Do You and Your Organization Speak Data?

Speaking two languages makes you bilingual, and speaking three makes you trilingual. Any more than that, and you are a polyglot. In today’s data-driven business world, you are a data scientist if you can “speak data”.

Our world is becoming more and more about the data it generates. As pressure mounts, people who can analyze, visualize, and interpret data are becoming indispensable, much like a well-versed polyglot who can interpret and translate multiple languages with ease.


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About the Author

Anteneh Ayanso is an Associate Professor of Information Systems at Brock University’s Goodman School of Business. He is certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) by APICS and teaches and researches in the areas of data management, business analytics, electronic commerce, and electronic government. Anteneh Ayanso can be contacted at (905) 688-5550 x 3498 or [email protected]

Hank Moore

The Big Picture of Business – Yesterdayism… Learning from the Past, Planning for the Future

This Annual Report issue celebrates the year, as basis for helping business people to prepare for the future.

People are interesting combinations of the old, the new, the tried and the true. Individuals and organizations are more resilient than they tend to believe. They’ve changed more than they wish to acknowledge. They embrace innovations, while keeping the best traditions.

When one reflects at changes, he-she sees directions for the future. Change is innovative. Customs come and go… some should pass and others might well have stayed with us.

There’s nothing more permanent than change. For everything that changes, many things stay the same. The quest of life is to interpret and adapt that mixture of the old and new. People who fight change have really changed more than they think.

The past is an excellent barometer for the future. I call that Yesterdayism. One can always learn from the past, dust it off and reapply it. Living in the past is not good, nor is living in the present without wisdom of the past.

Trends come and go… the latest is not necessarily the best. Some of the old ways really work better… and should not be dismissed just because they are old or some fashionable trend of the moment looks better.

When we see how far we have come, it gives further direction for the future. Ideas make the future happen. Technology is but one tool of the trade. Futurism is about people, ideas and societal evolution, not fads and gimmicks. The marketplace tells us what they want, if we listen carefully. We also have an obligation to give them what they need.

In olden times, people learned to improvise and ‘make do.’ In modern times of instantaneous disposability, we must remember the practicalities and flexibilities of the simple things and concepts.

Things which Made Comebacks…

Ceiling fans. The jitterbug and swing music. Hardwood floors. Stained glass.

Things the Economy Has Exempted…

Penny arcades. Five-and-dime stores. Full-service gas stations. Free car washes at gas stations. Towels in boxes of detergent. Mom-and-pop stores. S&H Green Stamps and other redemption programs.

Things which the Marketplace Has Eclipsed…

  • Ice delivered in blocks via a horse-driven carriage by the ice man
  • Milk delivered in bottles via a horse-driven carriage by the milk man
  • Going downtown to do all of your shopping
  • Drive-in movies
  • Stores closed on Sundays

The Old Became the New Again…

The original speed for phonograph records, as invented in 1888, was 78-RPM, which engineers determined to be the most ideal for sound quality. In the 1940s, technology brought us the 45-RPM and 33-1/3-RPM records… adding up to the ‘mother speed’ of 78-RPM. The 1980s brought us compact discs, which play at a speed of 78-RPM.

Station wagons of the 1950s went out of style. They came back in the 1980s as sport utility vehicles.

Midwives were widely utilized in previous centuries. In modern times, alternative health care concepts and practitioners have been embraced by all sectors of society. Herbal ingredients and home remedies have gained popularity, and cottage industries support them.

Telephone party lines went out of style in the 1920s. They came back in the 1990s as internet chat rooms.

Corporations have become extended families, thus embracing dysfunctionality, changes, modifications and learning curves.

Schools started out as full-scope community centers. As the years passed, academic programs grew and became more specialized, covering many vital subject areas. Today, with parents and communities severely neglecting children and their life-skills education, schools have evolved back to being full-scope community centers.

7 Levels of Yesterdayism… Learning from the Past… Sources of Insights:

  1. Think They’ve Been There… Haven’t Yet Fully Learned from It.
  2. Saw It Happen… Understand It.
  3. Participated In It.
  4. Been There… Learned from It.
  5. Teach, Understand and Interpret It.
  6. Innovated It… and Teach You Why.
  7. Innovative Then and Now… Still Creating.

7 Applications for Yesterdayism… How to Shape the Past Into the Future:

  1. Re-Reading… Reviewing… Finding New Nuggets in Old Files.
  2. Applying Pop Culture to Today.
  3. Review case studies and their patterns for repeating themselves.
  4. Discern the differences between trends and fads.
  5. Learn from successes… and three times more from failures.
  6. Transition your organization from information down the branches to knowledge.
  7. Apply thinking processes to be truly innovative.

Apply History to Yourself. The past repeats itself. History is not something boring that you once studied in school. It tracks both vision and blindspots for human beings. History can be a wise mentor and help you to avoid making critical mistakes.

7 Kinds of Reunions… obtaining perspective:

  1. Pleasurable. Seeing an old friend who has done well, moved in a new direction and is genuinely happy to see you too. These include chance meetings, reasons to reconnect and a concerted effort by one party to stay in the loop.
  2. Painful. Talking to someone who has not moved forward. It’s like the conversation you had with them 15 years ago simply resumed. They talk only about past matters and don’t want to hear what you’re doing now. These include people with whom you once worked, old romances, former neighbors, networkers who keep turning up like bad pennies and colleagues from another day and time.
  3. Mandated. Meetings, receptions, etc. Sometimes, they’re pleasurable, such as retirement parties, open houses, community service functions. Other times, they’re painful, such as funerals or attending a bankruptcy creditors’ meeting.
  4. Instructional. See what has progressed and who have changed. Hear the success stories. High school reunions fit into this category… their value depending upon the mindset you take with you to the occasion.
  5. Reflect Upon the Past. Reconnecting with old friends, former colleagues and citizens for whom you have great respect. This is an excellent way to share each other’s progress and give understanding for courses of choice.
  6. Benchmarking. Good opportunities to compare successes, case studies, methodologies, learning curves and insights. When ‘the best’ connects with ‘the best,’ this is highly energizing.
  7. Goal Inspiring. The synergy of your present and theirs inspires the future. Good thinkers are rare… stay in contact with those whom you know, admire and respect. It will benefit all involved.

About the Author

Power Stars to Light the Business Flame, by Hank Moore, encompasses a full-scope business perspective, invaluable for the corporate and small business markets. It is a compendium book, containing quotes and extrapolations into business culture, arranged in 76 business categories.

Hank’s latest book functions as a ‘PDR of business,’ a view of Big Picture strategies, methodologies and recommendations. This is a creative way of re-treading old knowledge to enable executives to master change rather than feel as they’re victims of it.

Power Stars to Light the Business Flameis now out in all three e-book formats: iTunes, Kindle, and Nook.

Hank Moore

The Big Picture of Business: Critical Decision

Ceasing CD production will harm an already ailing music industry, where technology is not the answer: Analyzing the music industry and changing technologies.

Certain forces in the recording industry have announced intentions to cease production of compact discs and convert their music marketing to digital downloads. trimming the fat and criticizing incorrect activities in the organizational structure.

That is a dangerous course of action and stands to further devastate a music industry that has systematically killed the golden goose over many years.

The CD issue (including those who advocate obliterating the medium) is symptomatic of the bigger watersheds that have crippled and ruined large chunks of the music industry:

  • Not understanding the business basics.
  • Taking decisions away from the creative people.
  • Focusing only on the technology, not on the creative output.
  • Not understanding the totality of the music industry, with recording as a prime stakeholder, not as the stake driver that it tries to be.
  • Failure to learn from the past.
  • The trends toward over-formatting of radio.
  • Failure to understand and nurture the relationship with radio.
  • Failure to understand and nurture the relationship with television.
  • Deregulation of broadcasting.
  • Failure to collaborate, bundle products or combine efforts to create and sustain advantage.
  • Failure to understand and nurture relationships with the retailing industry.
  • Failure to plan for the present.
  • Trends toward homogenization of culture that resulted in drastic cuts in the quantity and quality of original music programming available.
  • Trends away from utilizing and showcasing music.
  • Trends away from spoken word and educational usage of recordings.
  • The music industry responding to changes and uncertainty by scapegoating the wrong people.
  • The international marketplace responding as entrepreneurs by taking up the slack and addressing the ‘missed opportunities’ by the American music industry.
  • Making knee-jerk decisions based upon partial information and wrong hunches.

In 1877, Thomas Edison introduced the cylinder, developed originally for business office use. It was the earliest Dictaphone, whereby messages would be recorded by a needle on a rolling tube. In 1888, Emile Berliner invented the phonograph record, for the purpose of transporting music to consumers. Columbia Records (now Sony) was founded in 1898, followed by RCA Victor Records in 1901. Edison missed his chance to influence the recording industry by sticking with the cylinder medium, not converting to phonograph records until 1912 and finally getting out of the recording business in 1929.

The radio industry began as a multi-city network that piped recorded music into department stores. In 1920, the first radio sets sold by Westinghouse to promote its first station, 8XK in Pittsburgh, PA. In 1926, NBC Radio signed on the air, followed by CBS the next year. In addition to news and other entertainment shows, a large portion of radio programming was attributable to music, and a long growth relationship with the record industry was sustained. Stars came on variety shows to promote their releases, and the era of radio disc jockeys was firmly secured in the public culture.

The media of music distribution was the 78RPM record. It was bulky, breakable and limiting the amount of music on each side. Record companies put multiple discs into sleeves and began calling them ‘albums,’ the terminology still existing today. Those albums started as collections of ‘sides’ but became thematic. Further packaging enabled various-artist albums and collections of ‘greatest hits’ (those two categories currently accounting for half of all CD sales, a big chunk of business to be wiped out by going all-digital).

The two major labels went into research and development on non-breakable records that would play at slower speeds, with thinner grooves and more music on each side, producing a cleaner sound (without pops and scratches). The results were Columbia (owned by CBS) introducing the 33-1/3RPM long playing vinyl record in 1948 and RCA Victor (owned by NBC) introducing the 45RPM vinyl record in 1949. Why those speeds? They were combined derivatives of 78RPM, known by engineers as ‘the mother speed.’ Not surprisingly, today’s CDs play at 78RPM, a technological updating of Emile Berliner’s 1888 invention of the phonograph record.

The 1930s and 1940s were massive-growth periods for the recording and broadcast industries. Along came other record labels: Brunswick, Decca, Capitol, Coral and jazz imprints. Movie studios got into the record business. Entrepreneurs brought Atlantic, King and other labels to showcase black artists and country music (two major growth industries attributable to the interrelationship of radio and records). Then came the international recording industry, which is the major user of CD technology.

The 1950’s saw exponential growth of the recording industry. There were more retail outlets for the music than ever before or ever since. One could buy music at every grocery store, department store and many unexpected locations. There was an industry of sound-alike records, sold at reduced prices. The result was that all families had phonographs, and music was going into cars via radio, thus stimulating record sales and thus encouraging other technologies to bring music into cars (emerging as homes in our mobile society).

The emergence of teens as the primary record buyers was fed by TV shows, increased disposable income and recording artists catering to younger audience. Due to broad radio playlists, there was ample airplay for every musical taste, and the record industry continued to grow. Independent record labels proliferated, as did recordings by local artists around the country.

With the British Invasion of the 1960’s came the reality of the international nature of entertainment. To package and market emerging modern music, media were implemented to make the best possible sounds and reflect the plastic portability of youth traffic. Along came music available on cassette tapes, then 8-track tapes. The music industry experimented with Quadraphonic Sound, with the ballyhoo associated with the Ipod, and that experiment fell flat after one year.

At every juncture, there were transition periods in the adoption and acceptance of new media. For the first 11 years of 45RPM records and LPs being manufactured, there were still 78RPM discs on the market. Throughout the tape formats, there were still records. With the advent of Compact Discs, there were still records and cassette tapes on the market. To now rush to conversion of all music to digital downloads is short-sighted and stands to kill markets and after-markets for CDs that still have another 20 years to run.

To kill the CD makes poor business sense. 78RPMs were phased out because better technology was developed. Quadraphonic was technology glitz but did not make good business sense. 8-track tapes were only meant to be an interim medium, until CDs were developed. CDs are the dominant medium and are economical to produce.

Killing CDs is a bean counter move and is contrary to the heart of the music business. CDs enable local bands to have records. Computer downloads are convenience items and impulse purchases. People’s listening frequency and intensity is different (and significantly reduced) through computer downloads.

Nothing still says ‘record’ like a CD in a plastic case, where the album is as much in the packaging as the content material on the disc. Lose the ‘record album,’ and the music industry will never be the same.

This is the juncture where the music industry must step back, analyze their decline over the last 30 years and understand the reasons why they must create new opportunities and move forward.

