Monday, January 31, 2011

On-Line Fast Track for Success

Speed and timing are critical. Competition never sleeps. Competitive advantages are stolen quickly. The civilization itself is nowadays put on the fast track. Like it or do not. What worked several decades ago, is considered the “Age of Dinosaurs” today.  To reach 50 million people, it took radio 38 years,  13 years for TV, 4 years for internet and 3 years for iPod. Only 9 months were sufficient for Facebook to engage with 100 million people. The technological advancements, since Facebook started in February 2004, accelerated everything even more. From over 610 million Facebook active users nowadays, about 200 million access through their mobile devices and about 75% live outside the United States. We can continue with statistics for Twitter or LinkedIn. However they are not as important. The key for leaders is to understand how they can use these existing trends for their profit. For the benefit of their Company as well as for the benefit of self.  
Many Companies in the Eastern Europe have not yet adjusted themselves. A lot of them have forgotten they have to evolve with the ever changing environment. What worked for engaging with consumers and for networking in the business world several years ago, does not work today.
The truth is that a lot of Eastern Europe’s CEOs and management team members themselves have not still established an account on the social media networks for their Company or for themselves. Or they do not actively exploit it. They prefer to live comfortable life based on their historical routines. They start to loose their edge, but they do not worry. They can still live comfortably. At present at least. But what about in future?
If CEOs want to drive their Companies forward and enjoy their highly paid jobs, they have to stop worrying about being publicly exposed due to bigger transparency. They have to put their audience - being it consumers, customers or business partners - in the first place. They have to dissolve their fear to make the first step. They have to inspire the Company and its employees to change. Nothing more, nothing less.

Leaders of the future have to build their new vision for on-line presence and start to feel the urge to do something about it. NOW!
P.S. There are of course positive examples as well :-). Check them out:

And fresh new opportunity to use LinkedIn for Companies:

Friday, January 21, 2011

How to Avoid "Killing" Yourself During the Process of Change

Changes can change the status for the better or worse. How do we make sure we drive change that delivers our progress?
The other day I was running a workshop with a team of people who were going through a tough time, while their company was taken over by a new owner and their personal future was unknown.  People were asking themselves “Why does it happen to me? ” Some of them were not happy, blaming everybody for the outcome, tired of not having what they thought they deserve, being frozen to do anything and waiting for a miracle to happen. The consensus of this group was clear. They needed a new vision – not just for the new Company, but for themselves as well. They needed a reason to wake up in the morning to go to fight for their Company, for their brand, for their market share and for their own future. They wanted open communication, consistency and honesty from the management team. The “do-ers” wanted to hear from somebody concrete steps to move forward, the “visionaries” were hungry for official go ahead for freedom to define the new rules of the game themselves.  They all wanted to be included, listened and managed with respect regardless of the fact if they were on the list to be fired.
People naturally reject changes that are forced on them. As the takeover situations become more and more frequent , the need to adopt to new conditions instantly arises. The key is to know that there is always a new opportunity awaiting us, regardless if we know about it or not. It may be in the acquiring company or outside. We have to believe in it first. We have to realize, that we will be rewarded with this new job only at a time when we overcome our fear, when we take the whole situation as a new exiting adventure – when we finally start to do something about it.  The sooner we will mentally give up the old circumstances, the sooner we will find the new opportunity. The visualized happiness from the new opportunity will bring us even faster towards fulfilling it.
The question, if we will be in the end personally successful or not, depends who we are as a person and how much desire we have to succeed despite tough times. We have to realize, that the success comes from us, from within. We have to stop relying on others to lead us throughout uncertainty, as well as to stop being dependent on the luck maybe coming to us. We have to take charge of ourselves, of our destiny.
Everybody had at least once woke up and realized the world around him has - without recognizing it - slowly but surely changed. The old opportunities no longer existed.
Changes are natural regardless if we expect them or not.  The way we drive change shows our maturity and readiness to accept even bigger challenges in future. We cannot wait until the effects of change reach us. We have to be in the driver seat ourselves. Finding new ways is not always risky.  Be creative!
ü  “Going into the dark of unknown is better than waiting where nothing is left.”                           Spencer Johnson, M.D.
ü  “The gate to change is unlocked from the inside.”  Dr. Morris Massey

