Friday, May 13, 2011

Nerf Suction Darts - Refill And Reload 45 Value Pack From Nerf

Nerf Suction Darts - Refill and Reload 45 value pack

Nerf Suction Darts - Refill and Reload 45 value pack
From Nerf

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Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #618 in Toys & Games
  • Brand: Nerf
  • Model: 307070000
  • Dimensions: 5.75" h x 6.38" w x 2.64" l,


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Editorial Reviews

From the Manufacturer
Load up your NITE FINDER EX-3, N-STRIKE MAVERICK or N-STRIKE VULCAN EBF-25 blaster (each sold separately) with this 45 value pack of Suction Darts and keep the game going even longer. These foam darts are specially designed for high-flying, high-performance blasting and even stick to most flat surfaces through suction power to mark your target! Darts measure about 2 1/2-inches long.


8 Ways For CEOs To Tap Their Insiders

The concept of MBWA still has legs. Here's how to capitalize on it.

How much time should a CEO spend interacting with company employees versus external partners? More than you might think, according to research conducted by the Harvard Business School faculty. There is evidence interacting with "insiders" (employees and their board of directors) is more productive than interacting with people from outside the CEO's company. The researchers noted that "for every 1 percent gain in time [that a CEO spent] with at least one insider, productivity advanced 1.23 percent." There was no such correlation when CEOs spent time with only outsiders.

Most senior leaders would agree that staying in touch with their employee base is important. This leader-employee connection typically takes on the structured forms of town hall meetings, video broadcasts and planning sessions. But there are informal ways to stay in touch as well, often called "Management By Walking Around" (MBWA), a phrase coined in the 1980's in the book In Search of Excellence. MBWA, the theory goes, helps senior leadership breaks down barriers that can often stymie effective communication across an organization.

A time-stressed CEO may be tempted to skip the Walking Around part and only focus on the Management part of the MBWA equation, but that would be a mistake. Wise organizational leaders make use of both formal and informal communications channels.

Here are eight ways executives can Walk Around and capitalize on timewith their "insiders":

  1. Go for a walk. Literally. Does your company have a fitness room? Hop on the treadmill once a week and strike up a conversation with the person next to you.
  2. Don't skip lunch. Wander on down to the company cafeteria, grab a sandwich and ask to sit with a group of employees. Ask questions and listen. You might be surprised at what you learn. (After they get over the shock of having an impromptu lunch with the CEO.)
  3. Play cards with employees at lunch time.
  4. Wander virtually. Learn to use, and become comfortable with, social media. It's the new water cooler. See marketing advisor Pam Moore's great essay on 21 Things Every CEO Must Know About Twitter.
  5. Make an effort to attend as many employee celebrations as humanly possible. It's at those service anniversaries and retirement parties that the walls really come down.
  6. Learn to count. As you walk around, you're bound to run into someone who asks a question that makes your blood boil. Practice silently counting to ten before you answer.
  7. Revisit the structured ways that you interact with employees. Has attendance dipped, or conversation been stale at the last few meetings? Maybe it's time to change things up a bit.
  8. Ask a trusted advisor how you can be more approachable. Oftentimes, executives are unaware of how imposing they are.

By the nature of the role they play in their organization, CEOs must be results-driven and numbers-focused. "Walking around" may seem like a waste of time. It's not. The research bears it out: if the ambling is focused on building rapport with "insiders", the organization gains productivity and the leader gains goodwill. That's a winning combination worth a few hours of a CEO's time.

Thanks to Jennifer Miller / People-Equation

Spin Selling By Neil Rackham

SPIN Selling

SPIN Selling
By Neil Rackham

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The international bestseller that revolutionized high-end selling!

Written by Neil Rackham, former president and founder of Huthwaite corporation, SPIN Selling is essential reading for anyone involved in selling or managing a sales force. Unquestionably the best-documented account of sales success ever collected and the result of the Huthwaite corporation's massive 12-year, $1-million dollar research into effective sales performance, this groundbreaking resource details the revolutionary SPIN (Situation, Problem, Implication, Need-payoff) strategy.

In SPIN Selling, Rackham, who has advised leading companies such as IBM and Honeywell delivers the first book to specifically examine selling high-value product and services. By following the simple, practical, and easy-to-apply techniques of SPIN, readers will be able to dramatically increase their sales volume from major accounts. Rackham answers key questions such as "What makes success in major sales" and "Why do techniques like closing work in small sales but fail in larger ones?"

You will learn why traditional sales methods which were developed for small consumer sales, just won't work for large sales and why conventional selling methods are doomed to fail in major sales. Packed with real-world examples, illuminating graphics, and informative case studies - and backed by hard research data - SPIN Selling is the million-dollar key to understanding and producing record-breaking high-end sales performance.

Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #1333 in Books
  • Published on: 1988-05-01
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 197 pages


  • ISBN13: 9780070511132
  • Condition: New
    Over one million books sold! 98% Positive feedback. Compare our books,
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Editorial Reviews

"Essential for everyone involved in selling or managing the sales function." -- Journal Of Marketing Management

From the Back Cover

"This book should be essential reading for everyone involved in selling or managing the sales function -- a welcome, well-researched treatise on selling"
--Journal of Marketing Management

"The first book to specifically examine the major sale -- the high value product or service -- by researching the successful sales calls as they happen in the field."
--Industry & Commerce

"This book is the result of over $1 million of extensive and painstaking research. It breaks new ground and cannot be ignored by anyone who is committed to selling as a profession."
--Sales Techniques

"The revolutionary findings, published here for the first time, will overturn a whole collection of hitherto accepted assumptions. The book also provides a set of simple and practical techniques (known as SPIN) which have already been tried in many leading companies, resulting in a dramatic increase in sales."
--Business Executive

"This is an interesting, lively, and readable treatment of the process by which major sales are closed. Like In Search of Excellence, the material has a curiously inspirational quality which is particularly compelling."
--Business Graduate

"Almost anyone could learn something from this book. Essentially,it is about success, and without this, no sales organization can survive. Buy a copy. We are sure you will find it invaluable."
--Sales and Marketing Management

About the Author

NEIL RACKHAM is founder and former president of Huthwaite, Inc. Huthwaite researches, consults, and provides seminars for over 200 leading sales organizations around the world, including Xerox, IBM, and Citicorp. His academic background is in research psychology. It was at the University of Sheffield, England, that he began his research into sales effectiveness that resulted in SPIN. Mr. Rackham is the author of more than 50 articles and several books.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

162 of 169 people found the following review helpful.
5The Ultimate Tactical Selling Handbook
By A Customer
I am a corporate sales professional. That means that I don't do "hit and run," one-time sales. Tom Hopkins and Zig Ziglar offer great tactics for those kind of salespeople, but they don't work for me. Neil Rackham has hit one out of the park with Spin Selling. Turning everything I "thought" I knew about closing on its head, he provides the power tools for making the most of a sales call. The most important concept here is that you, as a sales rep. are not there when the real decisions get made. Therefore, you must arm your prospects with the tools to represent your company well in your absence. Rackham does not disappoint. You will get all the tools you need to prepare your prospect to close the sale for you from this book. I give all of my salespeople Strategic Selling by Miller, Heiman, et. al. and Spin Selling as the ultimate combination of strategic and tactical approaches to corporate selling. Stop throwing commissions away. If you consider yourself a true corporate sales professional, you have no business ignoring this book.

156 of 165 people found the following review helpful.
5High-value, Professional Selling Defined!
By Jason Massey
My bachelor's degree is in Computer Science, and I'm preparing to start my MBA studies within a year. I hope to start my own business one day and I knew I needed to generate revenues. But there was only one problem...

...I had no idea how to sell professionally.

I had already read a few books by Tom Hopkins, but felt he was targeting used-car salesmen types. It seems as though Hopkins' techniques relied on "closing" gimmicks when it came down to it. (I must say I did learn some good principles from Hopkins, but his gimmicky style is not for me.)

I was instantly attracted to SPIN SELLING when I saw that (1) it was based on extensive research, and (2) it dealt primarily with the large sale. Since I want to start my own corporation after my MBA, and want to have Fortune-500 companies as my customers, I realized SPIN SELLING was for me.

SPIN SELLING is simply a great handbook on large-sale tactics. Rackham shows how the "closing techniques" used in smaller sales severely damage the success of large sales. He then introduces the SPIN model (Situation, Problem, Implication, and Need-payoff).

Although before reading the book I never considered myself a "salesman", I realized afterwards that I was already using Rackham's techniques in other areas of my life -- and having a great deal of success. For example, as a professional IT consultant, I was using (unbeknownst to me) these tactics to legitimately perpetuate my client billings.

Selling is essentially obtaining another person's commitment. Commitments that deal with the purchase of good or services is only one type of commitment. Thus, you can use these tactics/techniques any time you're wanting to obtain another person's commitment.

If your desire is to sell large-value goods or services to sophisticated and intelligent buyers then SPIN SELLING is the tactical handbook you need. This book isn't about gimmicks to trick or pressure the customer into buying. This is professional, high-class selling.

After I read SPIN SELLING I immediately bought Rackham's "MAJOR ACCOUNT SALES STRATEGY". Thus, I now have a tactical handbook and a strategy handbook that are based on the same principles and extensive research.

I've found the SPIN model to be highly effective in my life.

65 of 67 people found the following review helpful.
5A convincing Model on how to handle the Mjor-Account Sale
By A Customer
Neil Rackham writes a book that summarizes the ground-shaking discoveries of his Company, Huthwaite. The Whole purpose of their research which lasted for a good Number of years was to discover what certain behaviors on the salesman's part helped In creating a successful purchase in the Major-Account sale, in which the item for Sale was usually expensive and requires a long after-sales relationship between buyer And seller.

Mr. Rackham turns the conventional sales knowledge upside-down and he does so very convincingly. He divides the sale into 4 phases; The Preliminaries, Investigating, Demonstrating Capability and Obtaining Commitment. He lays great emphasis in The Investigation phase, and it is in this phase that the SPIN Model comes into action.

SPIN is an acronym for the different types of questions that a seller must use in order to properly establish the last two phases of the sales call. Situation questions are simple straightforward questions about the buyer's company and current situation they are general questions that basically aim to establish context for the next questions. Problem questions are those which aim to pinpoint the exact problems of the buyer so that it becomes easier to uncover his implied needs. Implication questions take us a step further into examining the consequences of the buyers problem more closely and trying to make him more acutely aware of their ramifications so that we can start asking Need-Payoff questions which basically deal with the value and utility that the buyer perceives in a solution. The Need-Payoff questions lead to the development of Explicit need in which the buyer Has been led to clearly understand the context of his exact need to fix a particular Problem. Only after the SPIN questions have been successfully used to define Those explicit needs can a seller start demonstrating capability. With knowledge Of the needs of the buyer the seller can therefore more easily demonstrate solutions Which satisfy those explicit needs, i.e. the benefits of the product or service.

Mr. Rackham describes the different phase in the different chapters of his book and provides very useful information to discredit many misconceptions that have long Been held holy by salesmen, such as the importance of closing, the true meaning of Benefit as opposed to advantage and feature, the relative value of openings and first Impressions and most of all the value of the investigating phase.

An Essential book if you have anything to do with Sales.


Thank You - 4 Ways To Make Those Two Words Count

Yesterday was Mother's Day. Along with a wonderful day enjoyed with my family, I received an unforeseen bonus from an unlikely source: my son's Little League coach. Imagine my surprise when I opened my email yesterday to find a genuine note of "thanks" from Coach Bob to all the mothers on the team.

People appreciate being thanked. This is true whether you're a Little League mom, a government worker or employed by a large company. The benefits of appreciation have implications for employee retention and engagement as well. According to a study conducted by Aon Hewitt, nearly half of the employees surveyed said that being appreciated at work would motivate them to stay with their organization.

That being said, not all "thank you's" are created equal. Here's what made Bob's message of gratitude so powerful:

It was unexpected. Never underestimate the element of surprise. How many Little League moms do you suppose received a note of thanks from their team's head coach yesterday? When an expression of gratitude comes from an unexpected source, it amplifies an already pleasant experience.

Sincerity. I've absolutely no doubt about the sincerity of Bob's message because, already this early in the season, he's established a rapport with his players and the team parents. He has a track record of positive comments, so I trust his motives in sending this message.

Specificity. Rather than stop with a perfunctory "thanks for all you do", Bob cited very specific actions that he was thanking us for: washing the boys' uniforms, helping out in the dugout and taking stats during the game.

It spoke to my heart. The message was made all the more powerful because Bob tapped into a strong maternal motivator: the desire to raise a decent human being.

Your sons have never had one moment when they are anything less than attentive, respectful, energetic, and normal. They have won without gloating and lost without complaining. They hustle, respect their opponent, are grateful for a postgame treat. . . Any success that we have can be traced back to you and the job that you have done in raising these boys!

With this heart-felt and sincere message, Bob provided the highest praise for a parent: acknowledgement of one of the hardest jobs around. His words of thanks had a profound impact.

Take a look around. Who do you know that could benefit from a sincere and specific note of thanks that's both unexpected and from the heart?

Thanks to Jennifer Miller / People-Equation


The Silver Lining: An Innovation Playbook For Uncertain Times By Scott D. Anthony

The Silver Lining: An Innovation Playbook for Uncertain Times

The Silver Lining: An Innovation Playbook for Uncertain Times
By Scott D. Anthony

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Experts agree: The turbulence triggered by the economic shock of 2008 constitutes the "new normal." Unfortunately, too many managers have become paralyzed by it, capable only of slashing costs indiscriminately.

Though examining spending during recessions makes sense, the smartest executives do much more. As Scott Anthony reveals in The Silver Lining, these leaders continue innovating--by stopping ineffective initiatives, changing key business processes, and starting more productive behaviors. Result? Their companies emerge from downturns stronger than ever.

Providing a wealth of ideas, tools, and examples from diverse industries, Anthony explains how to safeguard your company's profitability during even the toughest recessions. You'll discover how to:

-Prune your innovation and business portfolio to liberate resources for more promising initiatives

- Adopt a radical new market-segmentation scheme that helps you re-feature your offerings to reduce costs while delivering new value to customers

- Reinvent your innovation process to drive fresh growth

- Mitigate innovation risks by conducting strategic experiments and forging alliances with customers and other external entities

- Appeal to increasingly value-conscious customers to fend off low-cost attackers

In today's brutal economic climate, executives must pare costs to the bone while planting and nurturing seeds for tomorrow's growth. The Silver Lining explains how to master this seemingly impossible challenge.

Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #391804 in Books
  • Published on: 2009-06-08
  • Released on: 2009-06-01
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: 1.00" h x 5.70" w x 8.30" l, .75 pounds
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 145 pages


  • ISBN13: 9781422139011
  • Condition: New
  • Notes: BRAND NEW FROM PUBLISHER! 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. Tracking provided on most orders. Buy with Confidence! Millions of books sold!
Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Scott D. Anthony is president of Innosight, an innovation consultancy, and lead author of The Innovator's Guide to Growth: Putting Disruptive Innovation to Work. At Innosight, he has worked with clients ranging from national governments to leading consumer-products, media, health-care, telecommunications, and software companies.
Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful.
5Not just an innovation handbook for uncertain times, but an innovation handbook for all times.
By Jeff Lippincott

I liked this book. It wasn't particularly long, but it was simple and packed a powerful message for today's business leaders. Innovations a company create are the key to its success. It's innovations that keep existing companies in business. And its innovations that allow startups to get up and running. I found the book to be well organized and well written. Each chapter (9 in total) had a nice little summary which made skimming the book easy before reading it from cover to cover.

For some reason this book made its way to the B&N bookshelves about two or three weeks before its official release date of June 1 per Amazon. I read it back on May 19th along with The Future Arrived Yesterday: The Rise of the Protean Corporation and What It Means for You which I thought was a better book by a little. Both books talk about how business leaders have to stay ahead of their competition and be willing to give the customer what the customer wants, and be able to respond nimbly to change in the economy, the industry, and the market.

Whether change comes about gradually, abruptly in the form of a crisis, or somewhat quickly companies and their leaders need to always be thinking about innovations that can keep them competitive. Usually such innovations relate to some sort of convenience, accessibility, affordability, simplicity, or reinvention. As long as R&D is done strategically rather than haphazardly it shouldn't amount to a black hole for dumping company resources. And the smart and savvy business leader will realize that every forced change usually presents opportunities to be exploited.

The subtitle to this book says it is supposed to be an innovation playbook for uncertain times. I'm not so sure "certain times" ever existed. And I'm pretty much positive that uncertain times are here to stay. So in my humble opinion this book is really an Innovation Playbook - period. I think this book should be required reading for all business leaders and entrepreneurs. 5 stars!

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful.
4Innovation manual focusing on economic change
By Rolf Dobelli
During economic downtimes, most corporate strategists feel like burying their heads in the sand and forgetting about innovating until the storm has passed. Scott D. Anthony recommends doing the opposite. In this fun, practical book on innovation, he explains how to maintain optimistic, entrepreneurial activities - including ongoing innovation - when the going gets tough. However, the lessons that Anthony draws from times of great economic upheaval are useful any time and anywhere. He focuses on the structural, strategic issues surrounding innovation, such as how to plan for it, organize it and make budget cuts in ways that still support it. His material on how to profit by innovating for the low end of the market is particularly apt. getAbstract recommends this accessible, applicable book to leaders who want to innovate now more than ever.

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful.
3Will the Real Playbook Please Stand Up?
By R. Keeler Cox

This book, in my humble opinion, is all over the lot. On one hand, it has what I consider to be serious scholarship issues -- but on the other hand it's loaded with potentially useful information.

Thumbs down:

I don't think the book meets the high standards I associate with "Harvard Business". To me, the writing is dull and clunky; key concepts aren't sufficiently developed (the word `innovation' isn't even defined); and, many of the ideas I've seen somewhere else before. (Michael Porter's influence is in there, for example, but neither he nor "What is Strategy?" is cited.) Another bone of contention: contrary to what we're led to believe, the book really doesn't have much specifically to do with the current economic downturn.

Thumbs up (the book's silver lining):

At the same time, there's a lot to be applauded -- including the way the whole thing is "macro-organized" according to what business leaders should STOP doing, do DIFFERENTLY, and START doing. Mr. Anthony does a nice job of using this framework to explain what makes the innovation process work. I like his take on the use of *strategic experiments* for improving the process, among several other things.

Explanations are accompanied in each chapter by specific RECOMMENDATIONS (things companies can do to innovate better) in the various forms of step-by-step guides, self-diagnostic tools, checklists, and tips. Not unlike plays a football team might deploy in a game, these are real, practical tools I can envision real business people using.

Final analysis?

Someone was on the right track, I think, to call this a `playbook'. And I think The Silver Lining has the makings to be a FIVE-STAR playbook...but it falls short, it seems to me, because the author chose to try to be everything to everyone and ended up producing a mixed bag instead.

* * * * * * * *

What might nudge it in the five-star direction?

For starters, I'd consider ridding it of b-school buzz words, providing some space for doodling, and finishing it with a laminated cover and Wire-O binding. One Harvard Business blogger suggested earlier this year we should drop-kick the word `innovation' altogether and start talking more in terms of "making good things and creating organizations that reward the types of behaviors that ultimately lead to good ideas coming forward." I'd give that some thought, too.


Better Innovation Architecting

One tried-and-true innovation trick is to look for analogies. When you feel like you're working on an intractable problem, find someone who has already solved the problem, but in a different context. Apply their learning to your situation, and see where it takes you.

Let's practice by using this approach on the act of innovation itself. What do innovators do? At a basic level, they transform a blank piece of paper into a successful growth business. Can you think of anyone else who faces the same challenge? Architects would seem to fit the bill.

Think about how architects approach the blank-sheet-of-paper challenge. They don't just start by building a business. Instead they sketch or create physical or computer models to bring their ideas to life. The design community calls this "rapid prototyping."

Consider an example in Peter Sims' excellent book Little Bets, describing how the famous architect Frank Gehry comes up with designs for new buildings. Sims writes that Gehry starts the design process by "literally cutting up, crumpling, and folding pieces of paper or corrugated cardboard with colleagues."

"The initial prototype that emerges over an hour or so barely looks like a building," Sims writes. "But it's merely a starting point. They have begun and can work quickly and inexpensively to explore dozens of initial possibilities. Staring at it, Gehry smiles and says, 'That is so stupid looking, it's great.'"

Of course, truly great architects don't just create compelling prototypes, or we'd consider Dr. Seuss one of the world's great architects. The mark of a great architect is a building that looks great when it is actually built. Gehry wouldn't be considered such a legend unless he designed notable buildings like the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles.

The same is true of innovation. I've seen many a would-be innovator work endlessly to polish or perfect their business plan. But the plan isn't the thing. The business is the thing. Clever plans that can't be commercialized are nothing more than dead trees.

Finally, think about the different roles involved in creating a new building. The architect (and his or her team) develops the blueprint. The architect might create a scale model. But architects do not actually construct the building itself. Rather, a professional construction crew performs that task.

Similarly, there are different roles in the creation of a new business. Entrepreneurial maven Steve Blank describes how one mistake startups make is thinking they are just small businesses. They aren't. Blank describes a startup as a "temporary organization searching for a repeatable and scalable business model." The people who can master the search phase are likely to be quite different from those who actually do the scaling.

The lesson? When you're thinking about architecting innovation, remember the value of rapid prototypes, to focus on impact, and to match the skills of the team to the task.

Scott is the Managing Director of Innosight Ventures. Scott has written three books on innovation, the latest being The Silver Lining: An Innovation Playbook for Uncertain Times.

Thanks to Blogs HBR


Do You Have Ineffective HR Metrics? 25 Reasons Why You Might

Recruiting, talent management, and HR professionals in general have been using metrics for many years now. More often than not, the story HR metrics tell is irrelevant or disappointing. Over the past three decades, I've compiled a long list of common metrics mistakes that you can use to assess your measurement efforts and improve your efforts to get the attention of your management and senior leadership.

25 Most Damaging Metric Errors

Following are 25 of the most damaging mistakes you can make when using metrics [2] to assess or defend your performance presented in five categories.

If you want your efforts to be as effective as they can be, you cannot make a single one.

Factors That Make a Metric Less Compelling

Not tied to business goals — executives have a narrow agenda, so don't forget to tie each reported HR metric directly to a business goal or problem (business problem not HR problem).

Not demonstrating revenue impact — no business goal is more "top of mind" with executives than increasing revenue. Although it is admittedly difficult, calculate the dollar business impact on revenue of the area covered by the metric (i.e. revenue decrease as a result of vacant positions). Work with the CFO's office to ensure that the calculations are credible.

They don't drive executive action — pretest each metric reported to executives to ensure that they are powerful enough to cause managers and executives to want to take action immediately. Non-compelling metrics get only a "so what" or "that's interesting" reaction from executives.

Not forward-looking — almost all HR metrics are historical. Unfortunately, executives care more about the future, so focus on metrics that are forward-looking and that alert managers about upcoming problems and opportunities (e.g. key employee turnover will likely increase 8% next quarter).

Not tying rewards to metrics — merely collecting and reporting metrics can have a powerful impact on behavior. However, by failing to reward managers and HR professionals for producing superior metrics results, you are missing a powerful opportunity to further drive behavior and decision-making. Whatever you measure and reward gets done faster and better.

Errors in Selecting Metrics

Developing metrics independently — the CFO's office is the undisputed king of metrics. So never begin a metric effort without directly involving the CFO to ensure upfront that each metric is useful, credible and relevant. You can avoid many metric selection errors by allowing senior executives to pick the metrics they want to see.

Voting on metrics — it is quite common but a major mistake to select your individual metrics based on a vote by the staff. Because everyone does not have equal knowledge or power, you need to weigh the inputs and the opinions of the individuals who provide advice.

Too many metrics — rather than developing metrics for every whim, limit metrics to one for every major HR goal and major people management problem or opportunity. Only report the handful that directly impact items on executives' current agenda. That usually means the cost of poor hiring, weak retention, and a lack of leaders, and never cost per hire or training hours per employee. Mixing powerful metrics with low-impact ones can cause the best to be missed.

Focusing on tactical metrics — tactical or transactional metrics help you improve the operational aspects of a specific function or program. In contrast, strategic metrics highlight areas or opportunities that directly impact a major business goal. It's a mistake not to use the 80/20 rule and spend 80% of your time and resources on the 20% of your metrics that are truly strategic.

Omitting quality measures — a common mistake in HR that does not occur in other business functions is the omission of metrics that cover quality. For example, listing the number of hires without a comparable statistic for the quality of those hires (i.e. on-the-job performance of new hires). Listing the number of training hours provided but failing to note the quality of training (i.e. the change in performance after training) is a common but serious omission.

Not supplementing with "why" metrics — most metrics serve a single purpose in that they tell you "what happened." In order to fix a problem, you also need to know the causes or "why" something is happening. As a result, for critical strategic metrics you need to gather supplemental data that reveals the causes (i.e. turnover numbers can be supplemented with exit interview data on why people quit).

Metrics are too complicated — don't provide metrics that are too complicated for the average executive to understand within a minute. If necessary, continually refine your metrics until they are easy to understand.

Follow-the-leader errors — a common error is to "over benchmark" to the point where the metrics that you select are merely a reflection of the metrics that every other firm is using. Unfortunately, because there is little connection between common metrics and effective metrics, copying can result in metrics that do not fit your organization and its problems.

Relying 100% on canned metrics — although many HR software packages, metrics providers, and consultants provide an excellent set of metrics, it is a mistake to rely 100% on them. It may be necessary to supplement them with a few high-value metrics and measures that fit your organizational needs and problems.

Errors in Reporting and Presenting Metrics

Not embedded in financial reports — strategic metrics can have no impact if they are never seen or read. Separate metrics reports are seldom read, so you must fight to have your most important strategic metrics embedded into standard financial reports that all managers receive. For example, having the costs of employee turnover read alongside the cost of inventory turnover can be very powerful.

No indication that action is required — including metrics that require no action with those that do can lead to a lack of focus. Labeling individual metrics with action colors can help executives focus on the metrics that require action. Also report your metrics so that the ones that demand executive attention or action appear first.

No comparison numbers — recording a single number by itself might have little meaning, while including a benchmark comparison number might instantly excite them (e.g. our turnover is 9% but it was 4% last year and the industry average is 2%). Include a "failure, passing, and excellent score" for each metric. Other powerful comparison numbers might include the percentage change and the best and the worst within the firm and industry.

Failing to provide "more information" options — electronic metric reports are far superior to paper reports because you can provide the user with more information options. If an individual manager needs more detailed information, localized information, a formula, or a definition, it can be provided easily using a drop-down menu. This makes metrics easily scannable while at the same time providing any level of detail or depth that the reader requires.

Data or calculations are not judged to be credible — many HR metrics are ignored, discounted, or disregarded by executives because they doubt the accuracy of the metric or the supporting data. This can be caused by an overall lack of credibility but it can be exacerbated if you fail to provide in your background materials the source and reliability statistics for the data. Providing key formulas and definitions can also help minimize confusion.

