Tuesday, November 22, 2011


In my last post I did mention the need to (regularly) look outside of the walls of your organization.
In addition to that , there is another very obvious area which is very often neglected, YOUR PEOPLE!

In these challenging times the focus is on survival and mostly on cutting costs. This means that people are laid off, trainings are skipped and hours worked are increasing towards a very unhealthy level. Recently I have coached some very senior managers who are on the verge of a burn-out. They just work too many hours, which has a negative impact on their effectivity, their health and their families.

However, if you want to survive and grow, the only way to do that is to make better use of your people. They are there, but their talents and qualities are not being used. They are not engaged (2011 Towers Perrin) and not happy (Conference Board 2010: only 45% of workers are happy). And both employee engagement and happiness makes us more motivated, resilient, creative, and productive, which drives performance upward.

How can you do that? Well, the most easy start is to have regular progress meetings with your people, let's say 30 minutes per week. That attention in itself will do wonders. Also it is crucial to ask for their ideas and suggestions upfront. Talk about the challenges that your group is facing and ask for their input. And then, of course, use that input. It should be real!
You will be amazed by the increase in productivity and the better atmosphere.

You are already mentioning (in your reports) that humans are your most important assets. It is now the time to use those assets in a positive way!

What are you doing to humanize the organization?


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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Market savviness requires the use of social media

Recently I have visited a couple of large, traditional Corporations. This means that they are used to doing business in a certain way and that it is very difficult to have them change that way. Change for change sake is of course not good.  Globalization and the Internet Business demand that you are on top of your game, rather than a laggard.  But these big companies are not used to looking structurally and regularly over the big wall, which they have put around their organization.

This means that they have a low level of market savviness. E.g. nobody has heard about Zappos, the power of customer service or the fact that young people want to use their own tools.
They see social media as a threat. The only thing what they are doing is to prepare how to react to some negative messages. This is what they are good at, damage control.

They have never thought about the use of social media for learning. Learning what is going on in their market (e.g. consumer electronics), what their customers are saying and what new developments there are in their area of expertise (sales, marketing, service). This really opens their eyes. Social media is such a powerful tool to keep yourself and your organization up to date on the latest developments.

How are you using social media as a learning tool?


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Friday, November 11, 2011

How to address the status quo

This week I have read two excellent articles about obstacles for change (http://huff.to/w1QHev) and obstacles for innovation (http://bit.ly/uU3OvQ).

They clearly indicate that - as an innovator- you also have to be creative how to deal with the status quo. You can’t just give all your time and energy to the new idea; you also have to design a strategy to address the status quo. And the longer this status quo exists, the more powerful it is and the more resistant to change it will be.

Innovators see immediately the benefits of new products/services/business models etc. But most other people have a different perspective. So, we need to help them to see the world as we see it. Therefore you have to put in a lot of effort to describe the changed market conditions. And why they will impact the business very soon. And why the existing portfolio is not suitable to address these new challenges. Then they can start to see the new world (outside of the Corporate gates) and understand the business case for innovation.

What are you doing to build a convincing business case?


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Tuesday, November 1, 2011


In order to assess the viability and feasibility of a new idea, it is crucial to be a detached observer. What is a detached observer?

Let me start with what an attached observer is. That is a person who looks at new ideas, wearing the glasses of the past. He or she thinks that his/her ideas are always better and that their experience is more relevant. So, they have a prejudiced perspective. This baggage of the past prevents them to have an open-minded view. They also immediately can tell you why your idea won’t work. That is because they have had an experience in the past, which didn’t work out.
This is highly frustrating for the person with the new idea. They feel like they haven’t received a fair chance of pitching their idea. The ‘assessor’ also looses as he might wrongly criticise a perfect idea and this miss out on an opportunity.

A detached observer has an open-mind and looks ‘from a distance’ at the idea. This person is not influenced by the past and can easily see the opportunity in its wider perspective (from the past and into the future). This detached perspective is crucial, because the circumstances are changing so fast, it is simply impossible to judge the merits of an idea based upon solely the past. A detached observer is capable of silencing his inner critic and this have an impartial view.

So, which ‘glasses’ will you wear the next time you are asked to assess a new idea?


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