Archive for the ‘Guido’s Personal View’ Category

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.

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.

Risk or Regulation/Rules: Which Do You Prefer

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Life is dangerous, no doubt about it—especially if you believe those who concentrate only on life’s hazards. Anything can happen. But most of the things that can happen, won’t happen. They simply will not occur. This fact doesn’t protect us from regulators, who never tire of wanting to write rules, just in case something might happen.

We can’t protect ourselves from everything. Life carries with it some residual level of risk, which is comparatively low, especially in Germany. Meanwhile, the regulation-frenzy waxes apace, or so it seems. Conversations about the requirement to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. Twenty-mile-per-hour speed-limits sprawling into silly places. Email that can be delivered only between the hours of 7:00 am and 6:00 pm. The list grows, haphazardly. Instead of betting on citizens’ improving judgment, instead of counting on their learning how to assess danger, we are burdened with regulations of questionable value in an effort to protect us from unavoidable catastrophe. Companies are almost exactly as active as legislators in this endeavor.

I would wish only that we placed more value on explaining connections. I would wish only that citizens and employees be taken seriously, and that more time was spent on persuasion than on creating laws and regulations. Doing so takes longer, but the payoff is greater.

What did Hans Andersson—in his day H&M’s regional manager for South Korea and Japan—say to me during one of our conversations right at the time of the tsunami and the Fukishima catastrophe? “Mr. Quelle, you cannot control a tsunami. You have to rely on company values and managers’ judgment to do the right thing.”

Enough said.

 

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

Guido’s Personal View: Should Everyone Share (Equally) in the Profits? No!

Saturday, May 24th, 2014

Whenever things are going well for big companies—automobile manufacturers in particular—special payments for performance make news: 8,140 euros for technicians at BMW; 8,200 euros for employees at Porsche; 2,541 euros at Daimler; 6,900 euros at Audi; 6,200 euros at VW—the list goes on.

Of course, that’s great for the workers. Yet, each worker probably did not achieve as much as every other. It doesn’t help that there is no consideration of hours worked by each individual, as at Porsche. It is not unreasonable to assume that, at Porsche, Daimler, Audi, and all the other companies that distribute lump “profit sharing” or “bonuses,” there are some who do more and others who do less. But when everyone receives the same premium, then it also goes to those who exerted themselves less, who accomplished less, and who perhaps were more often ill.

That is not only not fair, this device is also likely to increase resentment. It is similar to the situation in school or in college when some participants in a project are indeed present, but they sit back and watch the world go by, while others work hard toward the intended goal, day-in and day-out. Afterward, if all of them get the same grade because the teacher or professor is making it easy for himself, then that is unfair. And it doesn’t help to use the team concept as an excuse. Moreover, salaries under this arrangement tend to please unions, against which cookie-cutter profit sharing is not an intelligent management tool. It would be better to let high-achievers have a disproportionately large share. In any case, the less-effective receive a base salary—not all that low in the automobile industry—for which you should expect at least a some results. Or am I mistaken? Admittedly, things would become a little more complicated, because it requires individual treatment, and thus greater effort from management.

But leveling down has never been an engine for growth.

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

Dear Growth Critics, Just Get on with It!

Saturday, May 17th, 2014

Here is a plea to all critics of growth—along with a few ideas.

How about . . .

  • Significantly less pay (or at least frozen salaries)
  • A longer workweek, like it was, say, in the ’60s?
  • Wash dishes by hand.
  • Wash clothes by hand.
  • Write letters and (not even) faxes instead of sending emails.
  • Turn off the Internet.
  • Give up your car.

I could make still more suggestions. Oh, so you don’t want to begin with yourself? Everyone else has to get on board, too?

In all honesty, I can no longer listen to this talk about the dangers of growth. I would be delighted if for once, we looked at all that we and, above all, preceding generations have accomplished, and then press boldly forward.

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

Guido’s Personal View: Out with Consultant-Speak

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

A lot of us are familiar with the consultant’s buzzword threshing machine (which, by the way, is derived from the politician’s buzzword threshing machine): A little tool that makes possible assemblies of three unrelated components, each with a different concept, where the meaning of one of them is always apparent.

self-defeating analysis paralysis
disproportionate staff potential
innovative target-audience systems
board-suitable marketing multiplication

and so on.

Amusing? Yes but unfortunately, all too often the truth. And it our case, clients have beseeched us to remove “consultant-speak” from our documentation. We all make mistakes. But we have taken this to heart. We write and speak in such a way that our clients can understand us. That doesn’t mean that we oversimplify our language, reduce our lexicon. But it does mean that we don’t try to distinguish ourselves artificially through abstract consultant-speak. We want to save that for medical professionals

In this way, “growth potential expected to be realized by implementing a repositioning of prices” can become simply “growth through price increases.” Or a project: “How we can grow more stongly by raising prices.”

PS: I’ll gladly make available an Excel file with 24 of these three-word combos for the consultant’s buzzword threshing machine. And it’s free. Send me an email.

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

Urgently Wanted: “We”-Awareness and “I”-Awareness

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Does the clamor for an ever-larger role for government make you stop and think? Does it not increasingly bother you that “freedom” seems to have steadily less importance in the constellation of core values. It does me. Time and again, you hear that “the politicians,” “the state,” “the government, “the economy,” or simply “all of the above” are doing something wrong and that you can’t put it right, in any case. On the other hand, insofar there is a demand for public services, more is asked of the state. Those ideas are incompatible.

I’m looking for more “we”-awareness. We are the state. We elect the politicians. We determine who the government will be. And – that’s right – we are also “the economy.” We should challenge this instead of continuing to ignore it. We should become more involved in order to call attention to our particular issues. Beyond that, we should go a step further and recover that much sought-after “I”-awareness, because each and every one of us has considerably more room for maneuver than most of us seem to believe. “When seeking a helping hand, look no farther than the end of your arm,” goes the saying. How true.

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

Guido’s Personal View: Official Warning of Wind Gusts

Friday, April 25th, 2014

Nowadays, since the arrival of weather apps, “official warnings” are on the rise. It seems that every other day during the fall, we are officially warned of wind gusts. Such as: “There are wind gusts up to 40 mph.” I can’t remember having so many warnings of gusting winds, and I don’t think it’s because forecasting tools have improved. I’m also not talking about squalls, hurricane-force winds or more serious events. Just wind gusts. A brief gust of 40 mph might unsettle a sailor. In a city, on the other hand, it could simply be taken note of.

Increasingly, we are being deprived of our self-reliance. At night, people stop when the walk light is red, even though no vehicle is to be seen, and none is likely to come along anytime soon. We are warned of the absence of handrails on forest paths. Did your car conk out on you? We warned you. In the meantime, we have become accustomed to seeing a “hot” warning on every take-out cup of coffee. Really? As hot as all that? I’d rather have mine cold. “Caution: Cold!”

There is a notice, in the form or a pictograph attached to our RV, that’s supposed to save us from getting under way with the blackout curtain blocking the windshield and the front side-windows. Too bad. I’ve always wanted to try that. Flying blind in a six-wheeler. You can’t do anything these days.

Enough of sarcasm. We can do a lot in our businesses. First and foremost, we can encourage our employees to improve their judgment, to gain experience – which lead to their becoming more confident in every situation they may encounter. In the wake of this loss of self-reliance, we can – and should – have a different slogan: “Caution, independent-minded citizens.” That would also make a nice sign.

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

Guido’s Personal View: Sometimes, Just Keep Your Mouth Shut

Friday, March 7th, 2014

I’m sitting in business class on a Lufthansa flight to Zürich (this is equivalent to first class on US domestical flights, since there is no “First” within Europe), when I hear this short dialog play out between a man and a woman – apparently a couple – boarding the plane:

  • She: “OK, so what’s the difference between business class and economy?”
  • He: “The middle seat is empty, is all.”

Wrong.

  • You are permitted to check in at special counters where, as a rule, there is a shorter waiting time. That speeds things up.
  • There is a fast lane through security or there is a special security check. That speeds things up.
  • You can board earlier. That makes things more comfortable.
  • You can wait in the Lufthansa lounge without being a frequent-flier, Senator MasterCard holder, or HON Circle member. That makes things still more comfortable.
  • There is more space between rows. More comfortable.
  • There is something to eat on the plane which, especially with very early flights, can substitute for breakfast.
  • Your luggage has priority and is placed on the conveyor ahead of other items. Quicker.
  • And, oh yes, the middle seat is in fact empty, which makes it possible to work without your neighbor’s peeking over your shoulder.

I don’t care to promote business- or first-class flights here; that should surely be obvious. And by the way, a first-class flight to the U.S. can save a few hour’s waiting time at immigration, because first-class passengers are the first to exit the aircraft. At JFK in New York, this can mean that a first-class passenger is already having a cup of coffee in Manhattan, while an economy-class passenger on the same plane is still standing in line at immigration.

But to me, this is not about which class is better. That is for everyone to decide for himself. For me this is about sometimes simply keeping your mouth shut, when you haven’t a clue.

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

Guido’s Personal View: The Value of Stock Prices as Growth Indicators

Friday, February 14th, 2014

Stock prices are not useful as growth indicators. Stock prices reveal equally less about the actual value of a company, about the quality of either its products or its employees, or about its prospects for growth. Stock prices are largely shaped by irrationality. How else can it be explained that companies are regularly “overvalued,” that due diligence leads to results entirely different from those that price considerations alone would suggest.

Those who would really like to grapple with a company’s profitable growth are not spared from grappling with the doers (and not just the top echelon), with the process of innovation, with the array of products, and with products still under development. The are not spared from informing themselves about sales and marketing, nor from assessing opportunity and risk. The stock price is a number that leads you astray, encouraging optimization for the near term. Actually, businesses that really want to grow profitably end up pulling out of the stock exchange. A wise move from time to time, it often leads to the long-term thinking that is required for profitable growth, as we at Mandat understand it. Good for the listed companies – and there are a few of them! – that don’t give in to pressure from analysts and, whatever their stock prices, pursue a successful, long-term strategy.

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