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  • feedwordpress 22:06:56 on 2015/12/30 Permalink
    Tags: agile, Business Improvement, business strategy, change agents, , , corporate change, , , , lean innovation, lean startup, prosci, stage-gate   

    CHANGE MANAGEMENT: PROSCI IS DEAD 


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    CHANGE MANAGEMENT: PROSCI IS DEAD

    PROSCI change methodology has been widely used in both private and public sectors to manage “the people side of change.” The methodology is based on three phases: (1) PREPARING FOR CHANGE READINESS, (2) MANAGING CHANGE, and (3) REINFORCING CHANGE. But PROSCI is fast becoming a relic – a dogmatic, outdated methodology based on old school management and business strategy perspectives that should be deemed obsolete.

    HERE’S WHY…

    Change has become much more multi-faceted. In today’s fast-paced, fiercely competitive world — a volatile world where ambiguity and fluctuation abound with an ever-accelerating rate of technology adoption — change is inevitable and constant. All organizations change, regardless of whether employees are “prepared and ready.”

    Executives and HR managers can no longer prod or coax people to change — and they can’t afford to wait until employees are “prepared and ready” for change. Neither can they merely be content to “manage” change; they need to be ahead of it. Implementing a three-phase change management control process, project workstream, and checklist will leave you the equivalent of three (or more) phases behind in the dust, struggling to recover pace.

    IF PROSCI’S DEAD, WHAT’S NEXT?

    Beyond communicating a clear vision, allocating the right resources, and aligning performance management systems, the key to successful organizational change is removing barriers and creating circumstances in which employees’ inherent motivation and drive is freed and channeled toward achievable goals. Every single day. Doing so requires a shift in perspective; where employees are not merely informed about change or trained to manage/handle change but rather deemed to be an integral active component of the entire change equation.

    Instead of managing change, you need to lead through change and create it. “Change management” has shifted to “change leadership.” You need to recognize that in today’s brave new world, every employee — top to bottom in your organization — is a change agent and a valued member of your “continuous change team.” As are your customers.

    MORE STRATEGIC METHODOLOGY OBSOLESCENCE

    When it comes to strategic methodology obsolescence, ANYONE who professes to have the silver bullet solution in today’s volatile, uncertain world is selling you a half-sighted, flawed manifesto. For instance: practicing lean startup without acknowledging/integrating aspects of design thinking, agile, stage gate, and other “best practice” methodologies will only impede your company’s capacity to innovate and create what’s next.

    An organization’s ability to adapt and integrate MULTIPLE strategic methodologies — or better yet customize their own approach based on their company’s unique capabilities, current environment, and future market potential — will define its’ ultimate competitive advantage.

     
  • feedwordpress 20:07:33 on 2014/03/03 Permalink
    Tags: , Business Improvement, business success, , , executional excellence, implemention, , , , lego, , ,   

    How LEGO Learned How to Winch 


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    How LEGO Learned How to Winch
    Image credit: www.atvcourse.com

    Business experts will tell you that inertia — “paralysis or passive resistance” — kills companies. Other thought leaders suggest that active inertia — “relentless pursuit of the tried and true” — causes business failure. Neither is correct.

    What does inertia have to do with LEGO and winching, you might be asking. Bear with me, I will get there. But I need to make a simple point first….

    INERTIA DOESN’T CRIPPLE COMPANIES, CRUMMY IMPLEMENTATION DOES

    Few companies, if any, suffer from inertia. There is little to no evidence of companies being too paralyzed to take any action at all. Executives and employees are always busy doing something, even if only to justify their job. Alas, they are often accelerating the wrong activities and they aren’t doing the right activities well. They spin their wheels like a car stuck in mud.

    And active inertia (“relentless pursuit of the tried and true”) is rarely a company’s problem. Faced with mounting competitive pressure, most companies get desperate and unleash a flurry of new, oft ill-conceived initiatives to try to stop the bleeding. By doing so, they spin their wheels even faster and dig an even deeper hole.