Monday, January 17, 2011

CEOs Need Inspiring Vision in Company's Turnaround

Big or small companies regardless need clear inspiring vision when finding themselves in performance trouble. Each economy and each enterprise has its periods of ups and downs. Only those survive long-term, which master the art of learning from mistakes.
Companies can never think they can stand still at one place, even though it feels very comfortable at the beginning. The down times provide Companies opportunities for studying what worked in the past and what could work better. The closer companies are to the reality, the faster the growth path can be found. Mistakes Companies have made during good times come back to them during bad times: Living large and consuming reserves, being overly focused on internal processes, on approvals, personal interests and on mistakes covering, being obsessed with own successes and thus loosing the track of consumer, not enough benchmarking with competition and with ever changing environment or simply just responding to coming ad-hoc demands vs. creating the opportunities upfront themselves by constant innovation.
The better the leaders master the downtimes, the longer companies can stay next time up. In times of performance trouble leaders have to visualize the success they want to achieve. First for themselves, then painting it to everybody. They have to think back at times when they have felt victorious, and remind themselves what principles they have used on their way up and then put exactly the same passion to their new goals. They have to be inspirational and motivational in their new mission to restart the Company for growth.
If the leaders have clear meaningful vision, if they are able to listen to external hints and to involve the team into the process of defining how to fulfill their new vision by concrete steps and actions and if they stimulate the excellence of execution, the path to follow this vision will appear itself. It will appear exactly at a time when they decide to see things differently. It will appear exactly at a time when they will be able to color the vision persuasively for self and others. It will appear exactly when they will help everybody to overcome their fear of change.
Only those thrive who value the good times as well as the bad times. Only those thrive who see the down times as opportunities for restarting the growth. Only those thrive who are not scared to act and to manage the change. They fulfill their vision. They attract new opportunities. They win better quality people. And last but not least they obtain a gift of personal satisfaction of doing the right things right.
P.S. I am happy to help your company to manage the turnaround, as well as to advise on painting the new isnpirational vision and on change management (More at:

Monday, January 3, 2011

How to Inspire to GIVE MORE in Retail

Someone once said: „Retail is detail.“ But what detail should we have in mind when we talk Retail? Retail experts have clear answers: You can only be successful, if you manage several factors in the same time, if you multi-task, if you pay attention to smallest practical solutions. You have to be operational as well as strategic. You have to balance external and internal priorities. You have to create new opportunities and wisely manage risks…. I have one decisive addition to all of that:  You have to engage the whole team to tackle the priorities together with you.
Successful retail companies understand that they need to put service mindset as the top priority. They unite their employees around their Company’s distinctive vision, mission, strategy and plan. They understand that employees’ engagement brings rewarding way forward. Personal leadership with passion and its ability to be contagious to people motivation drives their success. It can never be just the leading role of the CEO. It is about his/her ability to create an atmosphere of sharing and learning environment. It’s about believing that employees are able to enrich the Company’s purpose in this world.
Easily written, difficult to implement especially in bigger corporations. Few years ago I have thought about how to pass to the whole organization our new consumer oriented mission, we have created with my management team to restart the growth: “At Tchibo We Give You the Best, Because We Give YOU More“. Having in mind the audience (180 shop assistants out of 340 total employees), with desire that this should be lived by everybody without me daily supervising it, I have painted a picture everybody could understand. I have summarized the desired behavioral result in a detailed mission statement that was empowering each department, each employee or each shop assistant, encouraging them to bring new ideas, motivating them to take responsibility for their (shop) operations as well as for the impact they make on consumers. Everything was supported by a visual - internally used symbol  – kind of stamp of smiling coffee, symbolizing we are not just about coffee, we thrive to provide our consumers more than anybody else. Not just coffee and consumer goods. Smile and greetings, consumer first mindset were to become the corporate standard in our shops. This idea itself would not be enough.
I have asked the department heads to summarize with their teams how they want to contribute in concrete steps to the new mission statement, how they want to GIVE MORE to the consumers, to the customers externally as well as to the other departments internally. Then department leaders presented how their teams want to support the shop assistants in their task to DELIVER MORE quality experiences to consumers.
The critical factor was the way I have chosen for spreading this new mission statement out among shop assistants. I have taken the knowledge of the Chinese Philosopher Confucius (551BC – 479 BC, China): “What will you tell me, I forget. What will you show me, this is what I will remember. What you will let me do, this is what I will understand.”
I have asked the shop assistants themselves to define and document on film, how they want to change themselves to start to GIVE MORE to consumers, based on everything they have heard. They felt enlightened by the fact that somebody was treating them with respect and trust. They started to “play” with us and presented back advertising films demonstrating top class consumer experiences they want to start to provide, with concrete examples.
I was astonished twice. First, I have seen everybody got the message and we all are united and want to go for it, secondly I have realized even big groups of people with different educational backgrounds can start to breathe for the same purpose, if they strongly believe in it themselves.
The financial results were visible shortly after we have launched this internal program. We have over-delivered our KPIs, while especially the shop performance improved significantly, despite starting economical crisis.
If YOU put all your belief in your people and in the success you want to create together, if you visualize together with them the desired outcome and “what is in it for me” i.e.for them, your employees will start to DELIVER MORE not just because they are asked to do it, but because they will have a passion to GIVE MORE. This passion will stimulate uniqueness. This uniqueness will differentiate your company from your competition.

P.S. I am happy to run workshops with your teams to stimulate the passion to GIVE MORE, so that you can DELIVER MORE ! (more at: