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Tag Archives: Competitive Advantage

Great Problem Solver have 6 Mindset Traits

27 Mar

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Problem Solving is a fundamental life skill indispensable for survival of an individual.  It is honed in every person to varying degrees.  It is especially a useful skill to embody Leadership Development.

Problem Solving skill can be taught and learnt.

MIT defines Problem Solving as:

The process of identifying a problem, developing possible solution paths, and taking the appropriate course of action.

Problem Solving is a process that can be approached using various strategies but each Strategy usually follows the same theme, consisting of:

  • Identifying the Root Cause of the Problem.
  • Logically Analyzing all the Details of the Problem.
  • Formulating a Solution.
  • Effectively Communicating and taking Action.

Problem Solving Strategies consist of steps that help identify the Problem and choose the best solution.  There are 2 basic types of Strategies:

  1. Algorithmic Strategies – customary step-by-step instructions to solving Problems. For example, in algebra: multiply and divide before adding or subtracting.
  2. Heuristic Strategies – general guides used to identify possible solutions.  An example would be IDEAL—Identify Problem, Define Context, Explore Strategies, Act on solution, and Learn.

A certain Mindset is required to be developed for becoming a great Problem Solver.  There are 6 traits experts have identified that shape the Mindset of a great Problem Solver.  A great Problem Solver will always:

  1. Be Constantly Curious.
  2. Be an Imperfectionist.
  3. Adopt a Dragonfly-eye View.
  4. Pursue Occurrent Behavior.
  5. Leverage Collective Intelligence.
  6. Practice Show and Tell.

Problem Solving Mindset is valuable for any person especially professionals, particularly an entrepreneur, manager, or someone in the leadership role in an organization.  A team of skillful problem solvers can become a notable source of Competitive Advantage for an organization.

Let us delve a little deeper into some of the Mindsets that make great Problem Solvers.

Be Constantly Curious

Innate human partialities frequently blind us to a range of solutions too early in the Problem Solving Process.  Superior and increasingly creative solutions arise from being Curious about the wide-ranging possible answers.  Very young children embody this trait.  They are resolute in figuring things out hence their never-ending and high-energy inquisitiveness.

Improved results are generated by accepting uncertainty, constantly asking questions like why is this solution better, or why not the other one?

Be an Imperfectionist

Absolute knowledge is virtually non-existent, especially for Complex Business and Societal Problems.  Accepting that our knowledge is Imperfect can bring about more effective Problem Solving.  Constant revision based on new evidence is key to good Problem Solving.  This is possible when we begin by confronting solutions that imply certainty.  And, this brings out tacit assumptions about probabilities and makes it easier to assess alternatives.

Most Problem Solving involves a great deal of trial and error.  We form hypotheses, dive into data for validation, and either refine our premise or discard it.

Adopt a Dragonfly-eye view

The purpose is to gaze beyond the usual arrangement into which our pattern-recognizing brains want to gather perceptions.  This facilitates identification of obscured opportunities and threats.

A good example of this is the approach experts took to tackle a major public health threat.  They framed the Problem in larger social context—taking the Dragonfly-eye view—garnering wider support and success.  Confronted with a complex social map and a ballooning infection rate, the Problem was tackled by widening its definition.  The frame was shifted from a traditional epidemiological transmission model at known hotspots to one where, another affliction of a particular sub-set of the impacted population was targeted because it was more relatable.  The major public health threat was made into a sub-set of the larger issue.  The solution was implemented in 600 communities and was eventually ascribed with preventing more than 600,000 infections.

Interested in learning more about Problem Solving Mindsets? You can download an editable PowerPoint on Problem Solving Mindsets here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

Do You Find Value in This Framework?

You can download in-depth presentations on this and hundreds of similar business frameworks from the FlevyPro Library.  FlevyPro is trusted and utilized by 1000s of management consultants and corporate executives. Here’s what some have to say:

“My FlevyPro subscription provides me with the most popular frameworks and decks in demand in today’s market.  They not only augment my existing consulting and coaching offerings and delivery, but also keep me abreast of the latest trends, inspire new products and service offerings for my practice, and educate me in a fraction of the time and money of other solutions.  I strongly recommend FlevyPro to any consultant serious about success.”

– Bill Branson, Founder at Strategic Business Architects

“As a niche strategic consulting firm, Flevy and FlevyPro frameworks and documents are an on-going reference to help us structure our findings and recommendations to our clients as well as improve their clarity, strength, and visual power.  For us, it is an invaluable resource to increase our impact and value.”

– David Coloma, Consulting Area Manager at Cynertia Consulting

“FlevyPro has been a brilliant resource for me, as an independent growth consultant, to access a vast knowledge bank of presentations to support my work with clients.  In terms of RoI, the value I received from the very first presentation I downloaded paid for my subscription many times over!  The quality of the decks available allows me to punch way above my weight – it’s like having the resources of a Big 4 consultancy at your fingertips at a microscopic fraction of the overhead.”

– Roderick Cameron, Founding Partner at SGFE Ltd

Post-Merger Integration Synergies: 6 Strategies

13 Mar

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A significant number of Mergers remain unsuccessful, because companies do not employ a thorough and disciplined approach to realizing Post-Merger Integration Synergies.  In reasons for failure, we hear remarks like:

  • Targets were set several months earlier by the top management without consulting the line managers, or taking ground realities into consideration.
  • Assumption base for setting targets was untested.
  • Targets were met but the timeframe for achieving them made them ineffective—in terms of diminished returns, shareholder disappointment, or depressed share value.
  • Desired Synergies were achieved but at a very high cost or fairly weakened morale.