    What causes companies to fail nearly every time is crummy (or sloppy) execution — akin to spinning wheels in mud. Crummy implementation cripples companies, not inertia. The biggest barrier to innovation is EXECUTIONAL EXCELLENCE. The world is littered with great ideas, poorly implemented.

    WINCHING IMPROVES IMPLEMENTATION AND EXECUTION

    My family hails from Michigan and South Carolina, a state that boasts its own Mud Run Guide. Here’s what I know: when your car gets stuck in mud, you are almost always better off if you stop digging your wheels into the ground. Leave the wheel-spinning to half-wits. To get out of a mudhole, you need to add traction or use a winch.

    A winch is a handy hand- or motor-powered machine used for hoisting and hauling. Winching improves traction and power….implementation….and executional excellence.

    LEGO LEARNED TO WINCH

    Today LEGO is the world’s #1 toy company. Sales are up despite a sluggish global toy market. Profits have grown 40%. But that wasn’t always the case.

    Faced with declining margins and value in the 80s and 90s, LEGO did what most ailing companies do. They got desperate and unleashed a flurry of new, oft ill-conceived initiatives to try to stop the bleeding. They binged on unbridled innovation – launching theme parks, clothing, jewelry, TV programs, electronics, video games, learning labs, publications, and ill-conceived strategic alliances.

    By 2003, LEGO was on the brink of bankruptcy. The company was virtually out of cash with annual losses mounting upwards of $300 million and a $400 million loss projected for 2004.

    How did LEGO recover from a 10-year period of declining performance? Company leadership stopped spinning their wheels and focused on improving execution.

    They shortened go-to-market product development time, organized to increase accountability and decision-making, shed unrelated businesses, built “change-readiness,” established global in-region manufacturing facilities, improved their safety record, and dedicated themselves to smarter 12 C’s of Commercialization performance. Instead of desperately pursuing uncontrolled innovation — spinning their wheels — they focused on improving their innovation success rates. In other words: they found a winch and added traction.

    ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF THIS PHENOMENON

    Another example of the “wheel-spinning without a winch” phenomenon: Kodak.

    Contrary to media reports, Kodak didn’t suffer from inertia (“paralysis”) OR active inertia (“relentless pursuit of the tried and true”). The company was never short on new ideas. Kodak developed countless technology innovations over the years including the digital camera in 1975 but they failed to successfully commercialize it. They held $3 billion worth of patents, valued at more than five times the company itself. They suffered from numerous reorganization efforts, making it incredibly difficult to implement smart long-term strategy. Their eager and rash M&A and alliance deals — from Scitex to Imation to Verizon and Creo — lacked strategic due diligence and led to integration headaches. Kodak was undeniably IN MOTION, spinning its wheels like a car stuck in mud.

    Alas, Kodak never fully understood that their problem was crummy execution. They never sought or found a winch. They never improved implementation to gain better traction.

    RESEARCH STUDIES AGREE

    A 2013 Accenture study found that only 18% of CEOs have seen their investments in “innovation” pay off — fewer than one in five. And according to research conducted by the Doblin Group, a startling 96% of all innovations fail to return their cost of capital.

    The key to increasing innovation ROI lies in improving innovation success rates. A 2005 study by Boston Consulting Group concluded that companies that concentrate on IMPROVING THEIR INNOVATION SUCCESS RATES achieve the greatest gains. Instead of spinning your wheels, you need to learn how to winch and add traction.

    SPINNING YOUR WHEELS? LEARN HOW TO WINCH.

    Are you in an innovation rut? Instead of spinning your wheels and digging a deeper hole, get better at business execution. Create sound action plans but remember that execution and making strategy work is more difficult than the task of strategic planning (developing the strategy is never more important than the results). Hold people accountable, involve the right people in decisions, build “change readiness”, practice the 12 C’s of Commercializing Innovation. In other words: figure out a way to add traction. Learn how to winch.

