Archive for the ‘Management’ category

Can a Microsoft Insider Really Be An Innovative CEO?

February 7th, 2014

'Microsoft_logo' photo (c) 2011, jonobacon - license: Microsoft desperately wants to be perceived as innovative again.  Microsoft has declared its innovativeness in newspaper ads.  We have always felt deeds were more important than words.

CEO Search Shows Lack of Innovation

The search for a new CEO at Microsoft has been a bit of a media circus since August of 2013 when Steve Ballmer announced he would step down.  Why?

Mr. Ballmer continued to make major strategic changes to the organization that should have been left to the new CEO.  The purchase of Nokia’s handset business and an entirely new employee evaluation system come to mind as examples.

Many talented Silicon Valley leaders, as well as those in other parts of the world, have passed on the opportunity.  They did not want to change or reverse some of these major strategic decisions when they arrived.  They also feared having the only two CEOs in company history sitting on the Board of Directors passing judgment upon their actions.  Do you think someone like Alan Mulally, the highly successful change agent and CEO at Ford would take on Microsoft? No.  That is why he publicly declined the opportunity

Why Does Microsoft Need to Be More Innovative?

  • Stagnant Share Price:  Split adjusted it is now at its March 2000 level
  • Perception and reality that they are falling behind tech giants like Google and Apple.
  • Insular culture known for big egos and heated arguments.
  • Unhealthy Windows focus that crowds out other ideas.

Good Luck to the New CEO

Satya Nadella was recently announced as the new CEO. He is the ultimate insider, having spent the last 22 years working at Microsoft. We remind him of a comment he made in October 2013, “Relevance comes with innovation and marketplace success.  The marketplace will speak so loudly and so clearly that it will not be ambiguous.”

We also would like to suggest he contact fellow Seattle area CEO Howard Schultz at Starbucks. Schultz reorganized senior management to permit him to step away from some of the day-to-day management.  A Starbucks press release explained the change “Schultz will expand his focus on innovation in coffee, tea and the Starbucks Experience as well as next generation retailing and payments initiatives in the areas of digital, mobile, card, loyalty and e-commerce to position Starbucks for its next wave of global growth.”

The Takeaway

Top management must live and breathe innovation, not just give it lip service.

 Over to you.   What do you think? Please comment below.

  1. Do you feel that an insider can create a new culture and climate of innovation at Microsoft?
  2. What advice would you give the new CEO of Microsoft?
  3. Should Microsoft continue its move into hardware as a way to innovate?

If you would like to contact me, you may do so by visiting my LinkedIn page, following me on Twitter,  or e-mailing me at rcberman2 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Rev Your Innovation Engine

October 9th, 2013

Jatin Desai  is a master at Innovation.  For over 25 years he has been a practitioner in the Innovation space.  I interviewed him a couple of years ago about Innovation for the Propelling Marketing Ideas blog.  Those Posts were well received.  Innovation: An Introduction, Innovation: The Process, Innovation: Where Can I Find It? and Innovation: A Look at the Global Picture.

I recently caught up to Jatin with the goal to write a new post about what was topical in innovation.  To my delight, he shared his book Innovation Engine  with me.

Innovation Engine Book Review

I highly recommend reading the Innovation Engine because it shows you how to prepare and grow your organization in a hyperdynamic and globally connected environment, through foresight and strategic innovation.

Jatin liberally uses numbered lists, charts, graphs and call out boxes to demonstrate many techniques and lessons.  The advice is doled out in digestible pieces for the reader.  His writing style is informative and like that of a trusted advisor or favorite educator.  The case studies are informative, global and span numerous industries.  Each chapter ends with a Notes Section where the reader can further explore a topic.

The Doblin Group outlined 10 types of innovation areas where a company can innovate.   Innovation Engine takes you beyond the typical product innovation mindset to explore the other nine areas.  Product Development transforms into Innovation Excellence.

