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Archive for August, 2009

There can be no doubt that the Internet has profoundly changed the way we communicate with each other, how fast we can access information and how easy it is to share news and connect.

The spread of traditional media, like newspapers, television and magazines has somewhat decreased but companies still need to be where their customers are now more so than ever. The exciting news is that there are numerous advantages to being online.

  • Cost effective: In small and medium sized businesses marketing budgets are usually small. Therefore, in order to squeeze the juice out of them, these budgets need to be used as cost effectively as possible. An eMarketing campaign can draw from the best of hardcopy documents such as direct-mail offers, newsletters and advertisements without spending the costs normally incurred in printing and posting them due to the fact that they can be sent electronically.

  • Targeted: Online marketing affords you the opportunity to customize specific messages for specific audiences. For example, a potential client is interested in one of your products but is not interested in any of the accompanying services that you offer. A well-planned online marketing campaign can meet that potential client’s interests exactly, the result being that you can give the right information to the right people and ultimately attract them to your business.

  • Time efficient: In business, time is money. eMarketing has the advantage of being faster to set up and implement than most other more traditional marketing methods. Similarly, the response mechanisms to the eMarketing tools are equally speedy. So you can expect to see results immediately.

  • Measurable: Online surveys and other interactive tools allow you to know how many people are visiting your website, what they looked at and how they heard about you. This is invaluable information that you can use in order to ascertain a better understanding of your customers and what they want from you.

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Changing the Culture to Achieve a Competitive Advantage

Many companies claim they are changing their culture but few actually succeed. Altera Corporation is among the few who have implemented a strategic culture change resulting in increased business success. The process that is used to transform the culture, Collaborative Transformational Leadership® is what differentiates a company like Altera, whose employees are passionate about and committed to change, from companies where change is only given lip service. Change does not occur just because someone is sent to a course or given a new process to implement. Change occurs because the entire organization, beginning with the leaders, is guided through a process that helps people at all levels reach outside their comfort zone and become engaged in making the company better.

Altera’s Situation

Historically, Altera’s business success was built on a strategy and culture of operational excellence. When the economy, their customers and the competitive landscape changed, this strategy no longer delivered the needed business results and they fell to second place in their market. To win market share, they needed to evolve their sales organization into one that could develop a closer more intimate relationship with their customers. Managers and front line sales people needed to be empowered to make decisions that fostered solid relationships with customers.

“Customer intimacy” was Altera’s vision for success and effectively implementing the vision would be a strategic advantage. The challenge, however, was how to create the environment inside the company that would enable customer intimacy and a winning mindset.

Collaborative Transformational Leadership®

Real culture change begins with the transformation of those who are leading the change. Success at Altera was achieved through Collaborative Transformational Leadership, an iterative process whereby those who lead the change are further transformed by their followers. As one level in the organization experiences change and expands their capabilities, they challenge the next level down to do the same, which in turn, challenges the leaders once again. In this way, the bar is continuously raised for leaders and followers alike. Collaborative Transformational Leadership ensures that the company is responsive to and in front of the demands of a fast-paced, ever changing environment.

Gaining Trust

Dan Sheehy, vice president of Eastern Area Sales, reviews the history of the culture change.

“As a company that has always driven towards operational excellence, we had a command and control culture. We paid people to execute, not to think about the business or the customers. To shift to customer intimacy required a culture of empowerment. We needed to develop a sales force that actively listened to and understood their customers. This required adding business acumen and relationship based competencies to a technically based culture.

“We began by communicating a vision of where we wanted to go. We provided training in a new sales process, but nothing substantive changed and the resistance was strong. I didn’t understand why. As I saw it, we were offering employees a better climate where they would be more empowered and more successful. At this point, I felt we needed an outside perspective to help affect change, so I brought in Germane Consulting to help me understand why things weren’t working, and what I needed to do.

“With Germane Consulting’s help, I began to appreciate the magnitude of what we were asking of our employees. Anne Perschel, president of Germane Consulting, helped me see that to achieve the change, people had to try new things and stop doing business the old way. Sounds easy, but the old way is what they knew, what they were comfortable with, and what made them and the company successful in the past. We were also taking down silos between units and power was shifting. Before key leaders, managers and employees would do this, we had to gain trust on two levels. First, they had to trust our competence as leaders. They had to believe that our vision was sound and if they followed us, we could reach it. Second, they had to trust that we cared enough to help them on the journey and that the company and everyone who worked here would have an opportunity to be successful.”

Becoming Emotionally Competent Leaders

The leaders at Altera had to become emotionally competent. They had to inspire, not just command. They had to read people better and respond to what motivates them. They needed to influence, not just direct. They needed to coach, collaborate and build teams. The first step in one’s transformation as a leader is to become self-aware and be open to seeing oneself as others do.

