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21 January, 2015
by PeterBj
Comments Off on How Power Questions Provides Powerful Answers

How Power Questions Provides Powerful Answers

Where would we be if no questions were asked? Without questions, there is no search for answers, no thinking. Knowledge would remain static. We would be prisoners of the past. Asking questions is therefore seriously important. But asking the right question is a challenging task. Einstein was of the opinion that identifying the right question would enable him to pinpoint the exact information he needed to answer his problem. From there getting to the answer would be a relatively easy step.

People who develop new knowledge are driven by curiosity and aspiration. They know that flawed assumptions are the largest factor in flawed execution. They challenge the dogma and seek answers. Therefore, they ask questions. Questions are the foundation that builds reason for change. Progress starts with questioning status quo. The more vibrant your field of engagement is, the more important to ask questions to make learning happens faster.

Improve the quality of your questions is the most immediate thing you can do to develop and deepen your knowledge. Asking a question clearly is a big part of the way getting it answered. Answers can only be as meaningful as the questions are. Questions hold the power to cause us to think and create answers we believe in. The usefulness of the knowledge we acquire and the effectiveness of the actions we take depends on the quality of the questions we ask. Questions that leads to creating powerful answers deserve being called Power questions.

Power questions challenge our thinking. They throw cold water on our most dearly held assumptions and force us out of our traditional thinking. They help us think about tomorrow instead of defending yesterday. They motivate us to learn and discover more. They give us better insights. They help us go from the current view of the situation to a better view of the situation. Questions are the keys to opening locked doors. You create your opportunities by asking for them through power questions.

Soon four years ago IBM’s supercomputer Watson challenged human Jeopardy champion and won the American Jeopardy. This proves that computers can answer questions better than people can, provided the facts are made accessible for them. For sure was this a lasting mark on the history of Jeopardy and for the laboratories of IBM, who succeeded to richly encode human knowledge.

There are good reasons to be fascinated by ever more powerful computers and the new world they are opening up, which by no doubt will continue to alter our worldview, way of thinking and behavior. We must nevertheless not lose our foothold.

In spite of all great strides are we still far from having computers that can ask meaningful questions. For doing that, the computer would need to understand the inner-lives of the situation. To do that, it would need not only to think in the sense of queries given to it, but also experientially in the sense of having awareness. Such a modus operandi is forever closed off to a computer. It goes beyond the definition of what a computer is.

There will never be a Brave New World, Nineteen Eighty-Four or Hal 9000 where computers do it all. Much has been written about artificial intelligence, expert systems, neural networks, and the likes. But none of these is anything more than the application of human-defined rules, processes and an extension of information management mechanisms. Whether the information becomes questions leading to decisions marked by wisdom is out of control of the computer and what is built upon it.

To compete in the questionrace you will have to realize that computers can be of great help. Digital tools magnify the abilities that make us unique in the world: the ability to think, the ability to articulate our thoughts and the ability to work together to act on those thoughts. But lay off the paralyzing thought that computers can help you ask questions. Questions start and ends with the human individual. Curiosity and aspiration for better productivity and freedom will continue stimulate learning and thrive. You create your opportunities by asking for them. It is the reason to keep query: What, How, When, Who, Where, and Why?

As we enter an era of intense digital transformation where the cause and effect relationships are not always immediately apparent, it is imperative to confront brutal facts and ask questions to opening up new perspectives. Power questions provoke thoughtful exploration and inspires lateral thinking. We cannot solve problems on the same level of thinking that created them.

How can we get better at asking power questions? Here are some food for thought:

1. Start with asking yourself a tough question, “Why do I strongly believe what I believe?” Examine your assumptions mean extending your comfort zone and prepare for new opportunities. It takes courage. But, you are never brave before you have done it; bravery emerges from the good feeling of achievement. As with developing any skill, the best teacher is experience and the best coach is a thoughtful listener.   

2. It is not about just asking questions but asking the right questions. To that end, you need to establishing facts about the subject and then attribute meaning to these facts through value judgments. If you cannot frame and explain the question well, it can be because you do not understand the subject well enough. Then, you have to work on that. Believing you can ask power questions about something you do not know anything about is a delusion.

3. The management guru Peter Drucker is famous for his five opening questions when meeting with a new business. These are good questions, but they are not self-explaining. Why would he else write 39 books where elaborating on these questions is the essential theme? Drucker knew that when a good question also is properly explained it is much easier to start other minds along a stimulating line of thought.

