Saturday, September 25, 2010

Help Desk - A User's Guide To Analytics-Based Performance Management

Imagine if an organization had a chief analytics-based performance officer and a department that assisted line managers in applying business analytics embedded in the various methodologies of its the performance management framework. Further imagine if that department had a help desk. Here are some questions, including answers from help desk staff members, that might be fielded:
I am in the pricing department. We determine what price the market can bear in an attempt to maximize our sales volume. Next, we also make sure that the price provides an adequate profit margin. My concern is this: Our cost accountants provide standard costs that are grotesquely flawed due to the way our sizable indirect and shared indirect expenses are allocated to products. I want true costs, not the reported costs. What should I do?

Almost every pricing department is in the same boat as ours, except for those organizations where the accounting department reformed from their traditional costing to an activity-based costing (ABC) method. What most pricing departments do is create their own shadow product costing data separate from the accountants. They assign the various indirect expenses to those products that use more or less (or all or none) of the indirect expenses — thus applying some cause-and-effect consumption relationships. Sadly, these pricing departments are doing the cost accounting department's job. Needless to say, things get confusing because managers are always asking, "Whose cost data are you using?" Eventually, you may want to get up the nerve to suggest to the CFO and financial controller that they implement an activity-based costing system. But be prepared for their backlash argument: They must use only their traditional costing method to comply with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). They don't want to break the rules and go to jail. What they don't realize is that if they trace and assign costs the correct way for internal managerial accounting, they won't go to jail.
I am the manager of our delivery operations. It baffles me that our marketing and sales departments seem to provide so many deals and special services to specific groups of customers who cause us so many headaches. We are constantly jumping through flaming hoops to do extraordinary activities for these customers (such as special packaging and expedited shipments). My guess is that if we added up all these extra costs and combined them with our regular costs, these customers may possibly even be unprofitable to us. What should I do?

You and our marketing and sales departments have a misconception. By only considering short-term profitability — and focusing too much on the current costs of customer acquisition and retention and not enough on a customer's long-term economic value to shareholders — you are missing the big picture.

By classifying our customer segments into a 2-by-2 matrix with the two axes as "easy or hard" and "to acquire or to retain," what will be revealed will influence managers to target mostly those customers who are easy to acquire and easy to maintain. But this leads to the false assumption that acquisition and retention costs are the major driver of customer profitability. This would not be a problem if each customer segment were equally profitable. But they are never equal!

I suggest you try to educate someone in marketing and accounting to apply business analytics to segment customers into this 2-by-2 or 10-by-10 grid of acquisition and retention. But don't stop there. Next, project the future for each segment using forecasting tools for future price, volume, cost, up-selling, cross-selling, and so on. This information can guide them to determine the optimal level of spending to maximize long-term customer profitability. Applying business analytics provides a competitive edge.

I am the CEO. I am constantly challenged to make difficult decisions regarding trade-offs between cost-saving measures and high customer satisfaction levels. For example, how do we improve customer service levels and cost-saving process efficiencies while restricted to fixed contract-like budget constraints and profit targets? How do I balance short-term and long-term goals?
I think we need better performance measurements — and they should somehow be causally linked to our strategy as well as to each other as leading or lagging measures. We also need to rethink how we conduct our annual budgeting process.

As background, I understand your pain that external forces are producing unprecedented uncertainty and volatility. The speed of change makes calendar-based planning (and long cycle times for planning with multiyear horizons) unsuitable for management purposes. Both short- and long-term time frame-horizon pursuits involve change.
• Short-term goals require agility to maintain the linkage of a constantly adjusting strategy with operational execution, while complying with and meeting aggressive performance-level expectations of stakeholders, including our board of directors' demands for constantly increasing earnings.

• Long-term strategic objectives require continuous innovation, foresight of risk and opportunity, relentless process improvement, an eye on recruiting and retaining a motivated workforce, and leveraging partnerships and alliances of all kinds for interdependent mutual benefits.

Have you considered implementing a strategy map and its companion, the balanced scorecard? I think that a reason we struggle with executing our overall strategy is that most managers and employees cannot explain what our organization's strategy is. As a result, they really do not know how the work they do contributes to our executive team's strategic intent. Strategy maps, balanced scorecards, key performance indicators (KPIs), and dashboards are the components of performance management's suite of solutions that address this. If we all understand what our strategy is and are involved in selecting projects to implement and key processes to improve (including the KPI measures and targets that will monitor our progress), then our behavior and priorities can be aligned in order to manage our corporate strategy. By approving funding for our project selections and applying driver-based budgeting for our processes (which would require implementing activity-based costing measures to get the appropriate data), you can link our budget to your strategy. If we use business analytics software, you can receive reliable rolling financial forecasts to parallel all the changes.

The Reality

I don't believe that organizations need an analytics-based performance management help desk. They simply need to complete implementing the integrated components of their performance management framework and be sure that each component is embedded with business analytics.