Germane Consulting worked with the leaders to help them become more self aware and develop the attitude and skills to effect change. A model of leadership and the required competencies to achieve the vision was developed. These competencies included:

  • Being self-aware;
  • Soliciting feedback;
  • Inspiring others;
  • Conveying a vision through story telling;
  • Reading the emotional landscape;
  • Influencing others;
  • Leading through empowerment;
  • Eliciting candor to identify and resolve obstacles.

Once the model was in place, Germane Consulting identified and administered a 360 degree assessment for each leader and then provided the appropriate coaching to develop the needed competencies. A 360 degree assessment enables leaders to develop self-awareness in order to be better able to see and address obstacles to success, understanding the impact they have on those around them and why. Germane Consulting worked with key leaders and managers in individual and small group settings. John Singleton, a sales manager remarked, “This has become a tight knit organization. There is no dodging the issues. It helps to have a resource like Germane Consulting to help you get things out in the open, to stop the dodging and to demystify what it takes to work on real issues.”

Another Sales Manager was not seeing the needed performance from his sales force. Past success led him to believe that people would follow him if convinced that his ideas would yield the desired business results. His people complained that he was driving his agenda so hard that he did not attend to their issues. Through a customized 360 process Germane Consulting helped him hear in-depth feedback about his impact. His guiding beliefs about people changed as he realized that people were only doing what was needed to comply with his demands. This was having a direct negative impact on results. Consultations focused on coaching and collaboration, while listening empathically to others. He began to hear and address people’s concerns. They responded in kind. He and his direct reports formed a leadership council. They shared ideas for implementing change and achieving results.  Within six months the district began to exceed expectations and have continued to do so over several quarters.  The tempo is upbeat. They have a winning mindset and everyone contributes. At their quarterly meetings it is difficult to tell who the formal” leaders are. It is a true team.

The Collaborative Transformation

In conjunction with the coaching, leaders and employees continued to receive intensive training in a new sales process. They learned how to work in teams, to listen to each other and to the customer, and to think like business people. They became empowered. But this change was hard work and management experienced substantial resistance. Employees complained that “it was easier when you just told us what to do.” But leaders held true to the vision and people began to achieve small successes.

With guidance from Germane Consulting, they implemented plans to support the change. They held celebrations to mark the victories of change from the old culture to the new and learning conferences where employee teams told successes stories and how they achieved them. People began to inspire and learn from each other.

Sales people and managers were also trained in the use of tools such as the Myers Briggs Type Inventory to help them understand their own and others’ personality types. Tools such as these, in conjunction with the coaching, help people increase their abilities to work with peers, direct reports, managers, and customers.

According to Dan, the tools and sales processes were necessary but not sufficient to change the culture. “Any company can bring in a sales process or train people to use tools like Myers Briggs to understand more about people. The key to making these changes work and have a lasting and substantive impact lies with the leadership, and that started with me. We had to show that we could be trusted, that we were vulnerable to the changes as well. We had to listen to what employees were saying. Germane Consulting was critical to helping us see the need to do this and to do it well. Without this, we would have ‘trained people’ but we would not have changed the culture.”

Altera’s empowered culture was now demanding more from their leaders: more collaboration, more teamwork, more room to make strategic decisions for their markets and territories. Leaders responded by listening to the demands. They also engaged Germane Consulting to help design a newly customized leadership assessment. Anne went to our constituents. Employees and peers helped identify the issues the leaders needed to understand in greater depth. They recommended people to be interviewed. They reviewed the feedback with their leaders and provided detailed stories to help managers and leaders learn. The transformation process was now mutual, internal and institutionalized.

Results

One success story is illustrated by a manager who prior to coaching, micro managed and stood in people’s way. He never heard the real truth about what was going on because people knew they would be micromanaged on the solutions. Now he is seen as one of the highest potential managers in the company. His people are empowered and creative. They are identifying opportunities and responding to them without being asked. He is engaged in very strategic thinking, predicting market trends and aligning sales strategies and organizations to take advantage of emerging factors. When asked how he developed his strategic thinking capabilities, he stated that prior to coaching, obstacles prevented him from knowing he had the capability to think about the big picture and see emerging patterns. Coaching helped him remove barriers from his own thought process and learn how to see emerging patterns of the future. His thinking is much clearer and more strategic. He has found new markets for Altera products and has redesigned his sales organization to align better with these emerging markets.

“Collaborative transformational leadership is now underway and continues to strengthen our organization,” says Dan. “We asked for change and we changed ourselves first. The employees then changed and demanded even more sophisticated and enlightened leadership. Best of all, our business results prove this is the way to win. We have gained significant market share and our pipeline of new business is strong; the industry’s most talented people are knocking on our doors looking for opportunities to work at Altera. Our employees are excited and they care about what they have created here. The ideas and the energy keep flowing.”

