Pros and Cons of Outsourcing

Running a design business, either as a freelancer or a small agency, is a big challenge. Getting the most efficiency out of your time is essential, but it’s also very difficult for those who wear many different hats, like freelancers. One of the most common ways of dealing with this challenge for efficiency is to outsource work to others. It could be anything from design work, front-end development, back-end development, marketing, to anything else that needs to be done.

There are some very strong reasons for outsourcing, and likewise the are some equally strong reasons against outsourcing. In this article we’ll look at those pros and cons, which will hopefully prove to be helpful to those who are trying to decide on whether or not to outsource.
Pros of Outsourcing
1. Leverage Your Efforts

Whether you are a part-time freelancer, full-time freelancer, or you run a design agency, the business aspect of your work is just as critical to your success as is your ability to design and/or code. One of the principles that is key to growing a business is that you need to be able to leverage your time and efforts. As a one-man operation you will only be able to earn money for the services that you can provide to clients yourself. But by expanding your business, in this case through outsourcing, you can leverage your efforts and make money based on the work of other people as well.

This makes an assumption that one of your priorities is to maximize income and profits, which may not be the case with all designers. Some designers prefer working on every aspect of client projects rather than outsourcing or hiring employees, even if it means reduced potential for business growth.


http://vandelaydesign.com

Running a design business, either as a freelancer or a small agency, is a big challenge. Getting the most efficiency out of your time is essential, but it’s also very difficult for those who wear many different hats, like freelancers. One of the most common ways of dealing with this challenge for efficiency is to outsource work to others. It could be anything from design work, front-end development, back-end development, marketing, to anything else that needs to be done.

There are some very strong reasons for outsourcing, and likewise the are some equally strong reasons against outsourcing. In this article we’ll look at those pros and cons, which will hopefully prove to be helpful to those who are trying to decide on whether or not to outsource.

Pros of Outsourcing

1. Leverage Your Efforts

Whether you are a part-time freelancer, full-time freelancer, or you run a design agency, the business aspect of your work is just as critical to your success as is your ability to design and/or code. One of the principles that is key to growing a business is that you need to be able to leverage your time and efforts. As a one-man operation you will only be able to earn money for the services that you can provide to clients yourself. But by expanding your business, in this case through outsourcing, you can leverage your efforts and make money based on the work of other people as well.

This makes an assumption that one of your priorities is to maximize income and profits, which may not be the case with all designers. Some designers prefer working on every aspect of client projects rather than outsourcing or hiring employees, even if it means reduced potential for business growth. Leer más “Pros and Cons of Outsourcing”

Blogging Innovation » What is an Innovation Culture?


by Roy Luebke

What is an Innovation Culture?Much has been written about what constitutes an innovation culture. Defining what that means may seem relatively simple, but is much more difficult to both define and achieve than one might think.

To begin the definition for an individual organization, start by understanding how the senior management team deals with ambiguity and risk. If an organization is extremely risk averse, it is unlikely to be very innovative. All companies deal with risk, there is risk in doing something, and there is risk in doing nothing. Risk is a part of being in business, and how the organization is prepared to manage risk is a leading factor in its ability to move into new competitive arenas.

The need to be innovative is derived from market pressures. The leadership team must feel a degree of angst about the future, or some paranoia about outside forces that makes them uncomfortable. Innovation is driven by the belief that a firm’s competitive advantage is fleeting and that it must always be reinventing itself in order to survive. Hubris is anathema to innovation.

An innovation culture requires advances in processes for discovery, experimentation, and developing portfolios of options. These new processes will, in fact help mitigate risk exposure as opportunities and solutions are better defined. Better definitions will reduce ambiguity and uncertainty.

Organizations require new process to research their customers and discover new patterns in customer attitudes, and market and technology evolutions. Firms need to create ways to recognize new, emerging patterns in key areas and develop new business concepts to meet these new realities. Business leaders need to allow their people to experiment more and develop prototypes that fail before going to market so that new innovations are more likely to succeed in the long term. Ultimately, new processes need to be developed to create deeper understanding about customers and deliver more of what customers want, even though customers are not likely to articulate these needs precisely.

Full article:
Blogging Innovation » What is an Innovation Culture?
.

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Who Has Innovative Ideas? Employees.

The trick is knowing how to tap into them. One answer: innovation communities.

Let’s take the mystery out of innovation and its inspirations.

Most great ideas for enhancing corporate growth and profits aren’t discovered in the lab late at night, or in the isolation of the executive suite. They come from the people who daily fight the company’s battles, who serve the customers, explore new markets and fend off the competition.

In other words, the employees.

Companies that have successfully made innovation part of their regular continuing strategy did so by harnessing the creative energies and the insights of their employees across functions and ranks. That’s easy to say. But how, exactly, did they do it? One powerful answer, we found, is in what we like to call innovation communities.
Questions to Ask Yourself

1. Does your company leave innovation to an R&D team without input from groups that work directly with customers?
2. Are your best managers and staff increasingly restless and cynical because they aren’t being given the opportunity to shape your company’s future?
3. If you asked 10 employees what they thought management considered to be fruitful areas for innovation, would you get 10 different answers?
4. When you talk of employee-generated innovation with your management team, do they act dismissively?
5. Does your management team think it’s too costly and disruptive to hold regular cross-function innovation discussions?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, your company probably needs to rethink how it inspires innovative ideas. Regularly hosting what we call innovation communities can save companies money while enhancing future leadership, growth and profits.

