Business Storytelling–Ultimate Weapon–Passport to Success–Change Thinking: Power of Business Narrative-Storytelling…

Storytelling in business changes the way we think, act, feel… Stories form foundations of an entire workplace culture, and they have power to break down barriers and turn bad situations around…

Stories capture imaginations, illustrate ideas, arouse passions, and inspire in a way that cold, hard facts often can’t. Stories can be powerful business tools, so if you want to motivate others effectively, you need to learn how to tell a good story…

According to Paul Smith; storytelling is useful in far more situations than most leaders realize. The five most commonly used are probably these: Inspiring the organization, setting a vision, teaching important lessons, defining culture and values, and explaining who you are and what you believe… Although storytelling isn’t always the right tool to help ‘manage’ people; it’s an exceptional tool to help ‘lead’ people… People tell business stories to communicate and connect with employees, customers, colleagues, partners, suppliers, and the media…

When you tell a story well, it can create an intense, personal connection between the audience and the message. Effective stories can change opinions, they can inspire to achieve goals that we didn’t think were possible… According to Chris King; don’t call it ‘storytelling’ — many people have the wrong perception about it… it can be a hard sell… I once had a boss who when I told him there was a university that offered a degree in storytelling, he laughed…

Storytelling not only plays a fundamental role in public speaking but it’s also one of the most powerful tools of ‘influence’ that a business leader (or any leader) has at his or her disposal… The art of being able to tell stories effectively in a range of business contexts can be very important; one well placed story can touch and influence many in profound ways…

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What is Storytelling? At its core, storytelling is the art of using language, vocalization, and/or physical movement and gesture to reveal the elements and images of a story to a specific, live audience… A central, unique aspect of storytelling is its reliance on the audience to develop specific visual imagery and detail to complete and co-create the story…

Most dictionaries define a story as a narrative account of a real or imagined event or events. Within the storytelling community, a story is more generally agreed to be a specific structure of narrative with a specific style and set of characters and which includes a sense of completeness. Through the sharing of experience we use stories to pass on accumulated wisdom, beliefs, values…

Through stories we explain how things are, why they are, roles, purpose. Stories are building blocks of knowledge, and the foundation of memory and learning. Stories connect us with our humanness and link past, present, and future by teaching us to anticipate possible consequences of our actions… It ‘s the live, person-to-person oral and physical presentation of a story to an audience…

According to Erica Swallow; the art of business storytelling boils down to two exercises: 1) Figuring out the message; and 2) Constantly testing and iterating upon it, so that it fits whatever conditions you find yourself in, regardless of audience-platform.

According to Alejandro Russo; a good story is one that is concise and genuine… make it real and cut out the fat… people only care about genuine stuff and they don’t like to get bored… Try to condense the story into little time as possible and build on eliciting emotions.

According to Shane Snow; storytelling is about blending science and art; science is easy, it’s the technicality of how to publish, when, where, and in what form… The art of storytelling is tougher; it’s about consuming a lot of great stuff from disparate corners… Remember, though, that storytelling is not only about what you say, but also about what you do…

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In the article Art of Storytelling in Business by Milly Youngs writes: Storytelling in its simplest form is a connection of cause and effect. Narrative helps us make sense of the world around us. In fact, our conversations are dominated by stories: Researcher Jeremy Hsu found 65% of our conversations are made up of personal stories and gossip… The power of storytelling is something so many businesses fail to realize in marketing their brand and products. When information is communicated in story form, studies show people better relate and remember it.

Stories have the ability to spark emotions, whether it’s happiness, empathy, trust or anger. When listening to them not only are the language-processing parts of our brain activated, experiential parts of our brain come alive too… Brand storytelling isn’t new; companies have used advertising to evoke emotions through storytelling for years. However the landscape has changed, the digital revolution spurred new platforms, channels and devices through which to share and tell stories, opening up greater opportunities, but simultaneously greater challenges…

Here are a few tips for the art of storytelling in business: Above all, a good story is one that provokes an emotional reaction. Make the listener share the pains customers were experiencing, illustrate how the product or service will make their life less stressful, lovelier, more luxurious, and get this across through the story. Remember it’s all about them not you.

Understand target market-audience and engage with them as you would in real life; appeal to people’s lifestyles, problems, interests and needs… Make the stories easy to share across multiple channels, and good stories will speak for themselves… The stories need to give people a reason to come back… Meaningful, consistent content across multiple channels will give people a reason to return again and again…

In the article Business Storytelling Strengthen Presentation by Maggie Summers writes: Facts, data, statistics and quotes are essential parts of a business presentation, but their specific significance depends on the framework in which they are placed. We can spout off graph after graph and statistic after statistic but if we fail to provide context that data has little value. Facts have meaning when we ascribe meaning to them. Oblige the audience to connect with the presentation’s stats by fitting them into a business storyline that nuances and enhances the point…

The beauty of storytelling in business lies in ability to connect with others. Don’t underestimate the power of this modest device; it can compel the audience to trust you, it can encourage the audience to relate to you, and it can move the audience to take action... Even a boardroom full of serious, successful business people would rather listen to statistics and facts in the context of a fascinating story rather than listen to a colorless list of cumbersome facts…

According to Jerry Weissman; don’t make the audience think. Tie those prosaic facts into an engaging story to hammer home the main idea. Show audience why they should care; don’t leave them hunting for reasons.

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In the article Grow Business Through Storytelling by Robert Lerose writes: Story is a potent tool in business communication because it draws human attention. If you just tell me the business makes really great paper clips, I don’t care; it’s just data. But if you wrap the product up in a compelling narrative– an emotionally engrossing story– then you have me. A story not only gives me information that you guys make good paper clips, but it helps me feel an emotional connection with you and what you’re doing that’s really quite powerful…

Story touches nearly every aspect of our lives… Story by nature is a vehicle for a message, so it’s not artificial to graft business message onto business story… There’s a lot of research that shows how much better people remember things in story form– how much more convinced they are when people are given information in a story– rather than from a list of bullet points… According to Robert McKee; becoming a good storyteller is hard. It requires imagination and an understanding of what makes a story worth telling. All great stories deal with conflict between subjective expectations and an uncooperative objective reality. They show a protagonist wrestling with antagonizing forces, not a rosy picture of results meeting expectations…

However, good storytellers are not necessarily good leaders, but they do share certain traits; both are self-aware and both are skeptics who realize that all people and institutions–wear masks. Compelling stories can be found behind those masks…

In the article Importance of Storytelling in Business by Lewis Edward writes: When explaining how your business can help new customers, engaging them with a good story will prove much more advantageous than simply lecturing them on the benefits. There are a few things that you can do to make sure your stories are effective in helping business: Continuously collect new stories– you need to be able to share stories that connects to each of the customers’ individual personalities.

