Monday Mar 12, 2007

Empowering people

I visited the Commercial Industry break-out room and was pleasantly surprised to experience three interesting and in the final case hilarious presentation

John Blackman of JB Associates announced his company's Carbon Balance Sheet audit. I have been looking at how I can adjust the TCO tools we've been using to talk in terms of carbon footprint so its good to see others looking at helping companies understand their carbon consumption.

Bernard Taveres of Unilever followed with a presentation on some social programmes supporting Unilever's transition to adopting and living its “strategic intent” of “people vitality”. He spent some time talking about building the business case for building new forms of collaboration, and they saw the key variables as people, space and technology. I suppose what is interesting is the way in which innovators in teleworking recognise the cost of space and how its use changes as companies begin to trust their employees. Earlier schemes, including Sun's own iWork scheme started by reducing the time and cost of the commute, the consequent benefits include the reduction in space budgets, although realising this is both hard and takes time, and allows a company to hire the best, not merely the best within travel distance of an office.

Robert Hamilton of Orange then spoke, starting with the assertion that

Offices are pretty lousy places to work

He argued that the main use of an office is to take delivery of snail-mail and parcels. Well, that and meeting people, which makes the web-cam (or X-Coffee application) very useful, because you can check out whose in, before travelling to work and decide not to if the office is empty or full of boring people.

The tag line he developed is that agile businesses need to “collaborate in parallel” and people need to act as customers. Only two industries describe their customers as users, one of them is IT. He also asked why people mail presentations as attachments. We understand that putting a button onto a web site, reduces the viewers by 50%, why put your content as an attachments which requires a click and application load before people can read what you want. Obviously those with stuff to hide zip the presentations up, and require their readers to use the mouse twice. As Robert said,

why mail a presentation anyway, if what I say with the slide didn't add value, I wouldn't turn up.

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Saturday Feb 25, 2006

McKinsey on Strategy. Services and Product

The most recent McKinsey Quarterly is pretty relevant. The keynote article, "Distortions & deceptions in strategic decisions" looks at the flawed human values often inserted into major business decisions. They quote a major aquisition decision taken by a dominant player and suggest that the major advocate of the merger wanted it for personal political gain. They look at ways in which these human factors can be brought into the open and evaluated in the decision making process. Despite identifying over-optimism as a frequent occurence once a proposal has been made, the decision not to proceed is often taken in private and so collaborative decision making cannot neutralise these human shortcomings. One suggestion is to ask the proposer, what their next best proposal is.

The second article of interest is entitled "The right service strategies for product companies". I last wrote about this subject last year, when I reviewed Gordon Moore's article "Don't shoot the messenger", where he talks about aligning service offerings with the product life cycle. The McKinsey article offers a two by two matrix. The goal of the services business is either to enhance or enable product sales or to deepen the value proposition to the customer (and hence earn money). The service vendor can then seek to leverage economies of skill or scale. Like most strategy analysis, its important to understand your choices and then focus on that choice. The choices affect pricing, sales, delivery and organisation. This varies from some of the things covered in my previous reviews in that they have reduced the choice to a 2x2 matrix and conern themselves with questions of strategy.

My previous article, concerning aligning service to the product life cycle is here... and the article concerning alignment ideology (the economies of skill?) is here....

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