10 Informative Chapters Spread Across Three Parts

The 10 engaging chapters are divided into three parts that allows the reader to move down the road of innovation.  Part I covers linking innovation to business strategy.  Part II helps you develop your “Innovation Playbook.”  Meanwhile, Part III teaches how to implement and execute.  The capstone of Part III is the “One Secret.” The whole book builds to the climax of learning the “One Secret.”  Are you ready to learn it?  If so, keep reading to discover what else you will learn once you dive into the Innovation Engine.

Learn How To…

Packed with actionable ideas, references and resources in each chapter so you can easily explore the concepts and ideas immediately, Innovation Engine shows you how to:

  • Link innovation to business strategy
  • Develop clear innovation intent
  • Assess organizational readiness for innovation
  • Create a short-term and long-term road map
  • Build momentum
  • Implement and execute
  • Structure for innovation
  • Implement a formal management process
  • Develop high-performing innovators
  • Source radical ideas
  • Innovate year after year

I believe that Innovation Engine can help rewire your organization’s DNA to include innovation as a distinct core competence.

About Jatin Desai

Jatin Desai, cofounder and chief executive officer, The DeSai Group, is a seasoned business executive, strategic advisor, and coach for senior leadership teams.  He has extensive experience in the areas of strategy alignment, corporate innovation, talent management, large-scale change, culture transformation, and information technology.

The Takeaway

The Mechanical Engine must be coupled with the Innovation Engine to truly move the enterprise forward in growth and profit.

Over to you.  Share your thoughts.  Please comment below.

  1. What books on Innovation do you recommend?
  2. Is your organization ready to jumpstart its innovation process?
  3. If you have read Innovation Engine, please share your thoughts.

If you would like to contact me, you may do so by visiting my LinkedIn page, following me on Twitter,  or e-mailing me at rcberman2 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Is Your Business Shooting Itself in the Foot?

September 10th, 2013

'Seattle: animated TILT sign' photo (c) 2007, Eli Duke - license: How often do business owners and managers think about the impression they make on customers and potential customers?

Business Owner Examples

I regularly travel and frequent small restaurants and stores.  Here are a few of the interesting (scary) signs I have seen along the way.

1.    We specialize in all kinds of alterations, mens/women’s/childrens, suits, pants, suits, coats, dresses, jeans, leather, suede.”

Specialization, to me, means something specific.  Here they specialize in “all kinds” of alterations.  A bit unclear, to say the least.

2.    “Hiring one salesperson speak Spanish and little English.”

If the owner is looking for a Spanish speaker, then why not write the sign in Spanish?  “A “little English” speaker may never understand the sign.

3.    “We keep our bathroom clean because we respect our customers.  Thx’s so much.”

I appreciate a clean bathroom since I see so many dirty ones in my travels.  However, I also EXPECT a clean bathroom.  What does it say about other restaurants in the area if this business posts this sign to point out the clean bathroom?

NYC Subway Examples

The unique talent for poor impressions is not limited to businesses.  I rode the subway in New York City with my daughter.  A woman across from us did the following before exiting the train car.

  1. Opened compact and fixed her hair (good).
  2. Applied lip gloss (good).
  3. Checked her teeth for food articles and then chewed what she found (not so good).
  4. Checked her nose hair, put her finger up her nose and pulled hairs (really not good).

The Takeaway

Just like the old saying, “measure twice and cut once”, think about what your actions and signs say to your customers or potential customers.

Those are my observations.  Over to you. Please comment below.

  1. What other signs like these have you seen?
  2. Can you think of someone who has a sign you will now tell them about?
  3. How important do you think image is for business owners and managers?

If you would like to contact me, you may do so by visiting my LinkedIn page, following me on Twitter,  or e-mailing me at rcberman2 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

The Value of Internships

September 3rd, 2013

'internship' photo (c) 2011, Sean MacEntee - license: Interns offer a method of meeting workload needs without permanently hiring staff.

The value to both parties is illustrated through a Marketing Department’s internship experience over a two and one half year period.  In some cases, the value inures more to one side than the other while it is sometimes evenly divided.

