Posts Tagged ‘cultural integrity’

Education and Training in Business

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

 

Education and Training in Business

The Futurist is a magazine that covers trends, forecasts and ideas about the future and is published by the World Future Society, a non-profit educational and scientific organization chartered in Washington, D.C.  Their website is www.wfs.org.

The Futurist May-June 2009 featured an article titled, Trends Shaping Tomorrow’s World/Forecasts and Implications for Business, written by Marvin J. Cetron and Owen Davies.  During the next few weeks we will be presenting segments of their article as they relate to businesses and business owners.

Education and training are expanding throughout society.

 

  • Of roughly 240 high-growth job categories identified by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 86 require a college degree, while 70 more require at least some college education.  All the rest call for work experience in a relate field; on-the-job training, often for long periods; or a postsecondary vocational degree.
  • Knowledge turnover in the professions is a growing challenge that will require continuous retraining and lifelong learning.  The half-life of an engineer’s knowledge today is only five years; in 10 years, 90% of what an engineer knows will be available on the computer.  In electronics, fully half of what a student learns as a freshman is obsolete by his senior year.
  • Rapid changes in the job market wand work-related technologies will require increased training for almost every worker.
  • A substantial portion of the labor force will be in job retraining programs at any moment.   Much of this will be carried out by current employers, who have come to view employee training as a good investment.
  • In the United States, education is moving rapidly to the Interne, as small, rural grammar and high schools supplement their curricula with material from larger institutions, while universities increasingly market their programs to distant students.
  • In order to give those who cannot attend their classes a chance to educate themselves, the Massachusetts Institute of technology has put its entire curriculum on the Internet, including class notes, many texts, and sometimes videos of classroom lectures.  Other institutions are following suit.

 

Implications

 

                In knowledge-based economies, a region’s growth prospects depend on its ability to generate and innovation, giving cities and advantage over rural and suburban areas. 

            Skills are the most important factor in economic success today.  Unfortunately, the people who need them most, the poor and unemployed, cannot afford schooling and therefore are least able to obtain them.  Helping people overcome this disadvantage is an important task for companies as well as communities.

            Even small businesses must learn to see employee training as an investment, rather than an expense.  Motorola estimates that it reaps $30 in profits for each dollar it spends on training.

            Both business owners and employees must get used to the idea of lifelong learning.

            As the digital divide is erased and minority and low-income households buy computers and log onto the Internet, groups now disadvantaged will be increasingly able to educate and train themselves for high-tech careers.

 

 

The next Futurist article:  The Services Sector

Advanced Communications Technologies

Friday, June 4th, 2010

 

The Futurist is a magazine that covers trends, forecasts and ideas about the future and is published by the World Future Society, a non-profit educational and scientific organization chartered in Washington, D.C.  Their website is www.wfs.org.

The Futurist May-June 2009 featured an article titled, Trends Shaping Tomorrow’s World/Forecasts and Implications for Business, written by Marvin J. Cetron and Owen Davies.  During the next few weeks we will be presenting segments of their article as they relate to businesses and business owners.

Advanced communications technologies are changing the way we live and work.

  • Web 2.0 services are building communities nearly as complex and involving as those existing wholly in the real world
  • MySpace and Facebook have a total of more than 180 million members who form communities of friends, most of whom have never met except on the Internet.
  • However, the millennial generation has already abandoned e-mail for most purposes other than communicating with “clueless” parents and grandparents.  Most have adopted instant messaging and social network Web sites to communicate with their peers.
  • Telecommuting is growing rapidly, thanks largely to ever-advancing communication technologies.  About 80% of companies worldwide now have employees who work at home, up from 54% in 2003.  The number of telecommuters in the United States reached an estimated 20 million in 2006.
  • At&T says that 90% of its employees do some work away from the office, while 41% work at home one or two days per week.  This saves the company a reported $180 million a year.

Implications

E-mail promised to speed business.  Instead, it absorbs more time than busy executives can afford to lose.  Expect the nascent reaction against e-mail to grow as many people eliminate mailing lists, demand precise e-communications rather than open-ended conversation, and schedule only brief periods for dealing with mail.

Instant messaging is likely to be even more destructive of time for the under-30 set.   However, e-mail is a major contributor to globalization and outsourcing, because it  eliminates many of the obstacles of doing business across long distances and many time  zones.

Unfortunately, e-mail and other modern communications techniques also have  made possible a variety of crimes, from online fraud to some forms of identity theft.

The next Futurist article: Specialization

THERE ARE TIMES YOU JUST HAVE TO TAKE YOUR MEDICINE

Friday, May 21st, 2010

There are areas of mediation and conflict resolution that are all too often ignored by even the largest of companies. If I had to characterize the omission, it would be close to not having automobile insurance, not taking fire precautions, not locking your car door in a city or not taking preventive medication.

A positive case in point that may illustrate the type of problem that arises is a story of a large fortune 100 company, whose financial division included a marketing department and the CIO’s (Chief Investment Officer) department.

These two groupings employed well over 1,400 people. The “powers that be” decided that it would be worthwhile, due to the departure of the executive in charge of marketing, for the CIO to take over and combine the functions of both of these departments. The problems that arose from this combination were many and yet, when we investigated, it was in large measure due to the perceptions that each department held of the other.

According to Marketing: “The CIO department sits in an ivory tower and makes (word altered here) “stuff” up that has no application in the real world and expects us to make it palatable”.

According to the CIO group: “Marketing doesn’t really do anything anyway. They throw parties and put names on hats and golf balls”.

The challenge here was not the mechanical or functional merge between these diverse portions of the same organization, but rather the cultural merger. Could the perceptions that each held of the other be changed? What were the factors and blocks that stood in the way? Would the organization take an active structural role through a shift in the way it rewarded the employees so that cross group and team function was a portion of the bonus structure? Was it possible for the individuals at the top of this grouping to genuinely attribute value to their interaction with the other department and model that for the whole group?

In this case, perceptions were changed and structures were shifted through the application of mediation and conflict resolution approaches. After a year of our input we found that a natural synergy had been developed, that project managers for the CIO service would always request participation by the Marketing department in the earliest stages of development and the reverse was also true. These departments became intertwined, and the group leaders requested that the leadership structure be moved into the same suite of offices so that they could cooperate more easily. Through the wisdom and sensitivity of leadership, mediation help was asked for at the right time and the results were excellent.

By contrast if we look at the rise and fall of the Daimler-Chrysler merger, we can see that they believed a tremendous amount was to be gained by the merger of technical expertise and manufacturing capability. Indeed, the technical levels of both organizations were raised considerably. The final results only a few years later were characterized as deception and betrayal. The short lifespan of this merger was due to the lack of will to invest in making a conscious cultural merger. This might have been be carried out by consultants who had a wide range of communications, mediation and conflict resolution skills being brought in during the initial merger talks and not left as an afterthought to the financial or just to chance.

Sometimes it seems that even large companies with billions at stake don’t want to take their medicine. The use of the professional services of cultural mediators early on can be the “Spoonful of sugar that makes the medicine go down”.

Richard Dash

The First Step in Finding the IP Business that is Right for You

Monday, April 19th, 2010

The First Step in Finding the Business that is Right for You 

“Each journey begins with a single step….” 

The first step in finding the “right business” is usually the most critical.  In acquisition consulting we find that even those who have been highly successful in previous careers get stuck in the mire of the paralysis of analysis, often to the point that they begin to doubt their dream to own their own company or business.  Let’s talk about the process on how to gain a focus in identifying specific paths/industries of interest.  Listed below are some of the top internet resources for general business searches:  www.Bizbuysell.com ; www.Bizquest.com ; www.businessmart.net

Here are your 2 initial tasks:

1. First, go to these sites as if you were in search of a job or of a new IP, a position which you need soon, to make a living.  As you search, select 5 (or more) listings that represent jobs/industries that you absolutely want nothing to do with. 

Print out the listings and write your thoughts and what you do not like about the job/industry.   Understanding what you don’t want to do is often the most important thing to know.

2.  The second task is to now select 5 listings that appeal to you, both professionally and financially.  These listings don’t necessarily have to be in the city or state you live in.  You just want to get a feel for the types of businesses that your instincts drive you towards. Print out these listings and then ask these questions of yourself:

  • Can I see myself doing this business on a daily basis?  Why or why not?
  • From a professional/working perspective, how do I want my family see me? 
  • Will they see me happy in this endeavor? 
  • How will I see myself in this business? 
  • Can I get excited about this business?

 

 Write down your results next to each listing.  You are now ready to perform a brief analysis and to start discussing the positive and negative aspects of that particular listing. As you move along in this approach you will see in the larger vision of what your task is:

  • Create clarity in your personal values.
  • Identify your feelings about your work.
  • Understand that you have choices on your path life. 
  • Recognize that these choices and options for being a business owner can be consistent with your values and who you are.

Finding the business that is right for you is a formidable task.  However it is out there for you; it takes patience, timing and perseverance.  By doing the simple tasks above you are taking the action to start your journey – the first step. 

 We wish you success! 

                                                                “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu
Chinese philosopher (604 BC – 531 BC)

Mediation – Often, People Just Need to be Heard

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

 “Sometimes we just get lucky”

I was asked to facilitate the mediation of an internal dispute between one of the largest divisions of a company among the top ten in the U.S. fortune five hundred list and their joint venture partner in several countries in Europe. To give you a sense of scope at the time, this J.V. was the third largest foreign investor in just the nation of Poland. Their operations were reaching a stage of expansion and disputes began to arise relating to decision making, procedure, philosophy and risk tolerance.

Under normal circumstances I would have interviewed several of the executives from both corporations and those directly operating the joint venture to get a clear scope of the roadblocks from their varying perspectives. This would also give me an insight into, and connection with, all the parties and form a basis of initial trust in me, and the process. The largest company decided that they could handle that “minor detail”, had already done so, and sent me a digest of the interviews that outlined the areas of dispute. Three days later we were to meet. From these transcripts I learned a great deal about the differences of opinion they were encountering technically, but nothing of the personalities, emotional or cultural issues that were behind these differences.

Please know that I would not have recommended this type of process to anyone who genuinely wished for realistic, lasting and qualitative resolution, but I had agreed to do this for a colleague who was in a bind. This was shaping up to be like going swimming with shoes on.

The evening before the meeting I was graciously invited to dinner with the junior executives who had set this session in motion. As we spoke over dinner, I tried to find out as much as I could about the personalities involved and their histories in business and as people. This also provided the chance to see the thinking of these junior executives as a reflection of their corporate culture.

That dinner was the key to how the process would unfold. It seems that the joint venture partner was originally a refugee from Europe and had come to the U.S. with only the shirt on his back. He had developed his business to the degree that he could return to the place that had reduced him to a nearly sub-human condition as a major player with one of the largest companies in the world. For the folks who had brought me into the there were no issues beyond the “bottom line” in their perception of what was involved in the J.V. arrangements. At the end of the dinner I told my hosts that I would be setting aside a special time for listening deeply to the chairman of the smaller company and I wanted their cooperation and non-interference with that process. They agreed but said they didn’t see what that had to do with the issues.

We had the very restricted time frame of 8:30 A.M. until 4:30 P.M. with the top decision makers from all the parties. After the introductions and welcoming statements we moved on to hearing from the gentleman who started the smaller company. I prompted him with questions that might allow him to express his feelings beyond the issues and kept him speaking for over 35 minutes. By 9:45 A.M. he had been thoroughly “heard”. Suddenly, it seemed there were no real issues to be resolved from the past and we moved on to how they all might work in the future. Animosity was dissolved and creative approaches were generated through the rest of the day.

After the meeting my hosts wondered how I “divined” how to handle the situation. I explained that what was a business arrangement to them was almost like a firstborn child to the other side. The issues were not material but emotional and by addressing them in that fashion it was really a simple problem. I guess I could have kept the mystery by saying that sometimes we just get lucky.

 

“Listen or thy tongue will keep thee deaf.”  ~Native American Indian Proverb

Written by Richard Dash

Understanding the Cultural Matrix

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

 

Here is a further example of the importance of the cultural matrix behind successful solutions and how assumptions can lead to a resounding failure

While in the Middle East, I was the personal business consultant to the chairman and CEO of one of the largest publicly traded development and construction corporations in Israel. My assigned task was to head a project that would help meet the housing needs of a massive immigration from the Soviet Union. Over one million immigrants would enter Israel, an increase of almost 25% of the population within a two-year period. That would be the equivalent of 80 million new immigrants coming to the United States within two years.

Virtually all building there is done with concrete and stone, both for exteriors and interior dividing walls. This is a tediously slow way of doing construction but was the norm throughout the region. The government was encouraging the use of rapid building techniques for both temporary and permanent housing for the new immigrants, in search of solutions to this urgent need. I was responsible for finding the best systems and sources internationally, negotiation of joint venture agreements with those foreign providers of materials and expertise, and establishing projects for the creation of many millions of dollars worth of homes.  

I had sourced and established cooperative relations with some outstanding firms including one of the largest building companies on the NYSE, arranged for the uniting of alien plumbing and electrical systems, substituted coating materials best suited for the harsh sun of the region, shifted roof vent systems among thousands of other details in the planning stages of a small pilot project of some ten million dollars. We had two rooms constructed as test models for assembly systems. The collective wisdom of our building engineering firm and our architecture experts were all satisfied and ready to go. The evening before our final meeting to launch the project I chanced to be in the test rooms while two of the workmen were cleaning up and overheard the following:

1st man: What do you think of this new stuff?

2nd man: I like it. It’s pretty and clean and all the corners are square.

1st man:  Right. I’m not used to everything level and square but that I can live with.

2nd man: You sound like there is something you can’t live with. What is it?