4. Power questions typically transcend many boundaries and therefore often requires research and assessment. It is important that your best findings are framed as questions rather than big hairy problems. Questions are not supposed to end with an exclamation point but with a question mark. You therefore need to think carefully about the real question underneath everything you have discovered.

5. What will happen in 25 years’ time? – is no power question. It is outside the scope of most people’s interest and capacity to take effective action. Knowledge emerges in response to compelling, relevant and adequate questions. Questions should clarify the scope and keep them in realistic boundaries and needs of the situation at hand. To do it right you need to keep the main thing, the main thing, simplify as much as possible and sacrifice the “perfect” for the “good enough”.

23 September, 2014
by PeterBj
1 Comment

Business Process Platforms also Needs to Renew

A Google search for “Business Process Platform” returns 56.6 million results, including thousands of companies offering software solutions in this area, defined as product suites supporting the design and runtime environments for business process automation and enhanced user experiences. These companies range from global giants to miniatures offering only pieces of the BPP solution, whereas there are thousands of system integrators, workflow and enterprise consultants with their own opinions and offerings.

Given this multitude of solution providers, how can a prospective buyer make an intelligent decision on whom to trust with this mission-critical choice of platform software? If you have an ERP system, why would you need a BPP? How do you define your requirements? How do you sort out the companies offering real business value from those who just go with the motions? And, not least, what will you do with the business process platform that is already installed?

You may wonder why I am interested in BPP? It is no stranger than that I have been working with it for a long time and have customers using an old BPP Product. They often ask what I think about its future since the vendor does not say anything. I think vendors of BPP should be fair with customers and provide answers of where their products are heading. Customers want to know how their maintenance fees are used.

This allows users to make an informed decision about keep investing in their existing BPP or not. In the long run, openness is always the best alternative for everybody, also the vendor of entrenched BPP products. Nobody can escape, we are now  in the beginning of a major shift in enterprise software.

All enterprise software providers are facing major challenges as they have substantial technical debts. A technical debt is a term describing the development work that arises when a software product has not applied the best solutions measured by today’s standards. The need to remake an entrenched BPP is not only a result of poorly written code and replacing outdated technology, but also to assimilate an evolving understanding of the problems and the best way to solve those problems.

It is a fact that too many companies are held back by costly enterprise software that does not provide business freedom and beautiful user experiences. These applications, built on old platforms and technologies must either be renewed or replaced. For providers of BPP the key to the future is to offer hassle-free upgrades where greater flexibility, mobility and usability automatically enriches the facilitated applications. Upgradeability toward providing modern application capabilities is the force that is bringing other forces in the business process platform industry down to earth.

9 October, 2013
by PeterBj
Comments Off on Pointers for Achieving Faster and Greater Enterprise ROI

Pointers for Achieving Faster and Greater Enterprise ROI

Return on Investment or ROI is the order of the day for most executives but it is also a feared term in many companies. The expectation to deliver measurable business outcomes can be felt so challenging that it makes people talk about everything except the economic value of their improvement proposal.Whether you like it or not; ROI measurement is going to continue being a key factor when deciding yes or no to a business process improvement initiative. Lower cost, higher revenue, reduced risk, less tied-up capital, greater availability, more flexibility, better margins, happier employees and more satisfied customers are fundamental ROI issues and measures.

These desired outcomes are not new; they have been core concerns since money first changed hands. Although these outcomes have stayed the same nearly everything else has changed, and then changed again. A technology that was revolutionary yesterday is now outdated. Companies must now achieve these ROI outcomes within a fierce and unforgiving economic environment unlike anything anyone has ever seen.

In this post, I will share a few ideas in the form of some targeted advice for achieving faster and greater ROI:

  • Investments should be directed toward the best opportunity available. Avoid nostalgia. Investment decisions of the past must not be a roadblock for the investment decision of the present. Future expectations play a role – but the prospect that there may arrive a better solution in the future is uninteresting. Sure, there will be better solutions in the future.
  • Achieving ROI require understanding that money has a time value. Profits to be generated in the future are less valuable than profits delivered today. Doing it right requires a point-of-decision perspective where resources are allocated to generate the best possible return as early as possible.
  • ROI happens through purposeful change, which depends on people who are motivated, collaborative and communicative. No one can be a good change agent or teammate if left outside, uninformed. Therefore, the organization that cannot communicate cannot change, and the company that cannot change is endangered.
  • Every ROI issue and measure must be itemized. Every one of them must be translated into money, then summarized and compared with the sum of the capital outlays to realize those ROI items.

