Power of Business Development: HodgePodge or Imperative for Business Success…

“The thinking that got us here isn’t the thinking that’s going to get us where we need to be.” ~ Albert Einstein

Business development is a broad term applied to the process of strengthening ties with existing clients as well as cultivating customers in other market sectors. In order to accomplish this goal, business development normally crosses the traditional barriers between sales, marketing, customer care, operations and management in order to promote this process of expansion on more than one level. This means the business development specialist must exhibit a degree of competence in many different areas in order to identify and capitalize on growth opportunities.

In the article “Yesterday’s Business Bevelopment Strategy Sure to Fail Today” by Bill Scheessele writes: To survive in this economic atmosphere, you must change your thinking and actions from those which worked for you before. This includes all of the characteristic sales push tactics of pressing company-crafted solutions on customers, pushing them to buy by giving a lot of information, presenting product features and benefits, or plugging your superior service capabilities.

“There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction.” ~ Winston Churchill

What works now is being a master problem-solver by getting inside your prospect’s head to really understand their needs, wants and requirements. Or, in other words, you need to gather intelligence. Be mindful that obtaining meaningful customer intelligence is a far cry from just gathering data. Obtaining first-person, primary intelligence means engaging customers with a business acquisition process to understand all underlying issues in play. This engagement strategy is necessary to craft the best solutions to their problems based on your firsthand knowledge of their situation from their perspective.

This ability builds a bridge of trust and is a powerful competitive advantage. Instead of pushing products or pressing services, you create an atmosphere that sets you apart from your competition. The result is that customers pull you into frank and revealing discussions of their problems: You become a trusted advisor.

“The Business Development process is not static.  It’s not something you do and then you are done with.  It’s something you do all the time.  In other words, once you’ve innovated, quantified, and orchestrated something in your business, you must continue to innovate, quantify, and orchestrate it.” ~ Michael E. Gerber

The business development process keeps you from being destroyed… If you’re not continuously improving it, you’re sliding…know your numbers so you know your gains…bake your learning into the system…you should have a process for everything you do, then build upon and improve your process.  That’s how you scale your effectiveness and continue to grow your business.

In the article How To Create An Effective Business Development Strategy by Jonathan Farrington writes: Business development strategy is used to underpin your main business plan, and essentially it sets out a standard approach for developing new opportunities, either from within existing accounts or by proactively targeting brand new potential accounts… The key word is ‘strategy’… you are creating a workable and achievable set of objectives in order to exceed your targets… Pro-active business development demands that we create an ideal customer target at the front end – i.e. an Ideal Customer Profile. Many strategic sales professionals merely profile their best existing clients and try to replicate them – there’s nothing wrong with doing this but we should always remember that we are seeking the best and we can always improve on what we already have…

As is often said “people do not fail because their plan failed, but rather because they failed to plan” The man who knows where he wants to go is more likely to get there, he just has to decide how to get there. All plans are essentially maps and guides; the strategic element is the ‘how‘. Be prepared to change course, flexibility is key, and don’t be afraid to experiment, look outside the square.

In the articleHow to Create a Business Development Strategy That Works writes:  Quite simply, strategic management is the act of developing and implementing a plan designed to achieve the objectives of your business. This involves listing the objectives, doing an analysis of current practices and developing programs and policies to leverage strengths, mitigate weaknesses, and thrust the business forward in terms of meeting objectives.

Obviously, there is not one type of business strategy that is going to work for every business. The old saying goes “there is more than one way to crack a nut”, and this is true in business, even within the same industries. For some businesses, trial and error is part of the process of finding business development strategies that work. Find what works for you and if you realize that what you are doing is not working, switch things up until you find a new business strategy that is right for your organization.

In the article “Business Development Strategies” by Tintin writes: In a world full of cut throat competition, each and every business organization has a more or less common agenda – to constantly come up with different ways of achieving maximum growth, sales, profits, and in the process, stay ahead of its competitors. However, all this is much easier said than done. Setting goals and growth targets is easy, whereas actually going ahead and achieving them is a totally different ball game altogether. Business organizations need to prepare some carefully designed business development strategies, without which, achieving the desired targets becomes a next-to-impossible task....

In the articleBusiness Development Strategy by McBain Consulting writes: No business would grow without a strong business development strategy. A robust business development strategy looks outside the sales team; it is more than a sales function, it should be a cross-organizational activity. Some organizations employ individuals to specifically implement business development strategy. As strategy implies long term; business development should be long term too. Without a realistic plan, the organization will not survive and the organization will fail to meet shareholders expectations.

“The business development process is dynamic, simply because the world, moving as it does, will not tolerate a stationary object.  The world will collide with whatever you’ve created, and sooner or later destroy it.  The business development process is that which enables you to preempt the world’s changes.  It hopefully precedes them, and, if not, at least is infinitely flexible in relationship to them.” ~ Michael E. Gerber

According to Michael E. Porter, Harvard Business School, there are five forces that have to be factored in any business development strategy. These five forces are…Threat of the entry of new competitors… Intensity of competitive rivalry… Threat of substitute products or services… Bargaining power of customers (buyers)… Bargaining power of suppliers… Depending on these forces a firm can determine its stand and then based on the analysis of the three key activities of segmenting, targeting and positioning formulate an effective business development plan …

Business development strategy must also consider the mode of entry into markets: A high control or a fully owned mode of entry which is a high risk high gain business development strategy. Or opt for low control or shared ownership which is a low risk low gain business development strategy. Lot of factors such as market size, growth rate, government regulations, and infrastructure helps a business development manager decide on the optimum mode of entry.

In the articleStartup Business Development Strategies: 7 Tips For Putting Together Stellar Deals writes:Business development is both creative and analytical—left brain and right brain—and done well, business development deals can be the purest representation of the equation “1+1=3” to drive growth. Indeed, the best business development deals are often those that break new ground and introduce new models for doing business.  Follow the rules of brainstorming, where no idea is a dumb one, and explore all sorts of possibilities; as long as the contemplated deal structure benefits both parties (win-win), it’s worthy of consideration. Set aside your predilections and constraints and get creative.

Before pursuing any deal, it is useful to get inside the mind of your target partners, and view a potential deal from their perspective.   What is it they are lacking?  Where are they falling behind?  What keeps them up at night?  This takes research and an ability to connect the dots of an often-complicated mosaic of market trends, products, competitors, company culture, and other factors.

The challenge here is twofold.  First, it can be difficult to discern between deals where there is truly not a fit, and the normal struggles, politics, highs and lows that accompany any deal.   Second, in many cases you’ve already sunk a ton of time and money into the process, and it is emotionally draining to accept that it was all wasted effort.  Do the analysis, but trust your gut—if it’s clearly not going to work out, consider your efforts as sunk costs, extricate your firm as smoothly as quickly as possible, and move on to the next deal.

In the article Business Development Strategies writes: A successful business strategy enables managers to provide organizational vision, monitor and understand a dynamic business environment, generate creative strategic options in response to environmental changes, and base every business effort on sustainable competitive advantages. It is difficult to think of anything more important to organizations than the sound implementation of their strategy, the key to achieving their mission. But consider the following statistics:

  • 95% of employees do not understand the strategy
  • 60% of companies do not link their budgets to the strategy
  • 85% of senior management teams spend less than 1 hour a month discussing strategy

While effective planning is the first step in revenue growth, ensuring robust processes are in place to support your plan is equally critical. Without well designed, adequately tested, and clearly communicated business development process to support your operational and tactical business development plans, even your best efforts can fail.

In the articleBusiness Development writes: Business development is a combination of strategic analysis, marketing, and sales. Business development (or “biz dev”) professionals can be involved in everything from the development of products and services, to the creation of marketing strategies, to the generation of sales leads, to negotiating and closing deals.

Business development involves varying degrees of sales and strategy. In some companies, biz-dev people may focus on getting new corporate sales accounts, while in others they may lead new product development. Business development is highly cross-functional, requiring close collaboration with various internal and partner-company teams such as sales, engineering, and marketing to ensure that a deal is consummated. With its focus on strategy, biz-dev steers the direction of a company—the deals forged today determine what the rest of the company will be working on tomorrow…

Business development means different things to different people. That’s why it is appropriate to define the term beforehand. For some it simply means prospecting, to others it can mean developing a new product or technology, while to others it can mean investing or divesting corporate assets. Business development is about bringing discontinuity into the normal operations of an organization. It’s about bringing, doing or developing new things the organization didn’t do before. All have their own right to claim that their activity is business development…

Create the Future: Dare! A Disruptive Business Strategy…

          “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” ~ Peter F. Drucker

Actions have consequences. Today’s actions to deal with today’s issues could have side effects that manifest tomorrow, hence the saying, “Every solution breeds new problems.” Likewise, today’s problems stem from yesterday’s actions. Dealing with problems is a past-oriented activity. Creating the future requires present and future orientation.

However, if you are just solving problems, you are walking into the future backwards! If you remain in this mode, you cannot create the future. How do you escape from this predicament? The escape route is to consider all significant consequences of your actions and either take steps to avoid or recover from them. Spend less time solving problems and more time in ensuring that you will not have any problems from your actions today.

                       “The future belongs to those who dare” ~ Unknown

Sara Ozaki writes: The future is that place ahead of us. It’s a place we will get to, whether it’s one minute, one month, or one year away. The things we do today can affect our future. There are many people with goals and dreams to accomplish. To do this, there must be consistent effort towards those dreams and goals. The future is created by each and every single one of us – and there are ideas out there that may completely revolutionize our world!

Each action we take every day plays into our future. If there are specific goals in mind – perhaps find what is necessary to be done to achieve that goal. If there is a dream to realize – find the path that will lead the way there. Life is meant to be enjoyed, and we can have fun along the way – while at the same time achieving our goals and realizing our dreams.

The key to doing this lies in consistent effort. Once a goal or dream is known, the next step is to find out how to achieve it. Once this is known then the next step is to actually do what needs to be done. It’s easier said than done of course. With this being said, it can be very manageable if broken down into daily or weekly activities…

Our imagination is the only limit to what we can hope to have in the future”~ Charles Kettering

In the article “How To Create The Future”  by Michael Noer , Forbes, writes: Back when I was in high school I remember a friend of mine making the earnest, if rather naïve, declaration that all the world’s problems could be solved if we simply collected the smartest people on the planet, relocated them to an island and left them alone to work it all out.

