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Benchmarking – Keeping up with the neighbours

Benchmarking

BenchmarkingWhat if you want to improve the performance of your business or public service? You could study it carefully and hope to find inefficiencies and novel approaches. But maybe you could compare your practices to those of another organisation. That’s the essence of Benchmarking.

The idea of benchmarking is to compare yourself with others, to get new ideas from them, and to learn from what works for them. It’s a powerful idea that allowed Japanese manufacturing to catch up with and overtake the US. And then it helped the US regain lost ground, by codifying what the Japanese had learned, and the improvements they had made.

But it’s not universally loved. There are problems. That said, benchmarking is a big idea that every manager should be aware of.

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Authenticity – Congruence for the 21st Century

Authenticity

AuthenticityNobody likes a fraud… yet we tolerate them. Nobody wants to be a phoney… but we all let ourselves down on occasion. But regardless of our actions, we all value authenticity.

The challenge of course is not just to recognise it, and distinguish the authentic from the ersatz.

It’s to form a clear idea of what you mean by authenticity. Because in modern business and professional parlance, it’s become a bit of a chameleon.

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Branding: Creating a Relationship with your Customer

Branding: Creating a Relationship with your Customer

Branding: Creating a Relationship with your CustomerBranding started out as deliberate mutilation of cattle, to assert ownership. Now it’s about leaving more than a physical mark: it’s about creating an emotional connection.

Brand has arguably become as important as function and quality in the world of products and services. The craft and skills of branding experts are tuned to a high pitch. But that’s not to say there have been no missteps. And there’s been a backlash too.

So, let’s have a look at the big idea that is branding.

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Scientific Method

Scientific Method

Scientific MethodThere is no bigger idea than science. So, in this UN International Year of the Periodic Table, I want to celebrate what makes science so powerful: the almost equally big idea of the Scientific Method.

For managers, I’d sum up its utility with a quote from an old friend, Tony Quigley:

The alternative to evidence-based policy-making is policy-based evidence-making’

If you want your organisational decisions to carry heft and deliver results, you can do no better than to apply the scientific method to your management practices.
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Balanced Scorecard – It’s not just the Money

Balanced Scorecard - Kaplan and Norton

Balanced Scorecard - Kaplan and NortonHow can you be sure that your management team is balancing its attention across all the things that matter – rather than focusing solely on one thing: the money? The answer is that what gets measured gets managed. So you need to score yourself on a balanced scorecard.

That’s the insight that Robert Kaplan and David Norton gave us in a stand-out Harvard Business Review article, ‘Putting the Balanced Scorecard to Work‘. The article may date back to 1993, but it’s still one of HBR’s most-read must-read articles.

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SPIN Selling – Neil Rackham’s Scientific Sales

SPIN Selling

SPIN SellingThe secret to selling is creating an environment where people want to buy. And that’s the insight at the heart of Neil Rackham’s scientific approach to sales. He called it SPIN Selling, from the acronym that will guide you through the process.

SPIN Selling is one of the most widely known sales methodologies. It’s a best-selling book, and is promoted worldwide to companies of all sizes, by Rackham’s company, Huthwaite International.

But we’re not here to help with that promotion, but to assess what managers can learn from Rackham’s big idea.

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Mind Mapping – Getting Ideas onto a Page

Mind Mapping

Mind MappingLike many of our big ideas, mind mapping was not new. It introduced itself to a huge new audience, with whom it made the breakthrough from a niche idea to big idea.

In our case, mind maps were a gift from British educator, author and personality, Tony Buzan. And what a gift they were.

A mind map is a simple tool that helps with four vital tasks for any professional (or student):

  1. making notes
  2. sorting ideas
  3. creative thinking
  4. memory retention

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Millennials and Post Millennials – or Generations Y and Z

Millennials and Post-Millennials

MillennialsFirst, the millennials entered the workplace and now they are taking leadership roles.

Post-MillennialsAnd now their successors are coming too: the Post-millennials.

But who are the millennials and post-millennials. And what do they want?

The generational certainties that organisations have understood so well are becoming more complex as the early millennials are starting to make decisions, and the first post-millennials are entering into the workplace. But if you want to look to sociologists for answers, you’ll find they are most clear.

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Globalisation: Business, Politics, and Economics

Globalisation
Globalisation
Globalisation

In the early days of 2019, one Big Idea looks a little shaky. Ten years ago, its status seemed assured. Now its future is not so clear. What is Globalisation, and what is its future?

Sadly, I have no crystal ball, so any comments I make about the future of globalisation will be nothing more than opinion. But I can, at least, tell you a little about what this big idea is, and what it means for managers.

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Six Sigma – Reducing Defects

Six Sigma
Six Sigma
Six Sigma

In the world of quality, Six Sigma is one of the biggest names. Total Quality Management (TQM) may aim for zero defects. But Six Sigma aims to reduce defects down to a statistical blip – arguably a more realistic enterprise.

What makes Six Sigma such a compelling proposition is the vast asset base of tools and process that accompany the core idea. What makes it a big idea is the impact it has had on manufacturing, combined with its wider potential in other domains.

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