Method to Add Staff

I was asked to build a Marketing Department for our $200 million Division.  Current staff was two Marketing Professionals including me.  We faced the typical paradox of no additional staff until we produced yet, we needed staff to meet our objectives.

A partial solution came in the form of an intern.  We hired a rising Junior Marketing Major for the summer.


Our mutual intent was to make the position year-round.  Our intern was able to move up the learning curve quickly with the professional staff teaching and supplying direction.  It was a good fit and we moved to a year-round position.  Therefore, longer-term projects could be assigned and learning carried forward. For example, the intern remained editor for our internal and external newsletters during her entire two years with us.

Recruitment Pool

The intern was a resource to us when we sought a second intern to work with our initial intern.  She provided training and advised me on candidates from local schools.   Our second intern was also a success.

We were fortunate to add two additional professional staff over the two-year period.  We had in-house a trained, experienced candidate – our intern.  When it came time to increase our staff, of course, we hired her.  In 10 years she became a Vice President.

Once again, we were fortunate to increase staff.  A tight labor market is a difficult time to hire.  However, the two interns made a recommendation for the new position.  In the end, we hired that candidate.

We then started the cycle again by hiring a rising junior as our year-round intern.

The Takeaway

Interns, when properly managed, add tremendous value at little or no cost.  Use interns to fill staffing needs while providing a launching pad for students into their careers.

Those are my thoughts.  Over to you.  Please comment below.

  1. How have you deployed interns in your organization?
  2. Did you ever have an internship in your career?
  3. How have your interns succeeded in their careers?

If you would like to contact me, you may do so by visiting my LinkedIn page, following me on Twitter,  or e-mailing me at rcberman2 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

What Internships Should Be

August 27th, 2013

A mini-industry has grown up around internships.  Guidebooks and Internet sites tell you about the good, the bad, the paid and the unpaid.  Career Planning and Placement Offices, Career Advisors, and College/University faculty, encourage students to seek out internships.

Are you considering what an internship should be and the value for the students or the company that provides the internship?

My own two internships were for academic credit only.  No pay.  In fact, I paid tuition for the credits I received.  In other words, I paid to work.  Nowadays, it seems we invariably pay the students to work.

Today, many managers have started their careers with one or more internships.

Here are a variety of thoughts on internships.

Real Work: Paid or working for academic credit, the expectation is real work, not doing errands, making coffee or busy work.

Human Resource:  The internship should be a real life learning experience not a resume filler or an item checked off in the goal of obtaining a job after graduation.  The intern can prove to be a valuable human resource and should be treated accordingly.

Objectives Should Be Established:  The student should be measured against these and given feedback.  Allow them to do the job by providing “a place to hang their hat.”  Give them a desk, phone and computer access, reasonable supplies etc.  Demand value for the dollar, however allow the intern to take “ownership” in the work product.

Fresh Blood Equals New Ideas:  Book learning and theory are a foundation.  However, they do not always apply to the “real world.”  Supplementing the knowledge with experience facilitates additional learning as the student brings a broader perspective to the academic world.

Try Out a Career First:  The student obtains the opportunity to “try out” a career and perhaps refine the area of study for the major or minor.  A consequence of this experience is an enhanced resume.  The result should be a consequence, not the only goal.

Build a Portfolio of Skills:  Certain abilities come easier to some people than others.  An internship is a good place to confirm strengths and weaknesses.  If the internship is to help grow the student as well as the business, then both strengths and weaknesses should be worked on.  The portfolio of skills needs to be expanded.  Projects can be designed around both the company’s needs and the intern’s needs.

The Takeaway

Internships should be a two-way street.  In my experience it has been.  It is incumbent on both companies and interns to clearly articulate their expectations up front to maximize the return to both parties.

Those are my ideas.  Over to you.  Please comment below.

  1. Have you successfully utilized interns at your organization?
  2. What factors led to the success?
  3. How would you change or enhance an internship program?

 If you would like to contact me, you may do so by visiting my LinkedIn page, following me on Twitter,  or e-mailing me at rcberman2 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

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