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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Effective Collaboration, an efficiency multiplier for free

Effective Collaboration
The word collaboration has become widely used but is it just empty rhetoric? Collaboration is defined as "the act of working together to produce or create something." In this complex business environment people are being asked to share knowledge freely, to learn from one another, to shift workloads flexibly, to help one another complete jobs and meet deadlines, and to share resources-in other words, to collaborate. This activity is about behavior, work habits, culture, management, and business goals and value.With that said I ask, "How likely are your employees to say they "sink or swim" together, want one another to succeed, or view their goals as compatible?" Bringing people together is no longer a choice ... it is the only way to assemble the knowledge and experience required to accomplish the complex tasks your organization faces.Here are Six Ways to Build Collaboration
1. Model collaborative behavior - Your actions send a clear message - do yours "say" collaboration is important? When the senior team works well together and internal communication is frequent and open the collaborative nature trickles down throughout the organization.
2. Create a culture of generosity - Regular mentoring and coaching helps establish a culture of generosity and cooperation in place of a more transactional "I'll do this for you if you do that for me" culture. When individuals give freely of their time to support the success of another employee everyone wins.
3. Ensure the right skill set - Employees are encouraged to cooperate and they want to cooperate, but do they know how? Crucial skills include holding difficult conversations, appreciating others, questioning to clarify ideas, attentive listening, disagreeing in a constructive way and productively resolving conflicts. Explicitly develop these skills - don't let it be left to chance.
4. The right team leaders - Teams need strong leadership and strong leaders are often task- or relationship-oriented. When a complex problem is at hand assigning leaders who are both task- and relationship-oriented will support the high level of collaborative behavior required for success. Which of your leaders possess strong project management skills and the ability to foster the environment of trust and cooperation which supports knowledge sharing?
5. Role clarity - improves when the roles of individual team members are clearly defined and well understood. Without such clarity, team members are likely to waste too much energy negotiating roles or protecting turf, rather than focusing on the task.
6. Rewards - How does your company reward its employees? In a culture of collaboration rewards are based on team performance - it can't be a zero sum game or heavily weighted to individual results.

Does your organization's culture truly support collaboration? Strengthening your organization's capacity for collaboration requires a combination of long-term investments in building relationships and trust and developing a culture in which senior leaders are role models, AND smart short-term decisions about the ways teams are formed, roles are defined, and challenges and tasks are articulated.

By brooke.ingram

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Passion, Vision, Change and You

I have been immersed in thought for the last 4 months, been sifting through my thoughts, I am in the middle of a deal at present which is going in a different direction from what I want at this time in my life. I have been assessing what is important to me, health ? wealth ? my faith ?family ? and I am concerned that the changes I have went through in the last 15 years as an entrepreneur have subtle drifted me away from the things that are truly important to me, my Family and my Faith. I know that we need to earn our crust to make our way in this world, but at what expense. I am not here to preach but just to pose the question to those who drop by, What is important to you for the long run ? every bodies answer is different, and just as valid, but the life we live is our choice, and the result to the answer of the question, have you made the choice, or did you let situations around you make the choice for you.

I love work, I love to work with passionate people who have vision and commitment, the moments of "complete synergy" that take place, which confirm this is where you should be at this time, and for this time, are priceless; and they are addictive, like Crack. This is where you need to achieve the balance, between what is important for the long run, and not allowing these moments to dictate what is important. The good entrepreneur is an addict, who knows how to manage that.

