Archive for December, 2013

Mandat Growth Tip of the Day: You Can’t Please Everyone

Monday, December 30th, 2013

I know a few people who try to please many people (not to say “nearly everyone”) in many things (not to say “nearly everything”). Never mind that this typically goes awry, since it is simply impossible to satisfy so many demands. And all the while, a person’s identity fades into the background. For years, I had a sign in my office: “I was not put on this planet to satisfy the needs of others.” I have acted in just that way, and do so to this day – with increasing relish.
Decide for yourself what to demand from yourself, regardless of whether we’re talking about private goals or professional, business-oriented goals. First, give second priority to how this impacts “others” and in so doing, differentiate between “others” to whom you really owe something and “others” who actually expect something from you only because they will derive some benefit from it.
Consider this: Even if you could walk on water, some would carp that you are doing so only because you can’t swim.
Your focus today: Focus on your own goals and not on the expectations of others.

© 2013, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.

Logistics: Cost Factor or Revenue Driver?

Friday, December 27th, 2013

There is a significant difference between companies that see logistics merely as a cost factor that should be streamlined as much as possible and those that think it’s a better idea to view logistics as a revenue driver – or at least, shall we say, a revenue enabler. I conducted my first logistics study 20 years ago. It had to do with logistical alliances in Europe, and at that time, it was already evident: Companies that employed logistics specifically to assist sales and marketing were notably more successful than businesses that invariably saw only the costs of logistics and tried to lower them because they were “bad.”
Growth does not come from lowering costs. Growth comes from the top line. And growth comes from within. If you want to look for growth potential in a business, you can’t get around logistics as one of the essential horizontal tasks. Of course, sales would like delivery capacity to be uncompromised, if at all possible. Marketing would naturally like to make overblown delivery promises. And customers all want their purchases delivered at a specific time – and everything must arrive “just in time.” The point is not to satisfy all these demands. The point is to change your way of thinking. The crucial question must be: How can logistics help us acquire additional customers, develop additional services? At the same time, how can logistics help us get to market.
That this is still an unusual point of view can be observed in companies’ systems of key-indicators, because as a rule, logistics costs of different companies are not comparable with each other. Sometimes they consist purely of shipping costs. Elsewhere, the costs of tying up capital, IT costs, overhead costs etc. are included.
At that time, through projects we were involved with, we helped Andreae-Noris Zahn AG (renamed Alliance Healthcare Deutschland AG in April, 2013), to win both the German and the European Logistics Awards in the same year. That was possible only because we changed our perception of logistics.
You don’t exactly have to win the German Logistics Award, but what are you doing so that logistics serve as a driver of growth and do not merely sit there on the cost side of the ledger.

© 2013, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.

Mandat Growth Tip of the Day: Think Revenues, not Costs

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

People who think about opportunities are more successful than those think more about risks. Now of course you could argue that you want to consider the risks in any proposal. Correct. But not too much, because if you lose yourself in a forest of risks, you also lose sight of possibilities.
Businesses behave in somewhat the same way. How could it be otherwise? After all, businesses are made up of people: Some businesses are more inclined to think in terms of costs rather than revenues. That’s too bad, because no business has grown in any meaningful way by focusing too much on costs. Now please, don’t go putting words in my mouth. I would certainly not advocate losing sight of costs. But growth comes from profitable transactions with enthusiastic customers, not from perfecting a cost structure.
Your focus today: Concentrate more on revenues, less on costs. Where can you generate additional transactions?

© 2013, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.

We’re not stuck in a traffic jam, we are the traffic jam

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

I once read this adage many years ago, written on the wall of a Berlin subway station. “We’re not stuck in a traffic jam, we are the traffic jam.” I find that the saying precisely addresses something that I never tire of emphasizing: personal responsibility. Growth comes through personal responsibility and through the recognition that we are the ones who can influence our fate – for the most part independently of what others are doing.
“We’re not stuck in a traffic jam, we are the traffic jam.” You could just as easily say, “We don’t live in a nation, we are the nation.” What’s more, there are many equivalents in the world of business, such as: “We don’t work for the company, we are the company.” Without their employees, companies are worth significantly less. But it also means that we are all responsible for how our company evolves. Everyone has a role to play.
And while we’re on the topic of personal responsibility. . . It is noteworthy that some companies – or their departments – may recognize that a problem exists, that someone is doing something wrong (“We’re doing something wrong.”), yet rarely does anyone take personally this oft-quoted observation and say: “I made a mistake.” Time and again we encounter the insight that something is going awry, yet no one wants to be involved in this sad state of affairs. And why not, really? Insight is the first step on the road to growth. Shunting the matter to one side is a brake on growth. So is ignoring it. Things must not get so far out of hand that we have to say: “We don’t have a problem, we are the problem . . .”

© 2013, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.

Mandat Growth Tip of the Day: “I don’t need a GPS.”

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

I’m writing this in a lounge at the Zurich airport because the cab driver who took me from the airport into the city today gave me this growth tip of the day:
After arriving from Düsseldorf, I get into a cab: “000 Falkenstrasse, please.” And off he goes. He asks twice about the address, and both times I say “Falkenstrasse, downtown.” The cabby doesn’t put the destination into his GPS. We drive. Because I visit Zurich occasionally, I’m feeling that our route is somewhat circuitous. At some point, the driver realizes that he is lost. He turns toward me. “I mix up Falkenstrasse with Walchestrasse,” he declares angrily. “Always,” he adds. “That always happens to me.”
Walchestrasse and Falkenstrasse lie about two-and-a-half miles apart by car. In Zurich, that amounts to about 15 francs and a good 30 minutes. I can’t help myself: “It would be simpler with the GPS.” He: “I don’t need a GPS. I have a GPS in my head.” Me: “But it’s obvious that it’s not working.” He: Walchestrasse and Falkenstrasse are the only ones I get confused ” Then after a short pause “. . . and Street 1 with Street 2. Always.” When I remark that he could learn the differences between them, he retorts that this only happens to him once or twice a year. I give up, watch Zurich pass by, and make a note of this story for a new growth tip.
Your focus this week: Before the week is out, learn something new and significant, and wake up to the fact that you can’t rely solely on what you already know and what you can already do. Whoever “always” makes the same mistake is either ignorant, indifferent, or has a learning disability.