A disciplined and rational approach to pursuing Merger Synergies is key to successful Post-Merger Integration (PMI).  Companies that authenticate and set pragmatic yet ambitious Post-Merger Integration Synergy targets do the following to exceed targets and achieve substantial share price premium and a significant Competitive Advantage:

  • Advise Integration Leaders on how to aim high.
  • Give managers—responsible for achieving targets—a say in target-setting process.
  • Create detailed plans with built-in accountabilities.
  • Pursue their targets aggressively.

Successful PMI Synergies—be it in Cost OptimizationStrategic Sourcing, Greater Revenues or any other Cost or Revenue realm—have the common characteristic of leaders pursuing synergies with speed, rigor, discipline, and pragmatism with lots of analysis, planning, preparation, and fine-tuning before the close.

Success can be ensured time and again if the 6 Strategies for Post-Merger Integration Synergies are followed to the letter:

  1. Link Due Diligence (DD) and Post-Merger Integration (PMI)
  2. Leverage Clean Teams
  3. Establish Stretch Targets
  4. Rapidly Iterate to Targets
  5. Pursue Both Revenue and Cost Synergies
  6. Institute Performance Management

Implementation of the 6 Synergy Strategies involves adopting High-Engagement and Rapid Iteration approach which yields effective Stretch Target Validation and High Level of Line Accountability.

Let us delve a little deeper into 2 of these PMI Synergy Strategies.

Link Due Diligence (DD) and Post-Merger Integration (PMI)

Linking DD to PMI ensures realistic estimates on part of the DD team thus avoiding formulation of broad-brushed and imprecise Synergies.  Linking also guarantees greater amount of ownership and accountability at the same time enabling more compelling Stretch Targets.  Linking of DD to PMI is necessary because:

  • Under pressure to complete the M&A, Due Diligence teams frame assumptions with little knowledge of the levers influencing Synergies or the challenges involved in achieving them.
  • Due Diligence teams typically project more value in Cost Reduction and enhanced Revenues based on erroneous assumptions—without taking into account either the Operating Model (of the former entities and the freshly created one) or the difference / overlap in Customer Base.

Successful Mergers ensure a harmonized hand-off from Due Diligence teams to Integration Planning teams by ensuring the following:

  • Placing members of the Mergers and Acquisition team on the Post-Merger Integration (PMI) team to produce a greater degree of ownership and continuity.
  • Involving Business Unit Heads in target setting at the Due Diligence stage and ensuring ownership and accountability.
  • Linking of Due Diligence and PMI to enable setting of more profound Stretch Targets.
  • Analyzing and detailing drivers of saving at a high-level for creating Synergy Targets and Ranges which make later improvements possible based on subsequent information. These targets and ranges enable evaluation of potential gains from new company’s Operating Model.

Leverage Clean Teams

Clean team is an independent group that is tasked with the collection and analysis of sensitive company data—pre-closure—with the guidance of management.  Clean team may comprise of third-party members or employees who can be reassigned out of business in case of deal failure eradicating the risk of compromising confidential information.  Clean team is formed by legal contract based on protocols agreed to by both company’s legal departments.  Clean teams help by:

  • Accelerating PMI planning.
  • Enabling the acquiring company to have a clearer picture of the target company without violating anti-trust regulation or confidentiality agreements.
  • Assessing risks and enabling companies to achieve Synergies faster.
  • Keeping sensitive information of both sides safe—pre-closure—yet embark on planning and preparation even before close in order to save precious time and keep customer confidence high.
  • Aiding companies accomplish 3 core integration activities before closing—compiling wide-range baseline data, vetting Synergy targets, and preparing options for key decisions.
  • Empowering companies to avoid / diminish confusion caused by overlap in client assignments and sales people.
  • Assisting provision of clear information to customers regarding products and services thus avoiding drop in sales.

Interested in learning more about the 6 Strategies for Post-Merger Integration Synergies?  You can download an editable PowerPoint on Post-Merger Integration (PMI): 6 Strategies for Synergies here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

Want to Achieve Excellence in Post-merger Integration (PMI)?

Gain the knowledge and develop the expertise to become an expert in Post-merger Integration (PMI).  Our frameworks are based on the thought leadership of leading consulting firms, academics, and recognized subject matter experts.  Click here for full details.

M&A is an extremely common strategy for growth.  M&A transactions always look great on paper.  This is why the buyer typically pays a 10-35% premium over the of the target company’s market value.

However, when it comes time for the Post-merger Integration (PMI), are we really able to capture the expected value?  Studies show only 20% of organizations capture projected revenue synergies and only 40% capture cost synergies.  Not to mention, the PMI process is typically very painful, drawn out, and politically charged, often resulting in the loss of key personnel.

Learn about our Post-merger Integration (PMI) Best Practice Frameworks here.

Do You Find Value in This Framework?

You can download in-depth presentations on this and hundreds of similar business frameworks from the FlevyPro Library.  FlevyPro is trusted and utilized by 1000s of management consultants and corporate executives.  Here’s what some have to say:

“My FlevyPro subscription provides me with the most popular frameworks and decks in demand in today’s market.  They not only augment my existing consulting and coaching offerings and delivery, but also keep me abreast of the latest trends, inspire new products and service offerings for my practice, and educate me in a fraction of the time and money of other solutions.  I strongly recommend FlevyPro to any consultant serious about success.”

– Bill Branson, Founder at Strategic Business Architects

“As a niche strategic consulting firm, Flevy and FlevyPro frameworks and documents are an on-going reference to help us structure our findings and recommendations to our clients as well as improve their clarity, strength, and visual power.  For us, it is an invaluable resource to increase our impact and value.”

– David Coloma, Consulting Area Manager at Cynertia Consulting

“FlevyPro has been a brilliant resource for me, as an independent growth consultant, to access a vast knowledge bank of presentations to support my work with clients.  In terms of RoI, the value I received from the very first presentation I downloaded paid for my subscription many times over! The quality of the decks available allows me to punch way above my weight – it’s like having the resources of a Big 4 consultancy at your fingertips at a microscopic fraction of the overhead.”

