Posts Tagged global competitiveness

To Manage Better, Think Like a Terrorist

Great management article that challenges classic defensive thinking.

Not in the business of thwarting terrorist plots? Woolley says her findings, which were later replicated in a laboratory setting, provide crucial tools for managers in less hostile environments. For starters, as you approach a problem, there is merit in merely recognizing that you and your team are likely to be operating under either a defensive or offensive bias. To mitigate the resulting dangers of analysis paralysis on the one hand and overconfidence on the other, divide your team into two groups and ask them to consider the problem from either the defensive or offensive perspective. Instead of simply anticipating the moves of a company that threatens to put yours out of business, you’ll be able to assess the peril by thinking like that company. And if you’re convinced you’ll trounce your opponents, defensive thinking will help you stop and reconsider. They may in fact have other plans.

http://blogs.bnet.com/management/?p=1477&tag=landing-pad;work-life

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How successful companies speak and think has not really changed

It is easy to spot them, the companies that have started their decent. If you hear words like:

- We are still recovering from the recession; we cannot invest
- We only want to do the basics; we cannot afford to do more
- Our management team is cutting all costs; everything non-essential has to go

On the other hand, with companies on the rise you hear words like:

- We want to substantially increase productivity, we are ready to make the investment, what does it take?
- The basics are not enough. We want to do more. We want the most advanced tools so we can compete more effectively
- We want to leverage our existing investments but our management team is looking to invest in game changers
- What are some best practices you recommend?

Companies that take risks, make investments in good or bad times and stick with them all the way, and empower their employees to think about, find and implement game changers win. Those who start “restructuring”, “right-sizing”, “focusing on essentials only” “leave projects unfinished” don’t do very well.

Hundreds of prospects and customers later. The pattern is undeniable.

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Why Generational Profiling Is Bad Management

Here is an interesting perspective on the Generation X, Y and Z at work talk we have all heard lately. Some excerpts:

Would you characterize your employees by gender, age, race, religion, or in any other way when it comes to managing them and enabling them to be successful at their jobs? Of course not. And I’m not talking about verbally or publicly. I’m talking about when you sit down to do their review, determine their raise, have a one-on-one, or interview them, would you take any of that stuff into account? Again, of course not.

You know why? Because there are at least a dozen more important and relevant factors, like job performance, experience, knowledge, team work, etc. The only profiling I’m aware of in the real business world has to do with multinational companies managing workforces in other countries where employment law, compensation, and culture are different. To me, that makes sense.

But profiling groups by generation is ridiculous, no matter what the management researchers and gurus say. Not to mention that it’s dehumanizing.

I somewhat agree with Steve Tobak’s observations in that some of this generation talk is overblown and its importance exaggerated. However, from our own experience at Tenrox younger generations have very different expectations. When it comes to recognition, rewards, raises and bonuses, of course you look at job performance, experience, knowledge and other such factors to determine what is appropriate. But everyone does not feel appreciated or get motivated the same way. For some, an equivalent valued gift, a few extra days off, a paid vacation works better than a cash bonus or a raise. We try to take such things into account when communicating with or rewarding our team members; and yes, the employee’s generation plays an important role in how we approach such discussions.

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The Recession Generation

In this Newsweek article http://www.newsweek.com/id/229959 the author explores the impact of the recent financial crisis, the new age of uncertainty, and severe economic downturn on employment and spending patterns.

Some key takeaways:

  • It’s no accident that the psychology of entire generations is shaped by the milieu in which they grew up; economic research tells us that our lifelong behaviors are determined in large part by the seismic events—good or bad—of our youth
  • Even one really tough year experienced in early adulthood is enough to fundamentally change people’s core values and behaviors
  • Recession babies not only invest more conservatively, they tend to make less money, choose safer jobs, and believe in wealth redistribution and more government intervention
  • This division between capital and labor and the permanently high unemployment that it seems to encourage not only depresses wages, it depresses people; a large body of research shows they tend to withdraw from their communities and societies after being laid off (their spooked neighbors, encouraged to work ever harder, do too)
  • Parental unemployment has huge negative consequences for children, making them more likely to fall behind in school, repeat grades, and exhibit anxiety disorders
  • The worry today, say Reich, Soros, and political scientists such as Harvard’s Robert Putnam, is that fearful, vulnerable people will become more easy prey for ugly class politics, being drawn, as Reich puts it, to “populist demagogues on either side of the political spectrum.”
  • Americans generally have a high tolerance for inequality. Yet that tolerance may wane as we enter a new age in which young graduates can’t expect to do better than their parents—and one in which Wall Street is perceived as being able to continue business as usual while Main Street struggles. “Americans are OK with inequality,” says Reich, who believes we are at a tipping point, “as long as they feel the system isn’t rigged.”

All this said, there are some glimmers of hope in the New Normal.

  • Post-crisis, consumers are putting a greater value on time spent with family and friends than on money (a good thing when there’s little of the latter around)
  • There’s also a glimmer of possibility that hard times might make us nicer to each other … simply thinking about money made subjects less sensitive to pain, and less likely to help each other or want to connect with strangers

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Are US companies still worldwide leaders?

In a 3 part blog I shared my observations having worked with companies in various countries as it relates to enterprise software projects. A recent article in BusinessWeek: Top Countries in Global Competitiveness confirms my conclusion that, generally, US companies are worldwide leaders.

In a survey of 134 countries based on 12 pillars including innovation the article states:

“The surprise was that the U.S. is still on top,” Blanke says. The world’s largest economy remains second-to-none in productivity and enjoys a flexible labor market, a very sophisticated business culture, and many of the world’s best universities. Robust structural features help it to absorb economic shifts and downturns in business cycles.

There is however a cautionary note in the survey, that the United States’ high debt level and the financial crisis (which are related) are weakening its competitiveness and its ability to adapt.

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