Posts Tagged innovation

Two Types of Business

laptop peopleOne – Local, the type that provides serivces and products to the local community, the money comes in and stays in that community. By doing this the local community moves the money about locally and no $$ gain is made.

Two – Global, the type that draws money into the local community by providing products and or services to the wider world. By doing this the local community benefits by having more $$ to spend.

When regional or city areas look to developing businesses it would pay to know the difference between these two and focus on those which offer the best opportunity for the tasks at hand. In an ideal world there would be a cohesive mix of both types, as the momentum builds for one, so the other would probably need to grow.

The challenge is knowing what to do to be able to build each and provide relevant training and development to boost each appropriately.

Regards

Steve Gray Free Business Tips

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Are you scaring employess away?

Image courtesy of Stock Images from freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Stock Images from freedigitalphotos.net

You hire people, you want the best, you are given guidelines to follow, some formal and some informal (e.g pick a woman)…

You find the job description template, write a description and send it off for approval.

The supervisor reads it, sees that it’s comprehensive and approves it, based more on the key selection criteria and the basic job description.

The process continues and you get what you get, a new employee. Hopefully they are a fantastic fit to the team and in a short space of time become a profitable addition to the organisation, however reality tells an all to common different story, at the end of the probation period, the person is ousted and the process begins again. Or worse, the person makes it through the probation period and becomes an anchor weighing things down often for a variety of reasons.

But I have an issue or three with the approach that causes this drama to happen.

Most job descriptions I have seen are too wordy and can actually scare people away from applying, and sometimes those that do apply find the job is not what they thought it would be, or they have the wrong ‘disposition’ (attitude, personality etc) for the job.

I have applied for enough positions to see this first hand and I now believe there should be a more relaxed approach, at least in the first instance.

Okay so there are those who say the idea is to attract more of the right people so you don’t end up getting too many applicants for the role, fair enough, but find another way of doing it rather than trying to bury people in detail and scaring them off.

The ideal employee is probably a fun team player, a person who is interested in more than just the role (it might be seen as an entry role to the organisation). Of course they will have the qualification to do the job, but the right attitude and personality will make them a better fit to the whole system, not just the technical aspects of the role.

Start thinking about how you can get a simpler approach started, then add the details in at another layer if need be.

Simply put, your current processes might just be causing long term headaches for the organisation.

Regards

Steve Gray

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We can’t do that here…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles from www.freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles from www.freedigitalphotos.net

Many enterprises have challenges trying to keep up with what’s happening in the world, technology changes, practicalities in the workplace, better processes and procedures so how do you keep up? If like other organisations you find yourself saying “We can’t do that” there will be reasons for it. Let’s pull out a few ideas and possibilities and take a look at what might be preventing us from achieveing the results we want.

Key imporovement areas

  • Best practice in all areas of the business
  • Flexible work arrangements
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Training
  • Innovation
  • Intrapreneuring/Entrepreneuring
  • Better induction and probation processes and procedures
  • Living Values

All of these things, and more, are some of the things that are making organisations ’employers of the year’. They have higher productivity, less staff turnover than others in their industry. They are also making organisations more profitable with stronger foundations to weather challenging times.

Yet all too often organisations don’t implement these things because of a few simple things. Want to know what they are?

Ignorance — The staff in control of an area don’t know what “best practice is’ or if they do they don’t want to do it because of a perception it will create more work for them. They think it may be better to bury their heads in the sand unless they have a solid directive from the boss to do

Loss of power or control — They are the boss, or the supervisor, they currently have a measure of control, you better believe it, anything that threatens this they will eliminate as fast as they can. Either by deriding it, trying it but making sure it fails or seeing it as a fad and dismissing it.

Fear of failure — Fear of success — Yes fear of… both of these are valid and are problematic. “We can’t try new things, what if we fail, it will  have cost us dearly and what’s wrong with how we are doing things now?” and for success… “We are a small business and want to stay that way there is no need for us to ‘go for the big time’ and try new fangled things…” SIGH… each of these loops around and devour each other, the more I don’t want to fail the more I probably will… These two areas are key points of business psychology and require careful handling. If you have team members who fit into these categories, are they the best people to assist your business to be all it can be?

We don’t know how — Things like Best Practice, Coaching/Mentoring, training and exploring business values. You may not know how to do these now, but what if you were to learn about them and slowly build your skills in these areas, or at least get some of your team trained in these areas. The aim is to build skills which can add to the flexibility of the organisation rather than being too rigid and unable to move.

We don’t know why — Why you should do something… Let’s see if your industry has developed  new technology and you have not kept up to these then you could be going backwards fast. Consider printing industries when computers started to make an impact on layout and design, effectively cutting out many people from the process. Things got easier and more cost effective for the client. Again it’s about ignorance, know what is cutting edge in your industry and business in general and aim to do it.

We don’t have the money — People said that when computers came in, they managed, some fought to the bitter end but one way or another computers made a huge difference. What else will cost money now but probably save the business in the future? LOTS of things, if yo have looked into each of the initial areas I mentioned you will know they can be highly beneficial to  your bottom line and profitability, while making the staff happier in the long run.

We don’t do change — Many people fear change, what if it goes bad, what if it costs us, what if… but what if it makes the business more effective, more profitable and have a better bottom line… Then that’s got to be useful right? Some see the glass half empty, some half full, others drink it and order the next drink. We all have choices, if your people won’t change they are probably  stuck in  some form of fear loop, seeing the worst rather than entertaining the possibility things might be better.

It’s up to you how you handle your business and develop that ‘can do’ attitude to make the most of what you have. Move to the can do approach to add depth and value to  your business, keep your staff happy and make more money in the process. The flexibility and strength this can add can be very useful in a highly competitive marketplace.

Regards

Steve Gray

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The ideal business

Sounds like a great title huh, you probably thought, oh is it one that makes great $$ (yeah) and does it have incredible profits (well YEAH!) and does it mean I have to hardly run it… and don’t have to have many skills???? umm probably not.

What I’m thinking of here is the structural side of the business idea, rather than the sort of business it might be. So no it’s not the far out super freaky pizza business that serves east west Tex-Mex surprises with a Thai influence.

Imagine a business, where you have made things tick over nicely the staff are stable (and happy), your customers like what you provide and the way forward looks good. Income and profitability tick over nicely and you wonder about the bigger picture now you have more time to, you replaced yourself multiple times with great people and can sit back and “enjoy the view”. Now it’s time to look that bit further, or perhaps differently to cause your business to do more of what you want it to.

You know when to put on new staff, knowing when the rest of the team are pushing the limits, and you can handle the ‘lag time’ until they are ‘up to speed’ in the role. You have great measurement tools in place to know what’s working and what’s not. You know what the profit margin is and where it goes to.

What next? Is this it, is this the holy grail of your business goal/s? Are  your challenges at an end? Do you simply sell it off and retire (early?) or do you go for the thrill of the chase… the adrenaline injecting process of doing more, and creating anew to push yourself that bit further.

Let’s go for the latter… Lets explore how you can replicate the process to explore success in business and do more, be more have more. After all we live in a world of abundance and by the sound of things if you have read this far you have probably said to yourself yes I do all these things and I am in that lovely lofty position to be able to do more.

You have created an ‘organism’ which grows, it’s more than just sustainable and you can stand back and enjoy the benefits of it’s growth. Now take out a pen and pad and jot down the mechanics of the business, what makes it tick, what makes it profitable? What sets it apart from your competition to the point where you don’t have to even be there anymore to enjoy it.

Take that list and ask, Can I develop a formula from our current successes to be able to reproduce that in other businesses… short answer will probably be yes.

I suggest at this stage  you take a look at the list in a way which deals with the essence of the success and not just trying to think about other businesses you might like to try out or test. Look at the structure, how information flows, the team and culture, the values and beliefs, all the things which can cause the internal structures to remain steadfast and provide the right sort of support for growth.

Now you know what makes your current business tick and the building blocks for ANY new business, it’s up to you to act on the information.

