Challenge of Business Automation– Where it Works, Where it Doesn’t: Create Value Rather Than Cut Costs…

Business automation is an organizational transformation that aims to drive efficiency, transparency, compliance for repeatable processes… Organizations use automation in many forms– from simple employee on-boarding, to complex accounting processes, to workflow analyses… However, it’s not just about replacing a manual process– business automation should be to create more value, cost efficiency, greater transparent. Automation in business is most often focused on ‘run the business’, which means automating tasks that deals with– event-driven, mission-critical, core processes…

According to Thomas H. Davenport and Julia Kirby; unless we find as many tasks to give humans as we find to take away from them, all the social and psychological ills of joblessness will grow, from economic recession to youth unemployment to individual crises of identity. That’s especially true now that automation is coming to knowledge work, in form of artificial intelligence… What if we reframed the situation? Instead of seeing work as zero-sum game with automation taking an ever greater share, we should reframe automation as augmentation for workers i.e.; automation as an assistant to workers to improve overall business productivity…

In the article Business Automation by Mary Shacklett writes: Before making the case for business automation, know which workflows and tasks are best suited for being automated… Technology is the enabler of business automation and it can automate workflows to the point where human intervention is unnecessary. Automation can pride more value, save time and money, and delight customers who no longer have to wait in line for person to assist them with a transaction.  But not every business process is a good fit for automation, so it’s incumbent upon management to determine which processes are best suited to automation and which are best handled by humans…

In a highly price-competitive environment, management are under great pressure to economize operations to improve profit margins… Consequently, companies look to automate business processes that are time- and resource-intensive operationally, that are subject to human inefficiency, and can be accelerated with automation to improvements for overall performance outcomes… One cardinal rule is to think very carefully when introducing automation to customer-facing human  interaction for it may not always be suited for automation…

In the article Start Thinking About Automation in Business by Nick Ismail writes: Growing role of automation in business is generating much mainstream debate… Whether you’re talking about software or more physical automation, many of the underlying principles of success are the same… Especially regarding how best to start thinking about automation in ways that contribute positively towards a successful outcome. A few general principles for consideration:

  • Focus on business outcomes: Automation is most effective when you think about the outcome that you are trying to achieve or business problem you are trying to solve. All too often strategy can get bogged down in discussions about what approach is best. This is the wrong approach: Automation is just a tool and when you are pitching an automation project– the ‘why’ is far more important than the ‘how’…
  • Create value rather than cut costs: Automation is most effective when it increases the freedom and time people have to focus on more valued activities. As the saying goes; You can’t cut your way to the top… And reducing overhead is hardly a creative vision that energizes and unites the team. Instead, think of automation as a resource that enables you to hire more people and significantly improves productivity without greater expense…
  • Think of velocity as a business value multiplier: Automation is a tool that ultimately helps you execute– more efficiently, faster… And velocity is key concept that enables the process, i.e.; How quickly can you turn an idea into a functioning product or service and get it to market generating income… Agility, speed, relevance, value… are multipliers that make a difference between business success or failure…
  • Does it measurably improve user experience? Automation must show a measurable improvement in the value experience, i.e.; for customers, employees… Whether it’s removing some of the daily drudgery or repetitive tasks that employees deal with, or helping customers get their questions answered more quickly…

In the article Dark Side of Business Automation by Mary Shacklett writes: There are enormous benefits to business automation. But the trick for C-level executives is how to balance the benefits from potential drawbacks, e.g.; when a system has a failure and requires employees to execute a manual process– who has the knowledge to function without the automated systems? Hence an unintended consequence is the risk of eliminating too much human intelligence from the process, such that when automation fails you have adequately trained human workers on hand to do the ‘critical job’ required to keep the process running…

The danger of going too far with automation also has the potential to condition employees into mentally lethargic behavior… It’s critically important to balance the enormous benefits of automation with an equal need to recruit and maintain intelligent and innovative corps of employees. Organization must not lose sight of the core business, which means understanding that automated business processes and technologies are only tools… And that a well-trained, motivated, and intelligent core group of workers is imperative for success in business…

Corporate Hall of Shame– The Evil Corporation That Engage in the Worst of Capitalism: Is–‘Do No Evil’ the Answer?

The evil corporation is a trope in popular culture that portrays it as ignoring social responsibility just to make money. According to Angela Allan; the notion is deeply embedded in the landscape of contemporary culture– populating films, novels…  and portraying corporations in a dystopian light. Evil corporations are seen as combining the worst of capitalism and hubris… Yes, it’s easy to blame corporations for the evils of the world, e.g.; fast food makes people fat, companies lie to sell products, corporate pollution, price-fixing… plus corporations carry out some of the most horrific human rights abuses of modern times, but increasingly difficult to hold them legally accountable…

Welcome to the world of  corporate evil! It’s not about stealing pens or little stationery from the office. Instead, corporate crime is financially motivated and engage in; fraud, bribery, ponzi schemes, insider stock trading, embezzlement, copyright infringement, money laundering… and many other illegal and unethical activities… So what prompts high-flying executives to commit such misdeeds? Psychiatrists and behavioral scientists put the onus squarely on crumbling social values and aspiration deficit…

In the article How Evil Corporation Became Pop-Culture Trope by Angela Allan writes: Decades of Hollywood movies and thousands of novels have articulated deep-seated fears of the power of business. It’s become so cliche to have faceless, heartless, soulless corporations conspiring against– employees, consumers, government… these tropes warn against the catastrophes caused by unlimited corporate greed… Contemporary corporations are very familiar with the accusations, such that, e.g.;  Google used ‘Do No Evil’, as its motto… and recently it was dropped by its new parent, Alphabet, which decided on ‘Do the Right Thing’ instead. The notion of the evil corporation is so deeply embedded in the landscape of contemporary culture that the ill intent has become the expectation…