    It’s basic physics. Winching can lessen the strain on any rig and increase torque. Winching can help companies that overestimate their capabilities. Winching can help your company overcome the most difficult of situations. Learn how to winch and you will always recover. Return on innovation depends on it.

     
  • feedwordpress 20:48:04 on 2014/02/26 Permalink
    Tags: actionable benchmarking, actionable results, audits, , brands, Business Improvement, , Coke, , General Mills, , , ,   

    The #1 Secret of Successful Benchmarking 


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    The #1 Secret of Successful Benchmarking

    Benchmarking can be a company eye-opener. Internal, competitive, and outside industry benchmarking all have merits. Internal benchmarking can foster best practices. Assessing performance versus competitors can reveal your shortcomings and tell you where to focus. Looking at other industries can generate creative ideas for growth.

    During my days leading marketing and innovation initiatives at Coke, General Mills, and Whole Foods, I participated in numerous company benchmarking exercises. We benchmarked quality measures, workload, product development, pricing, channel management, market information management, packaging design, and marketing implementation. Each company had its own unique approach to benchmarking — from searching publicly available data to primary research using IT-supported software tools.

    Here’s what I learned: the secret of successful benchmarking isn’t about HOW or WHERE YOU DIG. In other words, it isn’t about how you conduct your audit (there are no “right” or “wrong” rules). Or whether you benchmark performance inside the four walls of your company, against competitors within your industry, or outside your industry…

    The #1 Secret of Successful Benchmarking

    The #1 secret of successful benchmarking is knowing what to do with the information you discover — taking the results and making them actionable.

    Knowing where you stand provides a point of reference for what could be and reveals uncommon, oft surprising insights — but it’s only half of the equation. Discovery is not enough. Benchmarking data needs to support action to have any significant meaning or effect. And this holds true for companies of all sizes — from startups to global Fortune 100 corporations.

    How to Make Benchmarking Data Actionable

    Actionable data is always better than big data. The most important part of any benchmarking process is creating a plan of action that will improve organization performance. You need to leverage your new knowledge and implement changes.

    Some tips to get you started:

    1. Start with a Goal
      Before you launch any benchmarking initiative, define what you want to accomplish. Clear objectives. How will you use the data to create value? At Coke, our benchmarking exercise goal was to justify shifting from glass to plastic packaging in the Non-Carbonated Beverages Division.
    2. Schedule Collaborative Sessions To Review Benchmark Findings
      Facilitate internal discussion and interaction to identify ways that you can use results to improve business performance. After conducting retail industry benchmarking activities at Whole Foods, we held numerous cross-functional team member workshops to assess and plan store design and product merchandising changes.
    3. Improve Your Enterprise Asset Management Systems
      Despite IT asset management systems being at the bottom of the trough of disillusionment in Gartner’s 2012 Hype Cycle, a good asset management system can make actionable benchmarking less formidable. Sharing knowledge assets across your company can improve data utilization and performance. With nearly 40,000 employees worldwide, General Mills used benchmarking results to build a massive standardized system for managing enterprise learning. The result? Stronger total employee engagement across the organization. Early stage companies can do this too, simply by storing and sharing data between founders and future team members.
    4. Integrate Benchmarks Into Sales and Operations Planning Cycles and Day-to-Day Planning
      Help the front line. Ensure that benchmarking data is available to employees every time they make a decision about the future. This single act can boost innovation in your company from the bottom up.
    5. Reallocate Resources
      Consider realigning resources — tear down silo walls — to activate your company’s plan of action after benchmarking. Concentrate resources on realistic targets.

    Hungry for more benchmarking best practices? Check out this oldie but goodie from Harvard’s Working Knowledge titled, “Best Practices for Benchmarking,” originally published in 2003. Ahh, memories! That was the year I officially incorporated RE:INVENTION, inc..

     
  • feedwordpress 11:38:19 on 2014/02/11 Permalink
    Tags: , , business failure, Business Improvement, , change managment, , donald sull, , , , , , , innovation barriers, innovation management, , london business school, Michigan, , mudhole, passive resistence, South Carolina,   

    Crummy Implementation Cripples Companies, Not Inertia 


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    Crummy Implementation Cripples Companies, Not Inertia
    Image credit: www.atvcourse.com

    Many business experts will tell you that inertia kills companies. That the biggest barrier to innovation is inertia – paralysis or passive resistance prevents innovation from getting started.

    IN REALITY….

    Few companies, if any, suffer from inertia. Executives, managers, and employees rarely are too paralyzed to take any action. They are always doing *SOMETHING* even if only to justify their job. Alas, they are often accelerating the wrong activities and they aren’t doing the right activities well. They spin their wheels like a car stuck in mud.

    My family hails from Michigan and South Carolina, a state that boasts its own Mud Run Guide. Here’s what I know: when your car gets stuck in mud, you are almost always better off if you stop digging your wheels into the ground and turn off your engine. To get out of a mudhole, you need to add traction or use a winch.

    In 1999, London Business School Professor Donald Sull also questioned the incidence of paralyzing business inertia and coined the alternative term “active inertia.” Sull suggested that active inertia — responding to market shifts by accelerating activities that succeeded in the past rather than ceasing activity altogether — causes business failure.

    Sull is partially but not completely correct.

    Inertia doesn’t kill companies; there is little to no evidence of companies being too paralyzed to take any action at all. And active inertia is rarely a company’s problem; faced with mounting competitive pressure, most companies get desperate and unleash a flurry of new, oft ill-conceived initiatives to try to stop the bleeding. What causes companies to fail nearly every time is crummy (or sloppy) execution.

    CRUMMY IMPLEMENTATION CRIPPLES COMPANIES, NOT INERTIA

    In my humble opinion, the biggest barrier to innovation is EXECUTIONAL EXCELLENCE.  The world is littered with great ideas, poorly implemented.

    Take for instance, Kodak. Contrary to media reports, Kodak didn’t suffer from inertia (“paralysis”) OR active inertia (“relentless pursuit of the tried and true”). The company was never short on new ideas. Kodak developed countless technology innovations over the years including the digital camera in 1975 but they failed to successfully commercialize it. They held $3 billion worth of patents, valued at more than five times the company itself. They suffered from numerous reorganization efforts — CEO after CEO — making it incredibly difficult to implement smart long-term strategy. Their eager and rash M&A and alliance deals — from Scitex to Imation to Verizon and Creo — lacked strategic due diligence and led to integration headaches. Kodak was undeniably IN MOTION, spinning its wheels like a car stuck in mud.

    ARE YOU SPINNING YOUR WHEELS?

    Are you in an innovation rut? Instead of spinning your wheels and digging a deeper hole, get better at business execution. Create sound action plans but remember that execution and making strategy work is more difficult than the task of strategic planning (developing the strategy is never more important than the results). Hold people accountable, involve the right people in decisions, build “change readiness”, practice the 12 C’s of Commercializing Innovation. In other words: figure out a way to add traction or find a winch. It starts with analyzing and improving your internal innovation processes and your go-to-market strategies.

    Editor’s Post Script: No intended offense to Dr. Sull. He’d be an excellent thesis adviser were I ever to pursue a PhD.

     
  • feedwordpress 22:43:56 on 2013/12/05 Permalink
    Tags: Business Improvement, , , , , , ,   

    Expert Series: Sperry Van Ness 


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    Expert Series: Sperry Van Ness

    RE:INVENTION’s Expert Series presents an interview with a major player at a company that is notable as progressive, transformative and/or innovative within its industry.

    In an industry primarily dominated by traditional approaches to business operations, innovative practices and thinking outside of the box can make all the difference. Sperry Van Ness International Corporation, a transformative commercial real estate brokerage and property management franchisor, was recently awarded as one of the most recognizable brands in commercial real estate in 2013 by the Lipsey Survey.

    This week’s Expert Series features five questions with Diane Danielson, the Chief Platform Officer of Sperry Van Ness.

    ************************************************************************

    RE: First, can you give us a brief background of yourself and of Sperry Van Ness as a company?

    Diane: Sperry Van Ness International Corporation is a franchisor. Our day job is selling franchises to commercial real estate firms. They brought me in as the Chief Platform Officer, which is kind of a weird title, but I like to say it’s a combination of COO, marketing, technology and sales, with a focus on growing the bottom line. We have 175 franchise offices in 38 states across the United States and we’re expanding into Canada and Europe.

    As for me, I have been in and out of commercial real estate for past 20 years. I started out as a real estate attorney but then joined real estate companies and worked as the vice-president of business development and marketing at various large commercial real estate firms in the Boston area. Then I took some time off from the commercial real estate industry and got involved in a career where I built a company called the Downtown Women’s Club, which was a national women’s network that launched the first social network for businesswomen in the United States back in 2005. After that I ended up consulting with companies on technology and how to use technology most efficiently to meet your marketing and business development goals. And that led to Sperry Van Ness calling me and saying they had a perfect job for me, because I had all of the different categories, including commercial real estate and a legal degree, and everything they were looking for on the marketing and technology side.

    RE: What has been your biggest challenge for you at Sperry Van Ness and how did you deal with it? What did you learn from it?

    Diane: One of the biggest challenges we have is an innovative business model in a very traditional industry. Commercial real estate is very resistant to change… and 80% male, with the average age of a commercial real estate broker these days around 57 years old. Trying to change an industry is very tough; but the company I’ve been with has been doing things differently for about 35 years. We actually believe in the open sharing and co-listing of our sales properties; we’ve been doing that for years but it is very in-tune with the direction all industries are going these days. And also, we’re very big on technology. We’ve developed and partnered with software platforms so that our franchisees are not tied to their desks. They can use the cloud platform for all our tools, and they can work anywhere because sales are done on the road a lot of the time.

    RE: How did your team start building a culture of innovation or transformation?

    Diane: Well, it helps to have a CEO and President who is in his early 40s, who’s very visionary. Kevin Maggiacomo is a big believer in not doing business in the same way, because if you do, eventually somebody’s going to put you out of business. So, following his vision, it’s from the top-down. He has brought on people, others and myself, who are rewarded for trying different solutions. With a franchise business model, while some people may think it’s a very old-fashioned model, I find it very innovative, as it’s a way to have a smaller independent team that can use the tools and resources of a large shop. We’re able to be more nimble, because we’re smaller in a sense as a franchisor, and having local franchises allows us to test with them on a small scale. Collaboration is also something that we really stress in the Core Covenants of our company.

    RE: Have you found yourself having to transform your business methodology since you started? How have you done so?

    Diane: We had a series of changes that started before I got there, one of which was back in 2007 when we started moving towards a franchise business model. That was a big change and it helped us survive the economic downturn in 2009, and we actually came through that profitably, which was extremely rare for our industry.

    About two or three years ago, we signed on with Google apps. Taking everything into the cloud was a big transformation because it allowed us to work virtually and our franchisees were able to do the same. Then we helped customize another tool that our brokers use for marketing properties and listings. And since it’s cloud based, they’re able to access that virtually. So they’re able to streamline their overhead costs. The next phase, what we’re doing now and in 2014, is focused on increasing our franchisees’ productivity. It’s not just handing them tools and resources, it’s delivering training and helping them focus on their business so that they can increase productivity. That’s where we’re testing out some innovative tools. We are also bringing out and dusting off old resources that worked in past years and are still applicable today.

