresses or landmarks. Finding the desired spot was akin to playing Where’s Waldo, given the thicket of alleys and courts and lanes laid out with no obvious organizing principle.

One group was notably unfazed by this challenge. London’s black cab drivers developed a well-deserved reputation for their ability to navigate to any points in the metro area with ease, with no reference to guide them. This was not accidental, as to earn their license each had to pass a legendarily grueling test that came to be known simply as the “Knowledge,” a requirement first instituted in the era of horse-drawn carriages.

 

Topics covered include:

-Mental maps

-Panopticon

-The knowledge economy

 

Read the full article, How learning changes your thinking — Mind what you knowon Jason’s website.

Nine Signals to Flag Faulty Assumptions & Create Opportunities

David A. Fields explains why correct assumptions can quickly become wrong, and how to test the assumptions of your consulting practice to create new opportunities.

You throw your best efforts into delivering value for your consulting clients, improving your consulting firm’s marketing, and creating a rewarding consulting environment. Then you find your work was off by a bit. Or more than a bit. Or completely wrong. Pickles-in-peanut-butter wrong. That’s no fun.

Alas, I have bad news for you and me: we’re mistaken. About everything.

I also have good news: our mistaken assumptions represent a huge opportunity for our consulting firms.

 

The article identifies nine signals that could transform your consulting practice, including:

-Unexpected success signals

-Unexpected failure signals

-Closely held belief signals

-Two transformative questions

 

Read the full article, Signs Your Consulting Firm Is Operating on Faulty Assumptions,  on David’s company website.

Finding Growth in Financial Services

December 20, 2019

Many financial service leaders are not convinced that total market growth is important. Luiz Zorzella explains why even small companies can benefit from paying attention to and capitalizing on what is happening to the market.

You may have heard – or asked – questions such as:

“If our company does not hold a large market share in our markets, should we worry about market growth?”

“How would we even estimate market growth?”

“If most of our existing clients are in not in growth markets, should we abandon them and go after new ones?”

Those are very valid questions:

In most markets, companies with single-digit market shares feel no significant impact of market saturation (that feeling that you have exhausted all good leads). That means that as a general rule, regardless of whether the market is expanding or contracting, there is always an abundant supply of fresh, good prospects to be chased.

 

Areas explored include:

-Growing markets have growing needs. For example, your commercial clients will be investing to expand capacity and may need CRE and equipment loans to open new locations.

-Growing markets have more sophisticated needs. For example, companies in growing markets often need more attractive Group Benefits to attract talent and ward off poachers.

-Growing markets tend to supply better clients. For example, credit quality tends to be good and to improve over time in growing markets – thus not only improving the quality and value of your portfolio but also freeing up capital to invest in growth.

-Growing markets will carry you. This is because your existing clients, who have a lower acquisition cost than new clients, will continue to grow.

 

Read the full article, The Eternal Hunt for Growth in Financial Services, on the Amquant website.

Master the Art of Strategy Execution

An evergreen post from Gaelle Lamotte to kickoff 2020 and help you prepare for what lies ahead. 

In a world of disruptive businesses, overwhelming information and relentless change, companies have to master the art of strategy execution to be agile enough to capitalize on growth opportunities. Excellence in execution is what makes the difference between good strategies and success in the marketplace for your customers, partners and employees, and ultimately investors and shareholders.

 

Points covered include:

-Understanding the organization’s capabilities

-Discipline in managing strategy

 

Read the full article, How do you prepare for what’s ahead?, on LinkedIn.

Best-practice Purchasing & Value Creation

Michael Wise recently co-authored this article for McKinsey that explores how best-practice purchasing is now an even more potent source of value creation for private-equity leaders.

A careful review of purchasing is typically part of any private-equity (PE) playbook, with procurement savings factoring prominently into 100-day and longer-term business plans. As part of the process, procurement professionals are typically charged with finding and acting on low-hanging opportunities like requesting price reductions and volume discounts from suppliers. Leading PE firms are adopting a more comprehensive and transformative approach, powered by new digital and analytical tools, that can lift earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) by 20 percent within six months. These tools, combined with the right approach and methodologies, enable rapid sizing and capturing of the opportunity, permanently changing the way investment and management teams look at procurement—and other aspects of operations

In this article, we will describe the new approach, focusing specifically on the impact that digital tools, advanced analytics, and new methodologies have had on midsize-portfolio companies in a variety of industrial sectors.

 

The article explores the following:

-Identifying value potential

-Supporting value capture with e-sourcing tools

-Four elements of success

 

Read the full article, Digital procurement in private equity: Unlocking sustainable impact, on the McKinsey and Company website

Five Big Avoidable Traps in the Design and Implementation Process

Stephen Redwood explains how organization design projects can fail to meet their objectives.

It’s a funny thing, but when it comes to the subject of organization design the first question clients usually ask me is: “How can we not screw this up?”Not unreasonably, clients recognize how unsettling these projects can be. They know that, too often, the results can fall short of expectations, so they want to minimize disruption and increase the odds of success.

 

In this article, points covered include:

-“Men are Moved by Two Levers Only: Fear and Self Interest”

-What The Eye Doesn’t See The Heart Doesn’t Grieve Over

-Beware Butterflies

-Broken Rearview Mirrors

-Everyone has a best friend

 

Read the full article, How Do Organization Design Projects Get Messed Up, on LinkedIn.

5G — A Most Significant Shift in the History of Technology

From David Burnie’s company blog, an overview on how 5G will change everything, and a brief review on mobile technology to date.

5G is forecast to enable USD 12 trillion in new economic activity by 2035[1] and impact industries ranging from agriculture and forestry to finance and insurance. 5G has the potential to disrupt the way consumers, businesses and industries operate.Before we jump into the disruptive potential of 5G, let’s look at what 5G is and how it is different from previous generations of mobile technology.

 

This article includes:

-What is 5G technology?

-A brief history of mobile technology

-What is low latency?

-Why does low latency matter?

-Examples of how 5G will create new offerings and impact business models

-The final word

 

Read the full article, How 5G Changes Everything, on David Burnie’s company website.

How to Become a Platform Powerhouse

In the digital age, Amanda Setili explains why every company — big or small – needs a platform strategy to connect with customers.

 

Today’s businesses now live or die based on how well they cultivate and connect those who they do business with. Just look at the seven most valuable companies in 2019—Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet (parent company of Google), Amazon, Facebook, Alibaba and Tencent. Each created their success by deliberately and aggressively building powerful platforms to connect customers, content providers, suppliers, and others to each other.

 

Amanda provides five detailed steps toto build a vibrant, self-reinforcing community that can propel your company’s success.

 

The five steps shared include:

Step 1: Take inventory.

Step 2: Attract and connect your ideal.

Step 3: Assure participants get value.

Step 4: Create physical or virtual engagement platforms.

Step 5: Listen, observe, enhance.

 

Read the full article, Why Every Company — Big or Small — Needs a Platform Strategy on Amanda Setili’s company website.

Crowdfunding in Columbia

A concise and informative post on the regulation of crowdfunding in Columbia from Alvaro Triana’s company blog. 

 

In Colombia, Crowdfunding activity was regulated through Decree 1357 of 2018. This Decree established the administration, operation and use of electronic platforms for the financing of investment projects through the issuance of securities representing debt or social capital.

 

Read the full article, Do You Know How Crowdfunding Works in Colombia, on the Triana, Uribe, and Michelsen website.

4 Steps that Will Help You Get Honest Feedback

January 10, 2020

Susan Drumm provides four steps to ensure you will get honest feedback from your team.

Do you think you can get your team to give you honest feedback? Like no-holds-barred honest?  

Many of my clients tell me they struggle to get real feedback from their direct reports and I’m not surprised.

Does this story sound familiar? One of my senior clients recently received the results of his 360 report and was surprised to learn that his team felt they weren’t being mentored effectively by him.

None too pleased with this, he walked out into the office and proceeded to go desk to desk. “Was this comment from you? Do YOU think I’m a good mentor? Do you have a problem with the way I mentor?”

 

Points covered in the four steps include:

-Create a culture of feedback and honesty from the outset.

-Dig in when asking for feedback.

-Be honest and genuine when asking for feedback

-Once you get the feedback, do something with it.

 

Read the full article, How to Get Honest Feedback from Your Team, on the Meritage Leadership website.

Can a Business Fulfill Religious Needs?

January 13, 2020

Jason George explores the relationship between the human need for ritual, community, and purpose, and the organizations or entrepreneurs who see that need as their next opportunity.

 

Come all ye faithful

Some of the devoted choose to meet in the early morning, braving the cold and arriving at their nondescript buildings in the predawn darkness. The name on the sign outside might reference “soul” or “cross,” but there is nothing outwardly grand about these places. The real draw is the service about to start inside.

The congregants’ earlier interactions have acclimated them to social norms like dress codes, so they choose their attire with the fastidiousness of early Puritans. This leads to a generic sameness among the group—deviation would make one stick out, and this experience is not about the individual.

 

Key points include:

-The pursuit of salvation through testing the body

-How brands like SoulCycle and CrossFit fulfill the need

-Religion-as-business

 

Read the full article, The Business of Religion, and the Religion of Business, on Jason’s website.

How to Become an Effective Executive Leader

Thinking about kicking off the New Year with the goal of transitioning from senior to executive leadership? Stephen Redwood provides advice on how to achieve the goal. 

 

When coaching clients I am often asked the question: what do I need to know to make the transition from being an already experienced leader to being effective as an executive leader

It’s an interesting, and sometimes surprising, question given that they will already have years of experience as leaders. I believe the reason they are asking is because of the realization that the most senior executive roles are often differentiated from other leadership roles by the:

  1. Weight of ultimate accountability
  2. Complexity and breadth of oversight responsibilities
  3. Challenge of motivating others to accept accountability for problem solving
  4. Difficulty of learning to ask questions rather than give answers
  5. Degree to which messaging has to be effective at a distance

This is not to say these factors don’t play a role to some degree at all levels of leadership, but at the most senior levels each of these generally carries greater consequences for the organization. So, let’s dig in and look at what I’ve often found helps leaders I work with successfully make this transition.

 

Read the full article How Do I Make the Transition from Senior to Executive Leadership? on LinkedIn.

Insight into the Product Cost Management Software Market

January 15, 2020

In this two-part series, Eric Arno Hiller interviews Spend Matters founder, Jason Busch, about the growth of the market of Product Cost Management software and the state of the art today.

 

A lot has happened in the world of procurement software in the last 20 years. Purchasing has added a lot of new tools to what was mostly a relationship-focused discipline. These developments include:

  1. Data-rich environments of spreadsheets, MRP and ERP systems
  2. Supply chain management and supplier relationship management systems
  3. Online auctions
  4. Spend analytics tools/product cost management (PCM) software

Although the relationship side of the business is just as important as ever (some might say more important), purchasing analytics are here to stay, and they continue to become more prevalent in the discipline. The same is true for product cost management tools and their offshoots of service cost management tools. In this series, I am going to discuss the evolution of these tools and the state of the art.

 

Read the first full article, The evolution of product cost management tools and the state of the art, on Hiller Associates’ company blog.

Where the Subscription Business is Going in 2020

Subscription businesses were a big deal in 2019, so what’s the forecast for 2020? Robbie Kellman Baxter shares her expertise on what lies ahead. 

I’m no fortune teller, but something about the beginning of a new year and a new decade makes me want to start spouting predictions. Actually, this isn’t the first time I have taken a crack at predictions. The final chapter of my new book THE FOREVER TRANSACTION is all about the future of subscription and membership models too.

Here’s what I think will happen.

 

In this post, topics covered include:

  • There will be a right-sizing of the “Subscription Box” industry.
  • Subscription “Managers” Will be Everywhere.
  • Subscription CMOs will swing back toward strategy and away from “growth hacking”.
  • Consumers will start subscribing to the thing itself, not just services and boxes.
  • Big Companies will try to buy their way into the Membership Economy through Acquisition.
  • Healthcare will become increasingly consumer-centric, which will lead to more forever transactions.

Read the full article, Crystal Ball: The World of Subscriptions in 2020, on LinkedIn.

Guidelines to Kick the Year into High Gear

David A. Fields’ first blog of the year provides a pathway forward for consulting firms in 2020.

It’s the first week of the year and one thing you’re probably wondering is what you and your consulting firm should do first. Right now.

Your consulting prospects are asking the same question. What should they do now? What should their priority be?  Unfortunately, their list could be topped with challenges that your consulting firm doesn’t solve—penetrating the blacklight market, designing an office layout that houses 200 employees in a 50-employee space, or inventing new uses for leftover holiday yams.

Where does that leave you?

Without a consulting engagement.

 

In this article, points covered include:

-What’s Important Now?

-What’s the VIP for your consulting project? For your consulting offering?

-Three Questions to Identify Your VIP

 

Read the full article, What Your Consulting Firm Should Do Right Now, on David’s company blog.

Join the Intellectual Forum on Preventing Algorithmic Bias

January 18, 2020

Data scientist and psychologist Tobias Baer (who recently published a book on algorithmic bias) is giving a talk on how to prevent algorithmic bias in the U.K. on Tuesday, 11 February 2020. 

Algorithmic bias can affect us everywhere, from minor trivia such as our social media feeds to critical decisions where bias can wreak havoc with a person’s life dream or a company’s survival. Sources of algrorithmic bias are manifold – some, such as biased data and overfitting, sit squarely in the domain of data scientists themselves, while others only can be tackled by the business users and government agencies who use algorithms, be it through carefully crafted experiments that generate truly unbiased data or through deliberate tweaks of the decision-making process.

 The discussion will include:

  1. The psychological and statistical sources of bias
  2. What business users and data scientists can do respectively to manage and prevent algorithmic bias.
  3. How regulators should think about algorithmic bias

To learn more about the event, visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/how-to-prevent-algorithmic-bias-tickets-86670021367

A Most Common Problem in Lean Manufacturing

Dan Markovitz reveals a common problem that lean programs often face. 

 

Boeing’s Starliner failed an important test flight two weeks ago. It was supposed to rendezvous with the International Space Station, but was unable to reach the correct orbit.  

The problem with this engineering marvel? Not the complex aerodynamics, not the critical separation from the Atlas V rocket, not the all-important re-entry heat shield. 

No, the problem was with the internal clock. The spacecraft’s internal clock became unsynced with the overall “mission elapsed timing” system, so the Starliner failed to fire its engines at the correct time to reach orbit.  

So—a $5 billion project was undone by something that your $10 Casio watch could handle. 

Does your lean program face the same problem?

 

Read the full article, Boeing Starliner Failure: lessons for your lean program, on Dan’s company blog.

How to Build Better Relationships

The subscription business is based on long-term relationships with customers. Robbie Kellman Baxter shares ideas on how to build strong relationships that work for both your personal life and in business.

 

Over the holidays, I started thinking about what my work on The Forever Transaction and The Membership Economy has taught me about building long-term personal relationships, which ultimately are way more important than any subscription.

As dig in on our 2020 to do lists, and focus on our goals and hopes for the year ahead, I wanted to share some ideas on how we can take these principles and apply them in our personal relationships. It’s a little hokey, and a little jargon-y business-school-ish but I decided to try using my 7-step framework as a guide.

 

Points covered in this article include:

 

1: Different tiers of subscriptions

2: Identifying key metrics

3: Onboarding process

4: Using technology

 

Read the full article, Seven Steps to Better Personal Relationships, on LinkedIn.

How to Organize for Going Digital

Stephen Redwood provides a post that addresses a common problem most companies face when shifting to a new system: how to organize all the moving parts to prepare for the transformation. 

 

Not since the world went from moving around by horse and cart to the use of steam engines, has the pace of change accelerated as much as it is now. So, when back in February 2018 Forrester published a paper entitled Digital Rewrites the Rules of Business it quite rightly focused on the need for companies to think transformational, rather than incremental when figuring out how to adapt to the digital world.

Many of my clients are on this journey and have asked me the question: “How should we organize for digital?”

 

Points covered in this article include:

 

1: The right reporting line for digital

2: Capabilities within the digital function

3: How to resource digital

4: The readiness of company culture

 

Read the full article, How Should We Organize for Digital?, on LinkedIn.

How UPS Inspired Employee Innovation

Amanda Setili shines a light on an initiative that sparked employee engagement, inspired innovation, and motivated collaboration. 

 

What does a 110-year-old company do to increase the rate of innovation from less than one new business per year to 50? 

The answer, says David Lee, Vice President of Innovation and New Ventures at UPS, is to launch a program that taps into the brilliant growth ideas lurking in the heads of many of its 480,000 employees. 

The program is called Upstarts, and it invited employees to “in five pages or less, tell us your idea for growth.” 

To spur interest, Lee’s team held mixers in cities around the world, from Shanghai, to Neuss, Germany, to Toronto and Miami. Employees heard what UPS was hoping to achieve through the program, and how they could contribute. 

“It’s not just about ideas,” Lee explains. “It’s about finding teams of passionate, talented people.

 

Read the full article, Upstarts Kick-Start the Pace of Innovation at UPS, on Amanda’s website.

What Lean Means for the Work Week

 

Dan Markovitz explains why time management and a shorter work week is good news for lean.

 

In the space of two weeks, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal both ran articles on the productivity benefits of reduced work hours. The WSJ introduced us to the workers at Rheingans Digital Enabler in Germany, who only put in five-hour days, for a workweek of 25 hours. The same is true of employees at Tower Paddle Boards (at least during the summer months) and Collins SBA, a financial advisory firm in Australia. 

Not to be outdone, NPR reported that Microsoft Japan moved to a four-day workweek this summer while increasing productivity by 40%. Of course, software firm 37 Signals has been operating four-day work weeks over the summer since 2008. And New Zealand-based Perpetual Guardian believes in the four-day week so strongly that the founder created a non-profit to promote it. Indeed, a recent survey by the Society of Human Resource Management indicates that fifteen percent of companies offer a 32-hour workweek. 

 

Read the full article, It’s Not Time Management, It’s Lean, on his website.

What Makes You BEST for ME?

 

Pitching all the reasons why your company, service, or product is better is often received with a lack of response. David A. Fields explains where the miscommunication lies and provides a solution to the problem. 

 

You know a rain barrel full of reasons why your consulting firm is better than other firms that do what you do. Among the reasons, of course, is you. Your experience and ideas and unique perspective.

Hence, when Bethany Buttonwerk asked you why her company should work with your consulting firm instead of others she’s talking to, you quickly trotted out all your advantages.

Alas, that lessened your likelihood to win the project!

Oh no. Why’d that happen?

Let’s revisit Bethany’s query. Unfortunately, she unwittingly asked the wrong question. You then proudly tootled your answers to her mistaken question, which left her dissatisfied, disgruntled, and disinterested. (And you disappointed or dyspeptic.)

 

Read the full article, A Superior Response to “What Makes Your Consulting Firm Better” on David’s website.

A Post-Merger Integration Plan Guide

January 25, 2020

 

David Burnie’s company blog provides a plan for post-merger integration to help ensure a smoother process.

 

A post-merger integration or PMI is what happens following a merger or acquisition. PMIs are the complex process of combining and rearranging the merged businesses to find efficiencies and create synergies.

 

Points included in the article:

 

1: What makes a good PMI plan?

2: An example PMI plan

3: Common mistakes in a Post Merger Integration plan

 

Read the full copy of the Post Merger Integration Plan from the Post Merger Integration Knowledge Hub on The Burnie Group’s website.

Why Companies Just Don’t Dig the Gig Economy

 

Diane Mulcahy interviews Krystal Hicks to find out why some companies don’t hire remote employees, and how the Gig Economy has shifted the power balance between employers and employees.

 

Krystal Hicks is the founder of JOBTALK, a company that grew out of her side gig providing talent, recruiting, and job-hunting advice to companies and individuals. Before going out on her own, she managed U.S. Talent Acquisition for the Swiss chocolate maker Lindt, and was the former Director of Career Services at the University of New Hampshire.

 

Points they discuss include:

 

  1. Leaders lacking trust
  2. Managerial Darwinism
  3. The power balance between employers and employees
  4. Understanding what employees want

 

Read the full article, Women In The Gig Economy: Krystal Hicks On Why Companies Don’t Trust Their Employees, on the Forbes Inc. website.

How Algorithms Can Steer You in the Wrong Direction

January 27, 2020

 

Tobias Baer provides clear and concise examples of how Google uses the acquisition of select data to create bias, which leads to the dissemination of inaccurate information.  

 

I’m an avid user of the navigation function of Google Maps. Every time I reach my destination, Google asks me for feedback on the navigation instructions. What could possibly be wrong with that? Well, I bet that the data and any analytics derived from that feedback often – and, vastly! – overestimates users’ satisfaction. Why is that?

The app is a perfect illustration of availability bias. I only am given this opportunity to provide feedback when I reach my destination. Which means that if I reach a river only to find that the ferry supposed to take me and my car to the other riverside has stopped operations an hour ago, or if after a few hours of cycling I find that the path indicated by the app leads straight into a gigantic military infrastructure that is fenced by barbed wires with large red signs threatening any trespasser to be shot (both has actually happened to me), and hence my only option is to abolish my route, exit the navigation, and go back to where I come from, no feedback is collected.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • The problem with creating algorithms quickly
  • The lack of sufficient communication
  • The challenge of creating objective, systematic assessment procedures

 

Read the full article, A Little Example How Google Creates Biases, on LinkedIn.

How to Build Muscle that Makes Resolutions Happen

 

With New Year in the rear view mirror, are you driving forward with your resolutions? 

Robyn Bolton provides five ways to improve your resolve.

 

According to research by Strava, the social network for athletes, most people will have given up on their New Year’s Resolutions by Sunday, January 19.

While that’s probably good news for all the dedicated workout enthusiasts who will be glad to get their gyms back, given that the most common New Year’s resolution is to exercise more, it’s a bit discouraging for the rest of us.

But just because you’re about to stop hitting the gym to drop weight and build muscle (or whatever your resolutions are), it doesn’t mean that you can’t focus on improving other muscles. May I suggest, your innovation muscles?

Innovation mindsets, skills and behaviors can be learned, but if you don’t continuously use them, like muscles, they can weaken and atrophy. That’s why it’s important to create opportunities to flex them.

 

 

In this post, Robyn shares what you can do to build and sustain innovation:

 

  • Quarterly
  • Monthly
  • Weekly
  • Daily

 

Read the full article, 5 Resolutions to Make 2020 the Year that Innovation Actually Happens, on Medium.

Don’t Plan for Innovation – Discover It

January 29, 2020

 

Kaihan Krippendorff takes a left turn off a straight road to discover the benefits of not planning as a fundamental benefit to innovation.

 

Twenty years ago, long before we had children, my wife and I decided to spend Valentine’s Day weekend in Tuscany. We were living just a two-hour flight away in London at the time, so leaving on a Friday and returning on a Monday would still mean two days and three nights of rolling hills, wineries, and amazing cuisine.

We booked our flights and rented a car, but our search for a hotel revealed nothing really inspiring within our budget. We narrowed our choices down to a property a little larger than a bed-and-breakfast on the outskirts of Lucca. But we still felt it was a “plan B,” our fallback plan.

We had dreamed of a hotel that would be truly memorable, not necessarily luxurious, but that would give us an authentic and memorable experience of the Italian countryside. So we set out, without confirmed accommodations, in the hopes of stumbling upon our ‘plan A.’

 

 

In this article, Kaihan explains:

 

  • The limitations of data to predict outcomes
  • The benefits of flipping your mindset
  • Engineering luck
  • Discovering Plan A

 

Read the full article, For 2020, Consider  the Wisdom of not Planning, on Kaihan’s blog.

Compelling Evidence for Evolution

 

Glenton Jelbert tackles the theories behind evolution to dispel the beliefs of the creationists. 

 

Despite what creationists and Intelligent Design people tell you, the theory of evolution makes a remarkable number of predictions that have turned out to be correct. This is true for discoveries that postdate the discovery of evolution, such as plate tectonics, specific fossil finds and DNA. I want to discuss one in particular that is completely amazing, discussed by Richard Dawkins in The Greatest Show on Earth.

You sometimes hear it said that a creator could and would reuse elements of his creation if he or she wanted to do so. You might even expect it. So it should not come as a surprise to us that DNA is so similar across different species. This is just God parsimoniously re-using some of his best bits. Evolution says that the DNA is similar across different species because of their common descent. Don’t both theories explain the data just as well? It turns out not.

 

Read the full article, Evolution’s Most Remarkable Prediction, on Glenton’s website.

Streamline Your Strategic Priorities

 

Luiz Zorzella explains why non-strategic projects can be a distraction that get in the way of real strategic work and what you can do about it. 

 

When companies define their strategic priorities, it is common to include in this list items that are not building blocks of the company’s strategic goals. At least directly.

Some of these items are extraneous, pet projects and/or impositions from third-party actors or the result of internal politics and accommodations and at best do not add any value and at worst hinder the strategic agenda.

However, there is another type of priority which, if properly managed, can help you break into a vault full of riches that are unreachable to you right now.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Three categories of items
  • How to prioritize and implement items

 

Read the full article, Break into the Strategic Treasure Vault, on the Amquant website.

Key Points on How to Enter a New Market with a New Product

Luca Ottinetti’s company blog shares case studies that reveal how Intel and SpaceX successfully launched new products, and what went wrong with Nokia and Swissair’s business model innovations.

 

Entering a new market with new products that target new customers requires a new business model. It is a powerful strategic initiative that changes the rules of competition. It also represents a challenge with odds of success at roughly 30%, but ultimately – when done right – it rewards winners with huge returns.

Managers need to know what they’re in for if they decide to pursue this path of business growth. The challenge in entering a new market through a successful business model innovation (BMI) consists of getting two elements right:

(1) the pursuit of attractive market opportunities, and

(2) ownership of the strategic control points in the industry to protect profit streams.

We look at cases of success and failure by companies that have entered new markets with new business model designs to illustrate the determinants of success.

 

Included in this article:

  • Two case studies on successful business model innovation 
  • Two case studies on failed business model innovation

Read the full article, Market Entry through New Business Model Design, on the Great Prairie Group website.

Sharing the Equity in Your Business

February 2, 2020

 

Mike Cox answers a question that is close to the heart of every business owner and entrepreneur who may be considering bringing new people into the business, “How much equity should I give a new hire.”

 

This question greys the hair of every business owner and entrepreneur. After all owners bear the burden of risk regardless of how they answer that question and the more that they choose to let go of equity, the less they feel like an owner and the more they feel like any other executive -except that they incurred a risk others didn’t.

While holding equity is fundamental to being a business owner, the distribution of equity from owners to employees is not fundamental and happens for a wide variety of reasons – some justified and others misguided. And while few employees would ever shun being given equity, their rationale for and level of interest in equity varies for many reasons.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Equity distribution, the tool of last resort
  • The appeal of equity to employees
  • Alignment of agendas

 

Read the full article, Don’t Give Equity away too Freely, on the Cox Innovations website.

Social Enterprise and Employment in Africa

 

Odin Muhlenbein and his colleagues co-authored an article that explains how social enterprises are solving the problem of youth unemployment in Africa. 

The issues that are the most pressing today will shape the legacies of the most powerful African political and business leaders of our time.

For the continent, the youth population boom and issues of employment are at the top of the list of priorities. Leaders at national, continental and global levels discuss these topics in the halls of the United Nations, the African Union and within talent-strapped businesses operating in the region. When it comes to the political and economic agendas of a continent dubbed “the most youthful” and projected to become the home of half of the world’s youth population by 2040, the “youth bulge” and the unemployment statistics inform the entire dialogue. Clearly, there is need for urgency, action and collaboration to create sustainable impact on a large scale.

 

This article includes approaches applied by leading social entrepreneurs in Africa to address the issue. 

 

Read the full article, Learning from social enterprises: How to solve youth unemployment in Africa, on the Devex website.

How to Improve Your Go-to-Market Strategy

February 3, 2020

 

Sean McCoy idenfities three common denominators behind unsuccessful commercialization efforts.

After your Go-to-Market (GtM) strategy is designed and the planning is complete, it is time to move into execution. Implementation is when a strategy finally impacts the bottom line, which is why it is so vital to get the implementation right. Because Go-to-Market strategies are among the more transformational and comprehensive changes at a company, their execution is more complex, nuanced, and impactful, further increasing the stakes in implementation.

There are three major questions to answer when implementing a commercialization strategy: What is the governance? What is the rhythm? When do you scale? When companies answer these questions well, their GtM implementations are more successful. When they pass over these questions or answer them inadequately, their GtM implementations are more likely to fail.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Governance & accountability
  • The scaling model
  • The cadence of activities

 

Read the full article, 3 Success Factors to Operationalize Your Go-to-Market Strategy, on the McCoy Consulting Group website.

A Business Model for Social Enterprises

 

Shane Heywood takes a look at how the Direct to Consumer business model could have meaningful implications for social enterprises. 

My earliest shaving experience was around the age of 13. After 10 minutes, reeling from irritation everywhere, and minimal hair in the sink, I also felt slightly cheated by how much I had spent on the razor.

Apparently, that feeling has helped to lead to a $1 Bn USD deal.

Across some consumer-facing industries, from shaving cream to mattresses to prescription glasses, a direct to consumer – plus (DTC+) model is leaving an indelible imprint in the Consumer Goods industry, delighting consumers and disappointing long-standing players with equal effect.

The Dollar Shaving Club, which provides members with razors and other personal care products, is one of the more prominent firms showing the DTC model; however Casper and Eve mattresses are other examples, and Warby Parker, providing glasses.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • The Direct to Consumer (DTC) business model
  • DTC and Social impact

 

Read the full article, Dollar Shaving Club and Social Enterprises: Can one learn from the other?, on Shane’s website.

Talent, Culture, and Company

 

It takes more than talent to become a valued employee in today’s workplace. Sherif El Henaoui identifies the benefits of finding the right fit. 

Top people are desired. Every company wants them: the intelligent, creative, endurable, high-performance worker. Since this desired workforce is rare, there is a “war” as suggested by the HR literature. I once heard a quote of a McKinsey partner commenting on the Internet bubble crisis saying, “We won the war for talent, but we ended up with too many prisoners.”

Cultural fit

We want to suggest a more peaceful view on the matter. High-performance is also a result of the cultural fit. This applies to societies and corporations. An aggressive, forward-looking sales professional works well in one type of company but is perceived as too pushy and less collegial in another. Is that the fault of the employee?

 

Read the full article, Fight Your Own War for Talent, on LinkedIn.

