Retaining Top Talent – Why it Matters

June 11th, 2010

I have seen TOO MANY companies not appreciate top talent. In today’s business environment, there is a shortage of top talent – surprisingly, with high unemployment rates, you’d think it would be an employers market. But for top talent, it is NOT. Actually according to an Executive Recruiter’s speech to my APICS (Association of Operations Management) chapter, it is typically harder to find top talent during a recession as most are unwilling to make a change until the business environment improves. In addition, baby boomers are beginning to retire and employers seem to be distracted by a lack of cash and are not appreciating their top talent. Thus, what do you think will occur at the first sight of improvement in the job market? Yep, those who are the underappreciated top talent will go!

I recently wrote a newsleter feature article on this topic. Retaining top talent and why it matters. To read the full article, click here.

Accelerate Change Management Results

June 6th, 2010

In order to succeed in today’s business world, it is imperative to become excellent at change management. After all, almost every new project or initiative requires change of some sort. Therefore, the better you become at managing change successfully, the better your bottom line impact.

According to Harvard Business Review, there are six problems that can slow your corporate transformation to a crawl. I’ve listed them below, along with a few hints on how to resolve:

1. Cautious management culture – need to confront reality and agree on ground rules for working together
2. Business-as-usual management process – run a no-slack launch on a parallel track with regular systems; make sure there are early, visible victories
3. Initiative gridlock – limit to 3-4 initiatives
4. Recalcitrant executives – compress launch to quickly engage key executives & to identify & confront those not on board
5. Disengaged employees – rapidly cascade the changes to all employees to boost engagement
6. Loss of focus during execution – anticipate and defuse postlaunch blues, midcourse overconfidence, and the presumption of perpetual motion

As this is an important subject, I’ve written several articles over the years on the topic. A few of my favorites are the following: Transform Crisis into Real Change and Secrets to Successful Change Management.

Innovation statistics

May 30th, 2010

As those of you know who follow my blog posts, articles and quotes, I believe the U.S. must innovate or die – the topic of my recent newsletter article (To read the entire article, click here).

Today I read about a recent study of patents. In 2009, U.S. firms received patents for slightly less than half (49%) of all U.S. utility patents issued. Of course it is important to consider the quality in addition to the number but these numbers are concerning, especially as innovation is at the crux of our history – and our future ability to succeed.

The good news is that IBM maintained its number one position (which has a 17 year streak) with 4,914 patents. Go IBM!

Building an Innovation Culture – What Is Vital?

May 24th, 2010

There’s one word – leadership!

A recent Industry Week article showed several examples of innovation success – the key is that executives must be committed, patient and ready to lead by example. Doesn’t this sound like something we should do anyway? Absolutely! I think it is amazing how often the best client results come from the simple, straightforward projects – the difference is not in some sort of groundbreaking idea but in the FOCUS and COMMITMENT on achieving the result. Then, innovation naturally emerges.

Doesn’t this sound easy? Yep – but it’s not. When an R&D project begins to require more resources, time and/or money than expected, it is quite natural for the plug to be pulled. However, this is exactly why executive focus and commitment are vital. Then they’ll stay the course in order to achieve the end objective. Of course I’m not advocating staying the course in an obviously bad situation. Leadership is about not only knowing when to stay the course but it also about knowing when to stop, even if it was your idea.

I recently wrote a newsletter feature article on innovation. There are several ideas about how to build an innovation culture: click here.

I have NO doubt that those individuals and companies who pursue innovation will achieve significantly greater results than those who don’t.

Is it more successful to focus on the perfect product or your customers?

May 16th, 2010

I recently read a Harvard Business Review article about reinventing marketing, and I found it quite interesting (especially as it coincides with what I believe!). According to the article, to complete successfully in today’s business environment, companies must shift from pushing individual products to building long-term customer relationships.

In essence, this turns traditional marketing on its head as product and brand managers become subservient to customer managers. It also suggests that customer-focused functions including R&D, customer service, market research and CRM should be viewed as part of the “customer department”. I am not sure if I would have seen the genius of this in my prior work life; however, in working with many companies to accelerate performance (which often leads back to customers as #1) and in managing my consulting practice, I see the value of looking at these elements through the customer viewpoint. After all, creating products and hoping they satisfy customer needs is pointless. It must start in reverse.

I also recently wrote an article about how to thrive in the “new normal” business environment which was published by Industry Week. Customer service is one of the top 3 keys to success. Read the article in full: click here.