The Eiger-Nordwand, or North Wall of the Eiger, in Switzerland, is said to be one of the most iconic climbs in the Alps. Its orientation, size, structure and history make it a magnet for all aspiring climbers and its history is littered with tragedy and triumph in adversity. According to those who have completed it, from the first ascent in 1938 by a team of Germans and Austrians over 3 days, to Ueli Steck's record of just under 3 hours in 2008, you need to be both mentally and physically prepared for a great challenge. In addition, they say, there [...]
The retail industry is hurting in Australia. The internet has been blamed for a significant shift in buyer behaviour to online purchases, exploiting the $1000 threshold exemption for the Goods and Services Tax (GST). While this might be true, my experience as an online and in-store buyer suggests a number of other factors that might be at play. In looking to purchase a copy of the book, Game of Thrones, for my daughter, I went into a local retailer considered to be 'high-end' on a Saturday afternoon. Having found the book I went to three separate counters to conclude the [...]
Every business improvement initiative needs Executive Sponsorship because every improvement initiative involves change. To effect the change you will need resources, decisions, insights, influence and leadership, however, the big question is "What is the Executive Sponsor actually supposed to do?" Don't make the assumption that this additional role is hardwired into their DNA and don't assume they will ask if they are not sure. If you get an experienced sponsor with a track record of success then you are well on your way. If you get a sponsor who is too time poor, doesn't fully understand the real benefits of [...]
Change is still hard. The Harvard Business Review said so again in July and, while there is no reliable empirical basis upon which to justify the popular narrative that 70% of organisational change initiatives fail, the perception of change risk remains. In a world that is changing rapidly: where we are seeing whole industries being disrupted by convergence and technological innovation; where the emerging social adoption of technology across the internet touches almost every aspect of life; where fundamental structural adjustments are required for all major economies; we need to be able to change effectively and quickly. There is no safe [...]
Successful change relies on performance excellence. Whether your organisational change initiative succeeds, or fails, ultimately comes down to the actions of individuals. In a services organisation, or function, this is especially so because a service is created at the time of its consumption: its value is not embedded in a physical product. It is what people do that effects change and, for this reason alone, performance excellence in business shouldn't be an abstract concept. Unfortunately, It becomes abstract when it is discussed in ways and at levels that dissociate it from reality. In reality, the cost of running your [...]
The real canary in the coal mine was intended to signal the presence of methane and/or carbon dioxide gas. Canaries were a sensitive indicator to gas build up and as long as it kept singing the miners could keep working. As soon as it stopped the miners knew to get out before something worse happened. Is disenchantment with work signalling that the canary has stopped singing? It seems that the France Telecom story can be seen in a much broader context and the article linked in The Economist reiterates some of the points I was making in the previous post. [...]
The recent story on the BBC website about 24 suicides by employees of France Telecom over the past year or so is a dramatic reminder of the human dimension of organisations and the challenges of change. While disturbing, it isn't that there are suicides at all, because the statistical analysis suggests this is within range for an organisation with an employee population of 100,00. It is rather that it highlights the difficulties people face in adapting to these changes and while the majority don't suicide, how many are affected in ways that extend far beyond the boundaries of their job [...]
We have the emergence of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) as significant economic forces; we want to transform to a low carbon economy in response to the issue of climate-change; the baby-boomers are retiring; economic competition is becoming more globalised; oh and lets not forget the global financial crisis which probably still has legs and the potential for a few more significant surprises. ... Operational effectiveness and strategy are both essential to superior performance ... but they work in very different ways - Michael Porter, What is Strategy, HBR (1996) Thirdly, I don't mean to suggest that everything stays the same and is sweetness and light: change is inevitable and pervasive.