Book – Winning Them Over

Winning.pngThe book compares management style of the past with current, more collaborative approach.  As we live (and work) in the era of persuasion, the book introduces persuasion techniques and gives insightful examples of the time (published 1998).

Interesting: the same techniques could be very helpful now as persuasion is the only technique available in cross-functional team environment.

Examples in the book are similar in spirit to other examples in business literature: very simple and clear messages, emotional appeal, and direct connection to “what is in it for me.”  Pictures (verbal and literal) and analogies are more effective than data in persuasion, though data is also needed for support.

 

Book – Think Simple: How Smart Leaders Defeat Complexity

simple.pngMany people think that they have a more complex business than they have.  More times than not, they actually create complexity in their mind.

JCPenney: though we remember the outcry of disappointed customers when discounts and coupons were cut, this story is not quite complete.  The company planned to re-create stores and provide a different, simplified and more engaging experience.  This experience would replace existing stores and coupons.  Unfortunately, the “old” value was removed before the “new” value became available.  JCPenney’s customers might have reacted differently if the entire plan was rolled out as designed.  This was, definitely, not that simple…

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Blue Men Group: understanding the need for  simplification (and communication).  The group conducted an interesting research: what do people new to Blue Men expect from the show?  The results were baffling: guesses were very inaccurate, and often strange.  After the first show the same audience claimed that they were surprised by the experience, as the show was significantly different from expectations.   Blue Men Group realized that show promotions need to be clarified.

DirectTV Latin America: simplification of brand and simplification of reporting structure.

Reporting structure: functional heads in each country reported to a manager based in Florida. For example, heads of marketing of Peru, Chile, and Colombia were reporting to a head of marketing in Florida. It created significant overhead in Florida and constant flow of communication.

To tell you how messed up this arrangement could be, I visited Florida shortly after I started this job.  Everyone of those functional heads swore to me that their part of the company was making money.  But when you added it up, they were actually in bankruptcy.  It became convoluted and financial reporting was designed to reflect convoluted structure.  Somehow, they all convinced themselves that they were making money.

Solution: eliminate the entire organization in Florida and empower management in each country to be responsible for its own business.  Each country became its own PNL, and the entire organization became more entrepreneurial and less complicated.

What causes this complexity?  Mostly ego and a desire to control.

Employees in big companies are typically eager to change and quick to embrace the idea of simplification.  It is complexity that sets people running in the opposite direction.

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Book – Reinvention

reinvention.pngJust before our professional association meeting at the company office, we realized that the previous group was still occupying the room.  As a representative of both professional association and the company, I found myself encouraging previous group to leave and cleaning the tables.  A couple of books were left in the auditorium…

A free book on business reinvention?  Absolutely irresistible!

The book has quite interesting approach: a combination of organizational and personal (professional) change in one process, as authors thought that personal and organizational change processes were so similar, that two separate books were not needed.

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The most profound statement of the book is the comparison of the degree of change – external and internal for both an organization and an individual.

To be successful, you and your organization must have the ability to reinvent, pivot, and morph faster than the speed of the external environment that you operate within.  Possessing the ability to not only survive disruption but also accelerate results during turbulent and challenging times is a skill that must be mastered.

A cute video explains “six deadly blindfolds” and an approach to handle inevitable disruptions.

Do you or your organization have “buoys” in place so that you are rarely surprised when powerful shock-waves begin pounding on your shore?  Great organizations and highly adaptive professionals seem to be better at predicting and understanding incoming changes than others.

Elements needed for the reinvention effort to be successful:

  • Dissatisfaction (feeling a need for change)
  • Focus (well-articulated future state)
  • Alignment (available infrastructure, including tools, processes, finances, etc.)
  • Execution (comprehensive game plan with clear milestones)
  • Leadership 
  • Cost of Change (reinvention costs: financial, social, physical, mental, etc.)

(D x F x A x E)L > C

A general manager of a major division announced a plan of the division redesign, while the division was still producing better results than other parts of the company.  A push-back from the executive team was overcome by the requirement to conduct an environmental scan.  60 days later, humbled executives reported that they were actually #5 in market share, down from #2 and dropping fast. “They discovered new strategies of the competition.  And customers gave them an earful.  The executive team was now ready for a redesign.”

SweetmanCragun Group offers a collection of templates related to the reinvention steps mentioned in the book.

An interesting (and very relevant quote) from Catherine Fake, a co-founder of Flickr:

work.PNGSo often people are working hard at the wrong thing.  Working on the right thing is probably more important than working hard.