Calculating the ROI of your Enterprise Investment

A complete ROI calculation must include the impact of cash flows that extend over the time. When an appropriate time increment (such as month) is chosen the ROI dividend for each increment is calculated as follows: ROI% = (business value – investment) / investment.

If the business value is K€100 and the investment is K€80 it generates a return of K€20 i.e., 25% ROI. Assuming this was for January and you continue accumulating the same value, but with only half the cost, for the rest of the year; your annual ROI would be 130%.

Successful software and transformation investments do not only providing ROI but also a great recurring pattern. The sooner you invest in a profitable solution the longer time you will enjoy the benefit of recurring returns on the investment. The payback from your initial investment is only part of the equation.

9 September, 2013
by PeterBj
2 Comments

Exploring the Pathways to Better ERP Value

A key lesson from having worked with ERP for more than 30 years is that you should not modify the system without first trying to change your business to match the solution. Satisfactory and successfully using the ERP system as-is, is the best solution. However, as that is not always possible; it is not the only solution. Neither is it a final destination. The business environment is constantly changing. To stay current with your time, your business processes and its enabling software need to change too:

  • A primary rule of good business management practice is to continuously improve your way of working. When you are finished changing, you are finished.

ERP is at the beginning of a new era where social technologies, big data analysis, cloud, openness, mobility, specialized portals and awesome user experiences are key drivers. In the long run these drivers are going to deliver even better if you do not forget the lessons of the past:

  • A primary rule of good ERP management practice is to avoid modifying the program code of the ERP system. Fewer modifications means less problems.

What makes modern ERP systems attractive is the offering of open computing and continual upgrades where every new release provides new business capabilities. Leading ERP vendors are investing huge amount of money to make its next release delivering business advantage for its customers.

It is nevertheless true that even the most suitable ERP system may not support all business needs. Regardless of how much you try to tweak a business processes to match the ERP system there may be no practical solution. If such a gap is crippling your business too much it is time to act.

When standard ERP does not offer a solution and the business advantage of having a better process or function brings more value than cost you need to consider one of these complementary ways for better ERP value:

  1. Apply a pre-integrated add-on application and use it for leveraging the value both of the investment and the ERP system.
  2. Design and assembly a mashup/composite application on top of ERP. These kind of apps allows reusing adequate ERP functionality while adding all new capabilities outside the ERP system.
  3. Making a code modification is the least attractive way to go. However, as we are living in the real world we must accept that it cannot always be avoided.

Although “chuck it all and start all over again” is too drastic, good ERP management do recognize that an ERP system can become outworn. Systems that have served the business well and repaid itself many times over will at some point reach its limit. This condition typically shows in that it becomes too hard to make progress. When that happens, it is a signal that it is time to move on and replace the old ERP system.

ERP also stands for ”Everything Requires People”. Even the best ERP system will not excel if the implementation and ongoing service is poor. Successful customer outcomes depends on people who a) know how to turn knowledge into value and b) are at war with unsolved business issues.

Exploring the pathways for better ERP value is all about moving forward for the right reasons in the right way at the right time. This is vital as you do not want to point a direction, ask the enterprise to follow and then find out you took the wrong way. Part of the agenda to follow on this blogg is therefore:

  1. Pointers for acheiving faster and greater enterprise ROI
  2. Why ERP-systems at times need to be replaced
  3. How ERP upgrades automates business improvement
  4. The business advantage of complementary applications
  5. Understanding the business value of mashup/composite apps
  6. Considerations when forced into making ERP modifications
  7. Why the right people make the right things happen sooner

 

17 April, 2013
by PeterBj
1 Comment

Finding the Route to Competitive Advantage

What is competitiveness greatest enemy? Probably it is an organization that chooses to administrate what is instead of leading toward how it ought to be. The result of such behavior is predictable. You cannot improve your competitiveness by just doing the same things again and again.

Over 40 percent of the companies that were at the top of the Fortune 500 in year 2000 were no longer there in 2010. As well this statistics shows that the top businesses in the world are falling behind at an increasing rate! Why? Could there be any other reason than that they failed to be entrepreneurial and sharp their competitive edge?

The classic quote “everything that can be invented has been invented” is wrong, has always been wrong and will continue to be wrong. The world has never been as it always has been. In fact, you change, technology changes, the competition changes, opportunity changes, and the world changes. Everything changes.