In the real world, of course, this sort of “smartest guys in the room” mentality has led to such notable successes as Enron and university faculty meetings. But those precedents didn’t stop fabled San Francisco design and innovation firm Frog Design and Forbes from repeating the experiment. Our premise was simple. We were going to gather together some of the world’s smartest designers, journalists, futurists and technologists, lock them in a windowless conference room and ask them to imagine what computing would look like 10 years from now, in 2020. (Ingredients: smart people, an agenda, coffee and a dash of hot air)

Now predicting the future is a notoriously tricky business, but we approached our task with a certain level of confidence. After all, this collaboration had been successful once before. In 2000 Forbes and Frog worked together to predict what the computer of 2010 would look like. Our crystal ball wasn’t perfect, but we did get a number of things right — Computers are in fact smaller than Frisbees (think iPad) and are largely “untethered and unfettered by wires and electrical outlets.” Other things we got spectacularly wrong. I sense I still have a long wait before my “digital butler” reports for duty.

Once everyone settled in, the ideas flew fast and furious. Some of the ideas we generated were banal.  But please don’t hold us too closely to the accuracy of our predictions. The point of the exercise was not about being exactly on target (although it would be nice if we were). The real point of thinking deeply about the future is really to more accurately understand the present. After all, as novelist William Gibson–who famously coined the term “cyberspace”–once said, “The future is already here. It is just not very evenly distributed.”

“You can’t change the past, but you can ruin the present by worrying about the future” ~ Unknown

In the article The ‘Create the Future’ myth by George Dvorsky writes:  A popular notion amongst futurists, techno-progressives and trans-humanists alike is the suggestion that we can proactively engineer the kind of future we want to live in. I myself have been seduced by this idea; back during the Better-humans days our mission was to “connect people to the future so that they can create it.” Given the seemingly dystophic and near-apocalyptic trajectory that humanity appears to be heading in, this was and still is a powerfully intuitive and empowering concept.  Trouble is we’re mostly deluded about this…

“The past is behind, learn from it. The future is ahead, prepare for it. The present is here, live it.”~ Thomas S. Monson

Prakash Rao writes: In the classic musical “The Music Man”, Prof. Harold Hill says, “You pile up enough tomorrows and you will find that you have collected nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays!” Today plants the seed for tomorrow. And tomorrow you will find that today is the tomorrow that you were worried about yesterday! Carpe diem: Seize the day, and by your actions today, seize tomorrow!

Put this in perspective: Example, a business owner spent a large part of his time solving problems. With a little analysis, it was determined that the problems were largely his own creations, and with each problem he solved in a hurry, two more were created. ‘Hercules killed the many-headed Hydra by cauterizing each head that he cut off.’ Likewise, by considering the consequences – both short and long term – of the actions taken to solve problems, you can reduce the time spent solving problems. True, this does take a little more time than before, but with this approach, the problems stayed solved and you can begin to create the future.

   “Learn the past, watch the present, and create the future.” ~ Unknown

In the book “Hope: How Triumphant Leaders Create the Future” by Andrew Razeghi writes:  In moments of uncertainty, when hope is on the line, why do some leaders succeed and others fail? … Could it be that triumphant leaders follow an unarticulated methodology of sorts for translating hope the virtue, into hope the plan? If so, can it be learned? It appears the answer is yes. Whether businesses face uncertainty or meet the challenge of the constant pressure to innovate, leaders must dig deep to keep their focus and stay effective… isolate the critical factor that are core element for successful leadership and business strategy in any climate…and create the future..

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope (create) for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” ~ Albert Einstein

In the article “Creating the Future with Why” by Operational Strategies writes:  Henry Ford said, “If you do not think about the future, you won’t have one.”  Companies must be able to ‘see’ what they want to be or they can never get what they think they want.  It is the ‘why’ that provides motivation, direction, vision, and drive.  It is the ‘why’ that allows companies to stand apart and be different.  In other words, it is the ‘why’ that allows executive leadership to see the future and, therefore, create the future…. it is important to schedule a block of time for you to create your future.

When leadership doesn’t create the future, we usually see an organization that has become reactive.  They fall into the victim mentality of blaming the economy, the competition, and sometimes even the employees of their own company. Knowing ‘why’ not only produces the vision for the future, but it also provides momentum when the going gets tough.  Being a leader is a tough job, but it is even tougher when you don’t take the time to be intentional and deliberate.  With the ‘why’ firmly in mind, you’ll find yourself taking control, creating the future, and providing direction for your company.

“Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.”~ Japanese Proverb

In the article “Guru Speak: Create your Future while Managing your Present” by Vijay Govindarajan writes: Strategy used to be about protecting existing competitive advantage. Today, it is about finding the next advantage. In fact, strategy starts to decay the day it is created. That’s why corporations must develop strategies that address tomorrow’s business realities. Actions that companies take belong in one of three boxes: Box 1 = managing the present, Box 2 = selectively abandoning the past and Box 3 = creating the future. Box 1 is about improving current businesses; Boxes 2 and 3 are about innovation, breakout performance, and growth.

Many organizations restrict their strategic thinking to Box 1, as leaders emphasize cost reduction and margin improvement in their current businesses. But strategy cannot be just about what an organization needs to do to secure profits in the short term. Strategy must include Boxes 2 and 3; it must be about what a company needs to do to sustain leadership in the long term.

Industries transform and change as a result of nonlinear shifts in technology and customer discontinuities. For instance, nanotechnology and genetic engineering are revolutionizing the semiconductor and pharmaceutical industries. Globalization is opening doors to emerging economies, most notably India and China, and billions of customers with vast unmet needs.

Once-distinct industries, such as mass-media entertainment, telephony, and computing, are converging. Rapidly escalating concerns about security and the environment are creating unforeseen markets. Other, more subtle changes are important as well, such as the trend towards more empowered customers, the rising middle class in the developing world, and the aging population in the developed world.

As a result of these forces, companies find their strategies require almost constant reinvention because old assumptions are no longer valid, the previous strategy has been imitated and commoditized by competitors, or changes in the industry environment offer unanticipated opportunities. The only way to stay ahead is to innovate.

The three-box approach to strategic thinking argues that for an organization to sustain leadership over long periods of time, it must emphasize all three boxes. Innovation creates a new business (Box 3), which, at some point, becomes an established business (Box 1). Before the established business matures and dies, the organization must selectively forget the past (Box 2) and again engage in innovation.

This is a dynamic and rhythmic process, one that never ends. Creating the future is akin to a marathon race that is best won by breaking the race into a series of mini-steps… focusing the organization’s resources and energies on accomplishing the objectives in each step.

The challenge for business is to create their future while managing their present. Leaders can build lasting institutions if they can effectively manage the “preservation-destruction-creation” cycle.

The future is not going to be made tomorrow; it is being made today, and largely by the decisions and actions taken with respect to the tasks of today.” ~ Peter F. Drucker

Is Traditional Marketing Dead? Age of Internet, clicks, views…, tweets…, blogs…

In the early nineties there was a notion that the Internet would alter the face of Marketing. Unless you live in a cave, it has! But it is not just the Internet that has changed the way we market products or services, technology has also had a dramatic impact on how we conduct and market our businesses.

There is a new breed of marketer that is emerging from our schools and universities. They understand the power of the web and know how to use it well. This is the age of clicks, views, downloads, followers, Facebook, Tweeter, blogs…

In an article “Traditional B2B Marketing is Dead” by Holger Schulze writes: We are experiencing nothing short of a major disruption in marketing today. New technologies and marketing automation are just one expression and a driver of this change, but it goes much deeper, affecting the way we organize marketing, engage with customers, find new business opportunities, and deliver value to the stakeholders…

Every dimension (including balance of power, audience focus and presence) has significant implications on the way we plan, organize, and execute B2B marketing going forward. We are seeing a classic adoption pattern with early adopters and laggards, false starts, and a mix of “traditional” best practices that are still applicable combined with new methods.

In the article “Is Traditional Marketing Dead?” by Patric Fransko writes: Social media, in and of itself, is not a marketing program. In fact, one can argue, and many do, that social media is overrated and not even truly needed as part of a marketing program in 2011. While it is true that some companies can still flourish while completely ignoring social media, I think they are missing a large opportunity. It is my belief that the integration of social media alongside traditional marketing represents a superior option to using either of these strategies alone. So, is traditional marketing dead? Absolutely not!

In the article “Traditional Marketing is Dead!” by Mael Hernandez writes: The Internet is changing the way business is conducted, but it has the most effect with marketing. The Internet provides instant feedback about which marketing campaigns are and are not working. The Internet gives companies the ability to present your Unique Selling Proposition without pressure and at your customers’ convenience.

The Internet is the “Great Equalizer” because it allows small-medium businesses to compete with the big boys. The Internet gives every business access to the same technology used by big companies. Web analytics can measure traffic on your web site, and RSS feeds increase communication with current and potential customers as well as the ability to instantly measure marketing campaigns and their effectiveness…

In the article “Traditional Marketing is Far from Dead!” by Matt Paines writes: A recent survey by the Royal Mail, UK postal service provider, found that physical postal mail can be used to improve online marketing strategies… The survey found that more than 50% of respondents said they were more likely to click on a link for a company that had already communicated with them by direct mail…The most significant element of the survey, certainly as far as internet marketing is concerned, is that two thirds of respondents said information received in the post had influenced their decision process when purchasing online…

In the article “Traditional Marketing is Dead; Gen-Y Killed It”  by Aiden Livingston writes:  The days when marketers could confidently sink all their advertising dollars into traditional media such as TV and radio are dead.  The problem is the new generation of consumers, commonly referred to as Gen-Y, doesn’t play by the same rules most had come to take for granted. Gen-Y wants to be talked to, not talked at.

The conversation should be a dialog not a lecture.  Don’t tell me why I should buy your product without first asking what I want in a product. Thanks to the prevailing force of the internet such as Facebook, Tweeter,… Gen-Y is more reachable than any generation before it.  Yet still many companies don’t take advantage of the accessibility of Gen-Y

In the blog “Is the Traditional Marketing Funnel Dead?” by Frank Candio writes: The advent of social media and Sales 2.0 has led many B2B marketers to ask if the traditional marketing funnel is dead. In a Sales 2.0 world, buyers are shopping without the assistance of a sales rep or even the knowledge of the vendor. If the buyer controls much of the sales process…does that make our traditional marketing funnel obsolete?

The traditional marketing funnel is not dead. Most companies use some version of the   A-I-D-A (awareness, interest, decision, action) marketing model. This has not changed in the Sales 2.0 world. What have changed are the marketing tools and techniques we use to engage and guide the prospect through each stage…

In the article “The Future of Traditional Marketing” by BrettRelander writes: Marketing is changing and it’s time to consider the options: 1. Recognize the changing landscape and adapt. 2. Die a slow and miserable death. You need to recognize how marketing your business is changing and how you can leverage that change to improve your business.  That’s right, it doesn’t have to be a monumental feat and you don’t have to be a “web guru” to figure it out.  You simply have to be willing to learn and change. 

Traditional Media is not dead, it’s changing. Many self proclaimed thought leaders, social media moguls, and digital marketing experts have been pushing their agenda that traditional media, specifically print ads, are dead for some time now.  Although this may be the case down the road, it is certainly not the case today.  The aging population (traditional media consumers) is far too big.  Traditional media is not dead, but evolving.

In the article “Traditional Media Marketing is Not Dead; It’s Just Dying” by Brian Hamlett writes: two schools of thought about traditional marketing media. Either 1) traditional marketing is dead, or 2) traditional marketing is not dead…yet. Traditional marketing is not dead, it’s just dying. With the rise of social media came the beginnings of the demise of traditional media. More advertisers are moving their marketing budgets from offline activities to online activities…

It’s time for traditional media to move into the next phase of their existence. They just need to figure out how to combine with social media: Connecting and forming communities, relationships built on mutual trust, openness and honesty consistently communicated… They need to learn how to become a part of our communities of influence rather than trying to be the global dictator of them. So it must learn to adapt or death is just around the corner.

In the article “Dead: New Report Declares the Death of Traditional Marketing” by Brian MacGrady writesPeople are turning to the internet and smart phones to find local business information. The ease of access and amount of information is turning this world into a giant connected intelligence. You cannot ignore the importance of integrating online and offline marketing.

Successful new age marketing must align with three ‘R’s; Relevance, Response and Restraint. “The current ‘push’ model of marketing is becoming ever more obsolete as consumers have become more used to control over the media they choose to consume. Technology has empowered the individual and they are no longer forced to endure irrelevant communications.

In the article “Don’t Abandon Traditional Marketing Methods: Integrate and Interact” by Greg writes: While social media is an important element to business marketing, it’s not a replacement for proven forms of promotion. With its low cost, easy barrier-to-entry and seemingly widespread reach, it’s tempting to think social media can replace other forms of marketing. But it’s important to remember that social media in and of itself isn’t a marketing strategy: It’s but one promotional tool in the smart business marketing toolbox.

Two important things to remember in business marketing today are integration and interaction. Integrate your online and offline campaigns, and integrate cohesive online campaigns across social networks… Interaction (talk with, not at) to engage audiences and make them feel an emotional connection to your company, brand or product. Prospects are much more likely to listen to you and follow what you’re doing if they feel that you care about them and that they’re important to your business…

In the article “Reasons Why Traditional Media is Making a Comeback” by Greg writes: It’s the Content, Stupid: The core mission of media is to inform, entertain and inspire. That has not changed nor is there any indication that it will. While it might be fun to keep in touch with your fraternity brothers on Facebook, that’s not really content. It’s no accident that so much of what we see on social media is actually links to mainstream media.

In new media, we just don’t have that much experience built up.  Problems are not clearly defined, solutions are relatively untested and the context is constantly changing.  Is it any wonder that nearly 90% of media budgets still go to traditional media? Strangely enough, given the excess of bile coming from social media gurus, social media itself seems to be helping traditional media rather than hurting it. Social media and mainstream media are much more symbiotic than they are competitive…

In the blog “Are the Four Ps of Marketing Dead? by Paul Roetzer writes: We are taught the four Ps of traditional marketing – Product, Price, Place and Promotion. While these fundamental elements are still relevant, they may not be as important in business today as the four Ps of inbound marketing – Personas, Participation, Publishing and PageRank. Inbound marketing refers to permission-based marketing strategies (e.g. blogging, social networking, search engine optimization) in which you connect with consumers online when they are actively looking for what you offer.

The result is a more measurable, efficient and effective lead-generation system, powered by social media relationships, Website traffic, inbound links and search engine rankings.

“Once every hundred years, media changes. The last hundred years have been defined by the mass media. In the next hundred years, information won’t be just pushed out to people: It will be shared among the millions of connections people have.” – Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook

Inbound marketing is powered by content – blogs, podcasts, videos, optimized press releases, case studies, white papers, eBooks and articles. And unlike traditional outbound marketing, in which you have to buy space in print media or airtime on broadcast media, the social Web has created an almost endless array of low-cost and free distribution channels to directly reach and influence consumers.

In the article “Traditional Media is not Dead, It’s Fueling Social Media” writes: There’s no question that social media has upended things in the marketing world. However, in times of change it’s easy to be a revolutionary and kiss off everything that was old, so rejoice; “Traditional media is dead.” No so fast; the fact is that traditional media is not dead – it’s fueling social media.

A recent study for instance found that 95% of local news is being created by newspapers, not blogs or other social media, which are simply regurgitating what they find in papers.

“The most productive PR path, in my humble opinion, is still a blended approach to social and traditional media. In fact, traditional media coverage in atoms and ink publications, or digital hybrids like MarketingDaily, provides material to drive social media campaigns…~ Len Stein (blog post)

Tell your story in multiple channels and multiple ways. Sure, tell it to the traditional media, the trade media, and local media. Talk it up on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. Post it on Delicious, Digg and other social media. Announce it in a video, a podcast… Expand upon it in a whitepaper…

“Link to the resources on your website from your Twitter account. Use Google Adwords to help prospects find you. (Bid wisely on the keywords your prospects are searching for) Write guest blogs. Comment on leading industry sites. Write articles for traditional offline media like newspapers and business publications. Speak at conferences. Start a LinkedIn group. Seed the web. Seed the world.” ~ John Kewley

Achieve Sales Excellence: “Superior salespeople are MADE – not born?”

             “Excellence now, more than ever”~ Tom Peters

Sales excellence is often thought to be as much of an art as a science. Most sales executives today realize that a high-performing sales organization is not simply the result of strong sales people. Rather, strong sales people are the result of a strong sales organization where strategy, structure, processes, performance management systems, and competence development programs are in place. To create sustainable high performance, the sales organization must “add science to the art of selling”. The art and science of selling include mastering the basic disciplines for sales excellence.

In the article “Achieve Excellence With Your Branding Strategy” by Dan Schawbel, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, writes: You’re disposable unless you prove yourself otherwise. You need to be excellent. What is excellence, anyway? It was something of a generic term until the best-seller In Search of Excellence  back in 1982. Excellence happens “when the outcome is something that goes way beyond the norm,” says Tom Peters, management consultant, one of the authors of that iconic book. For example, excellence is achieving and beating your sales goals six weeks before the end of the quarter or building an online community of consumers begging to hear what you have to say. Just getting the job done isn’t excellent.

There’s no such thing as a nine-to-five job if you want to achieve excellence, and there’s no single path to getting there. If someone looks at you and doesn’t know what you do; your job is in jeopardy. No longer can you just be ‘badge #127’ in the purchasing department,” says Peters, also author of the new book The Little Big Things. Within an organization, you have to make your accomplishments visible to senior management—but in a nonegocentric way. For example, excellence can mean taking the focus off “me” at your organization and putting it on the customers, your manager, and your peers. Do right by everyone and senior management will begin to notice you…

In the article “Sales Excellence – Key Steps” by George F Franks III, President of Franks Consulting Group, writes: The heart of any successful business is a successful sales force. You can have the best innovation, technology, product, marketing, operations and customer services, but if you do not have an excellent sales force, all the rest quickly becomes overhead. While every sales force organization is different, there are certain key elements that differentiate the excellent sales teams – no matter how small or how big – from the average ones.

For example; Sales improvement is essential for sales excellence and it must be on-going and include all aspects of the sales process, skills, company, product, markets, competition, and SWOT. Sales-centric & Customer-centric business models generate more revenue and growth. Sales leadership must have a combination of sales experience plus leadership and management skills. Sales compensation needs to be at least competitive for the industry and geography the company operates.

In the article “How To Achieve Excellence In Sales” by Dominic Ferrara writes: To excel in any selling situation, you must have confidence, and confidence comes, first and foremost, from knowledge. You have to know and understand yourself and your goals. You have to recognize and accept your weaknesses as well as your special talents. This requires a kind of personal honesty that not everyone is capable of exercising.

In any sales effort, you must accept other people as they are, not as you would like for them to be. One of the most common faults of sales people is impatience when the prospective customer is slow to understand or make a decision. Selling is challenging: It demands the utmost of your creativity and innovative thinking….

In the Blog “4 Keys To Achieve Sales Excellence”, by Brick Wall writes: Don’t Just Meet The Standard – SET THE STANDARD.  Here is a quote from Seth Godin on Tom Peter’s blog: “Sales Excellence isn’t about meeting the spec, it’s about setting the spec…The surefire way to achieve excellence, then, is not to create a written spec and match it. The surefire way is to be human. To be artistic: to make a connection with the sales professional and to somehow change them for the better”.  

Another sales expert’s understanding of Sales Excellence: “Sales excellence is going above and beyond what is required or expected. It’s making your word solid as gold, and always following through with what is promised or stated. Sales excellence is when a sales rep can create a relationship, not as someone who you CAN source your product from, but someone you WANT to source your product from.”

Demarr Zimmerman, Sendoutcards, identifies these 3-Steps : 1. Duplication – Can you duplicate your winning message, your value proposition, your demo? The key here is that you can do this process in your sleep so that you do not have to recreate this over and over again. 2. Consistency – Can you be consistent in your selling skills.  Not consistently bad, consistently improving to the point of perfection or near perfection on every call. 3. Time – Let’s face it, it takes time to become successful.  If you are in sales (inside or outside) you need time to learn your product, your market, your systems, and your prospects/customers. It takes time to manage both people and processes.

Connect All Your Resources : Understand all the resources you have and then tap into them…get additional insight into what you plan on presenting. Constant Learning — Are you an expert in your craft?  Are you an expert in creating the selling Value Proposition?  Are you an expert in business?  Are you leading by example by reading more, listening to more podcasts, attending seminars, etc?  If you are not, how can you begin to write the Sales Excellence Standard? 

   “The Relentless Pursuit Of Perfection” ~ Lexus Automobile PR

In the article “Deliberate Practice & the Pursuit of Sales Excellence” by K. Anders Ericsson, Florida State University. Dr. Ericsson studies expert performance, especially as it is created by what he calls “deliberate practice,” i.e. focused practice aimed at improving a particular skill set or desired outcome.  Dr. Ericsson’s studies have concluded that expert performance derives mostly from two factors: 1. Regularly obtaining concrete and constructive feedback, and 2. deliberate practice.

According to Dr. Ericsson’s research, experience alone does not result in great performance (practice is fairly benign as a technique to achieve maximum human performance), but deliberate practice is. This is why accurate, focused, role-playing and other practice tools are effective human performance enhancers for the sales professional.

Sales managers! Keep role-playing with your people, practice deliberately. Do it often, and provide constructive, direct feedback, even if your sales team doesn’t like it. Direct, constructive feedback should be a priority for all sales managers in their day-to-day work… Only deliberate, perfect practice makes perfect.

In the article “Setting Standard of Excellence to Your Sales People” writes: Merriam and Webster Dictionary defines excellence as something that is superior or very good of its kind. Ask someone from your sales team what’s his definition of “excellence” and how it applies to his work as a sales person. Then ask yourself; what does excellence mean to me and my way of doing things? Do you have the same standards of excellence?

Fact is that “excellence” means different things to different people. As a sales manager, you must acknowledge that everyone has varying range of potentials and talents (some better, some worse). In other words, your standards of excellence may be very different, almost unrecognizable, from the standards of your boss or co-worker. The trick is to be flexible and inflexible at the same time. Be inflexible on what you want from your sales reps, but at the same time be flexible on how you’ll guide each sales rep into achieving those goals…

In the article “Sales Excellence Krauthammer Consulting writes: “Man cannot improve, if he is not aware of his present state” ~ Abraham Lincoln. Some companies have developed a holistic and systematic approach to diagnose and improve their sales capabilities. Their key stakeholders regularly gather and rethink their go-to-market strategy, their sales processes and alignment to marketing, the sales organization and its people, sales automation and relationship management, then refine and execute the corporate strategy to achieve their operational objectives and sales excellence…

“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in one pretty and well preserved piece, but to skid across the line broadside, thoroughly used up, worn out, leaking oil, shouting GERONIMO!”~ Bill McKenna, motorcycle racer: Think of the implications if you can drive this message home to your sales force!

“Excellence now, more than ever”~ Tom Peters.

If you become excellent in this economy, you’ll blow the doors off of your competition when companies and people start spending money again.

      “Women are better salespersons than men”~ Tom Peters.

Objective Management Group has data on almost 400,000 salespeople. Data shows that a greater percentage of the females are good salespeople compared with the percentage of males that are good salespeople.

      “Do something scary every day” ~ Tom Peters

So today, have a greater sense of how you either positively or negatively impact your sales force, get each of them to do something they don’t want to do, have them return to the office all beat up and increase your emphasis on sales improvement to assure continued, consistent sales excellence.

China vs India: Where is it Better for Doing Business?

The Ease of Doing Business Index is an index of 183 countries created by the World Bank. Higher rankings indicate better, usually simpler, regulations for businesses and stronger protections of property rights.

The index is based on the study of laws and regulations, with the input and verification by more than 8,000 government officials, lawyers, business consultants, accountants and other professionals in 183 economies who routinely advise on or administer legal and regulatory requirements.

The Ease of Doing Business Index is meant to measure regulations directly affecting businesses and does not directly measure more general conditions such as a nation’s proximity to large markets, quality of infrastructure, inflation, or crime. For example, according to the Doing Business 2010 Report, which includes the Ease of Doing Business Index, Australia is ranked third on the first subindex “Starting a business” behind only New Zealand and Canada.

In Australia there are 2 procedures required to start a business which take on average 2 days to complete. The official cost is 0.8% of the gross national income per capita. There is no minimum capital requirement. By contrast, in Guinea-Bissau which is ranked among the worst (183nd out of 183) on this same subindex, there are 16 procedures required to start a business taking 213 days to complete. The official cost is 323.0% of the gross national income per capita. A minimum capital investment of 1006.6% of the gross national income per capita is required.

While fewer and simpler regulations often imply higher rankings, this is not always the case. Protecting the rights of creditors and investors, as well as establishing or upgrading property and credit registries, may mean that more regulation is needed. Moving from the worst one-fourth of nations to the best one-fourth implies a 2.3 percentage point increase in annual growth.

The various subcomponents of the index in themselves provide concrete suggestions for improvement. Many of the components may be relatively easy to implement and uncontroversial. As such, the index has influenced many nations to change their regulations so as to improve their position on the index, for example, getting to be a top 25. Between June 2008 and May 2009, the Doing Business Report recorded 287 reforms in 131 economies, 20% more than in the year before. The 10 top reformers were Rwanda, Kyrgyz Republic, Macedonia, Belarus, United Arab Emirates, Moldova, Colombia, Tajikistan, Egypt, Arab Rep.and Liberia.

The correlations between the subindices are low, which suggest that countries rarely score universally well or universally badly on the indicators. In other words, there is usually much room for partial reform even in the best ranking nations. The annual Reformers’ Club event brings together individuals from top reformer countries who have been instrumental in initiating and implementing business environment reform. These reformers are acknowledged for their success in improving the ease of doing business in their country.

Other, and somewhat similar, annual reports are the Indices of Economic Freedom and the Global Competitiveness Report. They, especially the later, look at many more factors that affect economic growth, like inflation and infrastructure. These factors may, however, be more subjective and diffuse since many are measured using surveys, and they may be more difficult to change quickly compared to regulations.

In 2008 the World Bank Group’s Independent Evaluation Group, a semi-independent watchdog within the World Bank Group, published an evaluation of the Doing Business Index. The report, titled Doing Business: An Independent Evaluation, contained both praise and criticism of the Doing Business project. The report recommended that Doing Business be clearer about what is and is not measured, disclose changes to published data, recruit more informants, and simplify the Paying Taxes Indicator.

A study commissioned by the Norwegian government alleges methodological weaknesses, an uncertainty in the ability of the indicators to capture the underlying business climate, and a general worry that many countries may find it easier to change their ranking in the Doing Business Report than to change the underlying business environment.

In an article by Peter Kusek, Investment Policy Officer with Investment Climate Advisory Services of the World Bank Group, writes: The Doing Business seventh annual report for 2010, which includes its flagship Ease of Doing Business rankings, once again has the top four positions filled by high-income economies such as Singapore, New Zealand, Hong Kong (China) and the United States. That’s not a surprise.   

However, not expected was to find countries such as Georgia, Saudi Arabia or Mauritius among the top 20.  Does this mean that these countries are amongst the world’s 20 most desirable and attractive business destinations?  Well, yes and no, depending on how you define attractiveness.  Let’s do the following quick business exercise: I am an investor looking to expand my enterprise and venture beyond the borders of my country. 

All my buddies are telling me that China and India are the places to go, but before I follow their advice I decide to snoop around the Internet and see what other folks are saying.  As I expected, there is information abound so I decide to restrict my search, and only check out various lists of countries which rank in the world markets based on their business attractiveness.  Still, there are too many so I zero in on the following six comparison lists which seem to come up most often in the search:

  • Global Competitiveness Index from the World Economic Forum: The most comprehensive of our indices and includes hard data as well as business opinions on a range of issues including institutions, labor, infrastructure and health. It does not have a specific business focus, but rather it assesses the ability of countries to provide high levels of prosperity to their citizens.
  • Ease of Doing Business Index from the Doing Business project at the World Bank Group:  Measures the quality of regulations and efficiency of business-government transactions for domestically owned small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs). It does not measure macroeconomic conditions, corruption, cost of labor and capital, or other factors which affect the likely profitability of new business ventures.
  • Index of Economic Freedom from the Heritage Foundation:  Covers ten areas including trade freedom, business freedom, investment freedom, and property rights. It relies on secondary sources of information rather than business interviews.
  • Business Environment Rankings of the Economist Intelligence Unit: Examine ten separate criteria covering the political environment, macroeconomic environment, market opportunities, policy towards free enterprise and competition, and others.
  • FDI Confidence Index from A.T. Kearney: Based on a survey of top executives who are asked about the future prospects for foreign direct investment (FDI) in each of the measured countries.
  • World Competitiveness Yearbook by IMD: Looks at five main areas of economic performance, government efficiency, business efficiency and infrastructure.

Now, comparing China and India in these rankings, and including Brazil and Russia to cover all four BRICs: I am just going to create a simple table (without correlating or standardizing the data) showing the position of these countries on each of the rankings.


On one hand, the FDI Confidence Index tells me that there is no better place in the world to go than China.  On the other hand China is towards the bottom of the Index of Economic Freedom, and Doing Business puts it somewhere in the middle of their distribution.  Russia is a clear loser on most of these rankings with the exception of Doing Business, which places it above both India and Brazil. 

India scores worst on the Doing Business rankings, yet all other rankings think it’s the second best BRIC country to go right after China.  In several of the rankings China is at the top and Russia at the bottom.  In the Business Environment rankings, these two countries are in the middle and Brazil is the best and India the worst performer of the four countries.

Peter Kusek continues: So who is wrong and who is right?  They are all right in their own way: We are sort of comparing apples and oranges.  While our six lists of rankings all measure some aspect of business attractiveness, they all come at it from a different angle and it’s these differences in methodology that are really key in interpreting results.  Some focus specifically on foreign investment while others examine the quality of business conditions for all enterprises.  So what are we learning from all this?

One key lesson surely is that we should not blindly trust any set of indicators and country rankings that might result from them.  Indicators are exactly what their name says they are—data which are only indicative, rather than definitive in measuring a particular issue.  Each of these six comparative indices have their own unique methodology and target audience, and conflating all of them together will usually muddle the picture instead of adding clarity.  Business people, governments and academics should be prudent in using these numbers beyond their intended purpose and in extrapolating far-reaching conclusions about how countries actually compare to one another.

So is China or India the better place for my business?  Well, I am not sure; more research is needed.