Even the best, most convincing story in the world won’t be able to reach everyone, so you must keep on collecting new stories. These can be from experiences in your own life or ones that you observe or hear from others, collecting stories keeps your repertoire fresh… Be specific (locations, numbers, facts…) when telling a story, you want to be as specific as possible in regards to the little facts…

All in all, being able to connect to potential customers in a personal and convincing manner is the key to increasing sales. Through storytelling you are able relate character to customer so they can get a deeper sense of how the business can benefit them. No matter how good the story is though, whatever you’re offering must be able to meet their expectations. Never lie or be dishonest in storytelling… offering quality products-service is the only way to get and keep happy customers…

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Stories are how we learn, best. We absorb numbers and facts and details, but we keep them all glued into our heads with stories… Stories let us convey wisdom, and/or explain information in an entertaining way… Leveraging the unparalleled, far-reaching power of storytelling is now the new doctrine in business… stories work in an unseen way to transform the way we absorb and process information…

It’s ironic that in the decade where we have access to more data than is humanly comprehensible, the vehicle that garners the most trust, confidence and belief is not a data point, but a story… Although the Internet has created an explosion of storytelling and content-sharing channels, the first priority is not about the channel, it’s about the story… Stories connect; transform; engage; they are the most important…

Business storytelling is a powerful enabler to cut through the clutter and engage the audience… According to Bill Baker; storytelling is a pull, not push, strategy; it’s about engagement-interaction… the audience is just as active participant as the storyteller… Storytelling is a selfless, empowering act– great storytelling points people toward a desired conclusion but gives them the freedom to draw that conclusion themselves… Storytelling draws from both magic and logic; truly great storytelling touches our hearts as well as our heads, getting us to feel, as well as to think.

Storytelling looks to the future: Successful storytelling respects the past and appreciates the present, but it also looks boldly into the future, moving people past ‘what is’ to ‘what if”… Done well, storytelling helps people collectively imagine a vision of the future that is achievable and worth achieving, helping them to understand not only what they’re working on, but also what they’re working toward…

As powerful as the story is, it still needs to convey the message; ‘I can solve your problem’… The overall goal isn’t to become the best storyteller in the world, but to grow the business: Develop a story that helps people connect the dots between ‘their problem’ and ‘your solution’…

Building Winning Sales Teams– Fallacies, Training, Mentoring, Coaching, Replacing: Competence that Delivers Big Results…

Building winning sales team: The world of sales as we know it is undergoing significant change. Organizations are being forced to reevaluate the way they sell. Empowered customers and trends, such as; mobile, cloud, social, big data… are major changes agents; sales organization must reevaluate their sales– process, people, tools…

Although, sales process and tools are critical for success– it’s important to keep in mind that at the heart of all successful businesses are people who make things happen. The most successful sales organizations have impassioned and inspired individuals who are committed to win…

According to Joseph Miller and Patrick Longo; old methods of building a top sales team just don’t work anymore… Sales is the most important function to any enterprise, but management has no idea how to hire great salespeople and build an effective sales team. Many often hire salespeople based on their work experience at large corporations or hire salespeople based on ‘feelings’… These common mistakes often are the reason businesses fail to meet sales goals… It’s neither fair nor logical to exclude someone based merely on the amount of work experience, and the assumption that the number of years of work experience is a good indicator of one’s ability to do the job, well; maybe just a ‘experience fallacy’…

According to Adamson; companies need to sit down and figure out a map of the behaviors (e.g., salesperson and customer…) that drive success before doing any hiring… If you’ve got a profile of the behaviors to drive success, then you’ll make sure that people are more likely to be aligned… But when all else fails, you may have to come to grips with trimming the sales team of dead weight.

Data collected by the Corporate Executive Board show that companies tend to spend too much time coaching the top 20% of performers and trying to improve the bottom 20%. But focusing on the core middle 60% of the sales team it is the best way to improve sales…

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In the article Stop Hiring Under-Performing Experienced Sales People by c. j. Ng writes:  When most companies hire sales people the major criteria usually includes– having some years of experience selling in the same or a similar industry, and good track record of  sales results. However, if you were to look closer, these are not the critical success factors that will determine if the sales person will deliver results…

One key reason is that markets are constantly changing: Customers are getting more demanding, knowledgeable; competition is getting more intense;  things that you sell are getting more complex… In some markets, changes within just  few years are so drastic that they are beyond recognition… So if you are hiring based on past experience, how do you know that what worked in the past is going to work in the future? The same factors that gave you success in the past are getting less relevant for today’s and future’s challenges…

What about a good sales track record, you might ask:  Surely, if a sales person has been consistently producing great results the odds are that they will still continue to produce great results… However, the burnout rate among sales people tends to be very high and the best years may be behind them… This is not to say that having the relevant experience and a good track record is not important for a sales person. It just means that having some years of sales experience is not necessarily a good indicator of future performance…

In the article How to Find and Hire Great Sales People by Doug Dvorak writes: Building an effective sales team should be aimed at hiring the best, brightest, most talented sales professionals… and sales success hinges largely on the proper selection of sales people… Paying enough attention to selection of sales people, implementation of a relevant sales process, and supported with appropriate sales tools are the key factors for successful selling…

Smart sales people are adept at highlighting the strengths of the product or service… sales professionals are experts in spotting prospects and swift in overcoming objections… they sell well even in the face of adversity and cut throat competition… Also, great sales people have the internal drive to succeed, great sense of urgency to achieve sales objectives, even when conditions are tough.

So how do you spot such sales winners? Look for passion: It doesn’t matter if the sales person is a ‘rookie’ or a seasoned sales professional, everybody on the sales team should have that spark. The ‘fire in the belly’ should be felt through the eyes… Selling is dynamic, competitive, and it has no place for sluggish sales people who can’t deal with rejection and stress… Active and self-motivated people make good sales people. Sales people should love their profession, and body language will speak volumes…

Screening sales people on the basis of years of service alone is a dangerous practice: Many sales people have 10, 15… years of experience which could actually mean just 1 year of real experience multiplied over 10, 15… times. There are many qualified sales people who are just average performers, and an equal number of unqualified super sales performers. Talent, achievements, and passion can take precedence over qualifications when hiring experienced sales people…

Probe deeply as to whether the person can adapt to your sales organization, business culture… This requires matching the person’s expectations:  Sales people with a strong, independent streak are more likely to desire a sales culture that fosters and engenders a sales culture of independence, freedom…

They may be good performers but there is a high likely that they will leave sooner… Also, some sales people are so set in their sales skills and behaviors from their last organization that it becomes hard for them to shed old habits and adapt to a new sales organization, business culture…

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In the article Value of Hiring Experience by Michael Alter writes: Some things just can’t be taught in a class room. You can read all about great selling techniques, process, tactics, strategy… but until you actively engage customers, you really don’t know anything about effective selling, customer demands, expectations… Experience teaches problem-solving, people management, leadership skills…

Unfortunately, ambition and intelligence aren’t enough without real life, head knocking sales experience… It’s not that 21-year-old person who is sporting a hoodie and torn jeans couldn’t very well be the next Mark Zuckerberg. But, Zuckerberg is an outlier and taking a chance on inexperience can lead to more headaches, than it can to hip ideas that will actually help the business… If the situation allows someone with little experience to– grow, learn… well, that’s great. If not, place the bets on the person with the experience, insight… to get results, quickly.

In the article Hire Salespeople Who Are Exceptional by Dave Lakhani writes: Building and effective sales team requires people with passion to succeed, and demonstrated track record of succeeding despite adversity… they are people who are intensely interested in people, and they are interesting themselves… people who are more interested in serving than being served.

Great sales people may have huge ego but they also are very interested in creating a relationship and experiences that leaves a mark… People who can handle hard questions, rejection, changing thoughts in mid-stream and come back to task, who know when to take charge and when to sit back, who push back a little, and ask good questions…

The days of handing someone a phone book and telling them to start prospecting are over… when you get a great salesperson, treat them well, develop a reputation as a company that love their salespeople. Celebrate wins with them and share the wins with the whole team… Sales people are the lifeblood of your business: Choose them well, treat them well, let them sell…

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In the article Improve Your Struggling Sales Team by Tim Donnelly writes: If you are trying to get sales team back on track… forget pep-talk: You must be proactive and use  effective sales management and training techniques that can improve sales… According to Brent Adamson; at the end of the day, people don’t leave bad companies… they leave bad managers…

What do you do with struggling salespeople?  It’s a problem that’s vexed multi-national corporations and start-ups; managers, presidents of boards… It’s simply hard to know when to pull the trigger on removing underperforming team members when it could be that they just need a little guidance, encouragement, training… to get back on track.

A little professional nudge in right direction is a more economical choice over the time-consuming and expensive process of hiring replacement… Many sales professionals would rather give struggling sales people a chance to improve, and bring the results up to company standards… So while you’re trying to figure out whether-when the sales team can get back on track, try some of these strategies to lift the sales team out of the sales gutter:

  • Install a Great Sales Manager: You can’t have someone overseeing your sales team who is nothing more than a glorified cheerleader… You need to employ a manager who is not only willing to engage the team, but to also identify weaknesses and work      directly with sales people to overcome their challenges.
  • Implement One-on-One Coaching: Talk directly to the team to find out what struggles they are facing. What makes their jobs difficult? What could they do better? What could they be provided with to do better?
  • Put Your Team on a Sales Diet: Like anyone leading an unhealthy lifestyle, a sales team sometimes needs a ‘sales diet’ of sorts to get some perspective on challenges.
  • Looking to the Future, Hire Smart: It’s an obvious piece of advice, but one worth      repeating, the best way to handle lackluster sales person is to not have them in the first place, or to at least identify them early. Stay on top of the sales person’s performance, intervene before they become worse, significantly underperforming.

Building an effective sales team is real challenge, for example; it’s critical for the business and it also has highest people turn-over rate. It’s never-ending sales management cycle; developing relevant sales process, strategy, tactics… selecting the right people, training, mentoring, coaching, and replacing non-performers. In most companies, 80% of the sales seem to come from 20% of the sales team. While the objective has always been to try to clone the top 30%, that really never seems to happen… maybe the sales team is fine just the way it is; or, maybe not…

How can you tell? Evaluating the sales team is an important step in the process of deciding– how, where, when… to make sales team, sales process, sales tools… adjustments… However, some experts suggest that most of the time the real problem is not the sales people or sales tools, but the sales process  (i.e. how you sell…) that determines the results you get…

Different companies have different sales processes for different customers in different regions who are buying different product lines… sales processes can get very complicated… But still other experts say, selling is a people thing… According to Eric Herrenkohl; don’t hold your nose and hire people because of their resumes alone… the intangibles of employee motivation, drive, and cultural fit almost always trump experience in the end… It sounds funny to say, but don’t settle for someone just because they have great experience.

Make sure that they are the kind of person you want in the organization… Great salespeople are few and far between, and to find the best people look for these special characteristics: prepared and insightful, collaborative and connected, quick and mobile…

 

 

 

 

Global Management– Managing Global Business: Challenge of Building an Effective Global Business Team…

Global business management is the fundamental principles and practices of conducting global business activities, the proper evaluation of international business opportunities and the optimum allocation of resources so as to attain business objectives in a global environment…

In the rapidly changing global economic and business landscape, the need for effective global business management is an imperative. For businesses to remain competitive, they must continually evolve to tap into the global markets and emerging world opportunities.

According to EconomyWatch; strategic business management in the present turbulent world economic conditions has to be more pro-active as technology, production, consumption patterns are changing, daily… In the wake of globalization and a rapidly integrated world in terms of tastes, preferences, culture… organizational and geographical complexity of global-multinational companies are getting even more pronounced… 

The idea of ‘change’ in order to effectively conduct global business in far-flung areas of the world, and to evaluate the business opportunities in remote corners of the globe have to be dealt with in collaboration with the new sociological, political and economic trends that emerge almost daily on the international front…

Global corporations are transforming themselves into ‘transnationals’ and moving work to the locations with the talent, time, right cost… to do the job. Moving people across borders and ensuring that workers’ visas and permits are compliant with local immigration rules are also vital to the tasks of globalization…

According to Robin I. Lissak; you’re not just moving people from the U.S. and Europe to the rest of the world anymore… you’re sending people from all continents to all continents… the companies that play this global, mobile game best will emerge the winners…

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In the article What Is Global Manager? by Christopher Bartlett and Sumantra Ghoshal  write: It’s hard today to use the word ‘globalization’ without a certain sense of irony, rueful or otherwise. Riven by ideology, religion, and mistrust, the world seems more fragmented, more at odds, than at any time since, arguably, World War II. However even with the deep political divisions; business operations must continue to span the globe and executives still must figure out how to run them well and efficiently…

Then, the question: What is a global manager? The answer: There is no such thing as a universal global manager! Multinational companies instead require three kinds of specialists– business manager, country manager, and functional manager– and senior executives to nurture the specialists and coordinate efforts… Success in today’s international climate– a far cry from only a decade ago– demands highly specialized yet closely linked groups of global business managers, country or regional managers, and worldwide functional managers.

