An Uncertain World: Mapping Out Trump-Kim’s Nuclear Challenge

We live in a world riddled with risk and uncertainty. If you don’t believe this statement, please check the news. For example, President Trump increased global tension by canceling the US-North Korea summit in Singapore. Too many, canceling the historical meeting between the two countries were no surprise. Columnist Zach Beauchamp put it bluntly, “From the get-go, the Trump administration wanted something North Korea was never going to give: the North handing over its entire nuclear arsenal before the United States gave it anything tangible…there’s a fundamental flaw with America’s approach to North Korea that preceded Trump. That’s the fantasy that the US can somehow convince North Korea to voluntarily give up its nukes.”

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President Trump and North Korea’s Leader Kim Jong Un have hurdle insults at each other (especially through social media) for months. President Trump proclaimed about Kim: “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.” Kim fires back to Trump: “If the American imperialists provoke us a bit, we will not hesitate to slap them with a pre-emptive nuclear strike. The United States must choose! It’s up to you whether the nation called the United States exists on this planet or not.” This rhetoric between the two leaders have many citizens worried about a nuclear war. Continue reading

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Disruptive Change: How Leaders Navigate Uncertainty

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As companies continue to wage war with global competition and attempt to figure out their next steps due to advanced technologies, organizations are dealing with unpredictable change that is disruptive. In fact, disruptive change is impacting everyone in all walks of life, from Wall Street to entertainment. The casualties of disruptive change are evident.

In a statement to the Associated Press about joining a Silicon Valley boardroom, Serena Williams said, “I feel like diversity is something I speak to. Change is always happening. Change is always building. What is important to me is to be at the forefront of change and to make it easier for the next person.”   we will examine disruptive change and what leaders can do to navigate the resulting uncertainties.

Disruptive change is wrecking traditional thinking of industries and institutions. Long-standing organizations have long attempted to maintain the status quo, allowing flagship institutions like Harvard University and Princeton lead the pack. Non-traditional institutions, like the University of Phoenix, were frowned upon by academics because it was a for-profit university growing by using non-traditional models like online learning.

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New Product Development Strategies

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With the aftermath of globalization, companies are carefully thinking about the best ways to extend their product and service offering. Thus, product development strategy is critical for their success. Yet, many companies are in defensive mode and merely want to maintain the position in the market place.

However, staying in a holding position is a definite way for companies to be left behind. Innovative thinking that allows for product/service growth is a too sure way for sustainable success. In today’s discussion, we will explore the importance of product development for the growth of businesses, especially in a competitive market.

Launching into new product offerings is not easy. According to one market research, approximately 75% of consumer-packaged goods and retail products fail to earn even $7.5 million during their first year.[1] Harvard Business School Professor, Clayton Christensen, who is the world’s foremost authority on disruptive innovation, suggests that the failure rate of new products may actually be as high as 95%. Product failure rates relate to the number of products that are launched commercially but fail. Continue reading

Cultural Intelligence: How Leaders Can Navigate the Racial Divide in America

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In June of 1995, the Jury in the OJ Simpson trial announced a verdict of not guilty. The aftermath of dismal reactions highlighted significant conflicts and diverging views in America’s workplaces. In fact, white and black people had a different perspective on the OJ Simpson Trial and life in general. Eighty-three percent of whites stated that Simpson was “definitely” or “probably” guilty while only fifty-seven percent of blacks agreed with this assessment. Rather than carefully assessing one’s own viewpoint when evaluating a different culture, most individuals make assumptions about other cultures definitely.

Sadly, we still have not learned this lesson in the United States. The last several days have been very hectic as I try to answer students’ questions and address my own concerns about a recent Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary gaff that has provided another headwind for others sharing the Good News. Let me say that we have all done foolish things and have suffered the consequences. Most of us have had to debase the impacts of this photo on our popular culture to our students and others.

