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Archive for the ‘Video Blog’ Category


In this blog I’ve written extensively about organization and industry change. I recently read a paper in the McKinsey Quarterly entitled “Developing better change leaders” and wanted to share 4 tips, I learned from this paper and other research on leading transformational change.

  1. Collaborate: Collaboration across departmental and hierarchical boundaries can help organizations to achieve transformational change. The key to getting employees to buy into change is dialogue not dictation. Through dialogue, employees’ concerns can be addressed and ideally eliminated, so they can start to learn how the proposed change will be better. As people become more open, the organization becomes more transparent and trust is fostered, enabling collective solution building and idea sharing to occur.
  2. Map out the change process: While some adaptability will be necessary, by having the change process mapped out and communicating it, expectations can be shaped of what will happen, what could happen and when it may happen.
  3. Find the courage to be honest when having difficult conversations: When addressing the negative impacts change will bring such as layoffs, be honest with employees as soon as it is feasibly possible to do so. Work with employees who will face layoffs to help them find new jobs either within the company or with another company. Provide training, mentoring and support to empathetically engage with the displaced employees.
  4. Use your experience to train and mentor others: Leaders who have experience in transformational change can play a pivotal role in training and advising lower level managers. Such leaders can share their experiences of what worked well and not so well in previous change initiatives. They can then help subordinates to develop the skills necessary to move the organization forward.

While different companies will have different change situations, the above tips offer some generalized guidance. But what do you think? Feel free to add your own tips on leading transformational change in the comments section below.

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The title of this blog post may at first glance confuse you, as Burberry is a luxury fashion brand, which you wouldn’t necessarily expect to have a digital innovation focus. Indeed, traditionally many luxury businesses have put technology on the back burner out of fears of diluting their brand exclusivity. But Burberry is different.

When Angela Ahrendts became CEO of Burberry in 2006 she began reinventing the company’s brand image and operations. She also redefined the company’s target audience and identified an opportunity existed to increase sales among high-net-worth global younger consumers.

Ahrendt’s vision is to:

“Create a company where anyone who wanted to touch the brand could have access to it.”

In order to make this vision a reality and to reach younger consumers many of whom are digital citizens, a digital platform was needed.

By using social media platforms such as Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook, accompanied with SAP application technology and with help from salesforce.com; Ahrendts has begun to transform Burberry into a social enterprise.

Here are some of the components of Burberry’s digital strategy:

An interactive website: Burberry have created an interactive website that entices its visitors to return. On the Burberry website you can watch fashion shows and see artistic creative videos displaying the latest collections. Customers can even order many of the fashions displayed in the videos. There is also an acoustic section on the site that exhibits music videos from previously unknown British singers and groups all wearing Burberry clothing, further promoting the brand.

Salesforce.com: Burberry has incorporated the Salesforce.com Chatter platform to use internally as a portal to enhance communications throughout their operations. When Burberry’s sales teams noticed larger male customers were unhappy with the fit of one of the suit styles, the Chatter enabled them to immediately bring this information to the design team to make adjustments. The company also uses the Salesforce.com Radian6 product to track and analyze what people are saying about them on social media.

Twitter: Burberry holds “Tweet-Walks” bringing images of models wearing their new collection minutes before their models hit the runway.

Facebook: Burberry did an exclusive Facebook fan only sample giveaway during the pre-launch of the Burberry Body perfume.

SAP: Burberry partnered with SAP to develop an application to provide greater customer service. The application will enable sales associates globally to pull up a customer’s information including their transaction history of all past Burberry purchases made anywhere in the world and their Burberry social media activity.

I think Burberry’s digital innovation strategy will continue to be successful for the company as its focuses on creating a wow experience to greater engage their consumers that goes beyond using digital strategy to increase sales. What do you think of Burberry’s digital innovation? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 

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I first found out about Greg Blencoe’s book The Supermanager when I stumbled across some of his blog posts.  I enjoyed the posts and connected with him on Twitter.  He subsequently visited my blog and over the last few months he has been a great supporter and shared many of my posts.  I was thrilled when he offered to send me a copy of his book to review, as in honesty given my enjoyment of his blog posts, I would have in time purchased the book anyway.

Greg was previously CEO of Hydrogen Discoveries, Inc. an alternative energy start-up company and also published the Hydrogen Car Revolution blog.  In his book The Supermanager, Greg shares seven principles of great management told in a conversational tone through a short story.  The story begins by introducing Andrew, a management program trainee in the Electronics industry, about to embark on the daunting task of managing 6-8 people.  Just prior to beginning his new management role, Andrew is having lunch at a fast food restaurant, where he is surprised to see happy, motivated, efficient and engaged employees.  Upon his return visit he receives a similar experience and approaches the restaurant manager Leo to learn more about effective management.

Over seven subsequent meetings Leo shares the following 7 management principles with Andrew:

1. Surround yourself with high-quality employees

As a manager your employees play a big role in determining your success, so it is important to hire great people. 

2. Train employees well

Put yourself in the new employees position, thoroughly explain the job, encourage questions and guide the employees in the right direction.

3. Communicate the end result you want, then empower employees to achieve it

Manage the result over the process, pick your battles and confront unproductive behavior.

4. Lead by example

As a manager your actions set the standard for your employees to follow. 

5. Listen to employees

Have an open door policy: be available, open and receptive in order to uncover problems and obtain employee suggestions.

6. Praise good work

Positively reinforce good performance by all employees to increase the likelihood that such actions will be repeated. 

7. Manage each employee differently

Take a customized approach to management that acknowledges that different employees have different needs, abilities and are motivated by different things.

While many of these principles are common sense, as Greg acknowledges in his book and as I know from my experience they are unfortunately not necessarily common practice in many organizations.  What I loved about this book is its accessibility. While balancing moving states, working a full-time job, grad school and job searching delayed me getting around to reading this book, when I finally did, I found it to be a quick read at only 97 pages long.  I would definitely recommend this book to organizations that are looking for a book to give to new managers that provides a great overview of effective management.  Often I have seen companies give their managers huge management texts hundreds of pages long.  Such books are daunting to many overwhelmed new managers who may not know where to start. By contrast, The Supermanager is a far more time efficient read and a lot more approachable for managers in any industry.

In addition to the seven principles, this book also demonstrates the importance of having the courage to approach people you wish to emulate.  I have heard entrepreneurs such as Laura Zander from Jimmy Beans Wool speak on the importance of approaching people in your industry in order to learn from them. Similarly in the case of this book new manager Andrew saw Leo a manager in an unrelated industry doing a great job and sought to learn from him.

The Supermanager is a simple but effective short text, for the manager who is serious about becoming a great manager.  I would encourage you to check out this book, which is available for purchase on Amazon.

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CrowdSourcing is a collaborative open call approach to problem solving and idea creation.  One such example is Google’s Project Glass, which involved the company sharing an idea for future technology and requesting feedback from the public to create consumer driven products.  Recently I read a research paper from McKinsey Quarterly by Arne Gast and Michele Zanini on the idea of crowdsourcing corporate strategy, which I will discuss in this blog post.

Why consider this approach?

So often an organization’s strategy suffers from a lack of diverse perspectives and lack of leader understanding of the operational challenges their employees face.  As a result strategies are often created that sound great in the boardroom but have the opposite impact in practice.  Leaders that fail to consider the implications of their strategic decisions on front line employees, may experience implementation challenges from employees who do not support the organization’s strategic vision.

Benefits of this approach

By incorporating perspectives from front line employees, strategies are less likely to be flawed relative to those created in isolation.  Crowdsourced strategies have the potential to be more insightful and actionable.  Employees are likely to become more engaged as they learn that their opinions are encouraged and can make a difference.  As a result of greater employee involvement, implementation is easier and employees are more likely to support the company’s strategic direction.

CrowdSourcing strategy in practice

Companies that have adopted this approach range from the obvious: Wikimedia to companies that were not founded on collaborative content creation such as 3M, HCL Technologies and Rite-Solutions.  HCL Technologies rethought their business-planning process to create greater transparency and to generate more diverse feedback and insights on their business plans.  In 2009 the company launched an online platform called My Blueprint and invited more than 8,000 employees to view 300 posted business plans.  Interested individuals gave detailed, actionable feedback on the plans and quality insights were obtained. By including others in the process, opportunities for cross-unit collaboration were more easily identified.  Overall crowdsourcing enabled the company to gain fresh perspectives to greater analyze their business plans and focus on specific actions to take to achieve desired results.

While the concept of crowdsourcing strategy is a very new idea, this concept has great potential to improve decision-making, avoid group think, eliminate ideas that would not work well in practice and to create visions that are more meaningful to lower level employees.  What do you think? Would your organization be open to crowdsourcing their strategy? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 

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