– Roderick Cameron, Founding Partner at SGFE Ltd

How Do Porter, Mintzberg, And More Define Strategy?

23 Feb

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Strategy is about the methods used to attain goals.  It’s the “how” of achieving goals—desired future conditions and circumstances towards which effort and resources are spent until their achievement.

If Strategy has any meaning at all, it is in relation to some aim or end in view.

Strategy is 1 of the 4 dimensions of an enterprise structure:

  1. Goals of the organization.
  2. Resources at our disposal.
  3. Strategies for achieving above-mentioned goals –i.e., the methods used to deploy the resources.
  4. Tactics—i.e., the ways in which the deployed resources are used.

Strategy and tactics – integral part of Strategy Development – bridge the gap between goals and the methods used to achieve those goals.  These 4 dimensions of enterprise structure relate to one or both of the 2 domains; Policy and Management.  Policies determine the goals of an enterprise, whereas attaining goals is typically a matter of Management.  Tactics belong to the managers; strategy is the combined realm of the governors and managers; whereas resources are controlled jointly.

The employed resources through use of Strategies and Tactics give us “certain” conditions.  Inspecting them in light of the “desired” conditions enables us to determine future employment of the resources and thus emerges a pattern of actions and decisions which makes Strategy an adaptive and evolving view of what is required, to achieve goals.

We take a look at various perspectives on and definitions of Strategy, as explained by 8 of the most impactful and renowned Strategists in modern times.  Familiarity with the perspectives of these strategists enables us to develop a more holistic and thorough understanding of the topic, helping us improve our strategic thinking, decision making, and analytical skills.All of these experts agree on the fact that Strategy is a means to implement a policy or a view envisioned by those who matter.  Let’s see how the following strategists define Strategy:

  1. Michael Porter
  2. Henry Mintzberg
  3. Treacy and Wiersema
  4. H. Liddell Hart
  5. George Steiner
  6. Kenneth Andrews
  7. Kepner-Tregoe
  8. Michel Robert

Let’s break down how a few of these renown strategists define “Strategy.”

Michael Porter

Michael Porter, the father of modern Business Strategy, views Competitive Strategy as “intentionally opting a collection of activities that are dissimilar to the competitors in order to provide a unique mix of value”– i.e. Competitive Advantage.  Porter states that Strategy is about:

  • A competitive position.
  • Differentiating yourself in the eyes of the customer.
  • Adding value through a collection of activities different from competitors.

Henry Mintzberg

Mintzberg is credited with co-creating the Organigraph.  He has written extensively on management and business Strategy.  His contribution to Organizational Theory in the form of “The Organizational Configurations Framework” is a model that describes 6 valid organizational configurations or Organizational Design.

Mintzberg argues that the contrast of changing realities with intentions necessitates accommodation, generating Strategy.  According to him Strategy is a combination of:

  • The Perspective – Vision and Direction.
  • The Position – Decisions to offer particular products or services in particular markets.
  • The Plan – a means of getting from here to there.
  • A Pattern in actions over time – for example, a company that regularly markets very expensive products is using a “high end” Strategy.

Treacy and Wiersema

Treacy and Wiersema’s Value Discipline Model talks about 3 different value disciplines: Customer IntimacyProduct Leadership, and Operational Excellence.  Their research on market leading organizations reveals that they outdid their competitors through mastering 1 of these 3 disciplines.

Treacy and Wiersema assert that companies achieve leadership positions by narrowing, not broadening, their business focus on any one of the following:

  • Operational Excellence – lead the industry in terms of price and convenience and is based on the Strategy of production and delivery of products or services. It implies world-class marketing, manufacturing, and distribution processes.
  • Customer Intimacy – Long-term customer loyalty and customer profitability is based on the Strategy of tailoring and shaping products to the increasingly fine definitions of Customer-centric Design.
  • Product Leadership – concentrates on quick commercialization of new ideas. It hinges on market-focused R&D as well as organizational nimbleness and agility.

Interested in learning more about the 8 definitions of Strategy?  You can download an editable PowerPoint on 8 Perspectives on Strategy here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

Want to Achieve Excellence in Strategy Development?

Gain the knowledge and develop the expertise to become an expert in Strategy Development.  Our frameworks are based on the thought leadership of leading consulting firms, academics, and recognized subject matter experts. Click here for full details.

“Strategy without Tactics is the slowest route to victory.  Tactics without Strategy is the noise before defeat.” – Sun Tzu 

For effective Strategy Development and Strategic Planning, we must master both Strategy and Tactics.  Our frameworks cover all phases of Strategy, from Strategy Design and Formulation to Strategy Deployment and Execution; as well as all levels of Strategy, from Corporate Strategy to Business Strategy to “Tactical” Strategy.  Many of these methodologies are authored by global strategy consulting firms and have been successfully implemented at their Fortune 100 client organizations. 

These frameworks include Porter’s Five Forces, BCG Growth-Share Matrix, Greiner’s Growth Model, Capabilities-driven Strategy (CDS), Business Model Innovation (BMI), Value Chain Analysis (VCA), Endgame Niche Strategies, Value Patterns, Integrated Strategy Model for Value Creation, Scenario Planning, to name a few.

Learn about our Strategy Development Best Practice Frameworks here.

Do You Find Value in This Framework?

You can download in-depth presentations on this and hundreds of similar business frameworks from the FlevyPro Library.  FlevyPro is trusted and utilized by 1000s of management consultants and corporate executives. Here’s what some have to say:

“My FlevyPro subscription provides me with the most popular frameworks and decks in demand in today’s market. They not only augment my existing consulting and coaching offerings and delivery, but also keep me abreast of the latest trends, inspire new products and service offerings for my practice, and educate me in a fraction of the time and money of other solutions. I strongly recommend FlevyPro to any consultant serious about success.”