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We’ve just been given direction to interview a business leader. Hence, starts our Leadership Dynamics coursework by Dr Leo Ann-Mean. Business leaders: these are truly groups of people who are extremely busy and have their schedules pretty tight, especially under short notice. I have 3 choices.

kellyThe 1st is Kelly Perdew, who is himself a CEO, a speaker and author on Leadership, amongst many more roles. One particular role he is famous for was as the Season 2 winner of Donald Trump’s Apprentice. I met him online at LinkedIn where we share a common group in “Global Entrepreneurship Institute”. A request has been sent out, and he said “Yes”. Not only is he a leader, but he is also an authority on Leadership. His book title says it all, “Take Command: 10 Leadership Principles I Learned in the Military and Put to Work for Donald Trump”.

rajaThe 2nd is Raja Manickam, who is himself the Founder and CEO of Tessolve that he started in 2003 with a dream of creating a productization company from physical silicon to high volume manufacturing; his work experience in product companies, fabless companies in Silicon Valley and high volume factories in Singapore, Malaysia and Japan is a unique combination to succeed in New Product Introduction cycle. I’m truly honored to have worked within his organization both in Penang and USA when he was still working of National Semiconductor in the early nineties. He is indeed a leader you would easily pledge your loyalties to. Even after all these year, I would do so still without any hesitation. I’m glad he has said “Yes” as I’m looking forward to interviewing him.

julianThe 3rd is an extremely busy man; none other than Malaysia’s own – Julian Candiah, Deputy General Manager I at Penang Development Corporation (PDC). Between 2000 and 2006, Julian was managing director at BNP Paribas. Prior to that he worked in London, Hong Kong and Singapore at various international investment banks such as Credit Suisse Financial Products, Bear Stearns, J.P. Morgan and Merrill Lynch. I’ve not decided whether to send him a personal note for requesting for interview since the dateline our lecturer had given us is quite a rush under short notice. Instead, I might consult on him when I start doing the International Business course during the coming terms. There might be a requirement again for a “case study” interview.

Indeed, the above 3 people are exceptional leaders I’ve seen thus far in my lifetime. My dream is that I’ll be able to attain the same leadership qualities as they have, and encourage someone else as they have for me.

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Glory be to God for He has answered my prayers. Not only has He answered them, He has given me results beyond my expectations.

Accounting for Decision Making: The Group Assignment and 3 Individual Assignments was indeed done excellently and I was extremely happy with the results. A great teaming effort for the former. When it came to the exam, I felt that I had done excellently in the Cost Accounting questions, but it took me 2 hours of 3 leaving only 1 hour for Financial Analysis of an Australian Public Listed company from the viewpoint of a newly appointed Director. I was practically clamoring to complete the Financial Analysis. I directly went into Dupont Analysis method for results posted 2008 and the previous year, 2007. However, the last 15 minutes of the exam, I felt like I was trying to write the remaining closing paragraph showing what Sales Growth Rate would sustain the business from going under. This rush made me 2nd guess myself on whether I did badly here since we were never taught Sales Growth Rate. I had learnt it from my extra-curricular readings that was encouraged upon us. I was indeed surprised that I received a Excellent Grade (DISTINCTION) which was well beyond my expectations.

Creative and Accountable Marketing: From the onset, the lecturer was highly unpredictable. We were told that our Group Assignment and 4 Individual Assignments were done well only. In the exam, the case study on Godiva Chocolatier was tough and the remaining questions were also equally confusing. I was taken aback, I answered short of 1 Question which automatically costs me 10 marks. This indeed got me worried that I was possibly at the verge of failure, since the criteria for a passing grade is no failures in Individual Assignments and Exam. However, I was surprised beyond belief when the results came out that I had received a Good Grade (CREDIT) which was at least 3 levels beyond my expectations. Now to think of it, if I had answered the question on luxury liners in the exam, where I could have quoted the marketing concepts of the Cunard Luxury Liners (my brother-in-law used to work on board as a Sous Chef), I might have gotten an Excellent Grade (DISTINCTION) instead. No matter, I’m truly happy with the results given; I had expected much much less. I had done some extra-curricular readings of Harvard Business School articles and maybe this had helped me quote more unique ideas for the examiners’ palate.

All in all, I give the full Glory to God. Amen.

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MBA – Onwards

MBA – onwards. The 2nd 2 courses that I need to complete successfully are Leadership Dynamics and Contemporary Management Skills.

Leadership Dynamics

Lecture Dates: 20th – 23rd August, 2009. Exam Date: 24th October, 2009.
Lecturer: Dr Ann-Mean Leo

To provide students with a framework for exploring the complexity of the leadership and management challenges within contemporary organisations. This course is designed to draw attention to the critical factors of personal and team functioning and their relationship to successful business enterprises.

