The curious start to a rugby match: A tale of two anthems

March 2, 2015

The Ireland team celebrate winning the RBS 6 Nations Championship in the dressing room 15/3/2014

On March 1st, 2015, something strange happened at the start of a Six Nations International rugby match between Ireland and England. It was something I have never experienced before, although I must have watched several hundred such occasions since my schooldays

My story has some of the elements of a Sherlock Holmes puzzle, and I’ve described it in that spirit. Imagine, if you will, the following, as recounted in a message sent to the great detective.

Dear Mr Holmes,

I approach on behalf of a personage who holds high office in the land who has requested my help. Forgive me for disturbing you on a matter which is baffling to me. I can only hope that through the brilliance of your intellect that progress might be possible. Your success in the case of the missing Cambridge three-quarter encourages me that you will be prepared to help in this instance too.

I refer to an event that took place before the start of last Sunday’s rugby match. You will recall it was played in Dublin between the two undefeated teams in the annual Six Nations tournament. My state of agitation comes from an incident that occurred as I was watching the build-up to the match from the comfort of my sitting room, courtesy of the BBC’s televisual reporting

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Will new leader Allen Leighton introduce Bill Gate’s creative capitalism to the Co-op?

February 25, 2015

Rochdale PioneersSUBSCRIBERS ARE ADVISED THAT THIS POST WILL BE UPDATED REGULARLY

Newly appointed chairman Allen Leighton faces an existential battle at The Co-operative Group which may serve as a case study for the kind of creative capitalism proposed recently by Bill Gates

Bill Gates has recently called for more efforts directed towards creative capitalism. This raises the immediate question: what is it? At very least, there is need to examine institutions such as The Co-operative group which challenged capitalism yet attempted to create structures within the capitalist system rather than seeking its violent overthrow.

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Three Keys to Culture Transformation: Lead, engage, align

February 23, 2015

Diana Rivenburgh

by Diana Rivenburgh

What causes cultures to run amok? Why do people do things they never thought they would? Perhaps the most important question is “what can we do to create ethical, high performance, engaged cultures?”

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Michele Ferrero (1924-2015): Obituary of a discrete global leader

February 18, 2015

Ferrero-Rocher-PyramidThe notion of servant leadership is open the accusation of self-serving hypocrisy masking as humility and piety. Michele Ferrero’s life refutes such charges in his case

The Guardian noted:

When Michele Ferrero took over his family’s confectionery firm on the death of his uncle, Giovanni, in 1957, he wrote a letter to his employees. “I pledge myself to devote all my activities and all my efforts to this company,” it said. “And I assure you that I shall only feel satisfied when I have managed, with concrete results, to guarantee you and your children a safe and tranquil future.”

Ferrero was an entrepreneur of a kind Italy throws up from time to time, inspired more by the social doctrines of the Roman Catholic church than by any belief in the merits of the free market.

The case of Nutella

Michele’s father Pietro converted a family pastry shop into a chocolate factory with what became a world-beating product in Nutella, a Business School case favourite. Pietro lived in a region south of Turin famous for its natural products including hazel nuts, a key ingredient of Nutella. Michelle demonstrated his flair for confectionery and marketing when he reformulated and re-branded the choconut spread. Today the product takes around 20% of the world’s supply of hazel nuts.

The Ferrero group

Pietro instilled in Michele a passion for confectionery and product innovation. His son converted the local business into The Ferrero group, a global giant, making him one of the wealthiest of the world’s billionaires.

The business he inherited stands alongside other firms with a socially responsible ethos which transcends the structure of a CSR department. There are parallels with the Tata group of India, and various firms founded under the spirit of what Weber called ‘the protestant ethic’  including another confectionery giant, the former Cadburys group.

Its treatment of employees is at very least of high quality and in many aspects best-practice. The firm initiated the practice of collecting and returning employees to their villages. Medical care and other welfare services are of high quality. Ferrero’s workers have never gone on strike. The organization is active in awareness of and sustainability in the developing countries from which it sources its products.

 The iconic praline

The Ferrero Rocher brand has produced one of the most famous of images, that of the gold-wrapped praline product served at the exclusive party to guests of his excellency. When shown at cinemas, the ad always produces a humorous if ironic response at the incongruance between the product and the intended imagery of top-of-the-market tastes in confectionery.

By your acts shall you be known

The actions of Bill Gates and other modern titans of industry have helped us rediscover The socially responsible entrepreneur. We need not look for other-worldly piety. Critics point to Michel Fererro’s decision to leave Italy for Monaco under threat from The Red Brigades. He remained in tax-enlightened exile. He made no efforts to project or protect his public image.

He deserves to be remembered for his contributions to the well-being of his employees, and the satisfaction of consumers of his company’s products.


