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.