Posts Tagged ‘culture’

Video Action Replay (“VAR”) Uncovered

Thursday, June 28th, 2018

The public debate about the introduction of video action replay “VAR” at this year’s World Cup is largely centred on a binary question: is the technology applied accurately or not by the officials? The real question that John Naisbitt talked about in his book “High Tech, High Touch” is are we happy with the consequences  of technological change on our lives, relationships and societies, at a macro and micro level? That is a far more profound question, about any new technology that we might bring into our business or home. The only certainty is that we are not “neutral”.

© James Berkeley 2018. All Rights Reserved.

The Entrepreneur’s Uncommon Legacy

Friday, June 30th, 2017

90% of entrepreneurs want to leave a powerful and lasting legacy upon the successful transition of their business, yet most fail. I define “legacy”, in a business context, as a framework within which decisions are made today about sustaining the beliefs that will enable the business to thrive in the future.

Failure is not in my experience down to the most obvious reason (renouncing control) rather it is the absence of people, long before the sale of the business is concluded, with the skills and volition to implement the entrepreneur’s desired legacy in the real world, and constant procrastination. Here is a simple checklist for the Entrepreneur:

  1. What would a successful legacy look, feel, touch, smell, taste like to those who are important to you and in what realistic timeframe?
  2. Whose support must you command upfront (exemplars, key influencers) to sustain it?
  3. What specific goals are you trying to accomplish internally and externally (e.g. improve succession planning, more impressive innovation, heighten customer awareness of societal issues etc.)?
  4. What elements need tackling first (e.g. strengthen career development, prioritise resource to performance improvements not fixing problems, identify exemplars etc.)?
  5. What must be done tomorrow and the day after?
  6. By whom and by what deadline?
  7. Do it.

If you need additional expertise, hire it. One of the biggest mistakes is the assumption that the content knowledge your coterie of existing advisers and top managers have about the inner workings of the business is sufficient to succeed. Here is the litmus test for the Entrepreneur:

  1. Do my key people possess a high, moderate or low level of familiarity with my legacy?
  2. Do my key people possess a high, moderate or low level of clarity about my legacy?
  3. Do my key people possess a high, moderate or low level of skills to implement my legacy?

Better to have started early, tried and failed than for the entrepreneur to look back with regrets about the mistakes that were made by not being bold enough or making it your priority, before the business was sold.

© James Berkeley 2017.

A Dumb Englishman Abroad

Monday, May 16th, 2016

Rick Stein, the international chef is currently airing an entertaining series on BBC television about long weekends in European cities – the food, the culture and the history. Stein is a great chef, I have eaten in a number of his restaurants and the creator of an impressive brand. He comes across as intellectually curious and a decent man but his mangling of the English and Austrian language in his latest show in Vienna, wouldn’t get him a job in Burger King.

If you want to be taken seriously on a public stage, on camera or at an international gathering or event, the minimum expectation is that you demonstrate a command of your own and your host’s language. If you want to use local terms or words to impress others, make sure you know how to pronounce them properly and in the right context. If you are in doubt about the latter, ask an informed local. Don’t wing it, you’ll look an amateur.

In Stein’s case with an expensive production and abundant researchers, it is just lazy film making or you can blame it on the irritating tendency at the BBC to dumb down programme making to the lowest common denominator. Either way, it makes the speaker look dumb. Why would you do that or allow others to create that impression?

© James Berkeley 2016. All Rights Reserved.

7 Reasons To Celebrate London

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

Today London remembers, 10 years on from the scenes of death and destruction. A city that I have called “home” on and off for 30 years. On 7th July 2005, I was at The Snow Ball in Queenstown, New Zealand with a group of friends when images flashed up on a video screen of the carnage across the city. It seemed distant and surreal in equal measure. What was the bombers’ point? The subsequent alert two weeks later and the manhunt when I was back home are a more vivid memory.

The test is what a city and its’ residents do about it.

Looking around London today, London is thriving. A global metropolis that has

  1. Attracted huge swathes of capital from across the globe.
  2. Unprecedented career opportunities for many people.
  3. The most diverse, talented and creative workforce with a global mindset.
  4. One of the most civilised, safe and secure environments to live, work and socialise in.
  5. The most compelling mix of contemporary culture.
  6. Retained its’ status as one of only two true “global cities” (the other being New York).
  7. The most exciting prospects for the next generation to grow up in.

As with all growing capitalist cities it faces distribution challenges. Adequate housing, infrastructure, health and education provision for all incomes.

The “high” security threat is a badge of honour, a reflection that those with incongruent values seek to cut down the tallest of poppies. We must hope that our security forces and intelligence are one step ahead of those who seek to destroy what we have. Can we be certain? Of course not. My memory flashes back to the early part of my career, the IRA atrocities across the city, the daily roadblocks outside my EC3 office and further afield to New York, where several of my former colleagues from my days working on 104th Floor of the World Trade Center perished.

Yet we celebrate the vibrant, innovative and exciting city we call “home” and the fantastic future it provides for our families, friends and colleagues.

© James Berkeley 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Corporate Venturing Uncovered

Monday, February 16th, 2015

In a rush for innovation amongst mid and large-sized organisations, the boom in corporate venturing is one of the most visible signs of abundant capital chasing a paucity of great investments. For many sitting on the outside looking into the “hot” corporate venturing world, their view is obscured by the “steamed up” window pane. Sure, 25% of Fortune 500 companies are active in the corporate venturing arena. Daily business headlines in print and CNBC anchors, trail billion dollar valuations placed on “logo” investments (Uber, SpaceX) and a record number of  exits for lucky investors (2014: 125). What is less understood by the “outsiders”, particularly corporate executives, is how do you properly quantify the value derived from a corporate venture.

Corporate Venturer’s good deal (“ROI”) =

TI (Tangible Improvements) X Annualised Period

+ II (Intangible Improvements) X Scope of Impact

+ PI (Peripheral Improvements)_____________  

Proposed Investment   

The “investment” is the cost of total capital and human resources deployed, interest, management time and energy invested in nurturing and supporting the portfolio management team, setting the Corporate’s vision, lining up key corporate supporters and paths of least resistance, changing the corporate culture, reinforcing corporate employees’ beliefs about the new strategic direction, corporate training, hiring or integrating new skills and technology, rewarding corporate employee behaviour, corporate employee education and communication.

So for example, an investment by an insurer in a transformative digital distribution business might be expected to result in increase sales, increase operating margin, lower acquisition costs from Year 3 to Year 7 (unlike M&A, CV’s rarely have a short-term impact) ; enhanced repute with clients and prospects, reduced uncertainty for investors and employees, reduced competitive threat and greater peace of mind for top management; strategic acquisition opportunities, faster new products to markets, repeat business with existing clients, geographic expansion and so on.

You are not finished yet,

Risk Assessment: No corporate venture investment is “risk free”.

You must calculate the Corporate Venture’s Innovation Risk (IR) / Corporate Risk Tolerance (CRT)

So for example if on a scale of “0” (risk free) to “-5” (Catastrophic risk), objectively, the Innovation Risk attached to the proposed investment is “-4,” (a black eye for the firm’s management, balance sheet and repute) and the Corporate Risk Tolerance is no greater  than “-2” (modest hit to earnings, relationship with key constituents and repute), management would be advised to forego the opportunity.

Finally, there is a need to objectively consider

Strategic Fit: “high”, “moderate” or “low” fit with the Corporate strategic direction, vision and beliefs.

Ease of Implementation:“high”, “moderate” or “low” fit with the Corporate’s operating model, speed of making changes, adapting customer relationships, access to appropriate capital, skills and technology, management time, organisational change and so on

Top priority given to “high” strategic fit and ease of implementation investments.

Corporate Venturing is very much the innovation tool “du jour”. Whether it is education technology, clean tech or fintech.

Getting started requires that you take a panoramic, not a a portrait view of the investment potential and the impact on the corporate organisation’s future. If you lack or cannot reasonably acquire the skills to make these judgments you shouldn’t be in the business of corporate venturing. It is not for the faint-hearted.

For those corporate organisations with the skills and volition to commit for the long haul, it is a powerful and potentially highly lucrative source of innovation and profit.

© James Berkeley 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Brands Lost In Translation

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

In beautiful Falsterbo in SW Sweden, a hilarious reminder last week that common sense in one language can be nonsense or even comedic in another. How early, if at all, in your new market entry process do you “road test” your brand names when moving into a new geographic market? This might be water off a duck’s back in consumer retail but you will be surprised how many business in other sectors (financial services, insurance, gaming, luxury) overlook this simple and costly step. Don’t fall into this trap. 

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