Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Reap Rewards from Strategic Partnerships

Creative people are especially protective of their ideas and they're famously reluctant to share. I understand that, I am such a person myself. But I see so much duplication of effort and overhead that surely in these days of tighter margins there could be riches waiting for those who make smart alliances.

I have seen some very productive work and significant revenue resulting from strategic partnerships. Lots of times you are slaving away on your own to climb the same hill others are also tackling. What if you pooled some resources and supported each other's efforts?

I challenge you to look at your business and think very hard about who is doing work that complements or supplements yours and which companies share interests with yours. Then project what the benefits of partnering with them could be. Besides, two heads can be smarter than one.

Might you possibly have to give a little but gain a lot? Think about it. This can be another kind of opportunity worth opening your mind to as you seize this troubled day.

Seismic or organic? How to implement change.

A CEO asked me what is the best way to change an organization - is it necessary to have a seismic change or is organic change the better solution?

The organization is not a monolithic entity, it is a bunch of disparate people - each of whose behavior needs to be changed and who need to collaborate with the rest of the team who are also being asked to change. Some people thrive on big gestures - they love the grand play and could respond well to a seismic change - it will get their adrenalin going and things can happen. Others may be intimidated and not willing to go so far in one go.

This is something that a smart consultant or manager will have to assess for each group of people. Someone with experience can find the right way to do this and can do it in an
objective way so that egos are not hurt and relationships can stay strong.

Once again the old saw applies - if you can't get started, perhaps the first step is too big.

What keeps you going?

What keeps you going - even in these challenging times?

Is it simply making money? Is it that you get pleasure from solving problems: design problems or story problems or marketing problems or the problems of your clients that you care so much about? Or do you love the creative work that you do and can't wait to get started every day? Or is it the love you have for your team, the people who enable your success and who are important to you in so many ways, that you want to see them succeed and flourish with you?

It is helpful to ask yourself this question and see what you say. You might be surprised. An honest answer can clarify a lot and be a valuable beacon to guide your planning and help you move forward.

Bailout Schmailout. Opportunity knocks.

While the fetal position does have its appeal right now, I am suggesting that you set aside just an hour a day for that simple comfort and use the rest of the day more productively.

This is an unprecedented season of opportunities. Look at how Warren Buffett plays it. He seizes the moment and makes inexpensive investments in Goldman Sachs and GE. Barclays leaps on bits of Lehman and so on.

Things are going to be up for grabs. Weaker companies will close - yes even creative businesses I am sorry to say. Talented people will become available. If you are a business owner now is very much the time to be aware of what is going on around you. If you are paying attention you could snap up some strong people who find themselves to be suddenly available. If you are a talented artist or craftsman you can offer your services to the companies who are still playing and looking to the future. These are the ones you want to be doing business with or working for anyway.

So seize the day to scout for these opportunities and move swiftly when you find them. You read that MBA applications are way up - that's because these guys are not hiding their head in the sand - they are retooling and rethinking.

You should be too.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Coaching: the ROI

Studies show that business coaching and executive coaching to be the most effective means for achieving sustainable growth change and development in the individual, group and organization."
HR Monthly

"Companies who invest in developing their staff consistently do 35% better than companies that do not"
The American Society of Training and Development.

"The average training program improves productivity by 22% over the short term, but one-on-one coaching increases it by more than 88% and the improvement is maintained over time."
Independent Research

"More than 60% of Fortune 500 executives work with a professional coach: an objective partner who provides perspective, clarity and motivation."
Wall Street Journal

"The return on investment for coaching services over a 6-12 month period:
• Monetary return was 6 times the coaching investment
• 71% improved relationships with their bosses
• 77% reported improved relationships with their direct reports"
Survey of Fortune 1000 clients