Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The market will surprise you!

In the past days I had talks with different, very seasoned business executives. As I am currently following several (high quality) online courses from Udacity, Coursera and Stanford, I did share my enthusiasm.
What did surprise me is that nobody had even heard about this trend in learning and education. This is not an exception; there are many more trends (and facts) where they have no clue about (e.g. social media, sustainability, youth unemployment etc).

Now you can say that they are just to busy with their daily operations. But this is not a valid excuse. You might very likely miss new developments in the market, which can have a huge (negative) effect on your business.
There are many examples: the music industry which missed out on digital downloads, producers of watches for children missed out on mobiles, newspapers missed out on the web and so on.

So, it really is not a task of only marketing anymore to scan the market,. Every serious businessperson needs to dedicate daily time in his/her schedule to scan the market, for opportunities and threats.

Are you scanning the market, constantly?

Enthusiasm drives Excellence!

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Customer-centricity covers all your activities

Yesterday I did watch a program about the banking industry and how they are ‘behaving’ after the crisis (which they largely caused themselves). It was very clearly explained that the managers and the sales people were driven to sell as much products (especially mortgages etc.) as possible. Their bonuses were put in place to stimulate that behavior. So, we all know what the result was and still is.

If you manage your sales force by means of aggressive bonus schemes, you are not putting the needs of your customers at the heart of your operation. Then you are far away from being customer-centric.

Actually years ago when I did start to work for DEC, it was one of their principles NOT to pay bonuses to the sales force. The reason was that they wanted the sales force to focus on delivering quality to meet the customer’s needs. This policy worked very well, and the company grew at a very fast rate. When the market slowed down, they decided to introduce variable compensation to the sales force. This actually made things worse and now DEC does no longer exist.

Many companies are making the switch from being product-centric to becoming customer-centric. To be successful in being customer-centric you need to embed this in all your activities. This means that ….

-       Bonuses for product sales should be abolished
-       Customer Service should be at the heart of your operation
-       Partners and customers should be involved in your marketing and innovation
-       Internal systems should be customer driven rather than product line driven
-       Senior leaders should regularly meet customers
-       All activities should support a great customer experience

Customer-centricity requires a new mindset and alignment of activities.

Are you taking all the necessary steps to become customer-centric?

Enthusiasm drives Excellence!

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Institutional innovation also requires bottom-up involvement

Tomorrow there will be elections in The Netherlands.  You can choose from 21 parties. Will there be some real (needed) change?
As there will not be one party to gain the majority of the votes, there will always has to be a coalition of parties formed. This will be extremely challenging. Out of these 21 parties there will only be 5/6 parties who will deal the cards among themselves. This is really nothing new. We have had these coalitions for many years now, so the expected changes will be rather limited. There will not be a huge change in the political and governmental landscape.

However, a huge change is required in many different areas like education, healthcare, employment, social welfare, sustainability, and traffic. There are some very interesting new parties who have real innovating plans and insights, but there voice is just not being heard. They are not featured in the big debates on TV and they don’t have the funds to run large-scale multimedia campaigns. So, it is very likely that they will get very few votes.

Also politics has moved away from the interests of the citizens. In the last few weeks I did check with fiends and nobody knows details about the respective programs, and it is even hard to mention some of our current ministers. It looks like politics has become a game in itself, which is played with just a few people for a few people.

Obviously this is not sustainable. The citizens (young and old) need to be much more involved as the stakes are just to high to leave all the major decisions to just a few professional politicians. Also the challenges in the Dutch, European an global society require lots of innovation for which support of all the citizens is needed.

This means that bottom-up involvement should be standard rather than the exception. Maybe the referendum and community model of Switzerland is a good starting point.

What do you think?

Enthusiasm drives Excellence!

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