Business Restructuring– Clock is Ticking, Tic, Tic… Is It Your Time? Leaders Ultimate Challenge– Transformative Change…

Business restructuring is the process of redesigning, realigning, reorganizing… so as to position the business to be more competitive, survive adverse economic conditions, and also to move the business in an entirely new direction… No business can continue to function in the same way, forever. With changing times and changing business conditions, restructuring is one of the options for a business…

According to Charles Goldstein; for many businesses restructuring is the best option – and sometimes the only viable one – for a business that has taken too many hits from extended difficulties... But even in the best of times, it’s important to be proactive, to constantly monitor not just your company’s performance, but also the health of– workers, competitors, markets, customers, vendors, lenders…

But most important, business must have a recovery strategy ready even before it actually need one– it’s twice as tough to come up with viable alternatives when you are in the midst of crisis… According to Gary Rushin; distressed business symptoms often occur well before crisis hits… and before it’s known, the business is in a death spiral… but, the situation is not inevitable and, in many cases, it can be stopped, reversed… but, timely action is critical... It’s been learned that the best way to restructure a business is to study failures…

Often, companies that once dominated their markets later slide into distress… they lose their touch– the ‘mojo’— that once created their success… These company, often times, create an over-confidence bias– they become so self-assured that they think they don’t need to change anything…

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In the studyBest Practices in Corporate Restructuring’ the question was asked: How successful has business restructuring been in achieving stated goals? The responses from executives at 531 companies reported mixed results:

  • 90% said reducing cost was a goal, and only 61% felt they achieved the goal.
  • 85% stressed increased profitability, but only 46% reported increased profits.
  • 64% believed restructuring would increase their competitive advantage, but only 32% found this to be true.
  • 58% wanted to increase productivity, but only 34% saw it happen.
  • While 58% also wanted to see improved customer satisfaction, improvement occurred only 27% of the time.

Besides showing business restructuring has earned a spotty success, the study results also indicated that executives want to treat business restructuring as a panacea. Not only do a majority of executives expect business restructuring to reduce costs, increase profits, achieve competitive advantage… they also want it to increase productivity and improve customer satisfaction…

When a tool like business restructuring is treated as a panacea it’s because there is no clear understanding of– how, where, when, why– to use it. According to Robert J. Ellis; perhaps one of the important lessons from corporate restructuring is the need for clear picture of what the ‘end business’ will look like before the restructuring process begins… Failure to take this first essential step leads to many problems– not the least of which is asking workers, stakeholders… to set a journey without understanding the destination…

For decades, strategic thinking focused on answering three basic questions: Where are we? Where do we want to go? How do we get there? But, Mr. Ellis suggests that corporate restructuring must be more strategic… Too often, corporate restructuring focus on– ‘how to do something’ more efficiently without determining– ‘what is most important to do’… and often too much of the restructured work is strategically unimportant…

According to Alfred Chandler; it’s critical that leadership answer the question: Why are we doing this? Leaders must articulate a clear business strategy, and educate their workplace on why changes are critical to the future success of the business… Moreover, before management can determine how to work better or how to organize to perform business processes more efficiently, they must first determine– what work needs to be done and what processes are critical to perform… choices can only be made when a clearly articulated business strategy exists…

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In the article Strategic Planning to Restructure Your Business by Lloyd Russell writes: Business restructuring usually accompanies negative connotations of inefficiencies or a need to cut the workforce to improve the bottom line… However it’s important to balance this with the premise that a business restructure is a process to renew the business and position it in a manner to exploit market opportunities…

History indicates that most restructures are poorly developed and implemented for three main reasons – (1) Cost cutting is the main focus… (2) There is a focus on people rather that positions and the strategic direction of the business… (3) There is no clear strategic purpose and a lack of communication… Here are some guiding principles that will help focus the restructuring process:

  • Strategic Planning Before Structure: Business must have a clear and realistic strategic direction to focus efforts of the workforce, management, stakeholders… Most will embrace the change if they can clearly see where the decision-makers are taking the business…
  • Reduction of Clutter and Complexity: Business must mitigate the negative impact of complex organization structures… Design business structure and strategic positioning before you concentrate on personnel… Simplify leadership roles through clear and efficient processes including; clear audit trails… Keep organizational structures flat…
  • Core Competencies and Activities: Prior to developing roles and responsibilities– gain a clear perspective on the core activities that defines the business– identify the core competencies that are main drivers of the business activities… It’s essential to reinforce these activities that add most value to the business… and other less important activities that don’t add value should be removed…
  • Feasibility of Positions and Roles: In the majority of business restructures cost cutting is the main objective, and for some positions, roles… they are unrealistically loaded with duties that are not aligned to the strategic direction of the business… While it’s essential to have all resources working close to capacity they must be working towards the same defined goals and objectives of the business… otherwise inefficiencies occur and performance measurement is impossible…
  • Balance Within Management Workloads: The management functions are a blend of management and leadership. If the people within these positions are overloaded they tend to focus on the urgent management tasks that are directly related to the visual desired outcomes… To assist in maintaining the correct management work balance, these elements are critical; numbers of employees under direct management, ability of employees to perform tasks without supervision, level of ‘functional’ work manager must perform– other than workplace supervision…
  • Effective Implementation: The critical time for the successful implementation of a restructure is within the first six weeks. If the workforce is confused about the direction of restructure, there will be an adverse impacted on the implementation. A successful implementation process starts with clarity of positions, roles and responsibilities, and clear identification of all functions within the business, including; activities, tasks and level of authority for decision-making… All employees must understand where they fit for the efficient operation of the business. Finally, everyone must understand what they are accountable for and how this will be measured…

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In the article Success Restructuring Follows Strategy by Lee Tom Perry writes: Business restructuring is becoming more common place– not only is it affecting more businesses, it’s affecting businesses in more ways… Restructuring promises to remove people and functions that don’t add value to the business… Businesses that begin restructuring with a clear strategic understanding are far more likely to attain desired results… An approach to strategy formulation that offers a useful guide for corporate restructuring is the business-focus approach, which is based on two assumptions about strategic direction:

  • There are basics ‘competitive necessities’ that every business must get right, just to keep up with industry competition. Strategies that focus on ‘competitive necessities’ can create temporary competitive advantage, but this strategy is better for catching-up with competitors than for staying ahead of them…
  • Businesses that aspire to become competitive leaders must do more than perform the basics, well– They must truly distinguish themselves are those that have a ‘business focus’, and that enables them to excel at ‘something’… Businesses are excellent only when all workers, stakeholders… know and understand– what business they are in, and everyone pulls together to make the business work…

A business focus defines how a business intends to use its unique capabilities to sustain competitive advantage. A business focus directs organizational efforts and development of individual and team capabilities, which facilitates the building distinctive competencies… Businesses that achieve strategic clarity have the advantage of not only being able to restructure strategically, but also communicate the actions that flow from the strategy in a way most people understand…

Generally, workforce is more committed to restructuring when they have a better understanding of the reasons behind it… Strategy clarification sets the stage for strategic restructuring by providing a logic for prioritizing organization work. When the business strategy is clear– it’s possible to answer questions, such as: What work must be the object of the most intense improvement efforts? What work activities must be improved? What work must be eliminated? What work must be outsource? What are the most useful drivers for improvement? Most businesses that are successful at restructuring are able to identify and protect the core work processes that create competitive advantage, or distinctiveness to their industry…

The essence of business restructuring is leadership, which means the communication of clear vision for where the organization wants to go… and commitment, persistence for getting there… while not destroying the spirit and values of the organization for which it stands. Leadership cannot abdicate the responsibility for defending strategic restructuring initiatives against the unrelenting waves of resistance to change…

According to Ilya Pozin; divisions, departments, management hierarchy.. they’ve all lost their purpose… it’s not important who’s doing the work, titles… All that really matters is that the work gets done. If you run a factory, hierarchy may still have a place but if you run a company that requires problem-solving skills, creativity, high level of motivation for workers, then consider flattening, flipping– the organization chart… Promote a culture where workers, customers… are the top priority.

World’s Oldest Profession– No, Not That One– Selling: Humans Are Born to Sell… But, What Does It Really Mean to Sell?

What’s the oldest profession in the world? No, it’s not what you’re thinking: It’s selling! Nothing happens until something is sold, and that includes the ‘other’ oldest profession… Take a moment to think about what the word ‘selling’ means to you…

According to Scott Marker; every time I ask sales executives to define– selling, I get answers like these: Selling is a process of persuasion to get a prospect to take an action. Selling is finding a need and filling that need. Selling is an exchange of goods or services for money. Selling is walking the road of agreement with the customer. Selling is an art. Selling is a science. Selling is a transaction. Selling is relationship building. Selling is a consultative process. Selling is hustling. Selling is all about trust… Everyone has a different definition of the word ‘selling’…

Once you define what selling is, the definition will influence how you sell. If you believe that selling is an art, then you will try to grow your art, and chances are that you will try to find creative ways to overcome all obstacles that stand in the way of the sale. If you define selling as a science, then you will try to deploy more scientific tools to achieve greater sales. If you believe that selling is all about relationships, chances are that you will focus more on establishing a meaningful, emotional and cognitive connection with customers…

Everyone is a seller – someone who persuades others to take an action is selling – we’re all sellers… According to Kira M. Newman; sales has changed, but still, 1 in 9 workers are in sales, and the rest of us are also selling – not just objects but ideas, desire, techniques… We are persuading, negotiating, and pitching, like lawyers selling juries on their verdict or public figures selling their personal brand on Twitter. In fact, a study showed that people spend 40% of their work time selling something…

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According to Trent Leyshan; what does it really mean to sell something? An idea, dream, our values, an opinion, or ones self interests? Selling is simply, a transfer of enthusiasm and trust in someone or something. With this trust is born a responsibility, commitment to honor that trust, and do so willingly, no matter how challenging…

Sales is not a dirty word as some would have you believe. The act of selling is a powerful one, particularly when in the hands of honorable and good intentioned people. I’m not referring solely to the process of selling products, services… in business. I’m talking about selling yourself – your ideas, opinions, values, objections. There is little you can obtain in this world without the skills of selling or influencing another people first…

Sure you can be successful without overtly selling, but if you look a little closer into every situation, there is always a seller and a buyer. From a sweaty palmed suitor, bending down on one knee to ask his unsuspecting girlfriend to take his hand in matrimony, to high-powered CEO trying to sway the board of directors to agree to a multi million dollar restructure. The undercurrent is always selling, or what some call, influencing. Whether in your face or not, selling remains a universal law and truth that gets thing done. Nothing happens until someone sells something!

