Archive for February, 2014

Hedging Risk: Going Global

Thursday, February 27th, 2014


Risk is something all international business development and senior corporate executives in international companies must live with when their business decides to go global. Knowing how to hedge against the most serious and catastrophic risks is akin to buying a personal insurance policy. Learn from the most experienced practitioners.

Klimt, Money & Ego

Monday, February 24th, 2014


The art business has been remarkably resilient. The wealthiest collectors and new rich have found a safe haven in art. However, is that too simple an explanation? James goes behind the headlines to really understand what is driving the spending patterns of the super rich, what are the lessons to be learned for luxury brand leaders, their strategies and the impending risks. A must listen for anyone seriously interested in the subject


“Successfully implementing business strategy demands that those accountable for the results, at all levels within the business, have the following building blocks in place BEFORE starting out:

1.      “Cultural Imperatives” – you have a high level of clarity about “what” behaviours (creativity, high self-esteem, innovation etc.) are required to achieve your business goals and how to make that happen (exemplars, accountability, reinforcement etc.).
2.      “Mid-Course Correction” – you have a high level of clarity about the mix of preventative  and contingent action that must be in place in place for foreseen and unforeseen obstacles. For example, a Swiss Private bank building an Asian platform must formulate market growth assumptions based on hard evidence and observed behaviour collected by Relationship Managers “on the ground”, not a perfect paper exercise undertaken by strategists in an oak-panelled Zug boardroom. Six months after establishing a presence in Singapore, the Private Bank finds UHNW Asians are more circumspect about paying for advice than their counterparts in North America or Europe. The Private Bank must have the ability to rapidly “roll out” alternative products, services and relationships, to re-deploy resources, train relationship managers and powerfully communicate the value to high potential customers such that conversion into closed business has a negligible impact on top and bottom line growth projections.
3.      “Strategy Buy-In” – you have a high level of acceptance for your strategy from your key constituents (customers, employees, shareholders and other communities), such that there is goal congruency and a mutual self-interest in achieving them. For example, the Swiss Private Bank’s best customers in Europe see it is in their self-interest for the Bank to build a strong Asian platform that provides for enhanced future investment in new technology, people and service offerings. The Banks’s employees in Zurich and London accept that a disproportionate deployment of capital to the nascent Asian business is in their best interests short and long-term and they will share in the rewards of that success. Shareholders readily accept lower levels of return short-term for greater long-term profit and a more sustainable business. Regulators readily agree to the Private Bank accepting a larger proportion of deposits from countries (mainland China) where transparency checks and compliance are harder to determine, in order to safeguard the future relevance of the sector amongst the super wealthy.”

The Asian Consumer Expectations Unfulfilled

Thursday, February 20th, 2014


James discusses the myths, and incorrect beliefs that lead to failure in so many businesses chasing the affluent Asian consumer. He provides practical steps and a plan of action for a Brand Manager or Profit Centre Head to put their business on the fast track to find new Asian consumers, new ways to compete and new ways to create gravity to their brand.

Putin’s Boardroom Lesson: Who Let The Dogs Out

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

The heightened escalation of hostilities in Kiev splashed across global news media goes to prove that even the most choreographed “coming out” parades or new launches can be a hostage to fortune. The billions invested in Sochi to showcase a confident, high-growth and modern country are submerged beyond powerful images of fires, death and Russian political influence in Ukraine’s domestic affairs. When the 2014 Winter Olympics are over, it is clear no amount of images showing celebrity giant slalom skiers, 15 year old ice skaters and singalongathon’s  at the bottom of the Big Hill will stick long in the mindset of most people watching around the world. It is also a timely reminder to executive management tasked with exploiting profitable growth opportunities in a high growth market that they can never control or plan for everything.

  • If you have the predominance of your infrastructure in place, start, don’t wait to be 100% ready or 100% certain.
  • You must have preventative and contingent action in place for incorrect assumptions (market size, market demand, propensity of buyers to buy through different distribution channels) or unplanned events (the arrival of a new competitor, the announcement of new regulations)
  • You must establish clear accountabilities within the business for monitoring progress towards business goals and appropriate interventions
  • You must plan in advance to regularly bring good news to your key constituents, such that the need for changes of direction “on the fly” are put in the appropriate context
  • You must hire people with the skills, aptitude and personal resilience to work daily in a highly ambiguous environment
  • You must surround them with the appropriate tools (technology), support (feedback and resources) and authority (decision-making power) to manage a safe passage through the rocky terrain

There is a slightly macarbe irony watching a Russian DJ pumping up the crowd to the strain of 1990s anthem “Who Let The Dogs Out” in a momentary lull before the evening final of the ski jumping, and events across the border this week in the Ukraine. What is clear is that even the most powerful and wealthy governments and businesses cannot control everything and have to prepare for foreseen and unforeseen obstacles.

© James Berkeley 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Investing in Talent that is Locally Connected and Globally Aware

Monday, February 17th, 2014


For Country Managers seeking unprecedented success attracting the brightest and best people, James has observed it is the beliefs and action of leaders rather than excessive pay that are the catalyst for success in the best companies. Hear a rapid fire of pragmatic steps you can apply tomorrow in your Company in support of growth and expansion around the globe.

Innovation – The Untapped Potential

Thursday, February 13th, 2014


For the business line manager, who wants to stand apart from the competition, James provides powerful approaches and never previously discussed lessons from his experiences with Hilton, Caesars Entertainment, Ericsson and others on how to apply practical and proven tips for innovation. He focuses on key sources of innovation such as a firm’s past successes, a competitor’s failure, reconfiguring technology, changes in public perception and changes in nature, education, income, age and location of customers.

iSpy A Dinosaur: State and Provincial Lottery and Gaming Boards

Monday, February 10th, 2014

140210 ICE

This friendly beast adorned the ICE Totally Gaming Show in London last week, where the great and good from the casino, lotteries, online and social gaming world converged to exhibit the latest technology, network and strike deals in the cavernous exhibition halls. Surprising to many was the noticeably higher attendance of senior lottery executives and government agencies from North America. The irony of the dinosaur cannot be lost on those running North American lottery and gaming associations. Mired in political machinations, declining customer spend, unfavourable demographics  and a chronic need to rapidly reverse these dynamics, the pace of change and results from top management is shocking at present. If six recent dialogues with Board Members and senior executives at State and Provincial agencies charged with a rapid transformation are a reliable bell-weather, the time for talking, hiding and procrastination must stop. Boards need to become assertive. Top management needs to achieve results. Here is a checklist for proactive Board Chairs:

  1. The Lottery/Gaming organisation has a competent top management (demonstrably possess the skills, behaviour and experience needed to achieve the organisation’s goals).
  2. The Board has established adequate benchmarks for top management’s performance and accountability in four key areas: allocating capital productively, hiring managers and key people, innovation, and the adequacy and reliability of strategic plans.It goes without saying that, of course, there must be accountability for return on investment.
  3. Top management are required to articulate their expectations in each of these areas  and the actual results are rigorously assessed by  the Board, at a minimum annually.
  4. Board Members have ensured that top management is properly staffed and structured.  It is not sufficient just to simply use the Board power and influence when there is a dysfunctional management group.  The Board is willing and demonstrably able to wield the axe where there is mediocrity amongst the top management.
  5. Top management are held accountable by the Board for succession planning and career development and ensuring that both are properly synchronised.
  6. Top management are held accountable by the Board to think through the businesses the organisation operates in today, and those that they should be in, and, equally critically, those business or businesses it should not be in, what businesses it needs to abandon, subordinate or even exit.  The Board though is not responsible for working out the strategy – that is top management’s responsibility.
  7. The Board holds top management accountable for the productivity of the capital and resources invested in the business and routinely sets improvements. I am talking here about investment in facilities and equipment, cash collection, people and time usage in key strategic functions that are critical to realising the lottery and gaming agency’s goals.
  8. The Board holds top management accountable for appropriate policies for key external relationships (unions, government, public disclosure, legal and regulated activities).  It is not enough just to have the policies, each area has performance standards in place, against which performance can be routinely measured.
  9. The Board requires top management to bring additional information to their attention, specifically, decisions on mergers or acquisition or exiting a product line, notification of lawsuits and decisions on long-term research and development investment.
  10. The Board has a clearly thought through role, clear goals, crisp objectives and transparent individual accountabilities for each Board Member.

My observation is that 90% of the Boards in North American Gaming and Lottery organisations cannot say “YES” to all of these points. Until that level of rigour and discipline is brought to bear on Boards by their direct reports in State or Provincial government agencies, no significant improvement is going to happen. Fact.

© James Berkeley 2014. All Rights Reserved.

The Keys to Rational Separation and Divorce in Local Partnerships

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Ellice-Consulting5-150Our relationships with local business partners are often symbiotic – as we evolve, so do they. In a great many durational or specific relationships, there is a point in each organisation’s growth where both parties are better off apart than remaining together. There are also instances where there is a “forced” separation or divorce (merger + acquisition, breach of contract etc.). James shares a small number of distinct approaches that every organisation operating in a growth market should embrace unreservedly.

The Keys to Dramatic Growth in Local Partnerships

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

Ellice-Consulting5-150Rather like New Year resolutions, partnerships between international firms and local businesses rarely sustain profitable growth on their own. Drawing from the experiences of foreign investors and executives in Chicago, Zurich, Lagos, Dubai, Shanghai, Osaka, Jakarta, Salvador and Mexico City, amongst 90 “high growth” cities, James provides powerful techniques and a checklist that business executives should refer to each morning ahead of speaking to their local partners.

Keys to Forming The Right Engagement Basis with Local Partners

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Ellice-Consulting5-150Businesses are slowly cottoning on that there is a mix of preventative and contingent actions with local partnerships that must be in place before you welcome your first customer. James’s experience is that business development executives and their teams, who have properly investigated and established clear accountabilities in each of these areas, rarely have a need to pick up the phone to their legal beagles beyond rubber stamping their partnership agreement.