Thanks to Gary Cokins / BigFatFinanceBlog / September 13th, 2010

Measuring Your Values

What does your organization value? Is it posted on the wall somewhere? Do you have to go look it up?
When we go through the exercise of writing organizational values, we roll them out to the rest of the organization by placing them on the walls where people will see them. And, then we forget about them and they become wallpaper. What a shame to go to the effort of defining what you believe in and how you will act only to have them relegated to wallpaper sayings!
If you want your values to become truth you have to live them. You have to talk about them. You have to measure what makes them real in your organization. Your values can become more than your slogan. They can become a source of pride for the employees. Your values set you apart from other organizations because they become who you are to the world. Follow these tips for higher visibility and alignment with performance in your organization.
   1.  Talk about the values in all-employee meetings. Relate the pertinent values to what you are reporting on at the meeting. Tell how you were able to achieve your goals because people are living those values. Give specific stories so people know what you are looking for as good behaviors.

   2.   Talk about pertinent values in staff or committee meetings. Relate what you are working on to carrying out the organizational values. Make sure that you aren't doing things that would be against the values. For example, if you have a value for high customer service while you are cutting services, discuss how you will maintain high customer satisfaction by giving the best possible service with the options you have.
  3.    As a top management professional, make sure that the decisions you make for the health and welfare of the organization are aligned with the organizational values. If it looks like the top management takes actions that don't align with the values, the employees will be quick to dismiss the values as unimportant and irrelevant.

   4.    Consider measuring how employees carry out their duties in line with the values by putting them on your performance appraisal form. You only need to grade it yes or no, but by having it on the form, you increase the visibility and accountability for taking the values seriously. You also get to recognize and reward those who are leading the way by living the values.

   5.    Values are important guides to behavior. People are more likely to follow values that are aligned with their personal values. Help people own the organizational values by talking about how they see the values applied to their jobs and the way they contribute to the organization's success. 
Thanks to Vicki Anderson Resources

Pair Of Aluminum Atomic Clocks Reveal Einstein's Relativity At A Personal Scale

ScienceDaily (Sep. 24, 2010) — Scientists have known for decades that time passes faster at higher elevations -- a curious aspect of Einstein's theories of relativity that previously has been measured by comparing clocks on the earth's surface and a high-flying rocket.

Now, physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have measured this effect at a more down-to-earth scale of 33 centimeters, or about 1 foot, demonstrating, for instance, that you age faster when you stand a couple of steps higher on a staircase.

Described in the Sept. 24 issue of Science, the difference is much too small for humans to perceive directly -- adding up to approximately 90 billionths of a second over a 79-year lifetime -- but may provide practical applications in geophysics and other fields.

Similarly, the NIST researchers observed another aspect of relativity -- that time passes more slowly when you move faster -- at speeds comparable to a car travelling about 20 miles per hour, a more comprehensible scale than previous measurements made using jet aircraft.

NIST scientists performed the new "time dilation" experiments by comparing operations of a pair of the world's best experimental atomic clocks. The nearly identical clocks are each based on the "ticking" of a single aluminum ion (electrically charged atom) as it vibrates between two energy levels over a million billion times per second. One clock keeps time to within 1 second in about 3.7 billion years and the other is close behind in performance. The two clocks are located in different laboratories at NIST and connected by a 75-meter-long optical fiber.

NIST's aluminum clocks -- also called "quantum logic clocks" because they borrow logical decision-making techniques from experimental quantum computing -- are precise and stable enough to reveal slight differences that could not be seen until now. The clocks operate by shining laser light on the ions at optical frequencies, which are higher than the microwave frequencies used in today's standard atomic clocks based on the cesium atom.

Optical clocks could someday lead to time standards 100 times more accurate than today's standard clocks.

The aluminum clocks can detect small relativity-based effects because of their extreme precision and high "Q factor" -- a quantity that reflects how reliably the ion absorbs and retains optical energy in changing from one energy level to another -- says NIST postdoctoral researcher James Chin-Wen Chou, first author of the paper.

"We have observed the highest Q factor in atomic physics," Chou says. "You can think about it as how long a tuning fork would vibrate before it loses the energy stored in the resonating structure. We have the ion oscillating in sync with the laser frequency for about 400 thousand billion cycles."

The NIST experiments focused on two scenarios predicted by Einstein's theories of relativity. First, when two clocks are subjected to unequal gravitational forces due to their different elevations above the surface of the Earth, the higher clock -- experiencing a smaller gravitational force -- runs faster. Second, when an observer is moving, a stationary clock's tick appears to last longer, so the clock appears to run slow. Scientists refer to this as the "twin paradox," in which a twin sibling who travels on a fast-moving rocket ship would return home younger than the other twin. The crucial factor is the acceleration (speeding up and slowing down) of the travelling twin in making the round-trip journey.