How to Ensure Successful Digital Transformation 

 

C.V. Ramachandran discusses what it takes to institute digital transformation successfully by engaging a holistic approach that provides support for every part of a company’s value chain.

Big data, machine learning, connected vehicles, industry 4.0, robotic process automation, blockchain … No matter what industry you are in, you have surely come across these popular buzzwords in recent years. These are the phrases that define digital transformation, a modern industrial revolution that has the potential to dramatically transform companies and economies all over the world. 

A variety of companies are leading the way, with Amazon, Netflix, and Walmart being some of the first to spring to mind. But these are major corporations in information intensive industries, who have been leading the charge in digital disruption. More broadly, according to a recent McKinsey survey, only about 30% of digital transformations actually succeed.

 

Read the full article, Digital Transformation: It Takes a Village, on LinkedIn.

 

Digitization in Commodity Trading

 

This in-depth article from Boris Galonske explains how digitization helps improve resilience in commodity trading.

Commodity trading suffers from shrinking margins and in some commodity classes also from low price volatility. At the same time operating environments struggle with manual routines, legacy processes and systems resulting in high cost income ratios (CIR).

How can this challenge be addressed and how can the profitability and the resilience of trading businesses be increased?

Situation today

Commodity trading exhibits still several manual routines in its workflows, given the physical nature of the business and established processes in the industry. At the same time margin pressure increases as the inherent profitability of several trading businesses decreases. How can this be addressed?

Commodity trading business characteristics

Commodity trading businesses are typically lean by nature. Several years back, high performing businesses exhibited cost-income ratios (CIR) in the range of high 30% – medium 40%. These days these ratios are significantly higher. Large European commercial banks – as a comparison –  even exhibit cost income rations in the range of 70 % – 90% +.

In order to tackle the profitability gap, analytics and middle office activities have been scaled down.

However parts of the trading process have remained untouched.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • How digitization can help
  • Reservations about digitization
  • How to approach trading digitization

 

Read the full article or download the PDF, Monetizing Digitization Levers, on the Silverberg Partners website.

 

Crucial Steps to Building a Subscription-Based Business

 

Robbie Kellman Baxter makes the case for subscription-based businesses and provides a few expert tips on how to take your business in that direction. 

If you’ve been tasked with launching a subscription-based business at your organization, or are thinking about starting your own XXX-as-a-service or XXX-of-the-month-club, before diving in, take a step back.

To ensure a solid foundation, I encourage companies to devote a few weeks (usually at least 2 and no more than 12 weeks) to fleshing out the business case before proceeding. After all, the objective of testing is to assess the viability of the model, make necessary adjustments, and get the green light to move forward at a broader level. Without understanding the business case, how will you, and your organization, know whether you’re on the right track.

 

Details covered in this article include:

  • The business rationale
  • The forever promise
  • Executing the vision
  • The risks of the strategy
  • The early steps, research, and tests needed
  • Criteria for board support

 

Read the full article, Making the Case for a Subscription-Based Business, on LinkedIn.

A Reality Check for Business

 

Natalie Ceeney provides a grim view, but a much needed voice, calling on business to take on the challenge of climate change.

Whether prompted by the flurry of recent announcements from government and Bank of England or by the rise in protests, it’s hard to avoid the climate change debate. Whatever our personal beliefs, its impact on the business agenda is becoming increasingly clear. 

This is no longer a ‘tomorrow’ issue. Last year, California experienced its worst wildfires in a century, not just burning over 750,000 hectares, but pushing the State’s largest investor-owned utility into bankruptcy and two others “just one fire away from insolvency”. Munich Re, the world’s largest re-insurer, estimated that global losses in 2018 as a result of natural disasters totalled $160bn, making it the most expensive year to-date for insurers. But the real cost was far higher, as under half of losses were insured. The rise in premiums likely from climate change may price many households out of insurance completely. In the UK, the 2018 ‘Beast from the East’, an extreme cold weather front, caused losses of around £1bn per day to the economy.

 

Read the full article, As the World Gets Hotter, the Heat Is on Business to Deliver Real Change, on LinkedIn.

You Don’t Know the Answer ‘till You Ask the Question

February 11, 2020

 

James Black provides a comprehensive list of questions designed to help you build a marketing strategy that can help your business move forward in 2020.

Entering the New Year provides a great opportunity to take a quick audit of your brand or business to identify opportunity areas in your 1) customer understanding, 2) go to market strategy and 3) marketing capabilities. These 20 questions are designed as thought-starters to help you get a sense of the state of your business.

 

Areas covered by the questions include:

  • Brand/Business proposition
  • The path to purchase
  • Marketing plans
  • Marketing capabilities

 

Read the full article, 20 Questions to Help Your Brand or Business See 20/20 in 2020, on LinkedIn.

 

Facts and Data – Spot the Difference

February 12, 2020

 

Dan Markovitz identifies the difference between facts and data and why you need both to make a fully informed assessment. 

Taiichi Ohno said, “Data is of course important in manufacturing, but I place the greatest emphasis on facts.” You can leave out the word “manufacturing,” and apply the concept to anything in your company or your life. Facts are more important than data.

When he talked about his preference for facts over data, he was urging people to go and see for themselves. Gathering facts comes from close observation of people, of objects, of spaces. 

By contrast, spreadsheets, reports, and anecdotal accounts are not facts. They’re data. They’re two-dimensional representations of reality, which makes it easy to jump to conclusions. 

Data tells you how often a machine breaks down on an assembly line. Facts—direct observation—show you that the machine is dirty, covered in oil, and hasn’t been cleaned and maintained in a long time.

Read the full article, Just the Facts, Ma’am, on the Markovitz website.

A Survey of Startups

 

Christy Johnson shares valuable insights from a survey of Seattle start-ups.

Most Seattle startups are very focused on the data—they rely heavily on data to drive product decisions. Seattle is home to Amazon and Microsoft, which have leveraged data to succeed in everything from retail, to cloud computing, software development and artificial intelligence. But it’s also home to non-technology companies like Starbucks, that are operating like technology companies and utilizing data to make their core business decisions.

Visionary technology companies like Apple, Facebook, Uber and Google  are establishing outposts in the Pacific Northwest (PNW)

Talent from Silicon Valley is migrating to the PNW because we have these innovative tech companies and a quality of life/cost of living that’s better than Silicon Valley

The PNW has consistently been criticized for not talking about social issues like race—and Silicon Valley companies have begun sharing diversity statistics with their communities, but few Seattle companies have followed suit

To understand what these facts meant for our startups culture, we surveyed more than 315+ employees at start-ups (defined as companies with fewer than 250 employees) in the Seattle area about their experience.

 

Read the results, including:

  • The issue diversity
  • Gender equality
  • What you can do

 

Read the full article, The Seattle Startup Survey Results are in…, on the Artemis Connection website.

 

Flagging Functional Issues

 

Carlos Castelan shares how to improve the customer experience and team collaboration.

In today’s world where change is one of the only constants, we often hear of companies undergoing a transformation to reinvent themselves and revitalize their customer offerings. This is a natural function of the organizational life cycle where companies grow and organize in a variety of ways along the way, including around services or products. However, in focusing on efficiency and processes to enable scale, organizations lose some measure of tight collaboration and team agility that comes from regular innovation. So, how can companies avoid having to regularly undergo transformations? One way successful businesses do this is through the identification of gaps in team collaboration through a Customer Correction tool that allows teams to find opportunities and cooperate to improve where disconnects may be occurring and resolve issues before they impact customers.

 

Points covered include:

  • How to facilitate team conversation
  • How to get ahead of functional issues

 

Read the full article, Leveraging Your Company’s Greatest Asset to Improve the Customer Experience, on the Navio Group website. 

 

Building a Team for Customer Success

February 15, 2020

 

Azim Nagree provides three factors that can help determine whether you need a single, mixed-function team or two separate teams when it comes to account management and customer success.

‘What’s the difference between Account Management and Customer Success? And more importantly, when do I need separate AM and CS teams?’

I’ve been asked this question multiple times in the last few months so it’s clear that many people are grappling with this problem. The short answer – it depends. Specifically, it depends upon your product, your P&L and your customers.

What’s the difference?

Most people know that Accounts Managers are different to Customer Success Managers. But what precisely is the difference? It lies in the relationship they have with the customer.

 

The three factors discussed are:

  • Product complexity
  • Profit and loss
  • Customer feedback

 

Read the full article, Account Management? Or Customer Success? Or Both? on the Nagree Consulting website.

How to Realize the Potential of Human Resources

 

Stephen Redwood provides answers to commonly asked questions that help his clients increase the strategic value of Human Resources (HR).

If there is one thing that has been a constant over my years in HR and decades as a consultant, it has been the sense that the HR function is too often a supplicant to other functions and lacks the confidence to see itself as an equal. So, when clients ask me how they should be thinking about the evolution of their own HR function, in my mind is the question of how to overcome this mindset and establish a better understanding of how it can provide greater strategic value. 

With that said,Winston Churchill’s words “It is always wise to look ahead, but difficult to look further than you can see” resonate with a challenge that faces HR: people and cultures take time to change so, what exactly should one be changing to and with what timeframe in mind?

 

Questions covered in this article include:

  • Given no constraints, what is the most positively impactful contribution HR could make to the organization?
  • How can HR gain the “permission” and latitude to achieve its potential?
  • What should HR be working harder at?
  • How can HR gain sufficient agility to build and sustain a high impact contribution?

 

Read the full article, How Can We Increase the Strategic Value of HR?, on LinkedIn.

Work Culture Identification

 

Martin Pergler begins a conversation on corporate culture to identify the pros and cons of working for the corporate world, small business or the public sector.

 

Putting considerations such as the work itself, employer values, career trajectory, benefits, job security, etc. (all covered by others) aside, there is the elephant in the room. Inhabitants of the corporate world, small business (including startups), and the public sector are all fond of rolling their eyes — with a bit of envy mixed in — at the other sectors’ working culture. 

During my time at a major consulting firm, my employer and my clients were mainly in the corporate sector. These days, as an independent consultant, I work with institutions of all 3 kinds. I think there are characteristics, by which I mean frequent but not universal, strengths and weaknesses of each. But I think there’s no clear winner in terms of overall effectiveness (or personal warm-and-fuzziness), however one could define or measure it.

 

Read the full article, Who’s “better”​ to work for? Corporate world, small business, or public sector?”, on LinkedIn.

 

The Cost of Free

February 18, 2020

 

Robbie Kellman Baxter explains why a free trial is not always the best tactic and identifies three  reasons a subscription business isn’t attracting new members.

Recently, a CEO of a major professional association asked me what I thought of a 30 day free trial for new members.

He worried that potential members would sign up for the free trial, binge the value in that free period and then cancel without paying. But his board was concerned that not enough people were joining and thought a free trial could be the solution.

In this case, I agree with the CEO, not the board, about offering a free trial. Here’s why.

A free trial is a taste of the best you’ve got, which you offer because either:

 

  1. They don’t understand what it tastes like
  2. They don’t believe it tastes as good as you say

 

Read the full article, “Free”​ Is a Tactic, not a Strategy, on Linkedin.

 

Switching off the Coronavirus

February 19, 2020

 

Miklos Tomka illuminates the importance of doing what you can to mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus.

The Coronavirus is spreading fast and has spread inside of hospitals in China, exposing hospital staff. Various places are a source for spreading infections, light switches that everyone touches, is clearly one of these.

Ubiquilux has developed a product to reduce the risk of infections spreading in hospitals: a gesture controlled light switch. A light switch which does not react to random motions like motion sensing switches do (it reacts only to specific on/off/dim gestures) – the first true replacement of any switch. No one has to touch the light switch anymore

An independent, expert lead clinical study confirms that the new (patented) gesture-controlled technology from Ubiquilux is reducing bacterial load on the surface of a light switch (the light switch is a widely documented contributor of infection transmission).

 

Read the full article, Are you doing everything to protect yourself, your colleagues and your patients from the Coronavirus?, on LinkedIn.

 

A Framework to Execute Your Strategies

 

Gaelle Lamotte’s company blog identifies the issues that can stop the execution of strategies and provides a framework to drive alignment and focus. 

How often do you win with your strategy? Strategy development is useful for defining long-term goals. A good strategy is only as good as the capability to implement it and how well it delivers the desired outcome. Various research concludes: Organizations on average realize only 50 – 63% of the financial performance promised by their strategies. Others suggest that the figure is in fact less than 30%. Regardless of the data reviewed, it is not good news.

 

Key points in the framework include:

  • Alignment
  • Action plans
  • Governance
  • Connecting people

 

Download the free PDF, Improve Your Ability to Execute Your Strategies, on the Strategy Management Partners website.

 

Examining the Approaches to Leading Change

February 21, 2020

 

This timeless post from Andy Sheppard identifies the strengths and weaknesses of the six most common approaches leaders adopt when instituting change. 

A leader has many options when determining what can be improved in their organisation (or organisational unit). The options for determining how to mobilise their organisation to successfully deliver the improvements are more limited. This question of how to change is also often an afterthought: leaders can find themselves well down one of these paths without considering the relative strengths and weaknesses of alternative approaches. Yet without considering how to deliver improvements, even the best of ideas may remain as just ideas: ideas that can leave the majority of an organisation bruised, bewildered but otherwise little-changed. The hope of this article is therefore to broaden awareness of practical options, so that different delivery methods can be evaluated as to how well they promise to meet an organisation’s needs. I believe that any change programme should only be chosen after evaluating the potential impact of different combinations of what and how. Although aspects of different approaches can be blended, I would suggest that improvement initiatives commonly follow one of these six patterns:

 

The six approaches are:

  • The squeeze
  • The action list
  • The change events
  • The vision deployment
  • The narrow and deep redesign
  • The skills deployment

 

Read the full article, Six Patterns for Leading Change: Which Ones Do You Recognise?, on LinkedIn.

 

What’s the Purpose of Your Strategic Plan?

February 22, 2020

 

Geoff Wilson gets straight to the point with some tough love in this article by asking if you to make sure your strategy inspires. 

The possibilities are endless.  Some might say that the sole purpose is to ‘enhance shareholder value.’  I’d argue that this old trope is no longer the gold standard. Some adhere to the stakeholder model…which might be closer.  Regardless of the ‘concept,’ a given business strategy has to appeal to a lot of people.

Strategy, inasmuch as it deals with things that are less certain and immediate, is an argument.  It’s an argument formed from assumptions that are (or should be) formed from knowable facts and less knowable (but educated) estimates.

But, something tends to happen on the way to building business strategies that derails one of the most important imperatives.  We lose the power of inspiration. Usually, we lose it when the hardcore management nerds get ahold of the strategic planning and implementation ‘ecosystem’ and start over whelming the organization with jargon, tools, and really smart pablum.

 

Read the full article, Are your people uninspired? Maybe it’s time to hang the DJ., on the Wilson Growth Partners website.

 

How to Avoid Falling into the Email Communication Trap

February 25, 2020

 

Jesse Jacoby taps into a common pain point in today’s business operations — the vague or misunderstood email — and provides an easy solution to overcome the problem. 

Connecting with coworkers, clients and customers has never been easier. Gone are the days when we had to drive across town to chat with someone in a different office. When we run into a challenge or have a question regarding our work, we have a plethora of communication tools at our fingertips: email, text, instant messaging, and the list goes on.

Yet, how many times have you received an email response or stared at a text feeling more frustrated and confused than when you started. In today’s fast paced world of electronic exchange, messages can easily be misinterpreted, and emotions can escalate quickly as a result. A curt interaction, even when softened with a cheerful emoticon, can really strike a nerve. Now, not only do you still have that lingering challenge to face or question to answer, you also have to manage the mounting frustration and annoyance attached to it.

 

Read the full article, Assume Positive Intent, in the Emergent Journal.

 

Why Size Matters

February 26, 2020

 

Jason George explores the sale reach and marketing savvy of Time and Newsweek to demonstrate the success of a strategy that encompasses a large demographic; he then explains how and why the internet disrupted this  model by pursuing the individual. 

In the early twentieth century Americans seeking the news had plenty of print sources to choose from, many of which were local papers. Even smallish towns had markets deep enough to support multiple publications, each jockeying to make their presence known in a bustling marketplace. Beyond the daily news cycle there was demand for a more reflective, comprehensive perspective. This space was filled by magazines that bypassed regional reporting in favor of issues with national significance.

These titles curated articles across a wide range of topics, assembling them into issues with broad appeal. Among this group Time and Newsweek would become two of the most prominent, launching around the same time and reaching similar audiences. Their solidly middle-market voices helped them grow steadily in circulation, able to attract urbanites on the coasts as well as those in the heartland.

 

Areas explored in this article include:

  • Why markets fragmented into specialized verticals
  • How needs of large constituencies affect behavior across industries
  • The challenges of size and risk(s) of growth

Read the full article, The Challenges of Size, on Jason’s website. 

 

How to Make Every Meeting Productive

February 27, 2020

 

Jared Simmons provides three meeting strategies to overcome stagnation.

We’ve all been there before. It took you three weeks to find a time on everyone’s calendar. You found the perfect room and showed up early to make sure the previous meeting didn’t run over. You’ve spent countless hours working on your agenda and slides and even reading articles like this on productivity. And then it happens–the conversation gets stuck. Your time is rapidly dwindling and you’re still on agenda item one. You simply cannot afford to have this group disperse to their thousand other priorities without covering these items. So what do you do? Here are a few techniques that can help you get your meeting moving forward again.

 

The strategies explained include:

  • Restating the point
  • Recapping the options
  • Identifying the key factors

 

Read the full article, Three Meeting Strategies to Overcome Stagnation, on the Outlast website.

 

Read the full article in the https://outlastllc.com/three-meeting-strategies-to-overcome-stagnation/

The Strategic Advantage of the Contact Centre

February 28, 2020

 

This article from David Burnie’s company blog identifies the value of the contact centre, and how it helps to prevent customer attrition. 

The contact centre is a necessity for any mid-large size organization. It is where customer inquiries are handled across multiple channels, such as the phone, email or live chat. It is a bustling place of energy, activity and collaboration and often a starting point for many who want to forge a career in corporate.

When built and supported the right way, the contact centre can be a highly engaging and interactive environment. Palpable energy can be felt if you were to walk the floor and observe employees in action. It is a place of discovery, learning and, most importantly, the hub of customer information. No other place in a company can provide the same insights regarding how customers are feeling.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Why contact centres are undervalued
  • How to prevent employee and customer attrition
  • How to leverage the full value of the contact centre

 

Read the full article, The Value of Contact Centres, on the Burnie Group website.

 

Free and Fabulous — A Comprehensive Marketing Guide for Consulting Firms

 

David A. Fields offers a valuable resource for consulting firms in this series of articles that provide a comprehensive guide to marketing tactics. 

Your Challenge: Can you come up with even one tactic that’s not on the list below? (Bonus points if you post two or more tactics.)

Have you ever wanted to co-write an article because writing your own stuff is hard and takes time? Woo hoo, here’s your chance!

In the next part of this two-article series, you’ll learn a framework for determining exactly which marketing tactics you should invest your precious time and energy into for your consulting firm to attract more prospects and clients.

Spoiler alert: The best marketing tactic is not the same for every consulting firm!

 

Read the full article, Your Comprehensive Guide to Marketing Tactics for Consulting firms, on David’s website.

 

How the Membership Economy Helped a Bookstore become a Role Model

 

Robbie Kellman Baxter shares a story about her favourite bookstore and how it provides a great example of the Membership Economy in action.

When a Menlo Park bookstore was economically threatened, the community stepped in and created a membership program to improve long-term sustainability. 

Founded in 1955 by peace activist Roy Kepler, Kepler’s Books is a large independent bookstore. After its founding, it quickly became a center for intellectual thought and community discussion for the people living in the suburbs surrounding Stanford University. Over the years, the bookstore moved to increasingly larger locations, until it found its current home in downtown Menlo Park, California. Kepler’s is a neighbor to many of the Membership Economy pioneers featured in this book. After its move to Silicon Valley, many of the most innovative and successful investors and entrepreneurs frequented Kepler’s as a favorite browsing destination. 

By 2005, however, the bookselling landscape had changed, due in large part to the innovations of online retailers like Amazon. On August 31, 2005, Kepler’s Books closed its doors.

 

Read the full article, Kepler’s Books – A Story of a Local Business and the Membership Economy, on LinkedIn.

 

A Survival Guide on How to Compete Against Luck

 

Luiz Zorzella shares a survival guide to Clay Christensen’s opus, including impressions, recommendations, and thoughts on how business leaders can use his ideas to drive success, growth and transformation.

If you work with innovation and strategy and are responsible for the future of your business, you probably read Clayton Christensen’s 2 most famous opi: The Innovator’s Dilemma and Competing Against Luck (aka the “Jobs To Be Done” book). 

If you have not, do it and you will improve your chances of not going extinct.

Over the years, I had the chance to see some of the concepts described in these books applied in real-life situations.  Some of these applications were successful and rigorous and confirmed my admiration for the amount of impact compacted in such simple concepts.  

However, more often than not, I have seen the concepts, approaches, and terminology he formulated deformed, mutilated and distorted into grotesque parodies – both intentionally and unintentionally.

 

Content in this article includes:

  • Competing against luck
  • Agree on what is an useful insight
  • Know thyself and avoid mirages
  • Think 2 steps ahead
  • Find the heart of darkness

 

Read the full article, Survival Guide to Clay Christensen’s Opus, on the Amquant website.

 

Comparing Car Insurance Pricing Models in the US vs Brazil

 

Pieter Lekkerkerk describes current alternative pricing models making inroads in car insurance in the US: pay-per-mile and driving-score based pricing. 

 

In the last few decades car insurance premiums have traditionally been set based on o a risk assessment questionnaire (typically covering the car, its usage, the driver and her/his background among others), enriched with data from e.g., credit bureaus and the Department of Motor Vehicles (on e.g. traffic fines). In the wave that saw the disruption of many business models in the past few years two main alternative pricing models have emerged:

  • Pay-per-use: A rate per mile or minute driven, sometimes complemented by a fixed charge (e.g., MetroMile)
  • Driving score-based rates: Tariff is based on the risk implicit in the driving behavior of the driver (speeding, sharp braking etc.)

 

Areas covered in this article include:

  • The relevance of these models in the Brazilian market 
  • The impact of alternative pricing models in the US
  • Key differences between the US and Brazil in claim
  • Winning models for Brazil

Read the full article, Alternative Pricing Models in Car Insurance, on the Mirow and Co. website.

 

The Yin and Yang of Technology 

 

With so much press about how our technological habits create disconnection, Hugo Bernier explains how technology also gives people the tools and access to build connections.

I work crazy hours. To top it off, I commute a total of 3 hours every day. When I get home from work, I’m usually exhausted. 

One of my guilty pleasures is to play a video game with my kids. When they were younger, we’d play one of the many Lego games on Xbox. Now, we tend to play Halo or Call of Duty. 

Regardless of the age difference between my kids and me, the little buggers are worthy adversaries. They might even be better than me– but don’t tell them I said that.

I love that in the video game world, we’re able to play as equals. We’re sometimes teammates, partners, and sometimes enemies. We celebrate each other’s victories and tease each other’s failures.

In a household with three people diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, breaking barriers of communication and making emotional connections can sometimes be hard. Video games are one of the ways that we can connect.

 

The technology discussed in this article:

  • The Xbox Adaptive Controller (XAC)
  • The Logitech Adaptive Gaming Kit

 

Read the full article, Leveling the Playing Field with Accessibility, on the Tahoe Ninjas website.

 

The Art of Creative Thinking

 

Recently, there has been much discussion about the value of play for helping creative ideas flourish, but Kaihan Krippendorff shares examples of play at work and provides 10 ways to inject play into your organization. 

In the 1830s, an artist and tinkerer, Samuel Morse, directed his curiosity to a question few had considered before. Numerous scientists and inventors across the globe were working on the problem of how to communicate across long distances more quickly.

At the time, information could travel only as fast as a human could. Ink on paper would be rushed to its recipient by horse, later by canal, later by steam engine. Each innovation accelerated the speed of communication, but none could break the limitations that physics put on the written word.

While scientists and inventors around the world worked on plans that could accelerate the speed of communication (e.g., one team was working on a system of telescopes and flashing lights dotted across land), Morse approached the challenge from an artistic bent. He was more curious about the physical experience humans had in trying to decipher and make sense of blinks, how to paint signals onto paper.

 

Areas of interest in this article include:

  • Revving up the speed of communication
  • A painter inspired by play
  • Play your way to a breakthrough
  • You can’t have success without failure
  • 10 ways to inject play

 

Read the full article, Play: The Source of Innovation, on Kaihan’s website. 

 

A 6 Step B2B Pricing in MedTech Infographic

 

Ian Tidswell provides an infographic that provides the details of the key 6 steps to creating and capturing value in MedTech, from offer design through market access and reimbursement approval to new product transitions.

Success in the Medical Technology industry requires constant innovation. However, capturing a fair share of the value (pricing) from that innovation throughout the product life cycle is especially challenging given multiple market access hurdles, constrained healthcare budgets and diverse stakeholders.

 

The steps illustrated include:

  • Pre-launch – market access with value recognized
  • Communicating the values 
  • Gaining effective value access
  • Segment and target buyers
  • Incentives align channel
  • In-market – value delivered and captured

 

View the detailed infographic on the Een Consulting website. 

 

The Evolution of Corporate Culture

 

Paul Millerd tackles the origins and meaning of culture and provides a framework and lens for thinking about organizational culture in ways that can shape your corporate culture. 

Culture is a messy term. In 1952, two Academics, Kroeber and Kluckhohn, completed a comprehensive review of the term and found that by then there were over 134 definitions.

As Kroeber and Kluckhohn explored the history of the word, they found all roads pointing to Germany, where the word was emerging as “cultur”:

Kant, for instance, like most of his contemporaries, still spells the word Cultur, but uses it repeatedly, always with the meaning of cultivating or being cultured

It wasn’t until the late 1800’s that the word started to form into the modern form of the word, adopted by Anthropologists and other academics who were studying foreign cultures.

Sir Edward Tyler’s book Primitive Culture from 1870 is often marked as a shift toward the modern definition:

‘that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.’

By the 1950’s there were over 100 definitions of the word and that was before organizations started using the term.

In the 1980’s, Edgar Schein’s research expanded the scope of the world to modern organizations and the way we talk about companies has never been the same.

 

Areas discussed in this essay include:

  • How culture arises
  • Why the idea of a unified, single culture is wrong
  • A framework for thinking about culture (hint: it’s not actually a pyramid)
  • The two factors that shape how a culture solidified
  • The role of anxiety in learning and culture
  • The stages of culture development
  • Identifying a “strong” culture
  • How to assess culture in your own company

 

Read the full essay, Edgar Schein’s Anxiety & Assumptions: Powerful Ideas On Culture, on the Boundless website. 

 

How to Assess Your VC Investor

 

Diane Mulcahy provides valuable questions to help discern the compatibility of an investor before accepting funds for your next project. 

In the race to get the check in hand, most entrepreneurs don’t do in-depth due diligence — or any due diligence — on the venture capital (VC) firms they pitch. Founding teams eager to raise capital to grow their companies enter into long-term partnerships with VC firms they don’t know well. It’s a risky strategy that can leave startup CEOs in mis-aligned partnerships with unrealistic expectations.

 

The four questions covered in depth are:

  • What is the VC’s track record?
  • How much money is the VC personally investing?
  • How big is the VC fund?
  • Do you have a list of portfolio company CEOs?

 

Read the full article, Don’t Take Money from VCs Until You’ve Asked 4 Questions, on the Harvard Business Review.

 

Branding Broken Down

 

Susan Meier was recently interviewed on the Change Creator podcast on the fundamentals of building a brand.

In her nine years of helping companies build their brand identity, Susan has always set aside a portion of her portfolio for these smaller projects despite them being less lucrative for her. The payoff? They inspire her and she learns a lot from them. She enjoys contributing to entrepreneurs who are just starting out. That aha moment when the small, independent professional who has come to her for help realizes what their true identity is, who their audience is, and how they empathetically connect with them is something Susan finds truly rewarding. She refers to these elements as the three pieces of branding.

 

In this interview, Susan discusses:

  • Discovering and leveraging uniqueness
  • The pitfalls of social media
  • Advice for early stage entrepreneurs

 

Listen to the full interview, Electrifying Your Brand Strategy to Amplify Your Impact, on the Change Creator’s website.

 

Identifying the Emotional Connection in Jobs to Be Done

 

Stephen Wunker explores the emotional connection in marketing and how this connection can be applied to Jobs to be Done to lay out pathways for creating targeted, meaningful, and relevant innovations.

The modern Mini Cooper—offered in a variety of eye-popping colors—burst onto the scene in 2001 as a chic version of an old British classic. It quickly became a fixture in trendy urban neighborhoods around the globe. Today, nearly twenty years later, the car still hasn’t lost its freshness: demand for Minis has remained robust with annual sales increasing at a steady pace of 5.2% per year.

On paper, the Mini doesn’t look like it should be such a break-out success. While its modest size makes it ideal for city living, other cars such as the Honda Fit or the Chevy Sonic are equally manageable in tight quarters. The Mini’s Comfort ratings in the Kelley Blue Book are tied with those of the VW Beetle and Toyota Yaris. Its gas mileage is no better than its competitors’, and sometimes it is worse. And with a sticker price that averages about $5,000 more than comparably sized rivals, the case for buying a Mini seems pretty weak.

The Mini’s surprising success comes from its unique, almost ineffable customer appeal. People just feel good about buying one.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Figuring out emotions
  • Quantifying emotional jobs
  • The hierarchy of emotions

 

Read the full article, Measuring Emotional Jobs To Be Done, on the Branding Strategy Insider website. 

 

How to Build a Strategic Story

 

Gaelle Lamotte was recently interviewed for the Telegraph’s Business Reporter on bridging the gap between business strategy and achieving the best results. 

Strategies often fail because there is a lack of a robust, compelling strategic story that hangs off them, there’s a failure of coordination between units and functions, often misalignment, and at the end of the day, there’s a lack of leadership agreement around a common shared purpose, around a common agenda. So as a result, you’ll find there’s a real gap in interpretation between a strategic plan and then ultimately what we get at the end, which is numbers and results.

 

Points discussed include:

  • Goal alignment
  • Snapshots of performance
  • Reaction to results
  • Discipline in execution

 

Listen to the full interview on Business Reporter, the Human Capital Series.

 

The Pros and Cons of the Recruitment Bots

 

Ben Dattner co wrote this article for Harvard Business Review on the issue of building ethical AI for talent management. 