– Bill Branson, Founder at Strategic Business Architects

“As a niche strategic consulting firm, Flevy and FlevyPro frameworks and documents are an on-going reference to help us structure our findings and recommendations to our clients as well as improve their clarity, strength, and visual power. For us, it is an invaluable resource to increase our impact and value.”

– David Coloma, Consulting Area Manager at Cynertia Consulting

“FlevyPro has been a brilliant resource for me, as an independent growth consultant, to access a vast knowledge bank of presentations to support my work with clients. In terms of RoI, the value I received from the very first presentation I downloaded paid for my subscription many times over! The quality of the decks available allows me to punch way above my weight – it’s like having the resources of a Big 4 consultancy at your fingertips at a microscopic fraction of the overhead.”

– Roderick Cameron, Founding Partner at SGFE Ltd

5 Dimensions of Employee Engagement Scorecard

20 Feb

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Employee Engagement has emerged as one of the significant pillars on which the Competitive AdvantageProductivity, and Growth Strategy of an organization rests.  Employee Engagement has many facets.  To assess an organization’s current status of Employee Engagement, executives need to devise a measurement system.  Measuring Employee Engagement is vital in shaping Employee Engagement Strategies that help propel the organization towards growth.

A framework that is quite effective in measuring the existing levels of Employee Engagement and devising strategies based on the individuals’ requirements is the “Employee Engagement Scorecard.”

The Employee Engagement Scorecard comprises of:

  • Metrics for each component of Employee Engagement.
  • A scale for scoring metrics in each component.
  • A comprehensive scorecard that pulls everything together.

The Employee Engagement Scorecard is composed of a number of metrics used to measure the individual employee engagement components.  Each metric is based on a 1 to 5 scale, with 1 being lowest and 5 being highest.  The scorecard was developed through an extensive research process involving academic literature reviews and managerial interviews across the world.

The Employee Engagement Scorecard categorizes engagement scores into 4 groups:

Score of 20 to 39 – Low Engagement Level

Indicates that individual components—e.g., Employee Satisfaction, Employee Identification, Employee Commitment—should be addressed.

Score of 40 to 59 – Somewhat more Engaged

Implies that some Employee Engagement factors require immediate attention.

Score of 60 to 79 – High Level Engagement

Shows that generally the company would operate smoothly and achieve good results but further improvement is needed for growth.

Score of 80 to 100 – Adherence

Signifies that the company observes Employee Engagement Best Practices and the Employee Engagement is at a very high level giving the company an advantage in growth.

The Employee Engagement Scorecard encompasses 5 guiding principles (or dimensions):

  1. Enhance Employee Satisfaction
  2. Promote Employee Identification
  3. Enhance Employee Commitment
  4. Ensure Employee Loyalty
  5. Manage Employee Performance

The 5-dimension Employee Engagement Scorecard has been implemented in 7 countries across the Asian, European and American continents in more than 75 companies.  Let us delve a little deeper into the first 2 dimensions of measurement and key actions needed for Strategy Development.

1. Enhance Employee Satisfaction

Valuable time and resources of the organization may be lost because of dissatisfied employees. Dissatisfied employees tend to be unenthusiastic about work, which negatively affects the quality of work.

Various measures by the management can enhance Employee Satisfaction once the metrics are analyzed, i.e.:

  • Rearranging roles and responsibilities to correspond effectively with employee skill sets and interests.
  • Mentoring employees more actively.
  • Developing effective rewards and benefits systems in line with performance.
  • Offering flexible work hours.

2. Promote Employee Identification

Identifying with the organization is as vital for growth as is employee satisfaction.  A satisfied employee who does not identify with the organization will not be able to embody the organization’s culture and values, and thus will stand out from the ones who do.  This creates dissonance in team building activities which are a necessary part of generating new ideas for employee development.  In such a scenario, the leadership can encourage employee identification by:

  • Offering mentorship programs
  • Creating Idea development platforms
  • Reinforcing the organizational culture and values, to connect the employees with the organizational culture and nurture growth.

Interested in learning more about the Employee Engagement Measurement & Improvement and the results of its implementation in 75 companies? You can download an editable PowerPoint on Employee Engagement Measurement & Improvement here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

Want to Achieve Excellence in Human Resource Management (HRM)?

Gain the knowledge and develop the expertise to become an expert in Human Resource Management (HRM).  Our frameworks are based on the thought leadership of leading consulting firms, academics, and recognized subject matter experts.  Click here for full details.

The purpose of Human Resources (HR) is to ensure our organization achieves success through our people.  Without the right people in place—at all levels of the organization—we will never be able to execute our Strategy effectively.

This begs the question: Does your organization view HR as a support function or a strategic one? Research shows leading organizations leverage HR as a strategic function, one that both supports and drives the organization’s Strategy.  In fact, having strong HRM capabilities is a source of Competitive Advantage.

This has never been more true than right now in the Digital Age, as organizations must compete for specialized talent to drive forward their Digital Transformation Strategies.  Beyond just hiring and selection, HR also plays the critical role in retaining talent—by keeping people engaged, motivated, and happy.

Learn about our Human Resource Management (HRM) Best Practice Frameworks here.

Do You Find Value in This Framework?

You can download in-depth presentations on this and hundreds of similar business frameworks from the FlevyPro LibraryFlevyPro is trusted and utilized by 1000s of management consultants and corporate executives. Here’s what some have to say:

“My FlevyPro subscription provides me with the most popular frameworks and decks in demand in today’s market. They not only augment my existing consulting and coaching offerings and delivery, but also keep me abreast of the latest trends, inspire new products and service offerings for my practice, and educate me in a fraction of the time and money of other solutions. I strongly recommend FlevyPro to any consultant serious about success.”

