Tag Archives: business development

Shark Tank– TV Reality Show– Epitomizes the Frenzy of Investors Vs. Entrepreneurs in Deals for Funding Ventures…

The Shark Tank (TV reality show) is a prime-time feeding frenzy where investors (sharks) compete among themselves over investing in aspiring start-ups, while ruthlessly chew-up the founding entrepreneurs who are often unprepared in pitching their business… It’s unscripted, real-life drama were neither the sharks (who invest their own money) or the entrepreneurs (who represent a wide range of ventures) are actors. Sharks are multi-millionaire, multi-billionaire angel investors who made their marks, achieved their own brand celebrity… According to Allen Taylor; Shark Tank is more than just entertainment there are real business lessons to be learned… 

First and foremost, even if you are not an investor or entrepreneur you won’t get anywhere in business if you don’t know your value… The best way to win in business is to be prepared. Entrepreneurs who get decent deals on Shark Tank are the ones who know their numberswho anticipate questions while in the hot seatwho respond truthfully, intelligently… and then just maybe they walk away with a deal… In the world of business it’s either– eat or be eaten… You may not be a predator but if you don’t ‘think’ like one, you may very will be next predator’s meal... Hence, if you think like a shark you can avoid serious mistakes and survive to conduct business another day…

In the article Fact-Checked Shark Tank Deals by Emily Canal writes: On Shark Tank, the deals that are made on camera often are not the deals that are finalized… Some entrepreneurs walk away with life-changing deals, but more often than not, those on-air hand-shake agreements change or fall apart after taping. FORBES found that 319 businesses accepted deals on-air in the first seven seasons of Shark Tank and interviewed 237 of those entrepreneurs and discovered 73% did not get the exact deal they made on TV. But tweaked terms or dead deals don’t necessarily spell doom for a business; for many contestants, just the publicity for appearing on the show ended-up being worth more than the deal…

About 43% of participates interviewed said their deals didn’t come to fruition after the show. They attributed this to sharks pulling out of the agreement or changing terms to ones that didn’t work for them. Others canceled deals after getting term sheets that included unappealing clauses… Another 30% of participates interviewed said the equity and investment amount offered on-air changed after taping, but they chose to take the deal anyway. They said that the changes often occur during negotiations or in due diligence– investigations into a participate or their business before signing a contract… The goal of entrepreneurs going on Shark Tank is to make a deal, but if it falls apart it’s not always a tragedy. About 87% interviewed that didn’t get deals are still operating, and the others either; closed, acquired, sold…

In the article Leadership Lessons from the Shark Tank by Executive Forum writes: Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or a leader in the corporate world, there is so much to learn about leadership from the Shark Tank:

  • Have vision: Sharks receive pitches all day, every day. Sometimes they invest in a product but more often than not, they invest in a vision. They’re not interested in the short-term win of selling a million widgets, they’re looking for the opportunity to dominate a new market, revolutionize a process, change the world… They want to see the vision beyond immediate strategy. Vision must come first, and a mature organization is no different. Yes, a new product or service might help you hit your numbers, but what’s the vision for where the organization is headed by 2020? When the right vision is in place, strategy will follow…
  • Know numbers: No matter how cute, flashy, or funny the pitch, if you don’t know the numbers, you won’t get a deal. At least once per Shark Tank episode, someone enters the tank with a decent idea but with no financial acumen to turn that idea into a profit. How did you arrive at your valuation? What does it sell for? What is the cost to produce? How big is the market? What is customer acquisition cost? These would seem like basic questions that any entrepreneur seeking investments would have prepped, but they don’t. Do the homework and be ready with answers that inspire confidence…
  • Read body language: Keeping an eye on which shark(s) is leaning forward, who just crossed their legs, who is taking notes, and who is nodding or tilted their head to the side… that can make all the difference. In the game of boardroom poker, these can be ‘telling’ signs that you need to not only pay attention to, but use to adjust your presentation…
  • Be all-in: The sharks rarely invest in part-time entrepreneurs. The sharks always say that if you don’t believe in the product enough to take a full-time leap of faith, then they shouldn’t either. Hence, no one wants a part-time leader either; so if employees think that you are not fully committed to the vision of the organization, then they won’t either…
  • Show passion: Passion is contagious. While numbers and proven track record are important they are not the only influencing factors. Time after time, sharks invest in a person rather than a product. They invest in a person because they believe that with passion and drive, and even if the product itself fails, the person is worth the investment. They’re willing to take a risk just to see where that person can take them in the future… Hence, a truly inspiring leader can do the same thing. Employees will follow a leader who has– vision, passion, energy… because they believe that they can create an exciting future…

In the article Shark Tank Teaches About Negotiation by Jerry Jao writes: Sharks mostly ask thoughtful questions so as to challenge an entrepreneur to think about their business beyond the scope that they have already defined… During negotiations sharks are looking for how an entrepreneur thinks, their insight, willingness to think in new ways. Negotiation is key part of business; learn to judge value, make good decisions on the fly, know when/how to counter-offer…

Seeing people under pressure is what makes Shark Tank an exciting and educational show to watch. However as a professional, you’ve got to keep your cool… If you’re feeling the heat and think that taking the offer is the best decision, you’re probably wrong. Step back take a deep breath, then consider the offer(s) soberly… Ask: What’s wrong with it? What’s right with It? If there are red flags then think about possible alternatives, before turning it down… Business people who make rash decision under pressure never come out winners…

Appearing before an audience of millions while getting drilled by experts will force you to think on your feet… Business people who can’t plan on the fly while the heat is rising will drown… If you don’t like an offer make a counter-offer: You have nothing to lose. The saddest outcome that happens on Shark Tank is when entrepreneurs, passionately pitch ventures, but then turn down the offer(s) without countering…

 

 

 

Crazy Business Ideas– Great Innovations Live On The Edge of Ridiculousness: To Win Big– It Helps To Be a Little Nutty…

Crazy Business Ideas– Stumped for ideas for your ‘make-it-big’ business? Think Crazy… Crazy ideas in business can be a game plan for game changers… We are living through the age of disruption. You can’t do big things if you’re content with doing things a little better than everyone else, or a little different from how you did them before. In an era of hyper-competition and non-stop dislocation, the only way to stand out from the crowd is to stand for something ‘special’.

Today, the most successful organizations don’t just out-compete their rivals– they redefine the terms of competition by embracing one-of-a-kind ideas in a world filled with me-too thinking… According to unknown Texas genius; he put it simply: if all you ever do is all you’ve ever done, then all you’ll ever get is all you ever got…

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Don’t use the long shadow of economic crisis and slow recovery as an excuse to downsize your dreams or stop taking chances. The challenge for leaders in every field is to emerge from turbulent times with closer connections to their customers, with more energy and creativity from their people, and with greater distance between them and their rivals… According to Bill Tayor; not every growth company is based in Silicon Valley or some other Internet hotspot. But the real lesson is more universal than that. The real story reminds all of us of the power of making big bets and staking out an ‘extreme’ position in the market… Company’s thrive because they carve out a truly one-of-a-kind presence in the market

Have you ever thought about an idea for the business, but sidelined it because it sounded crazy? Maybe you should reconsider… According to Sidharth Thakur; walking the proven path by following conventional ideas and systematic procedures aren’t the only ways to build a successful business. The business world is full of examples where businesses have made it big by deviating from the usual and thinking afresh.

