Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Current Environment’

Scaling down multi-company corproate structures

21.11.2010 No comments

Scaling Down Multi-Company Corporate Structures

I have noticed a relatively new trend within smaller companies in that they seem to be more willing to experiment with ever more complex ownership and legal structures.  I imagine that this is partly a fashion thing associated with the recent “Decade of the Banker”.  Another influence is the European tax optimization tradition that encourages more complex legal and cross boarder structures, and finally Silicon Valley stock options and shared ownership have been a model for how to motivate the latest generation technical talent.  The consequences of such complexity are often not felt until many years later.

Read more…

Transitioning Corporate Organizations

20.08.2010 No comments

Why good organizations don’t guarantee success, and sub optimal organizations can still deliver….

In a previous post, I discussed the three basic organization structures for most companies, but I did not discuss how to change to a more optimal structure.  The bad news, is that the change is almost always more damaging than the improvement of a more optimal organization.

Almost every study on reorganization suggests that there is an efficiency loss for at least six month, and often well more than a year.  While you can evaluate how the transition is progressing relatively quickly, you cannot determine if the overall new structure is indeed superior to the former for more than a year.   Another note is that the reduced efficiency starts the moment that rumors of the change emerge and that the 6 month period needed for stabilization only starts when the org changes stop.  In far too many companies, managers hope to minimize the transition by announcing the plan well in advance.  They also hope to improve the results by making a “mid course correction”.  Both are hugely damaging since they extend the inefficiency window. As a result, a reorganization is a major commitment for several years to come and managers need to take into consideration their ability to provide this critical settling period before they even open the discussion of change.

Read more…

The High Cost of Selling Software

04.07.2010 No comments

The cost of getting software into the hands of customers is typically 2 to 4 times more than the cost of developing the software…

During the current economic downturn, governments have looked to stimulate the economy, and have shown particular emphasis on the small businesses that are seen as the engine for creating jobs.  One common stimulus has been to promote new software and other technology R&D efforts that create Intellectual Property (IP).  From my way of thinking, they have it wrong in their stimulus target.  Many small businesses are able to create software IP through “sweat equity”, that is, labor that not directly compensated.  The cost of licenses and hardware need to create the software is usually very small and the typical small business entrepreneurs invest their time while remaining in their home offices close to family and friends.

Unfortunately, after making the sacrifice required to create the product, many of these entrepreneurs then face the very sad fact that this software development effort is usually only a quarter of the total cost of getting the product to the final consumer.  (Don’t believe me?  Look at annual reports of software companies and software divisions of publicly traded companies to see where their costs are: R&D is typically 15-35% of total revenue.)  Read more…

Corporate Organizations

05.04.2010 No comments

There are 3 basic organizational structures– each flawed in some way

Organization Structure

In almost every political campaign, the opponent runs on the theme that they can successfully attack the huge waste, fraud, and abuse that exists everywhere in the government. Many will even have some facts showing how great this problem is, yet even after multiple successive new governments with this as a priority, the improvement is marginal at best.  This is not conspiracy, but the symptom of a very hard problem that does not have an easy answer.

In my business world, I see two similar paradoxical hard problems that the simple answer never provides a meaningful solution.  The first is sales cross-selling and the second is the re-use of designs (aka IPR management). Combine these two with the ever-present general corporate waste through communication barriers and you have the three justifications we typically see used for most every corporate reorganization.  You also have the reason why almost no reorganization can solve the hard problems.

Read more…

Is Marketing the Next Finance?

28.02.2010 No comments

Rory Sutherland at Ted Talks helps me understand the value and cost of customer loyalty

I recently discovered Rory Sutherland from one of my favorite podcasts: Ted Talks.  After rapidly devouring all the YouRoryAtTEDtaksTube videos and blogs on this Olgilvy “Ad Man”, I found myself stuck on one of his minor theses: “Is marketing the new finance?” (quoted from Guy Phillipson).  He argues that every new corporate initiative in the last ten years has created the all-important spreadsheet analysis that carefully laid out shareholder value, including an analysis of the perception of the company by the financial community.  How about using the same care in analyzing how the customers feel about the company and its products?   From Rory’s perspective, business is simple: Find something that customers want to buy and then remove the barriers that keep them from buying it.   I think he is on to something.   He proposed that this current financial emphasis should be replaced by a real solid marketing emphasis. Read more…

Full Combat Business

16.04.2009 2 comments

Business in an era when 1+1 = 2 (not 3)combat

Most articles that discuss a company’s mission, vision, strategy, or even marketing often cite Nike and their tag line “just do it”. It is also well known that during an earlier time Nike had a different internal slogan of a completely different sort:  “beat Adidas”. About the same time Nike had their aggressive slogan, the company I worked for had a similarly aggressive internal slogan of “kill Weston-Loral” (our geographically closest direct competitor).

Why is it that these old style, aggressive slogans, that target a competitor are now so rare? Why are aspirational slogans like “just do it” all the rage? What can we learn about the effectiveness of these slogans in their time? My thesis is that such slogans were the products of their market environments and that much of the same market environment has returned leading to the conclusion that slogans and their consequential real action need to change back to the old again. Read more…

Renting is the New Selling

31.03.2009 No comments

for RentWhen”Cash is King”,  be a Kingmaker for your customers

In several other blogs, I have talked about the ethics of needing to bring value to your customer and discussed various components of what this value might be.  I have also discussed negotiation theory where we try to find out what value is most valuable to the customer.

In today’s financial crisis (Q1-2009), I can be reasonably certain that your customer values cash management.  You also are likely faced with the same financial reality and also value cash management; consequently, this is either a conflict/deal breaker or an opportunity to investigate how not all cash is equal.  If cash is not the same to everyone, then we have the perfect opportunity for great negotiations. Read more…