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Multi-Level Marketing (MLM): Pyramid Schemes?

Multi-Level Marketing

Multi-Level MarketingI’m sure Multi-Level Marketing has been around since ancient days. Send out street urchins to sell stuff and take a big chunk of their income. Get them to recruit other homeless kids and let them have a share of what their protegé earns.

But Multi-Level Marketing (or MLM) is big business now, with one estimate* putting it at around the US$200 billion per annum mark, worldwide.

So, we have to ask:

  • What is Multi-Level Marketing?
  • How does it work?
  • Is it a good way to earn a living (here’s a spoiler: no)?
  • And how do you spot an MLM scheme if offered one?

Continue reading Multi-Level Marketing (MLM): Pyramid Schemes?

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New Product Development – NPD: Something Shiny to Sell

New Product Development - NPD: Something Shiny to Sell

New Product Development - NPD: Something Shiny to SellWe take it for granted when new products appear on the market. Perhaps they were made by elves! Well, they must have been made by someone, who followed a process. And that process was the  New Product Development, or NPD, process.

The New Product Development process is now mature and well understood. There are many ways to articulate it, and none is that different from what mediaeval craftsmen would have used. But it’s still a big idea. And it’s an idea every manager should at least be familiar with.

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360 Degree Feedback: What Everyone Thinks of You

360 Degree Feedback

360 Degree FeedbackOrganisational life revolves around performance monitoring and measuring. Often it’s a single person who will assess your performance. But what if they had access to the observations of all sorts of people who work with you in different ways? That’s the big idea that 360 Degree Feedback represents.

The idea and practice of 360 degree feedback has been through rises and falls since it first appeared in the 1950s. And it really took off in the 1990s. But it is as important today as it’s ever been. So, let’s examine 360 degree feedback from a number of angles.

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Servant Leadership: Lightning Rod

Servant Leadership

Servant LeadershipServant Leadership is one of my personal favourite Big Ideas in the field of management and leadership. It’s been a discipline to push it this far back in our series of Big Ideas.

And we did cover Servant Leadership within our Management Thinkers series. The article on Robert Greenleaf describes the genesis of the idea.

So, in this article, I want to discuss the idea of Servant Leadership in the way I understand it, and introduce a second voice to Greenleaf’s: that of Max De Pree*.

Continue reading Servant Leadership: Lightning Rod

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Paradigm Shift: A Revolutionary Change in Thinking

Paradigm Shift

Paradigm ShiftSometimes a Big Idea gets inflated beyond its carrying capacity. People latch onto it without fully understanding it. It becomes over-used and, despite its validity, it becomes devalued. Such is the fate of Thomas Kuhn’s idea of the Paradigm Shift.

How many times in your life have you noticed that, somehow, there has been a substantial change in the way you – and others around you – think about something important? It seems to happen more and more often. Is this a real effect or what getting older feels like?

Or is it just because we have a label for these changes? We call them paradigm shifts. In the 1980s we might have called them quantum leaps, with even less justification. No, they are just changes.

So, what then is a paradigm shift, and how do they come about?

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Growth Mindset: Putting it to Work

Growth Mindset: Putting it to Work

Growth Mindset: Putting it to WorkFour years ago we wrote about Growth Mindset, in our Management Thinkers series. We profiled the originator of the idea, Carol Dweck, and introduced the subject.

If there was any concern then that Growth Mindset may be little more than a fad, further research has only strengthened Dweck’s early conclusions. So, it seems timely to return to the topic.

While this article stands alone, I would recommend you to review the earlier article first. It’s good context. Because, to avoid repeating it, we’re going to use this article to look at how you can put the Big Idea of Growth Mindset to work in your workplace.

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PDCA Cycle: Continuous Improvement with Shewhart and Deming

PDCA Cycle

PDCA CycleThere aren’t many ideas so big that we use them every day – often without thinking. But the PDCA Cycle, Plan-Do-Check-Act, is one.

The PDCA Cycle comes with many names and none. It’s pretty much something humans have been doing since the dawn of time. But that doesn’t diminish the idea.

So, what is the PDCA Cycle, and how has it evolved?

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Flow: The Optimal State for a Human Being

Flow

FlowThe Flow State has been described by the first researcher to study it in depth, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, as the optimal state for a human being.

When we are in a flow state, there’s nothing more we want, than to continue doing what we are doing, to completion. So, flow states are great for getting things done.

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The Long Tail: Infinite Consumer Choice

The Long Tail

The Long TailThe Long Tail is the other half of the same chart we saw in an earlier Big Ideas article: the Pareto Principle. Vilfredo Pareto took an interest in the head of the chart, where a small number of people accounted for a huge proportion of wealth. In 2006, Chris Anderson published a book that looked at the huge number of products that form the remainder, when you exclude the few that account for the majority of sales.

How many categories of item does Amazon list? I found the statistic from January 2018 that:

Amazon lists more than 3 billion products across 11 marketplaces worldwide.

But most of their sales and revenue come from the top few highest performing goods in each category. A small number of books may sell thousands a month. But there are millions of books that rarely sell any in a given month… or year.

Continue reading The Long Tail: Infinite Consumer Choice

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The Slow Movement: Right-speeding

The Slow Movement

The Slow MovementAs I started researching this article, I found myself speed-reading an interview with Carl Honoré. Was the interview dull? No. Rather, it was my need to finish and move on. This is what the Slow Movement is pushing back, gently, against.

The Slow Movement is a corrective. While some proponents advocate slowing down for its own sake, I think the most persuasive advocates of slow are those who see it as being about slowing down to the right pace. I’ll call that right speeding.

Continue reading The Slow Movement: Right-speeding

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