There are many people who have come up with crazy business ideas and turned them into very successful business ventures: Who could have thought that a mere search engine (i.e., Google) would rule the world as advertising giant? Or, who would have thought of overnight shipping becoming a multi-million business for FedEx? There are thousands of businesses today that started off with some weird idea… According to Albert Einstein; problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them…

The lesson is simple– it’s not good enough anymore to be ‘pretty good’ at everything… The most successful companies know how to become ‘the most’ in their field– most elegant, most simple, most exclusive, most affordable, most seamless global, most intensely local… For decades, many organizations and their leaders were comfortable with strategies and practices that kept them in the ‘middle of the road’ and that’s what felt– safe, secure…

But today, with much change, much pressure, and many new ways to do just about everything, the ‘middle of the road’ is the road to nowhere… If you want to win big, you must stand for something ‘special’ — whether that’s– the widest selection, or most comprehensive reach, or most focused offerings, or most memorable services… All it requires is commitment to originality, and a willingness to challenge convention, and break from standard operating procedures; unfortunately that remains all-too-rare in business today, precisely because it can look a little ‘nutty’…

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In the article Crazy But True: Simple Ideas Turned Into Big Business by Staff PM writes: Many people patronize– Apple and Samsung– the high-profile, world-famous electronics business companies, but few people are aware that behind these skyrocketing, very highly innovative companies there lies– truly crazy ideas…

Although there’s no clear connection between these companies, one thing is common and that’s purely a business sense: They both transformed themselves from simple beginnings and desperate earning ideas to major international companies… Their crazy and yet witty ideas have left trademarks in history. Think about it:

  • Apple’s first product was an illegal phone box: Steve Jobs with Steve Wozniak started Apple Company in a sort-of illegal tone… According to Markus Ehrenfried, in the history of Apple says: In 1971 Steve ‘Woz’ Wozniak designed a device called the ‘Blue Box’. It allowed– of course illegal– phone calls free of charge by faking the signals used by the phone companies. His friend Steve Jobs instantly realized that there must be a huge market for something that useful. Woz built the boxes and Jobs sold them to his fellow students at the University of California, Berkeley… It’s crazy– a transformation from a phone box, Mac Computers to iPhone, iPad
  • Samsung’s first products were fish, fruits, and vegetables: According to Caroline Telford; Samsung started on March 1, 1938 when Byung-Chull Lee, the founding chairman of Samsung initiated a business in Korea with a capital of only 30,000 won. The primary products of what was then Samsung were– dried fish, fruits, vegetables… traded from Beijing, Manchuria… It’s crazy– a transformation from perishable goods to electronic products…

In the article Strange But Successful Business Ideas by Sidharth Thakur writes: You don’t need big money to build a big business! Instead, what you need is a big idea. And the more strange or creative the idea, the more earning potential it seems to have… For example; think of something as weird as ‘microwavable pillows’ or ‘poop-scooping’; can these be viable business options?

Call them crazy, unusual, strange, use whatever adjective pleases you, but the fact remains that these and many other off-the-wall ideas have made some people very rich; just take a look at this short list of some strange business ideas that really took off… (Note: All of these achievers are just average people and most don’t have any business management qualifications… But who cares about– education or qualifications– they are successful businesses anyway)…

So here, just to name a few of the weird and yet successful products: Doggles–Eyewear for Dogs: Dating Website for the Married: Dog Poop-Scooping: Sending Nagging Mails: Selling Antenna Balls: Pet Rocks… Being crazy or acting strange can actually mean a lot of money. The next time some weird business idea crosses your mind, don’t shake it away– just think it over as it may be your jackpot…

In the article Is Your Crazy Business Idea Home Run or Dud? by Jason writes: Needless to say, I come up with a lot of crazy ideas in some strange places: In the car, in the shower, heck, even in my sleep. All of them get written down somewhere and I revisit them at a later date when I’m not mobile, wet, unconscious… After taking a second glance at my list of ideas, about 95% of them are complete and total garbage. The other 5% have small shot at becoming something worth acting on…

How do I know which is the ‘home run’ or ‘dud’? Ask yourself these five questions, and if the answer is yes to all five, well then, roll-up your  sleeves and make it happen!

  • Does the idea solve a problem, satisfy a desire? Necessity is the mother of invention. Ideas that are born out of need come complete with a built-in demand. It’s harder to sell someone, something they don’t need, desire…
  • Is the idea executable? Think through how this idea is going to work. Do you have the resources? Do you have the time, investment… to make it successful? Challenge yourself to ask the hard questions, get specific…
  • Is the idea marketable?  Best ideas are ones that market themselves. They either have the ‘wow’ factor or ‘why didn’t I think that’ or something that’s going to ‘turn heads’… If the idea has that surprising element or share factor built-in, it is much more likely to be successful…
  • Does the idea have a shelf life? Maybe it seems like a good idea today, but is it something that will be a good idea in six months or five years? Think hard about where the market is now and where you think it’s headed. Does the idea still solve a problem down the road or will it still be shareable?
  • Is the value of the idea worth the investment? Crazy ideas can be crazy smart– or a crazy waste of everyone’s time… Ask yourself if the outcome is going to be worth the input? Will the idea bring enough value to the customer, and can I make money?

A little madness can be the best business weapon– launching a new business, creating the improbable, making something out of nothing… these are leaps into unknown… According to Barry J. Moltz; if a person was perfectly sane and followed all the ‘safe’ rules, they probably won’t take such a leap... According to Valerie Young; next time you get a crazy business idea do two things: One, get a notebook and label it ‘crazy business ideas’… In one section, collect examples of crazy idea that have worked. In another, keep a running list of your own crazy money-making ideas… Next, seek out people who will support the idea…

As the great actor Katherine Hepburn once said; life is to be lived, and if you have to support yourself, you bloody well better find some way that’s going to be interesting… Dumb ideas make money, so who knows; what is ridiculous to one person may actually fly with others… But, remember that not all such ideas ‘stick’, since more offbeat something is, less likely you may find a market for it– so some ideas take off, some flounder, some just crash…

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The point is: There is nothing wrong with a few crazy business ideas… According to Joe Wilcox: it’s not about goals, it’s about pushing the boundaries, discovering something… According to Brendan Boyle; big innovation is right on the edge of ridiculous ideas. You need an environment that isn’t quite so judgmental about a ridiculous idea. Sometimes those are the ones that are so close to being the brilliant ones… According to Nathaniel Nead; keep it real– crazy business ideas are crazy… there are limitless numbers of crazy business ideas, everywhere… but remember these words– ‘don’t go chasing waterfalls, just stick to the rivers and the lakes that you know’…

According to Tom Kelley; don’t just tell people about the idea, show them that it’s possible… It’s always been the seemingly improbable, boundary-pushing ideas that have created the world around us– and none of that would have been possible if they listened to all the people who said– it will never work… we’d still be living in caves, if we relied on skeptics… According to David Worrell; crazy ideas move us in the direction of unique solutions… If the problem you’ve identify is real and resonates with the customer, watch out!  That’s a recipe for a very successful new business.

So dig up all those crazy business ideas and imagine what you could do… Maybe they aren’t so crazy after all!

Ease of Doing Business Index– Ranking Countries: More Transparency or Misleading… Keep It, Change It, Scrap it…

World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index (Index) measures the business regulations of countries, worldwide, and examines the key factors that directly affect each country’s businesses, for example; business formation, operation, laws, challenges… The concept behind the Index is simply– the daily economic activity of countries is shaped by the laws, regulations and institutional arrangements put in place by governments and institutions.

The Index examines and ranks the country’s business cycle; starting with the number of bureaucratic and legal steps required to start a business, or to register and transfer commercial property… It then delves into how long it takes and how much it costs to comply with regulations, such as; time and money needed to enforce contracts, file for bankruptcy, trade across borders… the Index measures levels of legal protection for investors and property, corporate tax rates, ease of closing a business, employment regulation…

The basic assertion of the Index is that smarter business regulation supports economic growth… simpler business registration promotes greater entrepreneurship and company productivity, while lower-cost registration improves employment opportunity… an effective regulatory environment boosts trade performance… sound financial market infrastructure, courts, creditor, insolvency laws… improves business access to credit… However, the Index does not directly measure the more general conditions, such as; a country’s proximity to large markets, quality of infrastructure, inflation, crime…

According to the World Bank; the Index is based on study of laws and regulations in countries worldwide with input and verification by more than 9,600 government officials, lawyers, consultants, accountants and other professionals in 185 countries who routinely advise-administer on legal-regulatory requirements. The Index averages a country’s percentile ranking on 10 topics, including: Starting a business: Dealing with construction permits: Getting electricity: Registering property: Getting credit: Protecting investors: Paying taxes: Trading across borders: Enforcing contracts: Resolving insolvency. Then, countries are ranked on their ease of doing business, from 1 – 185.

A high-ranking on the Index means the regulatory environment is more conducive to the starting and operation of a local business in country. In 2013 like in 2012, Singapore ranks first on the Index (seventh consecutive year it ranked first), followed by; Hong Kong, New Zealand, U.S., Denmark, Norway, UK, South Korea, Georgia (top 10 countries). Many sub-Saharan African countries and Venezuela are at the bottom of rankings.

According to the World Bank, its Index is having a significant impact on countries by identifying their business weaknesses, for example; 108 countries implemented 201 of its regulatory reforms in 2011/12, worldwide… 44% of these reforms focused on three areas, specifically; making it easier to start a new business, increasing the efficiency of tax administration, and facilitating trade across international borders. To make the data comparable across the 185 countries, the Index uses a standardized business framework; 100% domestically owned, has start-up capital equivalent to 10 times income per capita, engages in general industrial or commercial activities, and employs between 10 and 50 people…

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In the article World Bank Urged to Scrap Index by Marjorie Olster writes: The World Bank set-up an Independent Review Panel (Panel) to review the Ease of Doing Business Index process and concluded; the main Index was open to misinterpretation and should be discontinued… It urged the World Bank to continue publishing the Report without the headline Index, and instead give only separate rankings for each individual indicator now aggregated into the main Index.

According to the Panel Report; the Index has the potential to be misinterpreted… and the main disagreement is whether the Index measures the correct indicators in the correct way. In other words, the debate was about whether a higher ranking implied that a country was on the right track for effective private-sector business development.  

The World Bank set up the Panel after the Index came in for some harsh criticism from a number of directions… China and India, which ranked 91 and 132, respectively, in the latest Index, were among the critics. The Panel said the key criticisms were that the structure and publication of the

Report focused attention primarily on the indicator rankings (i.e., Index) to the exclusion of the Report’s remaining content. It said another big concern was whether the information being gathered was really relevant…

In the article World Bank Keeps Index Despite Criticism by Reuters writes: The World Bank said that it intends to keep ranking nations (i.e., Index) on the ease of conducting business, despite criticism from countries like China that feel the scorecard unfairly stigmatizes fast-growing developing countries. According to World Bank President Jim Yong Kim; the Bank is committed to keeping its flagship Report, including the Index, which compares the ease of starting and conducting a business in 185 countries…

The Report is prepared by the Bank and its private-sector lending arm, the International Finance Corporation. It has become one of the Bank’s most popular publications, since it began its publication in 2003. Smaller developing countries often use the Report to show outside investors how much they’ve improved their business environment. Government officials may use it as an incentive to promote business-friendly legal changes, such as, eliminating red tape.

The U. S., which is ranked number four, supports the Report and its Index… Others have criticized the Report’s methodology and said it has a bias against all regulations, including; protections for workers. According to several sources, China pushed especially hard for modifying the Report and getting rid of the Index system; arguing the World Bank should not rank its members. China was ranked number 91, in 2013 Report… prompting suspicions that its opposition was motivated by the low ranking…

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In the article Widespread Corruption in Businesses by Mitchell Ogisi writes: Corruption in business is an issue for developed and developing countries, however, developing countries may suffer more because corruption can stymie business development and foreign investments and foster income inequality. Apparently this is the case in many developing countries’ lower rankings on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, which gauges how conducive a country’s business environment is to starting and operating a local business…

In some world regions, results can vary widely across local countries and particularly countries at different stages of economic development. In Asia, for example, a relatively low 13% of residents in highly developed Singapore perceive corruption as widespread in their businesses– Singapore ranks first on the World Bank’s Ease of

Doing Business Index. In contrast, nearly nine in 10 adults in neighboring Indonesia perceive corruption as widespread in their businesses– Indonesia Ease of Doing Business Index ranking is 129. Perceptions of business corruption also vary widely in former Soviet countries, ranging from low of 28% in Georgia to high of 87% in Moldova.

Georgians’ perceived corruption in their businesses has dropped precipitously since 2006, when more than half the population (52%) viewed the problem as widespread. This decline and Georgia Ease of Doing Business Index ranking of 16, worldwide, likely reflect some dividends from its efforts to eradicate corruption with a zero-tolerance, anti-corruption campaign…

But it’s also important to note that high perceived corruption does not always translate into lower Ease of Doing Business Index ranking, particularly in developed countries with higher GDPs. Paradoxically, higher perceptions of corruption in some wealthier countries may reflect greater transparency, and therefore greater awareness among the population of corrupt practices. For example, 85% of Israelis say corruption is widespread in their country’s businesses, and their Ease of Doing Business Index ranking is 34.

According to World Bank, corruption is one of the single largest obstacles to economic and social development. Corruption in business is important global concern that involves both, developing and developed countries. It can be difficult to accurately monitor corruption in business, particularly in countries with little or nonexistent transparency, making tracking their residents’ perceptions even more relevant. Strong leadership, policies, laws, and greater transparency are necessary to fight corruption, which in turn may actually promote job creation and economic development…

A fundamental premise for ease of doing business and strong economic activity is fair business regulation, which are transparent and accessible to all– not just big business. According to World Bank; a country’s business regulations should be efficient, striking a balance between safeguarding the important aspects of the business environment and avoiding distortions that impose unreasonable costs on businesses.

