By Rick Freedman, Special to ZDNet Asia
Wednesday, September 30, 2009 01:08 PM
The Seven S guides managers to improve their strategic approach to the business. Get an overview of the framework and tips on how to apply it.
A common adage in the management consulting business is that efficiency and effectiveness are completely different measurements.
An organization can be extremely efficient, getting high productivity from their workforce and producing their product or service with very little waste or churn, yet be totally ineffective in meeting their objectives if, for instance, their product or service is not accepted in the marketplace.
This difference is often distilled to the statement “efficiency is about doing things right, while effectiveness is about doing the right things.”
In an earlier column on Six Sigma, I noted that Six Sigma is primarily focused on improving quality in areas such as manufacturing, sales, and customer service; in other words, on doing things right. It’s not a strategic methodology, so it’s not equipped to guide managers to examine their overall business model or strategy.
So how do consultants or managers step up a level from process to strategy?
Understanding the Seven S framework’s basics
The Seven S approach is a framework that focuses on guiding managers to improving, not just our processes, but our entire strategic approach to the business. The model was originally proposed by Richard Tanner Pascale and Anthony Athos in their book The Art of Japanese Management; McKinsey and Company has adopted the model as the basis of its strategic consulting approach. (more…)
Availability of Talented Staff. For the first time in many years, the balance of power has shifted from Employee to Employer. The global crisis has seen a large pool of employees return to the labour market. There is an opportunity to recruit talented new team members that were not previously available. If there is a key position that you have been wanting to recruit for some time, and the business can afford it, you may be able to secure a strong candidate and increase your competitive edge.
Productivity Gains Possible. Staff are acutely aware of the economic downturn. It plays out each night on their TV and occupies plenty of air-time in social settings. It can be argued that businesses that have a motivated, empowered and loyal team may in fact increase productivity. With staff more conscious of their livelihood and management analysing the business more than ever, staff may increase their productivity through a combination of anxiety and demands from management.
Strategic Review. When things are going well, regularly reviewing your overall business strategy often takes a back seat. But when markets contract, business owners are forced to revisit their strategic plan through necessity. The discipline of regularly conducting a strategic review of the business is a discipline that should be followed in all economic trends. This is a constructive side-effect of the downturn.
Cheaper Finance. Interest rates have fallen massively so the burden of cost of funds on business is lower. Further, if you have a solid balance sheet and serviceability through your cash flow, there are opportunities to consider further borrowing. Make sure any new debt is considered through a due diligence analysis as the opportunity of any investment must be considered against risk.
Hungrier Suppliers. Your suppliers are trading in this economy too. Price cutting and value-adding activities have emerged in many industries. See what your suppliers are offering and test the water with their competitors. Ask what else they can do for you. You’ll be surprised how attentive they are to your requests at the moment.
Rationalisation of Overhead. Every business is conducting a review of overhead expenses. Whether it’s wages, cost of goods sold items or general overhead expenses; all should be reviewed. Cut costs but don’t cut too hard. There is a point at which costs can be cut too deep with an impact on service levels, working environment and revenue.
Restructuring. In good times you can carry staff and be a bit fat. However, a downturn forces you to analyse staff levels and roles. In opening up your mind to restructuring, you can look at individuals and job functions in a new light. See how roles can be combined, consider how certain people might perform in other areas of the business. This exercise may result in exciting new challenges for staff, greater productivity and a leaner labour force.
Acquisition Opportunities. Some businesses will shut down or put up the sale sign. This will no doubt provide unprecedented opportunities for some businesses to acquire their competitors for a reasonable price. Keep your ear to the ground for tip offs, invite broker contact and listen to industry news.
Vertical Integration. In addition to acquisition opportunities, the downturn also provides the opportunity to look at vertical integration. With more “key person” candidate talent hitting the market and industry rationalisation, there are attractive opportunities to expand into new business units. This may be as simple as transferring an existing staff member into the new business unit or hiring a new key person to run it. Any decision on this needs to be based on commercial analysis and consideration of your own individual risk profile. But clearly, opportunities exist here.
Greater Market Share. Those that survive the long winter will prosper. As competitors disappear or lose competitive advantage, continuing market players will soak up greater market share. This organic growth through external attrition will create new wealth for those that survive.
Improved Morale. While everyone is talking lost jobs, employee fear and lower morale; those businesses that can hold onto their team through the downturn will win loyalty and engagement. Coming out the other side together and united will have a massive influence on staff morale in surviving businesses.
Positioning for Boom Times. Good times will come again. Businesses that survive and position themselves well for the future will be ideally placed to exploit the inevitable return to boom times. The competitive edge or lead time in the gap between businesses in a strong position competing with businesses coming out of distress will have widened. Those in a strong position can influence products/services, price, volume and innovation in their industry to more competitive advantage.
Article by Darren Bourke ACTION COMMUNITY FOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP
I’m not Facebook user, but I find following article usefuly to the Facebook user who get sick of the recent “enhancement”. The unwelcome facebook redesigned flooding the user with all kinds of streaming updates which may not be necessary.
Too often, when you visualize all the things that could go wrong, you never even make the attempt. You’re defeated before you even start, by your own imagination.
It doesn’t have to be that way. You can visualize anything you want. Your imagination is yours to control. Instead of anticipating defeat, plan in your mind to win. See yourself achieving. Consider the possible challenges you’ll face, and then see yourself successfully overcoming them.
You don’t need any money, or experience, or knowledge, or permission from anyone else to be a winner in your own mind. You can do it right now, and tomorrow, and for the rest of your life. And whatever you can visualize in vivid detail, is well on its way to happening.
Think about what you do want, and discard thoughts of what you don’t want. Be a winner in your mind, and your positive mind will make you a winner.
Before this day is over, you can make your world a better place.
Rather than spending the whole day pursuing comfort and avoiding inconvenience, get up and do something meaningful. Rather than just reacting to the random events that come along, focus on a particular goal and get it done. Instead of continuing to worry about something that needs to be done, just go ahead and get it over with.
Use your creativity. Exercise your mind and your body. Whatever you do today, you’ll be tired when it is all over. Will you be tired from enduring the same old thing as every other day? Or will you be exhausted after a day of creative effort and accomplishment? Think of how refreshing that would be!
Today is already underway, and it will end all too soon. Decide to fill it with life. Decide to make it great. See for yourself how far you can go, when you make the most of today. (more…)