In the article Why Evil Is Better in Business (or Is It?) by Kevin O’Leary and Adam Lowry write: Should companies try to do good or simply make as much profit as possible. What is the fundamental purpose of a corporation? To benefit owners and shareholders? Or to make the world a better place? According to Kevin O’Leary; DNA of business is to maximize returns to shareholders, so they are incentivized to reinvest capital, start new businesses, create new jobs, and provide innovative products and services that improve people’s lives…

But, there seems to be an assumption mostly by people who have never run a business that corporations can and should do more than achieve its primary mandate of maximizing its return, and become more socially responsible… However, when you contort a business to change its fundamental mission, you destroy the very essence of what makes companies great. Modifying the corporate model to solve all of society’s problems is simply un-realistic… If you’re going to adopt a social mission, it must pay for itself.  Business that changes its model with expenses that don’t add value will fail…

This is the Darwinian nature of competition. According to Kevin O’Leary; I have no problem with concept of ‘do no evil’ in business. But, we don’t need more businesses trying to solve social problems. We need businesses to return more capital so they can do what they are designed to do… However, according to Adam Lowry; corporations are at a critical point in the history of capitalism– corporate executives must become more enlightened and expand beyond a ‘profit-first-and-only’ focus…

In the article Corporate Evil by Dr. Julian Hermida writes: Hundreds of companies routinely commit crimes that injure the public much more than street crimes in many ways, including; economically, socially, physically, environmentally… Corporate crimes are often called quiet acts because people not only don’t know whom to blame but may not even know that they have been victimized. Here are few types of corporate crimes:

  • Violence against workers: It’s estimated that millions workers are injured on the job, thousands of workers die in the workplace from injuries, thousands from long-term effects of occupational diseases… Corporate executives are responsible for the vast majority of deaths because they ignore or violate occupational health and safety standards… Hence, many workers are safer on the streets than on the job. For every person murdered by a stranger on the street, two are murdered by corporations…
  • Violence against consumers: Thousands of unsafe products injure or kill consumers every year. It’s estimated that tens of thousands of people are permanently disabled each year and thousands die. And that’s in addition to the thousands of people who are harmed from the dumping of waste products in third world countries…
  • Corporate waste and pollution: Pollution is the silent killer– it’s violence against the general pubic and the environment. Solid waste means– garbage, refuse, wastewater treatment plant, water supply treatment plant, air pollution control facility… as well as, discarded materials including; solid, liquid, semi-solid, gaseous material… all resulting from– industrial, commercial, mining, agricultural operations…

Hence, a long debated issue: Should corporate evildoers be treated the same as human thieves, liars, rapists, killers? Should we refuse to trust untrustworthy corporations that lie, spend millions of dollars on feel-good commercials, ‘green-washed’ websites, and highly paid lobbyists that bribe politicians and the media to be on their side?

The answer, in a fair society, should be yes to these questions, no matter how often the smiley-faced, well-dressed corporate executives– in their most cunning damage-control mode– try to convince the public that their companies are ‘responsible citizens’… But while the word ‘evil’ is incredibly simple and useful, it’s also useless and confusing when applied in the real world… It’s unfortunate that the corporate world is focused extensively on what *not* to do, such as; ‘do-no-evil’… instead of being focused on– ‘do what is right’…

Power of Community– Most Important Factor in Social Media: Build Value with Shared-Purpose…

Community is something we do together; its people working together with shared-purpose, and expectations that provide a place for strong relationships… According to Tim Flannery; communities are inherently different from networking groups– they are networks with shared-ideals, shared-interests… and they concentrate on building relationships rather than exploiting relationships. If your social media strategy doesn’t focus on community, maybe it’s time to build one… Hence, #1 rule for creating a community is very simple– just do it…

Don’t be victim of inertia; put ideas out there and build a community where visitors engage in shared-purpose, and participate in meaningful conversation… Results can be dramatic– your community will grow and you will have the opportunity to– monetize it, expand it, and at the very least improve your business network… According to Miki Agrawal; before you start thinking about creating a community there two things:

  • Don’t make friends just to make friends. Build a community that will give you the strength to act on ideas and inspire you to be the best version of you…
  • Building and growing a community is so much more about what you put in, than what you get out…

In the article Building Community Through Social Media by Alexander Lahargoue+ writes: Communities are a natural by-product of human interactions. Social media is a great platform for these interactions to take place; however, the purpose of social media sometimes becomes misguided… When it erupts into an ‘arms race’ and the main goal is who can get the most number of ‘followers’, rather than creating a ‘community’ among followers…  

Numbers aren’t everything; yes, while a sizable following goes long way to padding egos and making people think they are achieving success, but if ‘followers’ aren’t ‘talking’ or ‘sharing’… then what’s been accomplished? The goal of social media should be to cultivate individuals with similar interests and actively engage, share– ideas, information, content… 

In the article Building Community with Social Media by Tara Gentile writes: Community in social media goes well beyond– ‘comments’ or ‘followers’, or ‘likes’… Before you can hope to build a community, you must consider the purpose and direction that you hope to foster, as well as, identify a sense of belonging… Great communities need strong leaders. It’s the leader’s job to maintain a sense of purpose and clear direction… 

Don’t wait for people to happen to your site, extend an invitation… Creating a sense of invitation can be a powerful tool. It helps people know they’re welcome and helps to create a network of kindred spirits, like minds, sense of community… Building a community is a great way to help you stand out from the crowd. It helps make your site more of an experience, and less of a bookmark…

In the article Community in Social Media by Timothy Carter writes: In the world of social media, there are a number of factors that make a business successful. But when most people think about social media, they tend to think about it in one of two relationship dimensions… First, as ‘top-down’ engagement where ‘brand’ engages with customers directly. Second, as ‘bottom-up’ engagement where ‘users’ engage with– comments, responses, complaints, questions… But also there’s a third factor and it has even more connective potential than the first two…

It’s the communal factor– how users engage with one another. Here a brand takes a backseat, allowing for ‘connections’ to form, and this potential is strikingly underrated: It’s getting users to engage even more by– forming a community, which can have a powerful effect on the success of a business (a brand), e.g.:

  • Community Increases Engagement: Every act of engagement, e.g.; through forum, publicly posed question… brings users closer to a brand, and serves as another brand-related post submitted to the social media world. And that increases visibility and attracts more users… It may also encourage more inbound traffic, which is great news for conversion rates…
  • Community Fosters Belonging: Building a community helps people feel a sense of belonging, connected to a brand… You don’t have to go over-the-top with this, but you should have some kind of mechanism for encouraging more belonging. Help ‘followers’ see that everyone is  part of a community connected to a brand…
  • Community Demonstrates Social Proof: People need a reason to trust a brand. In today’s world of heavy advertising and corporate distrust, it’s not enough to claim that you’re trustworthy, but you need users to prove to other users that you’re the real deal. If you can get followers to function as a community, you’ll attract more followers and earn higher retention rates as a result…
  • Community Self-Sustains: An active, engaged community will work to sustain itself, reducing the burden on a brand. Your users will want to submit their own forms of content and engage with each other, and find new ways to bring themselves closer to the brand. The more users actively participate the better for the brand…

Building community through social media takes time and effort. And, asking the right questions is only part of what keeps people engaged and community growing. You also must be prepared to answer questions… Being responsive to the community makes people feel welcome and keeps individuals returning to your social media site repeatedly… Conversation is the key to social media engagement. Driving that conversation allows you to make the most effective use of social media, which in turn allows you to build a community around your business…

Imperative for Business Success– Think Crazy, Be Fearless: It Takes– Touch of Madness, Little Nutty, Dash of Hypomania…

Having a little craziness, touch of hypomania… is almost an imperative for people or organizations to succeed in this digital age… According to Joe Wilcox: it’s not about goals, it’s about pushing boundary, discovery, innovation… finding different ways of doing business to stay ahead of the pack... All it requires is commitment to originality, willingness to challenge convention, breaking from standard operating practices… But unfortunately these characteristics remains all-too-rare in many people and organizations, precisely because it looks– little nutty, crazy, strange, hypomania…

Hence, the next time you come across some weird business idea, don’t just push it away, think it over, it might be the billion dollar opportunity waiting to happen. According to Karen Leventhal; part of the problem is fear of being crazy or as perceived of being crazy. But the catch 22- is that anyone who has ever made a huge difference did it by stepping out of the normal, often perceived as being little off-center… Call it whatever you like, but by ‘thinking different’ or being ‘little crazy’ you can translate your delusions into reality through the strength of your beliefs– hence, all of a sudden your are genius instead of crazy…

In the article Craziness in Business by Jason writes: Needless to say, people come-up with a lot of crazy ideas in some strange places: In the car, in the shower, even in sleep. About 95% of them are complete and total garbage but the other 5% have small shot at becoming worth acting on… According to Brendan Boyle; true innovation is right on the edge of ridiculousness… But remember that not all crazy ideas ‘stick’, since the more offbeat something is the less likely there is a market for it… Hence a few ideas are successes, others flounder and die, and most are just crazy and don’t deserve consideration…

In the article You Have To Be Crazy To Succeed In Business by Zara Barrie writes: All ‘great’ business people have one– common thread holding them together as a united force of nature: they are all crazy. Craziness in a form of inextinguishable ambition, it’s ultimate breeding ground for creativity, and creativity is the driving force behind fresh, exciting ideas. It’s these ‘weirdos’ who speak who become international icons of the world… Here is why:

  • Don’t give a damn what other people think: Crazy people don’t caring about what others think, they do what they truly want to do. When they are not shackled to the handcuffs of societal ‘appropriateness’ they do what they please without fearing disappointing the masses. This gives them the courage to fearlessly embark on new and sometimes reckless business projects…
  • Think outside the confines of a box: Most ‘normal’ people restrict  their thoughts to a tiny, minuscule, little box. A box is a square made up of four restrictive lines. Crazy people attain the capacity to think beyond the confines of a box and instead find razor-sharp edges and soft curves in everything…
  • Don’t know or care about rules: Rules are created by people who are free of independent thought and vehemently fear creativity… It’s the very reason that crazy people rarely follow orders and are not afraid to think beyond what’s already been done. They are relentlessness, refuse to stop, determined to keep trucking along to achieve their goal, even after multiple  rejections…
  • Believe in oneself: It’s an insanely competitive world, and it’s teeming with pools of fantastic talent. When you realize how huge this world is and how many people are fighting for the same job, the same dream– it’s enough to make you want to throw-up your hands and give-up. Yet there are only a few who ‘make it’– those whose dreams are achieved… It’s not because they’re more talented or brilliant; it’s because they’re the ones crazy enough to believe they are, indeed, powerful and special enough to break through and succeed…
  • Not shackled by fear of failure: The fear of failure is what holds many talented people back from ever taking a glorious risk. They can’t imagine it ever being possible to recover after failure. Crazy people aren’t afraid to fall. Crazy people aren’t afraid to fail. They aren’t perfectionists, but they understand there is nothing in the world that can’t be overcome…
  • Don’t ask for permission: Crazy people never ask for permission; they live by the saying; I would rather beg for forgiveness than ask for permission… They go for it, and maybe they fail, but either way it doesn’t stop a crazy from embarking on a risky journey…
  • Driven by passion, not money: When money is the ultimate goal, there is only so far a person can go. But when a crazy person has true passion, nothing can snuff out the fire to achieve the goal, and inevitably that will lead to longer, greater success…
  • Trust oneself: Crazy people are keyed into their sixth sense, the inner voice, the gut, the heart, the instinct. You all have it, but most of you don’t trust it. Crazy people trust their gut and don’t intellectualize themselves out of it…