© 2013, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.

Score Just One More Goal–of Costs and Revenues

Friday, December 20th, 2013

A former trainee once said that the number of goals scored in a soccer game is relatively immaterial, as long as you score one more goal than you give up. That’s right. This is an amazingly good fit when it comes to the topic of “growth.” You may indeed have costs. But as long as revenues exceed costs, there’s cash left over. I intentionally don’t write “profit” because otherwise, someone would point out to me that write-offs can still spoil the results, even though they are not operating costs. But you know what I mean to say.
Businesspeople and managers who focus up front on generating revenues from customers – and by that I mean profitable revenues, of course – are generally more successful than those whose focus is a desperate dispute over how to lower costs. Naturally, it’s easier to concentrate on costs because in doing so, we need concern ourselves only with ourselves, and not with unpredictable customers. And of course, costs must be kept track of and prevented from going through the roof. But – and this is a big “but” – your company’s future and its growth develop from good value that’s paid for and from benefiting the customer, not from minimizing costs.
Company managers make a good impression not by cutting back, but by building up; not by fleeing something, but by advancing toward something. Some few company managers will make that painful discovery if and when we return to full employment.

© 2013, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.

Mandat Growth Tip of the Day: Reexamine Your Attitude

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Do you like people? Do you run a business? If the answer to the first question is “No.” or “Well, . . .” and the answer to the second question is “Yes,” then you’ve got a problem.
Time and again, we see first-class managers deriding the very people they lead, or complaining about them, or constantly acting superior. But nothing good comes from this kind of leadership. If you have managerial responsibility, you have to like people. You must accept people with all their strengths and weaknesses and be willing to support them in their work as best you can. Each sarcasm, each expression of malice, each act of arrogance is misguided.
Reexamine your attitude. You won’t be happy if you behave as if you are the best person around. You will be happy as a manager or businessman or -woman only when you respect, accept, and encourage the people you work with. To the best of your ability.

© 2013, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.

Guido’s Personal View: The Griping Must Stop!

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

It’s always the other guys. Incompetent politics, the mean boss, truculent colleagues, dumb customers, overly-curious neighbors, or the always-inappropriate weather. Someone else is always to blame for our misfortune. Wrong! Independently of whether we are happy or sad, we are the ones who must take our fate in hand.
The griping is annoying. Regrettably, it grows ever louder. Have we already forgotten how valuable it is that we have a huge amount of freedom? Or is the risk inherent in freedom too great? Otherwise, why do calls for ever more government grow louder. Here’s the news: The government won’t fix it. We are the government! Forgotten that already? Do we really want to return to conditions as they were in the GDR? That didn’t work out so well.
No, if we really want to grow, we have to recognize first that taking on manageable risk offers a high degree of security and second, that we are essentially responsible for our own success. Success and failure are clearly defined by how people react to things that have happened. It is what it is. Our reaction to it decides how things move forward. We consume our energy when we shift the blame to someone else and continue to gripe. When we accept the situation and spring to action stations, that will carry us forward.
We’ll do just fine. So let’s stop griping.

© 2013, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.

“We got the windows painted, boss! Now, what do we do with the frames?”

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Do you ever marvel that your employees just work to rule, that they only do what someone tells them to do, and that as a result you feel that you are the only one who stresses new thoughts and ideas? Well, that’s on you, whether it’s just your feeling that way or it’s actually true.
If without any real evidence, you feel as described above, then you have a perceptual problem that you should investigate. If the situation is in fact as described above, then you have a leadership problem that you must remedy without delay. Your employees – most of them, anyway – are adults, who can vote, start a family, and make their own decisions. If you discover this not to be the case in your company, then you probably haven’t given your employees the scope they need in order to make decisions.
Ask your employees what you can do to encourage decision-making – in the sense of a jointly-decided course of action – at the worker-level, to open to employees the possibility of embracing responsibility and sparking innovation. Ask them where you personally are a hindrance. See to it that employees who have shown themselves worthy of responsibility actually get more of it.
In short, see to it that the question “We got the windows painted, boss! Now, what do we do with the frames?” never arises in the future.
(By the way, I borrowed this witticism from a manager at a client’s business. If find it superb. Many thanks!)

© 2013, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.

Mandat Growth Tip of the Day: Turn Free Services into Profit Makers

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Too much money is left on the table. Specifically, today it’s about conferring with your team over which of the services that you currently offer at no charge that you can begin charging for.
You should suddenly put a price tag on things that until now we have done free of charge? That’s right.
Examples? Gladly:
• Special delivery service: Especially often, especially early, especially late, especially timely. . .
• Special accessibility for consultations: On weekends, outside business hours, especially quick reaction . . .
• Special added value: Special regard for clients’ wishes, individuality, exclusivity . . .
You are in the best position to know which services you could charge for. It is a question either of services that have sneaked unnoticed, one-at-a-time, into the basic service you offer, or of services that are not billable because – again allegedly – to do otherwise would make you uncompetitive. Over time, they add up to considerable extra effort and expense that you must render without compensation. But that’s no good as a premise for growth.
Talk it over with your customers. But please, in a way that stresses the value they receive. You will discover that many customers are quite understanding once they appreciate the benefit.

© 2013, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.