Artificial intelligence has disrupted every area of our lives — from the curated shopping experiences we’ve come to expect from companies like Amazon and Alibaba to the personalized recommendations that channels like YouTube and Netflix use to market their latest content. But, when it comes to the workplace, in many ways, AI is still in its infancy. This is particularly true when we consider the ways it is beginning to change talent management. To use a familiar analogy: AI at work is in the dial-up mode. The 5G WiFi phase has yet to arrive, but we have no doubt that it will.

 

Areas covered in this article include:

  • Training data sets
  • Efficient predictions on a candidate
  • Bias and creating homogeneity in organizations

 

Read the full article, Building Ethical AI for Talent Management, on the Harvard Business Review.

 

Seven Key Themes for Retail Leaders in 2020

 

The Internet of Things has caused much disruption in the retail industry where only the most agile and innovative survive and thrive. Carlos Castelan’s company blog explains how to transform or build businesses to match customer expectations.

There’s a great line courtesy of Albert Einstein where he was quoted as saying, ‘If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask… for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.’ Though we (thankfully) do not have a problem that our lives depend on today, the line epitomizes the spirit of reflection that many people take at the start of the year to make changes for the coming 12 months.

 

Areas covered in this article include:

  • Purpose
  • Personalized experience
  • Pricing and promotion optimization
  • Process transformation

 

Read the full article, The Retail Leaders’ Agenda for 2020, on the Navio Group website.

 

Measurements that Don’t Deliver Results

 

Dan Markovitz explains why some methods of measuring performance and quality seriously lack the data to make an impact.  

Pity the employees at a Starbucks in midtown NYC. In a misguided attempt to improve quality, the management posts monthly scores on a variety of metrics. . . without understanding anything about effective use of metrics. Measurement is a good idea, but only if it’s done well. These measurements? Not so much. 

If you read Mark Graban’s blog or book, you’ll immediately see problems with this chart. For one thing, three data points don’t make a trend. With no upper and lower control limits, the movement in scores is nothing more than management by emoji — we have no way of knowing whether the movement is just random noise in a stable system, or a real signal indicating something significant happened. And why are they looking at the scores monthly? By the time they see a decline, it’s far too late to figure out what the root cause was and how to address it.

 

Read the full article, When Leaders Torture Their Employees, on the Markovitz Consulting website.

 

The Cost of Risk Aversion

 

Jason George uses the evolution of the aviation industry as a means to explore the cost of risk aversion and how it can stymie growth.

Building in every possible contingency as part of a strategy can end up producing something so encrusted with extraneous elements that agility is compromised. Alternatively, it may hew so closely to known and safe paths that it ends up losing the novelty that would make it compelling. If you can’t cut yourself loose from a certain strategy or mental model, your degrees of freedom become limited. In the process new paths are closed off, even though they might unlock a different way of operating. Sometimes caution is a crutch whose real costs are not adequately calculated. A better path might involve getting rid of the safety net.

When faced with ambiguity too often we choose the guaranteed loss, which might be greater than the as-yet unknown costs of taking the riskier path. The safe route may be comfortable, but it is costly.

 

Points explored include:

  • Contingency as part of a strategy
  • Product cannibalization
  • The cost of the safe route

 

Read the full article, Calculated Risks and the Costly Status Quo, on Jason’s website.

 

A Review of the Ride-hail Business

 

Eric Hiller’s company blog takes a look at the strategy and growth probability of the Ride-hail market from the perspective of the Lyft CEO.

Summary for Lyft CEO

Ride-hail is not going away, but it must to get profitable.   You can try to ‘grow to profitability’, but as we have learned in the past, that is a risky proposition.

Uber is expanding, but it is already bigger than Lyft.   Is that strategy profitable, and if it is, is there enough room for two players in it.  Simultaneously, the path to profitability is getting harder with cities pushing back on Lyft and Uber, and as Lyft and Uber attract new customers, they may be less profitable riders.   Consider another option: an alternative targeted and differentiated strategy:

  • Lyft should double-down on a long-term strategy of letting Uber attempt to own the market… but in reality, building the interstate for Lyft to toll

  • Continue to build cultural allegiance driver, rider, and city — which will differentiate and win in a commodity market in the longer-term, as Lyft captures share in an increasingly regulated environment

  • Follow to profitable geographies

  • Long term invest in autonomous public transport, leveraging massive experience with app / software and routing vehicles to individuals.

 

Read the full article, Lyft vs Uber – What if You Are Driving Lyft as a Company?, on the Hiller Associates website. 

 

Real Life Risk Management

 

Tobias Baer explains why the second-order effects of the disruption caused by the Coronavirus are what should concern risk managers the most.

For risk managers, Covid-19 is both scary and a real-life test of our approach to risk management. As we are grappling with the virus and its fall-out, there are three sets of issues: the threat of the virus itself; the panic that it has caused; and lessons for operational risk management.

The risk of the virus itself is still hazy. I myself haven’t lost my cool yet considering facts such as that the total number of deaths from Covid-19 (less than 5,000 people globally as I write this) is dwarfed by the number of people who die in car accidents every year (more than 1 million in the US alone) and that while Covid-19’s overall mortality rate is estimated at 2%, it is less for the strong and healthy.  In fact, as the WSJ points out, while Covid-19’s mortality rate of 2% seems to be 12.5 times higher than the ordinary flu with a mortality rate of 0.16%, the 2% may be greatly overestimated if many benign Covid-19 infections have gone undetected.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Supply chain shortages
  • Operational risk mitigation
  • Mandatory equity buffers

 

Read the full article, Covid-19 and Risk Management, on LinkedIn.

 

Digital Technology Strategies for Heavy Industry

 

This article on Sean McCoy’s company blog explains why long-term forces and trends are forcing many heavy industries to reshape value chains, change economics, and disrupt business models.

Digital technologies are making it possible for firms to expand their offering and meet new customer needs and serve new customers. For a manufacturer or heavy industrial company, this means companies that were not your competitor yesterday are your competitor today and tomorrow. The executives at GM and Ford lose many hours of sleep wondering if and how Google and Apple will eat their lunch.

Competitive intensity is also increased by changes in the cost of resources and location economics. Those changes are drying up some profit pools, increasing competition at the remaining ones. Low-cost manufacturers in China used to win on price, and domestic manufacturers on speed. For years, low-cost manufacturers have been re-shoring production as rising labor costs in China neutralized the cost advantage. Now, low-cost manufacturers can win on price and speed. The producers that stayed domestic are finding themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Even if your market is stable, disruptions in other markets can dry up other profit pools, driving competitors into your space. When oil prices tumbled and oil companies needed less metal, metal companies and mines serving the oil and gas industry looked to other sectors that need metal, e.g., construction, utilities, ship builders. As a result, the mines and plants serving those industries had to deal with price pressures and declining volumes, hurting ROA.

 

Read the full article, Responding to competitive pressures in heavy industry & manufacturing, on the McCoy Consulting Group website.

 

Define the Who not the What to Improve Results

 

Kaihan Krippendorff asks a most pertinent question to help companies identify a strategy that will improve customer relations and revenue.  

The former president of Starbucks, Howard Behar, told me a few months ago that the most important decision Starbucks made, that led to many of the disruptive choices this category-defining company made, was their decision to be “in the people business serving coffee” rather than the “coffee business serving people”.

In other words, Starbucks decided to view their “customer” as the worker in their store serving coffee. Their purpose was to create great jobs and lives for them.

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, said, “We were going pretty well as a shoe company but our growth really took off when we realized were a customer service company that happened to sell shoes.”

Hartford Steam Boiler, whose strategy I will dig into in a later post, seems to be an insurance company but actually sees itself as and, more importantly, acts as an engineering company that happens to monetize through insurance.

 

This article explains how the following questions help define a growth strategy.

  • What is our actual business (e.g., consumer electronics and not medical devices)?
  • How does that kind of company behave differently?

 

Read the full article, The Most Important Strategic Question To Ask: What Business Are You In?, on Kaihan’s website. 

 

Are You Leaving a Legacy or a Car Wreck?

 

Geoff Wilson asks you to take a moment to look to the future and determine the impact of the legacy you want to leave. 

We all leave a legacy of some sort. Ryan Newman’s survival of NASCAR’s worst wreck ever highlights the contrasts of passive and active legacies.

Do you know the legacy you are leaving with your business, team, or organization?

It’s surprising how little this topic actually gets highlighted when managers and executive teams focus on their strategic aims.  Sure there are legacies that are left via who you are–for example the ethical legacies like that of Marvin Bower at McKinsey or innovation legacies like that of Gordon Moore of Intel and Moore’s Law fame.  Those were probably not forged in a boardroom strategy session but rather through strength of personality.

But, there are also legacies left in a couple of other ways.  There are passive legacies that result accidentally, and there are active legacies that result from thoughtful focus and intervention.  This weekend offered a stark contrast of the two.

Monday’s Daytona 500 ended with a vicious wreck where driver Ryan Newman–leading the race at the time–was bumped from behind and spun violently into the wall of the final turn in the race.  His car, pictured above, went airborne, was struck broadside by another car at 190 miles per hour, landed on its roof, and then slid for a quarter mile or more in a conflagration of sparks and flames.

 

Read the full article, Legacy Lessons from NASCAR’s Worst Wreck Ever, on the Wilson Growth Partners website. 

 

Thoughts on the Corona Situation and Work

 

Stefan Falk has summarized some of the key talking points across some 50+ coaching sessions on the Coronavirus topic, and more specifically on how to keep the people in the client organizations mentally healthy and productive in this demanding situation.

 

  1. The nature of the mental challenge for people

 

Isolation

Since most people will work from home and not move around as usual due to the risk of being infected, and because many of our natural places for socializing (restaurants, events, gyms, etc.) are unavailable, the risk to experience unhealthy levels of anxiety among people is potentially big due to the following anxiety drivers:

– People will consciously and subconsciously sense that they have lost their freedom(s) and are restricted

– People risk be less physically active

– People will potentially be exposed to less sensory stimuli which can lead to sensory deprivation; mild forms of sensory deprivation leads to irritation, frustration, and unhealthy rumination. Severe forms can lead to aggressiveness and violence.

 

Fear

There are real and perceived threats in this situation that can drive fear and anxiety.

One threat is obviously the virus itself (the risks that I will be infected and the risks that my friends and loved ones will be infected). Another equally obvious and potential threat is job and financial security.

Uncertainty

Right now the areas and levels of uncertainty for what will happen are high, for example:

– Even if I follow the guidelines from the authorities, is there a risk that I or my loved ones can be infected anyway?

– How deadly is the virus?

– How will this situation affect my company and my job?

– What will happen to my life savings?

– Are authorities really on top of the situation?

– How long will this crisis last?

As we all know, the human mind cannot deal with uncertainties – it needs to know. In the absence of robust answers to these and other perceived uncertainties, the mind creates its own answers, which most often tend to be imbalanced and geared toward worst-case scenario-answers.

 

  1. How to deal with the situation

 

Secure a high level of healthy activity

Few things strengthen our mental well-being as good work since it both keeps our mind focused and away from ruminating about our situation as well as gives us a sense of accomplishment (which makes us feel strong and in control). Also, we experience high levels of well-being when we apply our mental energy to problem-solving. People should therefore try to strive to:

  • Make sure to spend time to plan their days to secure a good level and flow of their work activities. In terms of boosting mental energy and well-being, it is good if they also think in terms of the desired results they want from their work activities.
  • Make sure to engage in at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day – this could be broken down into 3 x 10 minutes; just 10 minutes of physical exercise, e.g., a brisk walk, gives us extra energy that lasts about 90 minutes.
  • Make sure to create a balance between routine and variety. It is good if people try to make each day different in terms of what they do or how they do things. It could be simple things like changing their morning routine, for example, what they do and in what order they do things. Variety can be an antidote to boredom and mild forms of sensory deprivation.

In addition to this, people should consider to rate each day on a scale 1-10 and then explain their rating with a sentence or two. This will help them strengthen their self-awareness as well as their sense of being in charge and in control.

 

Make sure leaders stay close to their people

For leaders, this situation could actually be an opportunity to get to know their people even better, since the main focus for a leader in this situation should be to make sure that their people stay sane, active and focused on the right things. And since telepathy is a “skill” most leaders don’t master, talking to their people should be the approach. And here the key is the frequency of these talks. Therefore, leaders could consider to:

  • Have brief daily check-ins in the morning or brief daily check-outs at end of the day, or both depending on the needs of their people.
  • In these check-ins and/or check-outs the leader, in general, should do less of the talking and instead ask questions and listen, for example, a) how does/did your day look? b) what are/were the most exciting results or insights you are looking for/achieved? c) what is the most interesting problem you will work on/worked on today?
  • Have a weekly team meeting where the team just share how they feel and what their most exciting results, insights and/or experiences have been the past week.

 

Identify and pursue “new” opportunities

There are a couple of opportunities that come to mind in this situation:

 

Improve people’s skills to have effective and efficient meetings

Having truly effective meetings is a common challenge for people even when those meetings happen face-to-face.

This challenge is even bigger when it comes to virtual meetings. There are a few things to consider in order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of both virtual as well as face-to-face meetings:

  • There should be a tangible goal defined for the meeting, that is, what tangible results should the meeting lead to?
  • Each agenda topic should be defined in terms of how much time to spend on it and what concrete results should be achieved.
  • After discussing each topic, the next steps should be defined as well as what the tangible goal is with each next step.
  • The meeting material needs to be very clear, brief, and easy to understand, and circulated before the meeting.
  • Each participant needs to commit to reading the material before the meeting.
  • If a participant struggles to understand any of the meeting materials, he or she should try to reach out to the person responsible for the material before the meeting to get clarification. This is important in order to avoid having a meeting where people spend time understanding what they talk about or what they should talk about.

A good idea for leaders is to continuously ask their people what they learn about having virtual meetings, for example, what works well, what works less well, why, and what to do to fix it.

 

Go deeper, do things ahead of time, and/or explore new topics/issues

For some people, the situation we face could mean that they get some extra time due to less/no travel, fewer or shorter meetings, and/or that some priorities are pushed into the (uncertain) future. This then offers a couple of opportunities for them to consider:

  • Go deeper on the problems they currently work on than they usually do or solve issues that they usually have not had time to address, for example, an analysis that they do regularly that is very complicated to do and could be made easier.
  • Do things ahead of time, for example, things that they know they should do regardless of how long this crisis will last or how it will play out
  • Explore new areas or topics potentially important for their work, for example, spending time learning more about a new or current topic relevant to their work and that will also build their expertise

 

 

 

Life after COVID-19

 

Surbhee Grover takes a moment to think about the future and how the Coronavirus will change the way we work and live.

 

Our lives, as we’ve known them, have come to a grinding halt. What will the world look like when the music starts again?

In the time we are not obsessing with COVID-19 updates, or trying to revive the business; ensure availability of dog food (and wine), and survive homeschooling, some of us are starting to wonder what the future holds. Here’s my initial take on what comes after. These are not analytical forecasts, nor predictions – it is too soon for that, the data is too sparse, things are still too raw, and emotions too fickle. These are merely anecdote and observation-inspired musings, intended as stimulus to spark a discussion.

 

Key areas covered in this article:

  • Work from home culture
  • Education
  • Relationships
  • The benefits for dogs, the drawback for cats

 

Read the full article on LinkedIn.

Tough Time Strategies

 

In this timely post, David A. Fields provides ten strategies consulting firms can implement to help navigate through difficult times. 

You’re swimming in a vast sea of stressful news and, given today’s reality, you’re well within your rights to feel anxious, nervous and uncertain about how your consulting firm should proceed.

Clients are shutting down their operations; workshops and meetings are being called off; in fact, the entire economy appears to be headed for an abrupt, if temporary, halt. What does that mean for your consulting firm and how should you respond?

I pulled together a couple dozen “to dos” for my consulting firm clients. Nine of them are presented below, leaving a space for you to fill in your recommendation for your own consulting firm and for other readers.

 

Areas covered in this article include:

  • Client relations
  • Budget management
  • Partnership opportunities
  • Remote work and delivery

 

Read the full article, 10 Tough-times Strategies For Consulting Firms, on David’s website.

 

Contagion Dynamics and the Economic Impact of COVID-19

 

Martin Pergler shares a couple of files on understanding COVID-19 contagion dynamics, and some of the tradeoffs of managing spread vs long term social/economic impact.

People seem to be increasingly internalizing and accepting efforts prudentially required to slow down COVID-19s exponential infection rates. And hopefully we’ll converge even more from the poles of “barricade ourselves behind hoarded toilet paper” and “what me worry, I don’t see a problem yet” behaviour. However, given differences in, and evolution over time of, testing and reporting around the world, we also need to get ahead of monitoring the evolution of the outbreak and its containment in different geographies. We’ve all seen the “buy time to flatten the curve” graphic many times by now, but I think we all hope we can minimize the area under the curve, not just flatten it.

With this in mind, I’m happy to see a paper on statistical time series modeling applied to localized contagion dynamics cross my desk, from Italy no less! Pretty technical in nature, and frankly there isn’t truly enough data to draw any actionable conclusions yet, but we’re going to need analysis of this type to be able to extrapolate sensibly going forward, and to judge to what extent containment approaches — including different intensities of social distancing — are working.

 

Read the full article, Coronavirus: monitoring change in contagion dynamics, and access links to the files on the Balanced Risk Strategies website. 

 

How to Attract and Retain Subscription Members

 

Robbie Kellman Baxter explains what a subscription business can do to mitigate customer loss and generate customer gain through attraction and retention strategies.

‘Millennials aren’t joiners.’ ‘Millennials don’t pay for news.’ ‘Our customers love us, but the average age is going up. It seems like millennials just aren’t interested.’

These are statements I hear all the time from membership organizations that have been around for a few decades or more: professional associations and trade groups, religious institutions, newspapers, gyms, and country clubs. Having some success under your belt is both a blessing and a curse. What you’re doing seems to be working, so you keep doing it. But let complacency take hold and you’re doomed. When businesses can’t attract new members, they die a slow death as old members age out.

The problem is two-fold. One, if you don’t evolve your offerings and communication strategy, new prospects will find your company ‘old fashioned’ or ‘not for me.’ Two, you might mistake inertia for loyalty: those members are still with you out of habit, and when new competitors come along they suddenly realize someone else can better meet their needs.

 

Points covered in this article: 

  • Common mistakes made by old and new subscription businesses
  • Tips to reinvention
  • Self-disruption as a strategy
  • The benefits of paranoia

 

Read the full article, Walking the Generational Tightrope: How To Keep Older Members Happy and Also Draw In Younger Ones, on LinkedIn.

 

Tough Time Strategies

 

In this timely post, David A. Fields provides ten strategies consulting firms can implement to help navigate through difficult times. 

You’re swimming in a vast sea of stressful news and, given today’s reality, you’re well within your rights to feel anxious, nervous and uncertain about how your consulting firm should proceed.

Clients are shutting down their operations; workshops and meetings are being called off; in fact, the entire economy appears to be headed for an abrupt, if temporary, halt. What does that mean for your consulting firm and how should you respond?

I pulled together a couple dozen “to dos” for my consulting firm clients. Nine of them are presented below, leaving a space for you to fill in your recommendation for your own consulting firm and for other readers.

 

Areas covered in this article include:

  • Client relations
  • Budget management
  • Partnership opportunities
  • Remote work and delivery

 

Read the full article, 10 Tough-times Strategies For Consulting Firms, on David’s website.

 

Managing the Call to Change

 

Luiz Zorzella shares key points that can help leaders evaluate and address their approach to change to ensure better outcomes. 

Strategy & Value

For the past 10 years, financial services firms have publicly acknowledged that they needed to change.  Chances are, your organization was one of those.

Commoditization meant a systematic erosion of margins for banks; reduction in interest rates has been challenging both interest and non-interest income sources of banks and investment firms as well as the economics of insurance; and technology has posed a constant threat of disintermediation and radical value-adding substitutes.

However, just like the proverbial frog in the heating water, most business leaders have responded incrementally – aiming at matching the pace of change they observed in the market and improving their results within the parameters of their existing business model.

The problem is that change has arrived and it does not look like we expected.  While COVID-19 ravages lives, economies and markets, clients and stakeholders alike are looking at financial service firms and asking that they help them weather the storm. They are calling you to change with them.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Find you calling
  • Evolve and decommodotize
  • Reforge your ways of working
  • Take the technology plunge

 

Read the full article, Is this Crisis Your Strategy Crucible, on the Amquant website.

 

Automated Healthcare – Coming Sooner than You Think

March 28, 2020

 

Posted on Jim Price’s company blog is a downloadable white-paper that explores the role of automation in healthcare.

As discussed in Issue One, the future of medicine will be fundamentally reshaped by a fusion of three forces: Genetics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation. The future of interventional and surgical capabilities has not been widely discussed. Demand for these services has risen dramatically in recent years and is forecast to increase significantly in the coming decades. As a result, demand is quickly overtaking supply in surgical and procedural services; however, current payment systems cannot support the labor intensive model. AI, advanced robotics, 5G Internet, 3D printing, miniaturization, and nano technology will eventually fuse together to dramatically automate surgical and procedural services, alleviating the manpower shortage.

 

Included in this paper are:

  • FDA approved AI applications
  • Reimagining the future of surgery
  • The performance of a pre-op robot

 

Download the full paper, Automated Medicine: The Future of Healthcare?, on the Progressive Healthcare Inc. website. 

 

Getting to Grips with Gateway Services

 

Hugo Bernier shares his expertise in technology to explain how gateway services work and how to install one. 

When using cloud-based services like Office 365 and the Power Platform, it can be challenging to integrate with your on-premises resources. All of a sudden, your on-premises databases, APIs, file shares, and even your existing on-premises SharePoint infrastructure become impossible to reach. At least, not without making some giant holes in your firewall.

At our recent Toronto Citizen Developer User Group meeting, my good friend Luis Duran demonstrated how to use the on-premises data gateway to access a custom web API running on his workstation from Power Automate.

He had rehearsed the demo earlier that day from our offices. Still, he had changed many environmental variables by moving his demo to our meetup venue. Luis ran a web API from his workstation, over a different network (the guest wifi at the Microsoft office), using a new IP address.

Let’s say that if his demo didn’t work, no one would have blamed him. Heck, I tried to run a web API project using a static IP address on my workstation earlier in the day, and I had issues getting it to work.

But the demo worked!

 

Areas covered in this article include:

  • What is the on-premises data gateway
  • How the data gateway works
  • What the requirements are
  • How to install a gateway
  • How to use a gateway connection

 

Read the full article, Accessing Your On-Premises Data Using the On-Premises Data Gateway, on the Tahoe Ninja’s website. 

 

How to Develop Comprehensive Customer Understanding

 

James Black shares the first post in a series that explores the development of customer understanding in 2020. 

To kick off the new year, I suggested ‘20 Questions to Help Your Brand or Business See 20/20 in 2020.’ To help brands and businesses assess the state of your business and identify opportunities, I wanted to take a closer look at the topic of Customer Understanding.

Developing a deeper Customer Understanding is helpful to identify opportunities to strengthen your business. If you didn’t enter the New Year feeling like you had a deep understanding of your customer, here are some tips on how to quickly build your fact base. At P&G, business understanding always began with a robust “WHO” Understanding – that is, the consumer who used the product and the shopper who bought it.

 

Questions asked and explained include:

  • Do we have a clearly defined target customer?
  • Do we have a clear understanding of the end benefit the customer is seeking?
  • Does our offering fit with his/her desired benefit?
  • Do we understand the customer’s unmet needs vs. current offerings?
  • Are we conducting the right mix of research (qualitative and quantitative)?
  • Do we prioritize what we do (and don’t do) and what we invest in (and not in) against customers’ needs?

 

Read the full article, Seeing 20/20 in 2020: Part 1 – Customer Understanding, on LinkedIn. 

 

Securing Systems during a Crisis

 

Luiz Zorzella shares measures on how to mitigate security breaches through cyber attacks during this crisis. 

The estimated impact of the Coronavirus Crisis continues to be revised up.

Over the past couple of weeks, sequestered trying to minimize the number of fatalities, we have seen economic forecasts being revised, every time painting a more dire scenario.

Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, for example, are forecasting a 24-30% drop for US’ GDP on Q2 and a jump in unemployment to double digits and a Global contraction this year.

The banks have responded. We have seen initiatives from “payment holidays” to suspension of repossessions, to waiving of late fees.

These actions are praiseworthy – especially considering how often banks are seen as slow to respond.

 

Areas explored in this article include:

  • Vigilance on cyber security, risk & compliance
  • Repricing your risk
  • Supporting your customers and stakeholders
  • Reviewing your strategy

 

Read the full article, Crisis? Prepare Your Bank for Battle, on the Amquant website.

 

How to Steer the Ship

 

David A. Fields identifies benefits consulting firms should focus on during this time of crisis.

There are so many voices fixated on the disaster unfolding around us, that you could easily be swept into a torrent of anxiety, fear and panic.

In truth, there is real reason for concern and you absolutely should heed the direction of medical leaders. At the same time, you and your consulting firm will benefit from a healthy dose of positive perspective.

If you ferociously cling to positive thought patterns while chaos is swirling around you, you and your consulting firm can maintain a clear head and promote forward progress.

Fortunately, there are many realistic, reliable reasons for you to feel upbeat.

Eight thought-starters are listed below, and I’ve left two spots open for you to fill in—one more than usual, because I know the entire consulting community will benefit from your inspiring thoughts.

 

Read the full article, 10 Positive Facts Your Consulting Firm Should Obsess over During this Crisis, on David’s blog. 

 

How the Freemium Tactic Works

 

Robbie Kellman Baxter identifies what ‘freemium really means’, how it can be used as a tactic, and the role of freemium in both ordinary and extraordinary times. 

Lots of organizations, particularly subscription businesses, are changing their rules about what is free and what is paid, in response to the coronavirus.

The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News are a few of the many publishers that have removed the paywall in front of coronavirus-related content. In other words, non-subscribers have access to articles relating to the pandemic and impending financial meltdown.

News isn’t the only industry that is giving away more than usual during this time of crisis.

Fitness organizations, like Orange Theory are live streaming classes that were formerly in-person, for members only.

Hello Core is offering free meditation classes to the public 3x/day through Instagram Live.

Zoom Communication CEO Eric S Yuan is expanding the features available on free accounts for K-12 educators.  

Many of my clients are asking what they should be giving away–a difficult choice in a time when many businesses are desperate for short-term revenue to avoid mass layoffs and ‘keep the lights on’.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • The difference between free trial and freemium
  • Viral freemium models
  • Customer engagement and retention

 

Read the full article, In Crisis, What Should Be Free(mium)?, on LinkedIn.

 

How to Overcome Resistance to Change

 

Jesse Jacoby shares a timeless post that explains how leaders can overcome overt and covert resistance to change. 

 

In your role as a leader, you will likely encounter resistance to change at some point from one or more of your own team members. Resistance may come from a variety of sources:

  • An individual with a difficult personality
  • Someone anxious about impending change
  • A person who disagrees with your vision

Resistance is usually demonstrated in one of four ways, each with the potential to create roadblocks for you:

  • Lack of Communication – Leaving you out of the loop in terms of key information or not discussing issues openly
  • Lack of Support – Foot-dragging on key initiatives you try to implement
  • Counterproductive Criticism – Being overly critical of you and your ideas
  • Passive Aggressive Behavior – Agreeing to do something, but then not doing anything

The steps to overcome resistance include:

  • Being alert to the signs of resistance
  • How to gain an understanding of the employee’s perspective
  • Defining  the positive behaviors you want to see, and be clear about your expectations
  • What to do if the resistance becomes habitual

 

Read the full article, How Leaders Can Manage Team Member Change Resistance, on the Emergent Journal website. 

 

Book Time for Relief

 

Robyn M. Bolton shares sage thoughts and inspirational photographs that provide a moment of relief during stressful times.

I don’t know about you, but I’m rather tired of the non-stop hysteria that seems to be occurring these days. Between COVID-19, politics, the economy, and the state of Tom Brady’s contract (sorry, I live in Boston), it seems that the world is having a panic attack.

Namaste, people. Namaste.

In an effort to not contribute to the panic, instead of writing something topical and relating it to innovation, I’m simply going to share images of something that makes me extremely happy and peaceful and relate them to innovation.

Books.

Read the full article, 10 Moments of Innovation Zen, and view the photographs on Medium.

Four Risk Management Approaches to COVID-19

 

Vik Muktavaram recently published an article that evaluates the current crisis through four approaches of risk management.

“As the federal government finally took the first decisive step in stemming the outbreak of COVID-19 in the US, the images of serpentine lines of arriving international passengers at airports waiting for immigration and screening for COVID-19 coronavirus ubiquitous online and in print. Presumably, the rationale for the screening was that these arriving passengers represented a high-risk cohort. Yet, the long, crowded lines with no social distancing not only defeats the very purpose of screening but in fact, one could argue that the risk of spreading is increased substantially amongst the ground staff as well as passengers from different airlines. 

 As we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, we should also be wondering how did we miss this when all the signs were there. How did some countries such as Singapore and South Korea manage to contain, if not necessarily prevent, the spread of virus in their countries despite their proximity to China? Risk Management is a structured way of looking at early indicators and prioritizing risks and then managing these risks. As our crisis response continues to be a case study in “how not to”, let’s take a step back to see how the risk (low likelihood, high impact) of a virus-pandemic became a crisis.”

 

The four approaches explored are:

  • Risk Transfer
  • Risk Acceptance
  • Risk Avoidance
  • Risk Mitigation

 

Read the full article, Covid-19 in the U.S. How a Risk became a Crisis, on the Rithym Advisors’ website. 

 

Here’s Why Your Organizational Costs are Rising

 

Luca Ottinetti’s company blog identifies the drivers of organizational costs and explains why they add significant complexity to the administration of the business.

The costs associated with organizational alignment deal with two functions:  coordination and administration. Coordination costs include resources dedicated to facilitating information sharing, knowledge transfer, and communication.  These resources may comprise teams, committees, or formal lateral units depending on the complexity of the organization. Administrative costs include the top management functions for executive control and direction over all personnel, departments, facilities, and activities such as human resources, accounting, finance, public relations, contract administration, and legal.  Over time, organizational costs increase if for no other reason than business growth and to compensate for cost of living adjustments. In some cases, however, organizational costs increase well above the expected norm. The question is why.

 

Areas covered in this article include:

  • Product line expansion
  • New market expansion
  • Micro-segmentation
  • Vertical integration
  • Merger integration

 

Read the full article, Do You Know Why Your Organizational Costs Are Rising?, on the Great Prairie Group website. 

 

How to Teach Computers

 

This article from Karthik Rajagopalan’s company blog introduces a type of machine learning that may provide solutions for some traditional optimization problems such as inventory optimization and supply chain optimization.

The field of artificial intelligence is slowly beginning to permeate our lives. Computers and other machines are being endowed with intelligence through a process called machine learning. One particular type of machine learning that is of interest to us here in Paramis Digital is Reinforcement Learning (RL), which has been quite successful in a limited number of applications like teaching computers how to play video games and teaching robots how to perform certain activities.

Supervised learning uses data with input and labeled output and learns the relationship between them. Unsupervised learning, on the other hand, works on unlabeled data and is generally used for pattern detection. It is not uncommon to find applications that use a combination of the two methods. In reinforcement learning an agent, say a robot, learns to perform activities in an environment to accomplish a specified goal. The agent learns by performing various activities, collecting feedback from the environment in response to the activities and evaluating the feedback. The key part of this learning method is the reward mechanism, a mathematical construct, which rewards the agent for performing activities that will move it towards and eventually accomplish the goal. The agent is also punished for performing activities that detract it from accomplishing its goals.

 

Read the full article, Reinforcement Learning, on the Paramis Digital website.

 

Merging Creative and Critical Thinking

 

Susan Hamilton Meier shares her thoughts on the merger of analytical and creative thinking and the processes and tools she has designed to help teams problem-solve more creatively.

I turned up at the Boston Consulting Group, probably as the only hire who had never opened a spreadsheet before, so that was interesting, and I ended up, by virtue of that, getting assigned to projects where I did a lot more people skills, so I did a lot of interviews, I gravitated towards their consumer goods practice, and it was actually after they put me through business school, and it was actually after business school, which was around the time when companies were trying to work out what their brands meant in an online environment that I discovered the discipline of branding and that very interesting question of what your brand means. 

 

Points covered in this talk include:

  • How she became interested in branding
  • Discovering the discipline of branding online
  • Consumer research and branding
  • The driving forces behind brand loyalty

 

Listen to the full podcast, Brand Strategy with Susan Meier, on the Dream Business Radio podcast.

 

A Simple Solution to Unlocking Value

 

Jared Simmons explains why simplifying assumptions could be the key to unlocking value faster and freeing up your knowledge workers to innovate.

I learned the power of simplifying assumptions early in my career. As an engineering student, I watched my professors fill boards with Greek letters and symbols, exponents and integrals, constants and variables. Then, in the last 10 minutes of class we worked a real problem together. The first step of solving the real problem was always to use the context of the problem to apply simplifying assumptions to the theoretical equation. Things like material composition, physical location, and scale let us whittle that complex equation down to a more manageable size. Essentially, they allowed us to build real, specific things based on universal theories. Because we understood the theory behind it, we could quickly identify the right simplifying assumptions for each new practical application. An hour in understanding, 10 minutes in practical application.

 

The two main points discussed in this article are:

  • Barriers to applying simplifying assumptions at work
  • Why simplification matters

 

Read the full article, The power of simplifying assumptions, on the Outlast website. 

 

Ego Management and Storytelling

 

David A. Fields offers an encouraging post on how to manage your ego when clients don’t respond to your overtures.

With a sigh and subtle shake of your head, you send one more outreach email to Pippi Burntkernels, the co-founder and COO of Plumper Popcorn, Inc. A few months ago, you and Pip had a great conversation about their operations, and you gave some advice on effectively instituting a better butter beater process.

You know that if you and Pip keep talking, there’s a consulting project at Plumper for your consulting firm.

But she doesn’t return your phone calls, nor has she responded to any of your emails. What’s going on?

 

Read the full article, How To Overcome Your Consulting Prospects’ Fear (So They’ll Call You Back), on David’s consulting website.

 

When Goal Setting Loses Its Appeal

 

Paul Millerd explores what it means to achieve your goals and why the simple goals stop working and you either have to keep raising the stakes or change your orientation.

In 2015, Kevin Durant left his team of nine years to join the best basketball team in the world. In the NBA, great players like Durant are judged based on whether or not they win championships. This undoubtedly influenced his decision to join the team with the best chance to achieve that goal.

Except when he ended up winning a title, he didn’t find what he expected. His friend Steve Nash reflected on Durant’s confusing emotions that summer:

‘He didn’t have a great summer,’ Nash told me last year. ‘He was searching for what it all meant. He thought a championship would change everything and found out it doesn’t. He was not fulfilled.’

No alt text provided for this image

The realization that achieving a goal will often not fundamentally improve your overall well-being can be a challenging moment for people.

It is also a moment where people can choose to orient in a new direction or double down on the same path. This seems like an easy decision to make, but over and over again, people continue back down the same path.

 

Points explored in this article are:

  • Reaching a WTF?! Moment
  • A Brief Detour To Grapple With Happiness
  • What About Work?
  • Have A Little Faith

 

Read the full article, The 2nd Chapter Of Success, on the Boundless website. 

 

How to Put Your Business Back on Track after COVID-19

 

While the businesses community is working hard to deal with the current difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic, the next step is recovery. This post from David Burnie’s company shares ten priorities for a strong business recovery and business continuity plan.

 

With the spread of COVID-19 and the establishment of corresponding emergency measures, now is a crucial time for organizations to review and update their business continuity plan. While the organizations fortunate enough to transition to a work from home strategy are just adapting to this new way of working, the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic will quickly be upon us. High absenteeism will soon become the norm due to sickness and the need to care for loved ones who are ill.

We expect that the COVID-19 pandemic will result in business interruptions for at least six to eight months, with a worst-case scenario of interruptions lasting for twelve to twenty-four months. With that in mind, we are sharing our top ten considerations for planning, developing and executing a business continuity plan and a business recovery plan.

 

The steps covered include:

  • Establish clear succession planning and assignment of authority
  • Prepare for reductions in resource availability
  • Plan for large swings in demand
  • Establish rules to triage requests
  • Ensure critical systems are redundant

 

Read the full article, Top 10 Priorities for a Strong Business Recovery and Business Continuity Plan, on the Burnie Group website. 

 

When the Going Gets Tough…

 

Amanda Setili shares a post that identifies a few ways we can take positive action during the current crisis.

Billions of us worldwide are altering our behaviors during the covid 19 crisis, so that as many people as possible remain safe.

When faced with a tough situation—even something big, like the coronavirus situation—I always ask: how can we mitigate the downside, and create some good?

We are living in strange times, and things are changing every day. Schools are closed and colleges have sent students home; flights, conferences and events have been cancelled; millions of employees are suddenly working remotely. Events this spring are likely to change the way we think, plan and do business for years to come.

 

Areas covered in this article include:

  • Customers
  • Employees, process and finance
  • Suppliers
  • Community
  • Innovation and agility

 

Read the full article, Finding the Positive, Even in Challenging Times, on the Setili website.

 

What Comes Next?  Post Crisis Insights

 

Jason George provides insight on the changes that may emerge after the current crisis.

 

A good strategy should be responsive to the various scenarios that could plausibly materialize, but even the most tightly crafted ones get blown apart when their subject is hit by an asteroid. In our current situation the object wreaking havoc on a planetary scale happens to be a microscopic bit of encapsulated genetic information containing less data than an image used as website filler.

Starting in an animal market in a city that is larger than many globally prominent ones and yet unknown to the average person outside China, the newest coronavirus variant has managed to vaporize years of effort and planning. Retail, hospitality, and travel businesses have watched their markets disappear overnight, the wealthy are packing off to second homes away from the urban crush, and politicians are unleashing fiscal and monetary interventions at a scale unprecedented in history.

 

Insights on the future of the new normal include:

  • Behaviour changes
  • Humanity exposed
  • The fragility of supply chains
  • Robust systems
  • Relationships 

 

Read the full article, Strategy, disrupted. Everything has changed, on Jason’s website.

 

Customer Care during a Crisis

 

Robbie Kellman Baxter explains why the customer relationship is even more valuable and volatile during times of crisis and provides six practical steps you can take to maintain  strong customer relations.

Subscription-based businesses seem to be the most resilient during this time of crisis. With predictable recurring revenue, they have greater flexibility to withstand the storm. But there’s more to it than just revenue. To hang onto customers during a crisis, you need to build a forever transaction with the people you serve. 

Around the world, everyone is adjusting to their own personal “new normal.” They’re sheltering in place. They’re worrying about the elderly and immunocompromised in their community. Their kids are distance learning and not going to school or childcare. Most people, except those on the front lines and in essential businesses, are working from home. And many of those who own or run businesses are trying to hang onto their customers when seemingly all forces are working against them.   Smart marketers know they can kill their brand if they screw this up.

 

The six steps include:

  • The focus on the forever promise
  • Determining your best members
  • Expanding customer success
  • Learning from frontline team members
  • Placing the customer at meetings
  • Identifying the customer challenges

 

Read the full article, How to Hold onto Your Customers in a Crisis – and for the Long Term, on LinkedIn.

 

Thinking Ahead – Pension Plans

 

David Gross takes a look ahead at the looming concern about pension plans. 

 

Author’s note: This article focuses on defined benefit pension plans in the private sector. To learn more about the pension challenges facing municipalities and states, check out this article by Mary Williams Walsh at The New York Times and the Federal Reserve’s analysis from December 2019. 

Stock markets plummet by 20 to 30 percent. Long-term interest rates drop. Future economic growth and asset returns are in doubt. Each of these scenarios can threaten the solvency of defined benefit pension plans and pose challenges for the employers sponsoring and managing these plans. Like the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009, COVID-19 has delivered all three scenarios overnight. For companies that elected not to de-risk their plans over the past decade, or lacked the financial means to do so,  the next decade will bring higher contributions and less discretionary cash for reinvestment, mergers and acquisitions, dividends, and buybacks. For some companies, the next decade will also make them less attractive, or unattractive, to potential acquirers or bring a reorganization or liquidation. 

 

Read the full article, The Next Crisis? Pension Plans, on the Strategic Value Partners’ website.

 

Crisis Customer Management 

 

David A. Fields provides expert advice on how to manage customers during a crisis. 

What do you do when your well-intended outreach call crashes into a brick wall of negativity?

Like many consulting firm leaders, you may have been burning up the phone lines the past week or two, reaching out to your clients and other contacts. Your motives are pure—admirable even. You’re checking in, showing support during a difficult time and offering help.

By and large, your efforts engender successful conversations. More executives are picking up the phone these days.

 

Advice offered includes:

  • Staying right side up
  • Responding with empathy
  • Offering help

 

Read the full article, How To Gracefully Manage Your Consulting Firm’s Shell-shocked Clients, on David’s website. 

 

Advice for Working Remotely

 

As more people get used to working remotely, Paul Millerd shares valuable advice and fourteen tips that should not be followed.

I’ve either put these tips into practice in my own life or can confirm that other people have. People rarely talk about these practices in public because there is a certain amount of shame and embarrassment about telling people you work less.

 

Advice on working remotely Paul shares include:

  • The morning routine
  • Asynchronous communication
  • The bi-modal workday
  • Expectations of motivation

 

Read the full article, Don’t Follow this Advice on Working Remotely, on the Boundless website.

 

A Case for Randomized Testing

April 20, 2020

 

Tobias Baer explains why the lack of randomized testing hampers businesses and raises the costs of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The lack of randomized testing again and again hampers businesses because it means executives need to make decisions half blind – and Covid-19 is no different, only that in the case of Covid-19, the cost of not doing randomized testing literally might run into the trillions of dollars.

Randomized testing is nothing new – and widely considered best practice in the business world:

 

  • Marketing executives should run A/B tests to make sure that ads and other marketing outlays actually influence purchasing decisions and isn’t wasted on customers who would have bought the product anyhow (or worse, even discourage buyers);
  • Banks and insurers randomly approve a small sample of credit or insurance applications rejected by their policy rules because otherwise they cannot know how many errors these rules make and if they lose any profitable business;
  • Online sellers use randomized pricing experiments to test how much more or less revenue and profit they would make by raising or lowering prices a bit.

 

Read the full article, Why Covid-19 illustrates once more the need for randomized testing: Paying the price for biased information, on LinkedIn.

 

Shifting Plans when Plans Shift

 

Robbie Kellman Baxter shares her experience of launching a book during the COVID-19 virus and explains what you can do to rethink plans that have been disrupted. 

This article is based on some of the ideas that came up last week in my LinkedIn Live Session. I’m a beta tester for this new feature, which allows for a more direct, realtime and raw connection with the community. I’ll be LIVE every Friday at Noon Pacific. If you follow me on LinkedIn, you’ll be automatically notified. I’d love it if you join me!

Did you have a launch planned for this spring that went awry. A conference that was canceled, a project put on hold, or a new product that was scaled down? Or maybe, like me, you had written a book that was scheduled for spring of 2020 release?

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Rethinking tactics
  • Taking care of stockholders
  • Reassessing the goal
  • Finding support

 

Read the full article, Launching in a Crisis, on LinkedIn.

 

Moving Forward with Purpose

 

Sean O’Toole explains why there will be no going back to normal and why the current disruption provides opportunities for companies that can redefine themselves for the future.

The world post-COVID19 will be very different from [the one] we just left a few weeks back!

Each crisis has brought dramatic changes in consumer, business and social behavior. At the time, some of the changes accelerated what was already in motion. Others were entirely unanticipated.

Whatever changes this crisis will wrought will take time to play out. However, there will be no return to business-as-usual.

We Are All Changing Right Now!

Consumers, employees and businesses are adopting to this our new reality at speed. We have no choice.

 

Read the full article, COVID19 is Your Permission To Shift To The Future, on LinkedIn.

 

A Forecast on Payors and Providers Post COVID-19

 

Joyjit Saha Choudhury takes a look ahead to determine the effect of COVID-19 on health plans. 

COVID-19 has upended our society, economy and the healthcare ecosystem in particular, and tremendous efforts are underway to try and manage the epidemic. In this difficult and unsettling time, I wanted to help think ahead to actions US-based payors and providers should take for a post-COVID-19 world. 

This piece is structured in three parts – part 1 outlines likely strategic changes to the payor-provider landscape in the near- to medium-term; part 2 serves to remind the industry about what will likely NOT change in the long-term; finally, in light of parts 1 and 2, part 3 lays out six major actions payors and providers should take for a post-COVID-19 world.

 

Areas covered in this article include:

  • Changes in the payor-provider landscape in the near- to medium-term
  • What will not change in the payor-provider landscape in the long-term
  • Actions payors and providers should take for success in a post-COVID-19 world

 

Read the full article, Six Actions U.S. Payors Providers Should Take for a Post COVID-19 World, on LinkedIn.

 

Dispelling Creative Myths at Work

 

Susan Meier was recently interviewed on this podcast where she dives into creative myths at work to dispel the ideas that creativity and strategy are at odds. 

I think that we live in  world where we are surrounded by these myths, which, when we say them out loud they sound silly but we’ve kind of bought into, like the starving artist, or the writer who drinks too much, and so we kind of think of creativity in the back of our minds as something that may be a little playful or childlike or frivolous and not something that serious people do. And this shows up at work for business people, as almost a fear of showing their true colours. So, I encounter people all the time who are serious musicians or accomplished writers who hide that part of themselves at work, because they want to be taken seriously as a the tech entrepreneur  or whatever they are in their so called real job, and I think that this is a real missed opportunity, because, of course, the things that make us successful as creatives are exactly the things that make us successful in all kinds of work.

 

Points discussed include:

  • Tips on creating a brand
  • Branding for the individual
  • Self-assessment 
  • The evolution of Susan’s career

 

Listen to the full podcast, Creative Myths at Work, on the Creativity Coach podcast.

 

A Case Study on Raising Capital

April 25, 2020

 

Jay Jung shares a case study that explains how his company helped a client with their fundraising process, and increased their valuation by 80% and doubled the capital raise.

One of our clients received a term sheet from a well-known VC in the industry. Our client was very excited as getting an investment from this firm was a strong sense of validation in the industry. However, the valuation was significantly lower than what they were hoping for.

The client only had one term sheet from this specific investor and was in dire need of a cash infusion to maintain its fast growth trajectory. Discussions with other investors were lagging and unclear if they were seriously interested.

This is a weak hand. In traditional negotiation terminology – what is your BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement)? Ours was perhaps none existent, at best weak. But as Adam Grant advocates, “The science of the deal reveals that great negotiators refuse to believe in a win-lose world. They care about both results and relationships. They don’t declare victory until all parties win”

If you focus just on valuation, you are not going to gain much in this situation. We refuted their approach to valuation and explained why it was too low (unreasonable). The VC did not push back on our logic, but that doesn’t mean they accepted our higher valuation.

The key to gaining something in this type of discussion is identifying other issues that the investor is solving for. For investors, it is very rarely just about valuation.

 

Read the full case study, Successfully Negotiating VC Termsheets, on the Embarc Advisors’ website. 

 

The Problem with Post-It Note Processes

 

Dan Markovitz explains why using post-it notes may not be the best way to organize your workflow.

One of my clients, a physician in an academic medical center, has been struggling with her personal kanban. She avoided all the common pitfalls—she kept finished tasks in her Done column, limited her WIP, and used Super Sticky Post-It notes to ensure that she didn’t lose any work to evening janitorial services. But she wasn’t making a whole lot of progress, which left her frustrated with the kanban—it wasn’t helping her manage her work.

A closer look at the Post-Its revealed the problem: giant tasks (projects, really) that had no chance of getting finished in anything less than a few months—in her case, “Work on R-01 Grant,” “Write New Oncology Paper,” “New Patient Intake Protocol,” among others. If you were to scale a note to the size of the task written on it, these should have been about the size of a Times Square billboard, not a 3×3 Post-It.

 

Read the full article, Why Ping-Pong Post-It Notes are Bad for You, on the Markovitz Consulting website.

 

The Recurring Trap of the Utopian Vision

 

Paul Millerd invites your mind on an adventure into utopian thinking and a timely reminder on the circular nature of life.

Millenarianism is defined as “the belief by a religious, social, or political group or movement in a coming fundamental transformation of society, after which “all things will be changed”.

I ran across this concept in a fascinating book by John Gray called “Black Mass” where he explored how humans have consistently been drawn toward millenarianist movements. He goes through the history and characteristics of these movements and also applies it to the then current movement to go to war against Iraq during the GW Bush presidency. He showed how their campaign and the associated propaganda embodied many of the traits of these kind of movements.

If you read the book, you can probably skim the parts about the early 2000s, but the broader perspective on these movements and how they continue to occur throughout history was eye opening. Once you become aware of these tendencies you see them everywhere.

 

He explains the five traits of milleniarism movements:

  • Collective, in that it is enjoyed by the community of the faithful
  • Terrestrial, in that it is realized on earth rather than in heaven or in an after-life
  • Imminent, in that it is bound to come soon and suddenly
  • Total, in that it will not just improve life on earth but transform and perfect it
  • Miraculous, in that its coming is achieved or assisted by divine agency

 

Read the full article, What is your preferred pandemic utopia, on the Boundless website.

 

TP or No TP – A Seemingly Important Question

 

Eric Hiller unrolls a few facts behind the need to hoard toilet paper (TP) as he shares his knowledge on the supply chain in this article recently published on MarketWatch.

One of the bizarre phenomena that we have been experiencing in the United States during the visit of our unfriendly visitor from Wuhan, the SARS-COV-2 virus which causes COVID-19 disease, is the strange behavior of people to irrationally hoard toilet paper (TP). I admit, this is one thing that I did not expect, nor did I expect it to go on for so long. I told my wife two to three weeks ago that this would not be a problem, because of the reasons that will be discussed in this article. But I admit, so far this problem has not resolved itself.

I feel pretty competent to talk on this subject, not only because I know the product so intimately, but also because I spent a summer at the East River plant of Procter & Gamble in Green Bay, Wisconsin making TP. I was interning as an undergraduate as a process engineer implementing statistical process control and machine center lining (exciting stuff… yes, I know). It just so happened that I was working on the “converting” floor for Charmin, Charmin Ultra, and Banner toilet paper. This, where you take finished rolls, that is the size the Jolly Green Giant must use (maybe 12 feet tall and 8 feet in diameter, weighing a couple of thousand pounds), and progressively unroll and cut them up until they end up in cases shipping to your friendly grocery store or another outlet.

So, when it comes to TP, I know my… stuff.

 

Facts included in this article:

  • The US supply chain
  • Why people are hoarding TP
  • The cure for TP shortage

 

Read the full article, Three Sheets to the Wind, on the MarketWatch website. 

 

How to Build an Effective Work from Home Policy

 

As more employees work from home, it is important to establish clear guidelines and routines, this post from David Burnie’s company provides ten questions businesses should ask to ensure the switch to working remotely runs smoothly. 

Establishing a work from home (WFH) program is an essential part of a business continuity plan.

In the current COVID 19 crisis, executing a work from home (WFH) policy is a top priority for organizations. A robust work from home policy will enable an organization to continue operating during a significant disruption while limiting the impact on employees and customers.

A WFH policy requires a broad set of considerations to ensure it is adequately developed, including the provision of tools (e.g., laptop, headset, increased VPN capacity) and revised processes and practices. To assist organizations in making the shift to working from home, we developed ten questions to consider to build an effective WFH policy.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Tool required
  • Secure access
  • Scheduling
  • Tracking and managing performance

 

Read the full article, Work from Home Best Practices, on the Burnie Group website.

 

The Dr. Seuss Formula for Consultants

 

Jason George explains with delightful simplicity how the formula used by Dr. Seuss to tell a story is a good example to follow for presentations. The distillation of the core idea to ensure comprehensive understanding that opens the door to deeper exploration.

Author Theodor Geisel was dealing with some tough constraints. The audience for his next book required an instantly captivating story with a clear narrative arc, but there was a catch: they could only process a limited set of words, ideally fewer than 300, most of which would have to be monosyllabic. This was understandable given his target was students in the first grade, who would be around six years old.

Geisel had written children’s books previously, but this was to be his first in a new publishing imprint aimed at the youngest readers. After wrestling with these limitations for almost a year, Geisel worked out a deceptively sophisticated tale that differed markedly from those of the simple reading primers used to increase literacy in 1950s America. It featured a whimsical cat whose unexpected encounter with two children generated amusingly outlandish antics, all told with unusual irreverence.

 

Read the full article, Simplicity rules – Short and sweet,  on JasonGeorge.net.

 

Reimagine The Future Summit

Join Kaihan Krippendorff on May 6th, for a summit with 24 thought-leaders from around the globe, across 24 hours where thought leaders will discuss how to rethink tomorrow for you and your Organization. Confirmed speakers include Dan Pink, Amy Edmondson, Marshall Goldsmith, Faith Popcorn, and Rosabeth Moss-Kanter. 

 100% of profits will go to charity. Donations will be awarded to Kiva, No Kid Hungry, GiveDirectly, and the European Food Banks Federation.

Finding New Partners in New Places

 

David A. Fields shares a post that identifies the benefit of extending your reach and imagination to find partners and connections that can help your business grow.

Many of your consulting firm’s prospects are caught in the eddies of crisis and battling to stay afloat. While they appreciate your relationship-building calls, unfortunately, they’re too preoccupied to fully engage in deep conversations with you.

On the other hand, you know who’s in the same boat as your consulting firm and casting about for new ideas and connections?

Fly fishermen. Partners.

Plus, the right partner can contribute more to your consulting firm’s health over the long term than any one client.

A partner is any individual or firm that helps you with your consulting cycle (Winning Engagements and Profitably Creating Value), and/or whom you can help.**

 

The five categories (and examples) of partners are:

  • IP Creators
  • Influencers
  • Connectors
  • Value Extenders
  • Distributors

 

Read the full article, 5 Partners Your Consulting Firm Should Call This Week, on David’s website. 

 

The Demons that Haunt a Leader’s Mind

 

Leadership has its own set of unique challenges during times of crises; Luiz Zorzella provides a post that identifies a few of the common obstacles faced and how to overcome them.

During a crisis, we are all pushed to make strategic, life-changing decisions. Often we need to make these decisions under a lot of uncertainty and with incomplete and faulty information.

Below, I review some of my favourite cognitive biases with a couple of examples of how they may be influencing your and your counterpart’s decisions.

You can print this list and keep it in your drawer as a checklist on how to survive yourself and the other survivors during this period.

In the early days of a crisis, there is a lot of uncertainty: at the macro level, questions like how long the crisis will last, how effective the solution will be and, what will be the direct and indirect impact of this on your business, your clients, partners and competitors are very troubling questions.

On top of these, micro questions like how will these change the demand for your products, what emerging business models will be successful and what implications all these changes will have to your risk profile; and individual questions like what is the impact on the your health, your team’s and your loved ones and what is the impact on your job security, growth prospects and personal investments.

 

Areas covered in this article include:

  • The need to hide vulnerability & overconfidence
  • Ambiguity aversion
  • Availability heuristic
  • Group think
  • Belief bias, confirmation bias & outcome bias

 

Read the full article, 5 Demons Who Flourish During Hard Times, on the Amquant website. 

 

How to Survive and Thrive Post COVID-19

 

In this detailed article, Surbhee Grover identifies the decision-making inputs and new market approaches that will be required to survive in the new economy.

For entrepreneurs, coming out of COVID-19 isn’t the end of a crisis. It’s the beginning of a new way of thinking about their approach to product-market fit, financing, marketing and go-to-market strategies. And for some, will be a time to reflect on their personal approach to risk. The exponential pace of change to society will mean that only those entrepreneurs who have the greatest ability to adapt will survive. 

Framing how the world will be different is important, as these differences will both unlock new opportunity and create new goalposts for innovation, user adoption (B2C and B2B), team building, product-market fit, and venture funding. We believe a few things will be true:

 

Areas covered in this article include:

  • Brand relationships
  • Purchasing behaviour
  • Migration of talent and teams
  • Re-imagined supply chains
  • Data needs and sources

 

Read the full article, Shakeout of the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem What will it take to survive? And thrive?, on LinkedIn.

 

Building Your Business Case for the Future

 

Azim Nagree explores the necessary steps to take when the current crisis is over and shares a template you can use to build your business case.

Many of us are spending our time thinking about (and writing about) how to get through the current Coronavirus-driven situation. For those who have had to endure headcount reductions, your energy and focus is probably on just getting through the day-to-day workload.

But it’s important to think about what will happen when the current crisis is over, especially as it relates to hiring. So, when management is telling you to cut back on headcount, how do you make the case to start hiring again?

The answer is simple – data.

When you are asking for additional headcount, make sure that you have the data to back up your request. It is likely that every department will be requesting headcount, and the executive team will not approve everyone’s request. Those with a solid business case backed up with data will win, compared to those who have generic requests based upon intuition. More simply said: Bring a gun to the knife fight

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Sales targets and quota capacity
  • Demand generation
  • Customer support and customer success

 

Read the full article, What Happens When This Is All Over, on LinkedIn.

 

How to Keep the Lights on in Africa

 

While all eyes are on the future of Africa’s resources, Richard Stuebi takes a look ahead at improving the electricity sector. In this article, he summarizes the main points from a year long study. 

For the past year or so, I’ve been privileged to lead a team at the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Boston University to develop a synthesized perspective on the current state of and future prospects for the African electricity sector.  I’m pleased to announce that our final report is now available to the public, and a webinar presenting a brief summary of its findings can be seen here.

This report became a labor of love for me:  although it admittedly took a lot longer to complete than I had expected, the effort in reviewing the ever-growing body of information on electricity in Africa rewarded me by providing additional evidence in support of my hypothesis that the natural long-run state of the sector involves a “grid-of-grids” architecture.

The challenges impeding improvement in the African electricity sector are daunting.  

 

The points summarized in this article include:

  • Population’s access to electricity
  • Africa’s infrastructure and economy
  • Control of Africa’s utilities
  • Africa’s reliance on fossil fuels

 

Read the full article, Bringing Power and Progress to Africa, on the Future Energy Advisors’ website.

 

Tips for Video Conferencing

 

Aneta Key lightens the mood for the day with these tongue-in-cheek video conference tips. 

 

Many of us are so accustomed to videoconferencing, we take it for granted. But with the COVID-19 pandemic shift to remote work, a whole lot of professionals worldwide are just now being introduced to this genre of workplace interactions.  

This blog post will offer something for veterans and newbies alike. In a true iterative fashion, I will add to it over time.

 

 

Tips include:

  • Productive direction
  • How to make it engaging

 

Watch the video, Simple Ideas for Better Meetings, on YouTube, and tune into the series of videos, On Lockdown in San Francisco, on the Aedea Partners’ website.

 

How to Manage Your Company’s Culture during COVID-19

 

Sarah Ralston Miller and Zaheera Soomar co-authored this article on how to support and strengthen company culture during the current crisis. 

Through the Covid-19 pandemic, our world of work has changed almost overnight. In the past few weeks, we’ve spoken with senior leaders at organizations with whom we have been working to strengthen their ethical culture. These leaders understand that their culture is an essential resource to navigate through the current crisis, and are finding new ways to cultivate ethical culture under these radically-changed circumstances. Drawing on our conversations with leaders across business and civil society, here are a few reflections on ways to guide your own culture during this period.

Be deliberate about your remote-based culture. It is important that we understand how the shift to remote work environments impacts our organizational culture, no matter how temporary we hope it will be. Being intentional about what we put in place can enable benefits and mitigate risks. Transitioning to remote work without building a corresponding culture creates multiple risks, including loss of employee engagement and inclusion, impact to productivity, lack of connectedness between individual and overall organization goals, increased fragmentation and risks of misconduct related to changing accountabilities.

 

Areas covered in this article include:

  • Remote-based culture
  • Communication
  • Scenario-planning
  • Agility and adaptability

 

Read the full article, Cultivating Culture in a Crisis, on the Principia website. 

 

Eight Survival Steps for Your Business

 

Amanda Setili shares eight steps you can take to mitigate stress and uncertainty during the current crisis. 

I’ve been astounded by the degree and speed of innovation and change these last few weeks.

Things that in normal times would have taken months or years to do have been accomplished in days, largely because people are banding together to help each other. In the midst of suffering, stress, and a good bit of fear, there is more kindness than ever.

And as a society, we’re learning faster than at any other time in my lifetime.

People have shifted to remote work, retailers have ramped up store pickup services, governments have created relief programs, factories have shifted to making personal protective equipment, the Army is building temporary hospitals, and scientists and regulators are speeding new treatments to market. It’s impressive.