Craziness in business can be a game plan for game changers… This is an age of disruption. You can’t do big things if you are content with doing things a little better than everyone else, or a little different from how you did them before… In an era of hyper-competition and non-stop dislocation, and the only way to stand out from the crowd is to stand for something ‘different’. Today, the most successful people and organizations don’t just out-compete their rivals– they redefine the terms of competition by embracing one-of-a-kind ideas in a world filled with me-too thinking…

The business world is full of people and organizations that have made it big, by deviating from the usual, by thinking differently, by being a little hypomania… Hypomania is mild form of mania and are people who are brimming with infectious energy, irrational confidence and really big ideas. They think, talk, move, make decisions quickly. Anyone who slows them down with questions, just doesn’t get it… They live on the edge, between normal and abnormal. And this craziness works when passionate leaders decide to do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, in order to achieve success: Losers stop too soon…

Business Cycle– Expected Yet Unpredictable– Boom & Bust, Up & Down: Impacts Business Sustainability…

The business cycle is the periodic but irregular up-and-down movement in economic activity, measured by fluctuations in real gross domestic product (GDP) and other macroeconomic variables. A business cycle is typically characterized by four phases– recession, recovery, growth, decline– repeats itself over time. Economists estimate the duration of business cycle typically varies in length from about two-to-twelve years, with most cycles averaging six years in length… 

The challenge for business leaders is to understand the dynamics of business cycles and be prepared to take specific steps to mitigate or ride the benefits as they occur. Some experts promote the concept of cycle management, i.e.; implement strategies that work both at ‘bottom of cycle’ as much as those that work at ‘top of cycle’.  Essentially, make the appropriate adjustments to a company’s operations to maintain an even keel through the ups-and-downs of a business cycle. However take note; cycle management is an art based on experience much more than a science…

In the article Business Cycles and the Economy? by Dr. Econ writes: Business cycles are ‘booms and busts’ in economic activity, defined in terms of periods of– expansion or recession… During expansions economy is measured by indicators, such as; production, revenue, jobs… in terms of relative growth rates and excludes the effects of inflation.   While recession is period when economy is shrinking or contracting… Simply put, business cycle refers to the ‘ups-and-downs’ explained in terms of expansion and depression an economy experiences over a period of time…

According to William L. Anderson; business cycles are usually treated as though they are unavoidable natural occurrences… but if businesses were able to predict and manage through and during a boom/bust cycle by developing and implementing appropriate strategies, they would maximize overall business performance without any significant down turn… The stages of a business cycle:

  • Recession: Sometimes referred to as ‘trough’– it’s a period of reduced economic activity in which levels of buying, selling, production, and employment typically diminish. This is the most unwelcome stage of a business cycle for business and consumers alike. A particularly severe recession is known as a depression…
  • Recovery: Also known as ‘upturn’– it’s the point at which the economy ‘troughs-out’ and starts working to improve growth…
  • Growth: Hallmarks of this phase of a cycle includes increased consumer confidence, which translates into higher levels of business activity… Here the economy operate at or near full capacity and periods of prosperity but also accompanied by inflationary pressures…
  • Decline: Also referred to as ‘contraction or downturn’, it’s the end of growth in a cycle… Characterized by decrease in the levels of consumer purchases and subsequently reduced production by businesses…

Corporate management often manipulates several factors in shaping an organization to help ensure that they can– weather, or better yet, take advantage of specific phase within a business cycle.  While there is no definitive formula for every business, the approaches generally emphasize a long-term view with focus on a company’s core strengths, agility to act on emerging opportunities, and maintaining management talent that can lead the quest for innovation… Specific tips for managing business cycle downturns include the following:

  • Flexibility: Flexible business strategy that allows for development times that span the entire cycle and includes, recession-resistant funding structures…
  • Long-term Strategy: Adopting strategies that embrace technology and rapidly changing consumer behavior… and builds a workforce that is empowered to innovate…
  • Attention to Customers: Maintaining close relations and open communication with customers is especially crucial during all phases of a business cycle, and especially during ‘down’ times… Customers are the best gauges of  where a company is positioned within a business cycle…
  • Objectivity: Business management must maintain a high level of objectivity when riding business cycles. Operational decisions based on hopes and desires, rather than a sober examination of the facts can devastate a business, especially in economic down periods…
  • Reality: Timing actions for an upturn is tricky. The consequences of getting the timing wrong– being early or late, can be serious. The key is listen to customers…

The business cycle affects everyone, business and consumers alike. But how do you determine where the business is within a cycle? The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) is the official entity which determines the business cycle phases. The unit tasked to do this is the Business Cycle Dating Committee which utilizes quarterly GDP growth data as main indicator of fluctuations. Other data being used are– real personal income, employment, retails sales, production…

To prepare for the future, management need to understand how changes in the economy affect their organization… According to Vivian Giang; interpreting economic data can be tricky and it’s almost impossible to take corrective action when an organization is in midst of a cycle phase… But by making a habit to look for patterns and differences through year-to-year reports, paying attention to consumer spending, comparing internal and external data trends, and not obsessing over a recession. Then management can better understand of how business cycles work, and take steps to maximize their business sustainability…

Thrive in Age of Turmoil– Managing Chaos in the Workplace: Businesses on the Edge of Disaster…

Chaos in any organization is inevitable, it’s evolutionary and in some organizations it’s desirable… Many organizations exist at the edge of turmoil– hence, managing chaos is essential… According to Peters; to meet demands of the fast-changing competitive scene, managers and leaders must simply learn to love change, and sometimes that means managing chaos… The keys to managing chaos, before it spins out of control, start with recognizing the early signs. According to Rebecca Schalm; chaos is easily observable: shifting priorities, unclear direction, unstable processes, unhappy customers, disengaged employees…