Reporting metrics that don't change — routinely reporting metrics that don't vary much over time, that represent no major change, or that don't require action actually waste executive time. Either omit them until they show a change or put them last in your report.

Errors Related to Enhanced Decision-making

Not designed for decision-making — the primary purpose of metrics is to improve the quality of people management decision-making. However, when you provide only stand-alone, year-end historical metrics, you are not supporting better decision-making because the actual problem might not have occurred at the very end of the year. By supplementing this static year-end metric with an alert or "heads up" warning system, managers can be made aware of the problem when it is actually occurring.

Not providing action guidance — even when your metrics have the desired effect of causing managers to want to take action, they may still hesitate or even take the wrong action. In order to avoid this problem, you need to provide decision-makers with guidance as to the most and least impactful actions that are available to them.

Errors Related to Data Collection and Metric Calculations

Failing to use sampling techniques — gathering data on every employee or instance is expensive and time-consuming. It is a major error to not use scientific sampling to get almost as accurate results faster and cheaper by using scientific sampling techniques.

Failing to weigh high-priority items — is quite common for HR to consider every occurrence to be of equal importance. However in many cases, some occurrences simply have more of a business impact than others. For example, when calculating turnover, the loss of a top performer or someone in a leadership position has a much greater business impact than the loss of an average employee. As a result, it is a major error not to more heavily weigh the data or opinions from high-impact items (i.e. from top performers, mission-critical positions, revenue-generating positions, regrettable turnover, high-margin business units, etc.).

Outside data is not integrated — almost all HR metrics come from databases owned by HR. Unfortunately, HR metrics would become more powerful if they were supplemented with data and information from other business databases (i.e. performance, productivity, quality control, business plans and forecasts, etc.). In some cases, external data including economic databases (i.e. local growth and population shift statistics) and industry benchmarks could supplement HR metrics with dramatic results.

Final Thoughts

HR professionals commonly ask why the single highest variable cost item in most corporations (i.e. employee-related costs) seems to gain so little senior management attention. Even though we know that the language and currency of business is based on dollars, data, and metrics, HR still garners much less than its deserved share of credibility, respect, and resources. My research and experience indicates that HR's failure to effectively use metrics is largely to blame. I challenge you to use this checklist to assess your current metrics and see if your process doesn't fail on more than half of them. If you find that your current metrics have failed miserably, you'll know what is needed to change the situation.

Thanks to Dr. John Sullivan / ERE Media, Inc.

How To Sell Almost Anything

Cover of

This 1988 book by a British behavioral psychologist recommends listening over pitching.

My colleague Fred Allen recently went to a Best Buy store in Manhattan intending to pick up an iPad. No sooner had he located the device than an eager salesperson approached and tried to persuade him to buy an extra gadget that would give him perpetual 4G Internet access, with a monthly data plan. The staffer asked no questions and exhibited no curiosity about how Fred was planning to use the device. "I got out of there as quickly as I could," Fred says. "I went to the Apple store, where no one would bother me and I could make up my own mind."

People who buy hot Apple products like iPads and iPhones need very little from salespeople, observes John Golden, chief executive of Huthwaite, a sales coaching firm based in Arlington, Va., with 10 offices worldwide, including in Brazil, Australia and Singapore. The company, a division of Informa, the publicly traded Swiss publishing and events company, trains sales teams in a method developed 30 years ago by Neil Rackham, an English behavioral psychologist. Rackham studied more than 35,000 sales calls in 40 countries and tried to figure out what strategies were most effective, says Golden. Rackham's 1988 book, SPIN Selling, describes the approach. SPIN stands for Situation, Problem, Implication, Need, Payoff. Though that string of words may sound a bit tortured, the book remains in print.

The nub of Reckham's approach: Instead of jumping in with a sales spiel about your product or service, start with a line of inquiry about the buyer, and then present your wares as a way to meet the buyer's needs. "You need to uncover the issues or challenges the organization you're selling to faces," Golden explains. "Show you can find a solution for their issues or opportunities." In its most effective form, Reckham's method consists of asking and understanding, Golden says, and it lures the buyer to your product without your doing any direct selling. "You lead the buyer to draw his own conclusions."

In the case of an iPad, there often isn't much the salesperson needs to know about the buyer. "Those are rare products that almost sell themselves," Golden notes. In other words, with them the seller must realize that less is more.

In most other cases, questions are better than answers, Golden says. Example: A customer walks into a car dealership. The seller should not accost her and mouth off about the latest fabulous models and low prices, but rather should try to understand the customer's needs. Does she want a commuter car, a vehicle to schlep kids to sporting events, or both? Glean why the buyer is shopping for a car and what functions she's hoping it will perform. Isn't that just common sense? Perhaps, but salespeople often ignore it, Golden says. "A lot of salespeople are so anxious to get the sale, they pitch the product as soon as anyone expresses some kind of interest."

Huthwaite usually trains sales teams that have more complex tasks. The bulk of its business is in medical devices, biotechnology, pharmacology, banking and informational technology. In those fields it's important to research the client before starting your line of inquiry. Often the buyer assigns a group to make the purchasing decision. It pays to find out what role each group member plays. Who is most affected by the decision to buy the product? Who will have to implement what's bought after the purchase? "Those people have to be identified and approached differently," explains Golden. "Then you establish what the decision-making criteria are for the purchase."

"It's not just selling," he adds. "It's like peeling back the onion and asking good, insightful, searching questions." The best salespeople come across as business consultants rather than sellers.

One Huthwaite-trained medical device salesman was asked by a hospital group to submit a sales proposal for some big machines like MRIs and X-ray devices that go for hundreds of thousands of dollars. He was told that the group had already made up its mind to buy from a different vendor that had submitted a convincing request for proposal, so the project was a long shot. But with a little digging, the salesman learned that a committee of six people was making the purchasing decision. He reached out to each committee member and asked for their criteria. The salesman discovered that the supposedly winning RFP didn't meet all the committee members' needs. After many more questions, he pitched his product according to each of the team members' stated goals. He made the sale, and it came to $30 million more than the company had ever brought in at one go, says Golden.

Another example from the medical device world, on a smaller scale: A Huthwaite-trained salesman set out to sell back braces to a doctor who was opposed to the use of braces. Instead of singing the praises of the brace, the salesman asked questions including whether, if a spine failed to heal properly post-surgery, that would be considered a successful operation. What if the patient wound up in pain, or with complications? The salesman "opened the eyes of the doctor," Golden. says He made the sale.

"The conventional wisdom is that your best salespeople are big personalities, gregarious," Golden notes. "The truth is the best sellers can ask good questions, analyze the answers, and identify nuggets within the answers that they can develop and explore further with more follow-up." In other words, let the customer do the talking. Allow him to make up his own mind that he needs your product.

Thanks to Susan Adams / Blogs Forbes


Unify Your Team Through A Common Vision—3 Steps For Getting Started

An effective team brings together people from different backgrounds and different experiences to work together toward a common goal. Yet most teams do not ever achieve their full potential because team members do not take the time to explore and agree on the team's purpose, values, and destination.

Jesse Lyn Stoner, a leading expert on the topic of visioning, and coauthor with Ken Blanchard of Full Steam Ahead!: Unleash the Power of Vision in Your Work and Your Life believes that when team members set these foundational pieces in place, there is less wasted time, less conflicting priorities, and less interpersonal conflict because team members trust they are all moving in the same direction, guided by the same values.

In a recent article for Ignite!, Stoner recommends a three step approach to getting people aligned and working together effectively.

Be specific in setting values that will guide the way the team works together. All new groups need a set of common rules that will define expected behaviors. Identifying common values can be a challenge for teams when they first come together because the words alone can mean different things to different people. The key is to define the words with specific examples. For example, what does transparent, responsible, and "good team player" mean to you?  More importantly, what exactly does it mean to others in the group?

Keep your customer in mind. It's easy to fall into the trap of defining your group's work in terms of what you produce in the way of products or services.  Effective leaders define their team's purpose from the viewpoint of those who benefit from their services and products.  For example, a marketing team shouldn't define their work as creating brochures, staging events, and promoting consistent branding.  Instead, the team should see its work as "providing a steady stream of new leads for Sales associates."

Focus on accountability to bring your vision to life. Once a team has identified its purpose, values, and picture of the future, Stoner recommends that the team publish their vision.  And probably more importantly, check in with internal and external customers on a regular basis to see how you are doing in achieving your team's stated purpose.

The vast majority of work teams never live up to their potential.  Don't waste the opportunity to get the best from the people you bring together.  Taking a little extra time up front to define and publish expectations can make a huge difference in the long run.

Thanks to David Witt / LeaderChat


The Rise Of Generation C

How to prepare for the Connected Generation's transformation of the consumer and business landscape.

Colin is a 20-year-old computer science student living in London with two other students in the year 2020. He enjoys backpacking, sports, music, and gaming. He has a primary digital device (PDD) that keeps him connected 24 hours a day — at home, in transit, at school. He uses it to download and record music, video, and other content, and to keep in touch with his family, friends, and an ever-widening circle of acquaintances. His apartment is equipped with the latest wireless home technology, giving him superfast download speeds of up to 100 Mbps.

Colin's parents are divorced and live in different cities, and he has one sister, who lives abroad. He is close to his family, but his physical contact with them is minimal. Instead, he prefers to stay in touch virtually through his PDD, which allows him to communicate through multiple channels via voice, text, video, data — either separately or all at once. His parents would prefer that he visit more often, of course, but they are finally beginning to get used to being a part of his digital life. Still, sometimes Colin feels he is too digitally connected. A recent surprise visit to his mother was ruined because she knew he was in town — he had forgotten to disable the location feature on his PDD. Colin's social life is also arranged via his PDD. He always knows the location of his friends — even what they are doing — and can communicate with them instantly.

Much of Colin's experience at school is mediated by his PDD. He can attend lectures, browse reading material, do research, compare notes with classmates, and take exams — all from the comfort of his apartment. When he goes to campus, his PDD automatically connects to the school's network and downloads relevant content, notices, and bills for fees, for which he can authorize payment later, at his leisure. Although he prefers to shop online, when he visits a retail store, his PDD automatically connects to the store's network, guiding him through product choices, offering peer reviews, and automatically checking out and paying for items he purchases.

Colin's real passion is traveling, preferably with a backpack. On his recent trip to Australia, his PDD kept him occupied throughout the long plane ride with music, video, and Internet access, and helped him through customs by automatically connecting to the Australian government's network. Then he used it to pinpoint the location of the Australian friends he was planning to travel with (he had met them online through one of several social networks he uses). Once they met up, they used their PDDs to plan their route, a relatively easy task, given that with all of Australia (and most of the civilized world) mapped and modeled on the Web in 3-D, they could see every twist and turn on their path.

What Makes Gen C Special

Who is Colin? He is a member of a new generation that will be coming into its own over the next decade. Its members are typically realists and materialists. They are culturally liberal, though not necessarily politically progressive. They are upwardly mobile, yet they live with their parents longer than earlier generations ever did. Many of their social interactions take place on the Internet, where they feel free to express their opinions and attitudes. They've grown up under the influence of Harry Potter, Barack Obama, and iEverything — iPods, iTunes, iPhones. Technology is so intimately woven into their lives that the baby boom–era concept of "early adopters" is essentially meaningless.

We call them Generation C — connected, communicating, content-centric, computerized, community-oriented, always clicking. As a rule, they were born after 1990 and lived their adolescent years after 2000. In the developed world, Generation C encompasses everyone in this age group; in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), they are primarily urban and suburban. By 2020, they will make up 40 percent of the population in the U.S., Europe, and the BRIC countries, and 10 percent of the rest of the world — and by then, they will constitute the largest single cohort of consumers worldwide.

This is the first generation that has never known any reality other than that defined and enabled by the Internet, mobile devices, and social networking. They have owned various handheld devices all their lives, so they are intimately familiar with them and use them for as much as six hours a day. They all have mobile phones, yet they prefer sending text messages to talking with people. More than 95 percent of them have computers, and more than half use instant messaging to communicate, have Facebook pages, and watch videos on YouTube. Their familiarity with technology; reliance on mobile communications; and desire to remain in contact with large networks of family members, friends, business contacts, and people with common interests will transform how we work and how we consume.

We expect that, in keeping with expectations for long-term economic development, the world that Generation C will make theirs in 2020 will be a better place, with a brighter future for a much larger proportion of the population in both the developed and the developing world. Following the lull that has taken place during the recent, persistent, worldwide recession, there is reason to believe the world will revert to the economic mean of steady growth, with globalization picking up speed again.

As populations in Western countries age, powerful new consumer segments will be created, including a relatively wealthy retirement segment and a rising young middle class. The pace of innovation will accelerate, creating an ever more digital world, even as wireless devices become the dominant tool for trade, entrepreneurship, and Internet access. Indeed, the very rise of Generation C will help create a virtuous circle that will help stimulate economic growth, which in turn will encourage both the public and private sectors to continue to invest in faster and more widespread communications infrastructure, thus enabling even greater growth.

Although climate change and energy security will remain major concerns, stable electric power will likely be available to a substantially larger part of society, and energy inefficiency will no longer represent a hurdle to progress. High-speed broadband, whether fixed or mobile, will be pervasive and affordable. Secure online identity systems will allow reliable user authentication. It is likely that increasingly rational regulatory schemes will open up commercial activity worldwide, and that companies and individuals will be able to profit fairly from the intellectual property they generate.

Connected Consumers

The trends outlined above will have a wide range of effects on how members of Generation C — and, by extension, other generations as well — use communications technology, how they access and consume information and entertainment, and how they interact. These effects will be determined in part by the progress of technologies over the course of the next decade.

On the grid 24/7. Being connected around the clock will be the norm in 2020 — indeed, it will be a prerequisite for participation in society. Currently, there are 4.6 billion mobile users (67 percent of the world population) and 1.7 billion Internet users globally. By 2020, the number of people using mobile phones will reach 6 billion (nearly 80 percent of the world population) and 4.7 billion people will access the Internet, primarily through their mobile devices. Among younger Europeans, 52 percent already say they feel disconnected from the world if they don't have their mobile phones with them, and 91 percent of all mobile users keep their phones within arm's reach, waking or sleeping.

The Internet's power will develop not just through its online economic might, but also offline, as a result of its cultural and political influence. At the same time, personal and business activities will mingle seamlessly, as the day fragments into a flexible mix of personal and business activities — work, commuting, shopping, socializing, and entertainment. The inevitable corollary: As "off-grid" time becomes rarer, it will become more valued.

Social animal 2.0. Thanks to the popularity and performance of social collaboration technologies and mechanisms, including social networks, voice channels, online groups, blogs, and other electronic messaging systems, the size and diversity of networks of personal relationships will continue to grow. These networks will include acquaintances ranging far beyond the traditional groups of family, friends, and work colleagues to include friends of friends, online acquaintances, and anonymous members of interest groups. Already, 49 percent of 16- to 24-year-olds in Europe are savvy users of social networks.

One result will be the rapid creation of fast-moving political and business pressures — such as the tidal wave of electronic interest created by Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. The average person in 2020 will live within a web of 200 to 300 contacts, maintained daily through a variety of channels. Even within the family, the need for physical proximity will be reduced through increased digital interaction. Just as Facebook's "Connect" buttons are already distributed across 80,000 websites and devices, social networks will accompany people throughout their daily activities.

Digital information osmosis. People will dramatically increase their consumption of digital information, much of which will be unverified. The vast pool of information available will allow consumers to pick and choose the information they want, as well as how they want to consume it. "Nonlinear" information consumption will become the norm. And the supply of digital information itself will explode. Walmart already handles more than 1 million sales transactions every hour, feeding databases estimated at more than 2.5 petabytes (2.5 million gigabytes), according to a recent study by the Economist. Cisco has estimated in a much-cited study that it expects Internet traffic to increase 10-fold by 2013, to 667 exabytes (that's 716 billion gigabytes). Right now, much of this information is pure exhaust — unanalyzed and unanalyzable — but it will soon be put to material economic use.

Broadcast privacy. Concerns about privacy and the security of personal data will decline as consumers come to perceive the benefits of transparency as outweighing the risks, and as mechanisms to secure and process personal information become more sophisticated. The result: The availability of an abundance of real-time, personalized information on people's presence, online status, physical location, preferred communication channels, friend networks, interests, passions, and shopping habits. Facebook, for instance, already hosts 40 billion photos of its members. The use of social networking increasingly will determine consumption patterns. Viral marketing and positive peer reviews will become essential to commercial success, which will in turn erode the value of traditional marketing and of bricks-and-mortar outlets, and ultimately the concept of brand value itself.

iEverywhere. As privacy concerns dwindle, people's personal data, such as identity, payment details, shopping preferences, interests, and membership in social communities, will become widely available. Members of Generation C will be able to access their digital life from a multitude of digital interfaces and devices, because they will live in a fully interconnected world in which services and data reside online — in what's known as cloud computing — rather than on those devices themselves. Today's consumer electronics already show the way: smartphones, iPads, iPods, netbooks, laptops, PCs, and watches, and the list is sure to grow in the next decade. At the same time, prices for such devices will continue to fall. Netbooks subsidized by telecom operators go for as little as a penny, and they are approaching the US$200 mark in retail outlets. Wireless broadband services, however, will still cost more than $50 per month.

Continuing generation gap. The upper age limit of the digitally literate will rise, as the 50-plus age bracket broadly migrates online. At present, the average 65-year-old spends just two to three hours online in a typical week; in 2020, 65-year-olds will spend closer to eight hours online weekly — though they will remain far below the 16- to 24-year-old group, which already spends 13 hours online weekly. Older people will also continue to lag in the intensity of their digital behavior. Generation C will distance itself further, particularly in the development of its own pervasive culture of communication. That culture has led some observers to dub this group "the silent generation," as digital communication channels have replaced much of the physical interaction typical of prior generations.

Generation C at Work

The digitization of everything will have an equally profound effect on how businesses operate, and on how work gets done. Among the changes that will be wrought by the arrival of Generation C in the workplace will be the continuing consumerization of corporate IT. More than half of the CIOs in a recent Booz & Company survey said that in the next three to five years, most employees will bring their personal computers to work rather than using corporate resources. The trend of redefining employees as resident consumers will be led by Generation C, given its familiarity with technology and its expectation of always-on communications.

This trend will, in turn, encourage the increasing virtualization of the organization. As 24/7 connectivity, social networking, and increased demands for personal freedom further penetrate the walls of the corporation, corporate life will continue to move away from traditional hierarchical structures. Instead, workers, mixing business and personal matters over the course of the day, will self-organize into agile communities of interest. By 2020, more than half of all employees at large corporations will work in virtual project groups. These virtual communities will make it easier for non-Western knowledge workers to join global teams, and to migrate to the developed world. As they do, they will bring with them the innovative ideas and working behavior developed in their home territories.

Moreover, the proliferation and increasing sophistication of communication, interaction, and collaboration technologies and tools, and the economics of travel itself, will result in knowledge workers' traveling much less frequently. The opportunity to meet face-to-face will be accorded primarily to top management, and business travel will become a valued luxury.

The Developing World

The trends that are already transforming life and work in the developed world are beginning to be felt in emerging economies as well, although the path such countries take to digitization will be significantly shortened. As the developing world increases in connectivity and sophistication, a huge new audience of people who have not yet been exposed to the consumer economy will develop outside the already connected urban centers. Between 1990 and 2005, more than 1 billion people worldwide entered the middle class, and the rate of entry is rising quickly. Their consumption of media and other kinds of content will transform the media industry. As with prior technology adoptions, these new audiences will leapfrog years of technological development and quickly emulate the behavior of Generation C in developed economies. The experience of the rapidly developing middle class in China will become typical: A member of the Chinese urban middle class spends almost 30 hours per week online but watches TV for just 12 hours. Three out of four regularly download music, two out of three watch online videos, and almost half play games online.

This increasing technological sophistication will promote the emergence of skilled and innovative digital entrepreneurs in massive numbers throughout the developing world. The rise of these entrepreneurs has the potential to significantly disrupt traditional Western business models. And they will have the attention of a large, newly connected audience that can benefit from their new ideas. In urban China, for instance, 76 percent of people are already online, and 61 percent have broadband at home. Western countries currently lead the world in just two critical online services, e-commerce (Germany) and online advertising (the U.K.), whereas non-Western countries are ahead in several others: broadband (South Korea), social networking (Brazil), online gaming (China), mobile payments (Japan), and microtransactions via SMS (the Philippines).