 

The steps outlined include:

  • Supporting the needs of society
  • Employee retention
  • Customer support
  • Cashflow forecast

 

Read the full article, Innovation amid Stress and Uncertainty, on the Setili website.

 

Expectations on Risk and Returns

 

James Bowen takes a moment to muse on risk expectations and market values.

 

Today I read Christopher Schelling’s insightful article in Institutional Investor, “The Dust Bowl Ravaged 1930s America: Coronavirus is Today’s Equivalent.” It led me to thinking about risk, and in particular how a risk no one considered at all a little over a month ago has emerged to destroy trillions of dollars of value — perhaps not in percentage terms, but certainly in dollar terms the largest destruction of value in my lifetime. How can this be?

The market value of anything, whether a farm or a necklace or a share of stock, is what someone else is willing to pay for it. In financial markets, we should see a relationship between the market price of an asset and its future cash flows, discounted for the riskiness of the asset. The riskier the asset, the greater the rate of discount of the future cash flows. Of course, it’s all more complicated than that, but at its very core the foundational principle of modern finance is that return is commensurate with risk, and the sum of the expected future returns on an asset tells us what it is worth. When the riskiness of future returns increases, present value decreases, and vice versa. It’s that simple.

 

Read the full article, On Risk in the Coronavirus Era, on LinkedIn.

 

Helping Leaders Make Ethical Decisions

 

During times of crises leaders must make the tough decisions, but choosing the right way to go is not always clear cut. Zaheera Soomar identifies three practical approaches to serve as guidelines for ethical decision-making.

During a recent conversation with a senior executive, she expressed a sentiment that many of us share: “When the pandemic has passed, I want to be able to say that, at the hardest of times, I did my best to do the right thing”. During this pandemic, leaders are expected to make difficult decisions with far-reaching consequences.

Ethical decision-making becomes even more important in times of crisis.

Leaders are constantly faced with ethical decisions, with all of the challenges associated with meeting the expectations of various stakeholders – investors, employees, customers, partners, regulators, local communities, and society at large. These decisions are rarely simple, bringing together financial considerations with deep-rooted beliefs about the right thing to do: Costco’s raising of its minimum wage, Woolworths’ decision to get out of liquor and gambling and Salesforce’s decision to bar certain firearms companies from using its services all represent tough decisions informed by ethics and values. Leaders must make decisions with limited knowledge, predicting their impact, and have confidence and trust that the compromises and trade-offs are the right ones.

 

Included in this article:

  • Align your decisions with your purpose
  • Follow agreed and actionable principles
  • Prioritise and plan your decisions and actions

 

Read the full article, Making Good Decisions in times of Crisis, on the Principia website. 

 

Are We Prepared?

 

James Bowen takes a look ahead to the end of this year, and shares his thoughts on four likely scenarios that may come to pass. 

Today we live in an environment of extreme uncertainty. More than 26 million Americans who had jobs a month ago are now unemployed. No one can tell you whether that number will be bigger or smaller a month from now. We have seen negative prices for the West Texas Intermediate oil contract, but that same barrel traded yesterday for $28.82 for December delivery, giving a tremendous premium to anyone who can store crude oil. As I previously posted, the expectations of risk priced into equity markets have unquestionably increased; it’s difficult even to estimate how much, because any estimate of future cash flows at this point is mostly guesswork. Point estimates are worthless and even probability distributions of future outcomes are likely based on shifting sands.

 

The four outcomes explored are:

  • Stagflation
  • International Competition
  • Prolonged Recession
  • Robust Recovery

 

Read the full article, Four Scenarios for Year-End 2020, on LinkedIn.

 

Growth during Times of Isolation

 

Robbie Kellman Baxter provides a few words of encouragement and valuable links that will inspire and motivate.

Now is a good time to sharpen the saw.

Abraham Lincoln is reported to have said “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”According to recent data from Zuora, only 11% of subscription businesses using their billing platform have seen a decline in members vs 2019.

We all need a little inspiration right now. Whether our business is going well or not.

I’ve been talking with subscription executives that are worried and pulling back for sure. But many subscription businesses are growing, and practitioners working in those companies, the product managers, marketers, customer success teams and sales organizations, are busier than ever.

Organizations are dealing with new demands, and a new environment, which requires pivoting and fresh ideas. Those of us who are seeing a slowdown in business and in “to do” lists, are thinking about how things will be different in the foreseeable future.

 

Free includes:

  • A Financial Planning Marketing playbook
  • Leading Learning
  • Read to Lead
  • Glambition

 

Access links and read the full article, Sharpening the Saw for Subscription Practitioners & Entrepreneurs–FREE STUFF, on LinkedIn.

 

A Framework for Responding to COVID-19

 

Andrew Hone’s company has developed a 6-week program which takes businesses through each step of our three-stage framework for responding to COVID-19.

COVID-19 represents a formidable challenge to businesses of all sizes. Necessary policy responses have caused significant disruption to the global economy, with simultaneous demand, supply and financial shocks. Most businesses are experiencing a sharp decline in near-term revenue, requiring actions to mitigate the impact on cash flows and potentially to secure additional funding.

Based on our own experiences with clients on turnaround and performance improvement programs, we have developed a strategic framework to assist businesses in working through their response to COVID-19. There are three key elements to this framework:

 

  • Ensuring immediate business continuity
  • Securing the near-term financial viability of the business
  • Positioning the business for medium-term strategic opportunities

 

Read the full article, Responding to COVID-19, on Zenith Strategy Associates’ website.

 

The Stay-at-Home Economy and the Hierarchy of Consumer Needs

 

Cheryl Lim Tan takes a look at how the COVID-19 virus has affected what consumers are buying after the initial panic purchases.

Let’s see how the stay-at-home economy is stacking up.

The American consumer has until very recently, powered close to 70% of GDP. As we settle into what may be a few months of a nationwide stay-at-home order due to COVID-19, a very different looking consumer is emerging — in yoga pants, and in desperate need of a haircut / dye job / triple latte.

So yes, we already know people have stocked up on toilet paper and hand sanitizer. But after the initial panic-buying wears off and we settle into this coronavirus-induced new normal, what else will this new consumer be purchasing?

 

The hierarchy of needs include:

  • Survival
  • Services
  • Home Office/School
  • Self-entertainment
  • Self-fulfilment

 

Read the full article, What is that socially-distant consumer buying these days?, on Medium

 

Eight Survival Steps for Your Business

 

Amanda Setili shares eight steps you can take to mitigate stress and uncertainty during the current crisis. 

I’ve been astounded by the degree and speed of innovation and change these last few weeks.

Things that in normal times would have taken months or years to do have been accomplished in days, largely because people are banding together to help each other. In the midst of suffering, stress, and a good bit of fear, there is more kindness than ever.

And as a society, we’re learning faster than at any other time in my lifetime.

People have shifted to remote work, retailers have ramped up store pickup services, governments have created relief programs, factories have shifted to making personal protective equipment, the Army is building temporary hospitals, and scientists and regulators are speeding new treatments to market. It’s impressive.

 

The steps outlined include:

  • Supporting the needs of society
  • Employee retention
  • Customer support
  • Cashflow forecast

 

Read the full article, Innovation amid Stress and Uncertainty, on the Setili website.

 

On a Video Call? Don’t Do That, Do This!

 

As more consultants rely on video conferencing to connect with clients, David A. Fields shares timely, tractable, and tongue-in-cheek tips on how to avoid common mistakes that are all too often made. 

Are there video call-specific rules of etiquette? Of course.

Remember the old days, when people left their houses? Consultants would frequently travel thousands of miles, sardined next to strangers (crazy, right?).

Even then, your consulting firm’s best, everyday outreach tool was your telephone.

However, in the modern, no-travel era, video calls have become totally acceptable and quite common.

Video calls are far more effective than the phone for building relationships with your consulting firm’s clients, prospects, influencers and partners.

As noted in this article, you’ll benefit from quickly moving email and phone conversations to video.

However, video calls do come with some risks and behavior changes.

For instance, when you were on a phone call and the other person was talking, you could sneak in a quick bite of your lunch (or one, entire Krispy Kreme donut).

On a video call, you tell your contact that you see a tarantula dangling behind them, then quickly scarf your box of donuts while you’re watching the other person shriek and flail. (Later in the conversation you can mention how much you like their pajama bottoms.)

Obviously, a quick review of avoidable video call faux pas is in order.

 

Tips include:

  • Visual disconnection
  • Audio fails
  • Hot mic/camera
  • Unhappy endings

 

Read the full article, “10 Common, Avoidable Mistakes Consultant’s Make on Video Calls,” on David’s website. 

 

Golden Goose Economics and a Cautionary Tale of Greed

 

Jason George shares an origin story of management consulting and lessons from the barnyard to highlight the benefits of putting people and practice before personal profit. 

Marvin Bower faced a critical choice. He had led McKinsey & Company from its earliest years, in the process helping to define the fledgling field of management consulting. Now nearing retirement age, it was time to hand the reins to the next generation of leaders. As the principal shareholder in the partnership, Bower’s ownership stake was a gold mine, appreciating to many multiples of its value since his joining roughly thirty years prior.

To cash out he could sell to a third-party buyer interested in taking over operations. Alternatively, he could require the current partners of the firm to buy out his stake at market value. This would involve significant indebtedness that could constrain future agility.

Bower chose a radical, nearly unprecedented path. When the time came for him to step down as managing director, he elected to sell his shares back to the partnership at their nominal book value instead of their true market price. In the process he would forego a massive windfall, while also setting an example that would reverberate throughout the organization for decades to come. For Bower, a one-time gain was not worth more than investing in the culture and health of the institution he had laboriously built up.

 

Points of interest in this article include:

  • Bain & Company’s downturn
  • The twist in modern capitalism
  • Establishing the ownership structure for investing

 

Read the full article, How giving away value can create more, on Jason’s website.

 

Brand Thinking for Growth Post COVID-19

 

Susan Meier was recently interviewed on The Growth Zone where she shared her expertise on good branding strategies and how to upscale brand visibility.

Brands of all kinds are seeing a huge need to rethink and reinvent in the new context we’re faced with. The game has changed, but the basic rules remain the same.

I encourage people to step back from that (social media), before you build your platform and presence, you need to think about who you are and what’s going to be really interesting and meaningful for the customers you serve. So I encourage my clients and those entrepreneurs and small businesses that I advise to start thinking about themselves. So often, myself included, we start with the products or service is, we know what it is we have to offer, but around lies three different things, the way that I see it: who you are as an individual and what you bring to the table, what is that DNA, what are your core values, dig into your specific identity so that you discover the origin story before you dive into your products and services. That’s going to start the process of understanding what really makes you different.

 

Points discussed include:

  • The myths about creativity that hold us back
  • What makes a good branding strategy?
  • How can the creative part of branding stay on track?
  • What are Susan’s tips to scaling one’s brand visibility?

Listen to the podcast, What makes a good branding strategy?, on The Growth Zone.

 

New Ways to Provide Inspiration, Connection, and Education

 

As we begin to consider the far-reaching and long-lasting impacts of the current pandemic, Robbie Kellman Baxter thinks ahead and shares her thoughts on the future of live gatherings and how that will affect a wide range of institutions, organizations, and individuals.

A few weeks ago, Facebook announced they’re canceling any large physical events with 50 or more people through June 2021. (Some they’ll hold as virtual events.) Microsoft announced something similar. Many organizations are allowing no business travel through at least June of this year.

 It looks like many organizations are going to be “virtual only” for at least another year.

And if businesses are being cautious, consumer gatherings are likely to be limited as well. What does that mean for sports, concerts, museums, theaters, theme parks and cruise ships? Industries most hard hit by the ban on large live gatherings include education, conferences, entertainment (sports, theater, concerts, amusement parks, museums, zoos) and travel.

 

Included in this article:

  • Re-engineering virtual events
  • Online content to maintain and deepen relationships
  • Four ideas to help you move forward

 

Read the full article, “The Future of Live Gatherings and What it Means for Your Forever Transactions”, on LinkedIn.

 

Three Common Obstacles to Progress

 

Jared Simmons provides a concise post that identifies the three most common factors that impede progress. 

Whether you are chasing profit or purpose, a team’s ability to make progress is critical to achieving its objectives. There are many obstacles that keep a team from operating at its full potential, but the three most common (and solvable) ones are ambiguity, apathy, and amateurism. The challenge is recognizing them in action.

 

Discover how the following three A’s impact your team:

  • Ambiguity
  • Apathy
  • Amateurism

 

Read the full post on the, Making progress: The three silent killers, on the Outlast website. 

 

Executive Tips to Improve Online Meetings

 

As many of us continue to hold a business together through online meetings, Susan Drumm provides expert advice on how to maximize the effectiveness of the virtual workplace, including tips on planning and running online meetings.

Effective virtual meetings? Ha! If they exist, I’ve certainly never attended one.” If this was your thought process when you read the title of this blog post: I get it.

With the COVID-19 crisis and its implications for remote working, it’s more important than ever for leaders to run effective virtual meetings. Teams need leaders who can facilitate impactful meetings that create community and accountability across time zones.

A virtual meeting is obviously different from an in-person one and there are several specific things you’ll need to pay attention to. Otherwise, you are likely to see a fair bit of multi-tasking, surfing the web, phone-in only, or team members turning off their mics to have outside conversations, leaving the team feeling even more disconnected.

I’m not just talking about team members — leaders do it, too.  According to a Harvard Business Review study, managers who multitask during meetings are 2.2 times more likely to have direct reports who also multitask in meetings.

My own team is virtual and I’ve been facilitating leadership development programs virtually for years. I know what works and what doesn’t. Here are my best virtual meeting tips for executives.

 

Tips include:

  • Creating connection
  • How to handle tangents and derailers
  • Using the DIS framework

 

Read the full article, “Incredibly Effective Virtual meetings: 10 Tips to Plan and Run Them,” on the Meritage Leadership website.

 

What May Come to Pass after COVID-19

 

Robyn Bolton shares her predictions on what comes after the wave of COVID-19 abates. 

‘What happens next? You know, once all of this is over?’ my friend asked. ‘There will be a new normal, but what will it look like?’

This is the question everyone is asking.

Lots of people proclaim to have the answer. Some are based on history, but history isn’t a great predictor of the future. Some opinions are based on trends and projections but rely assumptions which may or may not be true. Many are based on our hopes or fears, but those are grounded in emotions which can change from one moment to the next.

No one actually has the answer.

What we’re experiencing is a fundamental disruption to our way of life. It calls into question everything we believed to be true about ourselves and our worlds. It requires us to re-think things that we took to be inviolable truths. It is impossible to experience such a sudden and all-encompassing upheaval and emerge as if nothing happened.

We know things will be different once the restrictions (e.g. stay-at-home, limited gathering sizes, essential workers only, curfews) are lifted.

What we do not know is HOW they will be different and HOW LONG they will stay different.

 

Topics included in this article:

  • How will connection be different?
  • How will work be done?
  • How will learning and education occur?
  • HOW LONG will the “new normal” last?

 

Read the full article, What Happens Next?, on Medium

 

Finding the Positive in the Pandemic

 

Take a look back to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic with Tobias Baer where he asks us to imagine the positive impact to both the individual and the economy.

Amidst all the gloom and panic, I saw a light today. Grounded in Germany, I made a long bicycle ride through mostly empty countryside. All my worries about my family, clients, and own affairs notwithstanding, I couldn’t help feeling bliss and happiness, and it dawned on me that also this crisis won’t be the end of the world – and that we might be able to soften the blow and use it for something good. With a pause button.

As we look at especially elderly patients dying because of a shortage of hospitals and ICU machinery, shutting down the world makes sense. And spending one, two months at home with our families actually could be a boon in disguise – if it wasn’t for the world economy, our livelihood, fighting for its survival. And as I was gliding through the fields, I wondered if we could simply hit the pause button on the economy – if we, the ‘normal’ world (those lucky enough not to be fighting death in the world’s health systems), collectively could go on a 2-month vacation, like a meditation retreat, while the real world, our businesses and financial pressures, are frozen in time. And it dawned on me that in a world where already normality has disappeared and many businesses are shut down, such a utopia might not be far fetched at all.

 

Read the full article, Could a Pause Button Save the World Economy, on LinkedIn

 

Strategic Actions to Manage Current Situation

 

Luca Ottinetti provides an article that reflects on past recessionary crises to help business leaders move through the current situation productively with examples of strategies from TMSC, Ford, AB InBev, Home Depot, and Verizon among others.

Managing through a recessionary crisis requires more than laying low and waiting for the storm to blow over. It takes proactive management to prepare and then take advantage of the general economic weakness.

Recessions come from different starting events, for example (1) stagflation from OPEC’s quadrupling oil prices in 1973-1975, (2) the Fed’s elevated interest rates to combat inflation in 1981-1982, (3) the savings and loan crisis in 1989, (4) the boom and bust of the dot.com businesses in 2001, and (5) the sub-prime mortgages in 2007. Today, a recession is starting to take hold, triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether V-shaped, U-shaped, or L-shaped remains a subject of speculation. But the real question now is: What needs to be done today

to get through this crisis and come out ahead?

 

Areas covered include:

  • Opportunity
  • Timing
  • Expanding market share
  • Mergers and acquisitions

 

Read the full article, Managing Through A Recessionary Crisis, on the Great Prairie Group website. 

 

Avoid these 21 Business Continuity Mistakes

 

David Burnie’s company has published a timely blog on the 21 common mistakes many companies make when rolling out their business continuity plan. 

A business continuity plan is essential for preventing and recovering from emergencies and incidents that can disrupt a business.

We recently shared our top 13 priorities for a strong BCP. While not having a BCP is a sure-fire pitfall to successful business continuity, there are other things to keep in mind. Here are some of the common pitfalls to look out for when executing business continuity plans.

 

The mistakes covered in the article include:

  • Business continuity preparation
  • Leadership
  • Communication approach
  • Processes
  • Systems failover
  • Budget

 

Read the full article, 21 Things Companies Do Wrong When Executing Business Continuity Plans, on the Burnie Group website. 

 

How to Improve the Data on COVID-19

 

Christophe De Greift identifies the problem of low data literacy and shares four rules that can improve statistical data during COVID-19 and our understanding of the situation. 

The world was caught off guard by a new virus that we are still trying to understand. If we turn to official sources to find answers to our questions, we often find graphics that are not very relevant and even misleading about COVID-19. In the era of artificial intelligence and predictive analytics, we continue to suffer from low data literacy in institutions and circumstances where decision-making based on reliable data should take precedence…

Hoping to see a rapid improvement in the official sources of communication on the health situation, I recall below some basic quality criteria for statistical communication, and I illustrate each criterion with an example recently found in official sources – anonymous so as not to hurt sensitivities – as well as a proposal for improvement.

 

The four rules covered are:

  • Key questions
  • Comparisons
  • Interpretation
  • Building Indicators

 

Read the full article, 4 Rules to Improve Our Statistical Communication in COVID-19 Time, on Christophe’s blog.

 

Financial Projections Post COVID-19

 

Martin Nel shares his synthesis on recent events and data that have informed his outlook on how COVID-19 will affect major players in Canadian Retail Banking.

Covid-19: When will it end? What will be the damage to the economy? What will be the impact on the major players in Canadian Retail Banking? 

Looking at the S&P 500 over the last few weeks, it seems that it will all be over soon, with limited economic damage. Let’s call this the mild outcome.

A Reuters poll of 25 economists says the Canadian economy will shrink by 27.5% this quarter. In April the US growth in unemployment equals the total working population of Canada (~20 million people). Per The London Times Britain is on course to suffer its worst recession for 300 years. Economic indicators say this will go on for quite a while and the damage to the economy will be significant. I’ll call this the severe outcome.

Now, the efficient markets hypothesis says that stock prices reflect all available information and is therefore the best possible prediction of the future. There is also a view that stock markets are driven by irrational human psychology, amplified by trading algorithms. Then again, economic data is reported by publications and neutral stories don’t attract eyeballs or win Pulitzer prizes. 

Bottom line: We don’t know which scenario will materialize.  

So, let’s look at both scenarios and the impact on Canadian Retail Banking.

 

Included in this article:

  • De-globalization
  • Delinquencies and losses
  • Home prices

 

Read the full article, Covid-19 and Canadian Retail Banking – Things are not looking too bad for the Dinosaurs, on the NelInc.ca website.

 

Lockdown Client Testimonials with these Five Tips

 

David Fields explains how to maximize the benefits of video conferencing by encouraging clients to give a testimonial. He provides five stellar tips, including questions to ask to ensure you make the most of the moment. 

Your consulting firm’s prospects and clients are settling into the video call format. Other than the relationship-building advantages of video, has this newly-accepted communication medium ushered in any valuable opportunities for your consulting firm?

You betcha.

Video testimonials are where it’s at.

Any testimonial from a happy client builds credibility for your consulting firm.

However, since most people trust what they see more than what they read, videos of people earnestly extolling your consulting firm’s virtues pack a particularly powerful punch.

Also, clients who record testimonials for you are more likely to hire you again and recommend you.

 

The five tips include:

  • Stage setting
  • Directing the response
  • Camera direction
  • Reenactments

 

Read the full article, 5 Pro Tips For Transforming A Lockdown Into Killer Testimonials on David’s website. 

 

COVID-19 – Opportunity Expansion

 

Jennifer Hartz shares encouraging words on how the current COVID-19 situation provides the opportunity to learn, grow, and serve. 

Obviously, #COVID19 creates a number of significant problems in the world, our country, businesses, nonprofits, governments, and schools. This temporary situation, current trend, or permanent transformation is challenging. So, let’s look at the opportunities for people working or learning remotely or not employed full time to improve their lives as well as others’.

REMOTE WORK IS EXPANDING

Twitter announced that most employees don’t ever have to go back to the office. “Continue working from home, or anywhere else that makes them happy and productive, forever.” Google and Facebook have extended work from home (WFH) through the end of 2020. California State University Campuses will not open for Fall Semester; on-line classes continue.  Certainly, these organizations are not going to be alone in their shift from traditional offices and classrooms.

SADLY, UNEMPLOYMENT/UNDEREMPLOYMENT IS EXPANDING TOO

 

Read the full article, No Commute? Time for Service!, on the CorporateHartz website. 

 

Using COVID-19 to Your Advantage

 

Dan Markovitz shares why COVID-19 provides the opportunity to institute change. 

“You’ve heard it countless times before: 

‘People don’t like change.’

‘Change is hard.’

‘Change activates people’s lizard brain. They’ll fight you or run away.’

‘People don’t mind changing. They don’t like being changed.’

You hear these complaints so often that you’d think they’re inscribed in the 10 Commandments by now. (They’re not, by the way.)

Sure, there’s plenty of truth in those sayings, but the good news is that right now—in the middle of the Covid-19 outbreak—they’re less relevant than ever. If you want to make a change at your organization, now’s the time to do it. 

The habits that people develop are like ruts in a dirt road. Whether you’re driving, biking, or hiking on that road, it’s really tough to get out of the ruts. You get stuck in the well-worn grooves that you or others have formed over the years. Which pant leg do you put on first? Do you brush first and then floss, or floss and then brush? How do you interlace your fingers? Good luck changing any of those habits. 

Except. 

Except when a flood washes out the road and you (and everyone else) is forced to bushwhack across new territory. Everything is thrown into turmoil, and the old habits no longer apply. When the road is gone, so is the rut.

 

Read the full article, Covid-19 Is The Best Thing To Happen To Your Company. Seriously., on the Markovitz consulting website. 

 

A Look ahead at the Mindshift in the Workforce

 

Paul Millerd’s latest newsletter explores four questions surrounding the state of work, schools, and creativity and shares unexpected thoughts on the future of work.

The US has lost 38 million jobs. Some of those may come back. Many will not. Going into 2021, the US will likely have the highest unemployment rate in the last 100 years.

I’ve written quite a bit about the fragile labor economy and believe the gaps I’ve written about have become more visible than ever.

Here are the questions I’m thinking about for the next year.

#1. What happens when work doesn’t seem a necessary part of our lives?

In Max Weber’s famous treatise on Capitalism published in the 1800’s, he argued that a central element that enabled capitalism to emerge and succeed starting in the 1500s was the fact that so many people eventually developed a “spirit” for capitalism.

Many people incorrectly equate this spirit as greed, but as Weber points out, greed is timeless and universal not a product of capitalism.  It has been seen at all times in history and in all types of economic systems.  Instead Weber suggests that capitalism might have become so effective because of its ability to restrain greed: 

‘Capitalism may even be identical with the restraint, or at least a rational tempering, of this irrational impulse.’ 

By channeling this natural human urge into work, it can theoretically benefit not only the greedy person, but society at large.  

What then motivates work?

 

Included in this article:

  • How does unstable work relate to how people think about the future?
  • How will the cross-generation disconnect be resolved?
  • What is the role of making stuff and our relationship to optimism and the future?

 

Read the full article, Four Work Questions, Alternative Path Stories, Facebook’s Deeper Game & Creativity, on the Boundless website.

 

How to Prepare a Pandemic Playbook 

 

Boris Galonske offers direction on how to navigate the effects of COVID-19 in the form of a detailed outline of a playbook. 

The coronavirus exposes critical infrastructure to a risk environment which is unprecedented in recent history. In order to maintain resilient operations establishing a playbook how to run critical infrastructure these days is key.

Situation today

A pandemic has been part of risk inventories of large corporations for several years. However, the accelerating speed with which the coronavirus spreads across global regions comes as a surprise. Research organisations and networks uncover new facts almost on a daily basis.

Medical researchers fast-track efforts to come up with medical interventions which in the best case will be available by year end.

Politicians and financial experts carve out policy mechanisms targeted at coping with the economic consequences of the pandemic – short-term and longer-term.

Although corporations also need to review their exposures and identify mitigation mechanisms, maintaining robust operations of critical infrastructure (e.g. IT, chemical plants, utility assets, power plants, chemical plants & sites, …) today is critical.

Hence, as vulnerability of operations increases, stabilising the management response and reducing complexity is key in order to maintain operational resilience.

 

Information provided in this article:

  • What stakeholders expect
  • How risks materialize
  • Staying in control
  • How to proceed

 

Read the full article, Weathering the storm – Establishing a playbook for critical infrastructure operations, on the Silverberg website. 

 

The Creative Destruction of COVID-19

 

Alex Sharpe takes a look at where we are, where we’re going, and why history can help us identify possible opportunities.

The CORONA Virus is rocking our worlds – no doubt. It is a scary time with lots of uncertainty. Fortunately, times like this cause a disruption which also means opportunity. For many of us that is not easy to hear as we watch businesses struggle and industries change. It is even harder as we hear about the loss of life and we watch the stress placed on the healthcare system. Business owners and entrepreneurs are starting to ask questions like

‘What opportunities will exist that did not exist before?’

‘What voids can I fill for customers in a post-pandemic world?’

‘How do I keep my staff engaged if this goes on for another 2 months?’

‘I just started a new business. Should I stick with it?’

 Spoiler alert, history tells us situations like this, afford a great opportunity. 

 Do not miss out. Opportunity is knocking.

 

Included in this article:

  • Isaac Newton
  • Warren Buffet
  • Apple, Microsoft, Disney

 

Read the full article, Disruption – What a Great Time to Pivot, on LinkedIn.

 

The Nuts and Bolts of Best Practices

 

When building a bicycle for his daughter, Azim Nagree was reminded of the importance of two key components of best practices: process and documentation.

Last week, my daughter turned 4 and I found myself, late at night, trying to build her new birthday bike. The task would have been made easier if the instructions were decent, but unfortunately, they were written poorly so I ended up just trying to figure it out myself. What should have been a one hour project ended up consuming 3 hours of my time, as well as most of my patience and sanity (why would part A connect to part F – doesn’t it make sense for A to connect to B?!?)

As I struggled with the joining the “G-Connector Bracket” to the “U-Slide” but making sure that the “Circle Washer” was in the right place, I realized how this same struggle applies to the workplace. When someone is faced with doing something for the first time, we oftentimes do not set them up for success – instead, we let them either figure it out on their own or rely upon the dissemination of tribal knowledge (i.e. they ask one of their peers who gives them verbal guidance on how to do that particular task).

 

Included in this article examples of:

  • Processes
  • Documentation
  • Implementation

 

Read the full article, How Building a Bike Reminded Me of the Importance of Scaling, on LinkedIn.

 

Applying Structure to Problem Solving

 

Davide Gronchi provides two simple tools that can help collect answers to powerful questions.

Advanced analytics and machine learning are some of the ready-to-use technologies that help discover correlations and drive conclusions out of complex data sets that often describe our business and production processes. This is very helpful to take decisions aiming to prevent something unwanted to happen e.g., set process parameter to X in order to obtain product spec within tolerance.

There are many other opportunities to eliminate “waste” out of business processes that don’t require complex tools and data scientist skills but “just” common sense and good leadership. Solving problems should always start with a clear definition of “what is the problem?” Often we mix up the symptoms with the root causes, by doing so we look for solutions to the symptoms but don’t eliminate the root cause. Guess what? The problem will be back very soon…

Following a structured problem-solving approach is not difficult but requires discipline and asking the right questions, what we call “powerful questions“. These are questions that make people thinking, typically open questions that require an articulated answer, not just a binary yes/no.

Asking powerful questions should be one of the core skills of good leaders: not solving problems themselves but helping their teams to do so. I believe many have forgotten this and risk to lead teams in endless problem solving rounds without sustainable and substantial results.

 

Included in this article:

  • Fishbone diagram
  • Pareto chart

 

Read the full article, The Simple Art of Problem Solving, on the Growing Operations Advisors website.

 

Supply Chain Q & A

 

Eric Hiller provides a short introductory article and a link to a forthcoming webinar on Thursday, May 28, 2020, that explains how to keep a supply chain up and running during COVID-19 and into the future. 

The old world…

So, you had a supply chain, and you thought it was pretty “optimized.”

Yeah, you could improve it here and there, but you had wrung out 95%+ of the addressable waste.

To really make progress, you would need to make MAJOR changes (new suppliers, locations, etc.), but there just is always other stuff to do.

The new world…

Then Corona happens!!!!

Your tidy and luxurious platform is now burning.

Now you have no choice but to DO SOMETHING different.

Cost was really important and you thought delivery and quality were assured.

Now delivery is a huge problem (maybe quality too.)

The future world…

What do you do short term?  What do you set up in the future to stop this from happening again?

