Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Corporate Innovation Comedy

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

There are certain fashion or fad trends which when worn by 60 year old men, skinny jeans come to mind, are just plain wrong unless you are Mick Jagger. In all the buzz about innovation, reinvention and disruption it is comedic watching the attempts of some corporate organisations in finance, banking and insurance to embrace it effectively.

The CEO stands up and says

1. “Innovation is the new normal”: err, innovation is not a rheostat with an on/off switch in outstanding innovative companies such as 3M, Merck, Apple etc.

2. “When I was at Google….”: err, you met with a middle manager or silo function (risk management) that is not even situated in the Corporate HQ. Ssh, the guy is an ex employee of ours suffering a mid life crisis but it sounds cool?

3. “We are on the side of the disruptive businesses…”: really, where is the hard evidence? Ah you have put in an order for the Tesla when the lease on the Merc expires.

4. “Let me tell you about our work with [Uber, Airbnb]…..”: your “credentials” are killing me, how are a series of actions unique to one firm now a hot trend?

5. “We took our Leadership Team to Silicon Valley….”: so you flew into San Jose on the Gulfstream, spoke to a few random clients and friends and are now immersed with ground-breaking ideas, really? Ever tried the pilgrimage to Lourdes? Thought not.

6. “I was speaking at a Tech investors event in Silicon Valley…”: you are now on first name terms with Marc Andreesen and Fred Wilson. Keep that one for the next earnings call.

7. “We are passionate about the future. We are announcing a new corporate venturing team with a $100 million of capital”: wow, so third rate entrepreneurs line up outside our headquarters. After all why would a stack of cash and a conservative reputation not appeal to serious tech entrepreneurs? Oh, nevermind.

8. “I am really excited by the power of blockchain as a powerful asset”: half the audience look blankly. The venerable City reinsurance broker or Wall Street banker racks his brain “watch chain?”, as the CEO fumbles like an adolescent boy trying to unhook the girl’s bra, in explaining blockchain’s virtues and his excitement.

9. “I have asked our Divisional Heads to set up an offsite meeting on Innovation and Disruption….”: yay, a chance to invite Wired’s David Rowan to talk to us about 10 transformative technologies. Oh hell, which futurologist should we invite? No giggling or fumbling for the iPhone and that important email when he or she stands up.

10. “It is time for the results of our Annual Report on Megatrends, we spoke to our global community of risk managers…..”: ah, that is the fella situated down the end of the first floor corridor with an actuarial background and a handful of junior direct reports. I don’t remember seeing his face in the Corporate Strategy meeting, perhaps he was at his daughter’s soccer game.

I kid you not, these are all genuine one-liners. Sorry I am bent double admiring the CEO’s shiny white teeth and folksy humour. Nice touch.

© James Berkeley 2015. All Rights Reserved.

 

All Black Execution

Monday, October 26th, 2015

People talk about champions or champion teams.

World-class execution under pressure, whether in sport or businRWC Semi Finaless is largely about positive behaviours and experience rather than skills.

The ability to stay in the moment, to respond swiftly to opportunity and to think clearly in adversity.

The New Zealand rugby team, the world champions, on Saturday faced with being bundled out of rugby’s showpiece event at the semi-final stage provided a “master class”.

Bouncing back from an underwhelming first half of rugby on Saturday (too many penalties) and playing with 14 men, for 10 minutes they shackled their opposition in their own half.

When opportunity presented itself they resorted to the pragmatic taking a rare drop goal and changing the momentum of the entire game and triumphing over arch enemies,  South Africa. They did this largely by changing their mindset and stopping giving away penalties. The inspiration coming from the experience of their captain Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and Conrad Smith.

Copyright James Berkeley 2015. All Rights Reserved.

In Memoriam: Sir Peter O’Sullevan

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

“It is not what you say but how you express it.”

Those were the immortal words and wisdom Sir Peter O’Sullevan, the iconic British racing Jounalist and commentator shared with me as a 15 year old standing on the roof of a windswept Cheltenham Racecourse grandstand in December 1982.

His passing today reminds me of his generosity and civility in sharing his insights about the career of legendary jockey, Lester Piggott over a period of six months for a school History “O-Level” project. An iconic figure in British broadcasting giving his “free” time to a passionate student of the sport.

We departed that freezing cold day with his closing line, “it gives me such pleasure to help a young chap.”

Your voice may have dimmed today Sir Peter but your wisdom is forever with us.

Copyright James Berkeley 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Welcome to James Berkeley’s Blog

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

So many blogs I see are full of conceptual, trite and dull views. They ask the wrong questions and merely serve as platforms for displaying the size of the writer’s ego. My promise to you is that you will never accuse us of the same.

I founded my consulting business with the belief that it is not my job to teach people what to think. The greatest gift I can give my clients and others is to ask the right questions, to get them to think. To think, in ways that they have never thought before.

Market Leading Growth blog features sound practical advice and perspective for those with profit and loss responsibility in expansive organisations, who want to profitably grow in high growth markets.

I will present fresh ideas, formal and informal viewpoints, techniques, articles, educational resources, links, video and podcasts etc to help accelerate the movement from the “status quo” to your desired level of improvement.

I learn exponentially more from listening to those people, who choose to engage formally or informally with me, enabling me to adapt and adjust to their pulse, and their suggestions for improvement. I welcome debate and communication amongst readers of the blog.

In over twenty years, I have acquired a rich set of past experiences, living in, and growing businesses of all variety in different cultures and geography. A true “globalist”. I have sat in the executive suite and also on the other side of the table, advising those with profit and loss responsibility for dramatic growth. I have felt, heard, seen and sensed the challenge of balancing short- and longer-term profitable growth needs with the expectations of key constituents: Boards, shareholders, employees and customers.

I have worked for and with some of the stand out brands in their respective sectors, AON, Travelers, Hilton Worldwide, Caesars Entertainment, Ericsson and over 30 other market leaders around the world. On that journey I have had the pleasure of collaborating with some of the finest minds.

I have learned that those, who inhabit and sustain market leadership positions have some very distinct traits: they are passionate and hold clear positions, yet they allow others to challenge their beliefs, they are not afraid to abandon past beliefs that have served them well, and they are not afraid to provoke and take contrarian positions. Most importantly, they want to soar, not merely coast in their career.

My observation is that improvement is largely incremental, a sequence of small steps, which when combined create a dramatic leap. I hope you will find one or more small steps, each time you read this blog.

You have my permission to use any of the information on the blog just so long as you correctly attribute the source.

To quote Damon Runyon, “You can become a winner only if you are willing to walk over the edge.”

– James Berkeley

Ground Rules

  1. This blog is administered and run by Salvatore Lovano of CB Software Systems, Inc.
  2. Our intent is to publish new, brief articles or insight by James every week. Some will be on market-leading growth. The others will be on a contemporary issue, which are sparking James’s imagination or driving him crazy.
  3. Posts are appreciated. You can expect James to reply to valuable postings, intelligent questions or points that illustrate an absence of common sense and a danger of spreading like wildfire. Any postings that detract from the quality of the discussion, our ethics or the standards of behaviour we actively like to promote, will not be aired.

If you would like to talk directly with James….

Please go to the website www.elliceconsulting.com or contact him at +44 203 440 5072