1st man:  Well, I wouldn’t live in it because (he said as he banged his fist on the wall with the      resulting hollow sound that comes from sheet rock) it won’t stop a bullet.

How close we came. All of us, with all our expertise and experience hadn’t taken into account the consumer and one of the most basic of their needs, culture norms and approaches. Our unexamined assumptions would have brought us to inevitable failure. Sheet rock construction for exteriors would never succeed in the Middle East. Although the immigration pressure was immense, permanent housing was and would be virtually all created from block and concrete. All the residents know that concrete will stop a bullet.

“Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.” Confucius

Written by Richard Dash

IP Facilitation: The Critical Awareness of Perspective

Monday, March 1st, 2010

 

Business negotiators and mediators all too frequently ignore the cultural and historical factors that are an unseen basic that make conflicts seem insoluble.

 

I was called to provide some facilitation and coaching for the top leadership of one of the largest paper manufacturers in the world. Getting communications to penetrate through this rather gigantic organization was a problem in all levels of the company from the Board of Directors through the structure all the way to general employees. We spent time over several days with the top management of the company sharpening individual communication capability and practicing the individual communication of a new corporate vision.

One of the participants in my group was responsible for the manufacturing units located in the former Soviet Union. This executive was an American and had been sent to get the manufacturing in Russia up to speed and standards with the existing global employee base. Between sessions he said that he could not understand why it was so difficult for policies, announcements and news in general to reach throughout the fifteen thousand employees for whom he was responsible. He spoke of all the technical approaches that he had taken and the lack of success he still faced.

My question to him related to the cultural norms that he was facing. When he asked for further explanation, I took him through an understanding of the Russian mentality under the Soviet structure. In that seventy-year period workers did not have great control of their economic lives and neither did their supervisors and “bosses”. Where someone in that situation could feel that they had control was in the area of information. The statement “Knowledge is Power” had a peak of reality in that culture. So now under a freer market system, the cultural bias is still to keep control through keeping information to themselves. It is that cultural reference frame that needs to change. Did the company reward for information transfer? Were bonus structures in line for those who got information to all their employees? Had this executive addressed directly with his direct reports the value he attached to this as a function of management?

Without understanding our own cultural reference frame, and the frameworks of those who are party to a negotiation or mediation, although we may be capable of dealing with the principal material points of a dispute, we may be headed towards a distinct lack of success in resolving the underlying conflict. We must always keep in mind that each party has a historical, cultural and psychological background that makes their perspective unique and requires a unique resolution matrix.

Richard Dash, Mediator & Facilitator

“We must not always try to plumb the depths of the human heart; the truths it contains are among those that are best seen in half-light or in perspective” Francois R. Chateaubriand (French author and diplomat, 1768-1848)

What is IP Mediation?

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

 

Some variation or form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) has been around since mankind has used language as a means to communicate.  One can imagine that it likely began in the later stages of evolution.  Perhaps during a heated conflict, a moment of consciousness, a novel thought or insight arose, and a person saw that there might be an alternative to crushing the skull of the other party; that there might be an easier and less painful way to settle the dispute. 

As well, some form of Intellectual Property (IP) has been around since “the beginning”.  With the advances in technology, our business world has forever changed – and the IP has transformed from what was once on the periphery of a company’s essence, into often being at the very heart and soul of the value or worth of a business entity.  Even in modern society, when there is an Intellectual Property (IP) conflict, there remains the instinct to crush the skull.  Often this comes in the form of the socially sanctified act of litigation.  Now, although litigation can be a most necessary tool to resolve conflict in the world of IP (such as, let’s say, the early man’s act of skull crushing to save one’s own very life or business), it has resulted in a quandary – even though conflict is a necessary part of life, what we know as settling it is to either litigate or negotiate.  Either way, the biggest pocket book prevails and only the lawyers are the winners.  

Settling IP conflict through mediation saves time and resources – money and energy.  Mediation minimizes collateral damage on both sides, including long term resentments.  It allows business people to get back to business and get back to life.  In addition, it allows creative minds to get back to what they do best – create. In the challenging and changing business times that we live in, the very essence of corporate sustainability and corporate cultural integrity are at risk.  How we handle, or don’t handle conflict will be a determinant of our business survival.

In this blog we have a collaborative effort to present the concept of business mediation from the perspectives of highly skilled  professionals and experts in mediation, experts in specific industries, IP assessment/due diligence, IP financial analysis, and advanced business resolution strategies.  We look forward to sharing our experience, strengths and strategies and at the same time learning from you.

For a great article regarding IP Mediation, we recommend,  Efficient Alternative Dispute Resolution in Intellectual Property,    http://www.wipo.int/wipo_magazine/en/2009/03/article_0008.html