In the article What Does Selling Mean, Anyway? by ‘the News’ writes: Selling is truly a respectable profession… So why do so many people view salespeople as kin to something scaly and slithering? One reason is that there are many salespeople who are not good at what they do. Consequently, they take an unprincipled approach to the profession, which often manifests itself in behaviors such as; badgering, lying… These salespeople not only show a lack of pride in their profession, but they have lost track of what selling is truly about.

Selling is about– attitude, integrity, trust, reputation, ethics… Webster’s dictionary shows several different meanings for the word ‘sell’… For example, the noun ‘sell’ is the exchange of things for money; demand (for items); public exposition of goods… However, when the word makes a transition from noun to verb it gains additional interpretations…

Then, the meaning of ‘sell’ becomes– to ‘dispose of” things for an equivalent about of money; to betray for money or other consideration… To ‘dispose of’ means to get rid of, persuade or convince… these definitions convey the idea that– someone (salesperson) is doing something to someone else (customer)… Even the phrase ‘closing a sale’ implies that something is being done to the customer… Hence is it any wonder that customers are wary when encountering a salesperson?

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According to Geoffrey James; selling is not about pitches or closing deals. It’s something much simpler… Selling is simply ‘passion with a purpose’. Passion is what happens when you do something that’s truly interesting, exciting… Whether the passion is to change the world or just help people one-by-one, it’s that passion that does the ‘selling’… This is not to say that sales skills don’t exist or that they aren’t valuable, but sales skills are only ways to help communicate the passion, more clearly… So forget about ‘selling’– don’t even think about the word. Find what makes you passionate and then give that passion a purpose by engaging people to become a part of it… That’s what selling is really about…

In the article Nothing Happens Until Someone Sells Something! by Trent Leyshan writes: We all sell in some form every day in so many ways; not understanding this universal law renders a person incapable of truly understanding themselves or having the capacity to truly understand and influence others… To truly understand something you must first take an avid interest in it: Selling is no different… Whether in business or social setting, taking a genuine interest in someone, and genuinely attempting to understand them is showing ’empathy’…

Without empathy people are incapable of developing true connections and meaningful relationships with each other… Empathy is the foundation of selling, which is developing a genuine connection and understanding of the customer– and that produces a win-win outcome for everyone… Most important in selling is to uncover hidden underlying implicit motivators of customers, which is typically driven by emotions… If you can tap into the basic customer emotions, you will uncover a wealth of information, e.g.; who they really are, what they stand for, where they wise to go in business, what’s most important to them…

With this knowledge a sales person is now empowered to effectively engage the customer’s hidden needs with the most relevant solution… Research has shown that sales people who demonstrate empathy with their customers can be up to 50% more effective than those that don’t… or sales people who lack the skills or abilities to genuinely connect with customers…

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In the article How Do You Define What Selling Really Means? by Scott Marker writes: Sales managers often impose their beliefs about selling on their sales people… They try to turn every sales person into a ‘mini them’– Dress like them, act like them, speak like them, close like them… However, how sales managers think about– what selling means– isn’t helping anybody sell more… What we think selling means isn’t relevant… What we think doesn’t matter as much as what customers think, or their expectations…

At the heart of selling is value, the value as defined by customers unique situations… Now, with current technology, the dynamics of selling continues to shift and change, such that customers have the upper hand and, in fact, customers are now dictating– how you should create your business…

Part of good selling is learning up front how customers want to buy… If customers buy online, you need to offer that choice… If they want simple transaction, then, don’t go through the relationship mating dance… If a customer maps-out a more scientific approach to their buying process, then match the selling style to customers buying style… If customers want more creative ideas that lead to an artful solution to their problem, then tap into your artistic side…

Sell the way customers want to buy; and, if you have doubts about– what selling means– just ask the customer for guidance… then, listen carefully and you will begin to understand– what selling really means…

Do you want to be a better leader? Learn how to sell… Do you want to influence others? Learn how to sell… I’m not talking about manipulation;  I’m talking about building relationships and leading– leading and selling is relational– learn how to create a culture where selling is natural, not pushy… According to Dave Ramsey; selling is one of the oldest professions and we all have something to sell. No matter what you do, you are always selling…

Selling is about connecting and so is leading. Make the connection and magic happens. Fail to make the connection and you may not get another chance… Great sales people and great leaders have many of the same traits… they understand the power of relationships and connecting… for example: All great leaders sell. e.g., themselves, their vision, goals, strategies… It’s all about connecting on an emotional, relational level… and it starts with a leader’s compelling story that sells the reasons why they should be given the opportunity to lead…

According to Dan Pink; capacity to sell isn’t some unnatural adaptation to the merciless world of commerce. It’s part of who we are as humans… When you go to sell people you should ask the following two questions, as a bench mark: If the person that you are selling to– agrees to buy; will their life improve?

When the selling interaction is over, will the world be a better place than when you began? Everyone sells– when people spend a great deal of time persuading, influencing, convincing… trying to get other people to act in some capacity, that’s selling… In a study called– What do you do at work? by Gallup– it was found that most people devote about 24 minutes per hour attempting to– move-influence other people… Without question; most people are selling something to someone, most of the time…

Positive Power of Negative Thinking: Great Leaders Build Great Businesses on the Realities of Negative Thinking…

Power of positive thinking is a trademark slogan in business, society… it’s folklore wisdom, fill your mind with positivity and you shall reap the benefits… According to Roger Covin; negative thinking and negative emotions tend to be seen as akin to– germs, viruses… things to be avoided, fought…

The problem is that while positive thinking can yield many benefits, but when taken to the extreme– the excessive and rigid search for positivity can bring about the opposite effect… When economists surveyed more than 1,000 CEOs, they found– more than 80% scored as ‘very optimistic’…  On average the research indicates that people who never worry have lower job performance than those who worry from time to time.

Studies also show that when entrepreneurs are highly optimistic, their new ventures bring in less revenue and grow more slowly… more over, when CEOs are highly optimistic they take on more risky debt, swing for the fences more often, and put their companies in greater jeopardy… Ultimately, both styles are deadly at the extreme: Pessimism– becomes fatalistic, and optimism– becomes toxic… The key is to find– a sweet spot, more moderate ranges that combine the benefits of both approaches…

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In the words of Richard Pine; the best chief executives know that too much optimism is a dangerous thing, that wise and productive leadership means striking a balance between optimists’– blue sky view of the world, and pessimists’– more clear-eyed assessment of any given situation… Take one part salesman, one part inventor, one part lawyer, one part safety engineer, stir gently and you’ve got a great chief executive… If you’re the kind of person who’s always telling people to look on bright side, you might want to reconsider. Whether people succeed is not a matter of thinking positively or negatively, but rather whether they choose strategies that match their thinking styles….

According to Gabriele Oettingen; positive thinking without a negative balance hinders a person’s abilities. The craze for positive thinking overlooks the value of negative thinking, and particularly in business where some negative thinking is critical in the evaluation of plans, anticipating unexpected problems, planning for ‘what if’ possibilities… sprinkling a bit of negative thinking to balance positive thinking and to encourage action is critical for success… The reality is that real leadership requires both positive and negative thinking… According to Vergil Den; face the harsh facts– bad things happen… Studies have shown that people often overestimate what they know and underestimate what they don’t know…

In the article Harness Positive Power of Negative Thinking by Oliver Burkeman writes: It’s sixty years since Norman Vincent Peale published The Power of Positive Thinking’– and though his message may have been radical back then, it’s the conventional wisdom now. Self-help gurus, motivational speakers, business people, presidential candidates, and many psychologists agree– optimism is the foundation of a happy life, and negativity is for losers…

Those who consider themselves naturally cantankerous and gloomy have always felt left out of what the philosopher Peter Vernezze calls ‘cult of optimism’… However, there is a growing body of research suggesting that negative thinking, if strategically pursued, it has a role to play, too… Ancient philosophical, spiritual traditions, from the Stoics to the Buddhists, recognized it’s a life-enhancing potential… Here are three ways to benefit from their approach:

  • Focus on the worst-case scenario, not the best: Visualizing your ideal future is a staple of self-help bestsellers– but vividly picturing success can backfire badly. In one series of experiments, when experimental subjects were asked to visualize an event, their energy levels actually dropped; apparently, they were less motivated because they’d already imagined the event… Besides, negative visualization can be an excellent antidote to anxiety. The Stoics called this ‘the premeditation of evils’, while modern-day researchers call it ‘defensive pessimism’…
  • Consider getting rid of your goals: Among management scholars, the pro-goal consensus is breaking down. Recent research suggests that the ‘over-pursuit of goals’ can prompt employees to cut ethical corners. According to Saras Sarasvathy; successful entrepreneurs rarely stick rigorously to detailed, multi-year business plans… Instead, they just start and keep correcting their course as they go. Their philosophy isn’t so much– ‘ready, aim, fire’ as ‘ready, fire, aim’; and, they keep re-aiming…
  • Don’t get too attached to ‘positive thinking’: Tell yourself you’re a winner, and you might end up feeling worse… When researchers in Canada tested the efficacy of self-help affirmations– specifically the phrase ‘I am a winner!’ they found that those who already had low self-esteem experienced a further decline in their mood… According to Daniel Wegner; trying to control emotions, can be an invitation to the ‘ironic effect’– struggle too hard to eliminate negativity and you risk generating more of it…

In the article Should Leaders Accentuate The Negative? by Steve Denning writes: Negative events are good for getting attention, negative communication is central to accomplishing key activities of transformational leadership; i.e., getting an audience’s attention… Human beings give more weight to losses than to gains, to pains than to joys, to negative events than to positive events… As a result, negative events are more attention-getting… but, if a leader is looking to ‘inspire’ action it requires positive stories: Leaders can get attention through negative stories but when they are trying to ‘inspire’ people towards action than positive messages generally work better.

The sustained enthusiasm required by leadership is a positive emotion… hence, a leader’s communication for ‘change’ needs to be positive… It’s the contagiousness of a leader’s positive emotion and energy that stimulates desire for a new future… A frequent leadership mistake is to try to spark action with negative stories. Negative stories get people’s attention but don’t spark action– actions comes from positive stories that shows the way forward… Thought must also be given to what follows a positive story; merely stimulating desire for change may prove ephemeral, unless an idea of change is reinforced with reasons. This is typically done with stories that are neutral in tone…

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In the article Negative Thinking by Ken Ward writes: Positive thinking has desirable consequences, however, it seems that this may not be the case unless it’s mixed with a little negative thinking… Those who practice negative thinking are more able to handle difficult situations… According to David Corbin; negative thinking is important in business, and it’s crucial that managers allow for negative issues, including; confrontation, disagreements, bringing-up negative matters…

Successful businesses need to encourage a culture of open expression of– positive and negative ideas, but this also opens the organization to a form of messy management… When  management prepares– plans, projects… they need to be review on the assumption that their flawed… Business, organizational… management must add a dose of negative thinking in order to succeed… With every plan… management must spend time playing devil’s advocate and find out everything that might go wrong…

In the article Benefits Negative Thinking by James Adonis writes: Positive employees are seen as team players but negative workers are viewed as outcasts, troublemakers… The consequence is that the realistic and rational people, usually the negative thinkers, remain unheard… researchers discovered that negative people communicate better, think more clearly, make fewer mistakes, are less gullible, and are better at decision-making... The reason? Negative people have enhanced ‘information-processing strategies’, which means they use the critical part of their brain more successfully than cheerful people…

The overall conclusion from researchers is that the benefits of negative thinking are critical– must be embraced in all business discussions… Most important, there’s a place for both– positive and negative– in every workplace… However, what it all comes down to is that negative people pay more attention to their surroundings. They’re not always negative solely for the sake of being negative. They’re just more cognizant of what’s happening around them, and as a result their moods change depending on what they notice… Negative thinking isn’t superior to positive thinking, but neither is positive thinking the panacea for all workplace ills. Sometimes what’s required is a dose of reality. And, it’s the negative thinkers, the ones who are perceived as troublesome, annoying… often provide the cure…

In the article Being Negative Actually Helps by Peter Shallard writes: There are benefits for being ‘constructively negative’, including; productivity, creativity, effectiveness… The problem with purely positive thinking is two-fold: 1. They construct a mental universe where everything is perfect (when it isn’t) 2. They create a nasty in congruence with the inner self (which always knows the truth) that leads to the most insidious form of self-sabotage…

Getting negative can be wonderfully empowering, because it drives a respect for the reality of the situation and limitations… Without negativity you can never even begin to plan strategy for engaging, confronting– problems, limitations… Positive thinking produces– amazing dreams, visions, goals… Negative thinking produces– powerful plans, strategies… Embrace it, and use planned bursts of negative, constructing thinking to flesh out the positive visions, goals…

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In the article Positive vs. Negative Thinking: It Isn’t Either/Or by Louise Altman writes: According to positive thinking critics, the ‘blindness’ of positive thinking has led us to make terrible business, personal, societal… choices, for example; business leaders often cushion the blow of negative news by trying to demonstrate an ‘upside’, which is done everyday throughout the business world… And it’s no secret that sadly, obfuscation is a common business practice…

There’s nothing positive about thinking positively… The simple truth is that the thinking of positive thoughts is a matter of faith for hundreds of millions of people. The dictionary defines faith as– the confident belief in the truth, value and trustworthiness of a person, place or thing… It further defines faith as– belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence… Studies focusing on positive thought, optimism, positive psychology… have produced mixed results over the past two decades…

Recently one study was touted as the ‘proof’ that positive thinking not only doesn’t work – but that it may actually diminish our ability to achieve our goals… According to Martin Seligman; effects of optimism do not come from unjustified positivity but from thinking negatively less often. Learning optimism is about building greater resiliency, improving our performance by changing the way we interpret events, not by putting on a happy face in every situation

Negative thinking (fear, doubt, worry…) is a fact of life and of business… You can’t stop negative thinking from entering the workplace, but you can stop it from limiting you and your team... The positive power of negative thinking is a check to the natural, irrational exuberance we feel when we try to attain success. Also, by thinking about the negative events, if and when they occur, the bitter taste of their impact will be lessened thanks to planning…

According to Michelle Kerrigan; negative thinking is a catalyst in the change process… managing change means managing negative thinking– including your own. True transformation works best when it is driven by emotion and by support, and by believing everything will be OK, after you worry that it won’t…

According to Seth Godin; positive thinking and confidence improves performance… whereas, negative thinking feels realistic, protects us, lowers expectations… In many ways, negative thinking is a lot more fun than positive thinking– so we do it… Positive thinking is hard, but worth it…

According to J. D. Fencer; positive thinking– it doesn’t guarantee success, but lack of it guarantees failure… But, the facts remain– a healthy dose of both positive and negative thinking are required for a successful business, organization…

Is It Time to Quit Your Job, or Get Fired? Weigh the Pros and Cons: Take a ‘Quiz’ and Get a Few Tips!

Should I quit my job, or get fired? In the song ‘The Gambler’ Kenny Rodgers sings– You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, and know when to run… If this song seems to sum up your job dilemma, then wondering if you should quit or allow yourself to get fired is a big decision…

Don’t let your emotions keep you from making the best decision about your career. Marching into your boss’s office and announcing your resignation might be tempting, but it also might be a less-than-prudent action…

Quitting a job is big deal, so you should only quit when it suits you, which means: Not out of spite, not for revenge, not out of fear… but, it should be a smooth and rational transition to a better career… According to Joseph Terach; if you think that change will improve your career opportunities, or provide a better work environment, or resolve sensitive management-boss issues… then it’s almost always a good idea to change, but if the prime reason is to make more money, in the short-term, then that’s a bad reason and it could backfire…

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Since the job market and economy have improved slightly, more people in the workforce are quitting their jobs, than are being fired… According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; about 2.4 million people quit their jobs in November 2013– the most since the recession officially ended. In December the number slipped a little to 2.37 million, but the trend seems to be increasing. Also, ‘job leavers’ represent about 12% of the total unemployed… ‘job quitters’ account for about 0.6% of the total civilian labor force…

According to Laurie D. Battaglia; don’t change jobs willy-nilly… don’t hop from employer to employer… the reason most people stay is because they have– good boss, great colleagues, they like the job… in fact, most people leave-quit their ‘boss’ more than they leave-quit the company… If you’re not thrilled with your job, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re in majority. A survey in ‘Quality Digest’ magazine of 5,000 U.S. households found that fewer than half (less than 50%) of all U.S. workers are satisfied with their jobs. So, how do you know when your level of unhappiness has reached ‘point of no return’ and you’re better off leaving-quitting a job rather than sticking it out?

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Quiz: Is It Time to Quit Your Job? by Debra Auerbach writes: If you’re unhappy at your job and you have thoughts of shouting; I quit! Stop and think; such a drastic decision isn’t easy and shouldn’t be made in haste… So, how do you know when you’re just having a bad day or if you’re truly ready to resign? Or are you on the other end of the spectrum, and love your job a little too much for your own good? Take this quiz to find out where you fall:

1. It’s Sunday night. What’s your mindset? (A.) I’m glad the weekend is over — time to get back to work, use my brain again. (B.) I had a good weekend, but now it’s time to focus on the week ahead. (C.) It’s Sunday already? Back to the daily grind. (D.) I have a pit in my stomach and feel physically ill about the idea of going to work.

2. What is it about your job you don’t like? (A.) Nothing — it’s perfect. (B.) I have to work overtime every once in a while, and I wish for more vacation days. (C.) I feel bored and unchallenged. (D.) Everything– boss, colleagues, job… way the company is run.

3. It’s performance review time, and you’re about to find out whether you got a promotion. What’s running through your mind? (A.) I’m very excited, confident: I got the promotion. I’ll be running the company one day. (B.) I’m have mixed emotions, nervous, excited. I hope I got it and interested in boss’s feedback. (C.) I’m indifferent: If I get it, great; if not, whatever. (D.) I’m hoping I didn’t get a promotion. I have no desire for more responsibility and committed to this company much longer.

4. When you have a bad day at work, you: (A.) Wouldn’t know the feeling: All my days are good (B.) Find ways to relieve stress, such as exercise, shopping, going out with friends… (C.) Go home, turn off the phone, pour a glass of wine and watch TV. (D.) Pick a fight with my spouse, partner…

5. How would you describe your health? (A.) Overall pretty good: But don’t get to exercise that much, because that’s precious time I could be working, proving to the boss that I’m totally committed to the job. (B.) Healthy: I have good work/life balance and find time to eat well and exercise. (C.) So-so: I try to work out every once in a while but don’t always feel motivated. (D.) Not great: I’m not sleeping well, constantly having headaches, often agitated.