 

Read the article, Corona Supply Chain Blues — what to do about cost, when delivery is a problem, and find links to the webinar on the Hiller and Associates website.

 

Short. Sweet. Simple

 

Aneta Key shares a new video in her series on video conferencing. This week: brevity.

During the recent series of workshops about online meetings, I realized that as we reimagine how we lead meetings online, some fundamentals are unchanged.  So, I give you the second video of what may become a series on the topic with simple ideas that apply for any type of meeting. 

Enjoy and share with colleagues who may benefit from it.

 

Included in this video:

  • Rambling
  • Roaming
  • Respect

 

 

Watch the video, Simple Ideas for Better Meetings, on the Aneta Key website. 

 

Free Webinar on How to Adjust your Messaging and Strategy in Challenging Times

 

On June 17, Barry Horwitz  will be giving a webinar with a colleague, CL Tian who runs a digital marketing firm called PINKOA.  The webinar “Shifting Focus from Surviving to Thriving:  Strategy and Tactics.” The webinar will be hosted by TechNetworks of Boston and includes a free virtual Nonprofit Roundtable session.

Sign up for the webinar, Shifting Focus From Surviving To Thriving: Strategy And Tactics, on the TechNetworks of Boston website.

 

 

Drive Forward with Emotion

 

Luiz Zorzella takes an adventurous look at two choices innovation-based businesses may or may not choose to pursue to illustrate how emotion is an underlying driver of innovation. 

Companies that decide to compete on innovation-based businesses have 2 potential paths to choose from: with or without “emotion”.

Years ago, my wife and I traveled to the NorthEast of Brazil. There, we went on a tour on the sand dunes on a buggy.

Fifteen minutes into the tour, I was convinced that that was going to be the high point of our trip. The dunes were beautiful, the tour was fun and the driver knew exactly where to stop to get the best pictures.

Then he turned to us and casually asked: ‘so… with or without ‘emotion’

He can speak in code because most tourists already know what it means: do you want to continue the rest of the tour like the first fifteen minutes (which were great) or do you want him to ride the dunes like a lunatic, flipping the buggy and sliding large dunes sideways? That is the “with emotion” option.

Companies that decide to compete on innovation-based businesses have 2 similar options:

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • The two choices
  • The pros and cons of each choice
  • The most commonly preferred option

 

Read the full article, The Exciting Path Of Strategic Innovation, on the Amquant website. 

 

How to Build Subscription Revenue

 

Robbie Kellman Baxter shares expert tips on how to build revenue through a subscription business model. 

I’ve been noticing something funny recently.

As I make my rounds being interviewed by podcasters, influencers and subject matter experts, the conversations turn from ‘advice for listeners’ to ‘advice for the host.’

In other words, these solopreneurs, subject matter experts, and social media celebrities are trying to figure out how to build a viable, profitable business around their own community and expertise. They’re not just trying to provide useful information to their audiences–they’re struggling with their own revenue model.

Don’t underestimate the power of the “forever transaction” for small businesses.

Subscriptions can be a powerful tool for virtually any organizations–public, private, big, small, venture-backed, family-owned, non-profit, old, emerging, and across all industries. It can be a particularly effective tool for the smallest businesses.

This week, I presented my work to several hundred small business owners through BNI Global, and was inundated with questions. They wanted to know how to apply the principles to their accounting firms, restaurants, car washes, real-estate businesses and solo-consultancies.

Membership models and subscription pricing work great for most small businesses, subject matter experts and even celebrity influencers.

 

Included in this article:

 

  • Identifying  the value
  • Segmenting the audience
  • The ROI of Free and Freemium

 

Read the full article, How Influencers, Subject Matter Experts and Small Business Owners Can Build Subscription Revenue on LinkedIn.

 

This Is the New Norm – Or Is It?

 

Diane Mulcahy explains why the current model of the office worker is difficult to change despite the evidence of increased productivity from the remote worker.

No one expected (or wanted) remote work to scale because of a virus and subsequent global pandemic. But, here we are. 

The battle for remote work has been ongoing. Employees want the choice and flexibility to work outside the office at least some of the time, but many companies and even more managers resist it. Will this short-term (at minimum) and large-scale experiment in remote work change that?

It’s hard to argue any other outcome. Once companies have the processes and tools in place, and the results of weeks, or even months, of remote working, it will be difficult to put the genie back in the bottle. 

That’s a good thing. The notion of mandatory daily employee attendance in the office is already obsolete. Not one – not one! – study suggests that working in an office eight hours a day, five days a week maximizes employee productivity, satisfaction, or performance. In fact, any data that exists on work in an office reveals that most employees aren’t engaged, waste a lot of time in the office not working, and that employee underperformance is a persistent problem, despite the omnipresence of management. Even worse, the direct costs of maintaining the traditional office-based workplace are high. CBRE estimates that the typical company in the U.S. spends upward of $12,000 per employee per year for office space. It’s hard to find a return-on-investment case for office space, and much harder still to find any company that makes a compelling one.

 

Included in this article:

  • Links to studies on remote workers
  • Key drivers of daily office attendance
  • Quality of work

 

Read the full article, Remote Work Is The New Norm. Will It Last?, on the Forbes website.

 

This is Why Your Cost Reduction Program Fails

 

Andrew Hone’s company blog explains why cost reduction programs often fail. 

Although cost reduction programs can deliver a powerful mix of financial, strategic, and organisational benefits, the failure rates of these types of programs are very high. A recent survey of C-Suite executives, for example, found that while 90% of businesses had attempted to implement a cost reduction program, 75% failed to meet their targets, and 44% missed them by more than half.

Drawing on some of the key insights from our new report, the Agile Cost Advantage, in this article we consider some of the main reasons why cost reduction programs are so difficult to get right.

The reasons for cost reduction program failure can be complex, and of course depend of the specific circumstances of each cost reduction program. In general though, we see a number of recurring themes behind these causes of failure.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Unrealistic targets
  • Cost cuts
  • Execution challenges
  • Loss of momentum

 

Read the full article,  Why do cost reduction programs fail so often? on the Zenith Strategy Associates website. 

 

Practical Steps to Employee Retention 

 

As the disruption continues, many businesses struggle to retain their employees. This post from David Burnie’s company provides strategies that can help keep employees on board, engaged, and motivated.

Happy, successful employees are critical for a successful company. While companies must consider how to retain employees at the best of times, employee retention is an especially pressing topic during the COVID-19 pandemic. As Ontario continues social distancing indefinitely, maintaining an engaged staff will offer a sense of stability to companies amid flux.

How can companies retain top talent to ensure maximum productivity, motivation and success?

Employee retention strategies can be implemented by employers to ensure that employees feel valued and engaged, even with current remote working practices. This can support lower turnover rates, higher productivity and improved organizational performance.

 

Suggestions included in this article:

  • Recognition programs
  • Professional development opportunities
  • Health, safety and wellness programs
  • Communication 

 

Read the full article, Employee Retention Strategies During COVID-19, on the Burnie Group website.

 

Take Two Minutes to Build Your Brand Knowledge

 

Jonathan Paisner shares his expert insights on branding in this new video series. This week, a 150-second overview of The Branded House vs. The House of Brands.

There is a little bit of brand in everything your business says and does. We’ve created this series to give you a little bit of brand thinking to inject into your business strategy, and help you make smarter decisions. So today, let’s spend the next 150 seconds talking about brand architecture.

 

Included in this video:

  • Why brand architecture matters
  • Building and extending relationships
  • Portfolio flexibility

 

Watch the full video, #be150 – Brand Architecture 101, on Vimeo.

 

Win Projects by Tackling These Issues

 

David A. Fields identifies two issues consulting firms must overcome to win projects and asks four pertinent questions that can help you take the action needed to move forward.

Your consulting firm has probably encountered more resistance from prospective clients than usual over the past eight weeks. Fortunately, you can understand and overcome the elevated stumbling blocks.

The basics of winning consulting projects haven’t changed. Keep them moist and use lots of butter. No, wait. That’s for sheets of phyllo dough. To win consulting projects, your consulting firm still needs to outperform every alternative on The Six Pillars of Consulting Success.

However, the change and uncertainty that have swept the globe have also spawned two shifts in how prospects evaluate your consulting firm’s offerings.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Heightened Risk Sensitivity
  • Extended Time Horizon

 

Read the full article, Two Issues Your Consulting Firm Must Confront to Win Projects in Uncertain Times, on David’s website. 

 

Report on Diversity in Role Models

 

Jeremy Greenberg’s company has published a report that shares insight and statistics into workplace diversity.

The research is clear that diversity in the workplace is good for both employers and employees.

Many prominent studies have found proven benefits of a more diverse work environment. These benefits include an increase in innovation, reduction in turnover, a higher level of creativity, and a more effective understanding of the needs of different market segments.

The corporate bottom line is affected as well. McKinsey reports that public companies with more diverse boards have higher levels of earnings.

Many large companies have diversity programs, which include the recruitment and development of women, racial minorities, and LGBTQ individuals. Homogeneous employment settings are now considered not merely a superficial public relations problem but a business effectiveness problem.

 

Areas covered in this article include:

  • The importance of role models
  • Underrepresentation in diversity baseline
  • The diversity divide by category
  • Diversity in digital media

 

Read the full article, Study Reveals Weak Diversity Among Key Role Models, on the Avenue Group website. 

 

Exploring the Potential for a New Era in Higher Education 

 

Eric Hiller takes a look at the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on higher education and discusses the pros and cons of online learning. 

 

“With the advent of our unfriendly visitor from Wuhan, the COVID-19 virus, a lot of things have changed. Higher education has been particularly hard hit. I could not find a complete list of colleges and universities in the USA that were closed, but one can get a pretty good qualitative sense of the effect, for example:

  • Unesco shows an excellent map of school closures. Many countries have shut down schools nationwide! ‘According to UNESCO monitoring, over 100 countries have implemented nationwide closures, impacting over half of the world’s student population.’ Only the USA, Canada, Brazil, Russia, and Indonesia seem to have localized closures, although some countries do have universities open. 
  • Anecdotally, some of the most prestigious Ivy Leaguers, such as Harvard and Princeton have closed campuses, and other powerful state schools, such UC Berkeley, have campus technically open, but all instruction is online.
  • Local lists of closed colleges and universities overflow.
  • The dire state of higher ed and short-term effect of COVID-19

The short-term effect of the Chinese CoronaVirus on colleges could be devastating, i.e. this could be the coop de grace that forces schools on the bubble into the grave.” 

 

The article explores:

  • The four basic tools used for learning
  • Where the online model doesn’t work
  • Why COVID-19 is a long-term higher ed forcing function

 

Read the full article/release, Eric Hiller Examines Covid 19 Effect on Higher Education, on The Express Wire. 

 

A Military Approach to Risk Mitigation

 

Davide Gronchi provides a pragmatic approach to risk mitigation and shares a method he uses that was invented by the US military in the late 1940s: FMEA (Failure Mode and Effects Analysis) to assess risk under three lenses. 

Whilst in the middle of a heavy and unexpected crisis, company leaders are requested to keep looking far ahead and shape the future of their company by (re-)designing the strategy and how to implement it.

Current times are full of worries and threads, every day are more negative than positive news that capture our attention. How to concentrate on our business, sailing in calm waters and heading to a bright future? Yes, company leaders must keep this attitude! Nobody else can do this, it cannot be delegated. And recent research proves that CEOs like crafting strategy more than other tasks they are responsible for!

Nevertheless, we are all prone to see risks everywhere now during the COVID-19 crisis. This was a risk that nobody was really ready to mitigate. Nobody actually ever thought it could ever be real!

In our life of leaders, in our companies, many can be the risks that we might face and that need to be considered and need a mitigation plan. How to identify and prioritize risks?

 

The lenses for risk explained in this article include:

  • Severity
  • Occurrence
  • Detection

 

Read the full article, The Pragmatic Way for Risk Mitigation, on LinkedIn.

 

Looking for Answers?

 

Geoff Wilson provides a reality check and a sage reminder to plant your feet firmly on the ground when looking to the future. 

 

Times of crisis require a change of perspective and a call to action.

So, here we are, weeks into a bizarre world of isolation, uncertainty, and pain.  If one thing is likely, it’s that after weeks of responsiveness, you may now start to see real signs of resignation and capitulation.  But, you may also see signs of opportunity and–dare I say it–optimism.  My sense is that both mindsets are probably “right” and “ok.”  This is no self-help blog.  I fully believe that there is plenty to fear in the environment beyond fear itself.

But.

I also think it’s important to realize that in times of crisis or trial or despair it’s our imperative to reflect and chart a course.  That course may be brand new and different, or it may be a retreat to the tried and true.  In either case…it’s a course.

One of the more influential books in my life is Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Frankl was a Holocaust survivor and influential thinking on how people find meaning in life regardless of experience.  His experience in the Auschwitz death camp sparked a globally influential view of how individuals find meaning in challenging and even hopeless circumstances.

 

Points addressed in this article include:

  • Reflecting and charting a course
  • Why me vs. what’s next

 

Read the full article, Finding meaning during crisis requires an answer, not a question, on the Wilson Growth Partners’ website.

 

The Lowdown on Amazon Activity

 

Chris Moe and Jonathan Willbanks share facts, stats, and observations on Amazon during a sixty day period of COVID-19.

The last couple weeks have been slow on Amazon – flat to slightly down for most brands. In a move that’s probably related, Amazon has removed stocking limits, turned coupons on, and started accepting deals. This was faster than we expected and we suspect grocery will be entirely “ungated” soon.

What we have been seeing:

DEMAND – slower for May – flat to down across grocery. Most promo levers now active, some new ad formats

Sales have been flat to down (5-15%) for the first two weeks of May. This seems to span many grocery categories, including the formerly white-hot baking category. The trend is still up vs. Feb, but demand seems to be softening.

~5% of sales have shifted back to younger age groups (<45 years), as it was before COVID. 

Coupons are live again, and deals are being accepted. We mostly see deals available for early June, though a few brands have been able to do earlier. (Note: Vine is still inactive.)

Ship times estimates have continued a slow march back to 1-2 day speeds, although significant variation still exists. 

The window to accept Prime Day deals was extended to early June. We still think Prime Day will be at earliest in August or later (maybe even folded into Black Friday). 

New ad formats: enhanced sponsored brand ads display a second image, and sponsored brand campaigns can now target ASINs. We’re testing both as incremental levers. SC ads are now live in Amazon Advertising (formerly VC). 

A number of our clients had their items suppressed for using ‘flags’ on the main image that called out size or quantity. This affected Seller Central accounts only – Vendor was unaffected.

 

Insights shared include:

  • Supply / logistics
  • What grocery brands should do on Amazon
  • Future outlook

 

Read the full article, Observations on Amazon amidst COVID-19 – 60 Days, on the Cartograph website. 

 

How Do You Deliver Positive and Beneficial Results?

 

David A. Fields posts a positive reminder that everyone can promote purposeful change, including consultants.

 

Today’s an excellent day to briefly remind you of the good your consulting firm does, and the importance of understanding the “Why” behind your consulting firm’s engagements.

In all likelihood, your consulting firm doesn’t directly address widespread injustice, relieve oppression, or combat systemic prejudice.

Yet, your everyday actions leading a consulting firm are still a vital, positive contribution to the world.

A Force for Good

Amidst once-in-a-generation societal storms, your consulting firm’s work may sometimes feel inconsequential.

It’s not. You have every right to be proud of your consulting firm’s work, promote your offerings and continue to pursue consulting projects.

 

Read the full article, How Your Consulting Firm Can Be A Force For Good, on David’s website.

 

Books, Videos, and Advice

 

Dan Markovitz shares a new video series on the root cause of CEO overwhelm and provides a downloadable PDF on why the best CEOs don’t feel overwhelmed. 

As many of you know, I conducted a study of CEO overwhelm this winter. It wasn’t entirely surprising that CEOs (and other leaders) who embraced lean habits and principles in their work felt less overwhelmed by the demands on their time and attention. 

In the study, I made a few brief suggestions about how to deal with the root cause of overwhelm. But the limits of a PowerPoint format made it difficult to go into much detail. In response to requests for more information, I made a series of short (2-3 minute) videos in my state of the art video studio (i.e., my living room). 

I’ll be posting one video per day over the next week on my YouTube channel. I’ll also be providing links to each video on Twitter and LinkedIn as they’re released. I hope you enjoy them.

 

Dan has recently published his latest book, The Conclusion Trap, which addresses the bane of problem solvers everywhere: jumping to solutions. 

 

Access the video series and download the PDF on the Markovitz Consulting website. And the book is now available for sale on Amazon.

 

Navigate COVID-19 with Key Findings from Influential Thought Leaders

 

When Kaihan Krippendorff found his calendar clear due to COVID-19 cancellations, he, in collaboration with his team, decided to launch the Reimagine the Future summit. This article is a summary of all 47 sessions, reviewed recordings, and in-depth content analysis of the session transcriptions and audience dialogue from today’s most influential business thinkers who took part in the summit.   

In March, as the reality of COVID-19 started taking hold, when my team received our fifth request in one day to postpone a keynote speech and my calendar was suddenly, unexpectedly, free for months, we sat down to discuss what to do. We figured that (a) other business thought-leaders are similarly, suddenly free and (b) many are wondering what would happen to the business they own or work.

So, we decided to link supply with demand and launch a series of virtual summits connecting today’s most influential business thinkers with the practitioners (strategists, executives, and entrepreneurs) who could apply the business thinkers’ insights to create a better future … with 100% of profits donated to COVID-19 charities. We called it the Reimagine the Future summit.

The response exceeded our hopes. Immediately, many of today’s foremost business thinkers signed up including Paul Krugman (Nobel Prize-winning economist), Renee Mauborgne (creator of Blue Ocean Strategy and ranked the #1 business thinker in the world), Rita McGrath (ranked the #1 innovation thinker in the world), and Liz Wiseman (ranked the #1 leadership thinker in the world). In all, 47 of the most influential management thinkers today agreed to speak. We attracted over 5,000 “Outthinkers” (innovators, executives, entrepreneurs) and raised $160,000 for charity.

 

Included in this post:

  • Proximity: Rethink what it means to be close.
  • Purpose: Find and align to a purpose that puts you and your collaborators into action.
  • Options: Focus not on creating a plan but on creating options.
  • Coordination: Create collaboration, finding ideas from non-obvious spaces.
  • Work through the messy middle to create a new order

 

Read the full article, What Today’s Most Influential Business Thinkers Recommend For Managing Through Covid-19, on Kaihan.net

 

How to Turn Your Content into a Subscription-based Business

 

As more people turn to online platforms for education and professional development, how can you share your wealth of experience and knowledge, and turn it into financial revenue through a subscription-based platform? Robbie Kellman Baxter explains how.

For years, learning and development professionals have been talking about the coming transformation of adult learning and particularly professional development within ones career.

What are the best practices? What are the pitfalls?

How can YOU build a membership model and justify subscription pricing for your excellent content?

Understanding the Learning Landscape

The number of options through which to continue to develop and hone professional skills has been growing for the past several years. Several different types of organizations share a forever promise to ‘help people thrive in their careers’.

 

In this article you will learn:

  • Best practices
  • How to layer in value
  • Pitfalls To Avoid

 

Read the full article, How to Build a Subscription Membership Around Your Learning Content, on LinkedIn.

 

What’s in Store for Retail Post COVID-19?

 

Angela Thompson shares a complimentary experiential and distinctive retail patterning observations in a detailed report, and provides observations on post COVID19 implications. 

Earlier this year, I conducted my annual experiential and distinctive retail patterning in (a pre-COVID-19) New York City.  While the world has shifted and the way in which retailers offer experiences has changed, I believe that there are still key takeaways from the patterning which can be applied to today’s shopping experience.

The goal of experiential retail is to engage the customer, increase brand loyalty and, ultimately, drive sales.  These findings may need to be altered into a virtual environment or they may inspire novel ideas to solve new in-store challenges. Either way – I’m hopeful that you will find this work interesting and helpful.  

HERE are the findings from 2020.  Previous years patterning as well as Black Friday Patterning, may all be viewed on my website.

Amongst the highlights: Starbucks’ Pick-up only store, Atelier Beauté Chanel brand immersion, Puma’s tech-enabled store + 17 more stores. 

Please feel free to share this patterning with others in your network whom you feel would also benefit from this work.  As always, I’m happy to chat with you further about these findings, brainstorm the next iteration of your retail strategy or conduct market research to get a pulse on your consumer sentiment.

 

Content includes:

  • Key takeaways
  • Methodology
  • Patterning themes comparison grid
  • Store by store recap including post COVID-19 recommendations
  • Select store year-to-year changes
  • Thompson Marketing consulting bio and capabilities

 

Download the full report, 2020 Experiential & Distinctive Retail Patterning + Post COVID-19 Recommendations, through Dropbox.

 

Love and Politics in America – and Other Places

 

An uplifting and sage post from Paul Millerd on what politics has become, racism in America, and why love eats politics.  

I’m sitting down right now at 11:03am in Spain to write this. I am not sure where I’ll end up or if I’ll hit send this week, but I wanted to give it a shot to write something amid the pain and anger in my home country.

I write this after spending the entire month of May fighting an infection in my gums trying to hide my fear of facing long-term health issues again and then in the past few days, finally finding a treatment that seems to be working.

I also write this

From the perspective of living abroad for the last two years, watching people in my country increasingly become sucked into polarizing narratives.

…and as someone who will inevitably have to deal with the challenges of race in America if I am lucky enough to become a father.

America, America, America.

As a white man in the US it has become a tricky time to say anything. The overwhelming pressures are to parrot popular political narratives or stay silent. The pressure to “take a stand” within the two political frames is overwhelming. Even many of my non American friends are amazed at how often they are asked where they stand on American issues.

 

Topics covered in this article include:

  • The political divide
  • Trauma and the body
  • Signs of hope

 

Read the full newsletter, Love Eats Politics for Breakfast, on the Boundless website.

 

Just Don’t Say This!

 

If you have ever wondered why your messaging is misconstrued or find that you lapse into cliches at meetings, help is at hand. Bernie Heine identifies what not to say, why not, and what to say instead. 

Two Must-Do Guidelines and Five Clichés to Avoid.

Strategic Review or any meeting

Your strategic review is a rare opportunity to take an objective overview perspective on your business. It is a time for questioning assumptions and a space in which to encourage creativity and involvement. It is not a place for rigid thinking or hackneyed business phrases. In the ideal business world, all meetings should accomplish one or more of four things. They should 1) Generate new ideas to add value. 2) Share information. 3) Build a common purpose and buy-in. 4) Plan what to do to solve current problems and roadblocks.

At your strategic timeout, you should focus on things 1 to 3 with these two goals in mind…

  1. Doing better before doing cheaper. 

“Miracle worker” businesses consistently search for ideas to compete on factors other than price. See our newsletter 3 Rules for Exceptional Business Performance or the video below. 

Typical factors, other than price, that take your business to exceptional profit are durability, functionality, brand, style, etc. Your customers don’t see it on the invoice, but they really appreciate getting it.

  1. Revenue before costs.

 Cutting costs and or shedding assets are too often the default paths taken by “average Joe” businesses. At your strategic review, be sure to put revenue first. In the long run, “miracle worker” businesses can charge premium prices while giving greater apparent value to custom.

 

Phrases identified in this article include:

  • Don’t bring me problems. I want solutions!
  • I’ll get back to you on that.
  • In my opinion…
  • Keep doing what you’re doing.
  • We need to think outside the box

 

Read the full post, Five Things NOT to Say at Your Strategic Review (or at any meeting), on the The Professional Business Coaches website.

 

We All Bleed Red

 

John Murray steps up and provides a post that tackles the divide in discourse surrounding current politics and pandemic issues. 

It is tough to get a majority of Americans to agree on anything these days, let alone an overwhelming majority.

Wait! Here’s something: ‘Political discourse in America has devolved and become toxic and dangerous.’

Last May, Pew Research published a study indicating that a whopping 85% of U.S. adults agreed that political debate over the past few years has become more negative and less-respectful; 76% agreed that debate had also become less fact-based.

It seems we can all agree that we can’t respectfully disagree.

Some folks, myself included, were cautiously optimistic that the COVID-19 crisis would bring us all closer together, and tone down the rhetoric and finger-pointing.

You know: create a rallying point that would allow us to all get behind a common cause in unity and positive enthusiasm?

Boy, were we wrong!

 

Included in this article:

  • MSNBC and FOX
  • Democrats and Republicans
  • Lessons from the Marines

 

Read the full article, The Elusiveness of Healthy Discourse, on LinkedIn.

 

A Report on the Need for Change in the Social Funding Sector

 

Odin Muhlenbein shares a report that is the collaborative effort of funders, intermediaries, and systems change leaders who have identified why current practices in the social sector funding community need to evolve to support systems change leaders. 

As we stand on the threshold of an epochal decade, we are confronted with an urgent need

to find, fund, and support transformative solutions at a far greater pace than ever. To that

end, Ashoka and McKinsey invited additional partners to join their annual collaboration to

co-create a shared perspective: Catalyst 2030, Co-Impact, Echoing Green, the Schwab

Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, the Skoll Foundation, and SYSTEMIQ. Together, we

seek to reflect on the sector’s insights to the question: how do we get better at funding and

supporting systems change?

 

This report is the product of a collaboration between three groups that have mostly

addressed the topic individually: funders and intermediaries in the social sector and the

systems change leaders they aim to support. As a group of publishing partners, we are

united in the conviction that solving the most complex challenges humankind faces today

requires both a systems change approach and collaborative action by all stakeholders.

We further believe that many funders, including those contributing to this report, need to

evolve their funding practices to better support and accelerate the corresponding efforts of

practitioners in collective systems change efforts.

 

With this report, we aim to reach those in the funding community who want to evolve their

current model to invest in systems change approaches. The ideas we propose are not

absolute truths; rather, they are the first few steps in our own collective journey to learn

about and embrace funding practices that are aligned with systems change. They build on a

broad foundation of existing literature on the concept of systems change and how it can be

supported, as well as the lived experiences of more than 200 individuals who contributed to

this report.

 

Included in this report:

 

  • The case for funding systems change
  • Five principles for funding systems change
    • Embrace a systems mindset
    • Support evolving paths to systems change
    • Work in true partnership
    • Prepare for long-term engagement
    • Collaborate with other stakeholders

 

Download the full report, Embracing Complexity. Towards a Shared Understanding of Funding Systems Change, on the Ashoka website. 

 

Redefine and Reorganize for Business Post COVID-19

 

Stephen Redwood has published a series of articles that draw from his experiences over a long career in consulting to help respond to the implications of COVID-19 and build strategies for the future. 

In the face of huge upheavals with the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have few reference points on which to base decisions about how their organizations need to adapt to changing circumstances. Clients have asked me for my thoughts on how to frame their thinking. It’s early days so, as Winston Churchill said, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” 

Organization design is too often seen as a narrow set of considerations about roles and reporting relationships. This is way too reductive. The design of an organization should consider all the elements that affect how it functions. Particularly now, when so much outcome uncertainty exists, attention needs to be given to culture, metrics, and development opportunities to drive appropriate behavior change in people. From my conversations with clients and a variety of other sources, here are some early thoughts as we learn to respond to the implications of COVID-19 for how companies operate.

 

Included in this article:

  • Planning for the future
  • Redesigning processes
  • Redefining leadership
  • Long-term transitions

 

Read the full article, How will organization design be impacted by COVID-19?, on LinkedIn.

 

What Are the Mining Industry’s Responsibilities during COVID-19

 

Zaheera Soomar presents an article based on the results of a recent conference on corporate responsibility for health and safety in mining. 

I recently presented at the DRC Mining Week Digital Event on a new “modus operandi” for health and safety in mining. There was some good dialogue and I have had multiple follow ups and conversations since on an organization’s responsibility. Thought it would be good to share some views on this.

In the past few weeks alone there have been various health and safety incidents in the news. Despite the extractives and industrials industries existing for centuries, with focus on health and safety and a host of advanced H&S measures in place, people are still getting injured and dying. Covid-19 has certainly added its own sets of challenges to the mix, with mining companies having to make decisions on keeping mines open, having minimal operational presence and ensuring the safety of those that continue to work. One of the main implications that faced the mining companies was health and safety in general of their employees and host communities, and whether it’s a factor of their mining operations or not – but more importantly – what their duty is at this time. Despite what we all might hope for – this is not a one off: there will no doubt be other phenomena and risks as the global operating environment becomes more volatile with increased risks relating to climate change, pandemics etc. As a result, mining and other companies are re evaluating their role around health and safety, not just from an employer perspective, but from a human rights and ethical perspective!

 

Included in this article:

  • Responsibility to employees
  • Responsibility to stakeholders
  • Responsibility to community

 

Read the full article, Rethinking health and safety in Mining – what is an organization’s responsibility?, on LinkedIn.

How to Manage Bad Debt and Delinquent Accounts

 

As both people and businesses begin to feel the economic impacts of the Coronavirus, Tobias Baer provides clear steps that can help your business deal with delinquent accounts.

Many of my clients so far have experienced less delinquencies on consumer debt than I had feared. Unfortunately I don’t think that I can claim that this is only because I’ve helped them draw up extraordinarily effective credit policies and scoring systems – instead, this time around delinquencies themselves might be delayed, and lower balances today may be the receding water levels we observe before a tsunami. A welcome side-effect of lockdown measures across the world was that many consumers had a lot less opportunity to spend – discretionary spending has nose-dived by 30-60% in many markets and card portfolios. And those who were robbed of their income sources by Covid-19 often had some buffers (cash and credit lines) that they could draw upon.

 

Advice included in this article:

  • How to segment delinquent accounts
  • Build an economic model
  • Reassign accounts to dedicated team

 

Read the full article, Three Tools You Need to Stem the coming Tsunami of Bad Debt, on LinkedIn.

 

Prepare Your Company to Succeed Post COVID-19

 

Carlos Castelan’s company blog provides five questions to help you think about and prepare for the future post COVID-19.

To say that 2020 has been a challenging year for everyone is an understatement. The last six months have brought an enormity of difficulties and change to both the world of retail and the global population. While we don’t have the fabled Sports Almanac to identify future results, we wanted to share five questions that we have used with our clients to help plan for the second half of the year:

1: How are you supporting your current employees and remaining agile to meet new opportunities?

COVID-19 has disrupted our lives and added challenges from homeschooling young children to caring for family members. This is no ordinary time and it is also an extraordinary opportunity for leaders to demonstrate empathy for what is happening in their team’s lives.