The Doing Business Report is a controversial study, with passionate critics and devoted fans. As recognized by the Independent Evaluation Group of the World Bank, “ Some have questioned the reliability and objectivity of its measurements. Others doubt the relevance of the issues it addresses or fear it may unduly dominate countries reform agendas at the expense of more crucial development objectives. And the attention given to the indicators may inadvertently signal that the World Bank Group values less burdensome business regulations more highly than its other strategies for poverty reduction and sustainable development.

Global Deal Making: It’s a Deal Economy: Do-or-Die…

Companies ended last year having announced more than 7,000 deals, at a value of $2.7 trillion, and this marked the first increase in M&A deal numbers and volumes since 2007, as well as a 23 percent increase over 2009 levels, which were the lowest since 2004.

In the article “Art of Deal-Making” by David Cogman and Carsten Buch Sivertsen, McKinsey write: Our analysis found that deals created more value overall than they did in any year since we began tracking them, in 1997—and that acquirers were more disciplined at capturing this value for their shareholders. Other trends in deals for the year included continued growth in cross-border M&A, an increase in the number of deals in Asia and Latin America, and modest growth in private-equity (PE) deal volumes.

Deal activity recovered in 2010 but remained well short of a deal frenzy. A rally in stock markets around the world drove growth in the total value of deals: global market capitalization rose to around 80 percent of the 2007 peak, up from around 65 percent in 2009. Deal activity for 2010 as a share of market capitalization was slightly below the long-term average of 7 to 8 percent. Despite the resurgence, Deal activity as a share of market capitalization was still considerably lower than it was in 1999, when volumes rose as high as 11 percent of global market cap.

Cross-border activity regained momentum. The long-term trend of increasing cross-border deals activity seemed to stall in 2009, with a significant drop to just 25 percent of global deal volumes, down from 40 percent in pre-crisis years. But cross-border activity returned to pre-crisis levels in 2010 as a result of both mega-deals and numerous smaller cross-border transactions.

Cogman and Sivertsen write: Private-equity activity recovered but remained concentrated in Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. For 2010, private-equity M&A, at a bit above $200 billion, accounted for 8 percent of deals by volume. Although nearly double the levels of 2009, this remains far from the $700 billion peak seen in 2006 and 2007. This rebound was, however, mostly a phenomenon of OECD countries. Non-OECD countries constitute around 30 percent of global M&A but only 10 percent of private-equity activity.

Stock markets have typically assessed the value of M&A to acquirers cautiously. Over the past decade, capital market reactions to deals, as gauged by share price reaction to deal announcements, suggested that investors perceived them as creating around 10 percent of their value for the seller and destroying around five and a half percent for the acquirer. This perception reversed sharply in 2010, however: for only the second time in the past decade, markets viewed the average deal as creating value for both acquirer and seller.

The return of market confidence in deal making during the latter half of the year was perhaps the most encouraging aspect of deals in 2010. Overall deal activity improved, and capital markets looked favorably upon the resulting value creation. Companies also once again seem willing to engage in more ambitious cross-border deals. Barring any major macroeconomic upsets in 2011, a positive trend seems to have begun.

In the article “2011 Ripe for Uptick in Deal Making if Confidence and Clarity Return” by Ernst & Young’s Transaction Advisory Services writes: “The past year was characterized by a two-speed recovery, with momentum building in emerging markets versus limited deal activity in developed markets,” says Richard Jeanneret, Ernst & Young.  Emerging markets witnessed a surge in deals activity in 2010 with inbound and outbound BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) deal value reaching almost $372 billion, up more than 46% over 2009.

Private equity (PE) rebounded this year with acquisition activity recovering off of 2009 lows. PE firms have announced 1,778 deals valued at $196 billion. Improved credit conditions have fueled an increase in deal activity, evidenced by increasing buyouts of larger transaction sizes as 2010 unfolded. Banks are more willing to lend in this environment, and there appears to be a fairly robust market for new deal financings and re-financings. High yield debt is providing a viable financing alternative, as the market, particularly in the US, is at record issuance levels.

Fortune 1000 companies have $1.9 trillion in cash on hand, an increase of almost $600 billion since before the economic downturn three years ago. In an Ernst & Young survey, over half (58%) said credit/capital conditions were better now than six months ago. Access to capital to fund deals has also improved.

A third of respondents (36%) state that access to funding is not a problem for their companies, compared to 26% in April of last year. “Confidence has been the primary restraining factor in deal activity over the past year,” says Jeanneret. “Investors face uncertainty stemming from regulatory changes, austerity measures, unemployment, fears of inflation and European fiscal woes.

In the report “Global Negotiating and Deal Making” by Xalles Limited writes: Preparation is a key ingredient in any negotiation but in international negotiations it can make the difference between a good contract while building a solid long term relationship or a disastrous outcome. Understand the cultures. Understand the subtleties of the laws of the countries.

Understand how you work with gatekeepers and middlemen to accomplish your goals. Create an agenda, roadmap, and determine the positions for the negotiations… Look at all possible risks and develop migration strategies for the positions that the other parties might assume. Know the detours on your roadmap and how to use them if necessary.

Many large organizations utilize gatekeepers when entering negotiations with foreign parties. They have a multi-purpose job. They protect the key executives from getting into a situation where they might lose face. They also shield some of the negotiators from getting too close to the executives until the executive is ready to be more open. These gatekeepers also provide a wall around the ultimate negotiator and communicate their “fixed” position to your negotiator.

Often there are intermediaries who are staff of the principals and who will carry the key messages back and forth outside of the formal meetings. Unlike the gatekeepers, these middlemen are a positive influence on the deal making process. Through the middlemen is where the real negotiating takes place. This process is common in many cultures and allows the principals to save face and can often save many deals from being aborted. The intermediaries allow the opportunity for many “trial closes” to be executed, thus reducing the chance for an impasse…

In the article “Due Diligence for Global Deal Making The Definitive Guide to Cross Border Mergers and Acquisitions, Joint Ventures Financings, and Strategic Alliances” by Arthur Rosenbloom writes: Many global transactions fail to meet the parties’ expectations, and a primary culprit is inadequate due diligence. Expanding businesses must answer difficult questions, such as: Why (if at all) should we do this deal? What are the rules going in and what happens if things go wrong? Where are the tax, legal, financial, and operational traps and what are the opportunities?

Doing deals that create value for shareholders is harder than ever. It is even more difficult to do this in a multi-national environment. The issues of tax, accounting, securities laws and the regulatory differences add enormous complexities to the already huge challenges of just getting the strategy right and executing it!! Deals are made or broken in the due diligence phase…

In the article “Deal Making: The Art of Using Mergers & Acquisitions and Private Equity for Value Enhancement” writes: In a globalize world, deals are an essential mechanism for shareholder value enhancement. Deals can facilitate access to new markets, capacities and technologies, as well as enabling organizations to focus on core competencies. Well-planned and strategic deals are transforming a number of emerging corporations into global powerhouses and enabling leading US and European companies to metamorphose into international majors.

Private equity, with their wide network and vast experience, play a significant role in the internationalization of companies and is becoming increasingly popular in Asia as it provides shareholders and management with a number of interesting alternatives to enhance shareholder value. The capital facilitates growth of both emerging and mature companies…

In the blog “Deal-Making: What does the Future Hold? by Tom Gledhill writes:  Top executives must improve their negotiation and deal-making skills or risk financial ruin as big business and the recession make it harder for small-medium enterprise’s (SME’s) to get a foot in the door. Speaking at an event in London, Clive Rich, professional negotiator, told a packed group of SME founder/owners that it is vital that SME’s understand more about the deal making process or they will simply lose out.

He added, “in the wake of the global financial crisis and with the recession biting, SME’s are finding it harder and harder to get deals, whether for funding or with large customers and suppliers who are putting the squeeze on terms or slamming doors in their in face”.  Companies will only “win” at deal making if they learn to negotiate effectively.

This is becoming critical as China and India grow in negotiating strength, as emerging economies like Brazil become more powerful, as the demands of technology place an ever greater premium on effective international deal partnerships, and as the lingering effects of recession and the credit crunch continue to squeeze the availability of working capital for international expansion…

In the article “Confident Deal Makers Pulled Out Checkbooks in 2010” by Michael J. De La Merced and Jeffrey Cane write: Return of confidence is the most significant development in deals in 2010. The fickle state of mind encouraged the first annual gain in deal-making worldwide since the financial crisis. Still, deal activity is far off the peak of 2007, and no one expects a return to exuberant deal-making anytime soon. Reasons for the renewed optimism include continued cheap credit, huge piles of corporate cash and gains in the United States stock market.

“To be successful, deals must be strategic, earnings-growth positive and easily understood by shareholders,” said Jeffrey Kaplan, Global Head of Mergers and Acquisitions at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “That’s one reason why we’re not seeing the velocity of deals that we saw in 2006 and 2007.” The United States accounts for 34 percent of global deal volume. But one of the biggest themes for deals in 2010 was the growth in emerging markets. In the Asia-Pacific region, deal volume jumped 43.5 percent, according to Thomson Reuters.

“This has clearly been an inflection point for East meets West”, said Paul Parker, head of global deals at Barclays Capital. “Emerging markets have surged and really accounted for growth in deals this year.”

In the article “Making Deals: The Business of Negotiating” by Marvin Gottlieb and William J. Healy writes: We are all deal-makers and we all make deals daily, whether you know it or not — no executive who sits down to cut a deal wants to stake the outcome on instinct, intuition, or the force of another’s personality and position. You need a plan. Your reputation, and maybe your career, depends on it.

Better deal-makers create a problem-solving, collaborative atmosphere that produces satisfying results for everyone. They turn deadlines and the timing of the deal to their advantage, and gather information that strengthens the deal… and know how to circumvent the power plays of others. And since you’ll inevitably go up against hard-nosed, positional bargainers from time to time, you’ll need to recognize and counter their “all’s fair in love and war” tactics. In the best deals both sides must win; it must be a win-win deal…

In the article “Final Meditations on the Wheel & Deal” by Douglas Glover writes:  Deals are the gears of exchange: they make things work, they propel the future… A good deal is a moment of clarity, of sudden understanding, of practical adjustment… Deals create their own hermeneutics, their own systems of definition, interpretation and appeal. They also create their own shadowy quasi-legal systems.

