Friday, October 26, 2007

Keeping a balanced score

How do you measure if your business is travelling successfully?
For most, the answer would be the bottom line. For others it may be customer satisfaction levels.
But Professor David Gadenne, head of the school of commerce and the school of management at the University of the Sunshine Coast, told a business audience at Marcoola on Friday that far too many companies were focussed on narrow aspects of the business.
Instead, he said, owners and managers should be looking at wealth creation for all stakeholders, including customers, shareholders, the community and most importantly, employees.
“Some businesses are blind to the fact they need to look at all areas simultaneously to be successful ... they need to design and implement what’s called a balanced scorecard,” he said.
“And that scorecard should have an underlying premise of increasing value for shareholders.
"That means looking at processes from a customer perspective, from a financial perspective, from an internal perspective and from an innovation, learning and growth perspective.”
Mr Gadenne said human capital was without doubt the number one resource for businesses, adding successfully addressing issues surrounding that would improve results in other areas such as profits and customer satisfaction.
“Customers do not simply buy on price, so it’s very important to attract and retain the right people ... absolutely critical,” he said.
“How do you know you’re selecting the right people? Core competencies are important, things like education, knowledge, computer skills, training and experience, but more important are their people skills ... things like empathy and understanding, communication skills and a sense of humour. You don’t want people who will create conflict.
“Other characteristics like their values and commitment in areas like dedication, drive and persistence, as well as their imagination, are also important.
"If you employ people without imagination your business won’t do as well.”
Mr Gadenne pointed to successful entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson, and companies including Toyota, The Body Shop and Healthy Choice as examples of enterprises that valued human capital and innovation.
“Richard Branson encourages all his employees to talk to him about ideas they have about improving the various Virgin businesses, and even starting other ones,” Mr Gadenne said.
“Creating an innovative climate in business will lead to success.
“You should listen to new voices, have an open market for new ideas, incentives for innovators ... even a sense of higher purpose within the company.
“Businesses need to understand the competitive landscape is constantly changing. Employees must be encouraged to continually learn, innovate and improve.”
(TD, 17 Oct 07)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Doing the right things right

Recently I came across the wonderful story of Charles Schwab, the former President of U. S. Steel and the founder of Bethlehem Steel. The first time I heard this story was nearly 40 years ago, but I was reminded how simply elegant is its principle.Here is the gist of the story. About 80 years ago, Schwab (no relation to the brokerage guru Charles Schwab) came into contact with Ivy Lee. Lee was a noted consultant who would later co-found one of the country's first public relations firms.Schwab was looking for a way to become more efficient, and Lee had just the thing.Lee supposedly told Schwab about his idea and then ask Schwab to follow it religiously for 30 days. Lee was so confident that his idea would be invaluable that Schwab should withhold payment until after the 30 days; Schwab could then pay him whatever he thought the idea was worth.
Schwab was a diligent man and an overachiever and he followed the idea every day for 30 days. Schwab was more than amazed by his results. So pleased was he, that he handed Lee a check for $25,000. This was a huge payment in those days.What was this big idea?"Every evening before you leave work, write down the six most important activities you have to accomplish the next day in order of their priority and leave the list on your desk. Begin, the next day working on item #1 and work your way sequentially through the list, making sure you do not move on to the next item until the current item is completed"That's it? That's it. This is a deceptively simple concept and yet it's extremely difficult to do. Why?First, at the end of nearly every day we start our frenzied "after work" schedule of home related tasks. Dinner, the kids, errands, traffic etc., all take their toll. Sound familiar?Second, most of us arrive at our workplace and we dig in to tackle the most obvious task only to be interrupted by a crisis. Our phone rings with an important call requiring an immediate response. Then someone drops by to chat and brainstorm their problem and so it goes. The day is done and only part of the work gets done.One expert says that some interesting happens when you use the "six most important things" list. By spending a few minutes each day before you leave the office, your subconscious mind will absorb the list overnight, and you'll start the next day focused and ready the dig into the day's activities. Never underestimate the power of the subconscious.One of my early mentors used to tell me that one hour of careful planning is worth eight hours of work. I know it is true.Prioritizing tasks has been around for decades. That's not the secret to success. Knowing it is one thing, but doing it is the key. Consider "the six most important things" concept for increasing your personal effectiveness.The challenge we all face is developing the habits that are repeated on a daily basis that separate the average from the exceptional. It is not a matter of doing the things right. To quote Peter Drucker, "It is doing the right things right."Notable Quote: "It is those who make the worst use of their time who most complain of its shortness." -- Jean De La Bruyere