– Bill Branson, Founder at Strategic Business Architects

“As a niche strategic consulting firm, Flevy and FlevyPro frameworks and documents are an on-going reference to help us structure our findings and recommendations to our clients as well as improve their clarity, strength, and visual power. For us, it is an invaluable resource to increase our impact and value.”

– David Coloma, Consulting Area Manager at Cynertia Consulting

“FlevyPro has been a brilliant resource for me, as an independent growth consultant, to access a vast knowledge bank of presentations to support my work with clients. In terms of RoI, the value I received from the very first presentation I downloaded paid for my subscription many times over! The quality of the decks available allows me to punch way above my weight – it’s like having the resources of a Big 4 consultancy at your fingertips at a microscopic fraction of the overhead.”

– Roderick Cameron, Founding Partner at SGFE Ltd

Transforming Employee Engagement into a Competitive Advantage? Here’s How

22 Oct

Organizations typically focus on Customer-centric Design in their Strategic Planning and overlook the critical driver of PerformanceGrowth, and Operational Excellence—their employees.  With cut-throat competition now the norm the realization has become clearer that employees are:

  • The face of the business and create lasting—or perishing—brand impression.
  • Sources of innovation and organizational knowledge.
  • Representation of the company’s service philosophy.
  • Expected to live by its Organizational Culture and values.

Employee Engagement has emerged as one of the significant pillars on which the Competitive Advantage, Productivity, and Growth of an organization rests.  What, exactly, does it mean when an employee is engaged?  Employee Engagement, over the years, has been thought of in terms of:

  • Personal engagement with the organization.
  • Focus on performance of assigned work.
  • Worker burnout.
  • Basic needs (meaningful work, safe workplace, abundant resources).
  • Attention on Cognitive, Emotional and Behavioral components related to an individual’s performance.

Although Employee Engagement is widely seen as an important concept, there has been little consensus on its definition or its components either in business or in the academic literature.

Kumar and Pansari’s 2015 study define Employee Engagement as:

“a multidimensional construct that comprises all of the different facets of the attitudes and behaviors of employees towards the organization”.

The multidimensional construct of Employee Engagement has been synthesized into the following 5 components (or dimensions).

  1. Employee Satisfaction
  2. Employee Identification
  3. Employee Commitment
  4. Employee Loyalty
  5. Employee Performance

The 5 dimensions of Employee Engagement have been found to have a direct correlation with high profitability, as substantiated by a number of research studies:

For instance, a study of 30 companies in the airline, telecom and hotel industries shows a close relationship between Employee Engagement and growth in profits.  After controlling other relevant factors—i.e., GDP level, marketing costs, nature of business, and type of goods, the study found:

  • Highest profitability growth—10% to 15%—in companies with highly engaged employees.
  • Lowest level of profitability growth—0% to 1%—in companies with disengaged employees.

Research reveals that Employee Engagement affects 9 performance outcomes; including Customer Ratings, Profitability, Productivity, Safety Incidents, Shrinkage (theft), Absenteeism, Patient Safety Incidents, Quality (Defects), and Turnover.

The differences in performance between engaged and actively disengaged work units revealed:

  • Top half Employee Engagement scores nearly doubled the odds of success compared with those in the bottom half.
  • Companies with engaged workforces have higher earnings per share (EPS).

These 5 dimensions become the base for measuring Employee Engagement in a meaningful manner that permits managers to identify areas of improvement.  To assess an organization’s current status of Employee Engagement, a measurement system is needed that includes:

  • Metrics for each component of Employee Engagement.
  • A scale for scoring metrics in each component.
  • A comprehensive scorecard that pulls everything together.

Let us delve a little deeper into the first 2 dimensions of Employee Engagement.

Employee Satisfaction

Definition

Employee Satisfaction is the positive reaction employees have to their overall job circumstances, including their supervisors, pay and coworkers.

Details

When employees are satisfied, they tend to be:

  • Committed to their work.
  • Less absent and more productive in terms of quality of goods and services.
  • Connected with the organization’s values and goals.
  • Perceptive about being a part of the organization.

Metrics

The 5 metrics that gauge Employee Engagement in terms of Employee Satisfaction include:

  1. Receiving recognition for a job.
  2. Feeling close to people at work.
  3. Feeling good about working at the organization.
  4. Feeling secure about the job.
  5. Believing that the management is concerned about employees.

We take a look at another dimension central in significance.

Employee Commitment

Definition

Signifies what motivates the employees to do more than what’s in their job descriptions.

Details

Employee Commitment is much higher for the employees who identify with the organization.  This element:

  • Develops over time and is an outcome of shared experiences.
  • Is often an antecedent of loyalty.
  • Induces employees to guard the organization’s secrets.
  • Pushes employees to work for organization’s best interests.

Research has found that employees with the highest levels of commitment:

  • Perform 20% better.
  • Are 87% less likely to leave the organization.

Metrics

The 3 metrics that gauge the Employee Commitment dimension of Employee Engagement include:

  1. Commitment to deliver the brand promise along with knowledge of the brand.
  2. Very committed to delivering the brand promise.
  3. Feels like the organization has a great deal of personal meaning.

Interested in learning more about these foundational pillars to Employee Engagement? You can download an editable PowerPoint on 5 Dimensions of Employee Engagement here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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Having Problems Maintaining a Stable Talent Pipeline? Apply the 6 Pillars of Talent Management to Master the Art

13 Oct

Enterprises worldwide face problems selecting, staffing, developing, compensating, motivating, and sustaining their key talent.  Building a sustainable Talent pipeline is quite strenuous even for large multinationals.

Replicating best practices from somewhere and applying them alone isn’t sufficient for organizations to build a Talent pipeline and achieve Competitive Advantage.  This warrants overcoming arduous challenges associated with this digital age, including:

  • Adjusting to varying dynamics in global markets
  • Handling the expectations of varied customer segments in different geographies
  • Managing the preferences of key Talent
  • Acquiring new technologies
  • Building novel capabilities
  • Achieving Operational Excellence by streamlining operations and improving processes
  • Exploring new markets
  • Devising strategies to attract, select, develop, assess, and reward top Talent.

