Imagine that you could know with precision who your potential customers are and when they would want what you have to offer. What if you were a banker and could predict which customer would open an account with your bank and so send the forms before they were asked for? Is such possible? Well, Amazon.com thinks so. That is what they do with what they call ‘anticipatory shipping’. Back in 2014, Amazon secured a patent for an algorithm-based system that ships goods before they are even ordered. Amazon is already extremely efficient; imagine the effects of shipping goods before a shopping decision is finalised. But how does Amazon know what you want? They use a forecasting model based on prior Amazon activity. Factors such as time on the site, duration of views, links clicked and hovered over, shopping cart activity and wish lists are all taken into consideration. The algorithm also takes real-world information and factors into consideration. What if the predictions are wrong? Amazon created a control system that is able to calculate whether it would be better to return the products to the plant or to offer discounts and promotions to customers in the area where the products are (always a lower value than the cost of returning the products to the plant). The idea is not so far-fetched. It allows the company offer customers great deals and keeps them happy. Also, the liquid stocks reduce costs and maintain complex logistics machinery. Amazon is constantly redefining supply chain management. From their planned drone delivery to go shop, they seek to give customers one thing they want - convenience! The results? A spike in sales volume and market capitalisation. Amazon seems to understand and implement the key factor in business growth - maintaining leadership in today’s highly competitive business world is dependent on how innovative your business is. Leading businesses push the boundaries this was what BlackBerry missed. At its peak in September 2013, there were 85 million BlackBerry subscribers worldwide. And maintain their profitability through innovation. However, BlackBerry has since lost its dominant position in the market due to the success of the Android and iOS platforms; the same numbers had fallen to 23 million as at March 2016. The reason is very simple; BlackBerry Limited took the desire of the market for granted. The world wanted touch screens, the company was stuck on the keyboard and therefore, Apple and Android out-innovated them and sent them out of the smartphone world. When they eventually learnt their lesson with the introduction of the BlackBerry 10, it was too late. Innovation is a key factor in today’s business world. No business can thrive without it. So the question to you is how seriously do you take innovation? Innovation is the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, unidentified or existing market needs. This is accomplished through more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or business models. Innovation is about meeting unmet needs, filling gaps and catching up with human desire. To get it right you will have to learn to think ahead of the competition. Imagine what your service would be like if you could control every situation. Ideas like these set your mind in motion to find new ways, processes and models of service delivery. Don’t be fooled by the realities of today, much more is still possible. It is the responsibility of the business leader to find it. If there was ever a time when ideas ruled the world, it is now. The business leader that will dictate the pace must, therefore, have a fierce commitment to research. Consider Alphabet, a world leader in innovation. The Company identifies and accesses breakthrough research through its active partnership with the scientific community. It funds over 250 academic research projects a year, publishes results on public databases such as arXiv, as well as on its own research site and engages about 30 top scholars, who spend sabbaticals at Google every year. Often, top researchers come to stay. Google offers scientists such a unique research environment with unparalleled data sets, some of the best computing architecture in the world and the opportunity to continue to publish openly, that the company commands the attention of top-notch scholars. That’s commitment to research through collective innovation. Imagine the best brains in your field working with you directly to discover new possibilities in your industry. That’s how to out-pace the competition. While you may not have the resources to bring in the best professors and equip them to co-innovate with you through research, you can create an environment that promotes playing with ideas. Staff can be encouraged to contact the CEO directly with whatever ideas they have and be rewarded for doing that. You can mount innovation boards where your staff can write down their ideas as soon as they hit them. And most of all, the CEO should be the ‘Chief Innovation Officer’ and get directly involved in finding new ways of delivering the company’s services. The bottom line is, have a culture of innovation if you want to remain relevant. Make innovation your competitive edge.