Industry Effects

As Generation C enters the workforce over the next decade, the manner in which it consumes information, communicates at work and play, and uses technology will transform many major industries. The most affected sector will be telecommunications, which is at the very center of how this new generation will live their lives; other sectors apt to greatly change include healthcare, retail, and travel. How will these industries evolve over the next decade?

Telecommunications. Just as the telecom industry is heading toward a strict separation between infrastructure and services and applications, customers are shifting their consumption patterns, and their loyalties, away from the traditional telecom operators and toward application and service providers such as Google, Apple, and Facebook, as well as any number of smaller players. In this world, telecom players that remain vertically integrated will come under substantial pressure. Indeed, it is likely that the industry will evolve to include two types of players: The efficient utility, driven by fiber-optic and wireless access technology, and the fast-moving, customer-centric software innovation provider.

At the same time, the information and communications on which the world of 2020 will depend, and the intelligence needed to manage that information, are moving quickly into the online computing cloud. The convergence of these technologies in the cloud will only be the start, however. As more and more services migrate online, telecom, IT, technology, and Internet service companies themselves will begin to encroach on one another's territory, as they all move toward higher-margin and differentiating applications.

The general outlines of the future created by the arrival of Generation C are clear. The question is whether telecom operators are ready for the changes already on the way and are planning now to create the strategies and business models they will need to keep growing in this more competitive future. Too many telecom operators appear to be focused on preserving sources of revenue, such as voice telephony, that are likely to decline in the future, rather than on developing new sources of revenue and opening up new markets. As a whole, telecom industry players need to rapidly change their operational and business models, the ways they interact with customers, the access and price points they establish to generate revenues, and the way they manage innovation.

We see three primary new revenue opportunities arising from the changes that the emergence of Generation C will bring about. First, the demand for ubiquitous connectivity will ultimately create the need for universal broadband access in developed economies. As a result, operators that hope to grow by offering services dependent on broadband must support national efforts to build out this next-generation infrastructure. Second, vast segments of the world's population in emerging markets are still unconnected, and operators looking to grow their customer bases thus need to expand in those markets. Third, the ways that Generation C behaves and collaborates, and the technologies it prefers, will create opportunities in other industries; telecommunications operators should be considering how to promote the use of their services to capture some of the new value created. (See "The Thought Leader Interview: Didier Lombard," by Art Kleiner and Pierre Péladeau, s+b, Spring 2011.)

Healthcare. As information about doctors and hospitals, medical treatments, and costs floods the Internet, consumers will gain real power, performing their own research; writing reviews of physicians, hospitals, and drugs; and forcing the players to compete more actively. Online services, some featuring user-generated content, will become a primary channel for medical advice, substituting in part for traditional support channels.

Widespread connectivity will boost electronic diagnosis, helping to reduce costs; digital health monitoring will become accepted practice; medical R&D will come to rely on social media such as crowdsourcing. The personalization of medicine will lead to new insurance models, and electronic medical records and national e-health infrastructures will connect with online identity and digital passport technologies.

Retail. Ubiquitous connectivity will continue to transform the retail industry, seamlessly integrating the online and offline worlds, and ultimately leading to a form of augmented reality that allows a more elaborate presentation of retail goods. Peer reviews will become a real-time decision-making tool in physical stores as well as online, and social networks will become critical for brand awareness and customer preferences. This will lead to a winner-take-all dynamic among retailers, already typical of commerce on the Internet. Electronics retailers will lose ground as consumers purchase software and services from the cloud rather than in their current shrink-wrapped store format. Social media techniques such as crowdsourcing will be used to further product innovation, and increased connectivity will generate new monetization models driven by new partnerships among retailers and manufacturers.

Travel. By 2020, business travel will decline in the face of costs and alternative meeting technologies. In the leisure segment, traditional intermediaries such as travel agents have already been largely cut out, and peer reviews have become a dominant form of deciding on vacation destinations. This will lead to increasingly individualized travel, online advice and information dictating travel plans in real time. The distinction between travel and home will blur (as the distinction between the office and home already has), and the off-the-grid getaway will become a luxury.

Even the concept of distance will be transformed, as the world becomes fully modeled in 3-D, and open for inspection by prospective visitors. The digital world will also further invade the car. For the driver, this will lead to better information on the roadside environment — another instance of augmented reality — along with improved safety through the presence of sensors that check for drivers' sleepiness or drunkenness, and simplified car maintenance based on remote diagnostics. It will also improve the efficiency of the street network, allowing for instant data on traffic and providing the ability to determine traffic flow.

Is Your Company Ready?

There is already evidence of some of the changes that will be brought about by the coming generation of workers and consumers, and increasing speculation about the path of future change. Few businesspeople, however, have fully grasped the implications for every industry. The arrival of Generation C will have an impact comparable to that of the Industrial Revolution, but it will take place much more quickly. For managers, it is no longer sufficient to plan for the next few quarters, or even the next few years. Companies that aren't willing to determine their strategies for the longer term — 10 to 15 years out — are putting their business models and value chains at risk. Executives must begin now to develop an agenda that includes an analysis of the capabilities and workforces they will need in the next decade and beyond. A critical step will be to make sure that the organization as a whole understands the coming changes, and that there are already people within the organization who are living these changes now, who don't perceive them as a threat, and who can help integrate them into the organization's business plan.

The world of 2020 will be set and governed by the members of Generation C, as they mature and grow in numbers and power. How businesses choose to cater to this coterie will determine their success — and even their ability to survive — in the coming decades.

How the Tech Future May Unfold

It is notoriously difficult to project the future; still, the exhibit below presents a plausible chronology of the next 10 years. We see a series of "eras" triggered by the sequential rise of critical new technologies. The Era of the Smart Cloud, for instance, will enable significant portions of the Generation C lifestyle in the coming years, to be succeeded by the Era of the Sensor Economy, which the cloud will help trigger. Above the time line is a series of specific events keyed to and dependent on the arrival of the various eras; thus the Era of the Internet of Things will enable motor vehicle manufacturers to build cars with full machine-to-machine (M2M) connectivity.

Author Profiles:

  • Roman Friedrich is a Booz & Company partner based in Düsseldorf and Stockholm. He specializes in strategic and technology transformation, and marketing and sales challenges in the communications, media, and technology industries.
  • Michael Peterson is a Booz & Company partner based in Düsseldorf and London. He specializes in corporate strategy and business model transformation for communications companies and in convergence and customer-facing processes in the broader media and telecommunications environment.
  • Alex Koster is a Booz & Company principal based in Zurich. He focuses on strategy, revenue growth, and business model transformation opportunities across communications, technology, and Internet companies.
    Thanks to Strategy+Business