Talent management in the marketplace

A recent study from Deloitte has revealed that 60 per cent of new jobs in the 21st century require skills that are only possessed by 20 per cent of the current workforce.
The UK labour market is undergoing a reduction in workforce-aged residents; there are currently 17 million people in the UK aged 20-40, and 14 million between the ages of 45 and 65. By 2020, the projections are that the younger group will decrease to 16 million, while the older group will increase to 17 million (CIPD: Talent Management: understanding the dimensions, May 2006). The problem is faced not only by the UK labour market, but by others, including the US. Dwindling populations mean competition for labour is becoming increasingly intense.
At a time of such change and falling populations, the link between succession planning and talent management is irrefutable. Both areas need to be aligned with HR management in every business, and a successful talent management programme can act as a pipeline for a fruitful succession planning model.
In addition to the decrease in the number of people of working age, those that are coming into the workforce are doing so without the requisite skills to fill the jobs available.
To overcome the increasing competition to recruit the best staff, the business world is realising the importance of managing and nurturing their existing talent. Businesses need to look at holistic solutions to this increasingly important issue, by implementing strategic learning programmes to address their goals and talent needs.
Whilst historically companies would look at staff management and recruitment as a solution to resolving skills gaps, the changing marketplace has meant that employees have to manage their workforce as a single entity. By managing them as a whole at any time they can know where their key employees are, what skills are being developed and where skills gaps need plugging.
Succession management is necessary to ensure that key employees are identified and developed to successfully fill key roles within organisations of all sizes. A programme which enables businesses to identify employees that demonstrate key skills and prepares them for advancement or promotion will reduce the risks when key employees leave a company. In smaller companies, the difficulty in replacing key individuals is multiplied by their importance in an environment of fewer people.
Effective succession management leads to higher employee satisfaction and thus productivity. Individuals who feel that their future career is being considered by the company, especially those who have been selected as a succession or talent pool candidate are further motivated and committed to their employer.
Succession planning becomes increasingly complex in the UK market because of the potential lack of senior staff mobility and lack of transferable skills. A CIPD survey in 2005 revealed that one in five UK businesses had no succession planning activity in place. Being able to secure candidates from an internal pool can considerably reduce the costs and time required to recruit a replacement.
The businesses which are going to succeed in this period of increasingly competitive recruitment are those which demonstrate they are developing individuals’ capabilities to achieve personal goals. A business which builds its talent internally will, in-turn, recruit the best talent when it first enters the workforce.
by Alun Cope-Morgan, CRN 23 Oct 2007

Why you should start thinking 'lean'

Here’s a concept that may have great benefit to you and your organization. In its various forms it’s known as “lean”, Six Sigma and The Toyota Way. There are other names as well. No, they’re not all identical. Each has its own unique variations and its own distinctive vocabulary. But at the heart of each is an identical concept — the development and implementation of processes to drive out waste. Wasted time. Wasted effort. Wasted product. These are the most obvious wastes.
You don’t have waste? Well, let me ask this in another way. Do you have enough manpower and material to do the job you're required to do? Do you have to work within a budget?
Do you ever get frustrated because a particular task you’ve assigned didn’t get done in time? Or it didn’t get done correctly? Do you have a tough time keeping your crew focused and on job? Do you often have trouble finding parts or tools? Or keeping your equipment repaired or maintained?
If you took a look at your processes — a hard, critical look — my guess is you’ll see a lot of waste in your operation, regardless of its size.
Taking the more positive approach: Are you committed to improving yourself, your employees and your department or operation?
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Systems such as The Toyota Way (“lean”) and Six Sigma might work well in manufacturing, but they have no application in, say, a parks & recreation department or university grounds department.
My guess is that you would be wrong on that. Dead wrong.
I’ve been following the progress of dozens of landscape companies that have embarked on the “lean” journey thanks to the support of outdoor power equipment manufacturer Ariens Company, Brillion, WI, and a year-long program guided by consultant Jim Paluch of JP Horizons. That program is about half way done, and the participating landscape folks that I talk to say that their ongoing “lean” training is paying huge dividends in making their operations more efficient. They’re proving that implementing processes to reduce waste and encourage continuous improvement work equally well for contracting companies.
More recently, I saw Six Sigma in action at the Jacobsen Parts Distribution facility in Charlotte, NC. The place was spotless, and the manufacturer of mowers and other wheeled outdoor power equipment was the model of efficiency. Obviously, the employees there were keen on fulfilling one of the tenents of Six Sigma, the "5 S's" — Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize, Sustain.
I’m convinced that“lean” (to one degree or another) can work in any situation that involves and requires a cooperative effort among a group of people — whether it’s a large group or a small group. Or whether it’s manufacturing, retail, service or a single department within a larger entity, say a city parks and rec department, or a university grounds department.
But, it’s not an easy undertaking. In fact, it’s very difficult; not to start, which many organizations do, but to sustain. In almost all cases (let’s make that “all” cases) it requires the drive of a knowledgeable and dedicated person to get the program up and running. And, more importantly, to sustain it. Remember, this is an ongoing program to improve and drive waste from your operation or department.
I have yet to meet anybody in the parks and rec or athletic field maintenance world that has attempted to implement “lean” processes into his or her operation, but I hope to. And I hope they’re willing to share their experiences with the rest of us.
If you’re curious about Six Sigma or The Toyota Way or “lean”, there is a huge amount of information on the Internet. Google it and give it a look to see what you think.
(By:Ron Hall, Athletic Turf News)

Business Process Improvemet Using Six Sigma & Lean Six Sigma: Kuala Lumpur - 11-12 Dec 07

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Time Management Tips: How to Set Priorities - Peter Turla