6. In five years, you see yourself: (A.) Being in a leadership role within the company. There’s no other option. (B.) In a managerial role, assuming it’s the right fit. (C.) I’m not sure: Maybe I’ll still be working at this company or maybe I won’t. (D.) No longer at this company, and no longer doing what I’m doing.

7. When you have to talk to your boss about a tough or sensitive topic, how do you typically feel? (A.) Good: I have a great relationship with my boss. In fact, she’s my best friend. (B.) Fine: Tough conversations are never fun, but they’re part of life. I know, I and the boss will work through it together. (C.) Annoyed: I avoid talking to the boss or anyone, for that matter, as much as possible. (D.) Scared: I’m afraid the boss will start berating me, making me feel like I failed. That’s usually how these conversations go.

8. When a friend asks you how things are going at work, you respond: (A.)Perfect! I love work and wish it were seven days a week. (B.) Work is good: I’m working on an interesting project right now. (C.) Same old; nothing new to report. Although yesterday I did win a game of Facebook Scrabble that I played with my cube mate. (D.) I don’t want to talk about it.

9. How would you describe your company? (A.) The best place to work in the world. (B.) Good culture, good benefits, smart people. (C.) It’s fine: It’s a place to work. (D.) A terrible place to work. All leadership cares about is making money, no matter how overworked, underpaid and miserable their employees are.

10. You have a client meeting. How are you feeling? (A.) I can’t wait: I’ve been up all night preparing. (B.) I feel prepared and think it’s going to be a good meeting. (C.) Ugh: Another meeting with same client, talking about same things. (D.) Sick to my stomach: It’s not that I’m not prepared but how do I convince a client when I don’t even believe myself, what I’m talking about?

Results:

  • Mostly (A.)’s: You love the job — maybe too much. There’s nothing wrong with loving what you do. But if work is taking over your life — because you choose for it to, not because you’re forced to make it that way — you may be making sacrifices in other areas, such as relationships and health: Having a work/life balance is very important…
  • Mostly (B.)’s: Congratulations! You have a job that you enjoy and you have achieved healthy work/life balance. You’re motivated and work hard, but you’re pretty good about not taking work home with you.
  • Mostly (C.)’s: You likely have a general attitude of indifference toward your job. Your work doesn’t really challenge you anymore, and you may feel as if your career is stalled. You go to work every day and do what you need to do to get the work done, but you don’t care enough to go above and beyond. To get out of this work rut, it may be time to explore other opportunities…
  • Mostly (D.)’s: If you fall into this category, you may want to consider whether it’s time to make a change. While it’s normal to not want a weekend to end, it’s not normal to feel an overwhelming sense of dread, anxiety. Constantly feeling stressed, miserable, overwhelmed… will eventually harm your health. When you’ve gotten to a point where work makes you physically ill, you need to re-evaluate your situation.

Perhaps surprisingly, but economists generally believe that when more people begin quitting their jobs that’s usually a sign that the job market is improving… According to Steven Davis; we have lots of evidence that shows that higher ‘quits’ is associated with a better labor market… The reason is that people tend to quit when they are confident they will get another job… But like much else during this recovery, rising quits could be indicating something different this time around…

According to Heather Boushey; be cautious not to reading too much into the rise in the number of people quitting… Recent studies have shown that workers satisfaction has dropped dramatically, in the past two years, and people are quitting because they have a new job, or they at the point where they are just feed-up and are willing to take their chances… According to a recent survey by job-search site ‘Snagajob’; 44% of respondents who quit in the past year did so believing they would find a better opportunity elsewhere, up from 31% the year before…

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More people are leaving-quitting their jobs, according to Janet Yellen; because it indicates strengthening economy… Presumably the quitters have, or hoped to have, a new job lined up, but are they making the right choice? In recent years, we’ve heard, in the news, some pretty creative–‘Take This Job and Shove It’ stories, for example; Joey quit his job with the support of a marching band and posted it on YouTube… A Jetblue flight attendant quit his job, grabbed a beer and then slid down the emergency chute of the plane he was on…

In case of Greg Smith, former Goldman Sachs vice president, he wrote detailed personal manifesto of the company’s faults… It landed in the New York Times, garnering national attention and even online parodies… According to Tony Morrison; a resignation for any reason; whether for general dissatisfaction, genuine cause… is serious career decision… Publicly bad-mouthing an employer is one of the worst things you can ever do even if you think it’s justified… So, ‘if you want to quit’ — just quit…

Fear of Failure– Atychiphobia– Leadership is the Courage-Permission to Fail: Failure is Merely a Pit-Stop to Success…

Fear of failure (or atychiphobia or even more of a tongue-twister  kakorraphiaphobia) is a condition that many organizations suffer, although they probably won’t acknowledge it… and many executives probably can’t even pronounce it… It’s an ailment that’s serious enough to affect the long-term survival of many organizations…

Atychiphobia (or fear of failure) is not just a fear of failure but an irrational fear of literally everything… it can terrorize an organization so strongly that leadership will refuse to do anything without absolute assurance of success…

According to Regina Dugan; when you remove the fear of failure– impossible things suddenly become possible… the reality is that we cannot fear failure and still do ‘amazing’ new things… In business, failure comes with the territory– and if you are going to– build, grow, create, innovate… or solve serious problems… you eventually fail at some things… but its imperative that you continue, even  knowing that, in many situations, you will probably have a high likelihood of failure… but you learn from the– mistakes, lessons, experiences…  such that they can be applied elsewhere for success…

According to Thomas Watson, Sr.; the fastest way to succeed is to double your failure rate… A business cannot develop breakthrough– products, processes… if it’s not willing to encourage risk-taking (possible failure) and learn from subsequent mistakes…

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There is a growing acceptance of failure and it’s changing the way companies approach innovation… According to Robert Shapiro; failure-tolerant leaders, don’t just accept failure; they encourage it… First and foremost though, failure-tolerant leaders encourage people to see beyond the simplistic traditional definitions of failure, i.e., viewing failure as the opposite of success, rather than its complement… a person with this mind-set will never be able to take the risks necessary for innovation…

Although failures are inevitable when launching risk-based initiatives; management cannot abdicate its responsibility to assess the nature of the failures. Some are excusable errors; others are simply the result of sloppiness… Failure-tolerant leaders will identify excusable mistakes and approach them as outcomes to be examined, understood, and built upon…

According to Alison Provost; ideas don’t have to be perfect before you take them to the marketplace. In fact, the true process of innovation is the opposite of that; it’s a process of iteration– first conceive it, build it, try it– it fails… adjust it, try it– it fails again but its better… adjust it, try it, and now its even better… It’s a process of failure and success…  and  the fundamental nature of innovation and creativity– moving in incremental bits to something that’s market ready, market worthy…

It takes courage in leadership to face failures, and it’s often one of the best ways to learn life’s lessons– especially leadership lessons… We can (and should) learn much from failure… but, failure is only valuable if we face it, milk it… for all we can learn, than get-up, and lead again (maybe even fail again)… it takes real courage to face failure.

In the article Learn From Mistakes by Prasad Sangameshwaran writes: Most businesses only pay lip-service to the notion of learning from mistakes. When the cost of failure is high (and it usually is, especially when dealing with important projects), organizations can be notoriously unforgiving… According to Anil Thomas; the secret to success is failure and increasingly organizations are getting to realizing it… The best way to overcome fear of failure is to create an environment of learning within the organization…

Empowering all employees to take risks and when failure occurs, and it will, be prepared and don’t treat it like the end of the world… Learn from mistakes and move on… According to Raj Bowen; companies take risks and sometimes failure is only apparent after investments of time, money have already been made… understandably it’s very difficult for a company to adopt a laissez-faire attitude under such circumstances but, nevertheless, it must make that effort, because failure in the short-term means greater success in the long-term…

According to K Ramkumar; senior leaders need to back creative initiatives, strongly, and be persistent with new ideas… and making mistakes, failing… is understandable, but repeating the same mistakes over and over is not acceptable… According to James M Kouzes and Barry Z Posner; not everyone is equally comfortable with –risk, uncertainty, failure… so leaders must understand the capacity-ability of their constituents to take responsibility-control of challenging situations– leaders cannot exhort some people to take certain types of risks when they don’t have the capacity-ability to deal with failure.

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In the article Conquer Fear of Failure by Robert Kelsey writes: Fear of failure is driven not so much by fear of actual failure, but by the fear of humiliation resulting from failure, and that drives behavior… Indeed, fear of failure may be a far bigger driver of people’s actions, in business, than greed or ambition… According to Judson S. Brown; what people avoid is just as important as what people strive to acquire– for example; due to fear, rather than making money, many people avoid the risks involved in making money… It isn’t so much seeking success, but more of avoiding failure that drivers some business decisions– being defense rather than offense…

Yet fear can occupy both ends of the behavioral spectrum. At one end is the obvious reaction to fear; paralysis– we delay decisions until the opportunity is lost, perhaps looking (and inevitably finding) that tiny flaw justifying a decision to opt-out… Nothing’s been lost but, significantly, nothing’s been gained, which can lead to the other end of the behavioral spectrum; impetuous and poorly judged decision-making, i.e., ballsy ‘do-or-die’ decisions that may also be a result of fear-driven avoidance… despite the fact that it may look like a confidence-driven, strong judgment decision…

Of course plenty of the high-risk gambit might work out, which can lead to further problematic behavior, including hubris, which potentially masks deep-down feelings of undeserved success...