It’s imperative to demonstrate to all employees that people come first and that their whole lives are welcome at work regardless of whether the impacts are visible. This can take the form of  extending certain benefits to help manage through those challenges such as flexible work schedules, childcare reimbursements, and family care leave. It means providing adequate sick leave and income stability to those battling the virus to ensure their recovery and the safety of their colleagues. Target, for example, temporarily raised wages, provided free backup childcare for loved ones, and up to 30 days of paid leave for team members 65 or older, pregnant, or with underlying medical conditions.

This is also a critical moment to be agile to meet new opportunities. Essential businesses are having to flex up to meet a surge in demand. How can they quickly and safely identify and onboard talent? As retailers accelerate digital transformation initiatives like online ordering and curbside fulfillment, how can they shift resources to accelerate and deliver on those initiatives?  Nowhere was this more critical than Walmart, the nation’s largest grocer, which has aggressively leaned into curbside pickup. To rapidly hire over 150,000 team members, they launched an expedited recruitment process and partnered with companies across restaurants, hospitality, and retail that had furloughed workers, in some cases going from application to offer within 24 hours.

 

The remaining four questions explore:

  • Customer retention and relationships
  • Impact on your industry and and competitors
  • Impact on suppliers and supply chain
  • Lower revenue

 

Read the full article, Back to the future: five questions to help you jump ahead in 2020, on the Navio Group website. 

 

Why Creativity Is Important in Every Role

 

In a recent interview on The Transformative Leader Podcast, Susan Meier discusses the importance of integrating creativity at work even, and especially, in jobs not traditionally considered creative.

I always had these two very strong, for a long time, parallel and separate tracks of things that I was interested in. I was always interested in the arts, both in making art and studying the history of art, and then I was also really captivated by the problem solving analytical thinking piece that drew me into consulting. And that was my first job as an undergrad at the Boston Consulting group. So I loved the nature of my work, but that job by itself didn’t activate that visual piece for me, so for many years I had these two parallel worlds where I would go to my art studio, I would paint, I would exhibit my work, inhabit a space with a completely different set of people from this other world where I was in management consulting and working with Fortune 500 companies, making spreadsheets, thinking about operations and logistics. And then I discovered branding.

 

Key points include:

  • Merging the creative with the analytical
  • Why activating both sides of the brain is key to unlocking creativity
  • How integrating creative and artistic practices into standard business processes can prime the brain for innovative thinking and solutions
  • How creativity and fulfillment are related, at home and at work.

 

Listen to the podcast, “Embracing Creativity in the Workplace”  on the Ghannad Group website. 

 

Marching towards Diversity and Inclusion

 

Surbhee Grover discusses diversity and inclusion and explains why solidarity is the key to forging a new paradigm of equality. 

The fashion industry saw one debacle after another in 2018-19 that demonstrated just how wide the gap is between how businesses should behave and how they do. In the recent past, Burberry, Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana have been hurt by adverse publicity highlighting their cultural insensitivity. 

Dolce & Gabbana’s “Eating with Chopsticks” commercials showed an Asian model trying to eat spaghetti with chopsticks. People called the ads disrespectful and racist, and the commercials were pulled within 24 hours. It was estimated that Dolce & Gabbana put ~$500 million (a third of its revenue) at risk as a result of the backlash. There have been many diagnoses offered (how did something so obviously offensive slip through the cracks of a diverse, global management team/ workforce?) and the general consensus has been that making strides in hiring for diversity doesn’t mean much if that diversity is not used effectively.

The last couple of years have seen diversity conversations expand to “Diversity and Inclusion”. But even as we fight for respect, religious sensitivities, representation on the Board, and the right to equal pay (for equal work), we might want to re-evaluate if this expansion is sufficient.

 

Read the full article, Making a Difference to Diversity Might Require us to Deviate from Existing Definitions, on the Thrive Global website. 

 

The Travel Industry Transition

 

David Uriarte provides a short forecast on the travel industry post COVID-19.

In the travel industry, we are currently living devastating times. During these days, like many others, I try to imagine the future of travel after COVID-19. In this process, analyze the new limits and new opportunities is a common exercise.

In Europe, in the short term, many resort hotels are opening in June or July, with lower occupancies than expected, but probably with a larger “summer” season. City hotels will wake up in September. By 2021 there will be a strong recovery, but still not reaching 2019 levels which I believe will be reached in 2022. Nearby hotels, that can be reached by car, will have a substantial advantage over the hotels you need to reach by plane or boat. The word in travel this year is short: short stay, short distance, and short booking window.

 

Read the full article, Future in Travel. Why we call it “new normality” when we mean “transition”?, on LinkedIn.

 

Strategic Steps to Deal with Looming Changes

 

With COVID-19 still plaguing the globe and the threat of a second wave looming, Kaihan Krippendorff has customized a strategy to address, prepare for, and build a strategy for the future.

We are dealing with unprecedented change invoked by the COVID-19 pandemic. What we need more than ever is a sense of hope. So, we’ve taken The Outthinker Process – a strategic process that helps business leaders step outside of conventional thinking to redesign their business models and strategies – and reformed it specifically for what we’re going through right now.

We distilled insights and advice from personal interviews with some of today’s foremost strategic thought leaders – Renee Mauborgne, Rita McGrath, Efosa Ojomo, Bharat Anand, Alex Osterwalder, and Scott Anthony – into a succinct set of steps you can follow to make sense of the future then design a strategy to help your business thrive through the crisis.

We have found that by following four steps, you can quickly apply emerging strategic concepts to your business strategy, rethink your business model, and redesign your business to be fit for the future. We have customized these specifically for the COVID-19 crisis. The entire process should take 3.5 hours to complete. You can do it in one sitting or spread over several thinking sessions.

 

The strategic steps identified in this article are:

  • Imagine: Think through potential future scenarios.
  • Dissect: Break down your business model to assess which parts you may want to change.
  • Expand: Expand your strategic options by ideating potential strategies.
  • Analyze: Assess and prioritize your options.

 

Read the full article, Four Steps to Outthink COVID, on Kaihan.net.

 

Advertising in the Subscription-based Business

 

In this latest post from Robbie Kellman Baxter, she explains the difference between ad revenue and subscription revenue, subscription pricing, valuable content, and advertising in a subscription-based business. 

I have always encouraged organizations to choose a lane when it comes to pricing. The power of subscriptions is that they are a good way to price when you’re solving the subscriber’s problem on an ongoing basis.

Subscription pricing aligns the goals of the reader with the ongoing goals of the organization. In advertising models, you might say that the readers are the product and the advertisers are the customers.

Doing both concurrently is problematic, because you’re trying to please two groups with different goals.

Advertisers want eyeballs. So the goal is to attract lots of viewers–maybe with a video about Kim Kardashian, or the day’s most sensational breaking news story.

In contrast, audience revenue is generated through content worth paying for. So it’s going to need to be differentiated content, and perceived of as being valuable, like an analysis of the bond market or the final match of a water polo tournament. It may attract a smaller, more committed audience.”

 

Included in this article:

  • The move from cost per click to cost (CPC) per acquisition (CPA)
  • The relationship between content and advertisements

 

Read the full article, Maybe the Secret to Advertising Is… Subscriptions?, on LinkedIn.

 

How to Identify and Overcome Your Biases

 

As we become increasingly aware of the prevalence of the conscious or unconscious racial bias, Tobais Baer provides a timely article that may help address and overcome sneaky biases that affect decisions, opinions, and actions. 

The tragic death of George Floyd has triggered a global push to fight racial discrimination. There are many ways how each of us can contribute to this fight; one important way is to fight our own subconscious biases that can heavily influence our decisions – be it major ones like hiring or evaluating staff or making verdicts as a judge or jury member, or be it minor ones like deciding what we do or say when dealing with a sales clerk or customer.

The typical reader of my blog is intelligent, sophisticated, open-minded, and most likely already very supportive of equality and fighting discrimination. The snag: As Sheryl Sandberg powerfully confessed in a private talk I had the privilege of attending, even she, author of “Lean In” and an ardent fighter of gender discrimination, had caught herself espousing gender bias in evaluating her own female staff members.

 

Points covered in this article:

  • Licensing and outgroup bias
  • Monitoring body reactions
  • Anchoring and signaling

 

Read the full article, How can you fight your own racial bias?, on LinkedIn.

 

Looking through the Lens of Risk Management at COVID-19

 

Vik Muktavaram applies a few principles of risk management to understand why COVID-19 grew from a risk to a pandemic. 

As the federal government finally took the first decisive step in stemming the outbreak of COVID-19 in the US, the images of serpentine lines of arriving international passengers at airports waiting for immigration and screening for COVID-19 coronavirus ubiquitous online and in print. Presumably, the rationale for the screening was that these arriving passengers represented a high-risk cohort. Yet, the long, crowded lines with no social distancing not only defeats the very purpose of screening but in fact, one could argue that the risk of spreading is increased substantially amongst the ground staff as well as passengers from different airlines. 

As we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, we should also be wondering how did we miss this when all the signs were there. How did some countries such as Singapore and South Korea manage to contain, if not necessarily prevent, the spread of virus in their countries despite their proximity to China? Risk Management is a structured way of looking at early indicators and prioritizing risks and then managing these risks. As our crisis response continues to be a case study in “how not to”, let’s take a step back to see how the risk (low likelihood, high impact) of a virus-pandemic became a crisis. Mind you, this was not a black swan event. Even as early as 2015, Ebola outbreak provided a harbinger of things to come. Before there is a war, there is a failure of diplomacy, before there is a bankruptcy, there are telltale signs of declining sales, before COVID-19 became a pandemic there was Wuhan and there were several emerging risk indicators.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Risk transfer
  • Risk acceptance
  • Risk avoidance
  • Risk mitigation

 

Read the full article, COVID-19 pandemic – How a risk became a crisis in the US, on the Rithym Advisors website. 

 

How Art Improves Crucial Business Skills

 

Robyn Bolton explains why Visual Thinking (VTS) sessions improve creative problem solving and critical thinking skills and provide major benefits to executives.

“It was quite a sight! A dozen senior executives from a big, conservative financial services firm, all sitting on the floor in front of a painting, talking about what it could mean and why they think that.”

On a typical dreary November day, and Suzi and I were sitting in the café inside Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. She had just left her job as Head of Design Thinking at Fidelity Investments and I was taking a sabbatical before deciding what would be next for my career. Introduced by a mutual friend, we decided to swap stories over lunch and a walk through one of the museum’s special exhibitions.:”

 

Included in this article:

  • The benefits of VTS
  • Visual thinking strategies
  • How to do VTS

 

Read the full article, How Looking at Art Can Make You a Better Thinker, Communicator, and Leader, on Medium. 

 

Results from Evalusys and Lambda Business Study

 

Lin Giralt shares findings from a Evalusys and Lambda study of over 600 small and medium sized enterprises in the U.S., covering ten categories, including results on: human resource management, business exit readiness, innovation processes and capabilities, and quality of business processes.

What Evalusys and Lambda have learned about US Small and Medium Sized Enterprises [SME’s]

Summary of Results from over 600 Business Evaluations indicates that improvements in Sales Management [98%] and Strategic Business Planning [94%] are the Categories that lead top managers’ and owners’ areas of action[1]. In terms of specific points of action, the Innovation Category had the top three most important actions mentioned: “Company does not have the right metrics and incentives to support a culture of innovation,” [72%]; “Management is not satisfied with their ability to leverage open innovation,” [66%]; and “Management is not satisfied with the rate of new product development,” [64%].[2]

On the other hand, most SME’s were content with their Overall Business Processes, Supervisory Practices and Human Resources Management.

 

In addition to metrics, this article includes:

  • Topline conclusions
  • Discussion of results
  • Examination of the data
  • Conclusions and further considerations

 

Read the full article, What Evalusys and Lambda have learned about US Small and Medium Sized Enterprises [SME’s], on LinkedIn.

 

Strategic Steps for Business Post COVID-19 

 

Geoff Wilson asks the questions that make you think about your business strategy post COVID-19, identifies what you should focus on, and explains how you should move forward.

Hey, you there…the guy or gal with the life you always wanted.  How does it feel?

You are working from home.  Your computer screen has become your window into the world.  And, you have realized that it is, in fact, possible to pack more meetings into a day if you just sit still and do everything by videoconference.

But, how’s your business?  I mean, really, how is your BUSINESS?

I don’t mean how many COVID-19 cases do you have.  I don’t mean how many furloughs, shutdowns, or capacity reductions do you have.  I don’t mean how much stimulus cash you were able (or not able) to borrow.  And, I certainly don’t mean how much sales have decreased (or, if you are lucky, increased) over the past couple of months.  Those are interesting, good coffee chat items.

But they are the items in the spotlight.  And, the spotlight in this case is searing.  Everything–and I mean everything–is being cast in terms of the effects of COVID-19. Media coverage grasps at straws for something new after months of exhausting coverage and in doing so pulls ever more anecdotal evidence onto center stage.  Statistics that we never knew existed (well, ok, some of us knew what an R0 was, but only kind of) are now part of the national discourse.  And, yes, your employee base is focused on these same things.

But what about what’s happening with your business outside of the spotlight?  How are you thinking about that?  Because that’s really what you need to focus on.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Shocks in the system
  • Second-order effects
  • The Uber example

 

Read the full article, The great strategic “wreck-oning”, on the Wilson Growth Partners website. 

 

A Check into the Future of the Online Economy

 

Ryan Lechner shares an article on the current status of Blockchain, a look into Web3.0, and the future of a user-centric online society.

For the last year and a half, I’ve done my part to convert Web 3.0 from promise to reality. I’ve looked at hundreds of blockchain projects, spent countless hours evaluating the space, and helped ConsenSys build out various aspects of its business.

These past 18 months have been the greatest intellectual journey of my career. Every day was a Talmudic investigation into the foundations of the internet and the faulty structures underpinning our online lives. ConsenSys was a training ground, my Dojo, for building a new and fairer internet.

Despite the awesomeness of this adventure, I’ve decided to duck out for a little while. For anyone who follows the space, the reasons should be obvious and are likely not worth long form explanation: dApps lack adoption, blockchains are still janky, few use cases beyond ‘store of value’ are proven out, etc.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Online networks
  • Design markets
  • Internet economies

 

Read the full article, I’m leaving Blockchain (for now.) Here’s what I’ve learned, on Medium.

 

The Importance of Proactive Planning

 

Aneta Key shares a short message that shines a light into the importance of leaders spending valuable time on scenario planning, and how following military training can guide business strategies. 

It is important for leadership teams to regularly work through scenarios across time horizons. 

Strategic decision-making is at the core of leadership and is what Aneta Key facilitates among clients. It is also one of the core areas explored in the GrowthKey leadership development programs.

This question is a sneak peek from an upcoming episode of the Simplicity for Success podcast in which host Peter Eckart and Aneta are talking about Strategic decision-making under risk and uncertainty.

 

Points discussed include:

  • Thinking across multiple timelines
  • The fog of war
  • The death of the best plans

 

Read the article,The Value of Strategic Planning: Military Analogy, and watch the video on the Aedea Partners’ website.

 

Position Your Company for Post COVID-19 Success

 

Andrew Hone’s company provides a comprehensive report designed to position your business for success in the post Covid-19 environment.

Achieving rapid and sustainable cost reduction is a critical business objective, especially in the current environment. The near-term economic outlook is bleak, with the IMF projecting the world’s worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

At a time when most businesses are likely to see deteriorating market conditions and declining revenue, rebalancing the cost base to reflect the new operating environment could be the difference between riding out the current crisis or becoming another business casualty.

The Agile Cost Advantage is the culmination of 20 years’ of working with business leaders on cost reduction.

 

Areas covered in this report include:

  • A systematic four-stage approach to designing and executing a cost reduction program
  • Common causes of failure (and how to avoid them) 
  • Techniques for identifying cost reduction opportunities
  • How to set your program up for success

 

Download the full report, The Agile Cost Advantage, on the Zenith Strategy website.

 

Take a Step Back and See the Benefits in a Healthy Separation

 

Do you find yourself stressed about your consulting firm? David A. Fields provides the advice you need to adopt a healthy approach to business to ensure long-term productivity and prosperity. 

These days, maintaining physical distance preserves your health and protects those around you.

News Flash: Mental and emotional distance between you and your business bolsters your health, happiness, and the success of your consulting firm.

All entrepreneurs tangle themselves in their businesses. As a consulting firm leader, this issue is magnified. The separation between you and your practice can narrow to nothing because your consulting business is an extension of who you are.

You promote and offer your own thinking, IP, approaches, brainpower, insights and skills. Your firm and you are conjoined, even if you employ a staff or team to tackle your projects.

When a prospect rebuffs your consulting firm’s proposal, it can feel like your contact is spurning you and passing judgment on you, personally. And that hurts.

Wait a second, though. Consulting is a personal business, and that’s one of the wonderful attributes of our profession. So, is linking yourself hip-to-hip with your consulting firm really so bad?

Yes.

 

Benefits identified in this article include:

  • Maintaining energy, enthusiasm, and excitement
  • Gaining perspective
  • Consistent leadership

 

Read the full article, Do You Practice These 7 Tips For Proper, Consulting Firm Distancing?, on David’s consulting website.

 

Gain 20/20 Insight into Your Marketing 

 

James Black shares the third article in the  series Seeing 20/20 in 2020. Each post shares steps to help brands and businesses improve their marketing strategies. This article focuses on marketing plans and capabilities. 

To kick off the new year, I suggested “20 Questions to Help Your Brand or Business See 20/20 in 2020.” And what a year it has been already! No doubt, COVID-19 is leading many brands/businesses to revisit their marketing plans, but the logic here still applies. To help brands and businesses assess the state of the business and identify opportunities, I advocated taking a closer look at the topic of Customer Understanding (Part 1), and then turning attention to the Brand/Business Proposition and The Path to Purchase (Part 2). In this post (Part 3), I conclude the series by looking at Marketing Plans and Marketing Capabilities.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Identifying objectives
  • Evaluating tactics
  • Success criteria

 

Read the full article, Seeing 20/20 in 2020: Part 3 – Marketing Plans and Capabilities, and access links to the series, on LinkedIn.

 

Quick and Effective Steps to Move Your Career Forward

 

Jared Simmons shares three quick tips that can improve relationships and move your career forward.

When you’re trying to build strong working relationships, sharing what you are hoping to achieve and get out of the work can be extremely helpful. What you get out of work is different from the project or meeting objectives. It’s not your departmental or functional mandate. It’s the professional development nugget that comes along with the entire working experience.

Perhaps you’d like to show that you’re ready to lead a global project. Or that you can work well with colleagues outside of your department. Perhaps you’re interested in learning about another part of the business.

Talking about your professional development goals builds strong working relationships in three ways:

 

Tips included in this article:

  • How to establish trust
  • How to make communication more efficient
  • How to uncovers new ways to work together

 

Read the full article, Stronger Working Relationships and a Great Career, on the Outlast website. 

 

European Football – Hard Man, Howler, or Hug the Line

 

On a somewhat lighter note, since COVID-19 has affected every social event, including football, Sherif El Henaoui takes a moment to kick around a few opinions on whether Bundesliga should restart after the Coronavirus break. 

Is that the most important topic to discuss at the moment?

Not for me. But given the amount of comments and emotions it seems so. Was it the right decision to re-start? Before you answer the question, check if you are qualified to respond. I am not qualified.

Arguments for and against the re-start.

 

Included in this post:

  • For
  • Against
  • Sherif’s two cents

 

Read the full article, Bundesliga Restart – Right or Wrong?, on LinkedIn.

 

Here’s How Companies Will Thrive in 2025

 

Paul Millerd takes a look at business growth data from the 1970’s onward to build a vision of future organizations and explain how the changing business landscape will impact the work environment. 

I have studied organizations, people and motivation and am fascinated by the changes that have unfolded in my relatively short career. I’ll defer to Neils Bohr to qualify this entire piece:

‘Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future’ — Neils Bohr

Since I can’t predict the future, I promise this will contain ideas that are not fully baked. I hope you can help me improve them.

Accelerated Transformation

Most people agree that that change is happening and that the pace of change is accelerating. However, if you look around, our modern organizations are not much different than they were 20 years ago. When I talk to people and HR leaders about their organizations they share with me the feeling that something is not right and that organizations need to evolve.

I’ll get to my vision of that future, but first wanted to call out three trends that I believe are driving this uncertainty.

 

Points discussed in this article include:

  • Process excellence
  • Purpose-driven cultures
  • Adaptive technology
  • Agile teams

 

Read the full article, The Future of Work: What Winning Organizations Will Look Like in 2025, on the Boundless website.

 

Evaluating Risk Assessments on COVID-19

 

Martin Pergler summarizes the assessment of comparative risk levels from two recent press articles and compares them to simple-minded risk assessments to identify the value of the information. 

As we gingerly try to “unfreeze” economic and social activity after this first wave of COVID, there’s a lot of prognostication what formerly normal activities are more or less risky. Two recent U.S. press articles thoughtfully assess comparative risk levels, but also fall into several pretty typical risk assessment traps. What did they do well, what could they have done better? (This article focuses on methodological lessons learned and risk management best practice. Apologies; I have nothing to add as to how risky it truly is to have your hair cut next week!)

The New York Times surveyed several hundred epidemiologists when they expect to feel personally comfortable doing 20 activities. So e.g. only 3% expect to feel comfortable attending a sporting event, concert, or play this summer, 32% in 3-12 months, and 64% in more than a year.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Analysis of commentary
  • Assumptions about risk mitigation
  • Risk assessment

 

Read the full article, COVID risk by activity: how to (not) do risk assessment, on LinkedIn.

 

How to Improve Competitive Intelligence Capabilities

 

From the archives of David Bernal’s company blog, timeless advice on how to build a competitive intelligence function that responds to business needs and informs an effective  strategy.

Recently, I had a discussion with the VP of strategy for a major multinational retailer. Even a company with vast resources and highly capable management struggled with a common issue for top management: the lack of actionable, timely and relevant competitive information to make appropriate corporate strategy and performance-improvement decisions.

Many companies, like this one, have reams of data from multiple internal and external sources, but they lack the structure, focus and processes to turn that data into valuable insight to inform their strategy. Often there is too much data and little actionable information.

Relevant and timely insight can be the determining factor when making major strategy and implementation decisions affecting the direction and quality of multiple business activities including growth initiatives, new market entry, M&A strategy, pricing, product and technology roadmaps, JVs, partnerships, etc.

After spending years working with companies around the world to define, articulate and implement competitive insight programs to educate their business strategy, I have determined there are four key best practices that will help you and your team create a capable competitive intelligence function that not only responds to specific organizational needs and enhances decision making at multiple levels but that also can become a long-term source of competitive advantage in the future.

 

Four points included in this article are:

  • Identifying the strategic context
  • Comparing data with required insight
  • Strategy > Structure > People > Process
  • Testing and adjusting

 

Read the full article, Four best practices for building your internal competitive intelligence capabilities, on the Growth Decisions website. 

 

Does Disney Deliver on Their Forever Transaction

 

Robbie Kellman Baxter writes about her experience as an online subscriber to Disney+ and whether Disney will deliver on their forever promise of family connection through membership.

This weekend, my family watched Hamilton on Disney+. We weren’t the only ones. I’m guessing a lot of the 54 million (as of May) subscribers were also singing along as part of a “shelter at home” Fourth of July holiday.

Like many others, we subscribed last week, specifically to watch the musical. To be specific, we upgraded from our Hulu-with-ads subscription (which I got initially so my kids could watch The Handmaid’s Tale…but then we got hooked on some other shows) to the Hulu/Disney+/ESPN+ bundle.

Disney is most certainly seeing a spike in subscribers this week, but will it last?

Will this cohort of subscribers who joined to watch Hamilton be less likely to stay engaged and more likely to cancel? Probably.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • The key to retention
  • Five retention tactics
  • Disney’s approach to on-boarding

 

Read the full article, Everyone Subscribed to Disney+ for Hamilton. Will Disney’s Onboarding Process Be Enough to Retain This Cohort?, on LinkedIn.

 

The Expanding Knowledge Needs in the Age of Technology

 

As all areas of business move into digital technology, Ramesh Subramanian explains why the digital transformation requires infrastructure engineers to expand their software skills. 

Several years ago I started my career as a C++ programmer but to be relevant as a software engineer today would require many more software engineering skills. The same logic holds for Infrastructure engineers.

About 94% of enterprises (and 50% of Governments) use some form of cloud (private/public) today. And as per an estimate from Forbes, 83% of workloads will be in the cloud by the end of this year. These stats imply that infrastructure teams should be ready to:

Meet expectations of faster release cycles, with several releases per day becoming the norm

Provide application access at scale (millions of concurrent sessions, potentially across the globe) with 24×7 availability

However, only 30% of all infrastructure teams are using DevOp. This is even lower at 12% for Financial Services firms.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Business enabling applications
  • Business critical applications
  • Infrastructure team training

 

Read the full article, Why Infrastructure engineers should start thinking like software developers, on LinkedIn.

 

The Role of “Luck” in Risk Management

 

Luiz Zorzella takes a leap into the arbitrary world of luck to explain how unforeseen forces should be considered when shaping strategies. 

8 months ago, I drafted an article explaining why you should do a sensitivity analysis of your strategy to luck.

I was planning to publish it in March of this year, because of St Patrick’s.

That draft started with “Now is the time to be bold.”. I pointed out that the largest Canadian banks were trading at 1.3x their book value – suggesting that investors believed that they were better off if banks kept their money as capital, rather than returning it (US banks were not as uniformly good but were doing just fine).

Then COVID happened and I abandoned my draft and now Canadian banks and the largest US banks are trading close to book value.

That is how Lady Luck works. She is a whimsical diva and she does not take sides.

 

Points discussed in this article include:

  • When times are good
  • When times are bad
  • Applying luck break scenarios to strategies

 

Read the full article, SENSITIVITY ANALYSIS: LUCK, on the Amquant website.

 

How to Improve Communication with Your Customers during COVID-19

 

Azim Nagree explains which methods of communication work best during a pandemic and why. 

When companies ask me how to accelerate sales or improve retention, I tell them a story. I needed to purchase a sign for my wife’s French pastry shop. I spoke with the front desk clerk who said that it would be around $90. A few days later, I got the final quote from the sales person – $265. And with that, I was out. The sales person lost the deal. But to their credit, they called me (instead of emailing me again). Within 5 minutes, the misunderstanding was resolved and the deal was closed.

Pre-Corona, reps gravitated towards email and/or Slack and/or text. Post-Corona, video conferencing is all the rage. But the reality is that savvy sales people will use a combination of different channels to move a prospect through the funnel to close.

So when do you use the phone vs email?

 

The main points of this article are:

  • Clarifying communication needs
  • Identifying customer needs
  • Confirming details

 

Read the full article, Use the phone to accelerate sales, on LinkedIn.

 

Building Your Online Persona and Why it Matters

 

Ben Dattner and Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic explain why the opinions of others shape our personal ‘brand’ and how to shape our digital personas for the best possible results in this article published in Harvard Business Review.

Who am I, really?’

Philosophers, psychologists, and neuroscientists – not to mention poets and artists — have been trying to answer this question for centuries. The good news for business leaders is that they don’t need to turn into armchair psychotherapists, or get an advanced degree in metaphysics, to figure it out. Nor do average employees need to dig deep into their unconscious, or unleash their inner Freud.

In the business world, there is a far simpler way of working out who we are, at least when it comes to our professional personas: just pay attention to how others see us.

Social science research says that who we are at work is predominantly defined by what other people think of us: how they measure the success of our behaviors and actions, how they perceive our characters and motivations, and how they compare us to others. Whether we get informal advice from our peers, or partake in formal assessment-related exercises, there is no better way to pinpoint who we are at work than to crowdsource evaluations of our reputations and personal ‘brands.’

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Understanding the algorithm
  • Social media posts
  • Manipulating the algorithm

 

Read the full article and access interesting links in, How to Curate Your Digital Persona, on the Harvard Business Review website.

 

A Strategy Implementation Guide and Report

 

If your team has difficulty moving strategies from thought to action, take advantage of 20 years of experience in strategy consulting from Andrew Hone’s company by clicking through to this comprehensive guide on strategy implementation.

You’ve just put the finishing touches to your business strategy. You’ve spoken to customers, researched the key market segments, and projected the financials. The Board and shareholders are aligned and agree on the priorities to take the business forward. That was the easy part!

Translating a strategy into action is a significant challenge. All too often, the benefits that were promised are delivered late, or fail to materialize at all. Management teams get distracted by the day-to-day challenges of running the business. Cross-functional initiatives fall between operating silos, budgets get reallocated and the initial momentum is lost.

If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. Despite strategy implementation being seen as a key priority by most senior executives, fewer than 15% of organizations consider themselves to be successful when it comes to executing strategy. Estimates for strategy implementation failure rates range from 50% to 90%.

We have spent over twenty years helping clients translate strategy into action, working with a range of clients from start-ups through to large corporations and public sector organizations. Through this, we have identified a number of key principles that can help you to avoid common implementation pitfalls. By applying these principles, strategy implementation can be a more predictable, transparent and repeatable process, improving both the speed and certainty of the outcome.

 

Information in this article includes:

  • Why strategies fail
  • A strategy implementation framework
  • FAQs

 

Access the guide and full report, Implementing Strategy, on the Zenith Strategy Associates’ website. 

 

Learn How to Improve Cost Management Discussions

 

Eric Hiller recently published the first article in a series for Industry Week. This week, the article  focuses on how an executive (and other people who are not cost experts) can understand what the cost management team is communicating.

We have all been in a meeting where miscommunication happens. One of the biggest challenges when dealing with analytics in business is that the more powerful the analytics, the harder it is to explain to other people not involved directly in the analyzing. Exactly how the analytics works and why the results should be trusted by our colleagues and leadership is a challenge. The same is true with product (or service) cost management—specifically, when using what are commonly called “should-cost models”, (models for estimating the cost of a product or service).

A big part of the communication problem is that there is not just one type of cost model. Cost management is a broad field with a variety of methodologies to address the almost infinite world of situations for which one wants to know the cost of manufacture or service delivery. Even if an executive has some understanding of one particular cost-modeling technique, it can often be confusing when the analytics team uses different technique.

 

Questions answered in this article include:

  • At what level of the BoM (bill and material) or WBS (work breakdown structure) is the object or service being costed?
  • Does the cost model focus on the object or service, or does it focus on the process?
  • What analytical approach is used in the cost model? 

 

Read the full article, 5 Questions for Better Cost Management Discussions, on the Industry Week website. 

 

Improve What You Offer to Attract the Clients You Want

 

If you are looking for ways and means to improve client attraction, spend, and retention, read on. David A. Fields provides practical steps and innovative approaches to improving your firm’s offerings.

If your consulting firm’s offerings aren’t generating gleaming stacks of revenue, it’s time to develop a Level 3 Offering.

You’re not alone if the projects that sustained your consulting business in the past have recently become difficult to close.

Prospective clients are confused about how to please their own customers, or are caught in the grip of uncertainty. As a result, they no longer view your consulting firm and your solution as an obvious, easily-justified choice.

New times, new conditions, new market reality.

Or, perhaps you’ve realized that you need to change up your offerings in order to elevate your consulting firm to the next level of success.

Either way, your consulting firm needs to revamp, or craft from scratch, your offering to achieve your ambitions.

 

Areas covered in this article include:

  • The basics of building offerings
  • Offering-development questions
  • The three levels of consulting firm offerings

 

Read the full article, If Your Consulting Firm’s Offering Isn’t Attracting Enough Clients, Try This…, on David’s consulting website.

 

Are Gig Workers a Crisis Management Solution?

 

In this article for WorkMarket, Diane Mulcahy explains why gig workers may provide the solution you need to adapt to the current pandemic and changing business environment.

The world, the economic environment, and the demands placed on your company are all changing in unexpected ways. The difference between succeeding or failing to manage through a crisis can depend on your ability to add staff to critical functions, and access the exact skills and experience needed to respond to a changed business environment.

Gig workers can help your company weather this crisis by providing flexibility and resilience to your workforce. Maybe you need a skilled writer, blogger or technician to move a project forward or be “on the ground” in a specific geographic market. By using independent workers, you can respond to changing demands for specific skills, experience, or expertise, when and where you need them.

Independent workers bring other benefits to companies: they can increase the productivity of the workforce and support a high-performance culture. Companies that embrace the Gig Economy – made up of consultants, independent contractors, freelancers, and on-demand workers – will have a competitive advantage, in both good times and bad, over companies that don’t.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Accessing talent
  • Increasing productivity
  • Supporting a high-performance culture

 

Read the full article, How Gig Workers Can Help Your Company Weather the Storm, on the WorkMarket website.

 

How to Improve Your Leadership Skills

 

Leadership is not a one-size-fits all position. Every leader adopts a different style based on their strengths, passions, and talents. Bernie Heine provides a process that can help you understand your strengths and leverage the overlap of passion and talent.

The Zone of Leadership explained

Get INTO Your Leadership Zone. What are YOU really good at? What are you passionate about? We are talking here about knowing yourself, knowing what’s really important to you, what you do very well, and what you love to spend your precious time at.

Here are 3 excellent tools to help understand your personal zone of leadership:

The Gallup Strengths Finder is a tried-and-trusted survey that gets you to list out the 5 top items from a number of comprehensive assessment areas. It is important to understand the support material that accompanies these assessment areas. For example, Bernie’s 5 strengths came out as ‘individualization’ (works well one on one), ‘learner,’ ‘achiever,’ ‘communication,’ and ‘maximizer’.

 

Areas covered in this article include:

  • VIA strengths survey
  • The Venn diagram
  • The five-step process to create your zone

 

Read the full article, Get Into YOUR Leadership Zone, and follow the process on the Professional Business Coach website. 

 

What Stops US Companies from Becoming Lean?

 

Dan Markovitz provides an article that explores the ability of public US companies to operate as a wholly lean company.

Can public US companies really embrace lean? Well sure, they can deploy lean tools here and there, but the whole socio-technical system that comprises lean? I don’t think so.

Wall Street pressure for quarterly profits competes fiercely with lean principles, both inside and outside the company. Executives who take the long-term view and view employees as appreciating assets worthy of investment, rather than variable costs to be minimized, put their companies at risk of attack from outside “activist shareholders” who demand higher returns. And given how tightly senior executive compensation is tied to the company’s share prices, there’s internal pressure not to put their own wealth at risk by not pumping up the stock price. (Tom Johnson, Doc Hall, and Bob Emiliani have written extensively about this problem.)

 

Areas covered in this article include

  • Stockholder expectations
  • Toyota as an outlier
  • Barriers to becoming lean

 

Read the full article, Can A Public Company Ever Be Lean?, on the Markovitz website. 

 

Priceless Advice on Building Your Subscription-based Business

 

Subscription-based business models have transformed how many companies engage and retain customers. From B2B to B2C, the popularity of developing a subscription-based service has been steadily increasing and is fast becoming the new normal in terms of a sustainable business model. Robbie Kellman Baxter, leading expert in this field, has recently launched a new podcast Subscription Stories – tales from the trenches, where she interviews leaders of this revolution about how they’re using subscription pricing and membership models to redefine the biggest industries and generate predictable recurring revenue. 

Subscription models are crazy powerful. Savvy small companies can easily deploy them to knock huge Goliaths off kilter. We’ve seen it in entertainment, software, hardware, news, retail, hospitality—the list goes on. 

‘Our goal is to teach forever habits.’ Joanna Strober has reimagined the youth weight loss industry through her wellness program, Kurbo. Tune in to hear Joanna talk with Robbie about the role of a human coach in a digital program, how to communicate with both parents and kids, and instilling habits in customers for the long term.

Joanna Strober is an entrepreneur and investor who founded Kurbo, the first digital weight loss platform for kids. Joanna grew Kurbo into a subscription business so successful that it caught the interest of WW (Weight Watchers reimagined), one of the biggest names in wellness. She is currently the CEO of Kurbo and a Senior Vice President at WW. Before diving into the weight loss industry, Joanna was Senior Managing Director at Sterling Stamos, and co-authored Getting to 50/50. Joanna earned a Bachelor’s Degree from University of Pennsylvania and a JD from UCLA school of Law.

 

Highlights from this episode include:

  • What triggers people to enrol in subscriptions and what motivates people to make subscription a habit
  • The 7 key areas of competence in a subscription business
  • The “reverse freemium” model, and the power of breaking the mold when it comes to adopting a subscription model

 

Listen to the full podcast, Kurbo’s Joanna Strober on a digital program to make kids healthier, or download the transcript from the Robbie Kellman Baxter website.

 

The Key to Maximizing Brand Marketing

 

Toopan Bagchi identifies the importance of  building segmented brand management teams to maximize marketing capabilities and effectiveness.  

In a continuously disrupted landscape, many retailers are realizing the potential for private brands to not only improve margins, but to also attract customers, build baskets and drive loyalty. However, given retail’s traditional reliance on CPG companies to develop and cultivate brands, capabilities around true brand management are often limited. 

Retailers leaning in on private brands would be wise to establish and elevate brand management capabilities to improve the likelihood of success of any private brand strategy by establishing a clear and coherent brand architecture, identifying white space opportunities, developing brand platforms, creating and launching product, and sustaining brand health over time. Retailers such as Target are recognizing this and establishing brand management teams to oversee the portfolio of private brands, define strategies and lead execution.

 

Information in this article includes:

  • Picking the team
  • Setting up brand architecture
  • Launching brands

 

Read the full article, Keys to building a private brand management team, on the Storebrands website. 

 

How to Expand Your Workforce Talent with Contingent Workers

 

Diane Mulcahy recently published an article on ADP.com that explains how companies can grow their contingent workforce and why they should.

Shifts in corporate supply and demand as a result of the global health event, and the halt of business travel have led to an increase in contingent workers for many companies. Independent workers give businesses more flexibility to staff up and down as the market environment changes, and to access the precise skills, expertise, and experience where and when they need it.

The need for the resiliency and flexibility that contingent workers provide is only increasing. There is still much uncertainty around the pace and stability of re-opening in this new normal. Companies that plan to “level up” and grow their contingent workforce as the economy re-opens can benefit from taking the following steps:

Concentrate Contingent Workforce Management

I was working with the senior management team of a Fortune 1000 company to implement better management practices for their independent workers. One problem they had was the “rogue” hiring of contingent workers across the company. Individual managers were hiring independent contractors for projects and tasks that fell within the budget limits they could manage without additional oversight. As a result, the senior management team had no visibility – and no way to manage, track, or control – the number of independent workers, or how much the company was spending on them.

A better approach is to concentrate oversight and management of contingent workers within your talent group. Creating a “one stop shop” for managers to access preferred workers, standard contracts and onboarding materials, and process invoices and payments makes it more efficient for hiring managers to bring on and manage contingent workers. It also allows the company to exercise control over cost and quality as well as how and where they are being deployed.

 

Additional steps in this article include:

  • Managing your brand talent
  • Mitigating risks of contingent workers
  • The continuity and growth of institutional knowledge

 

Read the full article, Leveling Up Your Contingent Workforce, on the ADP website.

 

Tools for Strategy and Innovation

 

Kaihan Krippendorff shares several online strategy and innovation tools and resources that can be downloaded from his website. 

The tools include:

 

  • Strategy Bot: So far, Kaihan’s strategic coaching has generated over $2.5b in new revenue for his clients. Use this strategy bot to experience a virtual coaching session with him. 
  • A Manual for Outthinking the Competition: A white paper that walks you through a step-by-step process for surmounting the seven critical hurdles that prevent companies from responding rapidly and creatively to new strategic challenges. 
  • Jack Welch – Passion Workbook – A collection of 14 exercises you and your team can use to connect with the passion and purpose of what you do. 
  • Building Creative Strategies with Patterns: An article originally published in Harvard Business Review. 
  • Seven Surprise Openings:  An article originally published in Harvard Business Review. 
  • 30 Minute Strategy Workbook: Five steps to rapidly – in 30 minutes or less – design a strategic narrative for achieving your goals in work or life. 
  • Reverse Engineering Your Destiny – an even shorter version of my “30 Minute Strategy” workbook designed by Izzy Greenberg of Tekiyah Creative. 
  • Beliefs Workbook: Belief is Contagious. It wins supporters. It’s self-fulfilling. Here’s how to get there when nagging, negative thoughts are holding you back. 
  • Personal Strategy Tracking Tool: a simple matrix and daily practice to help keep you on the path to realizing your one-year strategy. 
  • Personal Strategy Refresh Tool – A 10 minute exercise to assess whether you are on track and identify what parts of your strategy you want to adjust to re energize, refresh, and reclaim strategic clarity. 

 

Access the tools, articles, and whitepapers from Kaihan’s website.

 

Loopholes and Regulation Disruptors

 

Jason George takes us back a few years to an original disruptor, Aereo, a company that tried to bypass regulations and use technology to distribute media content in the days before Netflix and the subscription-based business model. 

Network effects

The scrappy technology startup faced an existential threat. The company was down to its final arguments in the United States Supreme Court, where the ruling would determine its fate and if millions of invested dollars would be lost. The fact that Aereo existed at all was a byproduct of arcane telecommunications regulations, which had evolved over the decades along with the medium of broadcast television, which it intended to disrupt.

The American government mandated that over-the-air channels using the public airwaves be distributed for free. Their shows could be viewed by anyone with a basic antenna. This could be a clunky means of accessing television, as broadcasting is subject to the vagaries of weather and topography that interfere with the signal.

Cable and satellite providers stepped into the gap, becoming the preferred entertainment sources for many households. In addition to numerous specialty channels they always included the primary broadcast networks viewers demanded. The wrinkle in this arrangement arose from the fact that television providers had to pay over-the-air networks for the rights to carry their programming, even though a home viewer could presumably access the same content for free.

 

Areas of interest in this article include:

  • Subscription fees and copyright infringement
  • Innovation and regulatory workarounds
  • Modern capitalism and corporate value creation

 

Read the full article, Innovation and Hacking Regulations, on the Jason George website.

 

Do You Have the Heart of a Survivor?

 

Surbhee Grover provides insight and inspiration in this article on the fortitude of spirit and mental strength.

The setting of the movie is the tiny town of Nome, Alaska, which is paralyzed by a deadly, fast-spreading disease. Despite a quarantine that was executed early on, the epidemic is expected to wipe out a majority of its inhabitants within days… unless they get speedy access to the appropriate medication (antitoxins) that needed to be transported more than 600 miles, amidst a winter blizzard, which made flights a non-option. Enter Togo, a Siberian husky who led a team of sled dogs and covered hundreds of miles at record-breaking speed in a deadly storm to (obviously) deliver the serum, and save the day.

The premise of this (real life) story from 1925 itself gives one an instant connection to the times we live in, even if it is almost a century removed from the present day. However, watching this Disney movie a few days ago, as I munched microwave-prepared popcorn, it wasn’t the epidemic that inspired me to pick this story as a reference—it was Togo, and what he could teach us, about triumphing in such turbulent times (WARNING: spoilers ahead).

 

Areas of interest in this article:

  • The importance of home
  • Operating processes
  • Steering your business

 

Read the full article, The Heart of a Survivor, on the Thrive Global website.

 

Include an Ecosystem in Your Innovation Strategy

 

Sean McCoy shares a blog post from his company website that presents a case for and against spending resources on ‘innovation’. 

Innovation is hard. Most companies do not do it well. Long is the list of established market leaders that were The Disruptee instead of The Disrupter. But firms are not to blame. Most innovations fail period, regardless of who is doing the innovation. Innovation is a high-failure sport.

Nevertheless, conventional wisdom holds that large businesses should be more innovative. It’s even a famous imperative: Innovate or Die. But why should a firm that is organized around low-failure productivity embrace high-failure innovation? Why should a large company make innovation when it can buy innovation? 

The argument against ‘Make it’

There are many reasons why a large firm making its own innovation might not make sense. Finance departments balk at the lost capital that could have been allocated to a known winner. HR departments can be reluctant to promote high-failure entrepreneurs, knowing how poorly that will be received by those that receive the opposite treatment for a string of failures. Audit, Compliance, Legal, and Quality Assurance departments usually do not take kindly to bug-y minimum viable products, nor to operators who move fast and break stuff.

Innovation at a big firm is equally difficult from the perspective of the innovator. The large number of stakeholders slows down decision-making. Once decisions are made, the work itself takes longer than entrepreneurs would like, because a company’s processes involve many hands, and innovators want speed.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Making innovation
  • Buying innovation
  • Leveraging an ecosystem

 

Read the full post, Should your innovation strategy leverage an ecosystem?, on the McCoy Consulting Group website. 

 

How Do We Stay Cool in a Hot World?

 

Supriya Prakash Sen takes a look ahead at one industry that is growing fast in the face of a heating planet, and how we can address and reconcile the needs of both the consumer and the environment. 

Last week, I wrote this article about the worrying prospects if governments, policy makers, corporations and the public at large, fail to prioritize the climate in the hurry to get things “back to normal”. Except that this is a new normal – and there is no “going back” to the old, if humanity is to survive/thrive beyond 2050. The gravity of the problem is well stated elsewhere, so I would refrain from repeating it here. But we should be ambitious when building back after this crisis, to build back better.

Many industries stand to benefit from the transition to a new, sustainable, low-carbon normal. As we fundamentally rethink things, it is possible to design for sustainability while still generating plenty of new local jobs. One such industry is the rather overlooked $134 billion p.a Cooling industry.

Global lockdowns have fundamentally changed the structure of energy demand. Right now, offices and commercial buildings are mostly shut or sparsely populated, but distributed cooling devices are working overtime, with a sharp rise in the use of building air conditioners, domestic fridges/ freezers. Meanwhile, there is also ramped up demand for cooling from agri & medical cold- chains, healthcare facilities, data centres etc.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Devoting resources to intelligent energy system design
  • Insisting on better designed buildings and precincts
  • Driving locally-adapted innovative solutions in devices and materials

 

Read the full article, Post-Covid19, the New “Cool”​ on LinkedIn.

 

How to Manage Mergers and Acquisitions

August 11, 2020

 

David Hane has recently published an article on the challenges of post-merger integration programs.

M&A is big business. According to Refinitiv, worldwide M&A activity totaled US$3.9 trillion in 2019. Of that, there were 43 deals alone worth over US$10 billion during the year (totaling US$1.2 trillion). Yet for all of this activity, how much value is actually created? Countless studies have documented the success rate for such transactions as ranging between 10% to 30%. With so much at stake, how can this be?

Integrations Gone Awry

No one factor is driving these outcomes. In some cases, the acquirer simply buys the wrong company. For example, the buyer’s strategic intent may be to acquire a business that will help them reinvent their business model. Unfortunately, identifying such candidates is extraordinarily difficult and most buyers aren’t able to pull this off. When you’ve acquired the wrong company, no amount of integration expertise will rectify the situation.

A more common factor driving M&A failure, and one that I’ve seen firsthand, is a botched integration. One of the easiest ways to derail your acquisition integration is to ignore the people dimension. Having an explicit plan to account for the people impact in an integration is also known as change management. You could fill a crater the size of the Grand Canyon with all of the information about change management. Don’t read all of it. Just know that you need to be deliberate and thoughtful in how you plan to integrate organizations.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • The consolidation of three businesses
  • Why progress grinds to a halt
  • Encouraging buy-in

 

Read the full article, A Requiem for M&A: The Best Laid Schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, on LinkedIn. 

 

Six Tips to Help Align Your Organization’s Go-to-market Approach from Strategy to Revenue

 

Stephen Redwood’s clients have been asking questions about how operating models will change post pandemic and how to accelerate time to market. He collaborated with Colin Taylor, to identify six priorities to focus on when rethinking your go-to-market (GTM) model.  

Cross-functional synchronization and alignment around a unified go-to-market approach is uncommon but has great value. Transforming your go-to-market approach can increase brand value, optimize growth investments, empower sales teams and accelerate time-to-revenue. This article discusses six tips to realizing this latent value in your organization:

 

Information in this article includes:

  • Minimize your limiters (decision making and hand-off hold-ups) and maximize your accelerators (streamlined processes, formal collaboration mechanisms, clear accountabilities)
  • Build a single company-wide model to establish a trusted and consensus view of all the interlocked go-to-market activities working together
  • Clarify accountabilities and devolve decision making closer to hand-offs across the business system
  • Build a company-wide, shared sense of accountability into processes and KPIs. Establish cross business communities that bring together critical silos at the intersections of hand-offs
  • Adjust goals, provide training, communicate continuously, and keep leaders on point
  • Establish oversight mechanisms to ensure the system is continuously updated to keep it relevant

 

Read the full article, Why is our go-to-market so inefficient and slow?, on LinkedIn.

 

The Metrics on Doing Business in India – What You Need to Know

 

Cheenu Seshadri shares an article that explains the ins and outs of doing business in India, including how the EODB (ease of doing business) metrics on India measure up.

When a client recently asked us if the investment climate had improved in India, we became curious ourselves and decided to dive in. Having lived through a tortuous investment climate for international investors in the telecom sector between 2009 and 2013, I knew first-hand that there were deep structural issues that could not be fixed within one-term of a business-friendly administration.

As we dug in, the first thing we came across was effusive praise in both the domestic and international media for the remarkable progress India had made in the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) ranking released by The World Bank Group annually. India had historically been in the bottom third of countries with an average ranking of 131 between 2007 and 2017. Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi made EODB improvement a key platform to communicate to the world that India was open for business, several reforms have been undertaken. The series of reforms have landed India on the top-10 improved list for 3 years in a row and it has risen from a lowly 130th in the 2017 report to 63rd in the 2020 report published in Oct 2019.

 

Areas covered include:

  • Deficiencies in the EODB metric
  • Where India stands relative to peers
  • Has the EODB improvement had an impact

 

Read the full article, India’s EODB: Is it “Easy”​ to do Business in India?, on LinkedIn.

 

Shifting from a Project to Product Mindset – Why and How

 

Tirrell Payton explains why it is beneficial to shift from a project to a product mindset and provides seven tips that can help accelerate the process. 

‘Digital’ continues to grow in importance as a first class business discipline, just as important as marketing, finance, or strategy. Therefore, product management has become more important as the primary lever to bring digital products and services to life. Given that, more organizations have begun to shift their thinking from a ‘project’ mindset to a ‘product’ mindset.

While the difference may seem semantic in nature, the implications can be substantial. A project mindset precludes a beginning, middle, and end of a project with a defined scope. A product mindset precludes orientation around the customer, and continuously evolving the offering to stay aligned with customer wants, needs, and opportunities to delight. The organizations that can best align themselves with customers are the organizations that win in the digital economy. 

According to Gartner, ‘Digital product management is a blend of art and science, an emerging discipline that expands the scope of the product manager’s role. Organizations that embrace and invest in this discipline are better-equipped to capitalize on market shifts and changes in business dynamics, including disruptions.’

 

Tips in this article include:

  • Think in problems, not solutions
  • Think in experiments, not analysis
  • Deliver value, not features

 

Read the full article, Seven Tips to Accelerate Product Mindset Shifts, on LinkedIn.

 

How to Achieve Low-Waste Goals in a Building Design

 

Ushma Pandya addresses a most prevalent problem, and more importantly, provides strategic steps for integrating low-waste solutions into building designs.

Buildings are designed for comfort, productivity, entertaining and living. Buildings have historically not been designed to support low waste goals. However, that is changing as architects and developers have come to realize the importance of design in supporting low waste goals. A few years ago, the Zero Waste Design guidelines were developed and have been a catalyst for thinking about design and waste.

A simple example of the importance of design is the problem of collecting recyclable and organic materials (aka compost) in older office buildings. The pantries can be small and may not have a sink. There is no way to rinse recyclables and no room to put in a third bin for composting. If companies can solve the question of where to collect organic materials in their office space, the problem of where to store the compost bin in the loading dock area arises. If organic materials are not collected every day (and it may not be feasible economically), then a cold storage room is usually required to manage odors.

Without effective storage, tenants and property managers may be reluctant to embark on a composting program. The same issues arise in residential buildings where the refuse room is generally small and often does not have any room for compost bins, let alone recycle bins or any other specialty recycle bins.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Establishing low-waste goals
  • Understanding which key initiatives have design implications
  • Identifying space requirements

 

Read the full article, Low Waste Goals Need to Be Designed into Buildings from the Beginning, on LinkedIn.

 

The Meaning of Social in a Social Enterprise

August 16, 2020

 

Belinda Li shares an article that explores the meaning of ‘social’ in social enterprise.

When I tell people our consulting firm has a passion for helping social enterprises, I’m sometimes met with the question, ‘what do you mean by social enterprise?’

Or I might get a knowing look, yet the response is, ‘oh, so you do social media!’ or ‘oh, so it’s about social networking!’ Hmm…

I suppose that’s not totally unexpected. After all, not many people know about ‘social enterprise.’ And today, the word ‘social’ is frequently associated with ‘social media / social networking.’ At a recent event hosted by a social media firm, they said things like: ‘today we are all things social’ or ‘everything is social now!’ When substituting ‘social’ for ‘social media,’ everyone understood what they meant. The confusion is further exacerbated by articles such as this one. You’ll see it has ‘creating a social enterprise’ in its title… and yet the article is all about social media!”

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • What a social enterprise is
  • How social enterprises differ from most businesses
  • Examples of social enterprise

 

Read the full article, When “Social” Means More, on LinkedIn.

 

COVID-19 – A Report on the Impact on Business

 

Eli Diament’s company has recently released a comprehensive report on how the current pandemic has affected business, including  a summary of findings from their national survey of Americans, executives, business owners and business decision makers.

Azurite Consulting recently surveyed 3,500 Americans , in partnership with PeakProsperity.com –  to capture a unique view of COVID-19’s impact on spending, hiring and business decision making. This is the second survey in a longitudinal study, capturing the granular impacts of Covid-19 and paths forward. We plan to continue the study, with the next ‘data point’ survey in Q3, 2020. The original research is available here.

This article highlights a subset of the major research findings, but is only a portion of the total findings.

 

The contents of the report include:

 

  • Business Outlook:  Slow L-Shaped recovery
  • Permanent Layoffs: Fewer Employees Will be Hired Back
  • Business Cutting Expense: Projected to Continue Through 2020
  • Digital Tools: Their Impact on Jobs and Work-Life Balance
  • Working From Home:  Is it Permanent?
  • People & Business Geographic Migration
  • Returning to the Office and School
  • Daily Activities: How Long Will People Wait to Return?
  • Changes in Spending & Time: Millennials Driving Spend
  • Returning to Daily Activities: Broken Out by Activity Type

 

Download the full report, Impact of Covid-19 On Business Decision Making, Spending & Recovery – JULY 2020, from the Azurite Consulting website. 

 

Are all Company Strategies the Same?

 

From her company blog, Nora Ghaoui shares a two-part series that examines the strategy statements of large companies and explains why strategy writing often results in generic statements.

By the time a large company has finished its strategic planning cycle, it ends up with strategy statements that could apply to any company. The same phrases show up every time.  Why is that?  Do great minds think alike, are people running out of ideas, or are market trends forcing them in the same direction?  Before we get into the causes, let’s look at the strategies.

A.G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin, in their book Playing to Win, emphasise that strategy is a set of five choices: the company’s winning aspiration, where it will play, how it will win, its capabilities, and its management systems.  Their expectation is that a successful company has a unique right to win.

Similarly, Michael Porter’s famous article “What is Strategy?” states: “Competitive strategy is about being different.  It means deliberately choosing a different set of activities to deliver a unique mix of value.”

Can we see these principles at work in company strategies today?  What do the company strategy statements say?  For now, let’s take these as correct representations of the company’s actual strategies.

 

The subject of strategy statements include:

  • Objectives
  • Where to play and how to win
  • Capabilities and systems

 

Read the full article, Do large companies have the same strategy?, on the Veridia website.

 

How to Manage the Current Disruption and Discover the Benefits

 

Barry Horwitz shares a recent post on how to deal with the current crisis and benefit from the disruption.

“A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” — Stanford economist Paul Romer

Yesterday afternoon, I logged into what must be my 150th Zoom conference. What was once an occasional event has turned into a daily barrage of virtual backgrounds and unknowingly muted speakers.

Fortunately, it seems we are all getting better at this new reality.

Well, maybe not all of us. There is a regular participant in one of my standing group calls who, despite having been on many of these over the past several weeks, has not progressed in his ability to use the technology. For the duration of every call, he appears mostly offscreen and from far below, giving the rest of us either a view up his nose or of his ceiling (sometimes both).

Technological ineptitude? Maybe. But it struck me that perhaps he just has a certain expectation regarding the pandemic’s longevity.

In other words, if you believe that we will be in this situation to some significant degree for the next 18-24 months, then it is worth learning how to use Zoom effectively. If, on the other hand, you view COVID-19 as just a brief inconvenience, why bother?

Only time will tell which perspective is correct. But if you think, as I do, that it’s the former, it’s worth taking steps to position yourself and your organization as well as possible — now and for whenever ‘normal’ returns.

 

Three suggestions in that regard…

  • Find the opportunities
  • Support the transition 
  • Find ways to fail

 

Read the full post, With Crisis Comes Opportunity, on the Horwitz & Company website.

 

Unraveling the Cognitive Bias of Corporate Leaders

 

Karen Barth explains why the majority of consumer products and corporate transformations fail due to cognitive biases. 

Why do 80% of the 30,000 consumer products launched each year and 70% of corporate transformations fail?

Often business leaders are blinded by cognitive biases, which seriously affect their decision-making – and, as a result, the revenues and welfare of their companies. It can be hard to see these biases from the inside.

Take, for instance, one of Britain’s largest food companies. The CEO and other senior leaders were looking to expand into a new market – in this case, the U.S.

I worked with them to gather data, conduct customer research and review every aspect of building a food business in the U.S., from distribution channels to marketing. A key part of the planning process was focus group research, to be held in five U.S. cities.

I’ll never forget sitting in one such city on the other side of a large one-way mirror with two senior leaders who were assigned to work with me and my team on the expansion strategy. Within minutes of the group’s start, I saw expressions of shock on their faces.

The facilitator was trying to get twelve American participants to taste steak and kidney pie, one of the most popular dishes all of the U.K. They saw with their own eyes that the Americans wouldn’t even taste it. I witnessed one senior executive scream at some of the participants, he was so frustrated. “Just taste it you idiots.” he yelled at the Americans from behind the sound-proof mirror.

 

Read the full article, Doesn’t Everyone Think (and Eat,) Like I Do? A Taste of Bias, on the Cognitive Edge website.

 

Leading Practices to Update Your Supply Chain Continuity Plan (SCCP)

 

Mohannad H. Gomaa shares succinct recommendations from leading practices on developing a continuity plan for a supply chain. 

Key thoughts and advice to update your current Supply Chain Continuity Plan (SCCP)

Business Impact Analysis:

External Suppliers and Customers:

Send questionnaires to your 1xxx+ suppliers and service providers to see how their operations are adjusting and discuss capacity availability/pricing/contract FM. Conduct meetings on key risk orders/SKUs

Communicate with your customers on key issues and ways to collaborate to fulfill orders and (investment/capacity) support needed. There are lessons learned from Toyota and others on how their supply chain network worked together during suppliers’ emergency shutdowns

 

Additional steps identified include:

  • Recovery strategies
  • Plan deployment
  • Test procedures

 

Read the full article, Key thoughts and advice to update your current Supply Chain Continuity Plan (SCCP), on LinkedIn.

 

A Social Media App Designed to Reform Social Media

August 22, 2020

 

Amy Giddon shares insight gained on social media through an App developed by her company that was designed to improve the social media experience by cultivating a better connection. 

We created Daily Haloha to be a positive collective experience of reflection and connection. At a time when connections are frayed and our spirits dampened, we were struck by how participatory art and story sharing projects could uplift and unite us in a moment of shared humanity. We were inspired by how the ability to express oneself authentically and in the absence of judgment, validation, or debate was liberating, even empowering — whether it was through writing on a chalkboard, putting up a sticky note, or sharing a secret on a postcard. No social network or followers needed. Everything contributed in a public space, anonymously. Everyone’s voice is recognized equally.

The idea behind our app was to make it as simple as possible for more and more people to participate in these magic moments. Daily Haloha invites self-reflection and collective discovery by inviting the world to answer one single thought-provoking question each day. In our simple 3-step experience, participants:

  • Reflect and respond to the daily question
  • Connect to another by swapping responses in a chain reaction of anonymous sharing
  • Feel uplifted by perusing reflections from all over the world on the Haloha Wall

 

Areas discussed include:

 

  • Drawing hard lines
  • Creating something different
  • Testing product and principles

 

Read the full article, We Broke Down Social Media to Try and Build Up Humanity, on LinkedIn.

 

How to Identify a Stellar Customer Success Manager

 

Duygu Cibik shares an article that identifies the key factors that can help you find an efficient and effective customer success manager.

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