Developing Talent Management practices helps the organizations build and retain talented people available in the job market.  The term was first used by McKinsey & Company in 1997, and it pertains to planning and managing strategic Human Capital through activities, i.e. attracting, selecting, developing, evaluating, rewarding, and retaining key people.

Executives use diverse Talent Management strategies and career pathways based on various departments, levels, and roles in their Talent pool.  Multi-year research on Talent Management practices conducted by an international team of researchers from INSEAD, Cornell, Cambridge, and Tillburg universities studied 33 multi-national corporations, headquartered in 11 countries.  The study revealed that successful Human Capital practitioners and workforce planners adopted 6 core principles.  These principles act as the 6 pillars to effective Talent Management implementation:

  1. Alignment with Corporate Strategy
  2. Consistency of Talent Management Practices
  3. Integration with Corporate Culture
  4. Involvement of Leadership
  5. Global Strategy with Localization
  6. Branding and Differentiation

Let’s discuss the first 3 pillars in detail, for now.

Alignment with Corporate Strategy

Integrating Talent Management with Corporate Strategy is imperative as the need for future Talent depends on the company’s long-term strategy.  Corporate Strategy should guide the identification of Talent required to accomplish organizational goals, since it’s the right Talent that drives the key strategic initiatives rather than strategic planning.

For example, GE’s Talent Management practices have been a great assistance in implementing their strategic initiatives.  The organization regards its Talent Management system as their most potent execution tool and has integrated TM processes into their strategic planning process.  To sustain its image as an innovation leader, GE targets technical skills as a priority in its annual Strategic Planning sessions.  Individual business units lay out their business as well as the Human Capital objectives in GE’s annual strategic planning sessions.  Significant time is spent on reviewing its Innovation pipeline, its engineering function’s structure, and Talent requirements.  To achieve its vision, GE promotes more engineers in its senior management than its rivals.

Consistency of Talent Management Practices

Talent Management practices must be consistent and synchronous with each other.  It is critical not only to invest in advancing the careers of key Talent but also to invest in processes to empower, compensate, and retain them.  Human Capital practitioners utilize various tools to ensure consistency of Talent Management practices, including Human Resources satisfaction surveys and qualitative and quantitative data on TM practices implementation.

For example, the success of Siemens is based on consistent monitoring of its systems, processes, and key performance metrics across its subsidiaries.  Every element of Human Capital Management is connected, continuously assessed, and linked to rewards.  This goes from recruitment of graduates each year, to their orientation, to mentoring and development, to performance evaluation and management, and compensation and benefits.

Integration with Corporate Culture

Corporate culture is regarded as important as vision and mission by renowned global organizations. These companies hold their core values and behavioral standards very high and promote them among their employees through coaching and mentoring.  They strive to embed this into their hiring, leadership development, performance management, remuneration, and reward processes / programs.  So much so that they consider cultural adaptability a crucial element of their recruitment process—as personality traits and mindsets are hard to develop than technical skills—and evaluate applicants’ behaviors and values rigorously.

For example, among other leading companies, IBM has a special emphasis on values while selecting and promoting people.  To ensure consistent values across the board, it organizes regular values jam sessions and employee health index surveys.  These sessions encourage open communication and debate on values and organizational culture and their importance among employees.

Interested in learning more about the other pillars of Talent Management, the various approaches to TM? You can download an editable PowerPoint on 6 Pillars of Talent Management here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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The Devil is in the Details: Your Primer to a Lean Culture

3 Jul

Culture is essential today in helping employees and management survive in today’s environment. Survival has become a strong word today. Without culture, everyone in the organization would act or behave differently. No one would be able to anticipate someone else’s behavior, and no one would understand why people behave the way they do. When this happens, the organization’s performance would be very chaotic.

What is culture? Organizational Culture is a learned process and is developed by the organization as a response to the working environment established by the organization’s leadership and management team. It is established in all organizations, regardless of whether its development is guided or unguided. Either way, culture can have a positive or negative impact on the organization’s performance.

A Take Away at Corporate Culture and a Lean Culture

Corporate culture is a set of standards shared by members of an organization. It produces behavior that falls within a range that the organization considers proper and acceptable. Having the right culture will increase the organization’s chance to survive.

What is a Lean Culture? Lean Culture is a total system and represents a complete and comprehensive culture change in the organization. A Lean Culture enables lean implementation and represents a completely new way of managing the organization through Lean Management.

The development of a Lean Culture starts with a Lean Culture Framework.

The Lean Culture Framework

The development of a Lean Culture starts with a definition of a Continuous Improvement Lean Culture. As a starting point, the Lean Culture Framework consists of 5 essential elements.

  1. Definition. This element ensures that the organization gets to properly define what Continuous Improvement Lean Culture really means for the entire organization. When this is undertaken, improvement becomes a part of the organization’s culture.
  2. Translation and Integration. The second element ensures that culture is well translated and integrated into values and related behaviors. It is important for organizations to understand that strong values can guide the behaviors of people.
  3.  Strategic Applications. This basically refers to the strategic application of cultural elements. If problem-solving is one of the cultural elements, the strategic plan of the organization can take a problem-solving approach to achieve key targets.
  4. Diligent Development. This element focuses on the diligent development of a comprehensive culture. This ensures the alignment of programs with a long-term problem-solving culture of improvement of the organization and eliminates conflicting messages.
  5. Reinforcement. The fifth element ensures that reinforcement is undertaken with regular recognition. When this is done, the organization can expect to gain more improvements.