As the 2010 came to a close, the tailwinds were forming that will propel leading companies back into deals in 2011, realizing opportunities for game-changing strategic deals. The emerging winners will be those that drive long-term growth through innovation, globalization and an entrepreneurial mindset. “With record-breaking levels of cash on hand and confidence slowly returning to the markets, we expect to see deal activity continue to increase in 2011, albeit in a moderate, targeted way” says Krouskos.

Making good deals involves making good decisions throughout and beyond the process of doing the deal; and, finding deals that deliver anticipated values and benefits. The process begins with thinking that leads to the formulation of clear goals; and continues until the acquired company has been fully integrated and all anticipated economic benefits obtained with a minimum of surprises.

The thoughtful deal-maker preserves value by tending to relationships. The lifeblood of human endeavor is effective communication and keeps lines of communication open with all parties involved. A thoughtful deal-maker studies the numbers and the business decisions behind each and every line item, and knows the value of a potential purchase… cultivates a negotiating atmosphere that favors the desired outcome.

The thoughtful deal-maker is aware of the goal and is steadfastly focused. The perceived ability to satisfy needs is a source of power and influence. The thoughtful deal-maker sets the climate, direction, and content of negotiations… doesn’t ask the counsel what to do, but asks to be educated on the alternatives, opportunities, risks, and means to handle them to achieve a deal that delivers the goals.

Rise of a Global Economic Super-Power: BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China)? (major emerging global markets or new world order?)

The term “BRIC” coined by Jim O’Neill at Goldman Sachs, represents the economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China combined. The term was first used in a Goldman Sachs Research Report titled “Dreaming with BRICs: The Path to 2050” and it argued that by 2050 the combined economies of the BRICs could eclipse the combined economies of the current richest countries of the world.

The four countries, combined, currently account for more than a quarter of the world’s land area and more than 40% of the world’s population and hold a combined GDP of 18.486 trillion dollars. On almost every scale, they would be the largest entity on the global stage. And, most important, these four countries are among the biggest and fastest growing emerging markets.

The size of China’s economy overtook Germany’s economy in 2007 and  Japan’s in 2010. Goldman Sachs now believes that the Chinese economy will overtake the United States by 2027. The latest prediction by Standard Chartered Plc. says China will overtake the U.S. to become the world’s largest economy by 2020. And then China’s economy will be twice as large as the U.S. by 2030 and account for 24 percent of global output, up from 9 percent in 2010. The BRIC countries have reached these levels of economic growth by simultaneously stressing education, foreign investment, domestic consumption, and domestic entrepreneurship…

In the article “Build Your Fortune BRIC by BRIC” by Nicholas A. Vardy in The Global Guru, writes: By dint of their sheer size and population — and their collective decision to embrace their own particular brand of capitalism — BRICs are the economic future of the world….today they already account for a combined GDP of $15.435 trillion dollars on a purchasing power basis. By that measure, they are already collectively larger than the United States.

However, BRICs have to get a lot of things right in order to imitate the success of Japan, Germany and South Korea. Potential problems include China’s oppressive regime, India’s choking bureaucracy, Brazil’s history of policy flip-flops and Russia’s gangster capitalism… These economies are collectively already about 15% bigger than the United States; however, the U.S. GDP ($14 trillion) is almost 40% larger than all four combined ($8.6 trillion). Using real GDP, the average American is almost 15 times richer than the BRIC counterpart…

BRIC is now BRICS: In 2010 South Africa was invited to join the group and so the acronym BRICS. South Africa despite lagging behind the other members in terms of economic growth became the first African country to be admitted to BRIC. According to a paper published in 2005, Mexico and South Korea are the only other countries comparable to the BRIC, but their economies were excluded initially because they were considered already more developed and they are members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

In the article “BRIC becomes BRICS” by JP van der Merwe, analyst writes: Key factor for South Africa’s elevation to the BRIC group is South Africa’s prominence within the Southern African Development Community (SADC). South Africa is undoubtedly the most influential member of the SADC group and with this regional bloc come a large market of just over 250 million people. Brazil, Russia, India and China no doubt recognize the potential of this region and see South Africa as the key in tapping into this large market…

In the articleSouth Korea Better BRIC Candidate than South Africa by Nasreen Seria, Goldman Sachs, writes: South Korea’s economy and growth forecast make it a stronger candidate than South Africa to join the BRIC group of major emerging markets… South Korea, Indonesia, Mexico and Turkey are “growth economies” because they each account for about 1 percent of global gross domestic product…

South Africa’s economy of $285 billion compares with South Korea’s $833 billion, Turkey’s $615 billion and Mexico’s $875 billion, according to World Bank data…Goldman Sachs identifies 11 emerging markets — Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Turkey and Vietnam — that have fast-growing populations and the economic potential of the BRIC countries…

In the article “Building a BRIC Foundation” by Roya Wolverson writes: Just how deep the ties can be between the BRICs is a matter of debate. Many analysts have noted the roadblocks to the group establishing the “common goals, common actions” touted by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Russia’s Vedomosti. Anders Aslund of the Peterson Institute says the BRICs have “made sense for a decade as an investment theme,” but that differences between Russia’s foreign policy and that of other BRICs could make consensus unlikely.

Other experts are also skeptical that the BRICs can resolve their differences. The Carnegie Endowment’s Uri Dadush says; intransigence over China and India’s ongoing border dispute and a history of competition between China and Russia could be insurmountable obstacles. “I don’t see it as a cohesive group that will be there pushing issues together fifteen to twenty years from now,” he told CFR.org.

In the article “How BRIC Innovators Will Defeat You” by Michael Schrage writes: The most striking sign of the BRICs’ significance to the world economy is their share of foreign-exchange reserves. All four are among the ten largest accumulators of reserves, accounting for 40% of the world’s total. China is easily the largest, with a staggering $2.4 trillion, enough to buy two-thirds of all the NASDAQ-quoted companies. It is the world’s second-largest net creditor after Japan. Russia’s foreign-exchange reserves were virtually zero when it began market reform in 1992; now they stand at $420 billion. If the BRICs were to set aside one-sixth of their reserves, they could create a fund the size of the IMF.

In the article “Busting the Brazil/Russia/India/China (BRIC) Myth of Challenging U.S. Global Leadership” by ArielCohen, PhD, Lisa Curtis , Derek Scissors, PhD, and Ray Walser, PhD write: Major myth is that BRIC Economies Are Eclipsing the U.S.: The International Monetary Fund estimates that the BRICs collectively are about 15 percent bigger than the U.S. Using standard GDP, however, the U.S. ($14 trillion) is more than 60 percent larger than all four BRICs combined ($8.6 trillion).

The BRICs combine for about 15 percent of the world’s economy, while the U.S. alone accounts for almost 25 percent.  On a per capita basis, the results are even more disparate. Adjusting for purchasing power, a U.S. citizen has almost eight times greater than the average BRIC citizen, and using standard GDP that number increases to almost 15 times.

In the article “Are BRIC Countries a Threat to the Dollar Standard?” by Ivan Martchev writes: As long as China keeps its currency pegged to the U.S. dollar, it won’t make a huge difference. However, once the Chinese currency is allowed to float freely and the Chinese remove numerous capital controls will the yuan become a threat to the dollar standard. When that happens, the problematic currencies of the West are likely to experience notable declines against the current BRIC currencies. The main beneficiary will be gold bullion, which has steadfastly refused to decline despite the dollar’s rally, and has been making all-time highs in euro terms. Assets dominated in BRIC currencies will also get a boost in value.

In the article “Taking the ‘R’ out of BRIC: How the Economic Downturn Exposed Russia’s Weaknesses” by Knowledge@Wharton writes:  Goldman Sachs in a follow-up report, put forward its so-called “N11” — or Next 11 — group of BRIC aspirants, including Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Korea, Turkey and Vietnam.  But now many experts question whether the once promising BRIC label has begun to lose its luster — especially in the case of Russia.

Russia has done poorly as compared with its BRIC counterparts, as well as other oil-rich emerging economies due to “a combination of corruption, poor governance, government interference in the private sector, and insufficient investment in the oil and gas sector,” says Kalish. These problems and others — such as erosion of civil liberties — will continue to stymie growth unless they are tackled aggressively, according to experts…

In the article “In the Goodbye BRIC, Hello BIIC?” writes: Indonesia, the world’s fourth-most-populous country and largest Muslim democracy, and in the latest Global Competitiveness Report ranked Indonesia 44th out of 139 countries—up from No. 54 the prior year. (Russia came in at No. 63).  Economist Nouriel Roubini of New York University has argued that Indonesia should replace Russia in the bloc. “From an American perspective,” he wrote last year in a column, “Indonesia is an attractive alternative to Russia… Russia’s inability to develop into a mature economy has prompted calls  for the country’s removal from the BRIC group…

In the article “The Fifth BRIC” by Rob Marstrand writes: Think of Indonesia as the “fifth BRIC.” According to The Economist, Indonesian GDP will grow by 5.9% next year. That’s almost three times the World Bank’s 2.4% estimate for the developed economies. More important, this growth is being driven by the private sector, not by government spending. In Indonesia, the private sector accounts for roughly 90% GDP. The bulk of exports (89%) go to Asian nations. Despite this income growth, Indonesia still has the lowest unit labor costs in the Asia-Pacific region. This has attracted manufacturing activities from China. Employment growth is critical, because half of Indonesia’s population is 25 years old or younger…

As David Rothkopf wrote in Foreign Policy, “Without China, the BRICs are just the BRI, a bland, soft cheese that is primarily known for the whine that goes with it. China is the muscle of the group… They have effective veto power over any BRIC initiatives because without them, who cares really? They are the one with the big reserves and the biggest potential market. Deutsche Bank Research said in a report that “economically, financially and politically, China overshadows and will continue to overshadow the other BRICs…

There are many uncertainties and assumptions in the BRIC thesis that could mean that any or all of these four countries will not live up to their promise. The preeminence of China and India as major manufacturing countries with unrealized potential has been widely recognized, but some commentators state that China’s and Russia’s large-scale disregard for human rights and democracy could be a problem in the future. There is also the possibility of conflict over Taiwan in the case of China and other smaller democracies that lie in the vicinity…

Other critics suggest that BRIC is nothing more than a neat acronym for the four largest emerging market economies, but in economic and political terms nothing else links the four. Two are manufacturing based economies and big importers (China and India), but two are huge exporters of natural resources (Brazil and Russia). “The Economist”, in its special report on Brazil, expressed the following view: “In some ways Brazil is the steadiest of the BRICs.

Unlike China and Russia it is a full-blooded democracy; unlike India it has no serious disputes with its neighbors. It is the only BRIC without a nuclear bomb.” The Heritage Foundation’s “Economic Freedom Index”, which measures factors such as protection of property rights and free trade ranks Brazil (“moderately free”) above the other BRICs (“mostly unfree”)…

While acknowledging the significant risks in investing in emerging nations: “The emerging nations . . . represent the most promising markets for the next decades . . . Paced by superior economic growth rates and fundamentally attractive resources and opportunities, emerging nations appear poised to shake up the established order in the world’s markets…”

Predatory Business Practices: Patent Sharks, Patent Trolls…

In December 2009 Nokia asked the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to intervene and ban import of patent-infringing iPhones and MacBooks, accusing Apple of building its entire gadget business on the backs of other people’s work. This, in turn, provoked Apple which also asked the ITC to ban Nokia import. Apple has meanwhile accepted the ITC investigation over Nokia’s claims.

According to Apple Insider, a Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster estimates that Nokia wants a “1 percent to 2 percent royalty on every iPhone sold,” or about $6 to $12 per handset. Multiply that with 50 million iPhones sold to date and you get a cool $600 million in compensation. It must be said that the outcome of this patent infringement lawsuit cannot be determined at this stage because the case will likely drag out for years before the ruling is reached.

A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by a government to an inventor or applicant for a limited amount of time (normally 20 years from the filing date). A modern patent provides the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing the patented invention. Generally, patents are enforced only through private actions; namely, through civil lawsuits or licensing agreements. There is an ongoing debate about whether the benefits of patents out-weight the costs, particularly in Europe with respect to software patents.

In the article “Patent Sharks” by Joachim Henkel and Markus Reitzig write: Companies that focus heavily on research and development generally have more value tied up in intangible assets—patents and other intellectual property—than they do in material assets. Different sectors take very different approaches to managing those resources. For, example, pharmaceutical companies play hardball—they’ll do anything to protect a key patent.

That’s not so surprising when you consider that a single patent can sometimes safeguard an entire product worth billions. Technology companies, however, have to cooperate with one another because a complex product can incorporate several thousand patents, many of which are held by other organizations. The patents, therefore, become a form of currency exchanged among them.

However there are predators; technology companies can be attacked, metaphorically, by patent sharks or patent trolls. Patent sharks or trolls are entities that—opportunistically or intentionally—profit from payments by companies that inadvertently infringe on the sharks’ IP rights simply because they never even knew those rights existed. Though the patent sharks’ activity is perfectly legal, companies must understand that they are extremely dangerous and can cause a great deal of financial harm.

They sometimes hold patents based on their own inventions, but an increasing proportion license in, or acquire patents that they can then turn against companies. This kind of business is not only growing in importance, it’s also attracting more venture capital than it has in the past, according to Buckmaster de Wolf, senior counsel of litigation and legal policy at General Electric…

Joachim Henkel and Markus Reitzig write: The challenge for manufacturers is enormous. For example, chip maker Intel  paid Intergraph, Inc. at least $675 million for infringement of its Clipper processor patents—even though Intergraph stopped manufacturing hardware years before and has never used some of the patents it holds in its products.

Another shark, Asure Software (formerly known as Forgent Networks), has also realized enormous revenues: more than $100 million from a single (acquired) patent. And the situation is getting worse. Sharks are no longer a purely U.S. phenomenon; they have surfaced in international waters. As Klaus Hacker, the head of Deutsche Telekom’s patent department, explained, “Given that recent legislation has made life harder for patent sharks in the United States, I expect to see increased patent shark activity in Europe.”

Sharks can put enormous pressure on manufacturers by threatening to shut down their operations using a preliminary injunction. This tactic is especially effective in a fast-paced, complex industry like mobile phone operations, where closing the doors—no matter how briefly—can put even an established player out of business. Consider what happened to Research in Motion (RIM), which builds the best-selling BlackBerry… NTP, a pure patent-holding company, first filed suit against RIM in 2000 for violation of five of its patents and petitioned the court for an injunction on the sale and support of BlackBerry devices… RIM settled only one week later for $612.5 million—paying a fortune for rights that were dubious at best…

In the article “Android: Swimming With the Patent Sharks” by Matt Asay writes: Google Android has been on a tear in recent months, claiming 32 percent of all new smartphone purchases, according to Nielsen data. However, there are a rash of lawsuits directly or indirectly aimed at Android, including Apple, Microsoft, and Oracle.  Lawsuits, after all, appear to be par for the course in the mobile market, with at least 20 lawsuits being flung between companies as diverse as Kodak, Oracle, Toshiba, Samsung, and RIM…

In the article “Judge Bans the Term ‘Patent Troll’ — And the History of Patent Sharking…” writes: Patent sharks or patent trolls are not new and there are interesting parallels with patent fights of the 19th century, when so-called “patent sharks” bought up dormant patents on farm equipment and then went around suing farmers who were unknowingly infringing.

Parallels go even further. Right before this happened, there had been some changes in what the patent office considered patentable. Also, other industries outside the farm equipment industry fought back to prevent any real patent reform from being enacted — just as others outside the tech industry are now fighting against today’s patent reform…

In the article “On Sharks, Trolls, and Their Patent Prey—Unrealistic Damage Awards and Firms’ Strategies of Being Infringed” by Markus Reitzig,  Joachim Henkeland Christopher Heath, write:  Patent trolls (or sharks) are patent holding individuals or firms who trap R&D intensive manufacturers in patent infringement situations in order to receive damage awards for the illegitimate use of their technology… Our central finding; courts are awarding unrealistic consideration (large unrealistic financial penalties) for inadvertent infringers, and these large awards are the primary fuel for sharks to operate profitably…

In the article “Patent Sharks, Euro Perspective on Circumnavigating Them” Write: One repeated premise is the problem of “hidden” patents, and companies’ lack of awareness until being sued for infringement. Drawing upon the lurking “shark” metaphor… had Boston Scientific known of [Dr.] Saffran’s patent while it was developing its stent, then “it most likely would have invented around his [Saffran’s’] technology.”

However, one must ask the question: Why would a company proceed to launch a billion dollar product, without having “known” what was in published, issued patents, and not having “known” in 2003 of an ‘invent-around’ option for a patent issued in 1997; seems like taking on avoidable, forseeable risks….

In the article “Technological Innovation and Intellectual Property, Patent sharks” writes: Patent trolls or sharks have been in the news: Verizon, Google, Cisco, HP and other companies have created a joint effort to buy up patents that trolls might otherwise use against them. It will be interesting to see whether this strategy will take bad patents off the market or whether it might, instead, simply increase demand, thus increasing the price…

In the article “Patent Trolls on Markets for Technology –An Empirical Analysis of Trolls’ Patent Acquisitions” by Timo Fischer, Joachim Henkel1 write:  Patent trolls, or non-practicing entities (NPEs), are firms whose business model is focused on enforcing patents against infringers and thus to receive damages or settlement payments. Patent trolls are considered by some as a serious threat to innovation in high-tech industries, and have received considerable attention from policy makers…

Trolls seem to be able to acquire patents that are most appropriate for their business model. Compared to practicing firms, trolls focus on patents that (a) have a broad scope and are thus infringed upon with a high probability, and (b) lie in patent thickets and thus have a high substitution cost. Most importantly, and contrary to common belief, (c) troll patents on average are of significantly higher quality and have a high probability of being upheld in court…

Timo Fischer, Joachim Henkel write: Patent sharks or trolls seek to generate profits mainly or exclusively from licensing or selling their patented technology to a manufacturing firm that, at the point in time when fees are claimed, already infringes on the shark’s patent and is therefore under particular pressure to reach an agreement with the shark.” The term “non-producing entity” or “non-practicing entity” is often used synonymously to “patent troll” and “patent shark” and has the advantage of avoiding a derogatory connotation.

However, it equally describes pure research firms and institutions that seek to license their technologies, i.e., before infringement occurred. To avoid this misunderstanding, the common term “patent shark or troll” is used. A firm fitting the above definition may indeed behave like a proverbial malicious troll by deliberately hiding its patents, but it may also represent a serious inventor who failed to license his inventions and years later finds them infringed…

In order to avoid being sued and pressed for license payments by patent trolls, practicing firms must find ways to impede the shark or troll business.  For example, practicing firms must establish better patent clearing and monitoring processes, so that the risk of inadvertent infringement is minimized.

Also, practicing firms must try to find ways to hinder patent trolls from acquiring patents that could affect their business… However, as long as trolls and sharks succeed in reaching settlements and defendants settle without litigation; a substantive solution will be elusive.

Conflict in the Workplace: Manage-Mediate-Resolve…

“Over two-thirds of managers spend more than ten percent of their time handling workplace conflict and forty-four percent of managers spend more than twenty percent of their time on conflict-related issues.” ~ Craig Runde, Center for Creative Leadership

Conflict in the work environment is inevitable. When two or more people have to work together and combine ideas, the doorway of conflict is ever open. The goal is to learn how to use conflict as a tool that can benefit the whole, rather than destroy it… A team must have a common goal of success (Temme and Katzel, 1995). Several strategies have proven to be beneficial tools when resolving destructive conflicts…

In the article “Conflict in the Workplace” by Mary Rau-Foster writes: Our ability to accomplish goals and objectives depends on the cooperation and assistance of others, which increases the opportunity for conflict. No one person can do the job without the input of someone else… When the other person is late, has different priorities, misunderstands directions, or is playing office politics, conflicts are created.

The issue of “personality clashes” is controversial.  The two types of workplace conflicts are “when people’s ideas, decisions or actions relating directly to the job are in opposition, or when two people just don’t get along.” Turner and Weed argue, “In a conflict situation, don’t ask ‘who’; ask ‘what’ and ‘why’…

In the article “Understanding Conflict in the Workplace  by Julie Gatlin, Allen Wysocki, and Karl Kepner write: Although conflict is often viewed negatively, it can lead to enlightenment if solutions are reached. The first logical steps in resolving conflict is to identify the problem and then identify what caused the conflict. Art Bell suggests six reasons for conflict in the workplace: conflicting needs, conflicting styles, conflicting perceptions, conflicting goals, conflicting pressures, and conflicting roles. Brett Hart  discusses two addition causes of conflict: different personal values and unpredictable policies…

The next time a conflict occurs, take a moment and ask yourself these questions:  What may be the cause of the conflict? How do others perceive the situation? Is the conflict over differing personal values? Is there a clear company policy about the situation? Once a cause is established, it is easier to choose the best strategy to resolve the conflict…

In the article “Conflict in the Workplace” by Dr. David G. Javitch writes: Can conflict ever be a good thing? The word “conflict,” usually conjures up negative associations, such as arguments, hatred, anger, hurt feelings, distrust and more. But what is conflict and how does it impact worker performance? Stephen Robbins, author of “Organizational Behavior”, defines conflict as; “A process that begins when one party perceives that another party has negatively affected or is about to negatively affect something the first party cares about.”

Conflict is natural and occurs in every organization. The process of engaging in conflict doesn’t have to be negative, counterproductive; it all depends on how you view the tension that gets created and what you do with it… Shakespeare once wrote that, “Nothing is good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” This means that conflict in itself is neither good nor bad. But when we add our own experiences to conflict or tension, we give it a positive or negative value…

In the article “Workplace Conflict Resolution: People Management Tips” by Susan M. Heathfield writes: Organization leaders are responsible for creating a work environment that enables people to thrive. If turf wars, disagreements and differences of opinion escalate into interpersonal conflict, you must intervene immediately. Not intervening is not an option if you value your organization and your positive culture. In conflict-ridden situations, your mediation skill and interventions are critical…

In the article “Resolving Workplace Conflict: 4 Ways to a Win-Win Solution” by Dr. Tony Fiore writes: The effects of conflict in the workplace are widespread and costly. Its prevalence, as indicated by three serious studies, shows that 24-60% of management time and energy is spent dealing with anger. This leads to decreased productivity, increased stress among employees, hampered performance, high turnover rate, absenteeism and at its worst, violence and death.

There are four specific steps managers can take to reduce workplace conflict. Teach communication skills; beef up listening skills; establish healthy boundaries; develop emotional intelligence; explain behavioral consequences for unacceptable behavior…

In the article “Handling Conflict in the Workplace” by Gray Pilgrim writes:  Most of the conflicts in the workplace can be resolved with just reaching out to the other person and communicating frankly. Yelling is not at all advised. Instead, state facts and make him/her realize how their behavior is adversely affecting your work; calmly. Handling conflict is a delicate matter, and needs to be done tactfully: Think Win/Win; Respect Each Other; Listen to Each Other: Choose Words Carefully: Let your Work Speak for Itself.

In the article “Nine-step Process for Resolving Workplace Conflict” by Adrian Groenewald, Moditure Consulting, writes: Workplace conflict and relationship problems can arise as the result of clashing personalities, miscommunication, perceived backbiting, or a perception of hidden agendas… The ability to manage conflict is a critical skill in the workplace, and has been identified as a core competency for managers and leaders at all levels. It is ironic, therefore, that companies hesitate to invest time and money in improving employees’ conflict management abilities when the cost of conflict in financial and other terms can be enormous

In the article “Risky Conflict Resolution” by Kenneth Cloke, Joan Goldsmith writes: Every conflict, without exception, creates an unparalleled opportunity to wake up. It increases our awareness of what is actually happening around us and teaches us how to become more skillful and successful in our communications and relationships. It allows us to understand and discuss, and learn from our differences, and to recognize that each of our conflicts offers us a unique opportunity to turn our lives around. Conflict is a valuable personal and organizational resource and a powerful source of learning, development and growth…

“What people often mean by getting rid of conflict is getting rid of diversity, and it is of the utmost importance that these should not be considered the same. We may wish to abolish conflict, but we cannot get rid of diversity. Fear of difference is dread of life itself. It is possible to conceive conflict as not necessarily a wasteful outbreak of incompatibilities, but a normal process by which socially valuable differences register themselves for the enrichment of all concerned.” ~ Mary Parker Follett, noted social worker and management consultant.

In the article “Listening & Conflict in the Workplace” by Oubria Tronshaw, eHow Contributor, writes: Individuals involved in arguments often have different ideas about what they’re fighting about; the simple act of agreeing on the cause of the tension can go a long way toward solving the problem because it helps everyone involved view the situation from another person’s perspective. As the problem is being aired, colleagues must engage in active listening. This means clearing the mind of distracting thoughts, making eye contact with the person speaking, not interrupting, and using body language such as nodding thoughtfully and leaning in to signal respectful attention…

After actively listening to each other state their grievances, colleagues should ask questions in an attempt to solve the conflict. Questions such as “How do you feel I could have handled this situation better?” or “How do you suggest we avoid issues like this in the future?” work well. Creating an environment of collaborative problem solving can help eliminate future conflicts…

In the article “The Cost of Conflict in the Workplace” by James A. Cram and Richard K. MacWilliams, Cramby River Consultants, write: Unresolved conflict can create serious and quite varied consequences. In fact, some experts believe that unresolved conflict represents the largest reducible cost in many businesses, yet it remains largely unrecognized (Dana 1999, Slaikev and Hasson 1998)… A reduction in productivity of disputants and their peers is one of the more serious consequences of unresolved conflict. A loss of simple productivity of 25% reduces an average work week to fewer than 20 hours…

Managers and executives often fail to recognize what constitutes real conflict in their organizations and simply are not aware of the symptoms of conflict and the resolution strategies that are available to them. Because of a general discomfort in dealing with issues involving strong emotions, some managers won’t intervene unless situations go to extremes or will ignore the conflict fearing that if they intervene, they assume responsibility for the resolution…

In his book “Functions of Social Conflict”, Lewis A. Coser, writes: “Far from being necessarily dysfunctional, a certain degree of conflict is an essential element in group formation and the persistence of group life”. In fact, conflict can be a powerful force in the creation of ideas, novel solutions and group energy. It isn’t conflict itself that creates problems and increased cost, but rather an inability or unwillingness to address it in timely and intelligent ways…

In the article “When Conflict in the Workplace Escalates to Emotional Abuse” by Noa V. Davenport writes: Millions of men and women of all ages, ethnic, and racial backgrounds all across the U.S. hate going to work, and gradually fall into despair and often become gravely ill. “Every day was like going into battle. I was afraid to trust anyone for fear they were the enemy. I knew I had to have relief soon. But there was no letup,” said Diana when we asked how she felt each day. What is going on? Why is this happening? How prevalent is this? What can be done?

What we are describing here has been identified as “mobbing” and “bullying” at the workplace. Co-workers, superiors or subordinates, attack a person’s dignity, integrity and competence, repeatedly, over a number of weeks, months or even years. A person is being subjected to emotional abuse, subtly or bluntly, often falsely accused of wrongdoing, and is persistently humiliated.

Dr. Heinz Leymann, a psychologist and medical scientist, pioneered the research about this workplace issue in Sweden in the early 80ties. Leymann identified some 45 typical mobbing behaviors such as withholding information, isolation, badmouthing, constant criticism, circulation of unfounded rumors, ridicule, yelling, etc.

Mobbing–the emotional abuse–is a form of violence, and often starts as a conflict… In 1991 C. Brady Wilson, a clinical psychologist who specializes in workplace trauma, wrote in the Personnel Journal (now Workforce Magazine) that real or perceived abuse of employees amounted to a loss of billions of dollars:

“Workplace trauma, as psychologists refer to the condition caused by employee abuse, is emerging as a more crippling and devastating problem for employees and employers alike than all the other work-related stresses put together.” Dr. Harvey Hornstein, professor of social-organizational psychology at Columbia University Teachers College, in his book “Brutal Bosses and Their Prey”, estimated that as many as 20 million Americans face workplace abuse on a daily basis–a near epidemic…

In the article “How to Manage Conflict in the Workplace” by Glenn Magas writes:  Maintaining emotional control when you manage conflicts in the workplace is incredibly important but incredibly difficult. Learning anger management, knowing different ways to provide positive responses, and creating dialogue to discuss the issue while maintaining control can keep a conflict at work from escalating…

A conflict can encourage growth and awareness for the individuals involved as well. But the conflict should be turned into a productive dialogue of productivity and efficiency. This can create a win-win situation in the workplace and, if a conflict is unavoidable, create the possibilities of learning more and improving the workplace…

In the article “Managing Conflict in the Workplace with Martial Arts Thinking” by Butler writes: The Japanese martial art of aikido is built upon the idea that the power of harmony can be harnessed for nonviolent conflict resolution, not just the forceful self-defense typically associated with martial arts. “Aikido is about the process of unifying your mind, body and spirit to accomplish your goals,” Butler says. “When all the parts of you are in sync, then you reach a state of calm and harmony that enables you to see clearly, analyze a situation, and do what’s necessary.”

In the business world, the equivalent of this state goes by many names: inspired leadership, vision, intuitive decision-making. All express the harmony from which effective function, conflict resolution, and leadership flow. There’s a saying in aikido that every student learns early, Garza says. “Its masakatsu agatsu: “True victory is victory over self.”

In the article “Generational Conflict in the Workplace, the Issues Run Deep” by Susan Welch, Hewitt Research, writes: Turbulence across generations is not new, nor is it particularly new to the workplace. Pew Research suggests that Millennials (born 1980 to 2000) and Generation Xers (born 1965 to 1980) are more racially and culturally blended than preceding age groups; Baby Boomers (born 1946 to 1964) and Traditionalists (born roughly 1900 to 1945). These more ethnically diverse younger generations appear more comfortable with the global, multinational nature of the world in which we live…

With their contemporary outlook, Millennials and Gen Xers seem poised to take positions of power in the workplace. Boomers are far more likely to cite a “strong work ethic”; by contrast, “work ethic” does not even make Millennials’ top five lists of self-defining traits… “Respectful,” too, is high on the list of Boomer traits, but do not register among Millennials. In the midst of these potentially volatile differences, guidance and organization’s leadership is needed to help workers of different ages benefit from each other’s differences…

M. Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled, talks about how conflict is essential in community. In fact, he says, for any group to go past the “polite” stage, they must enter into “chaos.” This chaos, or conflict, is the true grit in human relationships. It’s where people make known who they are and what their needs are (it’s no coincidence that people who fear conflict are often the same ones who aren’t skilled at getting their needs met)…

A world without conflict is a veneer world without possibility for depth. So, conflict isn’t the enemy. Begin to notice it and value it. Changing your attitude about conflict will help set the ideal stage to use effective conflict management skills.