    It’s also learning from outside the industry. We are looking at what tech companies are doing, what other B2B businesses are doing and what franchises are doing. We were on the Inc. 5000 list this year so we went down there to learn from other companies that were not in our industry. I even hired somebody to lead our marketing team from the retail industry.

    RE: What do you think is most important for your company to do in order to keep up with the rapid changes in technology?

    Diane: Looking outside the industry. We need to learn from other industries; see what’s working for them and figure out how to apply it to our industry. We can’t just sit here and say nobody else is doing this in commercial real estate so we won’t either; we need to be proactive about thinking of new ways to change the way we do business and keep up with technological changes.

    We also have something called the “SVN Difference”. For me, that’s whenever we put the right people with the right process and the right platform. That together creates a system that allows people to maximize productivity.

    Many thanks to Diane Danielson for sharing insights during this week’s Expert Series. Look for our next Expert in two weeks time, right here on RE:INVENTION’s Everyday Inventive Blog.

     
  • feedwordpress 18:07:46 on 2013/11/12 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Business Improvement, , idea generation, , , , metrics, reinventing research, , reinventiveness, Steve Jobs   

    Market Intelligence: Steve Jobs vs. the Rest of Us 


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    Market Intelligence: Steve Jobs vs. the Rest of Us

    Most of us have heard about the aversion of Steve Jobs to marketing research, who felt that it limited true innovation. He had an unwavering confidence in his own opinion and instinct over what marketing research might tell him – an approach that obviously served him extremely well with Apple and Pixar. Jobs, like Edison, Disney and other famous innovators of that breed, possessed an uncanny ability to conceptualize beyond the present and take
    society to new unimaginable frontiers. Unfortunately, the rest of us need to innovate and reinvent with strong empirically derived insights about the marketplace. So, with all due deference to Steve Jobs, I would like to express my respect and thanks for the discipline of marketing research, and the extensive tool chest that comes with it – a tool chest that has become amazingly expansive with digital technologies.

    Well-conceived and executed marketing research enables the rest of us to make smart, fact based decisions, and reduces the risk associated with introducing faulty products, services, market penetration strategies and campaigns. I have been frequently confronted with the challenges posed by marketing research skeptics: “It takes too long.” “It is too expensive.” “Am I just going to learn something I already know?” The fact of the matter is that well conceived and designed marketing research does not have to be any of these, especially today with the digital capabilities available.

    Let’s consider secondary research. The Internet enables marketers to efficiently conduct competitive assessments at little or no cost. Prior to the Internet, a business would have little choice but to purchase either a stock or customized industry report to capture information about the competition. Now, competitive websites tell us a great deal. We can also employ social listening tools that allow marketers to monitor consumer chatter occurring about competitors as well as their own company. Search engines quickly point us in the direction of the statistics and market intelligence we need on target markets for a new innovation or business reinvention endeavor. Big companies and start-ups alike need this information to develop addressable market assumptions for business plans and to obtain funding.

    Primary research (e.g., surveys, focus groups, diary panels) has received an incredible boost from digital formats. Most marketing research agencies today offer online services, which allow for very cost efficient sampling, surveying and data capture. Also, this data can be quickly uploaded into sophisticated modeling designs to forecast marketplace uptake. Additionally, companies, such as Survey Monkey, have grown in popularity because they allow virtually anyone to conduct a survey, with a sample provided by the marketer or purchased at a very low price from the provider. Survey Monkey automatically loads the data into easily understood tables and graphs and information is available on a 24/7 basis.

    Marketing research in the digital age is faster and more economical than ever. Not unlike research conducted prior to the digital age, it needs to be conducted with a plan, the knowledge of how to ask the right questions to address the problem, and the ability to build insights from the data that lead to actionable and sound strategies. Sound marketing research helps us to avoid the pitfall of bringing to market an offering that may otherwise be destined for failure. So, give thanks for a discipline that can give you peace of mind and a good night’s sleep.

     
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