Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Suggested read: "Drive - The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us" by Daniel H. Pink (2009)

Daniel Pink's thorough analysis of what motivates us doesn't come up with brand new findings. Most of his facts are well known: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, reward, punishment, and why carrot and stick doesn't work. What makes this book a suggested read is the way Daniel Pink puts all together and the interesting analogies he is using. He talks about Type I and Type X behaviour, sees motivation as operating system in different versions, and focuses on 3 key elements: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Additionally the book contains a toolkit section with hands-on strategies to implement his new model of motivation.

Especially one convincing case study drew my attention: Around 2000 was an important timeframe for two encyclopedia projects, the already established Microsoft Encarta and the newly founded Wikipedia. Encarta was maintained and published by well paid employees, working for the biggest and most influential software company: Microsoft. Wikipedia was a free, web-based, and collaborative project, maintained by volunteers around the world. Imagine, someone asked you at this point in time, which one of the both projects will still exist in 13 years?
Now, 13 years later, Wikipedia has more than 15 million articles and is currently the largest general reference work on the Internet. And Encarta? Microsoft discontinued it 2009 with the following statement: "The category of traditional encyclopedias and reference material has changed. People today seek and consume information in considerably different ways than in years past." Which actually means: Wikipedia killed Encarta.

What made the difference?

It's all about PASSION. Passionate people perform on exceptional levels. They aren't pushed by money and rewards, they are just driven by their interest and passion. Independent from their cultural background, these people are the pillars we rely on in our global organizations. Passionate people turnaround projects, drive innovation, and overcome resistance.

"Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us" will initiate you to re-think about motivation and transform it into your organization.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Suggested read: "Global Prices and Earnings"

Since 1970 UBS publishes comparisons of global prices and wages. The report is based on surveys in more than 70 cities and includes rankings of purchasing power, living standards, wages, and many more. E.g. Oslo, Zurich, and Tokyo are the most expensive cities, Delhi is the one with the lowest living costs. The purchasing power is demonstrated with practical examples, e.g. in Oslo an average wage-earner has to work 36 hours to buy an iPhone, in Delhi 370 hours.

The report facilitates the selection of the right place to establish centralized hubs in multinational companies. The current issue covers the year 2012 and is definitively a recommended read for global decision makers.

Link: UBS Prices and Earnings

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Keep hubs independent (part 2)

This article is a follow up to: Keep hubs independent

A reader is curious about my statement “Never let local forces spoil your global organization.” He asked, “sounds nice, but how should I avoid that local forces manipulate and direct the hub on their site?”

Take care already at the very beginning, during hub setup:
  1. Let a local manager setup the hub; i.e. a manager with long term working experience on the local site. He has a large local network and knows which team members and stakeholders to bring on board to make the hub successful and accepted by the local site. Do the setup with the local manager as project leader; don’t establish a line organization for the hub yet.
  2. Once the setup project is over, integrate the hub into the company’s line organization and put a headquarters manager at the helm for a while (e. g. 12 months). With his global background he will convince the team and the local stakeholders to support the global processes. Make sure the headquarters manager is physically delegated to the local site.
  3. Finally a local manager can take the leadership of the hub. Meanwhile the global processes are established and not questioned anymore; the local stakeholders will follow the global processes.
Once the hub has reached this stage, the hub’s manager will – and should – also take requirements of the local stakeholders into account. Now it’s no threat for your global organization anymore.

Note: the whole process takes about 12~24 months.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Best global brands 2011

On annual basis Interbrand publishes a list of the most valuable brands of the world. There are three key aspects that contribute to the list ranking: the financial performance, the role of the brand in the purchase decision process and the global strength of the brand. As a further inclusion criteria the brand must be truly global and has successfully transcended geographic and cultural differences.

2011 Rankings (brand value in million US$):

1 Coca-Cola (70.8 $m)
2 IBM (69.9 $m)
3 Microsoft (59.0 $m)
4 Google (55.3 $m)
5 GE (42.8 $m)
6 McDonald's (35.5 $m)
7 Intel (35.2 $m)
8 Apple (33.4 $m)
9 Disney (29.0 $m)
10 Hewlett-Packard (28.4 $m)

View all top 100 brands.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A two minute management seminar: How to convey unpleasant messages

A while ago I had a short break at a bakery in Munich. I bought a Brezel at the self service counter and took a seat in the bakery’s coffee house. I ordered a Cappuccino and began to eat the Brezel. Suddenly the waitress came back and said: “I’m very sorry, it’s not allowed to eat outside food in the coffee house area. We have a different service tax compared to the self service counter. So I would like to ask you if you can move to the self service area, I will take care your Cappuccino is served there immediately. (pause) Do you accept this?”

