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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

[#corporate behaviour - 03] Mediocrazia

Mi capita (non sono il solo) di leggere e analizzare, confrontarmi nella silenziosa quiete di un articolo o di un libro e mettermi in discussione. Una guerra pacifica fra la mia curiosita', la mia ignoranza e le mie mediocrita'.
Mi capita che alcune parole (storie, personaggi, linguaggio) mi mandino in risonanza. Nel bene e nel male.
Il titolo dell'articolo che segue potrebbe tristemente e poco elegantemente far pensare a una miserabile volonta' di rivendicare qualcosa. Invece e' un articolo molto bello, che usa espressioni efficaci, come "estremo centro" e "giocare il gioco".
Questo blog lo uso come un taccuino per gli appunti. Se non annotassi questa lettura e alcune considerazioni, sarei, in qualche misura, non onesto, uno degli homo abnegus di cui parla l'articolo.
Questo pezzo tocca le corde della mia sensibilita' perche' ben rappresenta la situazione con cui ho convissuto a lungo e da cui, con decisione e impegno, mi sono liberato, nella speranza di riuscire a creare qualcosa di meglio, non solo per me.
Ci sono alcuni aspetti di degrado, decomposizione sociale che la crisi economica globale ha messo in evidenza in modo tanto brutale quanto silente. Non ho ancora trovato un articolo, un libro che ne parlasse. Negli anni in cui si gestivano le aziende come se la domanda di mercato fosse infinita e destinata a durare in eterno, le corporate sono cresciute in maniera scomposta, riempendosi di dirigenti e middle manager con competenze non all'altezza. Questa zavorra ha superato la leva dell'1:5, dove quell'1 non ha nulla da dirigere, ma c'e', ha un costo e non te ne puoi liberare. E questo blob intermedio tiene la distanza fra ruoli apicali (quelli che potrebbero agire le leve del cambiamento) e quella parte sana del capitale umano che sta sotto, studia e impara, cresce come il muschio e potrebbe fare da anticorpo naturale alla stagnazione.
Come puo' il talento emergere quando e' sovrastato, per numero e armi, da una tale cappa di mediocrita'? Come si puo' cambiare la pelle a un dinosauro conservatore, maschilista, militarmente gerarchico, omofobo, retorico, autoreferenziale che resiste con tutte la forza della propria ignoranza collettiva a preservare uno status quo costruito in anni di lealta' a conformismi locali?
Questo fenomeno di combustione di capitale umano e' un disinvestimento sociale che rallenta il necessario rinnovamento della classe dirigente di amministrazione e industria del nostro paese, al fine di preservare proprio la testa dell'animale preistorico che ha dato origine al declino culturale e industriale che viviamo. E' contro natura.
Quando stiamo seduti su una sedia scomoda abbiamo svariate possibilita'.
Possiamo stare scomodi e zitti (la parabola della rana bollita:http://laranabollita.blogspot.it/…/la-parabola-della-rana-b…).
Oppure possiamo stare scomodi e, badando bene a non cambiare mai posizione, lamentarci. Qualcosa di cui lamentarsi lo si trova sempre. Ci si sfoga e si va avanti un giorno alla volta.
Oppure cerchiamo di maturare il linguaggio di una nuova forma di consapevolezza, il coraggio di descriverla, la volonta' decisa di agire un cambiamento cosciente e orientato a costruirci un futuro. E cambiamo, cazzo.

DP

Sunday, May 15, 2016

[#corporate behaviour - 02] On the candor and courage of telling the truth.

Some recent crime news hit my sensitivity. It is a terrible and sad story of adult abuse on children and murder. The episode was followed by the entire Italian nation with collective mourning and rage.
When such news hits the headlines, I usually do not get into details because I feel much discomfort with the collective need to obsessively know about brutal information and express rage.
Certainly, being father of a five years old played some role in how I felt close to what happened.

There is a detail, in this story, that somehow made me reason a lot.
In the building where it all happened, the local community where many people probably knew or suspected, the truth remained veiled until the culprit's children told detectives what had been going on.
Two questions have come to my mind.

How could it be that so many adults held back such terrible suspects, creating a code of silence and implicitly protecting a criminal?
If years of education and life experience have led many adults to feel so fearful and powerless, what's wrong with our cultural model? What, in the end, restrains people from declaring truth?

The second point is about those young witnesses. When kids feel something is unfair, there is no educational or cultural compromise leading them not to tell the truth. When kids say something is wrong, they are right. They have no fear of declaring their pain.


When we know such violent events, the time spent on reading news, confronting with friends, meditating on meanings is some sort of ritual helping us to go beyond our stressed bad emotions. We tend to consider what happened just far away from our lives.

I was thinking about many episodes in my professional path but, more generally, in my life when I was witness of something that made me feel uncomfortable, that I considered unfair. Any time I did not find a proper way to raise my hand and say there was something wrong, someway I contributed to keep a group balance, but I colluded with some kind of bad leadership and committed violence to myself.



I have been taught that managers should be able to transform problems into opportunities and I sincerely believe that. But, what is the difference between creating value out of potential or concrete issues and hiding problems? If the CEO of a company, just to make an example, is exposed to a picture of the company he/she is supposed to lead that is artificially mitigated and sweetened by first and second lines in the name of a general, culturally standardised need to steadily propose a favourable image of what is going on, well, how will such CEO be able of properly use his/her managerial levers to act the best possible strategy?

Promoting honest confront on how things are going on, the right to tell the truth is not an option but a concrete need. Investing in spreading culture on how to properly communicate truth is a valid option.

DP


Friday, May 13, 2016

[#corporate behaviour - 01] Managerialita' e parita' di genere.


All'inizio di Marzo 2016, una persona nota, membro di una community che si occupa d'innovazione, fu invitata a contribuire a un convegno di una nota societa' di telecomunicazioni Italiana, dal sottotitolo "La parita' di genere riguarda tutti. Anche gli uomini". Ironia, la stra-grande maggioranza del panel era composta da uomini.
Egli chiese spunti per confezionare il suo intervento e fra i quesiti ci fu questo: "Quali sono i principali ostacoli, oggi in Italia, al raggiungimento della parità di genere?"

Nei miei anni da professionista ho osservato e imparato un sacco dall'esperienza di lavoro con colleghe. 
Di seguito la mia risposta.




"Qualche anno fa partecipai a un evento in cui lo speaker era l'AD del piu' grande gruppo bancario Italiano in Europa. Il suo intervento incluse alcune considerazioni in cui mi ritrovo. Non ricordo le parole esatte, percio' vado a memoria e riassumo, usando concetti miei. 
Partiamo dal presupposto, teorico, che la natura abbia deciso di distribuire l'intelligenza, fra uomini e donne, secondo una Gaussiana. Allora non si spiega perche' almeno l'80% dei dirigenti nelle corporate Italiane sia maschio. Quanto meno si sta perdendo un 30% di potenziale in capacita' manageriale. Come mai non si riesce ad avere un equilibrio di genere compatibile con l'assunto iniziale? 
Se il problema e' che le donne (immaginiamo, semplificando, in quota parte maggiore della meta') hanno bisogno di uscire dall'ufficio alle 17:00, magari per andare a prendere figli a scuola (per altro non capisco perche' lo stesso problema non l'abbiano gli uomini), allora l'innovazione consisterebbe nell'essere abbastanza ordinati e diligenti dal pianificare gli incontri che le coinvolgono affinche' non si svolgano dopo le 17:00. Non dovrebbe essere un impegno troppo gravoso. 
Non avere una distribuzione del potenziale coerente con la capacita' e' un limite alla crescita delle imprese. Il sospetto che cio' accada perche' a guidare le imprese siano per la gran parte uomini nasce spontaneo. 
A ogni modo, non valorizzare questo potenziale o e' una scelta o e' una non scelta. Nel primo caso e' una scelta manageriale incomprensibile: perche' farsi male da soli? Nel secondo caso e' superficialita', nella migliore delle ipotesi."

DP

Saturday, February 6, 2016

[#innovation - 13] Corporates losing focus on innovation.

Just a couple of highly recommended points from this Jobs' interview:

1) On corporates' lost attitude to make good products. [26:59 to 27:32]
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"[...] and the companies forget what it means to make great products. Sort of the product sensibility and the product genius [...] get rotted out by people running these companies who have no conception of a good product versus a bad product. They have no conception of the craftsmanship that's required to take a good idea and turn it into a good product. And they really have no feeling in their hearts usually about wanting to really help the customers."

2) On the downfall of focusing on processes vs creating good contents. [min 30:46 to 31:48]
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"[...] companies get confused. When they start getting bigger, they want to replicate their initial success. And a lot of them think 'well, somehow there is some magic in the process of how that success was created.'. So they start to try to institutionalize process across the company. And before very long, people get very confused that the process is the content, And That's ultimately the downfall of IBM. IBM has the best process people in the world. They just forgot about the content. And that's what happened a little bit at Apple too. We had a lot of people who were great at management process. They just didn't have a clue as to the content. And in my career, I found that the best people, you know, are the ones that really understand the content. And they are a pain in the butt to manage, you know? But you put up with it because they're so great at the content. And that's what makes great products. It's not process. It's content".

DP

Sunday, September 6, 2015

[#strategy - 03] Manufacturing like ... services.

Manufacturing and service operations answer different questions and formulate different strategies when it comes to planning and managing the way in which an organization is run.
Manufacturing operations produce tangible goods, which are physical products that can be held and seen. Manufacturers have a standardized way of producing goods. One finished product is generally the same as the next. 
On the other hand, service operations provide certain intangible services that may not be easily identifiable and repeated. Service operations have more opportunities to customize the services they provide and match customers’ needs.


Both sides of the moon face similar issues, when they need to provide competitive prices to customers and still turn a profit. They both forecast demand for products and services and struggle to stay competitive in the marketplace.
The key difference factor is time. When you engage a customer in a potential commercial relationship, the time laps between actual demand and supply can deeply vary.
Recently it has happened to me that manufacturing companies have asked insights on how to get their process along a services like approach. That’s because there is more awareness on the need for developing the capability to get closer, in time and space, to the evolving customers’ demand and the sensitivity to rapidly understand such changing demand. That means (1) finding new ways to hear customers’ voice and (2) turn it into new products.
Here I focus on the second point.
The operational approach which has traditionally been focused on efficiency is often an obstacle to new product development. That’s because, apart from the expectable difficulties related to designing a new product, setting up the production process, integrating with the existing go-to-market or creating a new one, what needs to be overcome is a lot of internal resistance. That comes out of (too) much confidence on (well) performing consolidated processes. It’s a cultural resistance.
If you want to provide you established, manufacturing company with a more agile ability to develop new product, you cannot just claim a rapid and radical revolution. Your company is a rich set of competencies that need to be valued along that new direction. 
Self-providing the ability to rapidly move from an idea to a prototype that can be market-tested on a selected subset of early adopters is key to accelerate the New Product Development process, shorten the distance with customers and, definitely, improve the relationship with them. That means shortening development cycles.
A sustainable approach, in my view, would involve:
  • Setting up and internally spreading a common business language on innovation (requirements and needs).
  • Establishing a proper “innovation appetite” at top management level, based upon such language.
  • Diagnosing own Innovation Maturity model and define a tailor made Roadmap
  • Defining a strategic innovation strategy, through the adoption of lean evaluation model for new ideas/business opportunities.
  • Providing with the ability to rapidly develop new market proposition in terms of prototypes. Those will allow anticipating the moment you validate such propositions with your customer base and prospects. Such new ideas might very well come from intense and continuous scouting, which can be external and internal. In the latter case, that’s a great way to value the huge capital of competence that lies in the human capital of the company.
DP

Here a few notes on Manufacturing and Services.
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Saturday, April 11, 2015

[#strategy - 02] Corporate Innovation appetite.

What you find on the left is the word RISK written in Chinese. This word is made up of two characters, danger and opportunity. It expresses the very sense of risk. The more you risk, the higher the return of investment you expect. If you want to risk less and invest your energy (money, people, whatever), you’ll also expect less return.
I think it’s the very same with innovation.
Since the beginning of the global crisis, the competition in almost any market has focused on resistance strategies. That has actually meant spending best efforts to make efficiency (cost cutting, improving processes, etc). In many cases that hasn’t been enough and laying off people followed. There probably must be some limit to the efficiency you can do.
My view is that concretely investing in innovation is not an option anymore, if you want to differentiate your value proposition in your market and set up the present and future business for your company, your customers, your working people.
The point is that chances to make mistakes are high and the formerly spread innovation model, based on a closed and strictly R&D approach, is not affordable anymore, because it typically requires monolithic investments. The Open Innovation paradigm is more than an option.
Plus, the startup movement has long grown up over the point in which it’s become systemic. It offers the great opportunity to in-source marketing analysis and innovation value very cheaply, according to a scalable and affordable model.
That doesn’t mean you should dismiss your R&D, of course. My suggestion is that you set up your corporate innovation portfolio, differentiating with both, incremental and disruptive contents, in terms of potential impact and affordable feasibility
The more you’ll invest in disruptive innovation, the higher the potential value (impact or plausible benefits) you’ll create for your company. But the lower the likelihood to succeed. That means choosing ideas located in the bottom-right corner of your matrix.
You can compensate such investments with some being less risky, I mean those (located at the top-left corner) having more chances to get to concrete business.
Innovation appetite is related not only to your entrepreneurial attitude, but also to your actual and current possibility to invest in innovation opportunities. What I propose here is to use such elementary model to express it and help yourself build a balanced portfolio of incremental and disruptive innovation and to focus your energy only on the ideas that properly fit with your innovation appetite.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

[#innovation - 12] Objectifying (as much as possible) the potential value of an idea.

Ok, you have some ideas. Now what?
Ideally, it would be fantastic if the proposer were already able to tell you something like: this project will need €1mln of initial investment and will take 3 years to pay you back with a 30% Internal Rate of Return.
Having such awareness would require a business case to be developed.
Numbers sound so comfortable when you navigate in a sea of uncertainty.
But, let’s suppose we can have very little clues about financials.
This means you cannot base your preliminary evaluation on quantitative criteria and you’ll have to base your estimate on qualitative ones.
Does it make you feel uncomfortable?
Even if a qualitative evaluation will necessarily be less precise … having common sense, shareable, well expressed a priori criteria will be surprisingly concrete.
When we have to evaluate many ideas, having a way to map them will help you to understand which of them will deserve your main attention. I mean prioritize.


Let’s talk about 2 main drivers.
The most important proposals will be those declaring the most plausible benefts and requiring the most affordable feasibility.
The potential impact (benefits) is related to:
    •The concreteness of the pretended market demand. Is the target well clear? Do you believe, based upon your experiece, that the demand  really exist? That means there is someone ready to give credit and pay some money to have the value you promise them.
    •More, what is the innovation content of that idea? Is it disruptive or incremental?  The more disruptive, the higheer the potential value; but only if the idea makes sense and you truly believe there might be a demand.
The stage of development is about the level of maturity of the idea in terms of its feasibility. How easy is it to be concretely realized by the team working on it? Is that team well balanced in terms of needed competence? Does it take to catch up on some competence and/or resource they lack?
Having to qualify those drivers (benefits and feasibility), according to a 1 to 9 range, will help you to classify ideas into three subsets: low, medium, high potential impact. The same will be for the maturity.
As raw this model might seem, you will appreciate its value when you’ll have to merge several contemporary evaluations, which might come from your cooperators, and when you’ll have to compare the qualitative value of several proposals.
What you get, in the end, is a map which can be read according to hyperbolic curves.
Any idea might have some good potential and probably it can be difficult to definitely say an idea is a good or a bad one. But now you can more easily say which ideas are more appealing, based on your evaluation criteria. And which ones are less valuable. 
You can also tell which ideas are the ones you’ll focus more now. And which ones you’ll focus on tomorrow.