Regarding changes and enterprise software; opportunity has increased in the last few years as wave after wave of disruptive technologies have swept across the IT landscape. Just try to imagine any business process that is not affected by social, mobile and cloud technologies as well as big data analytics and in-memory data processing.

The challenge of becoming more competitive is not about lack of opportunity, but making the right choices about where your industry and business is going. The goal of strategy is to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage over rivals. Basically this can happen through a cost advantage or a differentiation advantage.

  • A competitive cost advantage exists when a company is able to deliver the same benefits as competitors but at a lower cost.
  • A competitive differentiation advantage exists when a company is able to deliver benefits that exceed those of competing products.

Competitive advantage is a force that enables your company to deliver superior value for its customers and superior results for yourself.

The secret of getting ahead is getting started. And in doing that, why not agree already from the outset that developing competitive advantage is not a straight road with no bumps but a process in which different options are set against one another to achieve a better result.

When engaged leaders and colleges are discussing the company’s competitiveness and how to improve it, it happens that different opinions are expressed. This is not a bad thing. Because, if everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking. By bringing different perspectives into the conversation the frame of reference is broadened and the arguments are tried. A genuine business decision should be based on that different opinions are expressed – at least if it is going to have a chance to be the right choice and be effective.

The answer to the question of which way a company should choose is always a choice between alternatives that are based on different assumptions about the company and the outside world. The answer may pose a risk as it can lead to changes in company business model and behavior. A decision of this nature is too important to be taken with immediate acclamation. It should not be based on divergent opinions being suppressed, but be a fully analyzed and conscious choice between alternatives.

That disagreements become clear is healthy also in the long term. It is a major step towards an efficient management of the company. It enables the organization to collaborate better. Becoming aware of the differences of opinion makes it easier to understand each other’s reasoning, motives and actions. Hidden or only halfway clarified differences in terms of vision, goals, values, methods and processes underlie many of the problems that annoy and threaten to disrupt operations in different ways.

Another strong reason for bringing differences of opinion in daylight lies in that the question of what the company is and how it is portrayed can never have one and only one correct answer for all time. Technology development and the changing needs of customers, partners, employees and competitors constantly offer new business opportunities and challenges.

To continuously and correctly answering the question; how can we become more competitive? is the key to a rich and rewarding future. It is important, because your competitors can hardly be expected to just idle.

Anyone who stops being better stops being good. It is as plain, challenging and scary as if your competitors are thriving and getting better and you are not getting better, you are getting worse!

12 March, 2013
by PeterBj
2 Comments

There is an Elephant in the Office

In the corporate world you may find yourself facing an elephant in the middle of the office. Having an elephant in the office is a metaphor for living with a huge issue. And that’s true whether you’ve seen the elephant or haven’t seen it.

Those who have seen the elephant, sometimes, somehow, manage to avoid it; showing how challenging the prospect of facing the world’s most dangerous mammal can be felt. Avoidance and denial becomes a way to escape from tackling the elephant.

But the elephant is huge. It fills the whole office and it stinks to high heaven. It’ll be difficult, if not impossible, to work effectively as long as it’s in the office.

How do you know there’s an elephant in the office? There are many symptoms of which the following are not uncommon:

  • Leading managers are stuck in the mindset Inside-out rather than Outside-in. Customers and prospects are considered disturbing rather than nourishing.
  • Complacency is everywhere. Improvement initiatives go on the backburner. Many managers acts as if their business processes are already perfected.
  • Targets are set low. There is no effective quality assurance to separate food from filth. Sloppy work is considered good enough.

How do you get the elephant out of the office so you can move on with business? Clearly not by avoiding it, that’s for sure.

The ongoing political dynamics in the workplace makes it easier for employees to voice their opinion. Even so, many people prefer keeping quiet and go with the flow; thinking that is the best way to advance and win the political gaming that takes place at work. For others it’s a survival mechanism.

The dilemma with keeping quiet is that you allow others to define your voice and identity. Passivity contributes to fatten the elephant. What you do becomes a question of who you are or who you want to be? The only thing necessary for the elephant to triumph is that good people with integrity do nothing.

If you accept that an organization is made up of people, then you’ve to accept that people are necessary for getting the right things done. When people with integrity becomes aware of the elephant and its damaging effects on business, their wellbeing and career there are only two options: 1) Change employer or 2) Get rid of the elephant.