Where business regulation is burdensome and competition limited, success depends more on whom you know, than on what you can do. But where regulations are relatively easy to comply with and accessible, to all who need to use them, anyone with talent and a good idea should be able to start and grow a business, legally.

However, according to critics; a country’s rank on the Ease of Doing Business Index does not tell the complete story about a country’s business environment, and the underlying indicators do not account for all factors important to doing effective business, such as; macroeconomic conditions, market size, workforce skills, security… also, they do not examine the key aspects of business regulatory and institutional environment that really matter.

According to World Bank; the Index is very effective at promoting change for countries that wish to improve their rank on the Index, for example; the top 20 countries on the list have implemented effective changes by streamlined their business regulatory procedures, such as; ease of starting a business, dealing with construction permits, strong legal protections of property rights… They also, periodically review and update business regulations as part of a broader competitive agenda and take advantage of new technologies through government initiatives…

However, there are many critics that say; while the World Bank Index plays an important role in conveying new information relevant to monitoring aspects of the business climate on a timely and internationally comparable basis, there are many flaws associated with it… Key among these is the relevance of the information gathered, indicators being measured, spectrum of businesses being analyzed (e.g., currently only small and medium-sized enterprises), and basis of its comparability across countries with different needs and at differing stages of development…

International Language Proficiency– Critical Skill for Expanding Global Companies: Lack of Language Skills– Kills Business…

Representatives that speak on behalf of international companies must have the ability to not only speak the language of the culture, but to clearly and accurately convey the full meaning of the message…

International language proficiency is critical skill for expanding companies, globally. Globalization is everywhere, and the need to bridge language gaps between international businesses must begin with clear and accurate knowledge and understand of different languages and cultures…

Losing business because of misunderstandings of language and culture can cost a company millions of dollars; language is an important differentiator and a competitive edge. Developing new business, especially negotiating complex contracts; increasingly requires a full knowledge of the language and culture of the region.

According to Elisabeth Lord Stuart; the lack of language skills among business people is enormous barrier for expanding into global markets. Developing trust with international customers and partners requires language and cultural skills. High proficiency in language produces better relationships and moves the business development process along more quickly…

Successful businesses recognize the need, in their international activities, to be accurate culturally, linguistically; and domestically with multi-lingual communities. Also, the development of customer loyalty requires knowledge and sensitivity to the host culture; where there may be the potential for lack of trust– and commensurate loss of business– underscores importance of a ‘useful’ knowledge of language and culture. As one business person put it– winning the war for talent is increasingly important for global business growth, and for domestic customers with language needs.

According to Jeff Standridge, Acxiom; we must  more than just build-up workforces in various geographies; we must work seamlessly across enterprise, regardless of location. That requires us to overcome any language barriers that exist between workers in different geographies. Without the ability to communicate clearly and effectively in both directions, than significant risks begin to enter the equation, including; lower quality, lost productivity, and increased training costs. By addressing these critical needs early on, companies like ours can see significant financial impact with global initiatives.

According to Tony Padilla, Boeing; ensuring you attract and retain top talent for globally competitive company requires an investment in developing cultural awareness and language skills in the workforce. Hiring managers must possess the skills necessary to recognize and assess this vital combination of global abilities, while each day creating and maintaining an open and inclusive environment that is sensitive to a multi-lingual workforce.

Ultimately, the key challenge for companies is to identify good talent with language skills… However, the lack of understanding and commitment from senior management to recognize the need for language skills, internally, will undermine the support for those skills… Management often considers language skills a ‘soft’ issue that does not require immediate or concerted efforts for change…

In the article Global Business Speaks English by Tsedal Neeley writes: Ready or not, English is the global language of business. More and more multinational companies are mandating English as the common corporate language in an attempt to facilitate better communication and performance across geographically diverse functions and business endeavors. Adopting a common mode of speech isn’t just a good idea; it’s a must, even for a U.S. company with operations overseas…

However, adopting a global language policy is not easy, and companies invariably stumble along the way. It’s radical, and almost certain to meet with staunch resistance from employees. However, to survive–thrive in a global economy, companies must overcome language barriers– and English will almost always be the common ground, at least for now.

The fastest-spreading language in human history, English is spoken, at a useful level, by some 1.75 billion people worldwide– that’s one in every four people. There are close to 385 million native speakers in countries like; U.S., Australia… about a billion fluent speakers in formerly colonized nations, such as; India, Nigeria… and millions of people around the world who’ve studied it as a second language.

An estimated 565 million people use it on the internet. The benefits of ‘Englishnization’ are significant; however, relatively few companies have systematically implemented an English-language policy with sustained results…

In the article Top 3 Useful Foreign Languages for Business Excludes Spanish by Susana Kim writes: What are the top three most useful languages for business after English? Surprisingly, Spanish didn’t make the cut despite being official language of 20 countries and spoken by over 329 million people, according to Bloomberg Ranking. Not surprising, Mandarin Chinese is the most useful language for business after English, spoken by 845 million people in the world’s second-largest economy, China. French (No. 2) and Arabic (No. 3) follow, with Spanish ranking fourth. Russian, Portuguese, Japanese, German, Italian, Korean, and Turkish followed.

To create the list, Bloomberg Rankings identified the 25 languages with the greatest number of native speakers, than narrowed the list to the 11 official languages of G20 countries, excluding those that designated English. French is spoken by 68 million people worldwide and the official language of 27 nations. Arabic, which is spoken by 221 million people, is the official language in 23 nations;

According to Bloomberg. Bloomberg notes their list differs from the top foreign languages studied in U.S. colleges in 2009 from The Modern Language Association, published in December 2010. Spanish topped that list with 864, 986 enrollment, dwarfing French which followed next with 216, 419 (No. 2), German (No. 3), American Sign Language (No. 4), Italian (No. 5), Japanese (No. 6), Chinese (No. 7), Arabic (No. 8), Latin (No. 9), and Russian (No. 10)…

In the article Workers Told, Ditch Local Languages for English by Rose Hoare writes:  While English is the de facto language of international business, more multinational companies are now mandating that employees communicate only in English. According to Tsedal Neeley, a professor at Harvard Business School; companies with employees in different countries needing to collaborate — whether it’s to integrate technology or cater to customers worldwide– managers and employees with international assignments must have a common language in order to communicate with each other.

This can be very bewildering for employees… From an assignment Neeley reported– that two years into English-only implementation at a company, 70% of employees reported feeling frustrated with the policy. Business must plan carefully before implementing English-only policy. In absence of a clear language strategy, people will be confused, hurt, diminished… Shifting a company’s entire operations into a new language isn’t easy.

What is Globish? English is the global language of business, yet English is also the native tongue of relatively few people, and it’s notoriously hard to learn. What can be done? According to Jean-Paul Nerriere; the answer is a new language: Globish. Globish is a kind of simplified English that is vastly easier to use and works almost as well as full command of the language, in most business situations.