Paradoxically, many organizations meet chaos with chaos, loosening controls– sometimes radically– while trying to guide the company in innovative ways… And many organizations are so accustomed to chaos that they don’t even recognize it… Or if they recognize it, they don’t believe there’s anything they can do about it. It’s business as usual. In fact, sadly, many organizations seem to embraced chaos and called it a healthy thing– example is rising number of job descriptions that include; ‘tolerance of ambiguity’ as a necessary skill…

In the article Managing Chaos by Sean Michael Kerner writes: Some managers and leaders believe that an organization should have a well-defined order and structure. Others believe that chaos is the natural order of the universe and should be managed to achieve the results that business requires… Chaos can mean different things to different people, both from definition point of view and from an end result net effect, e.g.; chaos, in one simple definition, is the opposite of order– or at least, it doesn’t show obvious order or structure. Chaos from a manager’s point of view may also be simply defined as that which is not being managed…

A manager’s job is to manage and in a digital age that means– embrace change and be vigilant about chaos in the workplace, hence always be prepared for uncertain outcomes… Managers must be sure to plan, reevaluate the plan, and revise the plan. They shouldn’t be afraid of chaos. They should prepare for it, deal with it. They should recognize it for what it is, i.e.; an opportunity to improve…

In the article Managing in Chaos by MSG writes: Indeed, the only constant is change and the only certainty is uncertainty in addition to unpredictability of the future, which means that chaos becomes an integral part of every manager’s and leader’s life… Many leaders are behind the curve when it came to recognizing the ‘chaos principle’ of innovation, globalization, technology, forces of entrepreneurship that characterize the modern marketplace… Technology and globalization together create forces that make everyone susceptible to being– thrown under the onrush of technological change… and hence, even companies that are now the reigning leaders in their business spaces cannot afford to remain complacent…

This ‘nervous’ factor that the modern-day business landscape unleashes means that managers and leaders no longer have luxury of a leisurely approach to business, instead must deal with the chaotic conditions that they encounter, daily... Indeed, if there is one advice for many business leaders– focus on what is essential and needed… and at the same time ensure that they are not swayed by the rush of chaotic trends and events which demand creative and well thought out solutions and responses… Hence, the managers and leaders who are most likely to succeed are the ones with– firm grip on the present, solid understanding of the past, and vision for the future… That means they are able to look behind, look ahead, and have firm gripe on the present to ensure that they indeed, ‘thrive in chaos’…

In the article Managing in Chaos by Geoffrey Colvin writes: The world is a maelstrom of changing markets, technologies, customers, products… that are whirling so fast they just can’t be ordered in a manager’s mind… Managing amid the chaos has become the central problem for many companies… It’s a predicament that arises from the very nature of today’s economy, and the solution requires a retraining not of skills, but a change in mindset and assumptions… The biggest challenge has less to do with corporate strategy or management structures than with the nature of human beings and the instinctive reactions to change…

Let’s be clear: Chaos is never a good thing for an organization. While the world is fluid there is no excuse for ambiguity and chaos within an organization. Chaos is the enemy of organizations that strives to be outstanding… According to Rebecca Schalm; most managers and leaders try to do what they believe is in best interest of an organization. However, the trouble is they may not have the same point of view and that can lead to turmoil…

Tipping Point Leadership– Breaking Through the Hurdles of Resistance in Change Management…

The theory of tipping points– with roots in epidemiology– is hinged on the belief that once a critical mass of people, within an organization, are engaged in the change management process– conversion to new ideas spreads like an epidemic– bringing about fundamental change quickly.  According to W. Chan Kim, Renee Mauborgne; the theory suggests that this movement can only be unleashed by ‘great leaders’ who make unforgettable and unarguable calls for change… and who concentrates resources on what really matters, and who mobilizes the commitment of an organization’s key players, and succeeds in silencing the most vocal naysayers…

In the article Tipping Point Leadership by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne write: Tipping point leadership is a four-step process designed to bring about rapid, dramatic, and lasting change with limited resources. However there are hurdles, both; cognitive and resource… which represent obstacles that leaders face in reorienting and formulating strategy. These hurdles are resistance to change and prevent a strategy’s rapid execution… However, great leaders have the skill and temperament to tip-over hurdles, which then leads to rapid strategy reorientation and execution… Overcoming hurdles is, of course, continuous process because the innovation of today soon becomes the conventional norm of tomorrow…

  • Break Through Cognitive Hurdle: In many turnarounds, the hardest battle is simply getting people to agree on the causes of current problems and the need for change. Most CEOs try to make the case for change simply by pointing to the numbers, and insisting that the company achieve better ones. But messages communicated through numbers seldom stick. To the line managers– the very people the CEO needs to win over– the case for change seems abstract and remote. Those whose groups who are doing well feel criticism is not directed at them– the problem is top management. Managers of poorly performing groups feel they are put on notice– they worry about job security and are more likely to be scanning the job market than trying to solve the organization’s problems…
  • Sidestep Resource Hurdle: Once people in an organization accept the need for change and more or less agree on what needs to be done… leaders are often faced with the stark reality of limited resources… But great leaders know how to reach the organization’s tipping point without extra resources. They can achieve a great deal with the resources they have. They concentrate their resources on the places that are most in need of change, and have the biggest possible payoffs…
  • Jump Motivational Hurdle: Alerting all stakeholders for the need to change and identify how it can be achieved with limited resources is an imperative for reaching an organization’s tipping point. But if a different strategy is to become a movement, all stakeholders must not only recognize the needs, but also the desire to do it. Many CEOs recognize importance of getting people motivated to make changes, but they often try to reform the whole organization st one time... However, great leaders understand the dynamics of within an organization and they singling-out a few ‘key influencers’– these are people who have disproportionate power and connections within the organization, and the ability to persuade, or even dissuade others within the organization… Key influencers are like kingpins in bowling– when you hit them just right, all the other pins topple over…
  • Knock Over Political Hurdle: Organizational politics is inescapable and great leaders learn it early in their career. They never forget the importance of understanding the– plotting, intrigue, politics involved in pushing through change… Even when an organization reach the tipping point, powerful vested interests resist impending the reforms… And in some situations–the more the change, the more the fierce and vocal are the negative influencers who fight to protect their positions, and this resistance can damage, even derail the reform process… Great leaders early on, anticipate these dangers by identifying and silencing powerful naysayers…

Tipping point leadership is about leveraging specific realities within every organization, namely; people, acts, activities… that exercise a disproportionate influence… It’s a strategy that addresses four types of hurdles:

  • Cognitive hurdle: Break the status quo, make the employees face the worst operational problems. Make your key managers meet and listen to the most disgruntled customers. Don’t rely on market surveys or reports…
  • Resource hurdle: Relocate your resources to the hot spots that have low resource input but high potential performance gains. Encourage managers to fill resources gaps by trading resources they don’t anymore need for those of others they do need…
  • Motivational hurdle: Focus on the kingpins– superstars, natural leaders, the well-respected stakeholders within the organization. Place the kingpins in a fishbowl so they can influence others…
  • Political hurdle: Secure top management team support through a respected senior insider. Identify those who will gain the most by the strategic shift; don’t fight alone. Silence those who have the most to lose…

A big part of being a great leader is manage change, which involves; understand it, explain it, justify it, initiate it, drive it, resource it, sell it… to all stakeholders. According to Niccolo Machiavelli; nothing is more difficult, more perilous to conduct, more uncertain in its success, than to take lead in introduction of a new order of things…

According to John S. McCallum; change management is a big deal, but it’s not rocket science. Simply put, the pace of change in everything that matters in running a successful business is breathtaking… and arguably unprecedented and accelerating… It’s either keep-up or get pushed-out of– technological advance, globalization, internet, connectivity, open financial markets, fierce competition, revolution in consumer attitudes… all these changes are disrupting traditional foundation of how organizations are managed and operated… Hence, tipping point leadership is thinking differently about change within an organization, i.e.: change is not on the agenda– change is the agenda…

Emoji– Humanizes the Language of Digital in Business: It’s a Universal Trend– Shaping the Face of 1000 Words with a Simple Symbol…

Ninety-two percent of online consumers use emojis, while 30% of millennials can’t go a day without using them… According to Jules Schroeder; die-hard emoji users say– emojis express their feelings more accurately than words… The emoji phenomenon has real implications for business. With millennials possessing $200B+ in annual spending power, engaging millennial demographic is now more important than ever… In order to engage them, you must speak the language– of which emojis are a primary part… But the task is easier said than done. And there’s nothing more embarrassing than an emoji faux pas…

Whether you use emojis at work depends on context. If the workplace is informal, emojis are probably okay, particularly if co-workers use them frequently. Many companies have style guides that spell out whether or not emojis are acceptable, e.g.;  don’t use emojis with people you don’t know well and be careful when messaging the boss, and particularly with customer communications… When you don’t have a comfortable relationship with someone, it’s best to avoid them– it could potentially annoy them…

In the article Emojis Changing Businesses Communication by Eric Chemi and Nick Wells write: The old rules of business is dying out as the ‘baby boomers’ retire from the workforce… The only thing holding business back is an outdated mentality of thinking about something that’s done a certain way, rather than just something that has to be done… Emoji offer a means of communicating that humanize platforms that you inhabit. As such, they are a rear-guard action to enable business sociability, but they are also agents that can enable economic growth…

However the long-term fate of emojis is still to be determined– they may be a blip in continuing evolution of platform languages, or remembered as a fading digital companion, or they may be the true international language of the future… Consider that the majority of Instagram users employ emojis in their posts, and according to The Atlantic; about 76% of digital users surveyed said they use emoji in business communications, daily. There are about 2,666 official emojis in Unicode Standard, plus countless unofficial emojis introduced by companies, brands and even individual celebrities…

In the article Why Emoji Are Suddenly Acceptable at Work by Bourree Lam writes: Emoji have gone from being inappropriate in workplace to being accepted, largely because the demographic of workplace is changing. Millennials are now the biggest generation in workforce, and along with them comes new technology, mannerisms… People tend to use emoji when there is– what linguists call a ‘face threat’– something awkward, or potentially offensive, or somebody that could be taken in the wrong way…

So people use emoji to add little a bit of extra inflection or tone to the communicationAccording to a Scandinavian study; emails in the workplace typically don’t convey emotion, but emoji add an extra dimension and are intended to signal how the information should be interpreted. Researchers found emojis have three primary uses; to express positive vibes, to mark jokes, to either strengthen or soften statements that could be misinterpreted…

In the article Emojis Will Grow Your Business by Jules Schroeder  writes: All brands can benefit from becoming emoji-savvy and implementing them in strategic ways. Researchers found that an average business experiences a surge in visibility and engagement after introducing emojis, which ultimately boosts revenue. Here are a few ways you can use emojis to grow your business:

