Archive for February, 2014

Mandat Growth Tip of the Day: Take Some Time for Yourself

Friday, February 28th, 2014

This past Friday, as the gates of Seeon Abby closed once again behind the participants of the 10th International Brands Colloquium, everyone agreed: You must take time for yourself if you want to sharpen your business, your brand, your strategy, and to prepare for the future. Nothing happens “just like that.” At least nothing good.

The participants took two days to learn from each other, to tweak their own strategy, to pick up new ideas. Monastery Seeon is far enough away from the temptations of civilization to encourage remaining on site and to foster dialog among fellow participants. Mission accomplished.

Your focus today: Think about the next occasion when you might take time to work purposefully on your own future and that of your business over a longer stretch of time. It doesn’t have to be only the two days of the next International Brands Colloquium on September 18-19, 2014. It might begin much sooner. When?

PS: Practice what you preach: Today and tomorrow, I will spend time in Switzerland to fine tune a particular program of development for Mandat with one Europe’s top experts in the field.

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

The Escalation of “SALE”

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

“SALE” seems to be becoming a brand in itself. Not only do German shopping-centers and -districts teem with shrieking red signs that vie for (my) attention, but “SALE” rarely offers an opportunity to obtain something of value at a lower price. Beyond that, retailers are looking for ways to top “SALE” – according to the principle: “If everyone is shouting, then I simply have to shout louder.”

One result is shown here, seen in a Dortmund display window of a chain store that sells clothing – I’d just as soon not speak of “fashion” in this context. I hope that something a little better than this escalation of “SALE” occurs to the people in charge who want to create profitable growth. “Final SALE” won’t be sufficient.

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

Mandat Growth Tip of the Day: Keep Your Foot on the Gas through the Curves

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Growth does not proceed linearly, and most notably, growth ventures in which we participate almost never come off without a hitch. Keeping your foot on the gas all the time – except when the road is straight – is hardly helpful, because occasionally you also encounter curves, including switchbacks, and even dead ends from time to time. And that demands a well-considered approach to energy management. Sticking with the automotive metaphor, what we see instead is that some teams tend to enter a normal curve at a reasonable speed, and then take their foot off the gas in the middle of it. We know from driving that doing so must end badly.

Keep your foot on the gas through the curves. Use your forward momentum to stay in the groove. Do not let the tail break loose. The task of the leadership in growth projects consists of giving the teams involved the essential confidence needed to master unfamiliar terrain – something that is encountered in virtually every growth project. As long as the entry speed is reasonable, don’t let someone take his foot off the gas out of apprehension.

For a start today, look closely: Where can you foresee curves in your growth project? How can you prepare your teams for them today?

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

Mandat-Website: Major Technical Update

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

There will be major technical updates on our site between Thursday, 2/20, 8:00 AM CET and Friday, 2/21, 8:00 PM CET. During this time our website is likely to be down. My regular blogposts will continue on Monday, 2/24, 7:00 AM CET.

Tolerating Damage to the Company

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

During a break in a workshop, a team member from a recent project asked me what he should do about two employees in his department who couldn’t stand each other and one of whom refused to work with the other – something that was necessary and especially so because it had to do with the transfer of know-how. I asked a few questions and made a few suggestions about what someone in such circumstances might do, but the manager repeatedly emphasized that he had already done all of that.

There are two possibilities:

  • Either the manager had not sufficiently considered the matter, had taken the wrong approach, had proceeded on false assumptions. Or there remained a few things that the manager could very well have done, although he felt that he had already done all of them. In this instance, at least a few essential operational issues relate to the manager.
  • Or everything really was tried to save the situation, and one or both of the employees really don’t want to work with each other. This situation damages the company. If there exists no compelling reason for it in the form of blatant misconduct (such as harassment, violence, thievery, or the like) from one of the two employees, then the manager should discharge both of them – unless, of course, one can be identified as the original culprit. In that case, only the problem employee needs to go. Otherwise, the manager deserves to he relieved of his duties for tolerating this injury.

I find very effective the method that Steve Jobs used (one of the people around Jobs’ once assured me that this actually happened): “You two either get control of this, or both of you get out.”

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

Virgin Atlantic: Very Attentive!

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Waiting for my first class flight with Singapore Airlines to Frankfurt on Valentine’s Day at JFK, I was not only greeted by the Virgin Atlantic team at their lounge with “Happy Valentine’s Day,” but also was presented the handwritten note below. I call this very attentive.

Valentines Day Virgin Atlantic































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

Mandat Growth Tip of the Day: Make a Single Point

Monday, February 17th, 2014

Next time you anticipate a longer-than-usual explanation in order to elucidate something to someone, one-fifth of the way through the time alloted for the endeavor, if you are providing the explanation “from the gut,” make a point. And take a breath.

… … …

In most cases, tedious explanations are neither necessary nor helpful. All too often, repetitions crop up because the “transmitter” thinks that the “receiver” has not yet understood his message. But the best test is to stop and check whether the receiver has perhaps already understood everything.  Happily, that is often the case. You will also find that your receiver often has questions that you never considered in your presentation.

Try it out. In addition to the precision you gain, you will also save some time along the way.


© 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.

Mandat Growth Tip of the Day: Be Prepared for the Foreseeable

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

It’s always the same: Despite predictable onslaughts of customers we, as customers, find that businesses, restaurants, theaters are not prepared for this sudden increase. Electronics retailers begin a much-advertised special promotion and are amazed that masses of customers crowd around the store even before it opens. Sales staff or even advisers? Too few on hand. It is the weekend. The weather forecast couldn’t be better. And the beer garden adds no more staff than were working on the most recent Thursday evening. After excellent reviews of a theater preview, opening night is all but overwhelmed by the throng. Additional showings? None.

We continue to emphasize: Be prepared for success. If this sounds somewhat abstract, let’s make it more tangible: Today focus on a foreseeable onslaught of customers, and talk it through with your employees. Plan things so that your campaigns are actually successful with your customers. And then should it happen, you’ll have plenty of resources at the ready.

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

Perception and Facts. Today: Miami

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

I am writing this from the Fontainebleau, Miami Beach, where I had a few meetings this week. The hotel has 1,500 rooms (not beds, rooms!). Not long ago, it was renovated (partly rebuilt in sections)—unconfirmed number follows—at a cost of one billion dollars. As of today, it is again fully booked because outside, the Miami International Boat Show is getting under way. Preparations have been going on for days. Temporary docks have been built, elaborated pavilions erected—an unbelievable bustle that I can see from the balcony of my suite. Every day there are more boats, which maneuver alongside each other with a precision measured in fractions of inches. The number of visitors’ boats is also climbing. By the way, when we speak of “boats” here, we’re really talking about ships.

The restaurants in downtown Miami and here in Miami Beach are full; in some of them—Prime 112, for example—it’s difficult to get a reservation, even on a normal weekday. The streets are full. People drive to work. Real-estate prices are becoming attractive once again. This economy is in a strong recovery. Just some observations. However to some extent, the perception still differs substantially from these facts because mentally, many people are still in recession-mode. Especially here in the south of Florida, they are still in shock from the most recent crisis. This in turn prevents them from seeing the facts—and appreciating them.

Try not to ignore the obvious. Don’t let your thoughts dilute observable fact. Don’t listen to economic-development forecasts, which in any case exist only to be corrected in the near future. I just read in the news that economists were “surprised” by the growth in China’s exports. Then why do we need economists? Observe, draw your own conclusions, form your own opinions, and take action. Consider this: We are the ones who shape reality.

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