If you create a new business or five, hold this thought in your mind… “in war success has never come to those who fought on more than three fronts” (go on prove me wrong…) it’s said this was Hitlers downfall in the end. So how will you as a business owner develop more businesses without this happening.

Firstly you will be mindful of it, secondly you will probably recognise that each business will not be run by you, you simply provide the ‘right structure and resources’ then step back and advise on ways to tweak the enterprise to generate greater success.

Go on, give it a go, if things go well through great planning you will end up with a site of businesses making good profits you will be able to share around with others, therefore creating more positive abundance in the world.

 

 

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Your Brilliant Business

Your brilliant business is caused by people doing more of the right things – Thinking – Adding value – Loving what they do – Taking initiative – Exploring options and providing great service to name a few.

Well that’s my view.

Image courtesy of Stock Images http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

Image courtesy of Stock Images http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

We could spend ages debating the issue, what a brilliant business is, how it’s measured and the results it provides. But I want to focus on the ethereal things which caused it to be a brilliant business. The initial points I put up are a big part of that.

Let’s go back to the start, your business started with an idea, you could see what you wanted, probably saw yourself running it, and could proabaly see how things would turn out. In your minds eye you saw a plan of action coming to reality and all the key pointers I started this article with are what bought the dream to reality.

It was you in the beginning who put in the effort, you did the thinking, the planning, took initiative, explored options and provided great service to ensure prospects and customers would come back for more.

The next step in your business was a big one, you took on staff, partners and or associates who could see what you saw, felt what you felt and heard the positive accolades for the products and service you provided for customers. You managed to  encourage your ‘team’, they got motivated, excited and became driven to follow in your footsteps.

The results spoke for themselves, happy customers, great products and services and the bottom line reflects the top level positive work everyone puts in.

There it is, your brilliant business, brilliantly utilising your ‘soft resources’ to ensure the ‘hard resources’, products and services, are in the right place at the right time for your ideal prospects and customers.

Sadly all of this is not a common occurrence, in fact it’s a rare situation, in a world where hope, excitement and the ‘thrill of the chase’ has been eclipsed by businesses which start up and fade, some fast, some slow.

All of the main points mentioned and so much more information is available to those who want to ensure their ‘business idea’ is given the best chance of survival in the ‘formative part of the business process’ and thriving in the maturing part of the process, yet too many fail fast.

All that was required was the right sort of research, a solid plan of action and the ability to cause people to follow your brilliant lead. Alas too many businesses do not have that and what could be a great start soon becomes millstone.

Let’s ask then, what sort of business do you want to have? One with brilliant prospects and outcomes or one doomed to failing fast? Now ask what will you do to make sure it’s not the latter!

Regards

Steve Gray

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The Open Plan Office Failure

Open plan offices offer a lot if your team communicates openly with each other share conversations with customers and offering information or advice between a small group of staff. The challenge comes when you expect the team to work without distractions (planning – on the phone with customers etc.)

Ok so what was the big deal with going for open plan in the first place? Cost? Having the chance to break down barriers? More open communication? Other…

Let’s go the other way, what’s the deal with a ‘closed’ office? Greater privacy – Easier to concentrate – Cut down on noise – More wall space (for planning charts and so on…) – Your computer can be oriented so only you see what’s on the screen (ok not the best reason but surely quiet important!)

Perhaps the best way is to go halfway (is that possible?) creating spaces which offer users the ability to have privacy, a sense of security, still have some degree of communication openness, not have the cost of a full office, and provide the user with that sense of ownership or personalisation without having everyone look at your personal items etc

Maybe we could go for the cocoon, or pod, I seem to recollect back in the 70’s the Illustrator Roger Dean (Did lots of futuristic and fantasy album covers) created a whole bunch of futuristic spacey spaces and one of them included a ‘Learning Pod’ and individual cocoon shaped like a giant seed pod. Is that a way to go…

I believe the answer probably lies in clearly looking at what the business, your business, is all about and exploring the ideal way to make what needs to happen, happen, in the most effective way possible.

If your team really work as a team, then maybe a team space is required with separate areas to compile info for the team.

If your team are working directly with customers, then perhaps they just need a space where they can do that with minimal fuss.