NIST scientists observed these effects by making specific changes in one of the two aluminum clocks and measuring the resulting differences in the two ions' relative ticking rates, or frequencies.

In one set of experiments, scientists raised one of the clocks by jacking up the laser table to a height one-third of a meter (about a foot) above the second clock. Sure enough, the higher clock ran at a slightly faster rate than the lower clock, exactly as predicted.

The second set of experiments examined the effects of altering the physical motion of the ion in one clock. (The ions are almost completely motionless during normal clock operations.) NIST scientists tweaked the one ion so that it gyrated back and forth at speeds equivalent to several meters per second. That clock ticked at a slightly slower rate than the second clock, as predicted by relativity. The moving ion acts like the traveling twin in the twin paradox.

Such comparisons of super-precise clocks eventually may be useful in geodesy, the science of measuring the Earth and its gravitational field, with applications in geophysics and hydrology, and possibly in space-based tests of fundamental physics theories, suggests physicist Till Rosenband, leader of NIST's aluminum ion clock team.

NIST scientists hope to improve the precision of the aluminum clocks even further, as much as 10-fold, through changes in ion trap geometry and better control of ion motion and environmental interference. The aim is to measure differences in timekeeping well enough to measure heights to an accuracy of 1 centimeter, a performance level suitable for making geodetic measurements. The paper suggests that optical clocks could be linked to form a network of "inland tidal gauges" to measure the distance from the earth's surface to the geoid (the surface of the earth's gravity field that matches the global mean sea level). Such a network could be updated far more frequently than current techniques.

Thanks to ScienceDaily

The Writer's 5 Ws

Yes, it's Journalism 101, but people who should have it engraved upon the doorposts of their hearts still manage to forget that every news story should contain the Five Ws (and sometimes the H of "how").

As editor for a site for writers, I solicit announcements about events that have to do with writing. I am dismayed by the number of submissions I receive that leave out one of the five Ws.

Kipling made it easy for us to remember:

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

For a club announcement, be sure that the five Ws provide enough information to enable a reader to make an decision.

For example, the When should include not just the date, but the time of day. Readers will appreciate having an ending time as well as a beginning time, for example, "noon until 3 p.m."

The Where may be familiar to the person writing the notice, but it may not be to the reader. If the place is a restaurant or a hall, it may be helpful to include an address, or directions for getting there.

The Who needs to include more "who-ness" than just a name. If Who is a speaker, use an appropriate epithet: Forensics expert Max Lewis, Entomology professor Laurie Baxter, literary agent Maggie Smith. If the Who is an organization, don't expect the everyone to know that SCBWI stands for Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Spell it out at least once.

The What, of course, is the event: a monthly meeting, the tour of a new library, an exhibit.

The Why should give the reader an idea of why the event is worth attending: an opportunity to see a new facility, to learn about criminal investigation, to find out what an agent wants in a query letter.

Next time you're asked to send a notice of an upcoming event to your local media, it may be a good idea to review the five Ws (and sometimes H) before submitting it.

Oh, and one more thing that's not in Kipling's list: Be sure to include contact information. This may take the form of a name, telephone number, website, or email address at the end of the story.

Thanks to Daily Writing Tips

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Facebook: 7 Highly Effective Habits

Quick 7-point primer on the psychology of Facebook.

Love it or loathe it, Facebook is everywhere, and will continue to be everywhere as the film describing its genesis—The Social Network—is released worldwide over coming months.

To help you cope, here are 7 research-based tips for total Facebook domination. If you don't use it, these should at least help you pepper Facebook-related conversations with compelling observations from the psychological research.

1. Get between 100 & 300 Friends

It doesn't look good to have too many Facebook friends, or too few.

It has been suggested that humans can maintain relationships with 150 people and Tong et al. (2008) found Facebooker's social attractiveness peaked at around this number. Go much above 300 or below 100 and social attractiveness starts to drop.

2. Court Attractive Friends

Make sure your friends, or the people who post on your 'wall', are good-looking. Walther et al. (2008) found that attractive friends boosted the perceived attractiveness of participant's profiles.

Keep the uggos away, unlike the offline world, it won't make you look better in comparison.

3. Understand The 7 Motivations

If you need to lure more people in as Facebook friends, it's handy to understand its attraction.

Joinson (2008) found 7 basic motivations for using Facebook: connecting with old or distant friends, social surveillance (see what old friends are up to, but without talking to them), looking up people met offline, virtual people watching, status updating and content.

4. Don't Let Your Partner Use Facebook

Muise et al. (2009) found that participants who spent more time on Facebook were more jealous of their partners. This is probably because they are finding out things about their partner—who they know and where they've been—which, in the days before social networking, could have been kept quiet.

So, don't let your partner see your Facebook profile. Unless you want them to be jealous. In which case, carry on.

5. Guard Your Privacy

Privacy is a big, controversial topic on Facebook because many people's social networking profiles do say too much.