Can you recall the shocking thing that happened on March 26, 1997 in the United States? It’s quite absurd. On that day the world woke up to a shocking discovery that a group of thirty-nine individuals had committed mass suicide under the direction of their leader, Marshall Applewhite. They were members of a religious group called Heaven's Gate. Within days, videotaped "suicide notes" were broadcast in which they talked about the actions they were about to take; actions which shook the world began to emerge. Why did they do this? They took their own lives so that they could be free from the limitations of the human body and ascend to the level beyond human. They knew what they were doing! They weren't forced. It wasn't a mistake. They were not hypnotised and yes, they were not demon possessed! It wasn't an accident and they weren't despondent. Rather, as they spoke they appeared happy, confident and even eager to execute their plan. How was this possible? How could Applewhite convince them to take such a bizarre action? In fact, he was not even the first to die, he was the 36th to die! So clearly his followers died by choice because they believed him. According to the Gallup polling firm, only 13 per cent of the global workforce is “highly engaged.” Upwards of half the workforce would not recommend their employer to their peers. That means only 13% of the global workforce are as dedicated to their work that they are 87% less likely to leave their organisation according to Nancy Lockwood. That's such an irony that Marshall Applewhite, like Hitler and Osama Bin Ladin can command the highest devotion of their member to engage in acts against their own self-interest when business leaders are unable to command such influence. It is easy to dismiss such acts as demonic, foolishness on the part of the devotees or hypnosis, but whatever you think my friend, the fact remains that these leaders as con as they maybe, as misdirected as they could be or as evil as they could be possess one of the most dangerous powers on earth! A discovery of this ability and how to use it might just be the difference between where you are right now and your big dream. Before I tell you what it is, let me first tell you what it is not! It's not charm, it's not magic and it's not a spell. It is the same power that Barack Obama so flawlessly used and rode his way to the White House. It is the same power that the celebrated English Novelist, Agatha Christie wielded and broke the world record with the sale of 2 billion copies of her books globally. It is the ability to speak and move people to action. Everyone who leads people must understand how this power works if he/she will gain the support necessary to executive his/her ideas Benjamin Franklin said, 'give me 26 lead soldiers and I will conquer the world'. Benjamin was not referring to any human soldier as he said that. Rather he referred to the 26 letters of the alphabet which as far as he was concerned packed more power than any artillery in the world. Understand this, your employees are nice and willing to follow if only you know how to use the 26 letter of the alphabet which we all have the same assess to. The only difference is in our understanding of the human nature. Except you understand how we relate with and process information you will be frustrated in working with people, you might even begin to consider that there is a spell over you. You will wonder why your employees, suppliers and your customers are so selfish and can't see how you genuinely care about them. Successful leaders understand that people are preoccupied all the time and as such, persuading them to see what you see so they can share in your vision begins by locating them where they are; breaking their preoccupation and then getting and sustaining their attention. Simple as it may seem, this formula has helped leading brands in the world dominate the market and it can help you too. Responding to an interview in 1908, Andrew Carnegie, American steel magnet and one of the richest men of all time stated, “We have a master mind here in our business, and that mind is made up of more than a score of men who constitute my personal staff of superintendents and managers and accountants and chemists and other necessary types. No one person in this group is the master mind of which I speak, but the sum total of the minds in the group, co-ordinated, organised and directed to a definite end in a spirit of harmonious co-operation is the power that got my money for me.” How did he achieve that? He said he understood the workings of the human mind and how to get people follow his lead. I know by now you're eager to know how to use this same power to your own advantage. I will highlight them here even though I already described it fully on www.brian.com.ng/cramschool.htm:
- People are preoccupied so begin by breaking this preoccupation. To do this give them attention, listen to them and note how they describe their experience. Have them talk with you freely. Their secret is hidden in their story, it’s your job to find it
- Don't fight them. They think they are very intelligent, agree. They're over-qualified for the job, agree. Whatever it is. When you agree they open themselves to you and give you attention.
- Stroke their ego, reassure them they are important, celebrate them when they succeed and give credit to your success to them.
How do you measure performance in changing times when commercialisation is simply unpredictable? As work shifts so does performance measurement and evaluation. The traditional end of the year approach designed in the 1970s cannot work in today's work world. While the tools are not all here, it is clear that new rules of measuring performance are here and working. A study by Charles E. Lance et al in ‘Personnel Psychology’ indicated that 45% of respondents think the traditional means of evaluating performance did not motivate employees and 41% of managers show bias about the traditional end of the year approach. Imagine an organisation with 37,000 employees, imagine being able to understand the skills, strength and passion of every individual in such an organisation! Try to understand the immense benefit – the outcomes – of that transparency. There is someone in that crowd who can handle any project or any job, if you utilize their talents in an agile way. Imagine what difference just one employee can make if you understood him and equip him with what he needs to put his best to work. This was what Cisco thought. They considered that being a 30-year-old technology company, their employee demographics evolved, but their processes haven’t. The solution came in the form of the Talent Cloud, an agile talent ecosystem that enables employees and leaders to match skills and strengths to work by leveraging data and reputation. Talent Cloud delivers on two key promises in Cisco People Strategy – “One size fits one” and “one company, many careers.” Both allow their employees to have an experience at Cisco that is differentiated and personalised. The core of the Talent Cloud is generated by the insights and reputation of their employees. It is a kind of internal CRM, where employees import a personal profile, highlight strengths and assess their skills against roles. Managers can also assess their employee’s skills and identify development opportunities for the employee to explore. When a role or project becomes available, leaders and managers can search the network to see if someone within Cisco’s employee population is a match. The system will automatically notify those matches. Cisco, GE, and Google have all pioneered this model. These companies have built or bought sophisticated software to understand team dynamics, evaluate group goal systems, and gauge how effectively employees contribute to their teams. The goal of PM is thereby transformed from boosting an individual employee’s performance to improving the results of the team. If the team wins, the employee wins. If the team wins, the company wins. When organisations focus on team performance, they evaluate success by different metrics. Trust, inclusion, diversity, and clarity of roles are critical to team success. Team leaders must be hands-on and actively engaged. And teams must be connected to other teams to succeed. Measuring these new metrics requires new tools and approaches, thoughtful experimentation, and a willingness to adopt new models. Developing greater clarity about how performance is measured is now seen as a core value at many organisations, particularly around check-ins with managers and goal-setting for employees. Some smaller companies have greater flexibility to set goals widely at the individual and team levels, while larger companies may focus on departmental goals. Either way, the old system of cascading goals from the CEO all the way down to the individual contributor is not part of the new design. One sign of positive change is a rise in employee’s driven communication rather than one-way feedback. Evaluating managers on the quantity and quality of conversations is becoming a key to both team and manager success. While the use of a forced distribution curve may be fading, many organisations are unwilling to give up the concept entirely. Ratings are still widely used, though often with qualitative measures instead of numbers. However, today’s new practices look at performance curves and ratings based on richer data, using input from many sources, and in the context of a continuous discussion about things that happened all year—rather than delivering a simple “end-of-year report” that often loses sight of all the things that happen over that 12-month time period. Brian Reuben is a business advisor and keynote speaker. www.brian.com.ng
You’ll never get rich working for someone else, or so they say. Many feel the risky, adventurous life of an entrepreneur is the surefire pathway of becoming a millionaire but what if you’re happier and more comfortable working for a boss who pays for your medical insurance? According to some estimates, if you’re considering becoming an entrepreneur you’ll have to make 35 percent more than your current salary to fully replace the income a day job brings in each month. For someone with a family to support, leaving the safety of a salaried position is risky, even if it might be more lucrative down the road. If you’re set on becoming a millionaire, but you also want the security of working for someone else, here are a few options to consider. Earn partner status Partnerships aren’t just for law firms. Look for a small business or startup where you have a shot at becoming a business partner at some point. While many business owners either choose to form a partnership or sole ownership from the start, a small business founder can definitely change that as a company grows. If you work hard, bring certain expertise to the table and show your leadership capabilities, take the opportunity to pitch the idea of joining your boss in running things. That could lead to a much larger share of revenue over the following years — even eventual millionaire status. That kind of thing certainly won’t come as quickly if you shy away from daring to become a leader at your company. Take stock options Stock options are usually negotiated during the job interview process. Find a company that offers stock options, even if the salary is a bit lower. This consideration has become very popular in the startup world of Silicon Valley. Talented candidates want to know how long it will take their options to vest before they sign on with a company. All that aside, it’s important to understand the harsh reality that stock options rarely make employees millionaires by themselves. There’s no guarantee the company will ever be acquired or go public, and the odds are that you won’t receive millions in the deal even if it does. Consider this as an investment, among others you might make in the stock market or real estate market. Live below your means. The less you spend, the more you have in the bank. You can’t save money if you’re spending too much of it consistently. The entire theory behind “the millionaire next door” is that many of the wealthiest people are living well below their means. This may amount to years, or even decades, of living in a small house or driving a used car but if it pays off later, it’s well worth it. In some cases, saving money is actually better than earning more money, especially when you remember you have to pay taxes in April and it helps to have money in the bank for that. Invest Wisely Navigating the stock market can be tricky. It’s also a way to quickly increase your income, provided you know what you’re doing and you have the extra time and energy to devote to becoming good at it. Many entrepreneurial-minded people are skilled at spotting a solid business concept and putting their money into it. They keep an eagle eye on the performance of a wide range of different stocks and industries, much the same way a football fan might pore over stats and standings of their fantasy team. If you’re completely clueless about the stock market, put serious time into finding a financial expert who can direct you on the best investments to reach your goals. Once you have the extra income, you can also consider investing in real estate or rental properties to boost your monthly earnings. Take over the business Eventually, the business owner will retire or move on to other ventures. That could be your chance to shine. If your business owner isn’t even close to retirement age, look for the possibility that he or she may someday want to set the business aside to work on other ventures. Throughout your tenure with the company, show you have the passion and work ethic necessary to run the business in the current owner’s absence. If you’re a trusted employee, chances are you’ll get more and more responsibility for leading the company as the years progress. If you can’t imagine wanting to take over the business you currently work for, consider exploring a different field. Start a side business Once your day job ends, your side hustle should begin. With today’s technology, you don’t have to invest in a physical office and a team of employees to start a new business. Keeping your job and becoming a millionaire may mean toiling away night after night to build your client base to build a steady revenue flow so you can leave your salaried position behind someday. Make sure your side business doesn’t pose a conflict of interest to your day job while you still rely on it to pay your bills. Few millionaires are made overnight. It takes years of hard work and forethought to reach that type of income level. Like most people, if you want to generate more money, you’ll need to do it while you’re working for someone else, at least at the start. Keep in mind just how much work it is to set up a new business, learn what your customers want as well as create a product or service that matches that. Sacrifice is the name of the game and it’s not right for everyone. It’s still attainable though, as long as you stay disciplined, think quickly and persevere over the long haul. Source: entrepreneur.com
Leveraging The Social Media To Advance Your Corporate Interest The world changed in 2002 when the age of social media was officially born with the hosting of friendster.com. At that time no one really understood the amazing disruption that was coming in the corporate world. LinkedIn and Myspace followed in 2003 with Facebook following in 2004. Although Facebook was then an exclusive reserve of Harvard students and remained that way until 2006 when they threw the door open for the whole world. Social media connected the world and brought people closer than ever before. But more to that is that it laid the power to rule in the world of business into the hands of the consumers. For the first time in the history of the world all the walls of defence built in the business world collapsed! Now someone can send a word out and the whole world will hear it in minutes. Social media brought in the Age of Engagement. People became connected to others like never before. People are now engaged with what their friends, family, and peers are doing. "Word-of-mouth" now spreads at the speed of light compared to traveling at the speed of sound only a couple of years ago. Not too long ago, word-of-mouth was spoken from one person to the next. Yes, word-of-mouth was a powerful marketing tool, but could only travel as fast as the spoken word. However, today is different, as words can travel quickly across the Internet at speeds of light. Within just a few minutes, word about your product or service can spread to thousands and millions of people because of social media. Think about it, Facebook had 1.8billion monthly active users as at December 31, 2016 according to a Facebook report. That number included people with various interest- machine tools, software, loans, books, jobs, capital and just about anything imaginable. These are the people you seek to employ, to buy from you and to invest in your business. The question is how can you master the interaction on social media and use it to advance your corporate interest? The answer to that question is very simple. All you have to do to leverage social media platform to advance your business interest is to communicate strategically. But then, what does it mean to communicate strategically? Understanding Strategic Communication Strategic communication is a focused effort to understand and engage key audiences to create, strengthen, or preserve conditions favorable for the advancement of your corporate interests, policies, and objectives through the use of coordinated programs, plans, themes, messages, and products synchronized with the actions of your core competence. This means that if you must sustain the existence and profitability of your business, you must take social media seriously since many of the people you will want to reach out to are there. Your must understand how to identify your key audiences on the social media and engage them to create, strengthen and preserve conditions necessary for the advancement of your corporate mission, goals and targets. The truth is, people are pre-occupied. They are in a state Wesley Wells described as waking hypnosis. That means, they are awake but hyper focused on something to the exclusion of every other thing in the environment. When they are on the various social media platform, they are engaged with things that interest them. To get their attention, you must communicate strategically. How can you achieve this? First of all social media management has to be a c-suite function. It cannot be left for middle or low level managers. Social media gives your business a chance to reach out directly to people, amplify your messages and pitch your best value proposition to your best consumers wherever they may be- their bedrooms, basements or bar. Such an important operation should be managed directly by a c-suite executive. Next, your purpose on the social media has to be clearly defined and management must ensure that everybody in the organisation understood it. Clear goals should be set for the company operations on social media and management must ensure that the team charged with the responsibility for social media management has both the authority and ability to produce results. Also, use social media monitoring tools to monitor, track, and analyze online conversations on the web about your business, brand or products. Such tools helps you to measure your return on investment on your social media ads. Social media tracking will also help you to respond quickly to online posts that criticize your product or service. By responding quickly to critical online posts, and helping the user to resolve the concerns, this helps you to lessen the negative effects that online complaints can have about your product or service sales. Social media has changed the rules of business operations globally. The age of engagement is finally here. You cannot run your business with obsolete business models and expect to be successful. Companies all around the world are giving more attention to communication management on the social media. You too should take it seriously. Brian Reuben helps companies and individuals to operate, market and communicate more effectively. firstname.lastname@example.org. 0808 726 4420
Conventionally, it is thought that increased pay leads to increased productivity. But a recent study by economists at the University of Warwick found that happiness led to a 12% increase in productivity, while unhappy workers proved 10% less productive. According to Professor Andrew Oswald, one of three researchers who led the study, companies that invest in employee support and satisfaction tend to succeed in generating happier workers. At Google, employee satisfaction rose 37% as a result of those initiatives—suggesting that financial incentives aren’t enough to make for highly productive employees. Your most important assets are human beings and interestingly man is more of an emotional rather than intellectual being. The biggest and most profitable companies in the world understand this truth and are as such committed to the emotional stability of their workforce. Lara Harding, People Programs Manager, Google, gave an insight into how Google look at their people when he said, “At Google, we know that health, family and wellbeing are an important aspect of Googlers’ lives. We have also noticed that employees who are happy ... demonstrate increased motivation ... [We] ... work to ensure that Google is... an emotionally healthy place to work.” Perhaps one of the most important things business leaders must accomplish is shaping the perception of their workforce in the direction of their corporate vision. When workers see themselves as a part of the company, when they feel at home, are happy and take pride in their job they can withstand any pressure at work. The happiness of your workforce is directly linked to their productivity. The truth is that even one unhappy employee can negatively impact on your organisational performance. So you want to have happy and satisfied employees because that's good for your business. Ironically, being the highest paying company in your industry does not guarantee a happy workforce. It takes an intelligent mix of mission, culture and management to create happy employees. Mission A mission defines what a company lives for. It begins by a clearly defined and effectively communicated mission such that everyone in the organisation from the CEO to the janitor understands clearly, believes in and are excited about. A mission the workforce so believe in that it shapes their life and work attitude. Such as the apocryphal story about a janitor at NASA who when asked by someone what he was doing, replied, “I'm helping to put a man on the Moon.” How could the janitor think that way? The answer is simple. The leadership at NASA did a good work in communicating their mission to the entire workforce. People are glad to be a part of something meaningful. They put their best effort in a mission or goal that excites them. This is where you begin. Clearly every successful organisation has an exciting mission that is so well communicated that even their security men understand it. For Coca Cola, it is to refresh the world in mind, body and spirit. To inspire moments of optimism and happiness through our brands and actions. For Microsoft, it is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Need we be surprise then these companies make it into the list of the best companies to work in? Culture “There’s no magic formula for a great company culture. The key is just to treat your staff how you would like to be treated.” – Richard Branson The corporate culture is the core of any businesses and it is as important as getting in the sales. According to Investopedia, a corporate culture refers to the beliefs and behaviours that determine how the company’s employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions. You should let your corporate culture inspire happiness among your workforce. The advice of Mr Branson sums up the secret of creating a culture that will make the heart of your employees to sing. Following his advice delivers the magic of happiness in your organisation. Imagine for instance, an organisation where the CEO understands how to be firm as well as laugh freely with the employees. That's just like a good daddy. The staff are glad you are there, not scared. Consider Facebook which targeting a 'frictionless' workplace has everyone working together on big, white, communal desks. Even Mr Zuckerberg doesn’t have an office. Instead, opting to work alongside the other employees in the ‘bull-pen’ like workspace. Potentially having an intern work alongside the boss is incredibly daunting, yet motivating. This surely adds to the corporate culture at Facebook, as equality is not only preached, but practiced. So think about your peculiar case and create a culture that inspires your employees to believe in your company. Be a mentor rather than a superior. Be unassuming, employees like it. Besides that, find ways to make people laugh freely at the work place. Nothing beats creating a happier corporate culture by bringing smiles and laughter into the work place. Management According to Hal Rosenbluth in his book Customers Come Second, “Profits are a natural extension of happiness in the workplace.” Your employees will care about your business to the degree you care about them. Part of management's responsibility is to manage the total wellbeing of the employees. You can't close your eyes and insist on performance when a staff is weighed down by emotional issues. You can't act like you don't know someone looks depressed when you should as a matter of fact observe the disposition of your people. Show enough concern in the affairs of your people and they will be happy to give you their commitment. Finally, it matters how happy your people are. Their productivity depends on how happy they are. When you care about your people they will care about your business. If you neglect that you will watch profits go down the drain. Brian Reuben is a global thought leader on business and leadership. He helps business leaders improve performance and make more profit. @brianoreuben