April 30, 2009

"An ability to embrace new ideas, routinely challenge old ones, and live with paradox will be the effective leader’s premier trait."

- Tom Peters

April 29, 2009

"Strategy gets you on the playing field, but execution pays the bills."

- George Eubanks

April 28, 2009

"The highest challenge inside organizations is to enable each person to contribute his or her unique talents and passion to accomplish the organization’s purpose."

- Stephen Covey

April 27, 2009

"Great leaders build a workforce for the future. They are human capital developers. Great leaders always ask themselves: “Am I preparred for what’s next?” They invest in themselves by constantly learning."

- Jonathan Fietzer

April 26, 2009

"Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence."

- Albert Einstein

April 25, 2009

"I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people."

- Mahatama Gandhi

April 24, 2009

"Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men."

- Goethe

April 23, 2009

"Our ultimate freedom is the right and power to decide how anybody or anything outside ourselves will affect us."

- Stephen Covey

April 22, 2009

"The peak efficiency of knowledge and strategy is to make conflict unnecessary."

- Sun Tzu

April 21, 2009

"If you hire people who are smaller than you are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. If you hire people who are bigger than you are, we shall become a company of giants."

- David Ogilvy

April 20, 2009

"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal."

- Henry Ford

April 19, 2009

Trust begets trust

Posted by Bizaholic | 11:21 PM | , with 0 comments »

Employee engagement and trust go hand in hand. Employees feel engaged with an organization when they trust the management. And they trust the management when the management trusts them. Trust begets trust.

The problem arises when management starts with the premise that employees cannot be trusted upfront and they must achieve a degree of confidence over a period of time before they could be trusted. Experience shows that this is an unproductive way of building trust. Often, this approach breeds more distrust.

There is another radical way of quickly building mutual trust between management and employees. The premise of this approach is - trust your employees and see whether they are trustworthy or not. Generally, people would rise above the call of their duty to ensure that the trust reposed in them is not betrayed. Anybody who breaks the trust is not worthy of being trusted and it would be better to get rid of that person.

Let's take the example of expense statement approval. Let the employee approve his own expense statement without any need for approval by his supervisor. Employee will feel important and trusted by the management. Anyone found misusing this power should be immediately shown the door to set an example of consequences of betraying trust. Everyone will feel a higher degree of responsibility and accountability apart from the invigorating feeling of being trusted. Small steps like this can go a long way in building an environment of trust and integrity within an organization.

The journey of excellent employee engagement begins with small steps in generating mutual trust. The more trust flows into the system, higher the employee engagement level. This approach also helps in weeding out people who are not trustworthy thereby maintaining a healthy corporate environment.

"Some of the world's greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible."

- Doug Larson

April 18, 2009

"Control is not leadership; management is not leadership; leadership is leadership is leadership. If you seek to lead, invest at least 50% of your time leading yourself—your own purpose, ethics, principles, motivation, conduct. Invest at least 20% leading those with authority over you and 15% leading your peers. If you don't understand that you work for your mislabeled 'subordinates,' then you know nothing of leadership. You know only tyranny."

- Dee Hock, Founder Visa International

April 17, 2009

"The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise."

- Tacitus, Roman Historian

April 16, 2009

"What leaders have to remember is that somewhere under the somnolent surface is the creature that builds civilizations, the dreamer of dreams, the risk taker. And remembering that, the leader must reach down to the springs that never dry up, the ever-fresh springs of the human spirit."

- John Gardner

April 15, 2009

"Within an organization, a few qualities must be homogenous—held in common by all. These are values, vision, and commitment to the team. However, in most areas, hiring for diversity is the wisest course of action. The strongest environments are inhabited by leaders with varied expertise, experiences, backgrounds, and temperaments."

- John Maxwell

April 14, 2009

Marketing as a Conversation

Posted by Bizaholic | 7:30 AM | with 0 comments »

Marketing is fast emerging as a conversation. Earlier, it used to be a one way process where the marketer bombarded the message on the consumer as she haplessly tried to make sense of it all. But now, thanks to web 2.0, marketing is becoming a multi-dimensional communication process where marketer and an entire community of consumers interact through a free wheeling conversation.

This is an interesting phenomenon. On one hand, it throws an opportunity to the marketer to engage the consumers, but on the other hand, it can rip open a brand at its seams to scrutinize the claims made by it. It is turning out to be a double edged sword.

If the brand is true to its self and manages the conversation process confidently, it will create a lasting impression on the mind of its consumers and a flood of word of mouth publicity for itself. It will emerge stronger by engaging consumers and making them feel a part of the brand. But if the brand is not true to itself, it will get itself killed by the conversation.

The best thing about this emergence of marketing as a conversation is that consumers will get to see better products and services in coming days as conversation rewards good products and kills bad products. With availability of abundant information at the click of the mouse, and the power to share it with millions of people just a blog or tweet away, consumers were never as powerful as they are today.

It seems the days of fiefdom of brand managers are numbered. Finally, democracy is emerging on the horizon of brand management!

"A good plan implemented today is better than a perfect plan implemented tomorrow."

- George Patton

April 13, 2009

Marketing - Strategic or Tactical?

Posted by Bizaholic | 11:30 PM | with 0 comments »

Some organizations commit a big mistake by treating marketing as tactical rather than strategic. Generally such organizations are players in low involvement category. They are sales driven with strong market share and operate in environment having lower intensity of competition. As such, investment in building a strong marketing infrastructure is not considered a priority and instead resources are diverted to push short term sales. But the moment competitive pressure strikes, things start falling apart.