Nosko et al. (2010) found that young, single people were particularly likely to disclose sensitive information about themselves. It's the online disinhibition effect writ large. But, according to Boyd (2010), more young people are using the privacy settings than a year ago, so the message is getting through.

You've heard it before and you'll hear it again: watch what you say about yourself online, you never know who's taking notes.

6. Display Your Real Self

Remarkably, you can often trust Facebook profiles; Back et al., (2010) found that Facebook profiles generally reflected their owner's actual rather than idealised selves.

Facebook users may not personally know all their Facebook friends but they probably do like the movies, books and bands they claim to like.

7. Use Facebook To Get A Job

Because we move huge distances nowadays, away from home towns and old friends, it's easy to lose contact with people who might be able to give us a leg up in life. Facebook to the rescue...

Ellison et al. (2008) found that Facebook users had higher levels of 'social capital'. In other words: people are using their Facebook contacts to get jobs or other opportunities.

See, Facebookers aren't just surfing for photos of people they know and people they'd like to know, they're building social capital.

At least, that's the excuse I'll be using from now on.

Thank to PsyBlog

How To improve Your Business Writing Skills

There's no better way to approach business writing than to keep three realities in mind:
  1. Business readers are content-driven.
  2. Readers are pressed for time.
  3. Readers are seeking solutions.

But there are too many contradictory rules for composing a business report:

  • Writing should be clear - but it should also "sound good."
  • Information should be simple and straightforward, yet cleverly composed to stand out.
  • Get to the bottom line quickly, but don't leave out background details.

If you need to compose a report, proposal, memo or email, you undoubtedly want to write effectively, without agonizing over every word. Keep the following points in mind to save time and energy, while avoiding the need for numerous rewrites:

  1. Our writing skills were developed in school. The fundamentals aren't good enough for today's fast-paced, time-pressed business environment.
  2. When you're juggling contradictory ideas about style, presentation and level of detail, your results can come across as fuzzy and uncertain, which undermines your intent.
  3. Your writing skill determines whether you get your foot in the door to further the conversation. If you can't make your case in writing, you may not get the chance to make a presentation.
  4. Writing should be like a good butler, smoothly working to serve the reader without calling attention to itself. Avoid language that sounds impressive. Use words to convey information and ideas, build relationships with readers and speak their language.
  5. How you organize your content is critical. Your readers will be drawn into your words if you present them logically.

The Introduction:
Problem, Questions, Solution

Colleagues decide whether to read your memo or report based on the first few sentences. You need to grab their attention right away and create a desire to know more.

Many business professionals introduce the subject matter slowly and build up to make their point. They often start from their own point of view, talking about themselves and how they're connected with the reader or the problem.

This is a mistake. Readers immediately want to know: "Why am I reading this? What's in it for me? Why should I care?"

Not to be harsh, but readers don't care about you. Your introductory paragraph must quickly establish relevancy and utility.

An effective introduction briskly tells a story built around four elements:

  1. The situation: A quick factual sketch of the current business situation that will anchor the reader.
  2. The complication: A problem that unsettles the reader, which underscores why you're writing the memo or report.
  3. The question: You can imply it or spell it out, as in:
    a. What should we do?
    b. How can we do it?
    c. What's wrong with what we've tried?
  4. The answer: Your response to the question and solution to the complication.

The order in which these elements appear can vary, but your introduction should foreshadow the content by identifying the key problem and the questions you'll be answering. Readers can then decide if your work is worth their time or should be forwarded to others.

The Body: Organizing Ideas

In The Minto Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing, Thinking and Problem Solving, Barbara Minto advises report writers to start by diagramming their arguments in lieu of writing out full sentences.

Map out your arguments as a pyramid of boxes, as illustrated above. Make a statement, and then attach supporting evidence in boxes underneath each argument.

The following diagram can help you map the content for your next writing task:

With a diagramming program like SmartDraw, you can build a visual structure that logically organizes your arguments. Once you've arranged the building blocks, writing becomes much easier.

Classic Writing Tips

College professor William Strunk Jr. and novelist/journalist E.B. White wrote The Elements of Style, which is still considered a classic reference book. Their timeless concepts include:

  • Use the active voice.
  • Put statements in positive form; avoid double negatives.
  • Use definite, specific and concrete language
  • Avoid overuse of common adjectives like really, very, even, just, actually and basically.
  • Omit needless words.
  • Avoid complex sentences that deliver more than one idea.
  • Stick to one tense.
  • Place emphatic words at the end of a sentence.
Thanks to Kashbox Coaching communications

11 Rules Your Kids Did Not & Will Not Learn In School

*Rule 1: Life is not fair - get used to it!

*Rule 2: The world doesn't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

*Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

*Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

*Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.

*Rule 6: If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

*Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

*Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

*Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

*Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

*Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

From Bill Gates Speech

Self Assessment & Evaluation Always Help In Grooming

A little boy went to a telephone booth which was at the cash counter of a store and dialed a number.

The store-owner observed and listened to the conversation:
Boy : "Lady, Can you give me the job of cutting your lawn?
Woman : (at the other end of the phone line) "I already have someone to cut my lawn."

Boy : "Lady, I will cut your lawn for half the price than the person who cuts your lawn now."
Woman : I'm very satisfied with the person who is presently cutting my lawn.

Boy : (with more perseverance) "Lady, I'll even sweep the floor and the stairs of your house for free.
Woman : No, thank you.
With a smile on his face, the little boy replaced the receiver. The store-owner, who was listening to all this, walked over to the boy.
Store Owner: "Son... I like your attitude; I like that positive spirit and would like to offer you a job."
Boy: "No thanks, Store Owner: But you were really pleading for one.

Boy: No Sir, I was just checking my performance at the job I already have. I am the one who is working for that lady I was talking to!"

What Will Be The Next New Management Breakthrough?

Since the 1890s, there have arguably been only a few major management breakthroughs, with several minor ones. What will be the next big tsunami in management that can differentiate leading organizations from also-rans lagging behind them? I suggest one possibility at the conclusion of this article.

The History of Management Breakthroughs

Where do you draw the line between the major and minor management breakthroughs of innovative methodologies that can provide an organization with a competitive edge? I'm not sure, so my list likely describes a blend:

Frederick Winslow Taylor's Scientific Management: Taylor, the luminary of industrial engineers, pioneered methods in the 1890s to systematically organize work. His techniques helped make Henry Ford wealthy when Ford's automobile company applied these methods to divide labor into specialized skill sets in a sequential production line and to set stopwatch-measured time standards as target goals to monitor employee production rates. Production at rates faster than the standard was good, while slower was bad. During the same period, Alexander Hamilton Church, an English accountant, designed a method of measuring cost accounting variances to measure the favorable and unfavorable cost impact of faster or slower production speeds compared to the expected standard cost.

Alfred P. Sloan's Customer Segmentation ; Henry Ford's pursuit of a low unit cost per single type of automobile (i.e., the Model T) was countered with an idea championed by Alfred P. Sloan, who became president of General Motors in 1923. Sloan advocated expansion of product diversity in style, quality, and performance with increasingly more expensive features in car models as a staircase for higher-income consumers to climb – starting with the Chevrolet and ultimately peaking with the Cadillac. It revealed the power of branding to retain customer loyalty.

Harvard Business School's Alfred D. Chandler Jr.'s Organizational Structure: In 1962, Professor Chandler's path-breaking book, Strategy and Structure, concluded that a factor explaining why some large companies fail or succeed involved how they learn about customers and how they understand the boundaries of their competencies to focus their strengths.

Harvard Business School's Michael E. Porter's Theories Of Competitive Advantage: It is hard to believe that prior to Porter's 1970 book, Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors, very few organizations had a formal strategic planning department. Today, they are commonplace. Conglomerates composed of many diverse businesses were becoming numerous in the 1960s when Porter introduced his "four forces" approach for individual businesses to assess their strengths and opportunities. His message was that strategy is about making tough choices.

Total Quality Management from Edward Deming, Joseph Juran, & Phil Crosby: The total quality management (TQM) and continuous quality improvement (CQI) programs of the 1970s were a response to Japanese manufacturers grabbing market share as they progressed from being viewed as making cheap products to making high-quality ones. During the same time period, Shigeo Shingo and Taiichi Ohno of Toyota Motors introduced "pull"-based just-in-time (JIT) production systems that were counter to traditional large batch-and-queue production management economic-lot-size thinking. JIT provides faster throughput with less inventory. In the 1990s, at Motorola, Mikel Harry introduced a TQM refinement called Six Sigma, which recently has merged with lean management techniques.

Michael Hammer's Business Process Reengineering: In the early 1990s, Michael Hammer recognized the importance on focusing and satisfying customers. He observed that stovepiped and self-serving organizational departments were inefficient at serving customers and that the best way to improve service, particularly given the rapid adoption of computers, was not to just modestly improve business processes, but rather to radically reengineer processes with redesign as if you had a clean sheet of paper.

Pepper and Rogers's Customer Relationship Management: In 1994, Martha Rogers and Don Peppers authored the book Customer Relationship Management – One-to-One Marketing, which announced the eventual death of mass selling and faith-based spray-and-pray marketing. It described that computers could track characteristics and preferences of individual customers.

Peter Senghe and Organizational Learning: In about 1980, Professor Peter Senghe of MIT, recognizing that many industries were increasingly dependent on educated knowledge workers, published research that concluded that a differentiator going forward between successful and unsuccessful organizations is the rate of organizational learning – not the amount, but the rate.

Kaplan & Norton's Strategy Maps & Balanced Scorecard: In 1996, Professors Robert S. Kaplan and David Norton published the first of four related books, The Balanced Scorecard. They recognized that executives were failing not due to poor strategy formulation but rather failure to successfully implement it. They advocated that executives communicate their strategy to employees using visual maps and shifting performance measures from month-end financial results to nonfinancial operational measures that align work and priorities with the strategy.

Will Business Analytics Be The Next Breakthrough?

Performance Management, by applying its broad definition as the integration of multiple managerial customer, operational, and financial methodologies, embraces all of the above advances. Performance Management integrates methodologies and their supporting systems to produce synergy not present when they are implemented in the absence of each other.

Professor Tom Davenport of Babson College and Accenture's Jeanne Harris have authored two books, Competing on Analytics and Analytics at Work. Their books propose that the next differentiator for competitive advantage will be business analytics. Their premises are that organizations need much deeper insights and that change at all levels has accelerated so much that reacting after-the-fact is too late and risky. They assert that organizations must anticipate change to be proactive, and that the primary way for this is through robust quantitative analysis. This is now feasible due to the combination of massive amounts of economically stored business intelligence and powerful statistical software that can provide previously undetected patterns and reliable forecasts.

For example, customers can be finely microsegmented in multiple combinations – such as age, income level, residence location, and purchase history – and patterns can be recognized that can predict which customers may defect to a competitor, providing time to attend to such customers with a deal, offer, or higher service level to increase retention levels. As an additional example, minute shifts in customer demands for products or services can be real-time-monitored and projected to speed or slow actions and spending to induce customer behavior.

Performance management is not just better management of performance but improving performance. Integrating systems and information is a prerequisite step, but applying business analytics, especially predictive analytics, may be the critical element to achieve the full vision of enterprise performance management.

Thanks to Gary Cokins / August 23rd, 2010

20 Signs That The Economic Collapse Has Already Begun For One Out Of Every Seven Americans

For most Americans, the economic collapse is something that is happening to someone else.  Most of us have become so isolated from each other and so self-involved that unless something is directly affecting us or a close family member than we really don't feel it.  But even though most of us enjoy a much closer relationship with our television sets than we do with our neighbors at this point, it is quickly becoming undeniable that a fundamental shift is taking place in society.  Perhaps you noticed it when two or three foreclosure signs went up on your street.  Or perhaps it got your attention when that nice fellow down the street lost his job, and he and his family seemingly just disappeared from the neighborhood one day.  The Census Bureau made front page headlines all over the nation this week when they announced that one out of every seven Americans was living in poverty in 2009.  Every single day more Americans are getting sucked out of the middle class and into soul-crushing poverty.

Unfortunately, most Americans don't really care because it has not affected them yet.

But this year, millions more Americans will discover that the music has stopped playing and they are left without a seat at the table.

Meanwhile, neither political party has a workable solution.  They just like to point fingers and blame each other.

The Democrats blame Bush for all the poverty and advocate expanding programs for the poor.  Not that there is anything wrong with a safety net.  But the "safety net" was never meant to hold 50 million people on Medicaid and 40 million people on food stamps.  The number of Americans on food stamps has more than doubled since 2007.  So do we just double it again as things get even worse?

The truth is that welfare programs are only short-term solutions.  Unfortunately, the Democrats do not understand this.  What Americans really need are good jobs.

The Republicans are so boneheaded that they don't even like to talk about poverty because they think it is a "liberal issue".  Some conservative commentators have even been so brutally cold as to mock the "99ers" (those who have been unemployed so long that even their extended federal benefits have run out).

Instead of showing some compassion and being the party of the American worker (as they should be), the Republicans are often very uncompassionate and they allow the Democrats to be "the party of the poor" by default.

Both political parties need a big wakeup call.  There is a tsunami of poverty sweeping the United States, and somebody better wake up and do something about it.  More handouts will help people get by in the short-term, but there is no way that the federal government can financially support tens of millions more poor Americans.

How long is it going to be before the "safety net" simply collapses under the weight of all this poverty?

The path we are on is not sustainable.

The economy is falling apart, and somebody better wake up and do something before even more Americans find themselves drowning in poverty.

The following are 20 signs that the economic collapse has already begun for one out of every seven Americans…..

#1 The Census Bureau says that 43.6 million Americans are now living in poverty and according to them that is the highest number of poor Americans in 51 years of record-keeping.

#2 In the year 2000, 11.3 percent of Americans were living in poverty.  In 2008, 13.2 percent of Americans were living in poverty.  In 2009, 14.3 percent of Americans were living in poverty.  Needless to say the trend is moving in the wrong direction.

#3 In 2009 alone, approximately 4 million more Americans joined the ranks of the poor.

#4 According to the Associated Press, experts believe that 2009 saw the largest single year increase in the U.S. poverty rate since the U.S. government began calculating poverty figures back in 1959.

#5 The U.S. poverty rate is now the third worst among the developed nations tracked by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

#6 Today the United States has approximately 4 million fewer wage earners than it did in 2007.

#7 Nearly 10 million Americans now receive unemployment insurance, which is almost four times as many as were receiving it in 2007.

#8 U.S. banks repossessed 25 percent more homes in August 2010 than they did in August 2009.

#9 One out of every seven mortgages in the United States was either delinquent or in foreclosure during the first quarter of 2010.

#10 There are now 50.7 million Americans who do not have health insurance.  One trip to the emergency room would be all it would take to bankrupt a significant percentage of them.

#11 More than 50 million Americans are now on Medicaid, the U.S. government health care program designed principally to help the poor.

#12 There are now over 41 million Americans on food stamps.

#13 The number of Americans enrolled in the food stamp program increased a whopping 55 percent from December 2007 to June 2010.

#14 One out of every six Americans is now being served by at least one government anti-poverty program.

#15 California's poverty rate soared to 15.3 percent in 2009, which was the highest in 11 years.

#16 According to an analysis by Isabel Sawhill and Emily Monea of the Brookings Institution, 10 million more Americans (including 6 million more children) will slip into poverty over the next decade.

#17 According to a recently released Federal Reserve report, Americans experienced a $1.5 trillion loss in combined household net worth in the second quarter of 2010.

#18 Manufacturing employment in the U.S. computer industry is actually lower in 2010 than it was in 1975.

#19 Median U.S. household income is down 5 percent from its peak of more than $52,000 in 1999.

#20 A study recently released by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College University found that Americans are $6.6 trillion short of what they need for retirement.

How anyone can look at those numbers and think that things are about to "get better" absolutely boggles the mind.

It is time to wake up.

Things are not going to get better.

Things are only going to get worse.

The United States is rapidly becoming a nation where poverty is absolutely rampant.

As poverty continues to spread, crime will not be far behind.

Meanwhile, the international community wants to impose a global tax on us so that they can "redistribute" even more of our wealth around the world.

The following was just reported by….

A group of 60 nations will meet next week at the United Nations to push for a tax on foreign currency transactions as a way to generate revenue to meet global poverty-reduction goals, including "climate change" mitigation.

Well isn't that great?  As American descends into poverty, the rest of the world is pushing for a global tax that will drain us of wealth even more.

It is just a tax on foreign currency transactions, but history has taught us that once taxers get their foot in the door they always go for more eventually.

Sadly, it is not just the United Nations that is discussing a global tax.  In fact, the IMF and the World Health Organization have both been very open about the fact that they want to impose global taxes of their own.

Not that we aren't taxed enough already.  We already pay dozens of different kinds of taxes each year, and 2011 is already being dubbed as "the year of the tax increase".

But most Americans don't have any more to give.  Most Americans can barely make it from month to month.  More Americans than ever are slipping into poverty.

What a mess we have on our hands.

Do any of you have any suggestions for how we should go about fixing all of this?

Written by The Economic Collapse Blog - 9/20/10 / Thanks to TheTradingReport

The World Is Your Mirror


The World Is Your Mirror.

The Good You Find In Others, Is In You Too.

The Faults You Find In Others, Are Your Faults As Well.

After All, To Recognize Something You Must Know It.


The Possibilities You See In Others, Are Possible For You As Well.

The Beauty You See Around You, Is Your Beauty.

The World Around You Is A Reflection, A Mirror Showing You The Person You Are.


To Change Your World, You Must Change Yourself.

See The Best In Others, And You Will Be Your Best.

Give To Others, And You Will Give To Yourself.

Appreciate Beauty, And You Will Be Beautiful.

Admire Creativity, And You Will Be Creative.

Love, And You Will Be Loved.

Seek To Understand, And You Will Be Understood.

Listen, And Your Voice Will Be Heard.

Teach, And You Will Learn.


Thanks to PravsWorld

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

How Baylor Health Care System Institutes Leadership

Since 2006, twice a year, Baylor Health Care System designs and implements a day-long Leadership Development Institute ("LDI") for its CEO. The top 1,100 leaders (managers and above) from across the system are invited. Phyllis Wright, vice president of Talent and Organization Development,  and her colleagues facilitate a steering team of stakeholder executives, including the CEO and chief operating officer, to create the curriculum for the LDIs.

The health system's CEO presents current data on the organization's goal performance, and teams that are exceeding their goals share best practices. Baylor's hospital in Grapevine, TX, for instance, had a 30-point increase in its patient satisfaction scores, so representatives from that hospital explained the process improvement steps that were taken. Baylor Health System's other emergency departments adopted the relevant tactics, and the organization exceeded its corporate fiscal year 2009 patient satisfaction goal by 20 points.

The health system believes effective and frequent communication from senior management is a significant key to fueling employee engagement. So at each LDI, participants hear from several executives about where the organization is heading, its current state, and what it is doing to improve. Leaders learn to create communication boards at the LDI, which they use in their departments "to share results and enhance line of sight."

Since implementing its LDIs, Baylor Health System's revenue has increased from $2.5 billion in fiscal year 2006 to $3.4 billion in fiscal year 2009. Margin increased from 4.3 in fiscal year 2006 to 4.52 in fiscal year 2009 (un-audited). Wondering how to create your own leadership development institute? Wright offers her top five tips on getting it done:

1.  Ensure CEO and other senior leader sponsorship and support.
2.  Make the CEO the host and facilitator for the day.
3.  See that content is aligned with the goal of addressing current, as well as future business challenges.
4.  Create short and long plans inclusive of logistical details, failure mode effect analysis, metrics, and after-action review methodology, and
ensure budget dollars are appropriated to support full execution of the institutes.
5.  Put together a steering committee led by the CEO and populated with other senior executives across each functional discipline in your
oranization. Insert your training leader as the facilitator of the steering committee; vet the agenda with the steering committee prior to every
team meeting; and make sure the committee is chartered and charged with the responsibility of ensuring alignment of content and review of
the institute's evaluation data.

Thanks to Training Top 125 Best Practices

The 5 Essential Parts Of A Dust-Repellant Strategic Plan

Lots of strategic plans and operational plans are full of motherhood goals, vague strategies and - if they are even considered at all - measures or KPIs that don't track anything useful. No wonder these plans sit on shelves and gather dust.

And if that's not bad enough, they use terminology in a confusing way, like when the term "KPI" is used to mean something more like a goal or objective, rather than a true performance measure. Or they ignore the entire concept of measures or measurability.

So how can you create a strategic plan that is results-oriented, that spends far more time on your person than it does on your shelf, and that means as much to you as navigational charts are to a ship's captain, or maps are to a rally car driver's navigator?

It doesn't have to be complex, glossy or an inch thick. All the better, it can be a single page. And on that page, over and above the standard vision-mission-values stuff, there are 5 essential elements for a results-oriented and dust-repellent strategy:

Column 1: Key Result Areas

Key Result Areas give some structure or 'chunking' to your strategic plan, as well as a framework for completeness or balance. You could use the Balanced Scorecard perspectives, the Triple Bottom Line, or any other strategic model that takes your fancy. Irrespective, aim to have only 3 to 5 areas of focus because if you make it more complex, there are just more places for dust to gather.

Column 2: Results

Results aren't goals or objectives. They are clear statements of the outcomes or differences that are most important to make happen, in each Key Result Area. Make them vivid, so reading the words invokes clear images of what it looks like when they're happening. Be ruthless, so you are only ever focused on what matters most of all, and only ever have a managable number of priorities to achieve.

Column 3: Measures or KPIs

I mean measures as in evidence, not measures as in "we are taking measures to fix this". Measures are usually quantitative values that you track regularly through time, that tell you how well you're acheiving your results (in column 2). Each result only needs one or two measures, typically.

Column 4: Targets

Targets are numerical values that describe where you want your measure to be at a particular point in the future. Include for each performance measure a time-anchored target and then you have all the ingredients for a true goal or objective statement: a result (column 2) + a measure (column 3) + a target + a timeframe.

Column 5: Improvement Initiatives

These are the projects, investments and opportunities you're choosing to make the changes in your business processes which will bring about the results you want (in column 2). To know how well these improvement initiatives are working, you'll simply look at the measures you chose (in column 3) and see if their actual values are getting closer to the target values (column 4).

Many people confuse the initiatives with measures. They're not the same thing.

What To Do With Your Strategic Plan On A Page

Carry it around with you. Read it everyday. Refresh it as you achieve your targets and results. Adjust it as you discover which improvement initiatives are working and which aren't. Add project plans for the improvement initiatives, so you know what to do to achieve your Strategic Plan. Celebrate when you do make exciting progress.

Your Strategic Plan on a Page is your map to success.

Download my
my Strategic Plan on a Page Template now, and use it to check your existing strategic or operational plan has the essential elements of dust-repellency, or adapt it as your new strategic or operational plan template.

Thanks to Stacey Barr is a specialist in organisational performance measurement, helping corporate planners, business analysts and performance measurement officers confidently facilitate their organisation to create and use meaningful performance measures with lots of buy-in. Sign up for Stacey's free email tips at and receive a complimentary copy of her renowned e-book "202 Tips for Performance Measurement".

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Appreciate Simple Things

Believe in yourself and your values, don't sell out when things go wrong.
Don't let anything get you down, always bounce back up.
Set goals for your future, never settle for less.
Realize that there are others in the world with much bigger problems than you.
Appreciate the good things in your life and be thankful for the time you have with your loved ones.
Spend more time with your family and friends.
Appreciate the simple things in life and don't get caught up in material things.
Thanks to PravsWorld