The five (5) elements of the Lean Culture Framework must be properly structured to ensure its effective implementation. In today’s business environment where Competitive Advantage and Operational Excellence is gaining ground towards sustainability, organizations just need to learn how to operate smartly and effectively. This can be done when a Lean Culture Framework is established and implemented.

The Devil is in The Details: The Implementation

Culture change typically is not greeted with open arms. To be successful, a Lean Culture change initiative must have a few DO-NOT-PASS-GO items. A few of these are leadership involvement and engagement, cultural dynamics, and education. Implementation of a Lean Culture Framework may seem easy but it is not. It requires care, patience, a bottomless energy source, and an iron will to succeed. It can be of advantage if organizations are well guided in undertaking a culture change. A well developed and thought-of plan can highly help organizations go through culture change with just a few bumps along the way.

Interested in gaining more understanding of Lean Culture? You can learn more and download an editable PowerPoint about Lean Culture here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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Developing an Organizational Design that Works: The Galbraith Star Model

28 Jun

“A problem well framed is a problem half-solved.” — Jay Galbraith

Organizational Design is more than just structures. It is having policies and strategies that are aligned with one another.  When this is achieved, it allows organizations to operate at maximum efficiency and achieve Operational Excellence.

The Galbraith Star Model™ is the foundation on which a company bases its design choices. The organization’s design framework consists of a series of design policies that are controllable by management and can influence employee behavior.

Organizations use the Star Model™ framework to overcome the negatives of any structural design. Every organizational structure has positives and negatives associated with it.  If management can identify the negatives of its preferred option, it can better design other policies around the Star Model™ to counter the negatives while achieving the positives.

Understanding the Galbraith Star Model

Galbraith Star Model™ is the organization’s design framework for effective strategy execution. It consists of 5 major components.

  1. Strategy. This component is the company’s formula for winning. It is the goals and objectives to be achieved, as well as values and missions to be pursued. It defines the basic direction of the company. Strategy Development is essentially important in specifying sources of Competitive Advantage.
  2. Structure. The second component, the Structure, determines the location of the decision-making power. It is the placement of power and authority in the organization.
  3. Processes. Information and decision processes is a component that cuts across the organization’s structure. It is a means of responding to information technologies. Management processes can either be vertical or lateral. Either way, these are designed around a workflow from new product development to the fulfillment of a customer order. If the structure is the anatomy of the organization, processes are its physiology or functioning.
  4. Rewards. The fourth component provides motivation and incentive for the completion of the strategic direction of the organization. Rewards are recognition that influence the motivation of people to perform and address organizational goals.  It becomes effective only when they form a consistent package in combination with other design choices.
  5. People. People is the fifth component that focuses on influencing and defining an individual’s mindset and skills. It looks into the human resource policies of recruiting, selection, training, and development of people needed by the organization to achieve its strategic direction. HR policies work best when these are consistent with the other connecting design areas.

The five components are essentially important. Each component has its underlying purpose and impact.  How the organization can effectively align the components with each other makes a huge difference in achieving an impact. Further, in this fast-changing business environment, organizations must be keenly aware of the implications of implementing the Star Model™ framework. The Star Model may have its implications, including the interweaving nature of the lines that form the star shape.

The Man Behind the Organizational Design Framework

Dr. Jay Galbraith was an internationally recognized expert on Strategy and Organizational Design.  With more than 45 years of research and practical experience, Dr. Galbraith’s extensive knowledge came from his background in information processing systems, chemical engineering, and organizational behavior.  As the original creator of the Star Model and the Front-Back organization structure, Dr. Galbraith transformed organizations across a broad span of industries including consumer goods, manufacturing, health care, financial services, and telecommunications, among others.

Interested in gaining more understanding of Galbraith Star Model™? You can learn more and download an editable PowerPoint about Galbraith Star Model™ here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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Modernize Your Board’s Role in M&A and Achieve the Greatest Deals

11 Mar

Many large corporations depend on M&A for growth and executives can boost the value that deals create. But poorly executed M&A can saddle investors with weak returns on capital for details. In fact, the margin between success and failure is slim.

Many Boards are reluctant to cross the line between governance and management. The level of engagement is often outside the comfort zone for some executives and directors. As such, they miss opportunities to help senior executives win at M&A.

There is a need to modernize the Board’s role in M&A. Modernizing the role of the Board in M&A can result in the alignment of the Board and management on the need for bolder transactions with more upside potential. Further, this is essential in achieving a competitive advantage.

The 3 Core Opportunities in M&A

There are 3 core opportunities for the Board to play an impactful role in M&A.

  1. Potential for Value Creation. The first core opportunity, potential for Value Creation enables the Board to challenge the executive’s thinking on potential transactions. This is an opportunity for the Board to maintain constant touch with the company’s M&A strategy, the pipeline of potential targets, and emerging deals.
  2. PMI Plans. This is an essential core opportunity that enables the Board to boost value creation to as much as 2-3x the net value. Post-merger Integration (PMI) Plans represent an opportunity to pressure test against stretch growth and cost goals before and after a deal. Greater variation in the quality of post-merger plans exist compared to financial analysis and pricing of transactions.
  3. Competitive Advantage in M&A. Competitive Advantage is a core opportunity that is unrelated to a transaction’s deadline. This is an opportunity to create a competitive advantage through M&A skills. These are corporate assets that can be difficult to copy. Making that decision to create a competitive advantage through M&A can lead to bolder decisions with more upside results.

The 3 core opportunities can promote greater Board engagement. When this happens, discrete deals can be converted into ongoing deal processes and dialogues that can deliver greater value from M&A.

Maximizing Core Opportunities to Attain the Greatest Deal

The potential of the 3 Core Opportunities to embolden the role of the Board in M&A is great. Organizations just need to have a good understanding of each core opportunity and the underlying key areas or dimensions of each key area. Let us take a look at the 1st Core Opportunity: Potential for Value Creation.

The Potential for Value Creation has 3 critical key areas that can challenge that lead opportunistic transaction to succeed. One critical key area is Strategic Fit.

Strategic Fit is key to determining why a company is a better owner than competing buyers. Deals driven by strategy succeed more often when they are part of a stream of similar transactions that support that strategy. This is a key element in Strategy Development.

How can we enhance the role of the Board relative to this key area? The Board can play a vital role in clarifying the relationship between a potential transaction and strategic planning. They are also in the best position to define how the deal will support organic-growth efforts in target markets and provide complementary sources of value creation.

The other key areas under the Potential for Value Creation are Financial Statements and Risks vs. Rewards. The Financial Statements is a key area that can correct the Board’s tendency to put emphasis on price-to-earnings multiples which can be limiting. The Risks vs. Rewards, on the other hand, is a key area that challenges the Board to acknowledge uncertainties in pro forma.

The other 2 Core Opportunities also have their own essential points or dimensions the Board must focus on. Only then can these core opportunities be of the maximum potential of modernizing the Board’s role in M&A and gaining the greatest value.

Interested in gaining more understanding of achieving Board Excellence through M&A? You can learn more and download an editable PowerPoint about Board Excellence: M&A here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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Strategy Classic Series: Porter’s Five Forces

20 Feb

competition-Ice Hockey

Michael Eugene Porter—a Professor at the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness, Harvard Business School—is widely acclaimed for his unmatched prowess in competitive strategy, strategic planning, global economic development, and the application of competitive principles and strategic approaches.  Renowned as the father of modern day strategy, Dr. Porter is an author of 18 books and a number of articles.

His scholarly writings on management and competitiveness are ranked as the most influential pieces of work till date.  Dr. Michael Porter is widely known for his Porter’s Five Forces framework, which is a useful tool to evaluate the competitiveness of an organization with respect to its rivals.  Competition is part and parcel of every industry, and for the existence of an enterprise it is important to know its rivals and how their product / service offerings and marketing strategies affect the market.  It is a common foundational framework used in Strategy Development.

The Five Forces framework emphasizes on 5 critical elements that determine the attractiveness of a business against its rivals in the industry:

  1. Threat of New Entrants
  2. Supplier Power
  3. Buyer Power
  4. Threat of Substitution
  5. Competitive Rivalry

Threat of New Entrants

This element examines the simplicity or complexity of an industry for the competitors to jump in.  High-return industries are more appealing to new entrants.  A market with easy access for new entrants poses greater risk—of market share diminishing—for established businesses.  New entrants in an industry are able to dent the profitability of established players unless the incumbents retaliate strongly and make the entry of new firms challenging.

A serious threat to entry also relies on the existing barriers in the industry.  If the market entry barriers are high and there is an expected sharp response from the entrenched competitors, the newcomers will think twice before entering the market.  Another important factor for new entrants is the requirement for large capital for branding, advertising and creating product demand, which limits their entry in a niche market.  Aspiring market entrants should thoroughly analyze and understand all the critical barriers to entry before entering an industry—such as economies of scale, product differentiation, capital investment, access to distribution channels, and government policies and regulations.

There 6 prevalent types of barriers to entry:

  1. Economics of scale
  2. Product differentiation
  3. Capital requirements
  4. Cost disadvantages (independent of size)
  5. Access to distribution channels
  6. Government / regulatory policy

Supplier Power

Suppliers are a powerful force that influences the competitiveness of an industry.  They create immense pressure on market players by slashing the quality of goods and by increasing prices, thereby squeezing the margins of manufacturers.  For instance, by jacking up the price of soft drink concentrate, suppliers erode profitability of bottling companies.  The bottlers, in turn, don’t have much leverage to raise their own prices because of intense competition from fruit drinks, powdered mixes, and other beverages.

The power of a supplier group amplifies if it’s dominated by a few firm, has differentiated and unique products; and has built up switching costs that buyers face when changing suppliers, for making investments in specialized equipment, or in learning how to operate a supplier’s equipment.  The supplier group also thrives when there isn’t much competition for sale to the industry, or when the industry is not its major customer, as this saves the supplier from selling at a bargain and investing in R&D and lobbying for the industry.

Buyer Power

Buyer or customer groups also impact the competitiveness of an industry landscape by exercising their power to bring the prices down, insist on higher quality, or demand more service.  A buyer group is powerful if it buys in large volumes in an industry characterized by heavy fixed costs and buys undifferentiated or standard products.  Buyers have the ability to put one supplier against another and find alternative suppliers.

The power of a buyer group increases if it’s a low profit business—providing it the reason to be price sensitive and insist on lower purchasing costs—, if the industry’s product is insignificant to the quality of the buyers’ products or services, or if the product that suppliers provide does not save much for the buyer.  Buyers can also use the threat of self-manufacturing as a bargaining lever against the suppliers.

Threat of Substitution

Substitute product or service offerings restrict the capacity of an industry by placing an upper limit on prices it can charge.  The industry’s earnings and profits will continue to suffer lest it can enhance the quality of products or create differentiation through, for instance, aggressive marketing.

If substitute products offer more competitive price-performance trade-off, then the industry’s profitability gets limited or goes down.  For instance, the erosion of profits for the sugar industry due to substitution of sugar with commercialized high-fructose corn syrup.

Internal Rivalry

Internal Rivalry, existing at the center of Porter’s Five Forces framework, represents the competition between existing players often leads to rivals using manipulative tactics like price competition, new product launch, and advertising wars.  Companies can use strategic shifts to improve their competitive position—e.g., raising buyers’ switching costs, increasing differentiation, and focusing on low fixed costs areas.

Interested in learning more about the other critical elements of the Porter’s Five Forces and their role in in determining the state of competition and profit potential of an industry?  You can download an editable PowerPoint on Porter’s Five Forces here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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