This kind of organization characterizes a ‘transnational’ rather than an old-line multinational, international, global company. Transnationals integrate assets, resources, and diverse people in operating units around the world. Through a flexible management process in which business, country, and functional managers form a triad of perspectives that balance one another; transnational companies can build three strategic capabilities: global-scale efficiency, competitiveness; national-level responsiveness, flexibility; and cross-market capacity to leverage learning on a worldwide basis…

According to Cynthia Churchwell; global managers need to see the world not just as a collection of national marketplaces, but also as a source of scarce information, knowledge, and expertise—the key resources required in the development and diffusion of innovation worldwide. So this increasingly important capability really is about using one’s global presence to promote worldwide innovation and learning…

The role of the global manager is shaped by strategic imperatives of the multinational company’s capability. Having open-mindedness is critical, but also recognizing that global management is all about legitimizing diversity. We often talk about diversity in terms of race or gender, but it is really about a total perspective. It is about legitimizing diverse views in an organization, including those based in cultural differences. People from other cultures think, argue, and perceive things very differently. A manager who is sensitive to that will understand and respond much better in a global context…

In the article Managing Employees in a Global Marketplace by Virtual Advisor writes:  The business world isn’t going global– it’s already there. As growth-minded companies are climbing aboard the international business bandwagon, they are grooming their future corporate leaders to successfully manage operations on a worldwide scale. In the global arena, business deals are heavily influenced by culture, and the contrasts are multifarious.

Accomplishing the same task from one country to the next may be achieved with very distinctive approaches… According to Daniel Orchant; we are clearly a global economy… Companies have to look at things from a global perspective rather than from a unique set of country-specific facts and circumstances that apply worldwide... Cultural issues are paramount to the successful patriation of an international employee…

Companies must view foreign employees as the next generation of global business leaders… To be sure, successful supervision of international employees will depend largely on the degree of management’s understanding of the distinct cultural differences. With employees coming and going on an international level, establishing a global corporate culture is essential to the overall success of the company.

It’s vital that all employees view foreign entities as an integral part of the corporation; therefore, global-minded companies must take care to communicate organization’s commitment to international growth… Still, experts agree the rewards are worth the risks and offer one fundamental guideline to consider when doing business in international arenas: Paradigms of success are different worldwide… don’t take cultural baggage into a global marketplace…

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In the article Challenges Managing Global Business? by Robert Price writes: Developing organization and human resource strategies across multiple borders should not simply be a matter of adapting a domestic model to accommodate changes in distance and global scale. Starting with a global mindset you will have to develop a fresh perspective in order to take into consideration the unique challenges of doing business globally…

There are certain human resource management issues, such as; selecting the right people with the right mixture of local versus home experience; managing the expatriate manager; and dealing with particular problems like repatriation. Others issues include understanding the challenges of living and working cross-borders, performance appraisals from distance, training and management development, compensation packages, and labor relations and organized labor laws…

According to Susanna Kass; we are not looking to be in twenty-four markets all at the same time. We are looking to have a very successful community for every market we enter. So it’s more important to us to be the leader in the market we are in versus being in every continent… In fact, the hardest aspects of circumnavigating the business world fall into two broad categories: how to get an order from one place on the globe to another, and how to negotiate the Byzantine bylaws of trade and customs regulations…

In the article Building an Effective Global Business Team by Vijay  Govindarajan  and Anil K. Gupta write: Every global company’s competitive advantage depends on its ability to coordinate critical resources and information that are spread across different geographical locations. Today there are myriad organizational mechanisms that global corporations can use to integrate dispersed operations. But most effective tool is the global business team: a cross-border team of individuals of different nationalities, working in different cultures, businesses and functions that come together to coordinate some aspect of multinational operation on a global basis…

It’s virtually impossible for multinational corporation to exploit economies of global scale and scope, maximize the transfer of knowledge, cultivate global mind-set without understanding-mastering management of global business teams. However this is easier said than done. Domestic teams and global teams are plagued by many of the same problems, for example; misalignment of individual team members’ goals, a dearth of necessary knowledge, skills, and lack of clarity in team objectives…

But global business teams face additional challenges resulting from differences in geography, language, culture… Teams can fail when they are unable to cultivate trust among members or when they cannot break down often-formidable communication barriers… According to Vijay Govindarajan and Anil K. Gupta; trust is critical to success of global business teams in that it encourages cooperation and minimizes unproductive conflict… One of the first concerns for any global business team must be to explicitly discuss the team’s agenda and ensure that it is defined clearly and correctly. Many teams doom themselves from the start because they don’t fully resolve the issues involved…

Establishing ground rules that reflect desired norms of behavior can serve as powerful self-policing mechanism to overcome communication barriers, enrich the content of team discussions and keep the team operating as an integrated whole… Global business teams are ubiquitous throughout multinational corporations. But managing them effectively and steering them toward their intended goals is not easy…

In the rapidly changing global economic and business landscape, the need for effective global business management has become even more important. For businesses to remain competitive, they must continually evolve to tap into the global markets and emerging world opportunities… According to Jean-Pierre Jeannet; business leaders must move out of domestic mindsets into a more international-global type of thinking… Regardless of size of a company’s operation, location, role in business… global imperative must be accommodated or the enterprise risks decline in competitiveness. Companies that are engulfed by extensive global pressures need executives who possess global mindset and who are able to view business opportunities from a global perspective…

According to Charlene Solomon and Michael Schell; if you want to advance in a global enterprise, then cross-cultural understanding has to be part of your toolkit… When dealing with other cultures the challenge is to recognize the cultural pitfalls; and that isn’t always easy Tracking the routes to corporate globalization is like watching the contrails of jet planes: They come from anywhere and go everywhere. Yet whatever direction a global expansion takes, companies face common challenges, all related to how their people– who ultimately execute business strategy, innovate and serve customers– are sourced, developed and managed…

One of the most profound but also subtle issues companies face as they expand is adopting a genuinely neutral global perspective, without presumptions about whose role is dominant. Assumptions about economic influence and cultural preference are anything but benign… Executing a global business strategy requires having the right talent in the right places; it requires specialized leadership skills– managing the work of people with different backgrounds and customs.

Different kinds of organizational and governance structures are required to operate as a global company rather than just a company that happens to have a lot of different locations around the world… For a company to execute globally, its governance structures must allow decisions to be made locally… Processes and governance structures should be redesigned to put more decision-making into the hands of managers in local markets…. Leadership development is critical; the next generation of executives needs to be exposed to other cultures…

According to Julian Dalzell; when it comes to delivering on global growth plans, a company’s reach too often exceeds grasp. Everyone knows that expansion into other markets isn’t simply a matter of sending a sales force on an overseas mission. What exactly is required? Most important, companies must be credible to the customers they are seeking to win.

