Saturday, September 29, 2007

Paul Sloane on Innovation

Paul Sloane speaks about innovation. Paul is an advisor to our firm and founder of Destination-Innovation a consultancy that helps organizations improve innovation.

His workshops provide practical techniques to improve leadership and innovation. Clients include American Express, British Telecom, Cendant, Lloyds of London, Motorola, Shell and 3M.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Managing Virtual Teams & The Soccer ("Futbol") Generation

Some companies like Nokia are much better than others at managing virtual teams. At Nokia, they are up to 120 people in size and are much more complex than previously imagined. Finland is a tiny country that had to access markets outside its boundaries, so being virtual is something that Nokia grew up with. When people move into a virtual team, they have met and have prior working history. Also, Nokia is a technology company that helps in virtual management.

Young members of virtual teams have some important attributes, and have been described as members of "...the myspace generation..." meaning that they enjoy casual collaboration. Also, in the U.S. the growth of soccer has contributed to the current generation of new workers having grown up since Kindergarten playing soccer or other team sports. Team orientation and learning is more important culturally to this group. Also, very importantly, soccer (better known as futbol outside the U.S.) is a global sport. American children who used to play American football and baseball have been injected with an understanding of different cultures, names of players, and teams playing on global satellite broadcasts that the prior generation did not experience. So, they are much more apt to seek ways to make a difference and be involved globally than just nationally.

A new survey by Vistage, an organization for CEOs of small and mid-size businesses, found that 31% of the more than 2,000 CEO surveyed listed staffing as their greatest challenge. (Economic uncertainty was second at 21%.) Later in the survey, 45% of the CEOs say that they’ve installed technology that lets employees work remotely. What’s the connection? When asked why they’ve invested in this technology, the most popular answer — 27% — was that it helped them retain staff.

“You have to use technology to attract and retain the best workers,” Vistage CEO Rafael Pastor tells the Business Technology Blog. That’s partly because the generation now entering the workforce is so technically inclined. If a small company is going to be in the running for the best and the brightest of these young workers, it has to be supportive of the way they want to work – which includes using the latest tech.

Not surprisingly, the Vistage survey found that 46% of the CEOs say they’re changing their management style to adapt to the needs of these young workers. Additionally, 30% say that they’re using or planning to use new media like MySpace and blogs in order to market their businesses.

No World Borders has experience managing virtual teams for outsourced projects, including software development and call center processes and management.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Preventing Corporate Antibodies from Killing Innovation

Corporations have antibodies that attempt to kill innovation. Six Sigma for example can take defects out, but it can be counter to the very culture that innovators seek. Companies need to protect ideas and insulate them from too many metrics early in the innovation cycle. Recognizing the difference between measurement and corporate self-assessment is important.

Design thinking vs. analytical thinking can help. Analytical thinking, which most of us were taught in school focuses on “why not?” It helps to disprove ideas as valid. Design thinking is iterative and allows for testing, trial and error. Companies also need to provide processes that aren’t cookbooks but rather that provide frameworks to help thinking without too much rigidity. Managing risk is important too. A tolerance for risk is important. All of the things that companies have done to create quality and efficiency often remove the room for innovation. Small teams are key as well. Some would say that re-creating AT&T Bell Labs doesn't work anymore. Companies have to move too fast. On the other hand, four years from seminal idea to commercial success isn't very long. Setting proper hurdle rates for ROI is key.

Cisco fosters “mass collaboration” to help it realize innovation goals and harvest its investment in acquired assets. Focusing your framework to leverage the input from people, and having the right leadership programs are also important. Drawing in partners and customers to facilitate innovation and open source models will also facilitate innovation. Recognizing the innovators and the people who are better at execution is also important.

The Wall Street Journal recently published videos on the topic which provide inspiration.

Managing innovation is one of the most daunting challenges that businesses face. Not only do they need to come up with new ideas, but they also need to foster a culture that encourages and rewards innovation. Otherwise, they risk being overtaken by their competitors. No World Borders can help you build the right framework for innovation. We'll gladly discuss setting a meeting with you to discuss our growth strategies and innovation techniques.

Efficient Real Estate - Workplace Management

While no one person invented lean, no one is given more credit than Taiichi Ohno, father of the Toyota Production System. Many lean students would want nothing more than to spend a day with Taiichi Ohno walking through their plant. Real estate and related plant and material is typically the most valuable tangible asset companies have.

