Saturday, August 21, 2010

Putting a value on training
Training programs generate greater value for organizations when the curricula reflect key business performance metrics.
Testing real-world outcomes is crucial.
McKinsey Quarterly, July 2010 • Jenny Cermak and Monica McGurk
Source: Organization Practice

This is a very important topic and an interesting case study of how to measure the impact of training in your organizations. In essence, you must understand how the training relates to specific business performance goals and then assess the impact.

"All organizations train their people, and most spend significant sums doing so. Yet they generally don’t have any idea whether they’re getting any business value from training. Beyond teaching new employees the specifics of their jobs, most companies train staff in areas such as leadership, communications, performance management, or lean operations. But they typically measure training’s impact by conducting surveys of attendees or counting how many employees complete courses rather than by assessing whether those employees learned anything that improved business performance.
This approach was, perhaps, acceptable when companies had money to spare. Now, most don’t. Yet more and more, organizations need highly capable employees—90 percent of the respondents to a recent McKinsey Quarterly survey1 said that building capabilities was a top-ten priority for their organizations. Only a quarter, though, said that their programs are effective at improving performance measurably, and only 8 percent track the programs’ return on investment.
The story of one social-sector group, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA), illustrates how organizations can make the most of their outlays for training programs by doing a better job of understanding which of them create business value, and how. The answers are remarkably straightforward and have lessons for retailers, manufacturers, and a range of other organizations as well".

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Does Globalization Threaten or Nurture Local Markets
By R. Frost

A critical issue for all companies (this article talks about consumers but I think it is relevant to business to business situations because decision makers are impacted by similar dynamics that impact consumers from a local vs. global basis), this article delves into the emotive issues impacting decision making. An example of the type of topics covered is highlighted. This is definitely worth the read.

"What effect does globalization have on consumer behaviors and tastes? As we move easily across regions and cultures are we more adventurous or will we naturally navigate to the known?...

…But Mark Kennedy, chief strategy officer at Landor Associates, views the renewed interest in local traditions more as a complement to globalization than a substitute for it. “In all countries in the world there’s almost a reaction to [globalization] in some of the local products,” he says. “I wouldn’t call it a backlash, but it’s almost like a balancing effect on local products. They start to reassert themselves.” Kennedy notes that this growing interest in local brands is taking place even as the shops in all the world’s airports are becoming increasingly the same, with the same brand names in all of them "

Saturday, August 07, 2010

When formulating your mobile-related business-model strategy, think behavioral, not technological
By G. Michael Maddock and Raphael Louis Vitón
The Innovation Engine Business Week July 27, 2010, 1:31PM EST

I thought this was a thought provoking approach to connecting with your customer base to drive innovation. Even in business-to-business situations, I can envision using digital mobility distributions to replace more traditional approaches. Just some “food for thought”.

" retaining customers, winning new business, and communicating with
existing customers and potential ones through their cell phones, PDAs,
smartphones, and such other mobile devices as the iPad (AAPL) and HP (HPQ)
...To understand where mobility fits in, you first need to know
it's the fastest-growing communication platform in history. What accounts for
the rapid growth? We've identified five behavioral (not technical) reasons,
factors that explain why people just adore their cell phones and why you should
make mobility part of your innovation strategy.
1) The world loves instant
gratification. Thanks to mobile phones, we can make connections and decisions at
any time or place.
2) We like filling time vs. killing time. We create
mobile experiences in four- to 10-minute increments....
3) We crave
superhero powers. Our mobile phones allow us to interact in multiple places at
the same time....
4) We modify, adapt, hack, and generally MacGyver
everything we get our hands on. Give people a tool, especially a technology or
digital tool or channel, and they use it to achieve their goals in ways you
never imagined...
5) We think of our mobile device as our "No. 1 recovery
tool," and we never leave home without it. Why? It is a lifeline. Our cell
phones are the first thing we reach for when we're away from home or the office
and a problem comes up."

Monday, August 02, 2010

Herman Miller’s Design for Growth
The office-furniture design leader is betting on innovation as it continues to push the envelope of management practice.

by Bill Birchard

This is a great case study on growth. Among the many learnings, the one I want to highlight here is the importance of using your fundamental strength as a foundation for growth and then incorporate the capabilities of others to drive growth.

"At the start of the 2000s, Michael Volkema, then the chief executive officer of Herman Miller Inc., became convinced that growth in the white-collar workforce was going to slow in the company’s main markets. That was a threat to this office-furniture maker, based in Zeeland, Mich., whose revenues depended on products sold to the white-collar workforce — products such as office desks, chairs, panels, shelves, and cabinets. Volkema’s solution was to create the Creative Office, a capability within Herman Miller for identifying adjacent markets in which the company could build businesses that would provide significant new streams of revenue.....
......In lighting, for example, GE, Philips, and Osram Sylvania were then focusing on light-emitting diodes (LEDs) as substitutes for standard incandescent light fixtures. Miller and his team saw an alternative: using the low-voltage DC power of LEDs for novel kinds of illumination — light tunnels, walls, lighted objects, wearable light. Why restrict lights to conventional overhead fixtures? Why not integrate them into office furniture and fixtures in new ways?
That effort led to a suite of product prototypes dubbed Programmable Environments, and later to a new business named Convia. Among the prototypes were illuminated, movable “visual shields” that changed color and a suspended wall with integrated LEDs. Integral to the new product suite was the notion of programmability. Office workers themselves would be able to use various devices, including their desktop computers, to reconfigure and reprogram the office environment. The new hardware and software allowed Miller and his team to redefine how people would think about personal space, office geometry, privacy, and illumination. In the end, the R&D project spawned 25 patent applications, and Convia was established as a Herman Miller subsidiary in 2006.