Every company does it a little differently, but innovation communities typically grow from a seed planted by senior management—a desire for a new product, market or business process. A forum of employees then work together to make desire a reality.

Innovation communities tackle projects too big, too risky and too expensive to be pursued by individual operating units. They can be created with little additional cost, because no consultants are needed. After all, those in the midst of the fray already know most of the details relevant to the project.

A lot of senior managers think the opposite: that the people around them don’t understand what’s needed or are incapable of seeing the big picture. This is why some call in consultants. But we say this often shows a signal lack of strategic courage and resolve. We say trust your own people.

Innovation communities are a way of giving new shape and purpose to knowledge that your employees already possess. The detailed discussions that take place, led by senior managers, often represent a company’s most productive and economical engine for increased profits.

Here, then, are seven key characteristics that we have identified as being part of successful innovation communities.

CREATE THE SPACE TO INNOVATE. Line managers and employees occupied with operational issues normally don’t have the time to sit around and discuss ideas that lead to cross-organizational innovation. Innovation communities create a space in which employees from across the organization can exchange ideas.

At first, participants typically meet face to face at a central location, often company headquarters, then shift to virtual meetings for follow-up sessions. The most important thing is blocking out time free of daily responsibilities to devote to discussion and creative thinking.
Executive Adviser

Innovations in management theory & business strategy – a collaboration with The Wall Street Journal

Senior management sets the agenda. A clear statement of purpose and themes for discussion are set forth. Participants are free to discuss ideas without concerns about hierarchy and quarterly financial results.

Each year at food retailer Supervalu Inc., 35 to 40 mid- and director-level managers break up into four teams to discuss strategic issues suggested by executives in the different business units. The managers discuss issues outside their own areas of expertise and work on their leadership development at the same time. Over periods of five to six months, they hold electronic meetings at least weekly and meet in person at least five to six times, all while continuing to perform their regular duties.

Japanese pharmaceutical maker Eisai Co. has convened more than 400 innovation communities since 2005 to focus on health-care-related issues such as examining possible new structures and sizes of medicines—for instance, a medication now on the market in Japan in a jelly-like substance that Alzheimer’s patients can swallow easily—and devising social programs for the families of Alzheimer’s victims. Every Eisai employee world-wide participates in at least one such project, and spends time with patients as well. The company thinks connecting in person with patients is crucial because it helps employees see and understand issues that the patients think are important, and so enhances the employees’ ability to see beyond pure data.

GET A BROAD VARIETY OF VIEWPOINTS. It’s essential to involve people from different functions, locations and ranks, not only for their unique perspectives, but also to ensure buy-in throughout the company afterward. Innovation communities focus on creating enthusiasm as well as new products. At Honda Motor Co., innovation groups in the U.S. draw members from sales, engineering and development, and from different business units across North America. Some companies, like General Electric Co., involve consumers and business clients in new-product discussions as well.

Sometimes groups seek out certain kinds of participants. Best Buy Co., for example, assembled mostly women employees, from store cashiers to corporate executives, to discuss how to make its stores more attractive to female consumers. The inspiration: Best Buy considered women a seriously underserved market segment with high growth potential. Store data also revealed that women customers tended to return less merchandise than men did, and so generated more profits.

CREATE A CONVERSATION BETWEEN SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND PARTICIPANTS. By definition, innovation communities can’t work in isolation: To create sustainable cross-organizational innovation, it’s important that ideas flow to senior managers. If they don’t, innovations will tend to have limited, local effects that don’t benefit the organization as a whole.
See Also

Further reading from MIT Sloan Management Review

* Six Myths About Informal Networks—and How To Overcome Them
Rob Cross, Nitin Nohria and Andrew Parker
Informal groups of employees do much vital work.
* Four Keys to Managing Emergence
Ann Majchrzak, Dave Logan, Ron McCurdy and Mathias Kirchmer
Encouraging spurts of participatory innovation.
* An Inside View of IBM’s ‘Innovation Jam’
Osvald M. Bjelland and Robert Chapman Wood
What happened when IBM brought 150,000 employees and stakeholders together.

Discussions about innovation should be open but guided conversations between senior managers and lower-ranking participants. Everyone has to be on the same page, especially when it comes to understanding the competitive environment and how to respond.



http://sloanreview.mit.edu/executive-adviser/articles/2010/3/5234/who-has-innovative-ideas-employees/

By JC Spender and Bruce Strong

The trick is knowing how to tap into them. One answer: innovation communities.


Let’s take the mystery out of innovation and its inspirations.

Most great ideas for enhancing corporate growth and profits aren’t discovered in the lab late at night, or in the isolation of the executive suite. They come from the people who daily fight the company’s battles, who serve the customers, explore new markets and fend off the competition.

In other words, the employees.

Companies that have successfully made innovation part of their regular continuing strategy did so by harnessing the creative energies and the insights of their employees across functions and ranks. That’s easy to say. But how, exactly, did they do it? One powerful answer, we found, is in what we like to call innovation communities.

Questions to Ask Yourself
  1. Does your company leave innovation to an R&D team without input from groups that work directly with customers?
  2. Are your best managers and staff increasingly restless and cynical because they aren’t being given the opportunity to shape your company’s future?
  3. If you asked 10 employees what they thought management considered to be fruitful areas for innovation, would you get 10 different answers?
  4. When you talk of employee-generated innovation with your management team, do they act dismissively?
  5. Does your management team think it’s too costly and disruptive to hold regular cross-function innovation discussions?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, your company probably needs to rethink how it inspires innovative ideas. Regularly hosting what we call innovation communities can save companies money while enhancing future leadership, growth and profits.

Every company does it a little differently, but innovation communities typically grow from a seed planted by senior management—a desire for a new product, market or business process. A forum of employees then work together to make desire a reality.

Innovation communities tackle projects too big, too risky and too expensive to be pursued by individual operating units. They can be created with little additional cost, because no consultants are needed. After all, those in the midst of the fray already know most of the details relevant to the project.

A lot of senior managers think the opposite: that the people around them don’t understand what’s needed or are incapable of seeing the big picture. This is why some call in consultants. But we say this often shows a signal lack of strategic courage and resolve. We say trust your own people.

Innovation communities are a way of giving new shape and purpose to knowledge that your employees already possess. The detailed discussions that take place, led by senior managers, often represent a company’s most productive and economical engine for increased profits.

Here, then, are seven key characteristics that we have identified as being part of successful innovation communities.

CREATE THE SPACE TO INNOVATE. Line managers and employees occupied with operational issues normally don’t have the time to sit around and discuss ideas that lead to cross-organizational innovation. Innovation communities create a space in which employees from across the organization can exchange ideas.

At first, participants typically meet face to face at a central location, often company headquarters, then shift to virtual meetings for follow-up sessions. The most important thing is blocking out time free of daily responsibilities to devote to discussion and creative thinking.

Executive Adviser

Innovations in management theory & business strategy – a collaboration with The Wall Street Journal

Senior management sets the agenda. A clear statement of purpose and themes for discussion are set forth. Participants are free to discuss ideas without concerns about hierarchy and quarterly financial results.

Each year at food retailer Supervalu Inc., 35 to 40 mid- and director-level managers break up into four teams to discuss strategic issues suggested by executives in the different business units. The managers discuss issues outside their own areas of expertise and work on their leadership development at the same time. Over periods of five to six months, they hold electronic meetings at least weekly and meet in person at least five to six times, all while continuing to perform their regular duties.

Japanese pharmaceutical maker Eisai Co. has convened more than 400 innovation communities since 2005 to focus on health-care-related issues such as examining possible new structures and sizes of medicines—for instance, a medication now on the market in Japan in a jelly-like substance that Alzheimer’s patients can swallow easily—and devising social programs for the families of Alzheimer’s victims. Every Eisai employee world-wide participates in at least one such project, and spends time with patients as well. The company thinks connecting in person with patients is crucial because it helps employees see and understand issues that the patients think are important, and so enhances the employees’ ability to see beyond pure data.

GET A BROAD VARIETY OF VIEWPOINTS. It’s essential to involve people from different functions, locations and ranks, not only for their unique perspectives, but also to ensure buy-in throughout the company afterward. Innovation communities focus on creating enthusiasm as well as new products. At Honda Motor Co., innovation groups in the U.S. draw members from sales, engineering and development, and from different business units across North America. Some companies, like General Electric Co., involve consumers and business clients in new-product discussions as well.

Sometimes groups seek out certain kinds of participants. Best Buy Co., for example, assembled mostly women employees, from store cashiers to corporate executives, to discuss how to make its stores more attractive to female consumers. The inspiration: Best Buy considered women a seriously underserved market segment with high growth potential. Store data also revealed that women customers tended to return less merchandise than men did, and so generated more profits.

CREATE A CONVERSATION BETWEEN SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND PARTICIPANTS. By definition, innovation communities can’t work in isolation: To create sustainable cross-organizational innovation, it’s important that ideas flow to senior managers. If they don’t, innovations will tend to have limited, local effects that don’t benefit the organization as a whole.

See Also

Further reading from MIT Sloan Management Review

Discussions about innovation should be open but guided conversations between senior managers and lower-ranking participants. Everyone has to be on the same page, especially when it comes to understanding the competitive environment and how to respond.
Leer más “Who Has Innovative Ideas? Employees.”

How The Nielsen Company Uses Idea Management Software to Drive Innovation

We’ve heard a lot about how idea management works in theory – but how does it work in practice? Ann Marie Dumais, Senior Vice President of New Product Introductions at The Nielsen Company, was kind enough to walk us through Nielsen’s use of BrightIdea for enterprise idea management. Here are the lessons we came away with.
When Selecting Your Platform, Know What You’re Looking For

Dumais said Nielsen decided to adopt idea management software because it wanted to put process around thoughts. That may seem a bit corporate. OK, that sounds ridiculously corporate. But considering the company had found that it had no shortage of ideas coming from staff and no good means to do anything with them, it makes sense. The company wanted to drive ideation faster, and didn’t want to chase ideas that had already been considered.

Dumais said they needed something flexible – something that would enable them to make changes on the fly by themselves, without calling IT or an external vendor. She also needed something that would be easy for all staff, including those dealing with the backend. “It had to be like eBay,” she said “No one had to teach us how to use eBay – it just works.” Dumais also knew the system would have to support single sign-on.

After vetting several possibilities, Dumais and her team settled on BrightIdea because of its flexibility and usability.


By Klint Finley |  //www.readwriteweb.com

This post is part of our ReadWriteEnterprise channel, which is a resource and guide for IT managers and technologists in the Enterprise. The channel is sponsored by Intel. As you’re exploring solutions for your enterprise, check out this helpful resource from our sponsors: All New 2010 Intel Core vPro Processors and Microsoft Office 2010: Your Best Choice for Business PCs

We’ve heard a lot about how idea management works in theory – but how does it work in practice? Ann Marie Dumais, Senior Vice President of New Product Introductions at The Nielsen Company, was kind enough to walk us through Nielsen’s use of BrightIdea for enterprise idea management. Here are the lessons we came away with.

When Selecting Your Platform, Know What You’re Looking For

Dumais said Nielsen decided to adopt idea management software because it wanted to put process around thoughts. That may seem a bit corporate. OK, that sounds ridiculously corporate. But considering the company had found that it had no shortage of ideas coming from staff and no good means to do anything with them, it makes sense. The company wanted to drive ideation faster, and didn’t want to chase ideas that had already been considered.

Dumais said they needed something flexible – something that would enable them to make changes on the fly by themselves, without calling IT or an external vendor. She also needed something that would be easy for all staff, including those dealing with the backend. “It had to be like eBay,” she said “No one had to teach us how to use eBay – it just works.” Dumais also knew the system would have to support single sign-on.

After vetting several possibilities, Dumais and her team settled on BrightIdea because of its flexibility and usability. Leer más “How The Nielsen Company Uses Idea Management Software to Drive Innovation”

Thought Leadership Success Factor No. 5: Fueling Service Innovation, Not Just Marketing

Thought leadership programs serve one master in most professional services and other B2B firms: Marketing. Marketing generates content (commissioning studies, writing white papers, and so on). Marketing packages and distributes that content (producing academic-looking publications, seminars and webinars, educational PR campaigns, email newsletters, etc.). Marketing then turns over the resulting client inquiries to account executives. Thought leadership is a Marketing activity.

But that robs thought leadership programs of their greater potential value – as sources of service innovation, not just marketing content. When companies use thought leadership to fuel new services or rejuvenate existing ones, they not only codify expertise on how to solve some business problem; they turn it into capability that many (not just a handful) of their professionals can use with clients. They do this by taking a powerful concept described in a white paper or research study and turn it into a rigorous methodology. They then develop effective curriculum around that methodology and put their professionals through training programs so they can master it.

When that happens, thought leadership content fuels new services or new approaches to existing services – not just creates client interest in them through marketing. We have seen a number of professional firms that created strong client interest in a concept after conducting and marketing some innovative research – only to find that just a few people in their firm could actually deliver the service implied by their compelling concept. (It’s a page from the “Let’s Throw Something Against the Wall and See What Sticks” book on marketing and service development. The idea is not to develop a robust service until a firm has numerous clients who are willing to pay for it.)


Bob Buday’s blog
//bloomgroup.com/blogs/bob-buday

Thought leadership programs serve one master in most professional services and other B2B firms: Marketing.  Marketing generates content (commissioning studies, writing white papers, and so on).  Marketing packages and distributes that content (producing academic-looking publications, seminars and webinars, educational PR campaigns, email newsletters, etc.).  Marketing then turns over the resulting client inquiries to account executives. Thought leadership is a Marketing activity.

But that robs thought leadership programs of their greater potential value – as sources of service innovation, not just marketing content.  When companies use thought leadership to fuel new services or rejuvenate existing ones, they not only codify expertise on how to solve some business problem; they turn it into capability that many (not just a handful) of their professionals  can use with clients.  They do this by taking a powerful concept described in a white paper or research study and turn it into a rigorous methodology.  They then develop effective curriculum around that methodology and put their professionals through training programs so they can master it.

When that happens, thought leadership content fuels new services or new approaches to existing services – not just creates client interest in them through marketing.  We have seen a number of professional firms that created strong client interest in a concept after conducting and marketing some innovative research – only to find that just a few people in their firm could actually deliver the service implied by their compelling concept.  (It’s a page from the “Let’s Throw Something Against the Wall and See What Sticks” book on marketing and service development.  The idea is not to develop a robust service until a firm has numerous clients who are willing to pay for it.)