Without hesitation I said “No problem”, and moved to the self service area. Two minutes later I got the Cappuccino served and enjoyed my Brezel.

Self service area and coffee house area were in the same bakery and served by the same staff, so what sense did it make to annoy a customer with such a weird move to the self service area? Actually, it didn't matter to me. I accepted her request and appreciated the way the waitress communicated an unpleasant message. She included 3 key points to convey an unpleasant message without annoying the customer:
The waitress phrased the message in a polite way: “I’m very sorry...”, “I would like to ask you...”.
The waitress clearly gave the reason for the message: “We have different service tax...”.
The waitress asked for customer feedback: “Do you accept this?”.

If you are with North American or Asian background, this might sound normal for you. Unfortunately such kindly service is of rare occurrence in Germany.

Sometimes a two minutes talk matters more than an 8 hour management seminar. These 3 keys can be used whenever you need to communicate “bad news”, no matter if you talk to your boss, a client, or your spouse.
  1. Be polite
  2. Explain the reason
  3. Ask for feedback
 BTW: The bakery’s brand was Rischart in Munich (OEZ branch).

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Suggested read: The World Factbook

The World Factbook provides information on the people, government, economy, geography, and many more for 266 world entities. It's published by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States and updated on average every two weeks. Countries can be compared with a wide variety of fields like population, birth rate, live expectancy, GDP, unemployment rate, and so on. The facts are an interesting read for globally oriented people, e.g. did you know that Zimbabwe has an unemployment rate of 95% or the country with the highest life expectancy is Monaco with 89 years?


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Which is the world's most expensive city?

Another cost of living report for 2010 has been released by Mercer. Based on over 200 goods and services, the report brings you factual price information from more than 290 cities around the world. The top of the list covers the well known players, Tokyo, Moscow, Geneva, and so forth. However, the - quite unexpected - number one is Luanda in Angola. More than the half of Luanda's population lives in poverty. Even standard services as safe drinking water are in short supply, this makes Luanda the most expensive city for expatriates.

Further reads:

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Off topic: Oktoberfest in Munich

Today the Oktoberfest in Munich has started. It’s the biggest festival worldwide with more than 6 million visitors and a perfect mix of entertainment, eating and drinking. During the traditional opening ceremony in the “Schottenhammel” tent the mayor of Munich had the honor of tapping the first keg of Oktoberfest beer.

The festival takes place at Theresienwiese in the center of Munich. And guess where I am living? Right... Munich :)  This year the Oktoberfest celebrates its 200th birthday and the whole world is celebrating with it (at least I do). The festival will last until October 4th, so don’t expect many posts within the next two weeks ;)

Official Website
Oktoberfest (Wikipedia)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Challenge India Part 2: How to handle specifications?

This article is a follow up to: Challenge India (for western cultures) Part1, section “specifications”

Work packages for external service providers are set down in specifications. A specification document is created by subject matter experts in the client company and passed to the service provider. After implementation the service provider hands over the deliverable to the client, expecting his acceptance.

Unfortunately that’s the way western companies handle their business relation with Indian vendors and even believe it really works this way. Eventually the companies realize that the deliverables are far from what was expected. If the specification was written on abstract level, the service provider team doesn’t know exactly what to do. But without demanding further information they start to work according their own interpretation; needless to say that the deliverable won’t match your expectation.

If the specification is written on a very detailed level, the service provider team follows each instruction without reconsidering if things make sense or not. In most cases the deliverable also won’t match your expectation. So how to write the “perfect” specification?

1) Let the service provider write the specification.
Give a rough guideline of the specification contents and the expected deliverables. Let the service provider write the specification in their own words with their understanding. Accompany the creation of the specification, ask for drafts on regular basis and clarify different views immediately.

2) Use an incremental approach.
If it takes 10 months to implement a deliverable, insist to get provisional results presented on regular basis, e.g. every 4-8 weeks. This ensures that misunderstandings are identified as soon as possible and corrective actions can be taken on the spot. Include the approach of iterative delivery cycles already in the specification document, i.e. what is presented when. Not at any time accept an approach with a single final deliverable only.

For sure, both points take more time in setting up the specification and lead to higher costs in the very beginning. But this additional effort will definitively save costs in subsequent project phases.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

What would happen if all countries dismiss their immigration restrictions?

Gallup released its Potential Net Migration Index (PNMI) for 2010. The index considers the estimated number of adults who would like to move permanently out of a country subtracted from the estimated number who would like to move into it, as a proportion of the total population. The index is a result out of 350,000 surveys conducted between 2007 and 2010 and reflects how much the population would increase if countries dismiss their immigration restrictions. The index finds Singapore, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia at the top, and Sierra Leone, Haiti, Zimbabwe at the bottom.

Read the whole story at: