Archive for August, 2014

The Prophet in His Own House DOES Count!

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

“A prophet counts for nothing in his own house.” You may know this saying from the Bible. It is often only too true—and it doesn’t apply to your own company alone. How often in our projects do we confirm insights that had already been gained internally in a similar way, but not taken seriously? How few clients do we have in Dortmund and the Ruhr in comparison to significantly more distant locations and to the world in general? Munich, Hamburg, Hanover, and also Zürich, Prague, Warsaw, Vienna, Amsterdam, Estonia, and London are but a few of the places outside Dortmund where we have project partners. But we are a “given” in Dortmund. A potential client in Dortmund once said to me that he would not hire a Dortmund consultancy because we are all probably networked together, and he was concerned that internal matters would get out. You need say no more.

Across from Mandat is the main office of Elmos, a chip-maker whose chips are built into virtually every automobile in the world. These chips are produced directly across from us, in our technology park. Is this appreciated? No, it’s just Elmos; you,ve certainly heard of them. Diagonally across from Mandat sits the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics, one of the world’s leading institutes in the field of logistics. It recently received a royal visit from the Netherlands. Are they really so important? You bet they are. Those are two examples from our immediate surroundings.

Look around. What you take for granted might be quite impressive to others. What your own people tell you will be right more often than you think. Also, talk up your company, about how special it is. Because possibly, the people with whom you regularly associate, the people in all your networks will not have that on their radar. We’re always saying such things, too. There is excellent guidance toward growth to be had in Dortmund, and you don’t have to be headquartered in Munich or Düsseldorf to get it.

 
© 2014, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.

Ready, Set, Grow! This Week: The Carrot in Front of Your Nose

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Ready Set Grow
From time to time during a conversation about a possible project, especially with potential client companies of a certain size and complexity, we hear this: “Mr. Quelle, do you take into account at all in your fee that we can award additional projects if you and your colleagues do a good job?” Translated, that means: “Best if you don’t charge anything at all. That way, we’ll get something and you won’t. Oh, and by the way, we might be able to do more deals like this in the future.”

Usually, I don’t say anything and draw up a fair offer that pointedly ignores the implicit demand for low fees. The carrot of potential follow-on projects isn’t even a consideration until the first project pays off for all concerned.

Don’t let your clients dangle a carrot in front of your nose. You can’t hope for possible future business; such little hypothetical games don’t pay your bills. Also, make that unmistakably clear to your sales department. Cave in once, and the price never gets back to where it ought to be. Furthermore, have you ever once pushed a full grocery cart to the supermarket cashier and said something like this? “Just charge me half. I’ll be sure to come back more often.”

© 2014, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved. © Sprinter: mezzotint_fotolia – Fotolia.com

Ready, Set, Grow! This Week: Lead Consistently

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Ready Set Grow
Leadership themes continue to be a component of our projects to create profitable growth. It is systematically managed weakly, inconsistently, or not at all. In particular, inconsistency is what leads to confusion in the organization. On that point, a direct quote from an employee at a recent project: “Actually, I could do whatever I wanted; it wouldn’t matter, anyway. Say no more.

Leadership needs a direction. If the direction (strategy) is not clear, it can’t be sensibly managed. From the opposite perspective, if the strategy is clear, there is no excuse for inconsistent, directionless leadership. That is why we always take pains to dust off the strategy first of all. As a result, the underlying excuse for weak leadership vanishes.

A lack of consistency in leadership—and a leadership culture that leaves much to be desired—are significant brakes on growth. Leadership is taught a only a few colleges, but it is presumed in business. What are the standards for good leadership? How do managers behave when a good friend in the company makes a mistake compared to someone else with whom he is not acquainted? Is the same standard applied? Are people aware of consequences, and are they adhered to? Leadership is not a by-product.

Provide for consistent, directed leadership. And don’t be like Steve Jobs. To a couple of department heads who came to him with a dispute, he said: “Settle it, or both of you are out of here!”

© 2014, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved. © Sprinter: mezzotint_fotolia – Fotolia.com

Guido’s Personal View: Dubious or Hypocritical?

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

In city traffic: An electric car attracts my attention. It sports eco-bumper-stickers and “Nuclear power? No, thank you!” I ignore the two stickers (while asking myself which wind farm supplied the electricity to charge the vehicle), but I like the car. Right smart. Then it happens: The driver sticks his arm out and flicks his cigarette butt onto the street. Goodbye, good image.

Hello, eco-hypocrisy: drivers of electric cars, who flick cigarette butts onto the street; socialists who cherish and love the Elysée Palace and all its comforts and also know to expand these comforts at the expense of the nation; leftists who preach water and drink wine. It’s at least dubious, and in many cases, I call it hypocritical.

Either-or. All, or nothing at all. If I would like everybody to be equal, I can’t be more equal. Animal Farm sends greetings. If I accept that there are differences, must be and should be differences, I cannot preach equality. If I want to set an example of ecological propriety, I cannot willfully, avoidably pollute the environment without damaging my credibility

If you’re going to take a firm position, look before you leap. Perhaps the glass house you’re living in is smaller than you think.

© 2014, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.

Ready, Set, Grow! This Week: A/The Hole in the Brand

Monday, August 11th, 2014

Ready Set Grow
On the autobahn, we overtake a car towing a trailer, which has a cover that advertises patio awnings. In the cover, a big hole. Trust in awnings needs to be built in some other way.

Hartmut Jenner, CEO of Kärcher, in his presentation at the 9th International Brands Colloquium: It is simply unacceptable for a field representative of Kärcher, a company that stands for cleanliness, to drive around in an untidy or dirty car. Enough said.

Concierge over the telephone of a Mercedes-Benz branch office, who hadn’t understood my name: “I’ll gladly connect you. May I please have your name again, sir? —Exemplary. No longer do any of us want to hear a gruff, “What did you say your name was?”

Brands are forever being damaged by concretions of details. Details that you don’t realize at first. Details that creep in partly unnoticed. Details seen by managers as not important important enough become, in many circumstances, something to pay attention to. But there are such details, details that express, particularly in their external effects, how your company’s brand presents itself to outsiders.

Does your receptionist greet your customers as you would like? Does the deportment of your employees in sales, in customer service, in technology, and in subsidiaries represent you as you would like? What about the telephone switchboard? And your correspondence, not to mention your emails? Is there a “hole” in your brand somewhere? Then patch it, or even better, Get a new cover.

© 2014, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved. © Sprinter: mezzotint_fotolia – Fotolia.com

Guido’s Personal View: Professional Politicians

Friday, August 8th, 2014

More and more, the job description “professional politician” is becoming a reality. Increasingly in elected legislatures, we find those who have no profession other than that of politician. Just have a look at the ballots. I would welcome it if politicians knew from their own experience what they were talking about. Someone who would like to adopt some measure or other, either to the advantage or to the disadvantage of business, ought at some time to have been an entrepreneur—to cite just one example. If you listen to some politicians—even prominent ones—you can tell that they talk about the topic from a kind of distance that can only suggest that they are unfamiliar with the implications of their positions. That’s a shame.

A tennis coach doesn’t have to be the best tennis player, but he must know the techniques and the rules, as well as able to prove himself in a game. Or would you hire a greenhorn, if you wished to master the game of tennis? So why do we tolerate politicians who make a career of it, but who have never earned a red cent in commerce?

© 2014, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.

Hairdressers and Motivation

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

I still hear, over and over, that you need to motivate employees with good wages. Repeating this proposition ad infinitum doesn’t make it any more correct. Motivation comes from within. Management must create a framework for ensuring that employees’ intrinsic motivation can expand. To that end, management must show the way, expand opportunities, foster talent. Management must not motivate.

And certainly not with money. Wages are important, but as a hygiene factor, as an expression of expectations, and as a reward for achievement (the latter is easily forgotten). A lot of money doesn’t mean a lot of motivation. Wages for length of service don’t help much, either. Performance is what counts.

And now to hairdressers (and barbers). There continues to be a steady flow of people into the hairdressing profession. There are world championships in hairdressing. Many hairdressers, men and women alike, dream of someday having their own salon. Or they are quite satisfied merely to work with people every day. That cannot be accounted for by wages. Ask your hairdresser or barber sometime, why he or she took up the profession. I do so regularly, whenever someone new cuts my hair. Money plays no role. And raising the minimum wage doesn’t alter the situation.

Evidently, motivation has something to do with depth of interest or commitment. Now that may bitterly disappoint mechanistic executives, but it’s true. You have a duty.

© 2014, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.

Ready, Set, Grow! This Week: When You Have to Set Priorities, Do It in Sales

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Ready Set Grow
All of us have to set priorities. The “setting” accomplishes little by itself if subsequent actions don’t align with the priorities. In a company, with its mesh of relationships, with its often murky decision-making environment, it is important to be crystal clear in orienting these priorities toward expanding the business. Which begins in sales.

I have all too often experienced sales initiatives that didn’t happen, were implemented half-heartedly or even torpedoed because other priorities suddenly took center stage. But the best business-process optimization is of little use if it lacks direction, which must be identified by the market.

So, restructuring, reorganizing of processes, internal simplification: Yes, everything in due course (we also supervise numerous such projects), but please, don’t first concentrate on fine adjustments at the expense of focusing on the market. When a business-process reorganization takes place, then the Pareto Principle applies. Better to direct your efforts toward sales and its interfaces within the organization. Other processes will then soon clarify themselves. Is that less than perfect? To be sure, but as Einstein once said, “Better to be right in principle than to be perfect in detail.”

© 2014, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved. © Sprinter: mezzotint_fotolia – Fotolia.com