If you choose to get rid of the elephant and doing the ethically right thing does however not mean that you can just lead it out. You must prepare for resistance. Integrity in business isn’t for the fainthearted.

Those who placed the elephant in the office and fed it will hardly admit their guilt. To try hiding mistakes is a protective mechanism particularly strong among those who feed elephants.

The elephant supporters first line of defense is probably to ignore you. If that doesn’t work, they’ll will backbite their opponents. So don’t be surprised when they put degrading labels on your person and say things like: “It isn’t like that. He has vivid imagination. He leaves out essential facts. Don’t listen to him”.

Their lack of basis in reality and objectiveness may seem provocative. It’s nevertheless important not to let yourself be dragged down to their level of argumentation.

The key to eliminating the elephant is to accurately assess the situation without prejudice or bias. In its most fundamental sense, doing the right thing is a systematic way of exposing reality and acting on it. Hence, you first have to fully understand what the elephant is about:

  • When analyzing the elephant it’s recommended to involve some colleagues both for verification and support. The guy who says “we can do this” always trumps the one who only sees difficulties. Pick allies that are reliable and action-oriented.

Shining a spotlight to create awareness is a powerful force to move beyond the limitations imposed by working with an elephant in the office. The key of getting rid of the elephant is to describe its essence in writing – that’s the “spotlight.”

You don’t get any points for being too subtle. Going too hard is not either recommended. Your report must shine – which means it should be interesting, understandable, logical and to the point. The more these criteria are met; the better chance to successfully eliminate the elephant.

*

Where does the elephant come from? It can come from many places, of which one is that a senior manager in the organization have forgotten why the company exists and what must be done to ensure its continued existence.

The business objective of most companies isn’t about internal meetings. An organization built around empty chatter and pushing papers instead of innovating and creating value for customer, employees and shareholders has lost its meaning.

What’s the best way to keep your office clean from elephants, stay competitive and grow? In my next blog post I’ll suggest what you can do within your organization to create and nourish a culture that again and again delivers growth, business results and successful customer outcomes.

22 November, 2012
by PeterBj
9 Comments

Experience is important for the results, but how significant is it?

Newton did not discover gravity simply by sitting under a tree when an apple fell on his head. He had since long time been preparing his mind for exactly this occasion. Everything worth doing, is worth doing poorly until you learn to do it well. When the right things are done well, we produce good results. A prerequisite for producing good results is to have knowledge of the matter in the form of facts, skills, understanding and familiarity.

Talent plays a role, undoubtedly, but it is a supporting role. No amount of native talent can prepare a knowledge worker for the infinite variety of circumstances she will face or the challenges she must surmount. No gene for resilience ensures that jewelry of wisdom will suddenly appear during challenging times. Neither talent nor genes can compensate for lack of experience. As Nietzsche said: “A man has no ears for that to which experience has given him no access.”

At IBM – where I was educated in the beginning of my career – it is believed that developing business knowledge is 10% classroom instruction, 20% on-the-job coaching and networking and 70% experience. How do we learn from experience? As we can easily find examples where two people have the same experience but entirely different takeaways the answer is not straightforward.

Experience by itself guarantees nothing. For example, what is often mistaken for 20 years’ of experience is just 1 year’s experience repeated 20 times. That type of experience should be avoided as it could create such deep brain tracks it may become impossible to free yourself. But usually we learn from our experience. The factor that more than any other will determine how much we learn from study and work can be summarized in one word: motivation.

  • Motivation means that we are focused in the moment and reflect on our experiences which significantly increase our capacity to organize and memorize experience. By then give voice to our experiences and share knowledge with others, we develop our own knowledge. By articulating what we learned, we enhance our knowledge.
  • In the book “Talent is overrated” the reason for good performances is scrutinized and the conclusion is: practice, practice, practice. But not just any exercise. If you want to get really good at something your exercise can not be conducted aimlessly. It must be challenging and take place in a reasoned state of mind.

Where does motivation come from? When Einstein was faced with that question he equated motivation with curiosity and said that it has its own reasOscar Wildeons to exist. I have seen many who passed IBM’s aptitude test for programming with flying colors but never performed well. To do well on tests does not help against indifference or laziness. During the recruitment of people in the beginning of their career, it is an uncertainty that must be accepted, you cannot know about peoples future interests.

The more experience a candidate has, the less reason to evaluate anything other than her actual level of capacity and match it to what it takes to fill the position. The probability that a person who has been a controller the first 20 years of work can become a good leader is microscopic. And there is not a long track record of people leaving professional sports to become a software developer.

There is an absolute logic in that “you must learn to crawl before you can walk.” Denying the facts and take an arrogant attitude to the fruits of experience is not being progressive. Newton’s gravity, Einstein’s theory of relativity… When you look forward by looking back it is clear that professionalism comes from building on what others have learned. Trying to reinvent the wheel is at best pointless.

For all wide-ranging theories of expert cultivation, everyone agrees that anyone who seeks to perform must have firsthand experience, have had their feet wet and their hands dirty from the field where they aspire to deliver results. Also failures are experiences. Of course you can learn from mistakes. Have you never made ​​a mistake; you have probably done too little! As Dr. Travis Bradberry put it, “Success is what happens after you’ve survived your mistakes.”

You can outsmart Jante by creating an internal compass, using certain experiences so that you can avoid unnecessary conflicts. Of course you should care, but not too much. All things are not equally important. Yet, it may still be tough for an experienced person to be eyed at the seams when applying for a new assignment. But that is not the problem. It is the solution for those who are qualified and for those who recruit for achieving good results.

We each view everything through our personal experience. It is this experience, integrated into our consciousness, which determines what we believe an objective event to be. If you see a great improvement capability but your experience is a limiting one, you will most likely see yourself as limited and view change as difficult and scary. If you, instead, are full of successful experiences, you are not only more of an expert but also better prepared to transform opportunity into advantage.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

 

8 October, 2012
by PeterBj
1 Comment

What is Businesslike?

Businesslike is about Win Win

Businesslike is a popular term. You may therefore think that its meaning is obvious. Not so. It rather seems that the term has become so overused (at least its Swedish equivalent) that its real meaning has been lost.

The fundamental question in this blog post is how businesslike is to be understood, both as a term and in regards to some specific situations. What is or is not businesslike behavior when running an enterprise and doing business?

From a linguistic viewpoint, businesslike means being capable of trading, which tells it is an activity involving [minimum] two parties with different starting points:

  • From a customer perspective, trading should, within reasonable time return more value than the sum of the invested money and effort.
  • From a supplier perspective, trading should within reasonable time return greater revenue than the accumulated cost.

Return of investment calculations involves evaluating plus and minus of each inherent factor and apply a time perspective. If the calculation shows that the investment is not profitable, it should be put to halt. Making investments that does not provide payback in reasonable time is not businesslike.

Before getting an opportunity to do business must a company’s most basic challenge be conquered, to position itself as a prospective supplier. Being businesslike requires understanding that a supplier’s right to exist is entirely dependent on the ability to attract customers and deliver value for money.

Does the customer always know what provides good value for money? Not very likely. The technological and cultural development constantly creates new opportunities. What was wrong in the past may be right today and vice versa.

Knowledge is a condition in constant redefinition. It is impossible to be businesslike without understanding the business of today. It requires adequate experience and staying current. New profitable solutions results from fresh knowledge of markets, technologies, methods and usage. This is how knowledge transforms into business value.

Behaving in accordance with businesslike is pretty close to common sense, which is not so common after all. Here are five examples of what not to do:

  • Allowing symbolism, rhetoric and personal interests rule instead of business value
  • Initiate one project after another without securing satisfactory accomplishments
  • Doing the same thing – proven not to work – and believe you get a better result
  • Assigning people based on friendship or family ties is simply misguided loyalty
  • Taking on assignments where you lack the skills to make a successful delivery.

Businesslike is incompatible with just milking the cow and giving nothing of value in return. It is therefore not at all arrogant to stand on that basic principle and say no to people who are not meeting the objective of delivering value for money.

The harsh reality is that businesslike starts with proactive preparation regarding your own person. Businesslike does not just “happen.” The choices, after all, are yours. Whether you know it or not, your version of being businesslike is designed by you. Every moment, every situation, provides a new choice and opportunity to improve your value delivery.

It can hardly have passed anyone’s notice that our ability to communicate has become increasingly important. Communication skills is yet not just about being able to tell a true story well, it is at least as much about listening to understand other people:

  • Being a good listener requires empathy far beyond understanding the meaning of each word. The aim is that the person(s) you are interacting with understands that you understand what has been said contextually.
  • Ideally, you should be able to help other people sharpen their ideas and developing them further. This is the key opening the door to establishing a good and rewarding relationship for both parties.