The workplace has experienced dramatic changes in the last ten years. Worker mobility enabled by network and wireless technology has revolutionized work styles and workplace culture that require new system support tools and services. Global terrorism has radically increased focus on disaster recovery and business continuity to the extent that workplace resiliency is no longer an option. The intense focus on business compliance, specifically via the requirements of Sarbanes-Oxley, demands new levels of transparency and data integrity relative to workplace processes and costs. And the "green revolution" centers on workplace sustainability, particularly relating to energy efficiency, and long-term sustainability of enterprise buildings and workplace environments. These trends coupled with a continued drive toward workplace cost containment, worker productivity and asset efficiency have now risen to the senior executive agenda, demanding new levels of sophistication, precision and excellence in the management of workplace assets, services and processes.

Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS) and the Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) markets altered considerably over the last two years. The IWMS market experienced rapid growth and is expected to grow at 10 percent a year, according to Gartner Group. The EAM market landscape has had a face lift; virtually every EAM vendor has been acquired in the past two years, but none of them have been consolidated, so there are still just as many as before. In addition, these two areas have grown somewhat closer together, as more assets are becoming IT-enabled.

The IWMS market focuses on enterprise-level software applications that integrate four key areas: project management, real estate portfolio and lease management, space management, and maintenance management. The software typically operates from a single database and offers work flow tools, executive dashboards, and pre-defined and customized reporting capabilities for multiple sites. Most of these applications can inter-operate with other enterprise applications, such as ERP, supply chain management and human capital management via Web service technologies.

EAM offerings, a subset of ERP systems, evolved from computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) and primarily center around materials and maintenance management functionality. These offerings tend to be simpler in scope than traditional CMMS offerings and focus on single-site deployments. Functionality also focuses on planning and execution.

According to Gartner, IWMS covers things like real estate, space utilization, leasing, rental, and some areas of facilities management. Companies investigating IWMS should consider those firms in the upper right quadrant of Gartner’s charts. No World Borders helps clients discern the leaders that fit for your firm, and provide consultation services to help select, implement, and facilitate the change processes to optimize your ability to capitalize on the investment in an IWMS.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Advertising agencies are buying technology firms

Advertising agencies are buying technology firms, and technology companies are buying ad firms. The cost of the technology firms in particular are rising. Much of that money is bypassing the established global ad networks and instead going to tech companies. By selling millions of short online ads, Google Inc. will this year generate more revenue than WPP or Omnicom Group Inc., the biggest ad groups, according to analyst forecasts[1].

Traditional media companies are fully realizing now that if they can’t grow their online businesses organically, they had better use their balance sheets to buy in. No World Borders investment banking practice is helping firms in online media and marketing find the right fit with strategic partners and secure liquidity events for their companies. See our Thought Leadership, Growth Strategies, and Investment Banking practices information.

[1] Source: Wall Street Journal, September 6, 2007.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

From Red Herring: Yahoo to Buy Blue Lithium

“Yahoo on Tuesday said it agreed to acquire ad network BlueLithium for about $300 million in cash, a move that will help the Internet giant sell advertising across a greater number of web sites. The acquisition was expected to help boost Yahoo’s effort to develop a third-party advertising network, helping the Internet company better compete with rivals such as Google and Microsoft.”

The continued consolidation in ad networks and the portals to those networks underscores the importance of developing and continuously reviewing your online presence and strategy. can help. Contact us for more thoughts on this subject.

Management Approaches to Organizational Complexity - 7S

Often, our clients who want to change their company strategy or business process are left asking how "do-able" this is at some point.

The 7S Framework, originally used by McKinsey, is a framework that is used to solve organizational problems and strategy implementation.

The framework consists of the following elements:

  1. Strategy
  2. Structure
  3. Systems
  4. Staff
  5. Skills
  6. Style
  7. Superordinate Goals (Shared value)

Strategy Implementation

The value of the 7S framework is that it can be used for "judging the organizational do-ability of strategies." When new strategies are being implemented, the manager should examine and coordinate these seven elements, such that all elements can work together instead of being a burden of strategy implementation.


  1. Waterman Jr., Robert H., Peters, Thomas J., and Julien R. Phillips. 1980. "STRUCTURE IS NOT ORGANIZATION." Business Horizons 23, no. 3: 14.
  2. Waterman Jr., Robert H. 1982. "The Seven Elements of Strategic Fit." Journal of Business Strategy 2, no. 3: 69.