If your team are a bunch of slackers and serve no real purpose to your amazingly big conglomerate then perhaps a bunch of hotel rooms with Wi Fi connectivity might be the go…

I guess what I am really saying is to ‘go deep’ and look at the specific reasons your team need the space they need and how they will interact (or not). I guess I am also thinking make the space adaptable so things can be altered when the need arises.

Oh and let’s not forget the concept of status, where the ‘boss’ gets the ‘closed office and privacy’ and the others get ‘open space and prying eyes’ surely we can think beyond that and come up with spaces which cause people to believe they are highly valued contributors without any loss of status.

Perhaps open plan failure is just a starting point to creating office space success.

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Innovation how does it work?

Some recent findings on innovation by Dr Ralph Kerle raised a few questions about the state of innovation in business. Let’s take a look at what he found after running a workshop with world leading organisations His workshop was titled Understanding the Discipline of Innovation in Organizations

Four interesting findings about innovation emerged from his workshop.

  1. Most large organizations have or have had innovation processes in the form of idea programmes in place. They work to varying degrees, none appear highly successful.
  2. Most organizational innovation produces isolated successes, yet does not sustain organizationally over long periods. I used a case study with a 6 year life cycle and that represented a lengthy period according to the participants.
  3. None of the innovation programmes discussed had benchmarking or on-going measurement associated with them enabling decision makers to value organizational innovation. Once the innovation had been implemented, it was regarded simply as a part of the business regardless of its impact. As a result, it appears decision makers in organizations are not able to meaningfully assess over time the value of innovation programmes or processes.
  4. Whilst innovation programmes might be considered part of an organization’s core values. if they don’t have senior leadership driving them in a coherent and disciplined manner, they have little chance of being considered truly strategic and are likely to die if there is a change in leadership.

Dr.Ralph Kerle

 

Let’s start with what innovation is, it’s either a quantum leap or incremental process, either way it’s about finding ways forward to produce an organisation which can function more effectively.

The big thing, it’s often about using creative thinking processes to spark the change, however most business processes follow logic and are not often linked to creativity even though they look to innovation for a “way forward”.

There’s the challenge, to take a logical organism (business) and marry it with creative thinking (ideas and processes which may have only a few logical processes as part of them). Especially if there are few examples of creativity making big inroads into business development. (Some would argue market leaders like apple computers fly against this).

 

Some thoughts

  • Use innovation
  • Value innovation
  • Push to innovate
  • Explore it!
  • The board should be creative junkies
  • The board should be implementing it at every level
  • The team don’t get it because they are following the lead (fail on creativity guys)
  • Forget JUST innovation go for creativity and see what happens (does it lead to innovation, usually yes).
  • Measurement, take a look at the bottom line, are there more dollars, is there greater retention of staff (therefore some reduced costs), are staff happier? You get the idea make a big list and see if the creative invasion has made a difference
  • Ask your team to brainstorm the difference innovation and creative approaches might make, then measure that
  • Does your organisation have a culture which can handle creative approaches, if not why not and how might you alter that?
  • How does the main team get to value creativity and innovation?
  • Do your team say “Oh no another silly thingy we have to deal with from ‘upstairs’” or do they look on with interest.
  • Plan do check act – try – do check act plan…
  • Improvise adapt overcome – try – adapt overcome improvise…
  • Replace “They won’t go for that” with “Go for that it might just make a BIG difference”
  • Replace “do it now” thinking with “do it yesterday?”
  • Think save the world with our actions because we can, via innovation
  • Think… explore… create… and or ANY combination of those
  • Ask, is the ball rolling effectively or are there any obstacles in it’s way? Now innovate that for results. BIG results
  • Pose creative questions at all levels, all the time
  • Ask for creative responses to challenges (you shouldn’t have to after a while)
  • Ask, what creative process do I not know about that we can use now…
  • Hire for creativity first skills, passion and abilities second…
  • Hire based strongly on “What creative or innovative thing propelled you in your last role?” (even if they are applying for a menial role)

Enough, either see the road blocks or create the road ahead, make it a golden one with all the trimmings thanks.

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