Trust as the basis and better business as a shared goal opens the way for fruitful change. On the road to business value, it is important that ideas and needs are clarified in the the form of professional notes and specifications. Being businesslike means appreciating quality, as that is how you save time and money.

Businesslike is a character-based method for human interaction and collaboration. It involves understanding that you have to help others and that you need others to help you deliver business value. Feet on the ground, honesty and integrity are inseparable parts of being businesslike.

  • Translated into plain English integrity means honor. Honor to respect and appreciate other people’s knowledge, opinions and striving. Honor to keep agreements. Honor to give and receive praise for delivering good results. Give and get understanding for making mistakes that everyone eventually does.
  • It easily becomes a list of the various expressions of ethics, morals, sustainability and solidarity – which is justified, as these properties are important for being persistently businesslike.

Businesslike as a concept and practice advocating that every party is taking responsibility for more than just yourself. The aim is to implement sound businesses where the parties:

  • Avoid zero-sum game where only one part can win.
  • Engage in win-win transactions and projects where both parties get their goals met.

Being businesslike is about taking responsibility for delivering value where everyone wins. Win-win is the foundation and guiding principle of being businesslike.

21 August, 2012
by PeterBj
Comments Off on Companies Requires being Businesslike

Companies Requires being Businesslike

Successful companies require managers that can lead with vision and good example. The ever changing business environment also calls for managers who can lead strategically, tactically and ethically. To do so, managers need to question their assumptions, step away from their comfort zones, gain fresh perspectives and stretch their boundaries to position their company for purposefull change.

You can try to fight the need for change. But you cannot fight it and win. Not even the most superior company is immune to change. No one is. It would therefore be extreme arrogance to be satisfied, sit back and expect competitors doing the same. There cannot be any business growth or sustainable profitability without change for better business performance. This reality puts pressure on every company to become more businesslike in their approach.

That was how far I came in my writings to give advice about today’s business priorities. It was my intention to make it more comprehensive. But instead of heading in that direction I became unsure if the word “businesslike” was right for describing the qualities managers need to keep their company successful. The reason for doubt is that I all too often have seen how the term is used as part of a jargon where its meaning is more or less lost.

My search for another term failed in that I could not find a combination of words that so briefly and clearly conveys what it is about. So I decided two things: 1) continue using businesslike to summarize my message and 2) use my next blog post to provide a more thorough explanation about its meaning. I hope you will find it interesting!

12 June, 2012
by PeterBj
Comments Off on Making Technology Work for Business

Making Technology Work for Business

Software developers are at risk of letting technology taking over their lives. You spend hours upon hours, days, weeks, months, even years working to solve a complex technical problem.

Then, when it finally works: Euphoria! You come up for air, look around at the real world for a day or two, and then grab the next technical issue on your to-do list. So you go “heads down” again; to further refine your favorite technical domain. To gain time you borrow code from an open source project. Unfortunately, it was not as well tested as you thought and suddenly you are involved in yet another time-consuming activity.

What’s wrong with this approach? Apart from its possibly negative impact on social life, it risks directing your creative energy away from the real reason we’re using technology. You may be so occupied with the technicalities that you don’t notice if your work will have positive business impact. And if it hasn’t, it’s wasted work.

Wouldn’t it be a lot smarter to figure out what is good for business in advance? It is not enough that sales and business consultants believe they know what your customer wants. As no supply chain is stronger than its weakest link should the knowledge of customer wants be connected and aligned all the way through conceptualization, design, programming, and use.

Every thriving business software provider must choose an area of expertise and have an up-to-date plan where its roadmap is thoroughly explained with the purpose of developing applications that creates successful customer outcomes. That is how you make technology work for business instead of the other way around.

To align an organization for delivering successful customer outcomes we need to establish a set of common principles and priorities. If they are too complicated, they will not work. What customers want – on an overall level – is the starting pont. If these criteria are not satisfactory fulfilled, the measuring of fulfillment levels of underlying criteria become more or less meaningless.

Customers ask for software that is packaged, easy to use, and affordable. Easy to use applications are primarily achieved through a user interface that is intuitive, fast and available everywhere. To achieve that it must possess qualities such as Web, mobility, extensive configuration capabilities, searching, filtering and Excel integration. We must never forget that from the user’s perspective the user interface is the application and therefore a centerpiece of making technology work for business.