When you think about what would happen to other industries that followed this practice, you begin to see that it’s insane.  Imagine a pharmaceutical company that conducted drug research for marketing purposes only, telling the market it’s come up with a breakthrough compound but deciding not to manufacture it.  That’s just about the state of thought leadership programs in most of the B2B firms we know.  What they publish is often not something that most of their professionals practice.

I’m not sure why this is the case.  But I know it is the case.  Perhaps it’s because service innovation in professional services is in its infancy.  Few firms have created formal and highly productive processes for developing superior services.  In most professional firms I know, services are hand-crafted by individual artisans – practicing consultants, lawyers or accountants who often in their spare time document some approach to solving a recurring client problem.
Leer más “Thought Leadership Success Factor No. 5: Fueling Service Innovation, Not Just Marketing”

5-step Process for Business Transformation and Organizational Stability

During the past few weeks, I’ve spoken with many business leaders in the GCC. The topic on every one’s mind is, of course, the economy and how their business can weather the storm. Many of these executives had read my previous posts on restoring an organizational immune system, and on reducing complexity in key areas to increase business stability. Most of them had the same question: where do we start?

The answer is to start at the top – with those in charge of leading the business. The 5-step process below begins there and provides a roadmap for mobilizing the entire organization in support of transformation. It’s important to realize that business transformation isn’t a miracle cure for all business problems. It’s an ongoing journey and a continuous process. There’s no one end point, but every step you take will be a lifesaver for your company. Here’s how you can make sure you’re moving in the right direction, let’s see…


Blogging Innovation
by Kamal Hassan

5-Step Process for Business Transformation and Organizational StabilityDuring the past few weeks, I’ve spoken with many business leaders in the GCC. The topic on every one’s mind is, of course, the economy and how their business can weather the storm. Many of these executives had read my previous posts on restoring an organizational immune system, and on reducing complexity in key areas to increase business stability. Most of them had the same question: where do we start?

The answer is to start at the top – with those in charge of leading the business. The 5-step process below begins there and provides a roadmap for mobilizing the entire organization in support of transformation. It’s important to realize that business transformation isn’t a miracle cure for all business problems. It’s an ongoing journey and a continuous process. There’s no one end point, but every step you take will be a lifesaver for your company. Here’s how you can make sure you’re moving in the right direction, let’s see… Leer más “5-step Process for Business Transformation and Organizational Stability”

10 Common Mistakes Made by API Providers

This post is part of our ReadWriteCloud channel, which is dedicated to covering virtualization and cloud computing. The channel is sponsored by Intel and VMware. How one services provider provides first-class service to its agency clients. Learn more in this ReadWriteWeb special report, made possible by Intel and VMware: Opus: A Marketing Agency That Gets the Most out of Virtualization.

Please Send More Birds!Twitter was one of the first to see what happened when traffic to the site came more from the API than the Web.

It now has more than 65 million tweets per day, most coming from services that use the Twitter API.

Twitter has made numerous changes to fix its API. Those experiences have taught providers what mistakes not to make when launching a service.

But there is still a lot for providers to learn.

Considering this, we asked developers and service providers to help us prepare a list of 10 common mistakes made by API providers. Hopefully, the list will provide some basic insights into what mistakes should be avoided when developing an API.

Our group of commentators include Adam DuVander executive editor at Programmable Web; Mike Pearce, a developer out of the United Kingdom who writes a lot about scrum and Agile; Mashery’s Clay Loveless and Sonoa Systems Sam Ramji.


By Alex Williams <!– –>

This post is part of our ReadWriteCloud channel, which is dedicated to covering virtualization and cloud computing. The channel is sponsored by Intel and VMware. How one services provider provides first-class service to its agency clients. Learn more in this ReadWriteWeb special report, made possible by Intel and VMware: Opus: A Marketing Agency That Gets the Most out of Virtualization.

Please Send More Birds!Twitter was one of the first to see what happened when traffic to the site came more from the API than the Web.

It now has more than 65 million tweets per day, most coming from services that use the Twitter API.

Twitter has made numerous changes to fix its API. Those experiences have taught providers what mistakes not to make when launching a service.

But there is still a lot for providers to learn.

Considering this, we asked developers and service providers to help us prepare a list of 10 common mistakes made by API providers. Hopefully, the list will provide some basic insights into what mistakes should be avoided when developing an API.

Our group of commentators include Adam DuVander executive editor at Programmable Web; Mike Pearce, a developer out of the United Kingdom who writes a lot about scrum and Agile; Mashery’s Clay Loveless and Sonoa Systems Sam Ramji. Leer más “10 Common Mistakes Made by API Providers”

The Language of Success

There is a common language used by top-level managers in every company. It is a language centered on business concepts and understanding a handful of concepts.

For example, CEOs instinctively move toward the action that will maximize profits and minimize costs or expenses. Investment is the first concept, and cost savings is second. To them this is as basic as breathing, and they often don’t consciously realize that they have moved in that direction. However, many HR professionals focus on costs or on how a candidate feels about a given action, and they emphasize these over the investment side or over the impact on profits in presentations and conversations.

I might hear a recruiter say, “I felt that the extra time spent with that candidate was worth it because they will now say nicer things about us to other potential candidates.” A CEO might, instead, phrase it this way, “Spending a few extra minutes with the candidate could result in our firm making two or three additional hires because of the positive comments we’ll get. That would mean we’d be able to spend less on advertising and make faster hires.”

They are really saying the same thing, but the focus and language are different.

Here are four other things an executive assumes you know and practice:
Assumption #1: Knowing and Responding to Business Priorities

A business priority is defined by Ram Charan, Harvard business professor and author of an outstandingly valuable book called “What the CEO Wants You To Know,” as “the most important action that needs to be taken at a certain point in time.”

Priorities can change quickly and CEOs expect that you understand that and are prepared to react accordingly. Positive response to change and understanding that there are no absolutes are key attributes of a business-focused manager.


by
Kevin Wheeler

There is a common language used by top-level managers in every company. It is a language centered on business concepts and understanding a handful of concepts.

For example, CEOs instinctively move toward the action that will maximize profits and minimize costs or expenses. Investment is the first concept, and cost savings is second. To them this is as basic as breathing, and they often don’t consciously realize that they have moved in that direction. However, many HR professionals focus on costs or on how a candidate feels about a given action, and they emphasize these over the investment side or over the impact on profits in presentations and conversations.

I might hear a recruiter say, “I felt that the extra time spent with that candidate was worth it because they will now say nicer things about us to other potential candidates.” A CEO might, instead, phrase it this way, “Spending a few extra minutes with the candidate could result in our firm making two or three additional hires because of the positive comments we’ll get. That would mean we’d be able to spend less on advertising and make faster hires.”

They are really saying the same thing, but the focus and language are different.

Here are four other things an executive assumes you know and practice:

Assumption #1: Knowing and Responding to Business Priorities

A business priority is defined by Ram Charan, Harvard business professor and author of an outstandingly valuable book called “What the CEO Wants You To Know,” as “the most important action that needs to be taken at a certain point in time.”

Priorities can change quickly and CEOs expect that you understand that and are prepared to react accordingly. Positive response to change and understanding that there are no absolutes are key attributes of a business-focused manager. Leer más “The Language of Success”

The Structural Dilemma of Creating an Innovation Culture

Definition & Control
As organizations grow and evolve over time their business functions and processes formalize in support of bringing their products and services to market. Over time authority consolidates so that there are agreed upon channels for communication and decision making. The strategic goals of the organization are driven from the top down into the organization through goal-setting and often those goals are directly tied to individuals’ performance expectations. Business processes and systems are defined and marked for vigilant management and incremental improvement. The organization becomes solid, tightly integrated, and an excellent platform for delivering a relatively stable mission.

It is possible to have too much of a good thing and when taken to their limits within these performance biases there are inherent drawbacks.

In the consolidation of authority the speed of decision making often decreases. The reason for this is that communication regarding the nature of the decision needs to rise to the appropriate level of the organization with the decision making authority. The further away from the point at which the decision needs to be made, the increase in the amount of information that needs to be provided to ensure that the decision is made with the appropriate data. This doesn’t take into account the communication styles of those requesting the decision, making a recommendation, or making the final decision. Often this communication process results in delay and missing information is provided and the decision intent is clarified.

The ownership of the strategy at the top of the organization may also be an impediment to effective innovation. If an organization’s strategy is primarily understood at the senior management level and enacted at lower levels in the organization hierarchy there may be a disconnection between environmental and marketplace awareness and the ongoing suitability of a particular strategy. A strategic blindness pervades. If clients’ needs change or technology shifts the chances are those most closely engaged with clients and the marketplace will see that first. If what they are seeing is at counterpoint to the organization’s established strategy the process of raising the alarm in order to modify performance to address the changing conditions in the field may be wanting.

The inability to respond swiftly has long been a hallmark of larger, well-established organizations. When faced with well-defined business processes and systems it can be a challenge to modify or remove them in the face of a need to change an organization’s business model. The beauty of a large organization is the ability to focus the appropriate allocation of limited resources to the best effect. Often management focuses on incremental improvement and the elimination of errors rather than wholesale change, especially when performance goals drive toward certain returns. This practice leaves little room for the exploration, let alone failure, required for meaningful and effective innovation. It is simply too hard to change the direction of a organization like this when everything about its configuration is designed to reinforce the structural integrity of that configuration.

The world’s largest oil tanker is the Knock Nevis; its size beggars belief*. It takes five and half miles to stop with a turning circle of over two miles. It takes nearly fifteen minutes to turn 180 degrees. Now, while you would rarely want to turn an oil tanker 180 degrees, as the likelihood of your going in completely the wrong direction is low, the effort involved is enormous. For a large organization their sheer size and complexity makes changing their culture a similarly challenging prospect. That does not mean that they are incapable of innovation, far from it. There are too many examples for large companies changing their culture to increase their innovation effectiveness; Proctor & Gamble and GE come to mind immediately. But accounts of their changes describe years-long efforts. Effective? Certainly. Nimble? Not so much.


Comparison of Oil tanker Knock Nevis to world'...
Image via Wikipedia
Posted by DrewMarshall

The struggle of creating an innovation culture, a culture that supports innovative thinking and output as compared to an innovative culture (one marked by internal differentiation), can readily be framed as a structural dilemma. There are two seemingly contradictory operating instincts that must be reconciled in order for an innovation culture to be sustained. The first is the bias, especially in larger, older organizations, towards definition and control of all aspects of organization life. The second bias, a start-up or entrepreneurial mindset, tends towards differentiation and creativity. As you can imagine this reconciliation process requires tough trade-offs. Leer más “The Structural Dilemma of Creating an Innovation Culture”

Focusing on the blind spot in design thinking

The dangers of focus!

“Design thinkers must act like anthropologists or psychologists investigating how people experience the world emotionally and cognitively.” Tim Brown

This reference makes me sharpen my past and present as a psychologist and I jumped out of the chest a character I greatly appreciate the observation.

Consider the observation as the fundamental food for creativity and innovation. However this process of feeding ideas and ways of thinking often emerges a “blind spot”.

Blind spots occur because of the peculiarity of the architecture design of our eyes. Cells at the back of the eye, a layer called the retina, gathers the light, through a lens, all that is before us.

A recent study suggests that the visual system of the brain may create a physiological representation of visual information, around the blind spots, painting a scene automatically consistent that is, filling the void length.


Por jabaldaia

The dangers of focus!

“Design thinkers must act like anthropologists or psychologists investigating how people experience the world emotionally and cognitively.” Tim Brown

This reference makes me sharpen my past and present as a psychologist and I jumped out of the chest a character I greatly appreciate the observation.

Consider the observation as the fundamental food for creativity and innovation. However this process of feeding ideas and ways of thinking often emerges a “blind spot”.

Blind spots occur because of the peculiarity of the architecture design of our eyes. Cells at the back of the eye, a layer called the retina, gathers the light, through a lens, all that is before us.

A recent study suggests that the visual system of the brain may create a physiological representation of visual information, around the blind spots, painting a scene automatically consistent that is, filling the void length. Leer más “Focusing on the blind spot in design thinking”

Five Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Expand Your Design Business

There’s an alarming perception in business, one that supposedly dictates that small businesses can’t become highly profitable. It’s surprisingly common, rarely questioned, and almost completely wrong.

What the internet has shown us — particularly in the last five years — is that ultra-small businesses can often be some of the most profitable in the world.

A great example that comes to mind is 37Signals‘ insistence on keeping things small with only 19 employees, allowing their company to remain manageable and still immensely successful.

The biggest online successes of the last five years haven’t been press-grabbing Web 2.0 services (many of which remain unprofitable), but smaller businesses that offer innovative products. There are big opportunities out there, even for small and specialized design businesses.


by Mathew Carpenter

Five Reasons Why You Shouldn't Expand Your Design Business

Few industries are as primed for expansion and scale as web design. With a successful sales and marketing routine in place, gaining extra income can be as simple as hiring, researching, and delegating. From contracted designers to highly optimized business processes, scaling an online business tends to be a significantly less stressful process than expanding a more traditional offline company.

Leer más “Five Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Expand Your Design Business”

El rol de las tecnologías de la información en la reducción de costos


Las tecnologías de la información facilitan diversas tareas en la gestión de las organizaciones. Veamos, a continuación, su rol en la reducción de costos…
Por Susana Silberberg

La mayoría de las empresas cuenta con información de costos atomizada en diferentes bases de datos y aplicaciones.

Esto requiere de una importante carga horaria en la búsqueda y clasificación de datos, quitando tiempo para las tareas de mayor valor: el análisis y la generación de información útil para la toma de decisiones.

Afortunadamente, existen múltiples herramientas tecnológicas que pueden ayudarnos en estas tareas. Muchas veces, vienen incluidas en las funcionalidades de costos de los ERP de clase mundial como SAP u Oracle.

En otros casos, se pueden obtener aplicando extensiones del ERP o integrando las diferentes aplicaciones que procesan los diferentes conceptos de costos de las empresas.

Así, veamos de qué forma la tecnología puede sernos útil para gestionar los costos en nuestro negocio.

Reducción de costos de fabricación con demanda variable

En un escenario de fábrica que produce para stock y demanda variable, es difícil evitar costos de stock y/o de paradas y cambios en las líneas de producción requeridas para satisfacer los cambios de la demanda.

Como solución de bajo costo y alto impacto, es posible desarrollar un tablero de control. De esta forma, el Área de Ventas podrá consultar la programación de la producción con una o dos semanas de antelación, y simular escenarios para reprogramar y/o renegociar entregas.

En caso de que deba solicitarse un cambio al Área de Producción, éste podrá hacerse con mayor anticipación, lo que permitirá reprogramar la actividad de la planta, con el consecuente ahorro asociado.

Prevención de pérdida de rentabilidad por aumento de costos en insumos críticos

Otra medida importante consiste en implementar un sistema que integre los costos de insumos con los estándares de fabricación, los precios de compra y reposición y las alertas provenientes del mercado.

Esto nos permitirá reaccionar más rápidamente que la competencia, para abastecernos, por ejemplo, de sustitutos de igual o menor precio de reposición.

Utilizando una herramienta de Workflow y configurando una simple regla de negocio, el sistema podrá alertarnos, vía email, de las variaciones de precios en nuestros insumos críticos, ofreciéndonos la posibilidad de utilizar sustitutos en stock o sugerir proveedores con mejores precios.

Prevención de costos de soporte por defectos de fábrica

Si contamos con una herramienta de Workflow, podremos recibir alertas de calidad en la producción. Esto nos permitirá planificar nuestras entregas y coordinar la asistencia técnica, minimizando costos de devoluciones (además del riesgo de perder clientes insatisfechos).

Habitualmente, el Área de Soporte Técnico no cuenta con información anticipada de las fallas de producción.

Así, tener visibilidad anticipada de los partes de producción y de los tiempos de entrega favorece el desarrollo de acciones preventivas que, en muchos casos, podrán ser aceptadas por la demanda y, en otros, podrán ser generadoras de planes de contingencia.

Para que esto sea viable, es importante que la plataforma reciba información de todas las etapas de la cadena: Ventas-Producción-Despacho y Soporte.

Reducción de costos en la curva de aprendizaje

Si contamos con procesos documentados, podremos acelerar la curva de aprendizaje de los nuevos ingresantes en la empresa y reducir costos por autocapacitación.

Adicionalmente, si utilizamos una herramienta para mapear nuestros procesos de negocio (BPM, Business Process Management), donde se asignen roles y recursos por proceso, podremos controlar los costos de proceso como si fueran simples órdenes de trabajo de un sistema de mantenimiento correctivo.

Reducción de costos de ventas

Contar con una herramienta para registro de contactos y de acciones de venta online, permitirá que los supervisores amplíen su rol de controlar el proceso comercial al de coach que colabora en cada situación y persona, ayudando a calificar oportunidades, negociar condiciones, cerrar ventas, etc.

Para esto, tenemos soluciones de bajo costo y alto impacto como los CRM (Customer Relationship Management).

Además de reducir costos de venta, el CRM nos ayuda a conocer y comprender la demanda. En ciertos casos, esto nos permitirá modificar la fabricación de los pedidos para satisfacer una demanda personalizada.

Si además se integra con las campañas de Marketing por un lado y con las Ventas del ERP por el otro, podrán medirse los resultados de la campaña en su tasa de conversión de ventas efectivas esperadas.

En definitiva, la tecnología de la información nos brinda múltiples oportunidades para una gestión más inteligente de nuestros costos. Leer más “El rol de las tecnologías de la información en la reducción de costos”

Why Smaller Companies Should Embrace Open Innovation


by Stefan Lindegaard

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Open innovation at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) presents both great opportunities and great challenges. Forming open innovation relationships can give a growing enterprise access to resources that might normally are beyond their reach with the potential for greatly speeding up time to market. At the same time, working with larger–and in some case much larger companies–is not without its perils.

Let’s consider a growing startup or a small company that is on its way to become a mid-sized enterprise. The early phases are very much about executing on single, great product, idea or technology. However, as the company grows focus tends to shift towards control rather than keeping the visionary thinking and bold approaches that build the company. This must be re-ignited. Open innovation can be the vehicle for accomplishing this objective.

Because of the high level of risk-taking involved with young ventures, leaders of entrepreneurial enterprises often have healthy or even outsized egos; it takes a certain amount of hubris to believe you can defeat the high odds against the success of a new venture. This can lead you to believe that you and your people have the best ideas. But in reality, there is a strong possibility that the best people and the best ideas are to be found outside your organization.

One key reason for Procter & Gamble to initiate open innovation programs was that they learned that for each of their 7,500 R&D people there were 200 people outside the company with equal skills and competences. An ignorant – and arrogant – company would ignore these 1.5 million people, arguing they do not matter as they do not work for us. P&G did not ignore this. They understood they should connect their own organization with the best and brightest from the outside world. Given the limited size of smaller companies, this mindset becomes even more important.

As I wrote earlier, SMEs often start with one great product or service idea and as they grow they might fail to recognize that innovation is about more than just bringing the core product or service to market. Innovation can occur at all stages of the business process, from the business model itself through to the customer experience. By broadening their thinking about what actually constitutes innovation, SMEs can more easily see the wisdom of open innovation, which can help them innovate in areas where they may not have internal expertise.

I will post more thoughts on open innovation for SME’s this week. Let me know if you have any comments on this or if you know of smaller companies that have adapted open innovation. It would be interesting to get to know more about their processes, failures and successes in order to get a better understanding of how this is different from large companies. Since small and large companies meet on open innovation, they need to start learning more about each other on this.

http://www.15inno.com/

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