In the article Surviving, Thriving in Face of Failure by Elizabeth Freedman writes: Failure isn’t always pretty and you often hear the phrase; ‘failure is a great learning experience’… but, it’s one thing to intellectually know that failure is OK, and quite another to really feel that it’s OK…

Sometimes failing at something is nature’s way of telling us to get a clue about ourselves. We’d be foolish if we didn’t try to understand why we failed at something, or listened to helpful feedback that truly can help us improve… But some of us have a hard time hearing criticism of any kind, which can really impede success… There are countless people who– got brutal criticism, were fired, lost deals… but continued unabated anyway…

The moral of the story? We need to listen to messages of criticism, failure… but also review your own plan… and above all continue to be persistent… Sure, it’s tough to keep going when the going gets tough… Ask any marathoner, successful entrepreneur, or anyone else who has opted to stay in the race even though they had good reasons to quit.

The truth is that for intelligent risk-takers, the bold road will offer its share of rejections and failures, and there will always be an ‘acceptable’ reason to quit… After all, most people aren’t risk-takers, so the fact that you’re willing to ride out the rejections and failures may be tough for people to understand. But as long as you understand why your goals matters to you, persistence will come naturally, at least most of the time…

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In the article Fail The Way To Amazing Things by Ekaterina Walter writes: Failure; that’s a scary word, isn’t it? What is failure? Really? This question always fascinated me… So I talked to people about it, trying to understand what failure meant to them, what role it played in their lives… And, what I found was profoundly simple: The definition of failure is shaped by three things; passion, purpose, attitude…

Passion fuels everything in life: our energy, our ambitions, who we want to be. It fuels our actions. It shaped the lens through which we see the world… Our passion shapes our purpose, and the two in combination– passion and purpose– affect our attitude… At that point you know no failure, you accept no failure, but only the path that gets you to your goal… Are their times when you are frustrated? Absolutely. Are their times when taking a wrong path sets you back. Yes! But you keep on going, doing what truly matters to you…

And that’s when failure becomes non-existent… For example: Henry Ford went broke five times before finally succeeding… Beethoven was proclaimed by his teacher as hopeless as a composer… Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor for lack of ideas and creativity… Albert Einstein did not speak until he was four years old and his teacher described him as ‘mentally slow’… The Beatles were rejected by many music labels… Michael Jordan was cut from his high school team… Winston Churchill failed the sixth grade…  However, most people can deal with failure but it’s the doubts that kill more dreams that failure ever will… If you don’t try to build your dream, someone else will hire you to build theirs… True failure is– not to try at all…

Failure is an inevitable part of business and its important to understand that failure is not fatal, but rather an opportunity to try again… and by the lessons of failure you are than armed with better information to succeed… According to Napoleon Hill; every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit… Nothing can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent… Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb…

Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts… Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent… No one is going to be successful at everything they try to achieve. But every failure is a chance to learn something new about how to do things differently, the next time. Success takes more than simply falling down and getting back up again: Success is getting back-up because you failed; in other words, being able to gain a new strength from each failure until they accumulate into a critical-level of persistence and determination…

According to Darren Hanson; there is no such thing as a journey unmarked by setbacks, hurdles and unexpected events. It’s how a business copes with obstacles that ultimately dictate its ability not only to survive, but to thrive in changing environment… According to Acadia; we all know of great leaders who achieve a small success than bottom out, yet overcome a host of serious setbacks, then fight their way back until they’re on top again, and that inspires the entire world…

For example; Steve Jobs was fired from the company he started… Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years, labeled a traitor to his country and considered a dangerous insurgent… Abraham Lincoln was hated by many, had mental collapse, and lost eight elections… We all love comeback stories and believe that we too can do the same if placed in a similar situation…

However, those who do succeed, do so for very good reasons… for example; they understand the existing conditions of the situation, they have supreme confidence in their abilities to meet the challenges… most important they have persistence, determination to succeed. Winston Churchill once said; success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm…

Business Forensics– Untangling the Mysteries of Financial Shenanigan: Unmask the Illusions– Art of Following Money…

Business forensics stems from the need to– curtail, suppress, manage… the increasing numbers of corporate financial crimes… More than ever, companies are operating in a complex global business environment: They are drowning in a sea of digital financial data, adapting to perils of doing business in new markets, struggling to comply with increased regulation and trying to avoid costly enforcement actions, litigation…

Managing the risk of financial shenanigans and misconduct has never been more challenging… The effects of fraudulent activities through financial manipulations can seriously impact the financial welfare of the business, as well as; investors, suppliers, partners… Corporate financial scandals have given rise to outcries for improved transparency, honesty… in financial reporting, and untangling of complicated financial maneuvers that obfuscate ‘transparent’ financial reporting…

The sophistication of cleverly schemed financial crimes is eroding the security of vital business sectors, particularly– banking, financial institutions… Financial forensic is a blend of traditional accounting, auditing, financial detective work, computer technologies… and the typical financial forensic investigator is experienced in determining if and when there is financial criminal activities, mismanaged funds… and whether these activities are the result of deliberate fraud or simply due to inexperienced or uneducated employees, executives…

A financial forensic investigator can also be engaged to examine the financial impact, on a business, from– product liability claims or infringement on an existing patent… According to Timothy Sexton; the purpose of forensics is to assemble a sequence of evidence that act as facts to support investigative theories. This sequence of evidence is offered as part of the judicial process that either clears a suspect of a charge or confirms their guilt…

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In the article What Is Financial Forensics? by Tom Lutzenberger writes: Financial   forensics investigations frequently follows the principles of financial auditing to uncover evidence… Using the tried-and-true principle of– ‘follow the money’; auditing traces back the paper trail of transactions to their original starting point to verify funds– amounts, movement, purpose… However, unlike auditing, financial forensics involves much more intensive review– it looks at all documents available rather than just using spot samples on large amounts of data. As a result, large cases can involve multiple-person teams for reviewing the same set of files to find evidence in a timely manner…

Corporate financial forensics teams are often an assemblage of financial business experts– auditors, analysts, accountants… and even, lawyers… Financial forensics are engaged in cases ranging from pursuing financing of terrorism, money laundering… and, as mundane as tax evasion, charity scams… All of these fraudulent activities generally have the same type of financial crime occurring, e.g., misrepresenting, misappropriating funds, including; their sources, amounts, locations…

A typical case can involve falsifying sources of revenue, hiding the fact that the funds actually come from illegal sources (e.g., false contracts, falsified sales receipts, fake donations…), or it can be an investigation into why less revenue is being reported than should be for tax purposes (e.g., hiding gross profits, representing expenses that never occurred for fake deductions, taking tax credits that are not valid)…

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In the article Advanced Forensics Financial Analysis by Michael F. Rosplock writes: Corporate financial fraudsters are committing more devious forms of financial statement fraud by concealing, suppressing… the true worth of– assets, liabilities, cash flows, sales, profitability… Financial forensics examiners are trying to stay one step ahead of the bad guys by using advanced analytical processes to detect illegal activities, for example:

  • Perform a subjective analysis of history and operations of the company. Obtain credit and bank reference information to determine– changes in payment habits, relationship with banks, savings account balances, short- and long-term credit line exposures, and bank compliance…
  • Analyze the financial condition by performing a horizontal and vertical analysis of the balance sheet and income statement. The use of industry standard statistics is essential in the analytical process, as a means of verifying the condition of ratios and financials in relation to standards…
  • Once the conditions of ratios and statistics have been determined, trending analysis is the next step in the analysis process. This process assists in detecting inconsistent patterns in the ratios and statistics, which should be regarded as a red flag…
  • The detection of trending inconsistencies requires further analysis to determine the factors that impacted the changes in condition of ratios or financial statistics. The detection of imperfections or inaccurate statistics is essential during this analytical      process…
  • When analyzing the condition and trend of the income statement and balance sheet, it’s important to evaluate the gross margin, operating margin, and net profit margin as a percent of sales. This determines if the changes in condition of the income statement and balance sheet were accordant…
  • In-depth knowledge of the balance sheet, income statement, and statement of cash flow requires an understanding of how  changes of consistent or inconsistent trending patterns impact the income statement and cash flow… The ability to determine inconsistencies, or unexplainable changes in the income statement and balance sheet assists in the beginning stage of forensic financial analysis. The ability to acquire an investigative perseverance requires– an ability to analyze below the surface…

In the article Art of Illusion by Bruce G Dubinsky and Tiffany Gdowik write: It’s not what’s on the page that matters; it’s what’s not on the page that matters… Forensics examiners have been taught to gather documents, review information, interview people and then draw conclusions… While this approach will detect the simplest of frauds, it won’t detect the type of complex financial frauds that are increasingly making headline news– where companies use ‘accounting gymnastics’ to manipulate financial statements… For example; in 2008, Lehman Brothers’ shaky balance sheet and falling profits left the firm in dire financial peril. It desperately needed to create an ‘illusion’ that it was healthier than it actually was.

Lehman used what appeared to be a normal financial instrument in the banking world; repurchase agreement (repo)– to book billions of dollars of transactions… A repurchase agreement is a form of short-term borrowing for banks and other dealers typically using government securities. The bank sells the government securities to an investor (often it’s another bank), usually on an overnight basis, and buys them back the following day.

In Lehman’s case, the company did it to exploit an accounting rule that was meant to give principled guidance to determine when ‘repo’ was a true short-term finance method versus a sale of a financial instrument. The latter desired treatment as a ‘sale’, and that allowed Lehman to slyly portray its financial condition as rosy when, in fact, it wasn’t.