Immutable Laws of Business– Guide-Posts for Success: Unlike Gravity– Immutable for Some is Mutable for Others…

Immutable laws define the business… they rule our lives… they define us… Immutable laws are a blend of ethics, core values and self-assigned law, all wrapped up into one. They define culture, business, people… almost subconsciously– on what is right and what is wrong… what is acceptable and what is not… what makes you happy and what doesn’t. They are with us for life and they barely ever change… However, immutable for some is mutable for others…

According to Harold S. Geneen; it’s an immutable law in business that words are words, explanations are explanations, promises are promises but only performance is reality… According to Mike Michalowicz; some immutable laws are understood by everyone: gravity, for example; what goes up must come down. But other immutable laws are not so well understood, for example; to survive, an enterprise must make profit. Even ‘not-for-profit’ enterprise must take in more money than it spends…

Immutable laws trigger’s that nagging voice that punishes, when broken. They also give assurance, when following their guidance. They cause you to judge the business, yourself… They keep you on track… it’s the soul of the business… For almost all, immutable laws are stuffed away in our subconscious and to leverage their power you need to make them part of daily–conscious thought… If all facets of the business are consistent with its immutable laws, it will grow fluidly, even at times effortlessly… Immutable laws are important (if not critical) in business, life…

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In the article Immutable Law of 168 by Greg Luken writes: According to Tom Peters; calendars never lie. They are 100% accurate and visible indicators of your priorities…  then, there’s Prado Principal or ‘80/20 Rule’ (where 80% of the results come from the top 20%)… and, there’s Rule of 72 (72 divided by any percentage gives you the approximate number of years it takes for your money to double)… But, one of the most powerful principles is the ‘Immutable Law of 168’ states: No matter how you ‘manage’ your time, there are still only 168 hours in a week. And the quality of your life will be directly related to how you spend your 168 hours…

Time management is not a time issue at all: It’s a priority issue… Time, unlike money, cannot be invested. Time is a commodity that can only be spent. And everyone has the same 168 hours in his or her week… It would be great if we could ‘bank’ the time spent waiting on something– like unused cellular minutes, to use more time doing things we actually want to do. But there is no bank where you can store time to use in the future. We can only spend it…

When it comes to the Immutable Law of 168, consider: Are their activities I need to rethink? Are there boundaries I need to establish? Are there things I need to get onto my calendar, or things I need to eliminate from my 168-hour week, to improve the quality of my life and the lives of the people I love? Do I spend my time focusing on things beyond my control or on the things I can control? Am I doing the things that only I can do? Am I living out who I was created to be? How will you spend your next 168?

In the article 10 Immutable Laws by Pratapaditya  Chakravrty writes: The following are some pearls picked up on the journey of life…

Item1: Nothing of what happens inside matters, unless it matters to someone outside… Explanation: The focus shouldn’t be on the processes inside the company, but rather it should be on the clients, consumers, customers…

Item2: Avoid– ‘but’, ‘however’, ‘no’ in your communication. Explanation: These words introduce anarchy in communication. If avoided, a manager can create positive relationships and mend broken ones. Usages like ‘Your idea is nice, but try it look at it my way’ is equivalent of saying ‘Don’t use your brains, donkey! You are paid to do what I say’…

Item3: Don’t doubt… Explanation: It helps avoid negative perceptions and builds a clear perspective. To see if a man is responsible, you need to trust him…

Item4: Don’t bad-mouth… Explanation: What would you do if a snake bites you? Run after the snake to take revenge? Or try to remove the venom off you?

Item5: Shun Mediocrity… Explanation: Mediocrity is so rampant that many times we decorate it as greatness. Just run away from mediocrity. The car parking space need not always be rectangular… Item6: Stand by your people… Explanation: Do this and they weep, when you cry…

Item7: Build your team’s equity… Explanation: Equity here is personal equity…

Item8: Live what you preach… Explanation: Don’t be a parish priest giving sermons. Don’t be an obese trainer giving lectures of personal fitness. Your listeners won’t buy it.

Item9: Don’t run away from what you do… Explanation: Just don’t run away from problems. If you won’t face them now, you would never learn anything, and you would remain undeveloped.

Item10: It doesn’t matter what you think of yourself, what matters is what others think of you… Explanation: Being ego-centric is the biggest vice of a manager. Be friendly to one and all. This creates a great work atmosphere and the workplace will be more productive…

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In the article Immutable Laws of Innovation by philmckinney writes: Over the years of being in the innovation space, I’ve discovered a set of laws by trial and error. Needless to say, I have the scars from the school of hard knocks to validate that these are the set of laws that are critical for innovation success. If you violate any one of them, consequences can be disastrous.

These laws apply to all sizes of organizations ranging from established multi-nationals, to early stage start-ups to governments. So how do I use these rules? No single organization has it all figured out. By taking an honest audit of your innovation programs against the laws, you can identify the areas that work and those that don’t:

1) Law of Leadership: Executive level support (Board, CEO and his/her direct reports) is critical for an organization that wants to have innovation at is core. Leadership means talking-the-talk AND walking-the-walk. It means committing (and protecting) resources (time, money, people, equipment) for innovation…

2) Law of Culture: Establishing and nurturing an innovation culture sets the foundation for the organization. For leaders it means rewarding the right behavior (teamwork, collaboration, honesty, trust) and identifying and eliminating bad behavior (not-invented-here, passive/aggressive, turf battles)…

3) Law of Resources: Innovation requires a committed level of resources (people, money, time, equipment) over an extended period of time. The level of resourcing is the validation for the importance and commitment the organization devotes to innovation.

4) Law of Patience: Innovation takes time. More time than is expected. The organization must take the long view on innovation and avoid the temptation and resist the pressure for short-term adjustments.

5) Law of Process: To succeed at innovation, organizations need an innovation process that fits and works within their organization and culture. The process should cover the full innovation chain from idea capture through the last steps of execution.

6) Law of BHAG: What is a BHAG? A BHAG is ‘Big Hairy Audacious Goal’. It’s what leadership lays out as the innovation agenda. The BHAG sets a clear and compelling target, serves as unifying focal point of effort, and acts as a clear catalyst for team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization will know when it has achieved the goal.

7) Law of Execution: The ability to execute on both the innovation agenda and quarterly objectives of the operating business is a key skill that the organization needs to have. Focusing on only one area of execution leaves the other to flounder. Segmenting the execution roles into separate silos works against the Law of Culture.

In the same way that the law of gravity is immutable, there are certain immutable laws of business too with which you must comply, if you are to have a successful business… If you go to any bookstore and head down to business section you will see a multitude of books which discuss the laws of business. Some are good and others not so good. Some contain good ideas for improving your business, others discuss immutable laws… Here are a few interpretations of immutable laws:

    • According to petrosianii; 3 Immutable Employee Laws: 1. Employees don’t follow directions. 2. Employees don’t submit to authority. 3. Employees don’t like being evaluated. Now, these are generalities. Before you react in visceral indignation– with ‘that’s not true of all employees’– let me disarm that argument up front and say, ‘Yes, I know and I agree.’ But they seem to be true of a lot of employees that I’ve hired…
    • According to Al Ries & Laura Ries; 22 Immutable Laws of Branding— examples; Law of Publicity, Law of Word, Law of Credentials, Law of Fellowship, Law of Name, Law of Borders,  Law of Mortality, Law of Singularity…
    • According to Regine Azurin and Yvette Pantilla; 18 Immutable Laws of Corporate Reputation: Everything an individual or company does or produces contributes to its reputation. Reputation is an intangible asset, but a very important one. In some ways it is even better than having money in the bank, but not as easily quantified… A good reputation is its own advertising and quality seal. A good reputation can bring in more customers in good times and act as a protective buffer in bad times… reputation management has three parts: establishing good reputation, keeping that good reputation, repairing damaged reputation…
    • According to Consillium Global Business Advisors; Four Immutable Laws of International Marketing & Localization: International expansion is critical and the four immutable laws of international marketing localization are– Law #1: Protect Your Company & Your Brand. Law #2: Adapt but Don’t Copy. Law #3: First–Don’t Lose Them, Second–Entice Them. Law #4: Don’t Do It Yourself…
    • According to James Gilbert; First Law of Social Media Marketing: The deeper the level of engagement, the deeper the customer’s trust and bond with your company. Nothing happens without engagement, making it the most important social media rule… along with reaching out, telling a story, creating drama…
    • According to Robert Lutz; Seven Laws of Business: The customer isn’t always right. The primary purpose of business isn’t to make money. When everybody else is doing it, don’t. Too much quality can ruin. Financial controls are bad. Disruptive people are an asset. Teamwork isn’t always good…
    • According to Philip Sugai, Marco Koeder, Ludovico Ciferri; Six Immutable Laws of Mobile Business: Law #1–Value Over Culture. Law #2–The Law of Ecosystem. Law #3–Mobility Empowers. Law #4–The Value of Time Zones. Law #5–Mobile-Specific Business Models Are Essential. Law #6–The Future Is Simplexity…
    • According to Al Ries and Jack Trout; Immutable Laws of Marketing: examples– Law of Leadership. Law of Category. Law of Mind. Law of Perception. Law of Focus. Law of Exclusivity. Law of Perspective. Law of Attributes. Law of Singularity. Law of Unpredictability. Law of Success. Law of Failure. Law of Hype. Law of Resources…
    • According to Russell Thomas; 10 Immutable Laws of Effective Networking: 1). Get a business card, ‘use’ it! 2). Find common ground. 3). Follow-up, same day. 4). Make additional ‘connections’ when appropriate. 5). Watch for ‘cues’, get in, get out. 6). Leverage the Law of Reciprocity. 7).Walk a mile in their shoes. 8). Get the name right. 9). Be respectful, full of attention, intention. 10). Be proud, passionate; be memorable…

You may or may not agree with any of these and other immutable laws… but there are some fundamental factors that are very important for business success (or indeed any success), which you cannot afford to ignore, for example; confront the brutal reality of your present business situation and set realistic goals and execute…

Lessons in Managing Virtual Workplace in Age of Mobility: Global Reality Requires– New Leadership, Fit, Focus, Trust…

Virtual workplace is both rapidly growing and changing as businesses are beginning to understand that leadership and new management competencies are required to be successful… Managing a remote workforce means a greater commitment to engagement, communication, collaboration,  well-planned teamwork, achievement of goals…

But, according to Marissa Mayer; to become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway, cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings…

According to Janice Kinder; working virtually is toothpaste out of the tube, no matter where people are working. Technology enables us to re-imagine the categories of home and work in ways that are miraculous and liberating… Yet, a sense of place is as important to the working world… working face-to-face is fundamental to high performance. Facial expressions and body language are the primary way we understand and influence each another… Technology enhances but does not replace the connection, collaboration and creativity that being together under one roof creates. Something’s are gained and lost either way, but then don’t frame it as ‘either/or’…

According to Kurland-Bailey; major challenge for managers is the inability to physically observe the employees’ performance… If a manager can’t see a subordinate in action, then they can’t accurately assess where the employee is struggling and where there is strong– the only indicator is the results. Monitoring-measuring employee performance remain problematic and a source of concern. According to an article in Harvard Business Review; properly managed virtual teams lead to increased efficiency and better business results…

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A survey by TrackVia reveals that most workers still regularly communicate the old-fashioned way; in person and face-to-face: Despite a marked increase in the number of communication and collaboration technologies available to workers… The survey also revealed some generational and gender differences, for example; 50% of women said electronic communication increased productivity, whereas 62% of men said it increased productivity...

According to Jennifer L. Carpenter; primary reason that telecommuting movement has lost energy in recent years is that companies have not been able to successfully change their business strategies to accommodate the very different social needs of the remote worker… Inflexibility on the part of managers is one of the greatest institutional barriers to the success of telecommuting in most companies. Some managers oppose telecommuting initiatives because they fear that they will lose control of their telecommuting employees and lose the ability to monitor company time and resources… Telecommuting is a power and control issue, not a money issue…

Sociologists observe– the workplace is still designed to value and reward commitment to the ‘office’ and being there to prove your worth. The authoritarian, surveillance-type concept of management really hasn’t changed that much… For many managers, the shift from a hierarchical to a ‘horizontal’ management structure signals a potential problem: managers worry that horizontal relationships makes it more difficult to build consensus and make employees follow orders. Indeed, unique features of cyberspace make effective conflict management both more important and more difficult…

The biggest reason people haven’t left the office is because they have employers who aren’t willing to ‘trust’ them to work from home… Unless companies carefully select open-minded, telework-friendly managers to manage telecommuting employees, remote work programs are destined to fail…

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In the article Lessons in Managing a Virtual Workplace by Paul Finkle writes: The virtual workplace has become common place for many organizations. Increasingly, employees are located in distant or satellite offices, telecommute, or work flexible schedules… Technology has made remote work practical and often leads to cost savings… Although there are many benefits to the virtual workplace, there are also challenges to managing people in the non-traditional work environment.

Work now crosses over broader geographies, markets, countries, cultures, partnerships, supplier networks… This diversity can create dysfunction and communication breakdowns if organizations don’t effectively address unique needs of collaboration, communication, teamwork… and most important the leadership style is key factor that influences the effectiveness and success in a virtual organization.

Maintaining cultural identity, engender trust, empower independence… require active and frequently reinforced leadership style. Leadership skills can prove even more essential in a virtual workforce because it demands a strong focus on relationships and emotional intelligence; focus on process, outcome, shared decision-making, and ability to give frequent feedback.

Effective virtual leaders resist urge to micromanage… they learn to engender trust in their team’s ability to meet deadlines and achieve goals by setting clear expectations– and then having the confidence to ‘let go’… In the virtual organization, teams tend to shift towards collaboration and knowledge sharing, and effective leaders move less from ‘controller’ and more to ‘coordinator’ of team members. Virtual teams value open sharing of information that keeps them connected to their corporate identity and empowers them to work alone, yet toward a common goal. In a virtual environment, it becomes even more essential to ensure workers are ‘in the loop’ and included in key decision-making.

‘Out of sight, out of mind’ is the death of a virtual workgroup. Frequent check-ins to clarify assumptions and recognize contributions are the hallmarks of top organizations… In a virtual workplace, managers must find creative ways to recognize both individual and team achievement. Recognition bridges the gap between casual or personal work interactions and reinforces the goals of the organization. In a virtual workplace, it becomes even more important to balance the accomplishment of tasks with the building of relationships…

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In the article Build a Successful Virtual Workforce by Michael Haid writes: Employees are spending more time working from home, on roads, at airports, back of cabs… Since there are effective ways of communicating, exchanging information, collaborating… it mean that you no longer need to get work done by sharing the same physical space with other team  members…

However, three questions often present themselves: Why should organizations encourage working virtually? What are the challenges involved? And how do you create an effective virtual workplace? While the virtual workplace offers many advantages, it also faces significant obstacles that must be carefully negotiated if the initiative is to succeed. At minimum, jobs must be evaluated to determine which can be done virtually and which cannot…

However, the most pressing question is leadership. How do you lead a team that is geographically dispersed across a region, continent or even the globe? How do you drive accountability among individual member? How do you foster team spirit among people who may never see one another? Leading virtually means leading differently; developing new leadership skills…

With little face-to-face contact with the team, leaders must listen more deeply, communicate more clearly, interpret more sensitively… to determine, for example; how engaged an employee is or detect what is being left unsaid in e-mail, text… How does a team maintain its focus when its members may never meet in person? How do plans and projects stay on track? To avoid drift virtual teams must work within framework that is more structured than the frameworks within which conventional teams operate.

Goals, dead-lines, accountability… must all be clearly defined. But, is everyone equally skilled at working virtually? Some people are less independent and more productive in a traditional work environment and with immediate support of colleagues and managers. How do you identify such people and how do you train and deploy them when the office goes virtual?

Going virtual entails big changes: For a start, the organization and its people have to make the transition to results-oriented modes of work that are now dependent upon new protocols and technologies. How capable is the organization of managing this change? Not all work can be performed virtually, but in the age of mobility, a wide range of knowledge-based work no longer needs to be tied to a physical office space.

Virtual work presents organizations and the workforces with new and exciting ways of getting work done and meeting business goals. When carefully managed virtual workplaces offer real benefits from greater freedom and flexibility to lower costs and higher productivity. As people, organizations increasingly embrace the benefits; the definition of the workplaces will never be the same…

A study by Harvard suggested that virtual offices face more issues than brick-and-mortar… The good news is that these issues-pitfalls are truly avoidable, and if one takes time and effort to organize and plan carefully… it can succeed. A virtual office is different from the way a traditional office is handled: It involves a shift in management… Most consultants and researchers agree that building trust is the greatest challenge in creating successful virtual teams, organizations…

Trust is the glue of the global workplace. According to Charles Handy; most organizations tend to be arranged on the assumption that people cannot be trusted or relied upon, even in tiny matters– It’s unwise to trust people whom you don’t know, well… whom you have not observed in action over time– trust needs touch… In other words, high-tech has to be balanced by high-touch to build high-trust organizations… Paradoxically, more virtual an organization becomes the more its people need to meet in person… According to Wayne Cascio; some level of social interaction with supervisors and coworkers is essential in almost all jobs. Without it, workers feel isolated and out of the loop…

Many organizations believe that one of the big challenges they face when implementing a virtual office is managing mobile or remote workers… According to Phil Montero; remote management is not radically different from managing people on-site. The big difference is a shift in management style from ‘managing by eyeball’ to ‘managing by results’ By learning to ‘manage by results’ rather than ‘manage by activity’ means communication and nurturing ‘trust’… In fact, virtual team managers say that their overall management skills have significantly improved for both– on and off-site workers…

According to Jessica Lipnack; in 21st century, most people work with others who are more than 50 feet away from them. Data indicate that when people are more than 50 feet apart, likelihood of collaborating more than once a week is less than 10%. So, as people work in teams, crossing space, time, and organizational boundaries, they must master the principles of virtual work... According to Keith Ferrazzi; many managers are skeptical that real trust can be established in a virtual environment. After all, how can employees truly develop trust for people they’ve never met?

The hard truth, though, is that teams can’t function without trust, and a lack of face-to-face interactions doesn’t automatically lead to an atmosphere of suspicion. But managers shouldn’t simply enlist employees in a virtual environment and hope for the best. Instead, they must be pro-active, implementing the right mechanisms to ensure that trust will flourish within the environment… However, there is a global business reality… and when coupled with evolving attitudes about work, suggest that virtual workplaces are here to stay and the challenges of managing a virtual workplace will escalate in scope…

Year of the Customer–2014: Think Customer– Shift Business Culture, Focus, Ideas, Skills… to Better Engage Customers…

Year of the Customer–2014: Kick off the New Year with a positive attitude and focus on customers; and your business is sure to see growth throughout the year…

According to Jacob Becker; there’s one thing you can do in 2014, which is guaranteed to help your business: Focus on the customer. It’s the customer that is the life blood of the business. More important– challenge tradition: Re-think customer value in the new experience economy…

Technology is advancing at a rapid rate and we are now able to serve customers better and more quickly than ever before. But engaging customers today and meeting their higher expectations requires commitment from the entire company– and a redefined customer engagement strategy… Customer focus is a skill; treat customers with kindness and respect, and your actions will inspire others to do the same. Small gestures mean a lot to customers– they will take note and spread the word.

Take a minute to think outside the box and find different ways that will make the customers feel valued… If you aren’t able to help a customer, point them in the right direction… Your employees are the front line to your customers; hire people who believe in your business values, people who fit in your business culture, people who care about customers…

Treat your employees how you want them to treat customers and it will become a natural fit to your ‘brand’… Look at customer complaints as an opportunity for growth; be open and listen to their problem, address it and learn from the experience… Key to customer focus is providing a positive experience, such that they enjoy the interaction enough to keep returning with future business…

According to Josh Denomey; customers are the center of any business, make sure they are taken care of and are completely satisfied with your product or service. If they are not, make sure you ask for feedback! Direct feedback is the best way to improve your business!