The secret is employ stripped-down version of the vocabulary, crucially avoid all figurative language, and never tell jokes. There is a list of about 1,500 English words that can be used to communicate just about anything…

Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker; observed that Globish is– overwhelming phenomenon– the language for non-English speaking business person closing deals with help of a small arsenal of English words… The  need for global language is a big part of globalization and dominance of English looks inevitable for long time to come. People with gift for learning languages will have a big advantage… But, for everyone else, why not start with Globish?

In the article U.S. Falls Behind in Foreign Languages by Joseph Picard writes: The U.S., in general, is not proficient in global languages. According to experts, this is not good for the nation, not good for humanity, and not good for the individual mono-linguist. U. S. needs a national commitment to strengthening its global languages proficiency.

According to Leon Panetta, CIA; to stay competitive in the global society, the U.S. needs more people with language proficiency. A number of reports over past several years point to shortage of translators in U.S. military and other agencies that work overseas and how that shortage affects knowledge, understanding of culture, and an ability to work together with foreign people and organizations. A significant cultural change needs to occur, which requires a transformation in attitude from everyone involved: individuals, government, schools and universities and private sector.

According to Arne Duncan; schools, colleges, universities… need to invest more in linguistic instruction.

According to Rush Holt; we need to alter dramatically how children learn language at an early age, and government should focus its efforts on teaching languages in grades K-12.

According to John Carlino; ability to communicate in other languages and cross-cultural skills are essential components of 21st century education. While English may be global language in business world, it’s important to point out that if everyone else speaks the language, but we don’t speak other languages or understand other cultures; we are at huge disadvantage in the global market.

According to Martha Abbott; it’s naïve to say ‘the world speaks English’ therefore I don’t need a foreign language… Who has the advantage in business when they know your language, but you don’t know theirs?

According to Stephan Chambers, Oxford University; speaking English was almost a precondition for success for non-native speakers, even though a second language was not essential to English speakers. However, if the question is: Is learning a second language an advantage, and is that advantage going to increase? Almost certainly, as the balance of economic power shifts, and as supply chains, sales, deals… start happening outside of the traditional western markets.

According to Jocelyn Wyburd, Cambridge University; opportunities presented by emerging BRICS economies and Latin America are making their languages particularly attractive to businesses and students – especially as Europe and North America struggle. However, it’s important to know that language for business purposes alone may prove shortsighted. The usefulness of language in business will rise and fall with unpredictable shifts in the global economy…

Remember, language is socially constructed, and therefore embedded in culture. Understanding the embedded meanings requires mastering the language and knowing the culture, which can be very difficult.

Most important, misinterpreting words or cultural meanings often has negative effects on entire communication interchange. In the case of business deals, it’s a deal-breaker…

Social Media Madness… Love It. Hate It, Embrace It, Reject It… It’s Mad, Mad World: Survive and Thrive with It…

Social media landscape is crazy… there are; apps, games, analytics, blogs, commerce, ad networks, mobile, photo, video… who knows what else is out there lurking… but despite the insanity, you can’t ignore it…

Has it become a mania, madness, addiction, obsession, dependency… epidemic for social media sites? Does Facebook, Twitter… have us hooked?  That’s what a study conducted by the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business found. Researchers gathered 205 participants and monitored their ability to resist daily temptations, including; the urge to check social media sites. For one week, subjects that ranged in age from 18 to 85 were asked to let researchers know how strongly they wanted to give into various temptations.

The results suggest that the urge to check social media pages is one of the strongest temptations out there. The temptation to log on to Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites is more difficult to resist than temptations to smoke, drink and even sleep. According to a recent study released by non-profit ‘Anxiety UK’ over half of social media users polled said; Facebook, Twitter and other networking sites had changed their lives– and 51% of those said it’s not been for the better. Forty-five percent of responders said they feel worried or uncomfortable when email and Facebook are inaccessible, while 60% of respondents stated they felt need to switch off  their phones and computers to secure a full-fledged break from technology.

In other words, it’s not being on social networks that makes people anxious. It’s being away from them. The findings suggest that some people need to re-establish control over the technology they use, rather than being controlled by it, says Nicky Lidbetter. Data revealed that two-thirds of respondents had more difficulty sleeping after using social media, and 25% admitted to difficulties in their relationships because of confrontational online behavior…

The survey was conducted by the Salford Business School, University of Salford, where 228 participants were polled… While the study consists of a small sample size, Salford’s data backs up other information on social media addiction. In a recent study ‘Mobile Mindset’, found that 73% of people would panic if they lost their smartphone, while another 54% admit to checking their phone while lying in bed…

But are social media users anxious because of social media, or do more anxious people gravitate toward digital interactions? If you are predisposed to anxiety it seems that the pressures from technology act as tipping point, making people feel more insecure, overwhelmed,  says Lidbetter.

A similar study at University of Bergen measured Facebook user addiction; found people who are anxious and socially insecure use Facebook more than those with lower scores on those traits, probably because those who are anxious find it easier to communicate via social media than face-to-face…

In the article Caution: I’ve Been Diagnosed With Social Media Madness by Carolyn Goodman writes: There are so many social media options now available, my head hurts. My palms get sweaty at the mere whisper of a new site. If I get one more invitation to join some random, seemingly important group, I think I’ll weep. As a marketer, I feel a lot of pressure to keep up with it all, primarily, so I can talk to customers about how they leverage these forums as strategic marketing opportunities.

But in reality, it’s not possible to do that… While there are certainly more social media options in the B-to-C world, we B-to-B marketers are under intense scrutiny to understand and learn how to have, at the very least, a point of view on what these options are and how to use them appropriately for business. Its Herculean task and it cannot be accomplished under normal circumstances.

So I’m officially raising my hand and shouting to the world: Stop This Madness. I’m going to spit out the social media Kool-Aid, stand tall, and promise, on my honor, to be only as social as I need to be, while spending my time on more important marketing initiatives. Won’t you join with me to find a cure to social media madness?

Fling open your windows and shout it with me: I’m mad as hell and not going to take it any more… Then go back to learning and creating marketing solutions that drive your business forward. To that end, I’m going to embrace these four directives:

  • I vow to maintain an updated LinkedIn profile– and respond to inquiries to connect when they make sense.
  • I promise I won’t tweet every day just to be able to claim that I don’t tweet regularly.
  • I won’t use my Facebook stamp to let my friends know every time I’m in a new location… unless it’s someplace impressive like one of the 7 Wonders of the World.
  • I’ll stop posting videos of my kitten playing with string on YouTube. Despite the fact that I get millions of hits worldwide. It’s not fair to my kitten, and surely viewers have better things to do.

In the article Social Media Madness by Blogenstein writes: I am not one for collecting friends. I’d rather have 50 friends on Facebook that I know well and care about than 500 or 5000 people who I know/have known/met randomly in a bar one night. It’s almost like the personal has gone out of our online social interactions and we’re just talking with a bunch of random faceless people.

Similarly, with something like Twitter I keep my follow list down, and will occasionally remove one or two to keep things manageable. This is a combination of interest levels– (Do I want to follow you? Does having you in my feed improve things? Do I often see you in twitter conversations, or have twitter conversations with you?)– and feed overload where I need to read all the tweets.

The fact is having too many people in my feed means I have too many tweets to read. For a while I tried catching up on the overnight tweets, but since most of the people I follow are American they have a 5 hour head-start on me in the morning which makes it take ages. I don’t bother any more. I don’t see not following someone, or unfollowing someone as a sign of; I don’t like them. It’s more that I can’t fit them into the budget that is my social media.

Likewise whether they are a friend on Facebook or not, really doesn’t have any impact on actual friendship & real life social interactions. If social media status matters that much to you, maybe you’re not that much of a friend in the first place…

In the article Social Media Madness– Does Everyone Need It? by Melisa Labancz-Bleasdale writes: In our constant quest for faster, better, newer… we have invented, embraced, and quickly discarded social media mechanisms at a blistering rate. Every business looking to capitalize on social media madness should examine what they have to offer, and what they stand to gain before funneling their marketing dollars into social media programs. They should than carefully consider which channel is best for what they are selling and whom they are trying to reach.

Companies should also consider the amount of time and energy they have to maintain their social media outreach. A large part of the business-to-public exchange is in; the volume, frequency and relevancy of the messages. Twitter is likely a bad place to set up shop if you aren’t prepared to engage daily. As it is for all communications channels, it’s important to choose the correct vehicle for distributing your message. Vehicles like; blogs, podcasts, Twitter… have helped many B2B’s increase awareness and market share. 

Communications experts believe that part of the problem organizations have in successfully utilizing social media is that they believe it’s a separate entity, instead of seeing it for the tool that it is– another means of expanding the existing communications and marketing efforts. Few argue that business should avoid social media altogether, but it’s entirely possible to build successful PR campaigns without it.

According to McGrath; social media is just one possible channel; albeit one with great potential… and, whether you’re a B2B organization or not, the degree to which you use it should depend on your audience and what you’re trying to achieve. 

According to Mustafa Dill; I’m a firm believer in ‘just because you can, doesn’t mean you always should.’ When prospective clients want a Facebook or Twitter account, I always ask them, ‘why?’ If they can’t articulate it, and they usually can’t beyond– ‘well everyone else is doing it’– then we’ll drill down to identify a specific goal. Social media for me is about user behavior as they seek solutions; if you can offer a content-based solution, then great. If not, wait until you can and, in the meantime, keep analyzing your customers’ behavior until a solution presents itself.

According to Lori Donovan; I think it’s all part of knowing the audience. If you audience isn’t on Facebook, you don’t need to be there

In the article Social Networking Sites Are a ‘Modern Form of Madness’ by telegraph writes: They may be a venue to socialize and keep in touch with people, but social media websites; Facebook, Twitter… are making people less human by isolating them from reality… says Prof. Sherry Turkle, MIT, way in which people frantically communicate online via social networking sites can be seen as a modern form of madness.

In her book, ‘Alone Together’, Prof. Turkle writes; people are become more isolated from reality due to social networking sites because technology is dominating our lives and making us less human, Under the illusion of allowing us to communicate better, technology is actually isolating us from real human interactions in a cyber-reality that is a poor imitation of the real world... We’ve invented inspiring and enhancing technologies, yet we have allowed them to diminish us...

Her warnings, and those from other cyber-skeptics, follow the death of Simone Back; a woman in Brighton who posted a suicide note on Facebook that was seen by more than 1,000 of her ‘friends’. Yet none of them called for help, instead they trading insults with each other on her Facebook wall…

In the article Social Media Madness by Suz Trusty writes: Social media is here to stay; it’s in some very profound ways, revolutionizing how we communicate and also how we and companies are perceived. If you want to bet on a sure thing, bet on use and acceptance of social media as means; 1) connect and communicate with customers and prospects; 2) share valuable information (how-to’s?) and experiences; 3) build brand awareness; and 4) market products and services.

Become familiar with it so you can pick and choose what works best for you and your operation, and what you can reasonably do with it, given the many other tasks you and your employees must perform. Start by determining, if just a website and email are enough to keep you connected. Does communication through social media; Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, YouTube… help your company? Do research and explore the options… But, don’t let social media drive you mad…

The Ultimate Ubiquitous Internet– Any Place, Any Time, Any App, Any Device… Omnipresent: Web Stats, Facts, Myths…

The ubiquitous Internet will be understood not as a screen of text and graphics but as a transport mechanism, the ether through which interactivity happens. It will appear on your computer screen; on your TV set; your car dashboard; your cell phone; hand-held game machines; maybe even your microwave oven. ~Darcy DiNucci

Next Big Thing: Ubiquitous Internet! Ubiquitous access is one of the main characteristics of the new Internet; it’s a key enabling technology for the evolving global information age. Recent data show that in the future years Internet users with mobile/wireless access will easily outnumber fixed-line connections.

Moreover, the proliferation of mobile devices with large processing capacity is vanguard for a new era of ubiquitous communications,  where users will simultaneously engage different electronic platforms, enabling them to  access information from; anyone, anywhere, and anything…

A new generation of smart wireless mobile devices and apps will be the gateways that will facilitate the ubiquitous Internet. These new devices will access most any information (e.g., video, multimedia, appliance…) while communicating globally, without restriction… However, not all experts agree; ‘Teresa Ritter, Alison Powell, and Catherine Middleton’ in a study asked: Should the Internet be everywhere? If the new Internet becomes ubiquitous, what will it look like?

Their research suggests that a new ubiquitous Internet would not be in great demand by many current Internet users… the study explored the experienced Internet users’ opinion and attitude about the value of a ubiquitous Internet. Their findings showed– that despite its widely recognized benefits many people would embrace a new Internet, somewhat reluctantly. Apparently, there are more questions than answers, for example… other pundits say; the ubiquity of the Internet is evolving and will continue to evolve into a worldwide network with unlimited access to information and communication.

But, a more important question: What is the mission of a ubiquitous Internet? Will it connect the world’s populations in ways that advance global prosperity, business productivity, social interaction, education, and good will among all people? Or, will it be something less?

In the article The Growth of the Ubiquitous Internet by irregulartimes writes: Ubiquitous: Something that’s ubiquitous is omnipresent, everywhere at the same time. This is pretty intense stuff… Also, it may even include things that don’t even exist. This is one of those words invented to describe religious concepts that have never been witnessed. The obvious example is God. God is supposed to be ubiquitous: everywhere at once and keeping track of everything. You may have noticed the Internet has begun to reach God-like proportions.

Well, there are some who would have that become literally true. They want to create what they call the ubiquitous Internet. To me, this seems like the ultimate in marketing hype. Here’s what is being planned for the new Internet– it’s just in early stage at this point, but you know how fast the computer industry moves these days. They want to put the Internet into everything: It’ll be in your car, helping you find your way and giving you information about wherever that is, It’ll be in your house, turning lights on and off for you, operating all of your appliances.

There won’t be any separate TV or computer anymore. It’ll be all around you, with displays in every room. It’ll be at your place of work, where you won’t need to sign in anymore, because the building itself will be able to sense when you enter and when you leave. The ubiquitous Internet will even be on or in your body as a medical implant or a badge that communicates with medical sensors that are nearby. Wow! Isn’t technology wonderful? It really is impressive that they’re soon going to be able to do this kind of stuff.

I won’t deny that the ubiquitous Internet could do some really remarkable things. The question that remains unanswered is– why ubiquitous Internet is needed at all? Do we really need a connection to some international communications network; to turn on a lamp in our living room, to heat a cup of coffee in a microwave, or play music on a stereo? What’s the advantage? Maybe we’re developing this ubiquitous Internet simply because it’s possible. We can have it, so we make it…

In the article What is the Future of the Internet? by Jonathan Strickland writes: Nicholas Carr wrote an article titled: Is Google making us stupid? In it Carr said; he noticed that as his reliance on the Internet for research and entertainment increased, other of his faculties seemed to atrophy. One was his concentration or focus. He hypothesized that because of the way we navigate the Internet, in general– and the World Wide Web, in particular– we are always leaping from one piece of information to another. So, does the Internet affect the way humans think? There does seem to be a correlation in the way we record and access information and the way we think.

As we develop systems that allow us to save our knowledge for posterity, we unload that burden onto an inanimate object. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean we become less intelligent. However, not everyone agrees with Carr’s hypothesis. For example, Pew Research Center performs a survey each year about the future of the Internet. The research polls a group of experts and industry analysts on a series of questions. One of the questions they asked the respondents was; if they thought Carr was right about Google, and the Internet in general, making us stupid... Eighty-one percent of experts disagreed. The Internet is a tool that we use to help us learn– it doesn’t replace learning itself. Optimists hope that the new Internet will teach us about ourselves and others. For example, the new Internet will reach into countries, cultures that have been segregated from the rest of the world.

Some hope this new Internet will provide the common ground that allows various people to learn and understand each other, possibly bringing about an era of peace and cooperation. Ultimately, the ubiquitous Internet could begin to erase traditional boundaries between cultures. But that sort of global change isn’t trivial. It will take decades before we see a noticeable difference in the way we think about one another. Some cynics think that even a tool as useful and pervasive as the Internet, it  won’t overcome the hurdles we face in becoming a united world…

In the article Ubiquitous Internet Approaching but Not Here Yet by Larry Magid writes: The era of ubiquitous Internet access is fast approaching and it can’t arrive soon enough. So even though the prospects for ubiquitous Internet are getting better, we still have a long way to go. While current 4G networks are fine for using a smartphone for e-mail, texting and limited Web access, they are not generally adequate for serious use of a computer or iPad-like device.

Not only do we need more access, we need faster and more affordable access, in the form of a ubiquitous Internet. My hope is that as the carriers roll out their next-generation services, they will not only provision enough bandwidth to make them truly useful but also will price them within the budgets of most consumers and business users…

In the article How Many Web  Sites Are There? Julie Bort writes: There are 644 million active websites on the Internet, according to Netcraft. Netcraft’s March 2012 website survey discovered 644,275,754 active websites, to be precise. Half a billion is a lot, and the Internet is still growing by leaps and bounds. The March numbers were up by 31.4 million (5.1%) over the previous month. Other Web stats, facts… 2011:

  • 3.146 billion: Number of email accounts worldwide.
  • 95.5 million: Number of .com domain names.
  • 2.1 billion: Internet users worldwide,
  • 800+ million: Number of users on Facebook.
  • 5.9 billion: The estimated number of mobile subscriptions worldwide.
  • 1 trillion: The number of video playbacks on YouTube.
  • 100 billion: Estimated number of photos on Facebook.

Nielsen periodically releases data from its studies of consumer behavior online. Here are the latest findings regarding social networking, branding and world net usage. The average U.S. user spends more than 60 hours a month online. This is the equivalent of 30 straight days a year.

Social networking accounts for 22% of the time, and 42% is spent viewing content. Other activities, such as; email, commerce and searching, accounts for 36%. Among people who use the Internet, each person visits 2,646 Web pages on 89 domains and logs in 57 times per month.

The percentage of all online users that visit Google is 82%. The other top Internet brands include MSN/Bing (62%), Facebook (54%), Yahoo (53%), Microsoft (48%), YouTube (47%), Wikipedia (35%), AOL (27%), Ebay (26%) and Apple (26%). Among Internet users, 80% in Brazil use social network sites.

Other countries with high percentages include Italy (73%), Spain (75%), Japan (70%), U. S. (67%), UK (69%), France (67%), Australia (59%), Germany (51%) and Switzerland (51%). The percentage of U.S. adults who use the Internet, at all, each day is 55%; 45% email, 40% search engine, 30% news, 18% bank online, 15% watch video, 15% use social networking , 10% read blogs, 5% buy product, and 5% play games online…

Mark Twain once said: It’s not the things you don’t know that will hurt you; it’s the things you think you know that isn’t so. The Internet explosion has spawned quite a few popular myths, for example: Business use is driving the growth of the Internet.

According to Eric Raymond; don’t believe it. Business use of the Internet is important, sure, but the Internet has always been led and is still by social and expressive use. For every two corporate types soberly exchanging business data there are ten (10) swapping personal email and twenty (20) just hanging out in Usenet forums or IRC. The ratio of corporate to personal web pages is similarly lopsided.

According to H. C. Covington; many people don’t realize that the standards that define the Internet, and a lot of the software that embodies those standards, are maintained by a cadre of long-term volunteers. These people, Internet hacker cadre, have engineering-driven ideas  about where they want the Internet to go. While most are not hostile to the commercial use of the Internet per se, but they have no intention of letting corporations control its future.

These realities have implications about the culture of the Internet. It’s not an unformed void waiting to be turned into a cyber-spatial shopping mall by eager entrepreneurs. The Internet already has a large native and transient population with their own agendas, habits, and history. That means– business  will find that it must adapt to a new ubiquitous Internet, and not the other way around…

Thinking Backwards– Sometimes Things Work Best in Reverse, Inverted, Opposite: Think– Outcome vs. Solution vs. Process…

The human mind, once stretched by a new idea, such as, thinking backwards.., will never regains its original dimensions ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Thinking backwards is not original thinking… and so it’s said, in one form or another, but it’s very effective in business. Know exactly what you want the project, product, merger… to look like at the end. Know exactly what you want to achieve. According to Phil Wiley; start with the end in mind and work backwards. Draw a picture of it, maybe just in your mind but not the steps of how to get there, just the outcome. Only then, when you can picture the outcome, should you sit down and work out how to get there…

According to Mark Zimmer; most of us naturally think of time as an arrow that always points from past-to-future. Then, why do it… why think backwards? There are very good reasons and some of them are not only compelling but fundamentally necessary… For example, consider a safety inspector at a plane crash site trying to determine what could have caused the crash.

This is an investigation of a fatal series of events, which must be traced backwards until the root cause is found… But also, there are very practical and creative reasons for thinking backwards, and these are more than just exercises for the mind.

