How fast is your “world” changing?

The World is changing fast, and in new directions! How about your own world? Is it changing sufficiently fast to keep up with the “surroundings”? And, what should you do to keep it alive and kicking? Honestly, I do not know! However, what I do know it is that stand still in denial will not help you, you need to keep up with change proactively.

Although I have written before about this subject – being the most recent Backwards or Forward? -,  I keep assisting to crucial mistakes, and good companies going out of business. Keeping doing business like you did last century will, sooner than later, putting your company out of the business. Therefore, I insistinnovation, uniqueness, creativity, talent, and diversity are all key words on keeping a company striving and excelling, however, I would like to add alertness, adaptation and adoption to the list; – Please read the article Adopt, Adapt or Adios! by William Powell –  The solution passes by working hard, creating new trends, being unique, and taking advantage of what is happening around you. Ignoring or closing your eyes to changes will lead you nowhere, and only make you lose time and competitiveness.

Some ideas! Stimulate brainstorming around trends inside your company, have a special team working on future trends (even if in part-time), and link them strongly with your R&D and Innovation teams, and try out innovative projects. Ah, and do not afraid new technologies, instead use it at your service! Recruit the talent that makes the difference, people with a vision, eager to learn, and open to change.

Although Innovation is everywhere, also a post I once wrote, you will not be able to do it if you keep exaggerating on your skepticism to change and new trends. Please, do yourself a favor, stay wired to the real world, be inquisitive, and follow what is happening out there.

What “change” has to do with understanding and communication?

I risk saying, everything! Although change is part of life, people keep running away from it, and showing high levels of anxiety and resistance. Why is that so? Well, uncertainty is the answer!

People is highly afraid of uncertainty, and change is all about uncertainty. Unfortunately change can ruin team spirit, impact negatively motivation levels, and risk years of team building. In times of tough competition, and a tight war for talent, having people motivated and working well in teams are a must. I must say that the better companies know how to deal with change, the more prepared they are to face rough times and strong competition.

So, how can anxiety and resistance associated to change be avoided, or at least reduced to manageable levels? My experience tells me that if you are able to reduce uncertainty, you will be able to keep the most adverse effects on the low side. And to reduce uncertainty you need to communicate well with transparency, and show true understanding with all the people involved. By understanding the fears associated with change you will be able to communicate more efficiently avoiding negative behaviors, keeping everybody committed, and on-board.

Reduce uncertainty implies a strong understanding, and clear communication creating a strong sense of community and commitment. However, I must confess that there is no such thing as “the right approach” or “solution”, and that each case needs its own approach. Therefore, if you are in charge of change you need to show true understanding toward the people involved and be able to perform different styles of communication accordingly to the situation at-hand.

Key words in Change management, uncertainty, anxiety, fears, resistance, understanding, communication and transparency. Avoid the first four through the latest three. Your leadership style, the situation at-hand, and your team’s maturity will influence the way you face change. Ah, there is no right or wrong approach, only trial and error and a sensibility! Good luck, though!

Criticism is good for competitiveness!

Unfortunately, criticism is still not being totally recognized as a powerful tool on helping people, and companies, being more competitive. In times of tight competition and a world that moves at an incredible fast pace, every single tool that can help people, and companies, becoming better prepared for the challenges ahead should be taken into account. And what I am saying here is that criticism, as part of evaluation, is a tool that due to its easiness of use and low need for investment can be highly interesting to SMEs, but not only. Every company interested in gaining competitiveness should invest in human resources, and evaluation (assess competences, criticism and feedback) is a good way of doing it. Well, I must say that only positive criticism is relevant, and that evaluation should be based on factual aspects and real past events, rather than subjective and judgmental aspects. An evaluating system should be based on face-to-face evaluation and 360º assessments, and can be done through formal and informal mechanisms. I believe that even if you do not have a formal evaluation system put in place but you understand the value of having people evaluated, you should start doing it.

What are the key aspects to pay attention to while evaluating? First, define what to aspects must be evaluated and how; Second, define how many times a year and by whom should the team be evaluated; Third, decide what kind of feedback you want to give, when and by whom (do not skip this step because it is key to the whole process); Lastly, inform people of what is the goal, and coach the evaluators on how they should do it. Criticism and feedback are highly important and should contain the future goals to be achieved by each individual.

Evaluation can act as a positive factor to increase motivation and improve competences!

How Can A Corporate Culture Based on Frugality Save Your Brand?

I strongly believe that a company does not need to spoil resources to have a strong brand or be competitive Yet, we keep seeing companies spending and spoiling more than they can afford. Working for cost sensible companies gave me an insightful position on this matter, but never inhibited me of focusing on quality or brand image. Therefore, I still believe that if a company wants to face successfully the challenges ahead, it needs Leadership not vanity, and a culture of cost sensibility and frugality, instead of one based on waste .

Cost sensible does not mean less quality or weak brands, it means instead a sensible management of expenses. A company does not need to have expensive offices, latest state of the art fleet, or exquisite furniture to run a business successfully! It needs instead an informed and well trained team willing to be creative and innovative without a millionaire budget, and always committed to be lean and customer-oriented. More important, it needs a leader who uses the companies assets wisely and productively.

cost-sensible and frugal culture can work as a way of freeing up resources to invest in new capabilities and gain stronger competitive advantages. Obviously, for this to happen the company must re-invest the freed-up resources in crucial areas such as innovation, creativity, uniqueness, talent management, R&D or other that can add uniqueness and factors of differentiation.

I strongly advocate that a cost-sensible and frugal culture as a competitive advantage factor and a brand saviour. 

What Complexity Has To Do With Being Competitive? Nothing, I Must Confess!

Complexity is everywhere, I know! However, I sometimes feel that some companies want a piece of this complexity to feel like God, omnipresent and omniscient. This companies believe that by making use of a puzzled language and complex processes they are differentiating themselves from their competition and being unique. Not True!

We, human beings, have a problem with simple things, we believe that to be good and better than others one needs to be complicated and complex. I advocate that complexity leads only to a false sense of superiority, and creates a feeling of suspiciousness in consumers. Consumers do not like to be tricked or fooled by incomprehensible language and processes, though. Complexity does not lead to any competitive advantage, but it can cause damages! It generates difficulties in handling and optimizing processes, and in designing business strategies.

Being simple does not mean simplistic, like complexity does not mean competitiveness! Please avoid shortcuts and keep it simple, invest in uniqueness, creativity and innovation instead!

Meritocracy in a War-for-Talent World!

Although I am a huge fun of Networking and Social Interaction, I believe in a culture of meritocracy and people is rewarded regarding is effort and ethics. I know… I know,  Social Networking can not be reduced to traffic of influence and to jobs for friends. In my point of view, Social Networking is a powerful tool, and like I wrote for brainstorming in The Art Of Brainstorming In The 21st century!, it can work as a competitive advantage for those using it correctly. Nevertheless, in a moment of economic crisis and dead ends it is very common to assist to traffic of influences and the use of networking to find jobs for friends, and friends of friends.

Being honest here, I totally hate this awful downside of networking! I am totally for a meritocracy culture, and I believe that by having one a company can be more competitive and better prepared for the future. Merit is a factor that, regardless not being referred in text books or business schools, can work as a competitive advantage fro those using it. Why? Because it rewards creativity, innovation and efficiency, and at same time it is a strong support for talent management. Nowadays, and due to the amazing advancement of the technologies associated to the Internet and World Wide Web, social networking is more and more in use and sometimes in misuse! For instance, some people believe that because they have a big off and online network they can successfully sell a false profile in order to be hired as such. Networking is a powerful tool to source and manage talent, though, it must be used wisely and as a complement of meritocracy. The companies having a corporate culture based on meritocracy are a step ahead of those doing Friendocracy! Please do not fall for the Friendocracy trap!

Backwards or Forward?

Unfortunately, I keep seeing people, companies, institutions and governments trying to live backwards! Back to when they knew how things will happen and work or just when they felt more secure! Well, I regret to inform you but one cannot go back into those times, things have evolved, changed and now we live in a different time. Everything is faster, Innovation is the King and uniqueness the Queen. People is supposed to contribute in different ways, creating value not only as an employee or an owner. Individuals can do a lot of contribute, collaborate and share in a total different way and creating high value to the community. So, keep thinking backwards will not help you or your company. The sooner you acknowledge the world you are living in has changed, the sooner you will be able to build something new and add a higher value to you, but also to all of those supporting and collaborating with you.

The commencement of the 21st Century will be about innovation, technology, uniqueness, creativity and (global) collaboration! A faster pace for business and at same time a quest for quality will be also in demand. Trying to close your eyes and pretend that you still living in the 20th century will not help you and you will live bitter and unhappy live!

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago – A Premature Generation Gap! Can You Feel It? -, a new and faster generational gap is a reality and it is here to stay. A faster pace for change it is a recent phenomenon and it happens due to a quicker and “easier” innovatory and technological advancements. Everything is changing must faster meaning that, like I read on an amazing post at The Leadership Advisory Blog, wrote by William Powell – Adopt, Adapt or Adios! However, if you really want to be competitive and a leader of your industry you must also Innovate, Create and be Unique. 

One year ago I wrote How Do You Want To Play This New Game?, and I am still writing today about the same subject! Some people and companies are still not understanding that they have to chose between keeping looking backwards and live in the past; and learn form the past, move ahead, and manage forward!

Good luck! Ah, and move forwards!