If I were advising the industry, I would steer them toward:

  • Stimulating a culture where excellence in music would be encourages, thus improving the quantity and quality of music being recorded.
  • Creating a music industry where the products would be more worth buying. There are still higher profits in album sales, rather than Internet song downloads (the modern equivalent to the 45RPM single).
  • Thinking of music distribution in directions other than just the Internet.
  • Stimulating the global record industry.
  • Encouraging TV shows to once again have theme songs.
  • Encouraging movies to get back to real musical soundtracks (not just the current drum crashing noise effects). This would re-boot the soundtrack album industry.
  • Recognizing that nearly half of all record sales and downloads involves repackaging older music product for new audiences.
  • Finding ways to promote local acts around the world.
  • Working with radio programmers to get playlists expanded. Music has to have the interactive exposure via radio. Nurture programmers of internet radio shows as the best new opportunity for expanding music exposure.
  • Understanding better the after-market of music resellers, and stimulate that series of opportunities for expanding the reach of musical products around the world.
  • Recognizing downloads as ‘low hanging fruit.’ Do not put all your industry’s distribution in one area, because that one area will always change.

The much-needed regeneration of the music industry to make a comeback and reclaim its past dominance takes time, energy, resources and lots of heart to produce. Couch planning as the only way to avert a crisis. Changing technologies does not equate to planning and strategy development.

People get what they pay for… always have, always will. Things are never simple for one who must make decisions and policies. Many factors must be weighed.

One cannot always go the path that seems clearest. One who thinks differently and creatively will face opposition. With success of the concept, it gets embraced by others. Shepherding good ideas and concepts does not get many external plaudits. The feeling of accomplishment must be internal. That is a true mark of impactful changes and success.


About the Author

Hank Moore has advised 5,000+ client organizations worldwide (including 100 of the Fortune 500, public sector agencies, small businesses and non-profit organizations). He has advised two U.S. Presidents and spoke at five Economic Summits. He guides companies through growth strategies, visioning, strategic planning, executive leadership development, Futurism and Big Picture issues which profoundly affect the business climate. He conducts company evaluations, creates the big ideas and anchors the enterprise to its next tier. The Business Tree™ is his trademarked approach to growing, strengthening and evolving business, while mastering change. To read Hank’s complete biography, click here.

Hank Moore

The Big Picture of Business: Institutional Reviews Help Public Companies to Learn from the Downturn and Move Forward

An Institutional Review is a look at activities that contribute to an organization’s success and well-being. This transcends a traditional audit and identifies factors that already contribute well to the organization, rather than simply looking for ways to cut, curtail or penalize. It is more than just trimming the fat and criticizing incorrect activities in the organizational structure.

This review is the basis for most elements that will appear in a strategic plan, including the organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, actions, challenges, teamwork, change management, commitment, future trends and external forces.

These are the points at which every company must assess its own status and chart the process forward:

The Big Picture

  • The organization is not now what it started out to be.
  • There seems to be a need to change the direction of the organization.
  • Management is concerned that resources are not concentrated on important things.
  • Management of the organization seems tired or complacent.

Growth

  • Management is cautious and uncertain about the company’s future.
  • The company has grown too rapidly.
  • No-growth or slow-growth has occurred.
  • There is a need to step up growth and improve profitability.

People – Productivity

  • Apathy, low productivity and discord are exhibited.
  • Management seeks perspective and needs to be recharged.
  • There is the need to develop better information to help management make better decisions.
  • Individuals are more concerned about their own areas than for the overall organization.

Processes

  • There is a sense that company operations are out of control.
  • Management expresses a need for better internal coordination of company activities.

External-Marketplace

  • External forces threaten the status quo…and open up new opportunities.
  • The environment in which the organization competes is rapidly changing.

What a Review Could Include:

Among the components and professional specialties that could be represented in a performance review, per each branch on the Business Tree, include:

  • Branch 1: Core business, core industry.
  • Branch 2: Environmental, safety, IT systems design and computer software, training for computers and technology, architecture, engineering and legal
  • Branch 3: Accounting, banking, investments, financial planning, benefits programs, real estate, fund raising for non-profit organizations and investor relations services for public companies.
  • Branch 4: Training for diversity, team building, professional education and development, motivational and executive development-mentoring. Human resource administration, employee testing, behavioral research, executive search, talent pools, reorganizations, downsizing, executive outplacement, labor issues and negotiating.
  • Branch 5: Sales strategy, sales training, marketing strategy, customer service, advertising, direct marketing, public relations, special events, video production, promotional specialties, graphic design-production and website design-production.
  • Category 6: Business performance reviews, research, quality management programs, government relations, public policy, community relations and re-engineering.
  • Category 7: Corporate strategy, visioning, strategic planning, futurism, thought leader program and emerging business issues.