The problem arises when marketing is treated as a function subordinate to sales. In such situations, sales strategy tends to drive marketing rather than marketing strategy drive sales strategy. As a result, focus of marketing shifts from long term brand building to short term sales support.

Marketing is a strategic domain by nature. It involves objective assessment of the whole and aligning of parts in the right direction to achieve desired results. The moment marketing is relegated to play a solely tactical role, decay sets in the edifice of an organization.

Marketing is too important to be left to play a secondary role or second fiddle to sales. It has to be the driver of an organization if the organization aims to remain in business and maintain its competitive advantage over a long period of time.

Treating marketing as a secondary function is like signing the death warrant of an organization!

We live in an age of disruption. In no time, trends change, technologies become obsolete, and an entire industry get buried. Disruption breeds chaos and confusion. To survive and prosper in these disruptive times, adaptability, agility, speed, and decisiveness are the key requirement.

Often, disruptive times are most conducive to the phenomenal growth of micro-organisms (read nimble footed start-ups) but at the same time they spell disaster for giants (read huge multi-layered organizations.) The reason is not hard to fathom. While start-ups and smaller organizations quickly respond and proactively charge at the opportunities thrown by disruption, larger organizations consider themselves too big to feel threatened by the changed environment. By the time larger organizations understand the gravity of disruption and the impact it could have on their well-being and sustainability, it is generally too late to respond.

While smaller organizations quickly redraw their strategy, larger organizations get trapped in their size and ego.

Three factors that hinder the manoeuvrability of large organizations during disruptive times are -
  1. A false sense of invincibility.
  2. Unwillingness to adapt.
  3. Delayed and slow reaction.
Since disruptive times are here to stay, large organizations need to adapt themselves to changing times to not only survive but also prosper by tapping opportunities thrown by disruption. A good starting point would be to transform themselves into synchronized units of nimble footed micro-organisms within a larger ecosystem.

"Be willing to make decisions. That's the most important quality in a good leader. Don't fall victim to what I call the ready-aim-aim-aim-aim syndrome. You must be willing to fire."

- T. Boone Pickens

April 12, 2009

There is much talk about demographic dividend of India. But have the business organizations factored this demographic dividend in their talent management process? If the country is mostly young, is it not logical to have a youthful management at helm?

Unfortunately, in India, where 50% of the population constitutes of youth, barring a few exceptions, the senior management in organizations is filled with people on the wrong side of age who are generally out of sync with the aspirations and dreams of the youth. In the name of experience, it's common to side step the energy, drive, and enthusiasm of the youth.

As a long term strategy, it is imperative for Indian companies to hand over the baton to the younger generation who are more in tune with the changing realities and cultural transformation arising out of a predominantly young population. Marketing products and services to today's vast population of youth is strikingly different from what most organizations are accustomed to doing. To profitably serve the new generation of customers, a radical shift is required in almost everything a company does - from product innovation to after sales service. This can only happen if organizations bring a fountain of youth energy into their rank and file. The empowered young managers, with their own aspirations and dreams, would be in a much better position to understand how the mind of young people works and what needs to be done to tap into the youth.

Organizations which quickly grasp this reality and work towards making themselves youthful at heart as well as soul would do a world of good to their future. While those which stay glued to the old and the experienced may soon find themselves in a world that no longer exists!

"When all think alike, then no one is thinking."

- Walter Lippmann

April 11, 2009

"Leaders are problem solvers by talent and temperament, and by choice. For them, the new information environment—undermining old means of control, opening up old closets of secrecy, reducing the relevance of ownership, early arrival, and location—should seem less a litany of problems than an agenda for action. Reaching for a way to describe the entrepreneurial energy of his fabled editor Harold Ross, James Thurber said" 'He was always leaning forward, pushing something invisible ahead of him.' That's the appropriate posture for a knowledge executive."

- Harland Cleveland

April 10, 2009

"The secret to getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one."

- Mark Twain

April 9, 2009

"Accept the challenges so that you may feel the exhilaration of victory."

- General George S. Patton, Jr.

April 8, 2009

"The companies that survive longest are the one's that work out what they uniquely can give to the world—not just growth or money but their excellence, their respect for others, or their ability to make people happy. Some call those things a soul."

- Charles Handy

April 7, 2009

"Destiny is not a matter of chance, but of choice. Not something to wish for, but to attain."

- William Jennings Bryan

April 6, 2009

"A leader has the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved. He inspires the power and energy to get it done."

- Ralph Lauren

April 5, 2009

"Over the past few decades, many companies have become obsessed with benchmarking-comparing their performance with rivals on industry-wide standard metrics. But benchmarking pulls companies in exactly the wrong direction, because it leaves them looking more similar to their rivals, rather than more different."

- Richard Makadok

April 4, 2009

"In business, unlike in nature, the fittest often survive by helping create the environment that favors them."

- David Newkirk

April 3, 2009

"A study of the performance of more than 400 companies over 30 years reveals that firms find it difficult to maintain higher performance levels than do their competitors for more than about five years at a time. Long-term superior performance is achieved not through sustainable competitive advantage but by continuously developing and adapting new sources of temporary advantage and thus being the fastest runner in the race."

- Eric D. Beinhocker

April 2, 2009

"An organization’s capacity to improve existing skills and learn new ones is the most defensible competitive advantage of all."

- C K Prahlad & Gary Hamel

April 1, 2009

"You can tell the caliber of a person by the amount of opposition it takes to discourage him or her."

- John C. Maxwell