In the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth (TX), five seminary professors, including the dean of the School of Preaching, put on gangster-style clothing (perhaps dressing like urban rappers), flashing their gold chains and one holding a handgun. Written above the photo were the words “Notorious S.O.P,” which was a reference to the seminary’s School of Preaching and to the black rapper, Notorious B.I.G.

the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary-photo

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Leading Change in a Global Environment

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Global affairs are often unstable. This month, Japanese stock market falters again, capping its worst single-week performance since the global financial crisis in 2008. Japan is not alone in its underperforming markets. Yet, globalization has connected countries through various elements. Financial markets are not an exception. This article explores issues of change in a global environment and discusses the merits of change agents in today’s organizations. Continue reading

Performance Measures in Today’s Businesses

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Finding the right performance measure in today’s organizations is like trying to determine for each swimmer the right temperature of the water to swim in the Gulf of Mexico (a great place to vacation).  There are many variables to consider. Certainly, the amount of revenue produced for each customer would speak to the bottom-line of most organizations.  In relationship selling, you have the personality factor.

In fact, Mark Johnston and Greg Marshall, authors of Relationship Selling, maintain that customers pick up on a salesperson’s attitude. Does good chemistry exist between the salesperson and the customer? That’s an important performance measure. When developing performance measurement with relationship selling in mind, good chemistry between the salesperson and customer should be a factor.

The amount of customer referrals can be an extremely good indicator, because this friendly act speaks to the issues of customer trust.  Quality expert George Peeler argues that the key to designing and using systems that will build the traditional product source relationship in the Quality Era will be the creativity and commitment of management and customer insight provided through empathy.  Successful organizations understand the attitudes and emotions of their customers. Therefore, connecting with customers would be a vital performance metric.

In being effective, businesses need to understand what to measure.  Many times, organizations are measuring the wrong objectives or doing the analysis incorrectly. Johnston and Marshall argue for designing an effective measurement system which includes (a) what do we want to measure, (b) when do we want to measure, and (c) how do we measure. Therefore, it’s important that organizations create effective performance measures.

Yet, performance measures are very difficult.  Management expert Stacey views performance measures as a process rather than an event, involving a series of specific activities for creating, implementing, and using performance metrics. Organization must be careful about using the right data collection tool to measure performance. For example, most people hate doing surveys.

Given this reality, organizations must carefully analyze the survey data for bias. Are they truly getting a picture of their customers?  I found focus groups more useful. Peeler further explains that management must facilitate the processes of quality innovation through prompt action, removing barriers to employee performance by continually attending to process improvement. Regardless, management must establish a reliable performance measurement system for organizations. The bottom-line is that there is inherent risk with customer surveys.

Finally, businesses should be strategic and focused in their performance measures. If an organization wants to spin its wheel and go nowhere, having unclear direction is a great pathway.  It’s important to have clear objectives and desired outcomes.  The transformation process from where an organization is to where an organization wants to be is a clear application for performance measures.

Johnston and Marshall argue that specific, realistic, and measurable objectives are essential to a sales training program. They further acknowledge that salespeople exist in a highly competitive environment where a great deal of information must be assimilated for effective customer sales.

Please discuss organizational performance measure from your professional experience.

© 2014 by Daryl D. Green

Value Perceptions Among Customers

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Organizations should think strategically when creating value perceptions of their products or services.  In fact, they should seek to establish a formal tiered system where possible. Strategic leaders have a long view on value creation.

Strategic thinking is defined as ‘the generation and application of business insights on a continual basis to achieve competitive advantage.’ In fact, strategic thinking focuses on value creation by enabling a provocative and creative dialogue among people who can affect a company’s direction.

Marketing expert Ken Favaro maintains that putting value creation first gives businesses two advantages over their competition in driving for profitable and sustainable growth: the first is capital and the second is talent. In fact, he argued that successful value creators never suffer from capital shortage. 

Yet, this process shouldn’t be done in a vacuum. Customers and all members of the supply chain should provide input so that the expectations are clear. Businesses that pay more would get more benefits (i.e. certain perks, discounts, etc.). Therefore, the value proposition would be enhanced.

However, being strategically conscious about these business relationships isn’t simple.  Value must be understood and sought out.  Value is viewed as the perceived experience and worth gained from a product or service.  Organizations should make their product clear to customers; some businesses need to introduce a tiered system, based on value-added services.

For example, if I want cheap fast food, I go to McDonalds. Therefore, my expectations are lower than going to a five star restaurant.  Customers are very understanding when the seller’s value proposition is clear. Favaro further suggests that putting value creation consistently first requires leadership skills, discipline, and perseverance. He further challenged organizations to demand higher standards from managers who would jeopardize these business relationships.

Mark Johnston and Greg Marshall, authors of Relationship Selling, discuss that perceived value is in the eyes of the customer and varies.  They further argued that customers expect and deserve consistency in the way an organization’s value-added message is put forth.  Therefore, sales professionals’ biggest challenge is selling value.

Please discuss value perception of customers from your professional experience.

© 2014 by Daryl D. Green

 

The Nature of Effective Problem Solving

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Our youth program continues to grow at my church.  Of course, it is a simple formula as our church is one of the biggest in the area.  Church going parents make it mandatory for their children to attend church and participate in church services.  However, when the children graduate from high school and became young adults, their attendance becomes very low or non-existent. 

At that time, Velma Biddles was the youth leader and fairly new to the position.  She and her youth advisors have seen the shift of young people’s attitude.  If churches want to be effective with youth, they must change their underpinning message of: “Children are to be seen and not heard.”  Our youth advisors started to deal with the root causes of matters concerning our youth. Sadly, many businesses are spending millions on symptoms. What about you? 

Good problem solving can be an asset in an organization.  Some organizations find themselves solving the wrong problems and getting less than desired results.  Other managers assume that good technical staff members are naturally good problem solvers.  However, this observation is not necessarily true.  Effective problem solvers often have an intuitive skill set or enough training in problem solving for finding the right problems and making the best decisions.  

 John Gamble and Arthur Thompson, authors of Essentials of Strategic Management, outline the importance of filling key managerial slots with people who are good at figuring out what needs to be done and possess skills in effective implementation and in producing desired results.  They note, “No company can hope to perform the activities required for successful strategy execution without attracting and retaining talented managers and employees with suitable skills and intellectual capital.”  A problem can be defined as ‘an obstacle that stands in the way of achieving a desired goal.’ In fact, problems are divergences from the preferred outcomes.  

The basic problem solving stages include: (a) Identify the problem, (b) Gather information, (c) Clarify the problem, (d) Consider possible solutions, (e) Select the best option, and (f) Make a decision and monitor the solution. High performing organizations move beyond superficial problem solving in order to get to the root causes.  Good businesses realize that uncovering the real problems can be beneficial in many ways, such as reduced risks, cost savings, and greater efficiencies.  

Jeff Butterfield, author of Problem Solving and Decision Making, argues about the benefits of talented problem solvers: “People who can identify, define, and solve problems are valued members of an organization.” 

 

Like our youth advisors recognizing the problem and adapting appropriate solutions, today’s managers must be willing to move beyond their own bias to discover the real causes of problems.  Too many managers seek to major in the minors.  High performing organizations cannot afford to let this happen. 

In general, effective problem solving can be a great competitive advantage for organizations.  Formulating better decision making happens with more effective problem solving.  Businesses with talented problem solvers will have a greater capacity for sustainable success. 

Discuss your professional experience with problem solving in your industry or organization.

© 2014 by Daryl D. Green

Value Creation for Customers

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Customers determine the value of a product or service.  In today’s competitive environment, value creation is a corporate advantage.  However, building this value is often difficult.  People have different ways to assess value.  Some folks use traditional ways based on some established reference point, such as a company’s price guide. 

Yet, some ways are informal.  In many countries, haggling is an acceptable practice of transactional selling.  Philip Kotler and Kevin Keller, authors of Marketing Management, explain how businesses must understand customer decision making processes for purchases. They note, “They [customers] tend to be value maximizers, within the bounds of search costs and limited knowledge, mobility, and income.” 

Here’s a personal example. My family visited Mexico and began the great American tradition of haggling sellers to get the price of merchandise down. Radio host Dave Ramsey believes everything is negotiable. Anything that is worth the effort of negotiation must have passed the value threshold to the consumer. Paul Peter and James Donnelly, authors of Marketing Management, note that culture, social class, and reference group influences play an important role in consumer behavior. 

Some risks are involved with purchasing.  This reality has a bearing on value for customers. If decisions involve low risk, they are often done quickly with little thought.  Yet, major purchases normally require more risks, like buying a house. Therefore, having a good relationship with the seller is important.

The buying decision stages are (1) recognition of need or problem, (2) determination and description of the traits and quality of the needed items, (3) research for qualified buyers, (4) acquisition and analysis of proposals or bids, (5) evaluation of proposals and selection of suppliers, (6) selection of an order routine, and (7) performance evaluation and feedback.

Mark Johnston and Greg Marshall, authors of Relationship Selling, maintain that many organizational purchases are motivated by the requirements of the firm’s production processes, merchandise inventory, or day-to-day operations. Therefore, customers are very value conscious on high priced items, such as cars. 

Customers use varying methods to reduce their buying risks. Negotiation expert Carleen Hawn recommends five common sense approaches for effective negotiations, which are: (a) don’t bargain over positions, (b) separate the people from the problem, (c) focus on interests, (d) invent options for mutual gain, and (e) insist on using objective criteria. In most cases, haggling at a specific retailer involves a one-time transaction. Johnston and Marshall further suggest that value creation is what ultimately gets customers to come back.  Therefore, businesses that allow haggling must build relationship selling components for repeat value to customers. 

Discuss your professional experience with value creation in your industry or organization.

© 2014 by Daryl D. Green

Visionary Leadership

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Visionary leadership is vital to organizations that wish to exist in competitive environments.  Yet, it is not enough to have only one visionary leader in an organization’s existence.  Through their visions, leaders can articulate their values and principles.  

Aubrey Malphurs, author of Values-Driven Leadership, notes, “An organization’s core values signal its bottom line…every organization must have a commitment to values that matter.  The organization must passionately stand for something.”  There are numerous examples where a visionary founder departed the scene.  Consequently, the organization began to falter and in some cases fail. 

For example, George Eastman founded Eastman Kodak Company in 1888, which later came to be known simply as ‘Kodak.’  Eastman was a high school dropout with an average intelligence according to academic standards of that time.  Even though he grew up and had to support his widowed mother and two sisters, Eastman had a knack for business.  

At the age of 14, Eastman worked as an office boy in an insurance company and later got into other business ventures.  Eastman’s high energy, his gift for organization and management, and his entrepreneurial mind were all personality traits that helped transform his Eastman Kodak Company into an American industry leader.  When Eastman died on March 14, 1932 at the age of 77, the company lost more than just its founder.

 

Due to the founder’s vision, Kodak become a dominant player in photographic film.  In fact, the company controlled 89% of the photographic film market in America during 1976.  Despite past success, the company lost its way.  By the late 1990s, Kodak struggled financially due to the emergence of digital photography.  This reality was strange since Kodak invented the core technology utilized in digital cameras.  In 2012, Kodak filed for bankruptcy and sold many of its prized patents.

 Many organizations have lost the sense of a dynamic leader with a compelling vision.  Visions often are denoted as powerful images in one’s mind that compels him or her to action often at a subconscious level.  To many, dreams and visions are the same thing because they often happen while someone is asleep. 

Some people think about their dreams; others may talk about a particular vision.  Yet, a visionary leader can share his or her vision and compel followers to make the vision become a reality.  Visionary leadership can be defined as “the ability to create and articulate a realistic, credible, and attractive vision of the future that improves upon the present situation.”

Gregory Dess, G.T. Lumpkin, and Alan Eisner, authors of Strategic Management: Creating Competitive Advantages, explain that leaders must develop and implement their visions.  A visionary leader can do these things and more.

In a survey of executives from more than 20 different countries, 98% of these global leaders noted that a strong vision was the most critical trait of a good leader.  Additionally, those surveyed stated that the ability to formulate a strategy to implement one’s vision was the most vital knowledge skill.  

Consequently, it is not enough to have a vision; a leader must have the organizational skills and communication abilities to implement a vision.  Today’s businesses need to create leadership development programs that stimulate the growth of visionary leadership from within.

Discuss your professional experience with visionary leadership in your industry.

© 2014 by Daryl D. Green