Expected Results of an Institutional Review:

  • Your service is efficient and excellent, by your standards and by the publics. You are sensitive to the public’s needs, and you are flexible and human in meeting them.
  • Your staff is likeable and competent. They demonstrate initiative and use their best judgment, with authority to make the decisions they should make.
  • You have a good reputation and are awake to community obligations. You contribute much to the economy. You provide leadership for progress, rather than following along.
  • You always give your customers their money’s worth. Your charges are fair and reasonable.
  • You are in the vanguard of your industry.
  • You provide a good place to work. You offer a promising career and future for people with ideas and initiative. Your people do a day’s work for a day’s pay.
  • The size of your organization is necessary to do the job demanded of you. Your integrity and dependability make the public confident that you will use your size and influence rightly.

What Well-Run Companies Accomplish:

  • Prestige or favorable image…and its benefits.
  • Promotions of products and sales.
  • Good will of the employees.
  • Prevention and solution of labor problems.
  • Fostering the good will of communities in which the company has units.
  • Good will of the stockholders, board of directors, and owners.
  • Overcoming misconceptions and prejudices.
  • Good will of suppliers.
  • Good will of government.
  • Good will of the rest of your industry.
  • Attraction of others into the industry.
  • Ability to attract the best personnel.
  • Education of the public to the purposes and scope of the product.
  • Education of the public to a point of view.
  • Good will of customers (and their friends and colleagues).
  • Seeing that the industry is properly represented in the curricula of schools and colleges.
  • Assisting educators in teaching about the industry.
  • Creating public support for legislative proposals that the industry favors or public opposition to legislation that it opposes.
  • Obtaining public recognition for the social and economic contributions that the industry makes.
  • Addressing outside interference or competition with the industry.
  • Public understanding of the regulation of the industry by the government, in order to assure equitable treatment.
  • Consumer understanding of how to use the product.

Grounding Factors for Business:

Being stable does not mean that an organization stands still. Upholding traditions does not necessarily mean that one vehemently resists change. Being a family run company does not mean that outside stakeholders do not exist. Lawyers go to school to study the law, not how to become a lawyer and run a legal practice. The same analogy holds true for accountants, engineers, doctors and architects. All are taught professional skills but must absorb along the way the business talents necessary to run their practices.

Authority figures must be effective disciplinarians. They must also be recognizable role models in order to inspire commitment from their team members. The best leaders are adept at the balancing acts of business priorities. Organizations are collections of individuals, team clusters, operating units, departments, management philosophies and ideologies.

To gauge the company’s future direction and avoid roadblocks to success, independent reviews must be conducted. The objective is to benefit from changes, rather than become the victim of them. By spotting trends and recognizing inner strengths of your existing company, you can compete and excel more effectively than without any strategy at all.


About the Author

Hank Moore has advised 5,000+ client organizations worldwide (including 100 of the Fortune 500, public sector agencies, small businesses and non-profit organizations). He has advised two U.S. Presidents and spoke at five Economic Summits. He guides companies through growth strategies, visioning, strategic planning, executive leadership development, Futurism and Big Picture issues which profoundly affect the business climate. He conducts company evaluations, creates the big ideas and anchors the enterprise to its next tier. The Business Tree™ is his trademarked approach to growing, strengthening and evolving business, while mastering change. To read Hank’s complete biography, click here.

How to Stress-Test Your Strategy

Robert Simons, the Charles M. Williams Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, explains why management teams must ask themselves tough strategy questions. During this interview, Robert covers:

  • obstacles business leaders face when executing their business strategy
  • why companies need to focus on one primary customer
  • the importance in choosing which among shareholders, customers, or employees are most important to the company’s success
  • how executives should decide which few metrics to focus on
  • key approaches to effectively making tough priority selection decisions

Robert Simons on the StrategyDriven Podcast

Last month, we were privileged to talk with Robert about his new book, Seven Strategy Questions, on the StrategyDriven Podcast. Listen as we explore the seven strategy questions that can help an organization’s leaders identify gaps within their strategy and its execution.