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In the article Customer Experience Buyback by Marcio Rodrigues writes: Too many organizations ‘talk’ about customer experience without actually ‘doing’ enough to demonstrate that they really care about customers– transforming themselves for the benefit of customers… we need more organizations to start ‘doing’ more in 2014… I conducted some independent research on ‘what customers really want’ and they say: If business around the world focus more on ‘doing’ things we want and less of the things that irritate us, then 2014 will be a year that we (customers) may start to get some trust and confidence back that business really cares!

Two key statistics really resonated: 1.) The majority of people worldwide wouldn’t care if 73% of brands disappeared tomorrow…  2.) 52% of the fortune 500 firms since 2000 have disappeared… Is your business relevant to customers? The reality is that people are busy with their day jobs and mostly don’t have the time to look at what’s out there. So, my suggestions for 2014: Embrace customer-focus change, and do it quickly…

Take note: Optimizing existing customer experiences may not be enough; off-the-shelf customer experience solutions will only get you so far. It’s time to move beyond optimizing what you have and focus on reinventing customers experience…

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In the article Business 2014: The Customer by Chloe Rigby writes: The most prominent mind shift has begun and it will continue in 2014; it’s a focus on the customer journey and adopting a ‘customer-first’ strategy. At a time when customer demands are higher than ever and loyalty is at an all-time low, businesses need to get smart about how they interact with each individual customer. The majority of traditional businesses accept they can no longer live in silos; they must optimize the customer experience.

A business can’t delineate where a customer journey starts and stops – it should be a seamless experience where the customer chooses at their discretion, which business channel(s) to engage… According to Pat Phelan; in order to convert customer interactions into sales, it’s important to note that the customer experience hinges on much more than the cost of a product. Instead, it has never been more important to take into account the usability of customer touch points, channel integration in order to portray a clear brand message, and deals and recommendations tailored to each customer…

According to Rakuten Marketing; while targeting customers over multiple channels– brands need to have a complete picture of their customers. The use of big data to target the customer base will grow in this year so that brands can change the way they engage with customers, as individuals. Everything from acquiring customers to re-engagement with dormant customers and existing active customers will mean that brands can plan how to market to different individuals based on real insight and employ a highly targeted approach…

According to Jon Stanesby; personalization is the weapon of choice for many businesses, as marketers realize the importance of understanding a customer’s– likes, dislikes and past behavior in order to build effective relationships. Responding to the needs of individual customers must not rely solely on the amount of data captured, but rather how carefully chosen information is harnessed, used. The most successful businesses are not those who collected the most data, but rather the ones who collect the right data and used it most effectively…

In the article Customer Engagement Top Priority 2014 by Jim Tierney writes: Customer engagement is the No. 1 priority for companies in 2014, according to Bluewolf’s annual survey… Bluewolf’s surveyed more than 450 business and technology leaders in North America, Europe, and Australia. The respondents were employees in very large enterprises (more than 1,000 employees), large enterprises (up to 1,000 employees), and medium to small enterprises (fewer than 500 employees).

The study was conducted via online survey from August to October 2013. Data collection and analysis was done in collaboration with the MIT Sloan School of Management… According to the report; customer engagement is the new bottom line– 60% of customers ranked customer engagement as top priority… According to the report; every employee must be empowered to recognize and embrace a customer engagement opportunity, and act on it at any touch point. In the new customer engagement economy, no longer is just one department responsible for serving the customer; the customer experience is now at the forefront of business strategy…

According to Eric Berridge; customer-obsessed organizations are winning– and they have a more flexible customer engagement solutions, e.g., using cloud technology… that reach into all parts of the business… these businesses have potential to double revenue as they double customer engagement…

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Personalization and customization will continue to be extremely important consideration across both digital and physical customer touch points. Customers are very savvy and want to be informed: the challenge for business is to provide appropriate information at the relevant moment in the life-cycle… The ability to provide a tailored customer experience is a key competitive differentiator this year and is facilitated by large amounts of customer data which businesses have at their fingertips.

By analyzing this data businesses are able to better understand their customers, and evolve and improve their services such that they can best meet their needs. By synchronizing databases across all touch points, businesses are able to create an ecosystem where the data-set is accurate and up to date and customer information is easily accessible at all times across channels and provides a unified view of each individual customer… According to Angela Evennett; stay engaged with customers is the most vital component of the business… Staying engaged allows you to constantly be in tune with their wants, needs and preferences. Social media are an excellent way to do this…

What are your company’s highest priorities for 2014? They should be things that really matter… things that make a difference… things that make a big impact on the customers… things that improve the business and achieve success… However, organizations must be selective and focus on just a few high priority activities– those that are the life-blood and growth engine for the organization…

Priorities = Success: Employees, managers are often overwhelmed by the huge wave of tasks and objectives that need to be done, and people usually operate under the assumption that whoever is screaming the loudest gets the highest priority. But in reality, the person screaming the loudest may not really be the most important to the organization’s overall success…

According to Michael Stallard; a mistake many leaders make is being overly ambitious in setting annual priorities. Going beyond five annual priorities diminishes focus and jeopardizes effective execution by tending to overwhelm those responsible for implementation. Neuroscientists have discovered that when people feel overwhelmed, brain function shifts from the frontal lobes of the brain, where rational decisions are made, to the mid-brain region, where rash decisions are more likely. Here are five actions you can take to achieve focus for your organization and maximize the probability of achieving excellence in execution:

  • Set Your Top Five: As the leader, set no more than five challenging-achievable annual priorities for your team… Ask each direct report to prepare their five challenging-achievable priorities…
  • Communicate Your Top Five: Share the Top Five with your team, including the      rationale for each…
  • Align Your Top Five: Compare and align your top five priorities with the direct reports’ top five priorities… Talk through the direct reports’ priorities together to identify those that will advance the organization and fit the individual employee’s interests and strengths. While you may not find a perfect set of priorities… make the effort to find the best possible set of priorities that improves the overall organization…
  • Track Your Top Five: One day each week, write down under each of the top five priorities what you and team have accomplished, highlighting the new information to distinguish it from earlier entries. Then examine the plans for the week ahead to make certain they are aligned with the top five. Share the cumulative updated list each week with the team… At the end of the year, you will have a detailed record of what you and team accomplished…
  • Review Your Top Five: At the beginning of each quarter, review the top five. On occasion, circumstances may require you to add a new priority and postpone or eliminate others… Periodically, by reviewing the top five it helps make certain that you and team are aligned with the organization’s objectives…

Bottom-line: When you: Set your Top Five; Communicate your Top Five; Align your Top Five; Track your Top Five; Review your Top Five… It creates greater focus and maximizes excellence in execution…