Practical tips on time management

Most of us have to work, and the more you can do in the least amount of time, the better. Time management frees you up to not just work better, but ensure balance in your life. Lorraine Pirihi offers some practical tips.
Basic Time Management
A simple time management tip is to use a daily ‘to do’ list. You have a couple of choices: write your list in the morning, as the first task at the commencement of your working day; or take the time to do it before you finish up the night before, as your final flourish for the day, freeing your mind so you don’t take your work home with you.
Creating a List
Forget trying to create your ‘to do’ list in your head. It must be written down, then left somewhere highly visible, such as your desktop. I suggest writing it in your diary, so you can juggle it with your other commitments.
An effective list will almost always be updated during the day. It is not a static document. As your priorities alter with each crisis, your list will be a work in progress. And don’t be unrealistic. Steel yourself to list only the achievable projects and activities. If you are unable to complete a task on the designated day, simply transfer it to the next day or another suitable time in your diary. Look at the daily ‘to do’ list as the map that keeps you on track.
When you have written your list in the diary, go back and number each item in order of importance. Start with number one and work your way through.
Recording Information
In today’s busy work environments, we are bombarded with so many different distractions it’s sometimes difficult to keep track of everything that’s going on, particularly if you work in a distracting open-plan office.
Instead of recording on scraps of paper or sticky notes all the zillion thoughts that pass through your mind during these stressful periods, use an inexpensive spiral notebook. Anything you write down can then be found again at a later date. Use it with your diary and as a great memory jogger and it will help you focus your thoughts, remind yourself of past conversations and save time from searching for all those ‘back of envelope’ notations.
Telephone Messages
Murphy’s Law of telephones and deadlines means when you are really pressed trying to complete a project on time, the telephone will take off, with a mind of its own.
Try recording a message letting your callers know you are currently unavailable, asking why they are calling, and let them know you will return their call. Or have someone working with you who can screen your calls (lucky you) to give off a similar message. Asking what the call is about will help you assemble any relevant information before you call back, enabling you to better plan your day and return all calls sooner and more effectively.
Time and Stress Management
Effective time management will directly affect your stress management. Using these simple, commonsense time management tips will greatly reduce your stress levels. Keep your systems simple because the simpler they are the more likely you will use them. By implementing these tips and continually sticking with them you will also avoid procrastination, working smarter, not harder.

(Dynamic Business)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Redefining the MBA - Facing criticism, business schools bring in new leaders to review mission, find relevance

By Robert Weisman October 14, 2007 (Boston)

Autumn in the Boston area means leaves turning, students returning and, this year, the leaders at business schools churning. A new crop of educators, including a high-profile power broker and pair of Bay State natives coming home from Philadelphia and Silicon Valley, are working to re-brand their schools and reshape business education in an increasingly competitive market.
While demand for master's degrees in business administration has picked up among corporate recruiters after a lull following the Internet boom, business schools have been scrambling to rethink their missions and recast their images in response to critics questioning their ivory-tower aloofness and single-minded focus on maximizing shareholder value.
Their approaches vary, from bringing students into the workplace to customizing MBA programs to training global teams in corporate responsibility, but all struggle to remain relevant at a time of rapid economic change. "Schools are trying to redefine what business leaders need to know," said Rakesh Khurana, associate professor in organizational behavior at Harvard Business School.
Gloria C. Larson, who held top administrative jobs in the state and federal governments, has sounded at times like a candidate wooing voters with pledges of a "real world partnership" in her first weeks as president of Bentley College, a one-time accounting school that now boasts MBA and PhD degrees in its business portfolio.
"Bentley's six high-tech learning labs let you 'test drive' the concepts you learn in your classroom," Larson told 1,000 visiting high school seniors at the school's Waltham campus last month.
At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, David C. Schmittlein officially moves into the dean's office at the Sloan School of Management tomorrow. But in meetings with students, faculty, administrators, and alumni, Schmittlein, a Northampton native who was deputy dean at the elite Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, has been stressing the need to boost "experiential learning" with businesses. "Sloan is going to be at the leading edge of a more honest approach to management education," he promised.
And newly installed dean Bruce R. Magid at Brandeis University's International Business School is championing "cross-cultural fluency" as his goal at the Waltham school, where two thirds of students come from abroad. Magid, raised in Sharon, is a former overseas Bank of America executive who founded the graduate business school at San Jose State University. He insisted he's not fazed by taking his place alongside heavyweights like Sloan and Harvard Business School in one of the nation's most crowded markets for management education.
"Having worked in global financial services, I'm used to competition," he said. "We're fortunate to be in the Boston area, but we want to be one of the world's top global-focused business schools."
Ethics also figures prominently in the plans, and the talking points, of the three business educators. Noting that its Center for Business Ethics marked its 30th anniversary this year, Larson said Bentley is moving toward a "holistic" approach to preparing its students for the business world. "You have to be thinking smarter, moving faster, and also being the best global citizen you can be," she said. The arrival of Larson, Schmittlein, and Magid hastens a leadership turnover at Greater Boston business schools after a long period of stability. Jay O. Light took the reins at Harvard Business School last year. Andrew Boynton became dean of Boston College's Carroll School of Management in 2005, and Thomas Moore dean of Northeastern University's College of Business Administration in 2004.
Business-oriented Babson College in Wellesley, which emphasizes entrepreneurship, is expected to name a new president some time next year. Bentley, meanwhile, is interviewing candidates to be the new dean of business under Larson.
The changes at the top have been accompanied by a reassessment and, in some cases, a tweaking of what marketers call the business schools' "brands" at a time when all are vying for students, faculty members, recruiters, and relevancy. Northeastern, for example, has sought to differentiate itself with an emphasis on practical studies like supply chain management. BC has been building its business program around ethical values, while Harvard has been pushing to extend its leadership brand into emerging fields like healthcare.
But business schools are under scrutiny as never before, and some of their toughest critiques are coming from within. In a new book, "From Higher Aims to Hired Hands: The Social Transformation of American Business Education," Harvard's Khurana argues the schools have failed to define leadership in the context of the public good and enshrined maximizing shareholder value as their highest ideal.
Other critics, like Warren Bennis and James O'Toole at the University of Southern California, have warned that business schools have grown overly academic and theoretical, far removed from the actual day-to-day operations of business and management.
Such critiques have clearly struck a chord. Schmittlein, who has been involved in the debate over the mission of business schools for nearly three decades, believes schools should move away from a cookie-cutter approach. He envisions Sloan developing a broader portfolio of programs tailored toward students on different paths, from going into investment management to joining family businesses.
"Why haven't MBA programs been more honest about where students are and where they want to go?" Schmittlein asked rhetorically. "What would be really radical would be organizing MBA programs around activities that students want to pursue."
Larson, who had extensive dealings with movers and shakers in her most recent job at the Boston law firm Foley Hoag, plans to form a "kitchen cabinet" of business leaders to advise her on Bentley's curricula. "It's a crowded marketplace," she said. "There's a spotlight on this next generation. The marketplace is demanding a very different skill set than it needed even 10 years ago. They're demanding high levels of foreign language literacy, cultural literacy, and economic literacy."
And at Brandeis, educators will be focusing on a new "seamless bottom line," in Magid's words. "You want people to come out of here who are excellent managers, are engaged in their communities, and are taking a long-term perspective about our planet," he said.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Who is Peter F. Drucker? Why Should You Care?