  • Put Emojis In Email Subject Lines: Brands who use emoji in the subject line experience a 56% higher open rate than brands who don’t. Emojis stand out in a crowded inbox– they are compelling and eye-catching. Plus, they can convey emotion and save space, helping you target 49 characters or less to increase click-through rate by 75%. But the emojis must be relevant to the subject, and the fewer emojis used the better…
  • Introduce Emoji Hashtags: If you want to engage your social media audience, using emojis in a ‘hashtag’ can help increase your brand awareness drastically… Create a signature emoji hashtag for your brand to promote more engagement…
  • Create Emoji Call To Action: Introduce an emoji ‘call to action’ for your brand. Pair an emoji with your most popular product and allow customers to rapid-order the product by sending your company a text via cell phone…
  • Get Rapid Customer Feedback: Emojis are ‘fast data’– they can help you understand how the customer feels in an instant. You can capitalize on emojis to help improve your products and services by sending out surveys with emotion-based emojis…
  • Don’t Go Overboard: While emojis can help the brand, they can also hurt it, when used incorrectly. Be tactful in emoji usage by limiting content to just a few emojis…
  • Lean Towards Popular Emojis: Use popular emojis that audience recognize and love… The use of  emojis change should, according to the seasons, holiday, special event… so factor festivity into your emoji content for the best results…

Like most things humans, emoji evolve and change, often in unexpected ways. Some are used as slang, while other symbolize a brand, product, solution, event, emotion, humor… According to Sanchita Sharma; emoji is not language– it has no grammar and cannot be combined with complex words and phrases in order to communicate. Emojis communicate nuances of humor and mood between people who cannot see each other’s gestures and expressions…

As you might imagine emojis have a fair share of critics in addition to supporters. They offer unique communicative advantages but they also come with drawbacks… Hence for emoji to be effective in business, each business must first figure-out the strategy– how and when– to use it in their communications. But the emoji phenomenon is alive and well, and it will be interesting to see how it plays-out…

The Word ‘Sorry’ Means Nothing in Business: It’s an Unapologetic Apology: It’s Empty, Meaningless, Irrelevant…

‘Sorry’ is the word used to fix everything, but saying ‘sorry’ when it’s not actually necessary minimizes, devalues your commitments, opinions,   experiences, beliefs… According to Caitlin Jill Anders; constantly apologizing– the I’m sorry’– isn’t healthy… and when you apologize for everything; Are you ‘really’ sorry? Or, are you just a chronic apologizers… You should save ‘the I’m sorry’ for when you really mean it, otherwise it’s meaningless. According to Beth Revis; most inadequate words in the English language are; I’m sorry…

Many businesses seem to apologize too much now days, e.g.; customer service agents apologize if customers are unhappy about something, whether it’s their fault or not– remember customers are not always right… Waiters apologize when customers complains that the food is too spicy– even though menu says the food is spicy… The practice of ‘I’m sorry’ is endless; leaders over do it, manager over do it, workers over do it, we all over do it… This is not to suggest that apologies aren’t necessary, sometimes. When you make mistakes own-up, apologize and fix it… But the best approach in business is to keep the ‘I’m sorry’ to the minimum…

In the article Apologizing Hurts Your Business by Gene Marks writes: When things go wrong in business, do you always apologize? By constantly apologizing, you are probably hurting the business more than you think… Besides, customers don’t want apologies they just want to get what they paid for. Consider the following:

  • Apologies changes dynamics of relationships with customers: Saying ‘sorry’ all the time diminishes credibility… Good relationships are about equal and mutual respect, not one party having dominance over the other. Saying ‘I’m sorry’ too much will make customers question whether they made the right decision relying on your company…
  • Apologies are often empty and irrelevant: The more businesses apologize, the less meaning it has… Apology is meaningful only when it’s really deserved, and that depends on the situation…
  • Apologies open the door for more costs: The minute that you admit fault, whether it’s justified or not, customers see an opening for concessions. Show concern, fix the problem… whereas just an apology is meaningless…

In the article How to Apologize to Customers Effectively  by Carla Jerez writes: Apologies are important in business, but at times the use of ‘I’m sorry’ is not enough. And just repeating ‘sorry’ over and over again comes-off as insincere; it’s hard to be genuine when you don’t always ‘feel’ sorry… An apology must be sincere and shows a customer your deeply commitment to their satisfaction… And, it’s important to know the language that actually conveys regret, remorse, humility… instead of words that twist a would-be apology into one of dismissal and condescension… Before delivering an apology, check your words for any hint of defensiveness. If you are feeling testy or on edge, there’s a chance that it’s coming out in form of the dreaded  non-apology… Don’t use language that removes your business from responsibility…

In the article The Organizational Apology by Maurice E. Schweitzer, Alison Wood Brooks, Adam D. Galinsky write: Companies need clear guidelines for determining when a misstep merits an apology and how to deliver the message. Most apologies are low-cost and create substantial value in return… When a company is debating whether or not to apologize, they must consider the nature and severity of the violation and the costs and benefits of offering an apology… Let’s recognize two facts about apologies:

  • First, companies are psychologically predisposed to find reasons (or excuses) to delay or avoid saying they are sorry: Apologizing feels uncomfortable and risky, and they represent a loss of power– it rearranges the status hierarchy and makes company beholden, at least temporarily, to the other party: That doesn’t feel good…
  • Second, companies have a strong tendency to evaluate the situation through a legal lens: Corporate counsel may fixate on whether any laws were broken and warn managers that an apology might be construed as an admission of liability (possibly exposing the company to litigation) rather than as an effort to empathize with the wronged party… Unfortunately, a litigious perspective has become ingrained in many organizations…

In the article Why ‘I’m Sorry’ Doesn’t Always Translate by William W. Maddux, Peter H. Kim, Tetsushi Okumura, Jeanne Brett write: Many international cultures seem to differ over the simple concept of an ‘apology’– they don’t fully understand what other cultures mean or expect from an apology… There is often confusion over the meaning of and occasion for; ‘I’m sorry’, and it seems that virtually every culture has its own rules. In India, researchers have noted, apologies are far less common than in Japan. In Hong Kong they are so prevalent and ritualized that many people are inured to them…

A core issue seems to be a differing perceptions of culpability; In the U.S. an apology is seen as an admission of wrongdoing, whereas Japanese see it as expression of eagerness to repair damaged relationship, with no culpability necessarily implied. And this difference affects how much traction an apology gains… Research finding suggests the U.S. links apologies with blame, which seems to be psychological tendency among Westerners to attribute events to individuals’ actions…

Thus it makes sense that in the U.S., an apology is taken to mean; ‘I am the one who is responsible’… It also stands to reason that in Japan– which, like many other East Asian countries, has a more group-oriented culture– apologies are heard as; ‘It’s unfortunate that this happened’… Researchers have compared apologies in U.S. and China, and have found similar pattern: U.S. apologies serve to establish personal responsibility, while Chinese focus on the larger consequences of the transgression…

Only with a deep understanding of differences can executives make effective use of the apology as a tool for facilitating negotiations, resolving conflicts, repairing trust… And the misunderstandings over apologies are just one aspect of a broad semantic disconnect between East-West that’s too often ignored in rush to globalization. Businesses would do well to tune in to other cultural nuances, such as; I’m sorry– that are easily lost in translation…

 

Disaster Destruction will Grow the Economy: It’s a Fallacy– Support Victims but Disaster Economics is Neutral at Best…

Natural disasters– hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, typhoons… inflict serious damage on people, community, business… They destroy– lives, property, tangible assets such as; buildings, infrastructure, equipment, as well as, human capital and deteriorate production capacity… But the academic evidence on overall ‘economic’ impact of natural disasters is mixed… According to Arito Ono; there is a channel through which natural disasters may enhance, improvement productivity of companies that survive, and it’s due to the adoption of new/better technology in their rebuilding and replacement efforts– it’s a mechanism often called ‘creative destruction’, coined by Joseph Schumpeter who considered it an essential of capitalism…

However, to critics of the growth-follows-disaster line of thinking, the problem is, at best, a partial picture. They argue that it ignores the fact that– money, labor, resources… that go into post-disaster rebuilding are simply being redirected from other uses… According to Donald Boudreaux; if you’re a carpenter, trash remover, physician… you may be made better off after a disaster, but the things that those producers would otherwise produced are not going to be produced…

Still other research suggests that the long-term effects of disasters is less vulnerable to criticism because the crucial factor is not the use of new stuff, but better stuff… In this model, disasters perform an economic service of clearing out outdated infrastructure to make way for more efficient replacements…

Clearly major natural disasters will have short-term negative economic impact on– income, output, employment… also economists suggest that even in the longer-term there are negative consequences as measured by GDP Yes, spending on recovery will lead to higher output and employment after period of time… however, even this positive effect is some what of an illusion because GDP typically does not account for all economic losses from a disaster, notably loss of capital…

But negative economic impacts are not always inevitable; vulnerability to natural disaster is determined by complex, dynamic set of influences that may include; economic structure, stage of development, prevailing economic and policy conditions… It may be comforting to search for a plus side to the losses that so many endure, but the destruction of lives and property never results in an overall positive outcome on the economy…

In the article Natural Disasters are Good for an Economy by Rosemarie Fike writes: Some economists believe in a theory that disasters can benefit the economy, e.g.; people affected by a hurricane will spend money to replace lost belongings and to rebuild damaged property. This then creates jobs and benefits– particularly in rebuilding and replacement related industries. However other economists say, there are flaws with this line of thinking: Yes, people will rebuild. Yes, goods and services necessary for rebuilding will of course increase… But then, e.g.; money spent rebuilding will not be used to buy things that were originally intended; clothes, cars, vacations, any number of things…

So when you consider opportunity cost of the money used to rebuild– it’s unclear whether GDP will actually– increase, decrease, or largely unaffected… But it’s clear that someone who spends (either saving or debt) rebuilding home and replacing belongings is not better off than they were before, even if their expenditures do increase GDP. Yes, they have a house and belongings again but they are much less wealthy–replacement does not create wealth…

In the article Disasters Don’t Increase Economic Growth by Frank Hollenbeck writes: The economics of disasters remains a small field of study, and there are limited number of studies that examine the link between growth and natural disasters… Typically studies find that there is a short-term negative relationship between disasters and growth, while a lesser number of long-run studies find mixed results…

According to Mark Skidmore and Hideki Toya; who examined the frequency of disasters in 89 countries against economic growth rates over 30-year period found that the studies that support the economic growth theory invoke Joseph Schumpeter’s ‘creative destruction’ concept– disasters that destroy old– factories, roads, airports, bridges… allow new and more efficient infrastructure to be built, forcing the transition to a sleeker, more productive economy. Hence, disasters perform the economic service of clearing out outdated production making way for efficient replacements…

However there are three major issues with most of these studies. First is ‘counterfactual’: We cannot measure what growth would have been had the disaster never occurred… Second is ‘association versus causation’: We cannot say whether a disaster caused growth or was simply associated with it… Third problem is what economists call ‘ceteris paribus’: It’s impossible to hold other factors constant and measure the exclusive impact of a disaster on growth…

Disasters are the countless images of; destruction, death, heroic rescue, flooded streets, damaged buildings… And the many months and even years that it takes to repair/rebuild– homes, business, infrastructure… According to Jon Gabriel; all this destruction  needs to be fixed, which means big bucks spent for– cleanup, construction workers, materials… According to Frédéric Bastiat; destruction never boosts an economy, and replacing something that is already there is a maintenance cost, not a purchase of new goods… maintenance doesn’t stimulate growth…

The only economic good to come from disasters is a remedial course in basic common sense, i.e.: instead of looking for disasters to grow an economy, government should stop the unnatural disasters they inflict on consumers and job creators by eliminating red tape, silly regulations, stupid taxes… and allow citizens to be free to grow an economy through creative entrepreneurship. Yes, support victims of destructive disasters, but don’t expect this support of money, resources to grow the economy…

Subtle Shifts in Business, Leadership, Management, Organization, Strategy, Innovation– Bring Big Results…

Translate »