According to Jim Green; he calls it reverse plotting or inverted thinking to arrive at the outcome. Inverted thinking forces the brain to think outside the box and stimulates action by focusing your thoughts on the outcome before tackling the daunting task of providing a solution…

In the article The Power of Backward Thinking by Wray Herbert writes: Our mind shapes our emotions, thoughts, and language. For example, just consider a few common phrases: He is a  forward thinker. She is much ahead of her time. Like locomotion, the mind seems to value, naturally, what lies in front of us.

Psychologists think this powerful bias has deep evolutionary roots. Forward motion is what our ancient ancestors did when they felt safe, unthreatened. When they confronted something aversive or perilous, they would retreat. Over eons our evolving brain added layers of emotion to these deep-wired impulses that will approach and avoid.

A team of Dutch psychologists took this basic idea and ran with it. If avoidance and retreat have to do with danger, they wondered, is it possible that backward motion might actually recruit more brain power than forward motion? If threats are problems to be solved, shouldn’t actual and emotional retreat require greater attention, concentration? 

The psychologist, Severine Koch and colleagues at Radboud University Nijmegen, decided to explore this possibility and ran this simple experiment in their lab: They had volunteers walk just a few steps, either going; forward, backward, left, right. Then immediately took the Stroop test. This test has names of colors printed in different color inks; the word blue, for example, might be printed in blue– or it might be printed in red or yellow. The volunteers, then were asked to try very quickly to name the color of ink rather than read the word. It’s cognitively very difficult to quash the impulse to read, so fast and accurate responses are taken as an indicator of focus and concentration.

The results, reported in the journal Psychological Science, were intriguing. Those who had walked just a few steps backward were far more focused and attentive than were any of the others. Their physical retreat triggered increased mental control– presumably because of ancient link between threat and vigilance. Thus, confronted with a problem or difficulty, it’s more advisable to take a step back and think about the situation, literally.

In the article Thinking Backwards by Eugene Mason writes: Where do we start? You can almost visualize a set of stairs in front of you. What will it take to reach the top? Instead, first consider: Where do we finish? This is a more thought-provoking question up front, and it usually leads to major rethinking of process along the way.

Thinking backwards can lead you to the heart of the matter much earlier– while keeping focus on the ultimate goal throughout the undertaking. For example: In a military operation, mobilizing the logistics of the operation are considered from finish to start. That means getting all of the things; that are needed, where they are needed, and when they are needed. In essence, the battle is won or lost from the very beginning based on whether or not all people, equipment… are assembled in the right place at the right time.

Similarly, business projects… work in exactly the same manner: Success is based on whether or not all the elements are assembled in the right place at the right time… For that to occur, it’s necessary to consider the outcome first and work backwards from there. Defining success early on is hard, because it often forces us to rethink the initial concept.

The concept is great, but it doesn’t always fit in the overall plan, as well as thought: Thinking backwards means being flexible in planning and allowing for changes along the way as a concept matures and all the consequences become known. A flexible person keeps its eyes on the prize and will bend when necessary. Never let the concept become the finish line, it’s just a tool. I’ve seen many instances where the finish line is changed to meet the concept. It may be just relaxing a rule to allow certain people to participate or lessening expectations when things get tough.

Be careful not to mix flexibility with compromising of principle. In working backwards, it’s important to keep your focus on the road ahead (or rather, behind). Place markers; along finish-to-start to gauge progress, and as you work from start-to-finish. Working backwards is all about determining what assets you need to get the job done, from the outset, then making a plan to get those assets in place…

In the article Thinking Backward to Move Sales Forward by Gordon Bayliss writes: Sometimes you have to think backwards to move the sale forward. That is, asking good questions for the benefit of the customer, not the sales rep. For example; When will you order? Is a question that benefits the sales rep. To benefit the customer the question has to help the customer think through their planning, decision-making, and buying process.

To move the sale ahead, help the customer think backwards. When you ask a question for the customer’s benefit, it increases the customer’s trust, rapport improves, and getting at the truth (real answer) is easier. Making the sale and getting an agreement gets much easier, too. How can you ask a good question about when a decision will be made?

For example; the question: If I can save you some money will you buy today? Is hackneyed and over used. It also puts pressure on the customer. Besides, they’ve heard that question from every sales rep that walks through their door.  Okay, so you might think of asking your customer this– If you decide that you want this done, regardless who you pick– us or someone else, when would you like it done? Well, that’s better, but the question still benefits the sales rep and not the customer.

Sales people must look at things from different perspectives and act accordingly in order to move the sale forward; this means– start at the end.Instead of asking just one question, consider a series of questions starting with the end in mind and moving backwards. For example, ask the customer questions, such as:

  • What’s your dead-line to see the results from this solution?
  • What’s your dead-line to implement solution in order to see results?
  • What’s your buying process for getting this type of solution approved? What other approvals are needed?
  • What’s your time-line schedule; adding in all– preparations, proposals, reviews, updates, changes, decisions, approvals…?
  • What are all the things you need to make your decision an easy one?

This is an example of backwards thinking that will move the sale forward. Then, follow those fact-finding questions with a couple more, for example:

  • When I send you my proposal: What are all the things you want to see in it? Is it (the proposal) to convince or confirm?

In the article Thinking Backwards versus Moving Forward by Caroline van Kimmenade writesI’m not sure why, but I think most of us tend to think backwards. For example; when something happens in our lives, we tend to go back in time to figure out why the event took place. It’s classic cause-and-effect thinking. If something happens now, it must haven been caused by something else which happened before. Makes perfect sense. Yet, somehow, it never gives satisfying answers. In fact, it never really gives any answers.

On the other hand, you know those moments when you sit back and look at a disastrous event in your past and realize that because of that event– you ended up here. We tend to refer to it as ‘positive thinking’, or ‘making the most of things’. When you collect enough personal anecdotes of– ‘because of that I ended up here’– a new possibility takes shape:

A new mental map, so to say. Instead of routing all incidents direct into neurological spaces that contain– relevant past memories (e.g., lost in haywire of little tangled routes…) they pass through one simple station only. This station would have a sign saying: ‘hmm, I wonder what this is preparing me for’. There, the rational significance of the event itself will end… Thus, final destination reached, no further to go brain-wise… back-out into the real world where the action is…

Thinking backwards changes the focus from whether something might happen to how it might happen. Putting yourself into the future creates a different perspective… According to Michael Roberto; some people will often find, to their surprise, that they can construct a plausible scenario for an event they had previously thought unlikely. For example; as a mental exercise, start with the assumption that some event you did not expect did actually occurred. Then, put yourself into the future, looking back to explain how this could have happened…

Some of Gary Klein’s work on pre-mortem exercises is similar to thinking backwards; pre-mortem involves imagining what a post-mortem analysis would look like before you actually launch a new project… in the organization. Both thinking backwards and pre-mortem exercises helps to discover and evaluate different scenarios for how the future might unfold…

It’s often argued that decision-making involves two types of thought processes; backward and forward reasoning. That is, when making predictions about the future, one first looks backwards in time to understand the determinants of one’s present position.

In Roman mythology, the god Janus was porter of heaven and guardian deity of gates; it’s commonly represented as a head with two faces– one facing forwards and the other backwards…

Life can only be understood backwards; but must be lived forwards ~Soren Kierkegaard