by George W. Mantor (Realty Times)

Peter Drucker passed away in 2005 at the age of 97. If that means nothing to you, it is important that you continue reading. You are in business. And Peter F. Drucker was to business what Billy Graham is to religion, what Mozart was to music, what DiMaggio was to baseball, a legend for the ages in his field of endeavor.

The "Druckster" was the mac-daddy of the business world and when he spoke, king-makers listened. And speak he did. For over 60 years he influenced generations of business people as a teacher, writer, and business leader.

He is widely regarded as the father of modern day management philosophy.

And his basic premise is more relevant to our business today than fifty years ago, when Drucker wrote, The Practice of Management, in which he raises the question of the very purpose of a business.

I often raise this question in my workshops and overwhelmingly people agree that the purpose of a business is to make a profit.

Drucker says they are wrong.

And this is the important lesson for us Drucker says, "There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer."

He notes that profit is the by-product of doing that well.

If you are waiting for customers to create themselves, fuhgeddaboudit. They don't know how.

Drucker stresses this point. "Markets are not created by God, nature or economic forces but by businessmen. The want they satisfy may have been felt by the customer before he was offered a means of satisfying it. There may have been no want at all until business action created it."

His core principal, if fully understood and implemented, is the perfect response to current market conditions that, in many places, have changed. Buyers are apprehensive. You can tell them that this is a great time to buy, but many still believe that values are going to decline dramatically.

On the supply side, there is a lot of dormant equity that is generating zero return or less for the property owner.

Despite our immersion in all things real estate, non-practitioners are frequently absorbed in other things. There are many customers waiting to be created in this group. How? Ask, what would Drucker do?

Analyze the situation.
During the last few years, many new licensees have entered the real estate business. At the same time, a hyper-robust economy, historically low interest rates and a growing population combined to create record numbers of transactions.

Now in most communities, the pent up demand has been temporarily satisfied and monthly closings have receded back to their baseline level.

There are now far fewer closings than the surplus number of licensees and that signals attrition within the industry. If you've been living off the frenzy, you had better get a new plan.

Define the customer you intend to create.
No matter how lofty it talks, the real estate industry cannot wean itself of the concept of "prospecting" and "lead" generation.

Everyday a dozen different companies email me about their great leads. Frankly, I cannot understand how, if all of these "leads" are so good, they could possibly trickle all the way down to me. Then I watch my DVD of David Mamet's "Glengarry Glen Ross" and Drucker's words come back to me.

The interesting thing to keep in mind is that customers have habits and patterns and these have been studied at length by the industry. And the industry doesn't like what it sees. In short, there is a problem. The customers timing is out of synch with the realities of the industry.

Buyers and sellers of real estate tend to take, on average, anywhere from five months to five years to "collect experiences" before acting. That exceeds the career life span of most new licensees and demonstrates the inefficiency of trying to time the beginning of the relationship at the exact moment when the customer is ready to act.

Real estate needs are driven by routine life events not because of real estate marketing.

Leads are perceived as having an immediate need. Once you have a lead all that is left to do is close them. Leads are for closers. But how do you close someone who is still in the experience-collecting phase? You can't.

But you can be their indispensable guide along the experience-collecting pathway.

Only you have the power to create great customers for you.

Make a simple plan.
For all of its hi-tech, gee-whiz gadgetry, earning a good living in real estate comes down to a few simple realities. Most new licensees will fail because there is not nearly enough business to support them all. Period!

Building a portfolio of marketable listings is the only way to attain security.

By focusing on sellers, the best buyers will come your way.

Set simple objectives as a way to avoid distractions. This will keep you on course doing the right things throughout the course of your business.

Present one CMA (Competitive Market Analysis) every day.

If you are working today, you are presenting a CMA. If not, it's a day off. You'll be tempted to do something else frequently, like show property. Do not be drawn away from your simple, daily objective. Before you do anything else you must set appointments, do the work, present your findings, and begin helping the client formulate a plan. Everything else is extra.

Have you ever thought about the connection between a CMA and a listing? In virtually every case, the listing was preceded by a CMA. Conclusion, more CMA's equal more listings as well as purchases and lending opportunities.

Rather than "trying to get a listing" use the CMA to create a customer for when they are ready to move forward with the next logical step in the plan that you are helping them develop.

