The old pyramidal corporate structure, with its paternalistic attitude is being shuffled out of the picture.
Professional managers, middle management, call them what you will, are a dying breed. Young Turks are moving in and getting the job done right, first time. The difference is they are doing the whole job, from start to finish, from beginning to end. Gone are the days of division of labour. Anyone who dares utter the words “THAT’S NOT MY JOB” should be fired.
Companies with top-heavy superstructures will founder, taking those who remain on board with them. The good old days of multi-layered management have had their day. And they’ll be gone forever.
So what lies in the immediate future? Streamlined, low-profile companies where work revolves around flexible, self-managed project teams that focus exclusively on meeting market and customer needs.
As a member of a project team, the company will expect you to provide creative input, even if it means that you have to acquire additional skills. You’ll also be expected to respond rapidly to customer demands, making on-the-spot decisions without reference to the top office. You can expect other differences to confront you. For example, you won’t have security of job tenure. You’ll only be employed for as long as it takes to complete a project. Your next job will depend on the quality of your current performance. You may even find yourself working on a project for a rival company.
In effect, you’ll be an independent contractor. As such, you’ll have to acquire skills and knowledge that you’ll need to survive on your own: not only technical skills, but also finance, marketing and people skills.
If you’re a manager now, you’re going to find the going tough. The new business order is going tow wreck your comfort zone, which involves loyalty to your employer and your need to be part of a large, protective organisation.
Those managers who succeed will adapt quickly to the changes. They’ll swing their unquestioning allegiance from a company, to loyalty to the team and its project for the duration that they’re involved. In essence, companies will provide money, opportunities and challenges in exchange for the limited period hire managers’ intellect and expertise. The new order also means that you have to take responsibility for the development of your own career. You’ll have to acquire and develop a broad range of skills and update them continuously in line with fluctuating demands in the job market.
Since you won’t be spoon-fed in terms of job opportunities, you will have to spend time developing a network of reliable, well-placed contacts to keep you in mind when new projects are launched.
You’ll also have to hone your personal budgetary skills. Those rainy financial days, which never seemed to come around when you were securely employed by an old-style corporation, will become prevalent. Because you’ll be paid only for what you do, you could find yourself spending long penniless periods between pay days.
In this presentation I detail specific challenges that you’ll encounter as the business of management drastically transforms itself. In addition, I suggest ways and means of coping with the challenges and beating them.
Tear down your existing structure and create a ‘new look’ corporate profile.
Here’s my 10-point plan to re-engineer with a purpose.
Stay successful: Successful people are being transformed out of necessity. They are re-inventing themselves, flying in the face of tradition, rejecting rules that have paved the way to success in the past. Successful people are re-focusing their mindsets, redefining the nature of their businesses, and flattening corporate structures.
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Develop a guiding vision so that you can define exactly what you want to achieve. When you work towards a precisely defined target, you work smarter … and you work more productively. By creating a vivid vision of where you want to go, you create an all-important sense of purpose. Without it you won’t see the marketplace potential or its opportunities.
“My vision is to have a personal computer on every desk in the world,” said Bill Gates in 1975.
A vision isn’t about predicting the future. It’s about creating the future by taking action now. A vision is the difference between taking short-term action to improve your bottom line and long-term strategic change. It translates your strategies into a way of business life.
The sense of purpose projected by your vision will guide you steadfastly towards a profitable marketplace niche. To create a vision you need:
Intuition gives you the ability to peer into the future marketplace and predict trends.
Visionary planning gives you the ability to see a need in the marketplace, and take the action to satisfy it … it provides a mental framework that gives form to the future. It paints a clear picture of where you want to go.
Don’t allow traditional planning based on the past to lead you and your business into the future. “You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore”. Sharpen your visionary planning skills by finding a quiet place to dream … to unlock your creative potential, which requires rethinking the way you think.
Visions that allow you to transform today’s reality won’t come to you in a flash. Practical visions are born from an intensity or preoccupation. However, not all your visions will strike gold. You’ll only get where you want to go by taking risks, making mistakes and getting things wrong.
The quickest way to get someone’s undivided attention is to make a mistake. Architects cover their mistakes with ivy. Lawyers visit theirs in jail. Ad execs put theirs on TV. Cooks cover theirs with sauce. Doctors bury theirs.
The biggest mistake is the fear that you will make one. He who never fails will never grow rich.