Interestingly, investigators didn’t discover the ‘illusion’ created by Lehman by looking at what was on the page (i.e. the entries in the accounting system). The accounting entries, which seemed straight forward generated little-to-no alarm. The debits and credits were in the proper accounts. The explanation accompanying the entries also seemed normal. In fact, a review by even the most skilled auditor would, in and of itself, had revealed nothing. Rather, investigators exposed the company’s deceptive behavior by looking at what was literally– not on the page.

The key to uncovering the ploy was– first to understand what Lehman’s financial perils were at that time… So, the first ‘red flag’ came in the form of a question: Why was Lehman spending so much time focused on de-leveraging its balance sheets? Its access to public capital was critical to its continued survival. During this time period, in the stock market, investor panic was running rampant, so Lehman had to create an illusion that it was a solid financial institution with sound balance sheet…

So how did Lehman create the delusion? It simply used the chameleon approach: Make something that’s really one thing look like something else… Lehman took ‘repos’ that were really short-term loan transactions and made them look like they were sales of financial product inventory (e.g., treasuries, certain equities…). By knowingly exploiting that accounting rule and specifically structuring the ‘repos’, Lehman was able to disguise itself as a financially healthier institution…

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The term forensics stirs up vivid images: Crime scenes littered with obvious and equally less obvious evidence. Law enforcement investigators toiling to bring heartless criminals to justice… Unfortunately, the popular view of forensics is often in stark contrast with reality… According to Tom Kopchak; corporate forensics requires significant quantities of tedious, detail-oriented work, sifting through huge amounts of data looking for pertinent details… And, when the guilt or innocence of a defendant lies in the hands of a forensics investigator, a single mistake can corrupt or cost the prosecution its case…

It happens to almost every company; an anonymous letter, phone call, perhaps an audit– tips the firm off to serious employee wrongdoing… Frequently, wrongdoing involves theft of company assets, including; proprietary or confidential information critical to company’s financial well-being. In either event, company must investigate allegations… All forensics analyses have four common ‘core’ duties that consist of: • Data collection • Data preparation • Data analyses • Reporting… The potential for fraud, misconduct… can reach far, wide within an organization, including; procurement, sales, marketing, accounting, operations… foreign and domestic subsidiaries, portfolio companies, joint ventures, merger and acquisition targets…

According to amymatt; ‘cooking the books’ is an accounting phrase to describe a rewriting of past financial mistakes to justify fraudulent transactions or use of funds… Some companies can do it right, while others stay under the radar… the acts of ‘cooking’ are like a disease leading ultimately to the company’s demise… Managing risk of financial fraud, misconduct… has never been more challenging…

Sinister-Side of Cartels, Collusions… for Dominating Markets: Sleeping with the Competition is a Dubious Business Strategy…

Cartels, collusions… are the most serious form of anti-competitive behavior– businesses  that have an agreement between each other not to compete… Essentially, the businesses are sleeping with their competition… In many countries it’s a criminal offense to engage dishonestly with agreements that limit– production, supply, bid-rigging, market-sharing, price-fixing…

A cartel is special case of oligopoly– where a market structure of an industry is dominated by small number of competitors; oligopolists… These are silent extortion that undermine the efficient functioning of markets… and it affects billions of dollars, globally, from– business, consumers, governments…

However, certain market conditions are necessary to create, maintain cartels, e.g.; few participants in an industry • significant barriers to entry • similar products produced • limited opportunities to keep individual actions secret • no legal barriers to production control agreements… Also, collusions are secret agreements to restrict competition, and they too have same impact as cartels, and both are illegal in many countries…

According to Simon Power; the cartel activities, for example; price-fixing, bid rigging, market sharing… is the most harmful form of anti-competitive business conduct… These illegal activities cause significant economic harm by reducing production output, undermining trust in markets, slowing productivity growth, distorting investment signals… by making cartels appear more profitable than they would be in an undistorted market…

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Several economic studies and legal decisions of antitrust authorities have found that the median price increase achieved by cartels in the last 200 years is around 25%. Private international cartels (those with participants from two or more nations) had an average price increase of 28%, whereas domestic cartels averaged 18%, fewer than 10% of all cartels don’t raise market prices…

Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is one of the better-known cartels… studies also suggest that two-thirds of cartels are in industries in which the top four firms have 75% or more of the relevant market… Many western countries, including the U. S., have laws prohibiting cartels, but many other countries don’t… The negative effects on consumers include:

  • Higher prices – cartel members can all raise prices together, which reduces elasticity of demand for any single member…
  • Lack of transparency – members may agree to hide prices or withhold information, e.g., the hidden charges in credit card transactions…
  • Restricted output – members may agree to limit output onto the market, e.g., OPEC and its oil quotas…
  • Carving up a market – cartel members may collectively agree to break up a market into regions or territories and not compete in each other’s territory…

Cartels stretch back into antiquity: For as long as there’s been a market– there have been shady business people who have tried to rig it, e.g., Babylon’s ‘Code of Hammurabi’ had antitrust rules; Lysias documented a bid to corner Athens’ grain market during war-time…

Cartels have also been fostered by nation-state: Japan’s ‘zaibatsu’ conglomerates fueled its empire, and U. S. was a hotbed of collusion well into the early 1900s. Indeed, for many countries outside the West, domestic cartels, monopolies… were ubiquitous until a few decades ago… That changed as the U.S.’s ‘best practice of competition’ went global…

But few suspected that cartels would follow in capitalism’s wake toward globalization… Many agricultural ‘cooperatives’ are legal cartels, raising prices for members’ or reducing costs through collective purchasing power…

In the article Collusions and Cartels by David A. Mayer writes: Cartels are groups of businesses that effectively function as a single producer or monopoly able to charge whatever price the market will bear. Probably the best-known modern cartel is the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). OPEC is made up of thirteen oil-exporting countries and is thus not subject to the antitrust laws of the U.S. OPEC seeks to maintain high oil prices and profits for their members by restricting output. Each member of the cartel agrees to a production quota that will eventually reduce overall output and increase prices…

Fortunately for consumers, cartels have an Achilles heel: The individual members of a cartel have an incentive to cheat on their agreement. Cartels go through periods of cooperation and competition. When prices and profits are low, the members of the cartel have an incentive to cooperate and limit production.

However, it’s the cartel’s success that provides the incentive to cheat. If the cartel is successful, the market price of the commodity will rise. Individual members driven by their own self-interest (greed) will have an incentive, justified by their own law of supply; they will ever-so-slightly begin to exceed their production quota and sell the excess at the higher price.

The problem is that all cartel members have this same incentive, and eventually prices will fall as they collectively cheat on their production quota. However, cartels do find ways to discourage cheating, for example; drug cartels use assassination, kidnapping… and, OPEC uses something a little more civilized…

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In the article Business Cartels by Pauline Yu writes: Cartels are usually formed by firms that belong to same market segment. These businesses come together to form a union for the purpose of market monopoly and profiteering. Businesses that form cartels usually trade in prime commodities, e.g.; basic minerals, sugar, rice… They start by hoarding their products and in this case we’ll use sugar as an example. They hoard the sugar in hidden warehouses therefore causing a fake shortage of the commodity in the market. By doing so, demand for sugar increases due to the shortage and after a period of time these businesses will start to release their products into the market bit by bit at much higher prices.

There are many documented cases of such activities in many countries around the world. The Philippines had once fallen prey to rice hoarders who would store the rice in large warehouses and they would keep it stored until the prices go up before they start releasing their products to the market. Even criminal elements form cartels to capture and control their market. Colombian drug traffickers have been known to do this.

Forming a cartel manipulates the market by controlling the availability of supply… While forming a cartel is an effective way to control the market, maximize profit… in many countries it’s illegal… Moreover, such business practices can prove to be very harmful to an economy; manipulating supply can affect the demand, market prices…

In the article Cartels Good for Companies, Bad for Economy by Nicholas Ngepah writes: Cartels prevent competition, causing participating firms to act collectively as a monopoly, or near monopoly… Hence, there is little incentive for innovation, which keeps economy in a low-growth situation… while extracting higher prices from consumers. In most cases, cartels are bad for consumers, economy, government…

In the study ‘Cartels and Antitrust  Portrayed: Private International Cartels’ by John Connor; calculates the range of cartel price overcharge to be between 17% and 21%… it’s important to note that the research may under-estimate the true extent of the higher price from cartels… Also, the study shows that prices don’t fall very quickly to market levels after a demise of a cartel. Rather, prices fall gradually over a period of time– few months, even few years, e.g., after the ‘construction concrete products industry’ cartel was dissolved, prices were still falling three years later…

Researchers have investigated why companies gain more by belonging to a cartel in some parts of the world, than others: One reason is that the more regulators successfully disrupt cartels, the less these companies will fix prices at high levels…

cartels2Generally cartels contain seeds of their own destruction... cartel members are reducing their output below their existing potential production capacity, and once the market price increases, each member of the cartel has the capacity to raise output relatively easily. The tendency is for cartel members to ‘cheat’ on their quota, increasing supply to meet market demand and lowering their price.

Most cartels agreements are unstable at the slightest incentive they will quickly disband, and returning the market to competitive conditions… Cartels appeared most strongly in those industries defined by scale and scope economies and with high fixed costs… Therefore, they are more common in wealthy countries with big businesses. Cartels also tended to appear among domestic firms first, before going international (except, for example; early– zinc, rail, shipping… cartels)…

According to Jeffery Fear; cartels are a surprisingly slippery subject. there is no mystery as to cartel dynamics, yet those dynamics are not sufficient to explain any given cartel. So far most  research has stressed why cartels fail, rather than why they endure…

According to John M. Connor; for cartels the evidence is clear– crime pays… Often for business-on-business offenses, cartels rarely rise to public notice, but they are pervasive, costly phenomenon. Since the 1990s, they have accrued more than $80-billion in U.S. government fines… More cases go undetected; generous estimates suggest only a third come to light.

These cartels thrive, then fail in the hidden abysses of the market, but not before they’ve garnished profits from the budgets of everyday shoppers out to buy– meat, computer monitors, cars… According to Conner; the number of global cartels is rising, or more are now being fished out– I used to see 30 to 40 new cartel formations per year, whereas, now it’s 90, to 100 per year– that’s only counting international cartels

Cartels have, historically, tended to be formed in industries with standardized products that inspire little customer loyalty… In recent years, however, international conspiracies have been uncovered in fields as diverse as, e.g., seat belts, seafood, air freight, computer monitors, lifts, even candle wax…

A growing number of cases are in digital commerce, e.g., e-books, finance, interest-rates, foreign-exchange benchmarks… More sinister are the negotiations, deal-making that were in the proverbial smoke-filled room are now online in chat rooms… Some of the cartels are involved in a dizzying number of alleged collusions…

According to aliakber; purpose of cartel formation is to enhance profits by much greater multiplier… As businesses collude, they put-off and manipulate competition… without competition, the newly formed cartel is at its leisure for fixing whatever price they deem fit… The demand is unchanged, but supplies are heavily monopolized, leading to price-fixing– cartels can be extremely profitable and that is why they are formed…

 

Power of Thinking Differently– Invent, Imagine, Create, Disrupt.. Change the World: Companies Must Think Different or Fail…

Thinking differently: Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers… Here’s to the ones who see the world differently… They’re the ones who invent, imagine, create…

They’re the ones who push the human race forward. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to believe they can change the world are the ones who actually do– they ‘think different’… This theme is from– Apple’s, Steve Jobs; ‘Think Different’ Ad campaign, 1997…

According to Lauchlan Mackinnon; I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about just what exactly it means to ‘think differently’ and the meaning is not as simple as it sounds! The Apple campaign was very clever– it inspired people to become one of those– crazy ones, one of these innovators, one of the people who change the world… But this Apple theme also, interestingly, explored– who thinks differently, how people who ‘think different’ can be geniuses or misfits or exceptional or stubborn, they might or might not fit in… But they make a difference– they do important work and they change the world…

Also, there are other ways people can think differently, for example: Be revolutionary– question old ways of doing things… Be an innovator– create new powerful ways to do things… Be  creative– express new powerful ideas… Be a performer– push boundaries, think in new ways that lead to improved results… Be a seeker– gain a deeper, better understanding of the world… Be a visionary– imagine an expanded vision of what’s possible and what’s worthwhile… Be independent– think independent for yourself… Be a leader– have the courage to discover and express your individual uniqueness…

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In the article Ability to Think Differently by Gary Bertwistle writes: The key to the future of business is thinking differently… All great accomplishments come from people who think differently about something… all innovations come people who are prepared to think differently… Even ‘inside the box’ can look at things differently… People use the quote the cliché: ‘Think outside the box’ and sometimes it’s necessary to think ‘outside the box’ in order to push forward, but often we also do good things by thinking ‘inside the box’, and do it better…

The real advantage over the competitors is the ability to look at something, and think about it differently… By having the courage to consider different options– you will automatically be creative, innovative and the outcome will be a problem well solved… Don’t focus on creativity– focus on getting people to think differently and creativity will be the result, for example; imagine if the receptionist thought: What I do differently or better today than I did yesterday? Or if the finance department were looking at operations of the business thinking: How can we do things differently to improve?  What if the sales team approached things differently, looking for improvements or new solutions to current or potential problems? How much time is allocated in your diary for thinking about the business, and considering what you could do differently?

Thinking differently is coming up with lists of options to solve problems, challenges… When you constantly push boundaries to think differently, you leap-frog the competition… Thinking differently is a discipline, desire… it’s a rejection of mediocrity, status quo… In fact, if you’re not thinking differently then the person in the next office, then why are you needed? If a company is doing exactly the same thing as the competition, then why do customers need it? Thinking differently is the currency of the future… it’s business of the future… it’s the power of the future…

In the article Truth About Thinking Differently by Andrew Bennett writes: For decades we’ve been saying; ‘think outside the box’, and in a world where rapid, frequent innovation is essential, it’s certainly desirable to think differently. But admonishing people to think differently is an empty wish unless we understand a little more about how the brain works, and steps we can take to actually shift our thinking…

The brain is very efficient– it turns much of its processing over to ‘autopilot’ in order to maximize the ability to handle things that require more brain power… Most of our thinking is on ‘autopilot’– when we admonish our teams, colleagues… to think differently we’re actually going against the way a brain is wired… Although 95% of our thinking is the same from day-to-day, we can make changes such that new thinking can happen… Here are three ways:

  • Understand what inspires you: It’s hard to think creatively when constantly reacting to business situations… face situations throughout the day based on what you’re trying to accomplish, create… and don’t simply react…
  • Become conscious of your story: Life experiences shape a ‘story’ that influences the way you navigate your actions… Being conscious of your personal ‘story’ enables you to know when you’re simply sticking with a safe strategy… understanding your ‘story’ or your inter-influences enables you to adjust, and begin to think differently…
  • Check your assumptions: Be an observer of your own thinking and challenge the facts upon which you base your thinking… step back, check your thinking process in order to engage in more effective thinking…

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In the article Think Differently by Steve Denning writes: What does it take to come up with thinking that’s– value-adding, game-changing innovations? According to Rosabeth Moss Kanter; Thinking ‘outside the box’ is not enough– the greatest breakthroughs will come from leaders who encourage thinking– outside a whole building full of boxes… The problem of innovation today is right ‘in the heart’ of the corporation, at the highest level…

The core problem is the very thinking by which decisions, at the C-suite level, are made. It’s the thinking that is still taught in business schools that measures results in terms of short-term performance and stock price… and that’s the problem… According to Clayton Christensen; nothing will change unless the thinking that’s now prevalent in business and in business schools– for how business decisions are made– also changes... Indeed, when the business has a short-term mindset; the stranger the new ideas and the less likely they  will be funded… Merely changing sources of ideas is unlikely to produce a different result…

Game-changing innovation lies outside the performance envelope of businesses built on hierarchical bureaucracy where the top management is focused on short-term gains and the stock price… Game-changing innovation requires a different kind of management with a new corporate bottom line in which value-adding innovation is necessity, not an option. Instead of focusing exclusively on short-term gains, efficiency, productivity… basic goals must shift from– internal to external focus, for example; primary business priority must be delighting customers through continuous value-adding innovation… Game-changing innovation requires a fundamentally different way of– thinking, managing, doing… It’s a paradigm shift in management…

In John C. Maxwell’s bookHow Successful People Think’ writes: Thinking is discipline– you must work at it… You must figure out where to focus your energy, and then use the 80/20 rule… Devote 80% of your energy to the most important 20% of your activities. Remember that you can’t be everywhere, know everyone, and do everything…

Expose yourself to different ideas and types of people… If you have an idea then follow through… Ideas have a short shelf life– you must act on them before the expiration date… Thoughts need time to develop– don’t just settle on the first thing that comes to mind, remember the last time you had a brilliant idea at 2 a.m., but it sounded sort of ridiculous when you woke up the next morning? Thoughts need to be– shaped until they have substance– and then they must stand test of– clarity, questioning…

When questioning popular thinking– you must be prepared for pushback, and be OK with feeling uncomfortable… Plan ahead–but leave room for spontaneity… Be strategic– thinking differently means– do different things… The creative, innovative… ones don’t see limitations, they see possibilities… For example; former baseball star Sam Ewing once said that– ‘nothing is so embarrassing as watching someone do something that you said could not be done’…

Creative people are dedicated to ideas– they embrace ambiguity, don’t fear failure, and hang out with other creative people… Thinking differently is fine but you must be realistic, and that means: 1. appreciate the truth… 2. do homework, get the facts… 3. think through the pros and cons, 4. consider the worst-case scenario, 5. align thinking with resources… Most important– we all can change the way we think– mastering the process leads to thinking differently, which leads to doing different things, which leads to game-changing innovation…

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A ‘think different’ mindset isn’t just a tag line; it captures, reinforces a company’s unique cult-like culture in the way it operates– top to bottom… The most successful businesses have one thing in common– they think differently… According to Roger Martin; it’s impossible to reproduce the successes of great business leaders… so rather than learning from what great leaders have done, a more productive starting point is to learn from how they think…

In order to stay competitive, leaders, organizations… must break status quo and think ‘outside the box’, i.e., think ‘outside the box’ but ‘inside the circle’… Break the status quo, but do so in a way that’s creative, yet practical, effective…Its about time to start thinking differently… become more original… question the way you do business… According to John C. Maxwell; the world is not shaped by those who think the same, but by those who dare to think differently…

According to Bob Johansen; most leadership models are based on the present and past, whereas, the future requires a different set of leadership models, skills… Leaders will operate in a different world– volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous (VUCA)… This means embracing a collaborative leadership style– collaboration, in this context, means more than just working together across geographical, organizational boundaries; it’s bringing together, integrating… people with different ideas, backgrounds, capabilities, ideas, potentially…

According to Navi Radjou; business leaders must be able to manage multiple viewpoints, perspectives… across the company… But rather than trying to seek convergence, which is the easy route, companies must encourage divergence– divergence leads to diversity, which leads to more innovation... According to Vijay Govindarajan, conventional western business thinking embraced the attitude that companies– take existing products created for customers in developed countries, markets… and then scale them down for emerging markets… However, consider the opposite or ‘reverse innovation’ (i.e., new way of thinking)… it advocates developing innovative solutions that work for consumers in the emerging countries, markets… and then apply those innovations to developed markets, globally…

In fact, the very business best practices that made global western corporations so successful– actually get in the way of innovating in emerging markets… Now as a test ask: How does your business think differently about your markets, products…? In the movie ‘Dead Poets Society’ there are several inspirational lines that are relevant to this discussion, such as: We must constantly look at things in a different way. Just when you think you know something, then again look at it in a different way. Even though it may seem silly or wrong, you must try– dare to strike out, dare to be different… Ultimately, the key to innovation is not to just think differently, but rather think in a different way about things that are different…

New Rules of Branding in Business– Golden Rules: Get Edgy, Get Relevant… or, Get Lost in the Competitive Noise…

Branding is a promise of quality, reputation, value– It encompasses everything about a company– sometimes good, sometimes bad, depending on public’s perception… branding is what you do– not what you say… it’s a promise to deliver on– what’s wanted, desired, expected… branding is the sum-total of all customers ‘experiences’… branding is about shaping perceptions…

Branding is the idea that anytime, anyone hears the name of the business, product… they will know exactly what it stands for… branding, simply put, is a ‘promise’, which is derived from– who you are, who you want to be, who people perceive you to be…

According to Frank Strong; branding isn’t a company name… it’s not a tag line… it’s not a logo… it’s an expectation of an experience… The company tag line, logo, colors… only exist to call that experience to mind… The essence of a brand lies within its meaning– words have meaning but ‘actions’ create the brand… According to Beau Phillips; brand is the identity– it’s what people say about you… the value of the brand changes daily– nurture the brand, care for it… Live up to the brand promise every day…

According to Steven Donaldson and Michael Zinke; if you do anything, realize that the company (brand) has to stand out against the vast expanse of competitive– brands, options… Know and understand your competition, but don’t do what they are doing– be different, be relevant! You’ll get noticed… This is the mantra of the ultimate marketing guru, Seth Godin, who says– be a Purple Cow… The more truly unique (but still real) the brand is, the more interesting it will be…

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According to Jonathan Salem Baskin; Steve Jobs was a magician capable of casting a ‘reality distortion field’ on anyone in his presence… he ruined branding as we knew it… Jobs blew up the rules of branding simply because he didn’t recognize them… he didn’t follow the approved checklist… he knew that someone else’s success wouldn’t be his own, not because of his ego, but because it’s a fact that imitating others has never resulted in great successes…

Jobs’ insight was that you can never connect emotionally, meaningfully with customers by conceiving great marketing… no segmenting, strategy, technology, psychological… insight delivers a great brand… But, in fact, you must deliver a ‘great business’. The brand will be the words, emotions people use to narrate it… Jobs focused on the ‘cart’, yet even today, most marketers confuse it for the ‘horse’…

According to Drypen; branding takes place in minds of customers not in the real world. And whatever the mind perceives to be true is true. You may object but that’s the way it is: Perception is reality… No body likes Schizophrenic brands. That’s why the brand must be absolutely consistent in how it behaves, delivers… If it’s erratic, customers will be confused and will move to opposite camps… To build strong brands, businesses must provide a reason for its existence, and justify why it deserves to live…

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In the article Rules for Branding in New World by john k. grace writes: There is a basic shift in culture… a ‘new world’ is emerging in brand strategy for building relationships– with customers, employees, media, financial community, and other important audiences… Corporations have become places where employees are uncertain about messages from leadership– knowing that there is different agenda than their words often indicate…

In traditional times, two things can occur: First, brands tended to amplify and exaggerate the ‘brand promise’– in order to have their voices heard above the crowd. This amplification of claims are often filled with over-promise, which can become unbelievable to customer audiences… Second, brand marketers become insecure about their strategy and begin making random promises wishing that some will resonate with someone, somewhere…

These sit of the pants actions creates an atmosphere of uncertainty, wariness… For success in the ‘new world’, the rules for branding must be shaped in new ways: These new rules are ‘filters’ used to create, evaluate… brand communications, behaviors…  Here are a few rules for consideration:

  • Rule 1: Value must be communicated… Today, customers have much larger magnifying glass to evaluate price/value comparisons and they will find it hard to justify purchase without a very strong reason– why. So value becomes a very important filter…
  • Rule 2: Functional performance is more important than ‘benefits’... Each are looking for more communication about the functional value that brands bring to them…
  • Rule 3: Transparency, honesty are mandatory. There are two aspects to transparency – being transparent, communicating transparency… Questions; a) is the company/brand being transparent? b) how is the transparency communicated? This is a new filter for many companies…
  • Rule 4: Messaging must be simple, clear… brands must shed multiple claims, over-promises, implied benefits… and bring a new simplicity and clarity to messaging. It means creating new filters to evaluate messaging, and developing communications strategies to isolate what is important and what can be shed…
  • Rule 5: Express confidence, optimism through identity. An identity is visual expression of a brand, it should reflect a company’s core beliefs and strengths, and also signal an optimistic and positive attitude…
  • Rule 6: Communities are critical to brand acceptance. The evolving shift from top-down to bottoms-up brand influence is being further accelerated. ‘Communities’ have become the place where we can find– information, validation, security, new types of partnerships… social networks are part of larger concept of the integration for specific audiences to– bond, evaluate, determine, share…
  • Rule 7: Customer service can be a brand-defining attribute. Successful brands embrace the importance of this interaction… think about building world-class customer service rather than adequate, competitive levels of service…

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In the article Building Brands from Inside by Michael Dunn and Scott Davis write: There’s a trend in the making: Companies across the board are beginning to take a broader view of ‘branding’ as it shifts from its traditional role, as part of the marketing function, to play an integral part in the overall business strategy. To fully integrate brand strategy throughout the organization, companies must take a hard look at what the brand stands for and put internal structures in place to deliver on ‘brand promise’…

Essentially, this means moving the brand’s role, influence… well beyond the marketing department so it becomes an integral part of  company’s way of doing business… Total alignment between business and brand strategy is a crucial starting point… Think about it: Strategies about customers, distribution, pricing, communications… are crucial links between business and brand strategy. Business strategy cannot be developed in a vacuum; neither can brand strategy. The connection between them must be aligned, strengthened…

In today’s increasingly competitive environment, businesses need to find a way to stand-out from the rest of the pack… One sure way is to take a hard look at the brand, what it stands for, and then make sure that the structure is in place to deliver-on that ‘promise’– across entire organization… This realignment pays-off, big time, by creating a stronger brand but, more important, a stronger business…

In the article New Rules for Branding by kordell writes: The biggest enemy of business these days is being ‘average’… With mass customization, free information, and a tight economy, you must drive the branding image to be ‘exceptional’… Here are a few new rules for exceptional branding are:

  • It must have a plot or a storyline: Think Disney… Chipotle has it’s brown bags with stories on them… Harley is about terrorizing small towns…
  • It must be unique to stand out: Unless you have a BHAC (Big Hairy Audacious Concept) you have– beige, average, pedestrian…
  • It must fill a need or create a new mind-set for the customer:  Columbus fought the flat world with a round world idea… Dyson killed the vacuum bag…
  • Rabid fans must be able to ‘join’: Think Blue Man Group…  These fans will experience the brand again, again… and ‘tell others about it’…
  • Repeatable: There are Harley fans who motorcycle between locations just to get a ‘local’ Harley shirt… Another way to see this consumable– or– such a great experience that you just-want-to-do-it-again!
  • Once it’s in place it’s either re-created, destroyed, rebuilt (isn’t that the same thing?):  Just when the McMuffin is copied by everyone else, you have to recreate it in a new format/recipe…

In the article New Rules of Branding by Simon Williams writes: A few simple rules for the new age branding; Brands that influence ‘culture’ sell more; culture is the new catalyst for growth… A brand with no point of view has no point; full-flavor branding is in… vanilla is out… Today’s consumer is leading from the front; it’s a smart generation… Customize wherever, whenever you can; customization is tomorrow’s killer whale. Forget transaction, just give me an experience; the mandate is simple: Wow the customer every day, every way...

Deliver clarity at point of purchase; be obsessive about value… You are only as good as the weakest link; know where you’re vulnerable… Social responsibility is no longer an option; know the cause, prepare your contribution… Pulse, pace, passion… really make a difference… Innovation is the new boardroom favorite…

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Branding is the core of any business… According to Ananth; Be very clear on what you tend to achieve from your ‘branding’ campaign… Clearly define ‘goals’: What must the  ‘brand’ achieve, across which audience… Websites don’t define a branding strategy… Success of a branding campaign depends on the sincerity with which your content reaches across a larger audience, regularly, with clear intention to add real-value to the end users.

Branding is not one time process, its a constant effort to make a positive difference… It’s solution to problems– do it with a ‘face’– ‘humanize’ the brand… According to Kevin Lane Keller; a strong brand is a promise to customers and a means to set expectations and reduce risk… the power of a brand resides in the minds of its customers and it could go away very quickly…

A strong brand is also more than consumer-facing… it gives direction and purpose to its employees– strong brand is one of a firm’s most valuable intangible assets… According to Ashley I; churn out boring, repetitive stuff… and the brand will suffer… Modern brands must allow for– leeway, fun, surprise, playful… even flirtation… A contemporary brand must take leaps of faith, abandon self-obsessions, be flexible, embrace risk … Without such grounding, a brand loses what it’s supposed to be in the first place; a shape-shifter…

According to Jakk; perfecting a branding strategy is more than just having– a logo, attractive slogans… Today, enthusiasts play by a fresh set of guidelines…The fresh rules for business branding are now focused on engagement, interaction, less on presentation… Defining the brand is more like a journey of business discovery… in today’s highly competitive marketplace, a strong brand is really all about relationships, trust, value…