Presenting a CMA is a great opportunity to create a customer. People are interested in the value of their homes so it is a very easy appointment to get. Your purpose is to explain the factors underlying their home's value.

Once the value and equity have been determined it is time to move the discussion to issues of asset protection. How do they hold title? Are they aware of the benefits of a living trust? Do they have adequate insurance on their real estate? Rapid appreciation has left many property owners short of insurance without them realizing it. Do they need a personal liability umbrella policy?

Explore how their real estate can be an important part of their overall life plan, college payment plan, retirement plan, business plan or other goal.

For example, real estate around colleges continues to appreciate. Parents are buying condos as a future residence for a college-bound child. Appreciation could offset the tuition and housing costs.

Your immediate objective is to do a CMA for everyone you know who owns real estate. You aren't selling anything; you are performing a valuable service. You must present it in person and you must explain exactly what data you analyzed, why, and how you arrived at your conclusion.

Marshall Your Resources.
What do you need to implement the plan? Two things: knowledge in the areas I am about to define and relationships.

Learn the fundamental tax laws regarding real estate. Many agents eschew any questions about taxes, but favorable tax laws are one of the great customer creators, because they are extraordinarily jaw-dropping generous and not well understood.

You should be very conversant with the tax payer relief act of 1997 and the details of the law prior to the enactment of Section 121. You should also be able to articulate the benefits of Section 1031 and how benefits can be combined, under certain circumstances, with Section 121.

And, a recent change regarding Private Annuity Trusts might suggest a need for a change in strategy for those planning to use this vehicle to defer capital gains taxes.

Learn financing. Repositioning dormant equity and creating exit strategies are the appropriate response to flattening appreciation.

Money ought to be working, but if there is no appreciation, property owners' money power is eroding. If they have the income potential and understand the tax implications, they might very well see the wisdom in repositioning some of their equity, refinancing, moving up, buying a second home or a rental, or creating a plan to do these things in the future.

Learn alternative real estate vehicles.

Longtime landlords might want to liquidate during an extended period of flat appreciation. The problems and responsibilities of owning and managing residential properties can be eliminated by exchanging into an alternative real estate investment such as a Tenant-In-Common (TIC) vehicle.

Beyond selling and lead generating is an entire market of customers who are waiting for you to create them. Planned real estate ownership is part of a long-term life plan. But real estate's value as an investment vehicle is often obscured by the fact that the industry is primarily focused on selling houses rather than creating customers with a lifetime of multiple needs to fill.

If you want to create more customers for your business, do what Drucker would do…offer something people would want if only they knew about it, and then go show them what is possible.

Monday, October 15, 2007

How to Remain Standing in a Shifting Market: 5 Strategies for Succeeding While Holding Your Ground

by Julie Escobar (RealtyTimes)
Many agents are having trouble finding their footing in today's swiftly changing market. Standing inventory, unrealistic sales prices and a dynamic economy require agents to get organized, adopt a winning mindset, hone their sales skills and provide a sense of realism for both buyers and sellers.
Here are five strategies for doing just that:
Get organized. It's a business -- your business -- and the importance of planning and organizing cannot be understated. Both are vital to your long-term success as well as your short-term sanity!
Do you have a razor-sharp focus on your goal? Have you planned how you're going to accomplish that goal? Have you broken it down into measurable daily, weekly and monthly activities? If so, have you recently recalculated those numbers to reflect market changes? If you have not yet taken any actions like these, you need to as soon as possible.
Begin by knowing what you need to make and what you would like to make to meet this year's financial obligations and accomplish personal or family goals. How many commissions does that represent? How many listings and sales will you need to earn those commissions? Be conservative, allow for fallout, then determine how many prospects you will have to contact daily, weekly and monthly to effectively list and market the necessary inventory.
Next, block out your time accordingly. Your top priorities as a professional salesperson are to prospect, present and close. Commit at least one hour a day to prospecting. You also should contact some people in your sphere of influence every day. We recommend an alphabetical system where you contact all clients whose last name begins with "A" on the first day of the month; everyone whose name starts with "B" on the second day, and so on.
Keep your calendar updated, and schedule time to return phone calls each day to avoid veering off track. Be sure to include downtime in your daily and weekly calendar, as well. All work and no play should not even be an option. Put automated systems in place for direct marketing and ongoing campaigns to provide peace of mind in knowing that you are always contributing to your forward momentum.
Do a reality check. Savvy agents know that effectively pricing homes on the heels of an "automatic" market requires old-school techniques combined with high-tech tools and a strong knowledge base.
Consider a Merchandising Review. This checklist of seller-controlled factors such as owner financing, flexibility, pricing below market value and more gives sellers a heads up on the items they need to commit to in order to enhance the salability of their home.
Many agents use the Pricing Pyramid to illustrate the true impact of pricing property right the first time. Visuals such as this -- combined with testimonials from customers who heeded your advice and achieved the desired results -- are valuable additions to your presentation and priceless resources when you're facing tough objections and unrealistic expectations.
Open new doors. Expanding your client base with a new source of prospects may give you just the production spike you need to stay the course in slower months.
As you build your client base, find a target market that appeals to you, and become that demographic's "go-to" agent in your area. Perhaps you would like to help local renters realize their dream of becoming first-time homeowners. You may want to develop a referral network among small-business owners in your area or work with investors in the luxury home market. Do you especially enjoy working with seniors, medical professionals, educators, accountants or builders? Those are just a few of the demographics that could benefit from your particular brand of spark and skill. Experiment over the next six months to see what you like, and add at least one new market group to your client base as a result.
Commit to extraordinary service. Zig Ziglar once said, "If you help enough people get what they want, you will get what you want." This simple truth will serve you well throughout your career.
What better way to feel empowered and on top of your game than to surround yourself with people you like, enjoy and appreciate? Do more for your client base than simply put them on a mailing list. Get to know them; think of them as friends, and go out of your way to make sure you provide standout service with genuine compassion.
Did you know that a client's value over 20 years can exceed $93,000? That's according to statistics from the National Association of REALTORS®, which say that the typical seller owns their home for about five years. If you sell that client their first home for $150,000, and they purchase a new home every five years for roughly 25 percent more than the house they are selling, and each house they sell has appreciated approximately 3 percent per year, you will find a total value of $93,611 (at 3 percent commission) in that one client.
Perspective is everything, and with that type of income potentially attached to every "friend" you make and maintain in this business, you are likely to find yourself with a new appreciation for the care and handling of each and every client.
Taking care of the VIPs who will take care of you throughout your career will give you a renewed sense of joy for what you do, an extended network of people eager to help you on your journey and an opportunity to realize your goals while helping others reach theirs.
Stay ahead of the curve. We are truly fortunate to live in an age where we can tap into resources for education, knowledge, skill building and sales tools 24/7. Some of the greatest minds in the industry share their experience and expertise in the form of internet downloads, informative articles, podcasts and video technology -- all searchable at any time of the day or night.
Today's consumers are smart, savvy and well informed. To compete and excel, you have to earn your commission by providing the most accurate, up-to-the-minute data possible. You have to be compelling in your presentation and sure of your marketing plan. Pull statistics and industry facts from . Learn dialogues from Floyd Wickman, systems from Mike Ferry and how market trends affect your bottom line from Bill Barrett.
Pick and choose who you would like to learn from today, this week or this month. Make it part of your business plan to spend several hours each month learning the strategies, tools and techniques you need to help keep your business and your customers' best interests ahead of the curve.

Management style is top priority

Leadership, communication, reward, recognition and performance management were the lowest-ranked dimensions by employees in the Deloitte Best Company to Work For survey for 2007.
“That was the perspective across the board, and probably in the broader market too,” said David Conradie, principal for Human Capital at Deloitte.
The areas measured in the survey include: job satisfaction, relationships and trust, communication, training and development, rewards, recognition and performance management, human resources policies and procedures, diversity, management style, values and culture, change and transformation, and leadership.
Among all participating companies it was the first time ever that job satisfaction was not ranked as the most important dimension by employees.
It was replaced this year by management style — which focuses on the nature and quality of the relationship between employees and their immediate manager or supervisor.
Job satisfaction was the second-highest ranked dimension followed by relationships and trust. “This is a critical opportunity for employers to improve their performance,” said Conradie.
But good communication is essential for all of these dimensions to be addressed satisfactorily and effectively in the workplace. And while there might be one-on-one communication taking place, broader communication is not, according to employees.
What is the key aspect a company must get right if it wants to excel as an employer of choice?
“When concentrating on the Top Ten ranked Companies, it is significant to note that values and culture emerged as the top-ranked dimension.
This is a trend that has emerged over the past few years and suggests that companies recording positive scores on this dimension typically achieve higher overall rankings in the survey — it is clearly a critical differentiator,” said Conradie.
In terms of tenure, employees with up to three years of work experience were more positive about their work experience, followed by those with more than 10 years’ experience.
In terms of gender, there was no significant difference between males and females,” said Conradie.
From an industry perspective, the highest level of positive work experience was in the consumer business industry. - (The Times, 14 Oct 07)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Why it is important to write motivational books

October 10 2007: Recently, American motivational speaker Tom Peters was in Kenya. Participants paid as much as Sh80,000 each to listen to him. That shows you how important motivation is. Whatever we do, either as individuals or business leaders, we need words of encouragement, of inspiration, of hope. Enthusiasm is growing worldwide on motivating through books. It’s so easy these days I have written one myself. It’s called Write that Story. But is it fair that people are fed ‘guides,’ ‘revision texts’ or ‘how to’ books, which, essentially are typically spiced up with common sense instructions and manuals on how to get good grades in school, or how to get a partner, or how to turn a struggling business into a Microsoft?Does motivation really work? Do motivational books play a major role in management? Does successful management depend on the level of motivation? Who should write a motivational book? All good biographies are motivating. One of the first books I ever read was Legson Kayira’s I will Try. It tells the personal story of a young man who, desperately in search of higher education, achieved the unbelievable feat of trekking across Africa. Kayira, a village boy in the remote heartland of what is now Zimbabwe, had won a scholarship to a British university. He had a plane ticket, but the nearest airport was in Cairo, over 2,000 kilometres from the southern African republic. After his studies, Kayira returned to his motherland and became a cabinet minister.Kayira’s story is characteristic of many high achievers and successful managers: relentless, go getting, determined, committed, visionary, unwavering. Managers constantly need a shoulder to lean on; they are frequently inspired by certain personalities or literatures that talk about high achievers in management. Today, for example, the story of acclaimed neuro-surgeon Ben Carson, as told in his books, Gifted Hands and Think Big, easily inspires 21st century managers everywhere to try and reach greater heights.So, what propels people to buy or write motivational books? One, they are often based on real life stories, hence there is a high level of reality in them. Two, they are easy to read. The ideas are arranged in simple, clear language. Like things you need to remember for an examination. The examination here ranges from life and death, to successful sales versus poverty or business failure. And that is why, more than anything else, they are embraced by managers, who are geared towards achieving tangible results. Another characteristic of these books is that they are written in an easy-to-understand, self help style. Mastery of communication skills is paramount. They list what are called ‘essential characteristics that make you and your business succeed. Nowadays, motivational books and motivational speakers poke at you from every corner like street banners and billboards. From evangelists to successful business people, the focus is on how you can manipulate your own attitude, your beliefs, your likes, to become a full blown business magnate in your own corporation, oiling your wheels with unmatched excellence.Their authors are best-seller prophets of success and achievement in today’s world of global cut throat competition. They are champions of a sizzling, red hot modern day industrial revolution that seeks to make everyone aim high.Debate on management has since shifted from the confines of boardrooms, academia, and consultancies to a broader, worldwide audience. After religion, motivation is top of the book sales chart in many surveys.Nearly all managers have one such book or other on their table at any one time. The late Peter Drucker, for instance, wrote more on this topic and his ideas have withstood the test of time. And Tom Peters, a consultant, columnist, seminar lecturer and stage performer has infused his energy, style, influence, and ideas to significantly shape our perception of management.And educators, too, have lurched into the motivation business, pushing students to conquer their own fears in order to achieve higher level performance. Did someone say motivation comes from within? No. It is now possible to become what Dave Durand calls a “Legacy Achiever.”They teach a form of ‘learned optimism, that success is a choice, that individuals can determine their own destiny without having to die first. That we should not be helpless in the face of defeat. That setbacks are challenges. Psychologists Martin Seligman sheds light on why optimists are the ones who succeed in life and provides real-world advice and worksheets to help you become an optimist. That attitude is everything, and that if we learn to change our attitude, we can not only change our lives, but the whole world as well. Now, that’s as much music to the average desperado as it is to managers who want to outwit the competition, to turn rejection into direction, as John Fuhrman puts it , and that you can be ‘anything you want.’With titles such as The Power of the Subconscious Mind, these kinds of books are hugely popular with managers, because they dwell on things that cannot be located in an organization’s structure. That is, they dwell on matters of the soul and spirituality. Suffice to say though, that there are certain psycho-social aspects of management that ought to make use of the material contained in spiritually motivating books.Counselling as part and parcel of management cannot ignore these books. Management, in an organisation follows a certain path of success. That is, there are people who act as role models to managers. Hence, it is only natural that managers read about people they regard as their mentors. There are all sorts of books like The Secrets of Success, or Create The Business Breakthrough You Want, which contains articles, biographies and videos of renown business leaders. It is through such readings that managers learn about ideas that their mentors have previously used to climb the ladder to success.Effective human resource management is not possible without an aspect of motivation. Firms hire motivational speakers to inspire employees. A dull workforce can easily compromise the productivity of an organisation. Employees who are not inspired cannot cultivate teamwork. As a manager, it is important to focus on inspiration levels of employees in order to ensure that teamwork and efficiency is maintained at all levels.At another level, motivational books are very crucial in enhancing an employee’s self esteem. Managers are interested in a workforce that can deliver results with minimum supervision. An independent employee usually has high self esteem. There are a lot of books which tell people how to build a strong sense of self esteem; an organisation whose employees have low self esteem cannot be as productive as projected by the management.Motivational Management: Inspiring Your People For Maximum Performance, by Alexander Hiam emphasizes the need to motivate employees to deliver the best results. This kind of book, if well used, can give a manager tips on how to improve the performance of an organisation by establishing certain motivational techniques such as praise, monetary compensation or long service awards. Vision is an important aspect of management, so the secret emphasizes the need to visualize continuous and consistent steps towards achieving one’s desires in life. Such a book can easily enable managers to keep on track, their organisation’s vision by continuously visualizing its goals and objectives.Motivational books also teach decision-making and how to make accurate and timely decisions. A book such as The Six Most Important Decisions by Sean Covey is useful for managers. Almost a rule book, it gives tips and provides a model that has been replicated in many organisations.An organisation adopts a certain behaviour depending on the style of management.A behaviour is something that an organisation has to work on for some time in order to entrench it. There are certain motivational books that specifically focus on aspects of behaviour that lead to effectiveness in management or life in general. For instance, The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen R.Covey, one of America’s most sought after speakers and consultants, is in this category of motivational books.The style of management in an organisation informs the behaviour of its employees hence it is crucial that managers adopt a style that informs good behaviour. Literature that focuses on desired behaviour is crucial to an organisation’s effective management. They can be used to shape an organisational behaviour that is desirable. At another level, such material is useful in management counselling. Such books are used by management counsellors to beef up their skills and techniques.A manager whose views are always antagonistic to those of the other employees is likely to bring down an organisation. This kind of behaviour can emanate from personal background challenges among other factors. However books such as The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Pearle can easily change mannerisms and perceptions of wayward managers. This book is a perfect model for behaviour change: some organizations are known to have a rigid management style that impedes rapid progress. It is evident that literatures that focus on positivity are vital to managers who have a problem with perception particularly with regard to an organisation’s challenges. Take for instance an organisation that is debt-ridden: a manager with a pessimistic attitude can make a firm crumble. On the other hand, managers who never say die, who always believe that something good will eventually surface are an asset to an organisation, since they keep it afloat even when things seem to be falling apart. And if books dwelling on positive thinking cannot be ignored in a management set-up, neither can we as individuals ignore them.Motivational books are part and parcel of management function. A poorly motivated workforce has no chance of survival and that is why organizational training cannot be complete without motivation. As managers, we must read to know and act in the best interest of the organisation. If books cannot motivate managers and employees to ensure high productivity, what will?The point is that it is not just top sportsmen and women, or Nobel prize winners, or former presidents, who can write How to be like me stories. Everyone has a story. And that includes you. - (BD, 10 Sep 07)

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Based on the book: The INSEAD Blue Ocean Strategy Institute

Executive summary: INSEAD is currently setting up the INSEAD Blue Ocean Strategy Institute based on the findings from INSEAD professors W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne in the interrnational bestselller "Blue Ocean Strategy" - sold in a million copies in its first year and now published in 39 languages. In the new institute "classrooms should be moving from paper cases to more visual movie-oriented ones,” says Renée Mauborgne.

Edited by Peter Horn

INSEAD is currently setting up the INSEAD Blue Ocean Strategy Institute: The institute in the making will be based on the findings of the international bestseller, "Blue Ocean Strategy" written by INSEAD professors Renée Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim. The book sold more than a million copies in its first year of publication and has being published in 39 languages. There are no plans for a follow-up book at this stage. In an interview the authors strategy professors Kim and Mauborgne tells INSEAD Knowledge that they knew there would be an audience for their research as their articles in the Harvard Business Review sold half a million reprints. “Looking back (...) what we are satisfied with is (...) if we were to write it again, could we have done anything differently, we would say not really,” says Renée Mauborgne. The Blue Ocean authors say they would still have undertaken the same research journey, starting with inductive study based on cases and deductive research based on data. However, Kim says they felt this inductive/deductive approach “wasn’t good enough”, so they began to apply the theory to “actual companies, to write some of the case stories” which appear in the book, albeit with the names of the companies disguised. The research focuses on around 150 cases and highlights “Blue Ocean strategic moves” such as Cirque du Soleil and [yellow tail] wines. In short, Blue Ocean Strategy is concerned with products, processes and people, says Kim. It “looks at the entire value chain, a system-wide approach and the way of thinking, rather than talking about entrepreneurship or some sub-system of the entire organization. “(...) Unless there’s some new enlightenment, we will repeat the same process of a research journey. (...) Its commercial success is a secondary interest, even though it’s exciting to see what happened,” says Kim. Business schools are not pure science: “Business school is not going to be pure science - it never can be. By definition, business is applied science. You cannot have pure science in businesses, because business theory goes with the phenomenon … In pure science like physics, you can find theory with truth that endures 100 years, 200 years. You can have different arguments, but quantum physics is lasting,” says Renée Mauborgne. “Applied science, like business science is about management. It needs to change according to how an organization evolves. (...) You cannot use management theory from 1920 and apply it to 2020. Most of the time business is evolving. Look at the recent internet and bioscience revolutions,” Kim says. Blue Ocean Strategy InstituteINSEAD is currently setting up a Blue Ocean Strategy Institute at its Europe Campus in Fontainebleau. Researchers at the Institute will be on hand to answer questions about blue ocean thinking, Kim says, adding that it will also help to raise INSEAD’s profile. “The main purpose of the Institute is mainly an academic one as it will dedicate itself to the academic development of Blue Ocean Strategy theory.” It will also have a pedagogical ambition as it will be looking to develop short Blue Ocean Strategy “theory movies” in contrast to the current paper-based case studies produced by Harvard and others. “Multimedia can be introduced in a very constructive way in terms of creative content,” says Mauborgne. “If you want to teach industrial history from 1900 to 2000, this is certainly good way to learn by watching how industry has been evolving. In middle of it, the class can discuss the implications using analytics and have a rich conversation. Classrooms should be moving from paper cases to more visual movie-oriented ones.” As for other future Blue Ocean developments, Kim says that for the time being, he and Mauborgne are “very occupied with deepening and broadening Blue Ocean Strategy … because we’ve just started to explore the topic and there are so many things to do.” The authorsRenée Mauborgne is a INSEAD Distinguished Fellow and Affiliate Professor of Strategy and Management at INSEAD, France, the world's second largest business school. She was born in the United States. Mauborgne is a fellow of the World Economic Forum. Her Harvard Business Review articles, co-authored with W. Chan Kim, are worldwide bestsellers and have sold over a half a million reprints. Their Value Innovation and Fair Process articles were selected as among the best classic articles ever published in Harvard Business Review. In 2005 she was selected as the highest placed woman on Thinkers 50, the global ranking of business gurus, and was named along with her colleague W. Chan Kim, as "the number one gurus of the future" by L'Expansion, one of France's leading business magazines. The Sunday Times (London) called them “two of Europe's brightest business thinkers. Kim and Mauborgne provide a sizeable challenge to the way managers think about and practice strategy.” The Observer called Kim and Mauborgne, "the next big gurus to hit the business world." Kim and Mauborgne co-founded the Blue Ocean Strategy Network (BOSN), a global community of practice on the Blue Ocean Strategy family of concepts that they created. BOSN embraces academics, consultants, executives, and government officers. Blue Ocean Strategy has become an “International Bestseller”, after reaching the “Wall Street Journal Bestseller”, “BusinessWeek Bestseller”, and “National (American) Bestseller” status. It has been published in 39 languages, covering over 180 countries, breaking HBSP's historical record of most foreign language translations ever achieved. Blue Ocean Strategy won the Best Business Book of 2005 Prize at the Frankfurt Book Fair. - (EM, 2 Oct 07)