Have a good weekend



Thursday, September 11, 2008

How to make decisions (not for the serious folks)

Question: How can a company ensure that there is a healthy level of disagreement when making a decision?
Answer: The ancient Persians used to make decisions twice–first when they were drunk, then when they were sober. Only if they agreed in both circumstances would they act on the decision. The process worked. The Persians ruled much of world for three centuries.We think companies need to imitate the Persians. As you might imagine, we get a chuckle any time we say this to an audience. People want to retire to the bar to continue the discussion.
What people miss is that most corporations make major decisions in a state that, while not drunk, is certainly emotional. Companies don’t need to have executives pop a few martinis and reconsider their thinking. Executives need to find a thoroughly sober, dispassionate environment in which to give their emotional decisions a second look.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Brand management

How is your personal brand, are you managing it well ? where do you rate on a google search, how close to the top off the listing do you fall. In this economy you need to be found, applying for new projects takes time, referals or head hunting is a lot faster. Do you have a linked in profile http://www.linkedin.com/ or a http://www.zoominfo.com/ profile there are many different social media platforms that you can use and manage your brand, you are the only person who will. There is the real world network and there is your virtual network, both a neccesary , but I find in business my real world network is more important, where as my virtual network is the definative way to find new projects. Take some time and see what you can find out about yourself on the net, how easy was it to find yourself, and then ask how easy is it for someone else to find you. I hear you ask so whats this to do about buisness ?everything, if you can't market and brand yourself then how will you manage to do it for your own company. It is important to understadn what your market culture is like, this is a multi cultural market and you need to match your branding to suit the culture. I have included an nice article on branding from Magners to wet your appetite, also if you have time have a read at Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters: 400 Unconventional Tips, Tricks and Tactics for Landing Your Dream Job by Jay Conrad Levinson.

‘Magners has redefined a sector,’ says Rune Gustafson, UK chief executive of branding consultancy Interbrand, on the cider that in just a few years has taken the British drinks market by storm.

Magners has redefined a sector,’ says Rune Gustafson, UK chief executive of branding consultancy Interbrand, on the cider that in just a few years has taken the British drinks market by storm. ‘We’re basically giving people permission to drink cider again – or to drink it for the first time,’ adds Maurice Breen, marketing director for Magners. ‘You are no longer the mad person at the bar not drinking beer.’
Magners has been on the market for decades in its native Ireland under its original name, Bulmers – William Magner of Clonmel having entered into a cider-making joint venture with HP Bulmer of Hereford back in 1937. ‘Up until the early 1990s we were a pretty small operation,’ says Breen. ‘So the company decided to invest heavily in getting its story across to Irish consumers.’
This marketing push led to increased sales in Ireland, so in 2003 the drink was launched overseas, initially in Glasgow. The name was changed to Magners for the British market to avoid a clash with the HP Bulmer brand, by now part of the Scottish & Newcastle stable.
Glaswegian drinkers came flocking, so Magners went Scotland-wide in 2004. Advertising and sponsorship campaigns began, and Magners drinking glasses appeared in pubs. By the end of 2004, Magners had become the leading cider in Scotland. Magners then went UK-wide, with sales growing 264 per cent in 2006. The drink is now also on sale in the US, Australia and across Europe.
Drinking cider is suddenly cool. Why? Much of Magners’ success is rooted in two factors that were new to the UK cider market. First, Magners is sold in pint bottles in pubs and bars, rather than on tap. Second, bar staff and drinkers are urged by the marketing blurb on Magners bottles to pour it ‘over ice’. ‘Putting it in bottles was genius,’ says Robyn Lewis, drinks editor of the Grocer. ‘Not only because they could charge loads for it, but also because consumers had the Magners brand in their hands. You’d walk into pubs and Magners bottles were everywhere. It’s much harder to build a brand with a draught product.’ Another advantage of serving Magners in a bottle, says Breen, is that cider doesn’t look particularly appetising when served on tap. ‘Beer presents nicely on draught, with a nice head on it. Cider doesn’t necessarily have that.’
Cider poured out of a bottle and into a glass full of ice looks great, he adds. ‘It wasn’t rocket science. But it was a simple, powerful representation of our brand to consumers.’
The idea of serving Magners over ice originated in Ireland. ‘It was based on the fact that there wasn’t great refrigeration in a number of pubs in Ireland, so consumers poured it over ice naturally,’ says Breen. ‘I laughed when I first saw the concept,’ remembers Lewis. ‘I thought: “Who’s going to drink cider over ice?” How foolish I was.’
Although cider has traditionally been seen as a summer drink, Magners now sells quite consistently year round, thanks to a series of season-specific advertising campaigns that have persuaded consumers every month is a cider-drinking month.
Magners’ success is also partly due to being in the ‘right place at the right time,’ says Lewis. ‘There had been a massive decline in alco-pops. They had a terrible image. People were looking for another long, sweet alcoholic drink in a bottle.’
The success of Magners has led to a ‘huge boom in me-too brands,’ Lewis adds. Scottish & Newcastle re-launched Bulmers. ‘They literally flooded the market. Bulmers had a huge marketing campaign and almost identical packaging to Magners.’
The fact that Magners itself is sold as Bulmers in Ireland makes matters even more confusing for consumers. S&N’s English Bulmers is doing very well across the UK but is not sold in the Irish Republic.
With competitors snapping at Magners’ heels, the challenge for the brand today is maintaining its strong market position. ‘Magners’ competitors are riding on its success,’ says Gustafson at Interbrand. ‘What it needs to do now is show leadership again.’

By Scott Payton



Monday, September 08, 2008

Technology makes it easy to be a one person International Company

Technology has advanced to such a stage it’s now possible to start a global business from a laptop, forcing the entrepreneurial doors wide open to teenagers, the retired, single parents or those who quite sensibly want to dip their toes in the water (or at least on eBay) before taking the plunge.
Banks are lending more money than ever before - £33bn in 2006, just to small businesses. People actually know what business angels are…
Prime time programmes such as Dragons’ Den, The Apprentice, Tycoon and Risking It All have pushed the very idea of running your own business to the forefront of the national psyche – no longer is it exclusive to the Delboys or pinstiped, it’s for you and I. Celebrity entrepreneurs are the new celebrity chefs – or as Risking It All’s
Martin Webb said to me the other week, ‘Business is the new Rock ‘n’ Roll’.
Entrepreneur, champion networker and
Startups Awards judge Oli Barrett ended up on Working Lunch and Newsnight when he launched his brilliantly successful Make Your Mark With A Tenner campaign to promote entrepreneurship in schools.
The scheme’s co-founder and serial social entrepreneur Tom Savage has also been busy starting his fourth business and advising the government on social enterprise – not bad for a 24-year-old. (Listen to Tom in our new
interactive section).
Web 2.0 has established itself as more than a passing fad and there’s a web buzz about the start-up world once again – and crucially the City. In London especially, networking nights such as
Second Chance Tuesday and Internet People are thriving and that can only be a positive thing.
Green business has finally emerged as a key requirement for the consumer rather than a preference for a niche and is transforming the way businesses big and small are thinking, behaving, operating and promoting themselves.
I’ve worked in this sector for the last seven years but the past six months we’ve spent relaunching Startups.co.uk have definitely been the most exciting. We also released our first book,
How They Started, in June telling the start-up stories behind some of the UK’s best-loved brands such as Innocent Drinks and Pizza Express, and were as surprised as anyone to see it hit Amazon’s Top 20 and garner considerable coverage in the Telegraph, Guardian and on Radio 2 among others.
There seems no satisfying our appetite for business. Some worry the enthusiasm for business will see droves of naïve and hopelessly unprepared lemmings blindly lose their mortgages on doomed ventures, but the stats suggest the opposite.
Figures from the Department of Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (the dismally renamed DTI, but that’s another blog) last week showed businesses are surviving longer, and hopefully, the new found fascination with business has stretched to a realisation that this is a result of preparation, planning and finely honed skills.
I’d like to think not only are there fewer barriers to entry to starting a business but also more quality information out there to make your decisions as informed as possible. Hopefully you'll find the new look Startups.co.uk a source of inspiration, as there really has never been a better time…
Matt ThomasEditor, Startups.co.uk