Don’t let failure faze you. Keep going until you get it right.
To get it right:
Your vision should express optimism. In visionary planning, there’s no place for caution.
Replicate and share your vision. There’s nothing more useless than a vision that you keep to yourself. Sell your ideas to the people who matter by every possible method. Remember that the effectiveness of a decision is the quality of that decision multiplied by its acceptance.
Open yourself to new information … to the element of surprise. Play with perception and context.
To get ahead and stay ahead, you’ve go to think revolution not evolution. Aim to make things 100% different. Ten or 20% better just isn’t good enough.
If you improve whatever you offer in small, incremental steps, the world won’t race to get to your doorstep. It’ll yawn. To overcome the ho-hum mindset of those around you, jolt them into action by revolutionizing what you do. Make the changes radical.
You’ll know you have successfully replicated and shared your vision when the people who matter know where you want to go, how you plan to get there and when you want to get there.
Establish a perfect little turnkey operation that goes to work every single time. Own the job. Own the way you do something. Build a system that works. Build it as though you were going to franchise it.
Provide a consistent level of service that imparts to the customer a sense of security and integrity … an assurance that problems will be handled promptly at no extra cost.
Dress the same, behave the same, offer the same. Many top companies rely on uniforms to project an image of consistent quality, good service and uniqueness. Also aim for consistency in behaviour and speech. The way you answer the phone, greet customers and serve them will influence their perceptions of the service quality you provide. Make the experience of doing business with you sparkle with life. Own and duplicate the experience. Provide a level of service that can be depended on, come what may.
Deliver the same result every time. If you own the experience, you must be able to replicate it. Deliver the same result in an absolutely predictable fashion, time after time. Create a systematic way of producing a result. To keep your customers, be consistent … be predictable.
Give your customers control. Design your systems so that your customers control their experience rather than allowing the systems to control their experience.
Manage your customers’ expectations. Tell your customers exactly what they can expect from your business, when they can expect it and periodically update them on the status of the work in progress.
Don’t work on a process.
Empower your customers.
Become an entrepreneur. Take risks, use your initiative.
Lacerate red tape. Red tape is symbolic of the worst type of bureaucracy in both the private and public sectors. Nothing strangles initiative, creativity and innovation more effectively.
Implement an open door policy. Invite all employees at all levels to pop in and kick new ideas around.
Establish an “open book management system“. Give your employees unimpeded access to financial information. Encourage them to monitor the progress of the plans they suggest. Give them a stake in the financial success of the business.
Lead, don’t manage. Lead, don’t boss.
Keep your employees aware of the risks, of what they can gain and of how they can make the difference. Businesses — even big businesses – now want people with entrepreneurial flair. You need to acquire at least four skills before you can consider yourself a business leader in the mould of an entrepreneur …
No business can survive without making profits. So become a self-contained profit centre. Watch your bottom line. Nurture the desire to make money. Think and earn profits.
Keep pushing the profit button. Draw up a budget. Take into account every factor that impinges on the cost of your product or service.
Calculate exactly how much each person costs the company in terms of wages and salaries, office or factory rental, medical aid, pension, stationery, telephones, etc. Then ask them to calculate the profit on their jobs. A minimum of three times cost is an acceptable norm. For example if a secretary costs you R10 000 a month in total – including 13th cheque, office space, salary, etc – she should be providing you with value worth R30 000 a month.
Smash the logistics jam. Let’s face it, there will never be an organisation that is completely without boundaries. You can’t eliminate all boundaries. But you can make them permeable so that they allow information, ideas, resources and energy to flow freely throughout your company. To make the boundaries in your company more porous, set each of your employees the task of redefining his or her role in producing a result.
Work on results. Replace the titles on everyone’s business cards with a description of what each individual does in customers’ terms. Change from descriptive titles to prescriptive statements.
And don’t stop there.
Make everyone in your organisation responsible for producing a measurable result, whether he’s the office cleaner who has undertaken to keep the premises clean, or the managing director who’s responsible for producing long-term profits.
Get each person to define their result. Then ask them to write down exactly what functions they should perform to produce that result.
Outsource. Buy in high levels of specialist expertise. Save on the cost of ownership. Outsourcing certain functions costs you less and gives you more.
“An economy built around lots and lots of minnows rather than a few dinosaurs is infinitely better,“ says Frankfurt-based Max Worcester. In fact, 96 percent of German GDP comes from small and medium-sized companies.
Outsource as much as possible. Farm out tasks to save on the costs of ownership and the substantial costs related to the employment of people required to do the work. Outsourcing gives you access to specialist expertise while containing costs, improving quality and enhancing efficiency.
Surround yourself with experts.
Use beginners as experts. Use break-it thinking.
Beware of the typical expert of yesteryear. They can hinder more than help. They have tendency to fit a NEW IDEA into an existing model or framework. They put new problems into the same old context in order to understand them. They tend to define what is new, in terms of what is old, what is unknown in terms of what is known.
Set up a network.
What you know is important. Who you know is more important. Surround yourself with on-tap expertise: keep an up-to-date contact book of Guys Who Really Know (GWRK). Set aside time to purge your contact book at least once a month. Use the phone, send faxes or post letters to keep your list current. Don’t ignore any opportunity to add to your list of potentially useful people. Spend at least 10% of your time making new contacts. Look for them everywhere you go: conferences, conventions, social functions and sports events, etc. Don’t overlook secretaries and assistants.
Classify your contacts under six main headings:
Get networking and keep networking. It’s an informal way to reach knowledgeable people.
“A bow kept forever taut will break.”
Make your diary into a scrapbook of fun. Write down in detail exactly how you’re going to nourish yourself with enjoyment over the next month. Take time off to unwind and do the non-business related things you want to do. Don’t do anything if that’s what it takes to recharge your batteries.
Benchmark yourself. Even if you’re the boss, your job isn’t secure. A lifelong job with one company has become history. But you can enhance your value in the marketplace.
Change your mindset. Cultivate a new mental outlook. Take responsibility for your career development. Become a student of change: ensure that you know which way the wind is blowing.
Make change work for you: be prepared to exploit opportunities as soon as they emerge. Prepare yourself now for a change in career.
Learn to market
yourself. Determine your worth “out there“.
Think of yourself as self-employed.
Jot down anything that enhances your chance of Getting a job: qualifications, experience, special expertise, etc.
Increase your value. Build up your intellectual capital. Become a lifelong learner. Perpetual homework. Acquire skills that will increase your value. Upgrade your qualifications continuously. Learn your living. Don’t earn your living. Constantly improve your marketable skills.
Become a generalist, not a specialist. A specialist is someone who knows more and more about less and less!! Constantly upgrade your knowledge across-the-board so that you can do anything that gives you the desired result.
Enhance your worth by collecting letters of Customer delight. Hordes of delighted customers who testify to the excellence of your service are more valuable than certificates and diplomas that attest to your professional competence.
Send your CV out. Apply for jobs; attend interviews.
You won’t really know what you’re worth “out there” until you test the market.
Circulate your CV to let potential employers know that you’re still around and keep them informed about what you’ve been doing since you were last in contact. View CV circulation as an insurance policy that could stand you in good stead if you’re wrongsized out of your present job.
Draw up a strategic employment plan for yourself to cover, say, the next three years. Decide what new skills you intend to acquire during this period. And, in the light of your job market intelligence gathering, which of your existing skills you need to upgrade.
Cross train yourself.
Build up your intellectual capital.
Knowledge is the new capital of the working world. In the US, despite the downsizing epidemic, the numbers of managerial and professional workers have increased by 37 percent since the beginning of the 1980s. And by the year 2000, it is estimated that the UK will have 10 million knowledge workers compared with 7 million manual workers. The Swedish company, Skandia, even has a “director of intellectual capital”.
Be tough on yourself. Play to win. Come back for more, no matter what punishment you encounter en route to your goal. Become a bad loser. Constantly pushing yourself to the limit will knock the hell out of you. But moderate stress pushes you to heights that you never knew were possible.
Pick a mighty opposite. Don’t make little enemies with whom you disagree for petty reasons. Rather cultivate people with whom you have significant differences … people with whom you’ll fight to the bitter end over fundamental issues. A good, tough enemy forces you to improve yourself and your business. Prepare to do battle with the smartest biggies that make your life hell.
To win the battle:
Today’s consumer is street smart: he wants more information about less.
Go for small victories to give you and your troops confidence. Winning isn’t the most important thing. It’s the only thing.
Turn your customers into evangelists. Get your customers to spread the word about your product or service with missionary zeal. Create a cause. Evangelists need a cause. Give them something to believe in: a product, a company or a set of beliefs like environmentalism. They’ll spread the word because they want others to believe in what they believe.
To spread the word, find the right people. Target your market accurately. Aim at people who believe that you’re offering them the best thing since sliced bread. Start with existing users. And don’t forget your employees. Make all the people who work for you evangelists for your cause. After all you pay their salaries so they have a vested interest in the success of the business. Employees are at the heart of the engine that drives improved customer service.
Cultivate your customers. Delight them with dazzling service so that they keep coming back for more. Give them a little more than they expect: under-promise, over-deliver.
If you want me as your customer, delight me. I want to be wowed by your remarkable service. I want to be dazzled.
Don’t for one moment think that we’re still in the era of customer satisfaction. We’re not. We’re now in the era of customer delight.
So how can you delight me?
Get to know me on my turf.
Invite me to your premises and introduce me around within seven days of our fist contact. And insist that your personnel visit me at my premises within the first 30 days of our initial interaction.
Don’t stop the visits.
Make sure I have face-to-face contact with your team at least once every three months.
Invest time in your customers. Make them feel at home… make them feel special. Work to retain their loyalty.
Become performers. Today there should be no such thing as “I’m not a people person. I’m just a backroom boy“. You need people-orientated people. It doesn’t matter what position they hold in your company, they must give customers a performance.
A consistent, delightful performance.
Make your work entertaining. Turn your business into a theatre. Your customers and those who work with you will love you for it. Stay loose and laugh a lot.
Cultivate a sense of fun.
Personal recommendations influence 80% of all consumer buying decisions. Existing and former customers can be a gold mine. Keep a comprehensive database of your current and past customers. Create a Customer Contact Programme: a computerised customer data-base in which you store the names of all your customers, their pertinent details and an inventory of their purchases. Update this database every six months. Use the data to communicate with your customers on a regular basis. Keep them in the picture. Send out a mailshot at least four times a year.
Follow up on lost sales. View customer defections as a key measure of your company’s performance. It costs about 15 times more to find new customers than it does to retain existing customers. Work out the value of a loyal customer to your business over the next 10 years.
Determine why defections occur and how they influence profits. When an aircraft crashes, airline investigators search until they find the “black box“ so that they can establish the cause of the disaster. When a customer defects, develop a “black box“ mentality. Find out why he’s abandoning you.
Earn customer loyalty. Create customer value. It’s the core business activity from which sales, profits and long-term success flow. Do something a little extra for your customers. Identify what results your customers expect by doing business with you.
Segment your customers in terms of profitability and audit them in terms of loyalty:
Give your customers an interest in your business. Communicate with them constantly in a language they understand. Keep them abreast of all changes in your business. Ask them for input.
Involve your customers. Make them members of your club whatever you sell, invite your customers to seminars every six months. Get in guest speakers, provide transcripts of their addresses for your customers who are unable to attend.
And above all, make the whole buying experience fun.
In a nutshell, offer knowledge.
Because knowledge is power, go out of your way to ensure that you become your customers’ fountain of valid information. When you give your customers access to knowledge, their loyalty to you grows.
Customer retention rates and employee productivity are directly correlated. The higher the customer retention rate, the higher the level of productivity.
That’s what customer loyalty can do for you.
Penalise yourself. Penalise yourself or your company every time you don’t keep your service promise. Give your customers a pledge such as: “If I don’t deliver it within 30 minutes, you get it for free.“ Be specific.
Consign to the scrap heap phrases like “as soon as possible“.
What about this one?
“If you have to stand in a queue for longer than three minutes, we’ll pay you R20.“ Come up with concrete suggestions for penalising yourself if your service doesn’t meet expectations. Reject out-of-hand any proposals that include “cheat“ numbers like “100%“ or “24-hours-a-day.“ They mean zip. Pretentious statement like “I will provide you with 100% service 24-hours-a-day“ don’t work.
Customer loyalty isn’t dished up on a plate. You have to earn it.
Recruit the right people. Look for
people with independent minds. Hiring “yes men“
and clones of yourself could be a recipe for disaster.
Become a performance coach. Don’t cast your employees in your own image. Rather strive for balance. Refuse to beat your employees
People would rather be shown how valuable you are; not told. Assume responsibility for:
To become a successful performance coach, go out of your way to build a close and open relationship with each member of your team.
Link training to the job. Don’t train your employees in a vacuum. Human Resources professionals sometimes consider the act of training more important than the results achieved. They demand costly and complex out-training courses. They deem attendance a vital. They’re more concerned wit the activity than the result.
To ensure the wealth of expertise that already exists in your company permeates throughout the organisation.
Set key objectives. Concentrate your firepower on the goals that matter.
Too many targets will dissipate the strength of your attack.
Throw informal, spontaneous fun parties in recognition of achievements by you or those who work for you. Dish out plenty of awards and slaps on the back. Inject yourself and those around you with a daily dose of happiness.
Create a sense of urgency.
You have to face facts: without any sense of urgency, people won’t put in that extra effort that is often essential. They won’t make needed sacrifices. Instead, they’ll resist initiatives from above and cling to the status quo.
At least six reasons help explain this sort of complacency:
Turn up the heat in your company. Eliminate such symbols of excess as a big corporate airforce. Set higher standards, both formally in the planning process and informally in day-to-day interaction. Change internal measurement systems that focus on the wrong indices. Vastly increase the amount of external exposure that each of your employees get. Reward both honest talk in meetings and people who are willing to confront problems.
Organise monthly bright ideas sessions to brainstorm ideas. Summon all the members of your team. Get into a huddle. Examine ways in which you can add value to the experience of doing business with you. Brainstorm at least 10 ideas at each meeting. Reward employees who come up with ideas that add value to the customers’ experience. Generate enthusiasm. Avoid outright put-downs.
Reward long-term customer delight. Give worthwhile rewards to employees who keep customers happy.
Regularly delight your staff by making worthwhile rewards for extra-special customer service.
Write them into your budget.
Dish out rewards to deserving employees once-a-month. Then select an overall winner for the year and shower that member of staff with accolades.
It does wonders for their self-image.
As consultant and author Edward de Bono says in his book Tactics: “I would name self-image as the prime motivator.“ The key benefit of high-level employee loyalty: customer retention. The benefits of customer loyalty increase with each passing year. So think long and hard before rightsizing, downsizing or re-engineering your business.
Re-engineer with a purpose.
In the nanosecond 90’s, speed is of the essence. Look at each employee’s self-stated result and determine how long their functions take to produce it. Then insist that the length of time be halved within four weeks.
Sure, you may have to update and upgrade your existing technology and implement streamlined new systems. But if it makes you more competitive, do it.
Employees are of ten rewarded more for their position on the hierarchical ladder than for their performance. If this is the system you have adopted, you’re rewarding people for their past achievements. Eliminate rewards based on length of service.
Reward performance and skill, not seniority or position. One way of accomplishing this is performance-based pay. The better they do, the more they get.
In this competitive age, people like you who lead companies, departments and divisions, need to know hot to blow up self-satisfied corporate cultures … how to sabotage “we do it this way because it’s the way it’s always been done.“
Create a sense of urgency … do something … before a real disaster strikes.
Create a training roster to break through function barriers. Train each member of the team to work at each function necessary to produce the required result. Insist that each team member attends a 30-minute “class“ each week so that he can familiarise himself with what other members do.
For example, it I’m a sales rep, get your receptionist to train me for an hour on the finer points of switchboard operation.
And let your receptionist accompany me and your other sales reps on at least one call a week.
Get the folks in credit control to teach me their functions in the overall scheme of things. Insist that I attend a 30-minute “class“ each week until I know how to do what they do.
Don’t use outside experts or the people in your in-house training department to teach us. Rather use the people in different departments themselves to give us hands-on training.
Also get each department to draw up a schedule detailing exactly the steps involved in their functions and how to do them. Ensure that all members of other departments go through the programme from beginning to end.
You’re about to set sail on a voyage of discovery into a new world … a world of adventure and excitement where anything can happen.
Rudyard Kipling had some good advice;
I keep six honest serving men;
Leave space for new thoughts and ideas.
Don’t allow past expertise to crowd out new input.
So if you get a business idea – no matter how outlandish – play with it, toss it around in your mind. It could prove to be a winner. IDEAS ARE VALUABLE CURRENCY.
Even if your idea is wildly offbeat, ignore criticism, no matter how well-intentioned. Critics are like eunuchs in a harem. They reckon they know how it’s done because they’ve seen it done every day. But they’re totally incapable of doing it themselves.
So have heart. Persevere. You may not get it right the first time. But you’ll get there in the end.
Just do it