Contemporary Management Skills

Lecture Dates: 17th – 20th September, 2009. Exam Date: 31st October, 2009.
Lecturer: Dr Ann Darwin

This course is designed to lay the foundation for the development of knowledge and skills to pursue a managerial career. This knowledge and these skills are expected to be fostered and upgraded through teaching and learning as well as assessment in subsequent MBA courses.

The course begins by exposing students to the transition that they go through to take up a management role in their chosen career. The skills and resources needed to make the transition successfully are explored in terms of Katz’s classic typologies of technical, human and conceptual skills.

The course serves as a formal introduction for new students commencing post graduate tertiary education and provides context for the aims, objectives, common themes and methodologies which are applied throughout the MBA program.

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Praise Him Even More

I don’t recall ever being asked to explain the importance of breathing.  It’s pretty well accepted that breathing is a good idea and that we should do it many times every day – a lack of breathing is definitely bad for our physical health.  It’s not an exaggeration to say that praise is as important, should become as natural, and occur as often as our breathing.  For if we choose not to live a life of praise, we will just as surely suffocate and spiritually die.

The life of praise requires only a little instruction and a great deal of application.  To begin with, we must learn to ALWAYS praise!

Philippians 4:4
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

Notice that rejoicing is so important that Paul decided to repeat himself.  If we are living to love and glorify God, He has promised to work ALL things together for the good (Romans 8:28); so why do we wait for what appear to be the proper conditions for praise?  If we really understood and believed that God is in control, wouldn’t we praise Him regardless of our particular situation?  “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).  There is never a wrong time to praise God and there are never circumstances which don’t deserve our thankfulness.

Job lost absolutely everything he had except his wife.  He then developed sores over every part of his body and was so miserable that his wife encouraged him to “Curse God and die!” (Job 2:10).  Job was in great pain and heavy sorrow, but he knew all things came from God with a purpose; “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10).  God is in the good as well as the trouble; we must learn to praise Him in ALL situations!

Our life can become difficult and painful; we may feel bored and unfulfilled, cheated and abused.  But if we look at the reasons which keep us from praising, we will find “self” expectations and pride – we will find a life lived according to the desires of the flesh and not according to the fruit of the Spirit.  Every portion of our life is to be offered “as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God” (Romans 12:1).  As we fix our eyes on the eternal glory we have through Jesus we will find more and more reasons to praise.

Let’s never allow our earthly circumstances to direct our praise: “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord” (Psalm 150:6).  If we’re still breathing, we should still be praising!  He has given us eternal life – an eternity of worship in His presence…and that’s a GREAT gift!  Let’s look for the hand of God working around us each and every day.  Let’s praise Him with all our heart, and then let’s praise Him even more!

Have a Christ Centered Day!

Steve Troxel
God’s Daily Word Ministries

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1st Term in MBA is over. Results haven’t been out yet and the 2nd Term is about to start in less than a forthnight. It was definitely tough managing my time with a lot of sleepless nights.

Imagine, lots of days having to study beyond 2am and then waking up for work at 5:30am again. However, it was fun. Meeting new people, creating new friends and making new relationships was the plus.

So, what did I learn from my 1st Term?

Accounting for Decision Making really gave me a better insight of the need to quantify work, especially the activities that goes into creating product or services. However, upon my reading of Harvard Business School materials encouraged by the academia, I found that the current latest trend to this is to make it time driven. Hence, having a Time Driven Activity Based Costing approach is important as activities become more fluid and more time sensitive. And another plus skill that I came away with in this course is the ability to analyze a financial and operational standing of any listed company with the necessary financial analytical tools such as Dupont Analysis and Sustainable Growth Rate amongst others. The instructor for this course was Mr. Bob Gilliver, who incidentally is also the Program Manager for the MBA Program at the University of South Australia, Adelaide.

Creative and Accountable Marketing (what a mouthful) gave me a broader scope on how I can implement my marketing mix for the target markets I plan to expand my business or future endeavours into. To be creative and yet accountable in getting results from the marketing plans that I will chart out. The instructor for this course is Dr Eddie Phun, a Professor with UniTAR, Kuala Lumpur and also a Director of Maxbrand Consulting, a foremost expert in FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) and B2B (Business to Business) Brand Management in Malaysia.

On top of this, I’ve also been appointed as one of the Global Executive Press Officer for M2E (me2everyone plc, UK). After a lag of 21 years, I finally started to write again as a journalist. My 1st article has been submitted and have gone for editorial review. It has been routed for publication and should be out on the latest news (if you’re one of the over 500,000 members) at M2E.

If you haven’t joined and would like to join this cool new social portal that is amassing the collective creativity genius of its members, then click me to check it out. You too can become a shareholder of M2E for free; I have.

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