England v Australia Cricket Preview: Boycott v Morgan

February 13, 2015

Eoin Morgan

A day before the start of the Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand Geoffrey Boycott provides a typically dismissive critique of the competence of the recently appointed England captain Eoin Morgan

Morgan, according to Boycott is “not as good a batsman as he thinks he is”, adding that maybe he is not even as good a batsman as other people think he is (excluding the prescient Boycott, naturally).

Why?

It is not difficult to come up with an explanation for Boycott’s remarks. Since retiring from Cricket, he has become a successful commentator known for his portrayal of a stereotype forthright Yorkshire man, never slow to articulate his opinions on the stupidity of others who might be tempted to offer alternative views.

This is probably a matter of calculated style, honed on the sports after-dinner circuit, where a certain kind of blokeish humour is almost obligatory. The exceptions are those with the languidness of the privileged classes who dominate Cricket’s elite, and who remain among Geoffrey’s bitterest targets for scorn and abuse.

I don’t think Boycott chooses a target just in order to be controversial. He is often making an intelligent point in his well-crafted remarks. He is more than intelligent enough to realize that he himself is now patronized in a tokenistic and school-boyish way by his fellow-commentators who tend to refer to him as ‘Sir’ Geoffrey.

The run maker

Geoffrey Boycott broke countless records as an England opening batsman. His self-obsession also explains why is ranked among the most inept of captains, although there is much competition for that title.

As a batsman, Boycott was seen as a consummate accumulator of runs, placing his own average above any other consideration. He was tolerated by players and public rather than liked, grudgingly accepted for the occasions when his self-obsession worked to the team’s advantage.

The Captain

Unsurprisingly, Boycott thought he would make a jolly good captain of the England cricket team, better than the public school oiks who always got the nod over him. Unfortunately, the temperament that helped him accumulate all those runs did not serve him well as captain.

To borrow from his own words, Geoffrey was not as good a captain as he thought he would be, and maybe not even as good a captain as other people thought he would be.

Notes:

 Top Image is of Eoin Morgan, from Wikipedia, looking disturbingly like former England captain Alistair Cook, seen here, also from Wikipedia.Alistair Cook


Concepts and Pragmatism: Applying original thinking in a Manchester Method way

February 12, 2015

HAKAM1624_1 (2)

Vikram Madineni

Applying theory to find practical solutions in professions like engineering is well-known.  The Manchester Method approach in the field of management comes from  applying the learning in one’s professional life and, leveraging trust and current experiences.

 

The Global MBA program at Manchester Business School gave me a platform to self-reflect and grow professionally, to learn the importance of communication and also to shape my future goals and ambitions

Personal Growth

I encountered many of the nuances of business management early in my professional life, but at first I had a hard time relating to decisions being made from a professional and personal perspective.

The dynamic nature of the Global MBA course work, diversity of people, need for team collaboration and applying theoretical frameworks to understand “why” and “how” part of the decisions, all have shaped my personal growth over the last 18 months.

The focus on teamwork is paramount and there is a regular need to improvise based on dynamics of team members. I have dramatically improved my group negotiation and implementation strategies. For this, I owe much to the information exchange with other students in multiple workshops across countries and partly to the self-reflection of my creativity reports.

By using theoretical frameworks of economics, marketing, operations, accounting, and leadership when answering individual assignments, I gained a better perspective of various factors influencing decisions being made within my own organization.

Manchester Method

The emphasis on “managerial oriented” application of concepts rather than academic discussions has been advocated in all courses. I got a better understanding of the principle after receiving feedback for my final marketing assignment. My thorough research was appreciated, as was required in an MBA course, but both examiners explained the importance of also arriving at practical solutions that could benefit the company.

In the induction session the program director [mention name] explained the importance of networking, teamwork, the value of working within a diverse cohort and building relationships.

This has been an enriching experience and it has helped me to manage assignments and projects in a more efficient and productive fashion.

Chartering the future – Social Responsibility

I dreamed of being an entrepreneur since I graduated from college and I got a new perspective after reading an inspirational book about the TOMS company written by Blake Mycoskie – Start Something That Matters.

I chose the book for my leadership assignment and published a post about TOMS and its CSR in Leaders We Deserve.

Around the same time, I became aware of the amazing work being undertaken by the Gates Foundation and within my own company, Ingersoll Rand, in providing opportunities to serve a social cause. I was inspired and motivated to change but also identified the lack of management experience in handling strategy or operational needs of social organizations.

Johnson. W (2012), “Disrupt Yourself”, discusses the concept of disrupting oneself to stay ahead or charting one’s profession career.

I embraced the opportunity to do the Global MBA program, and over the last year I have opportunities to learn and understand the business system at a functional and a strategic perspective. As I progressed through my learning I gained knowledge in operations excellence and insights of marketing for a non-profit organization.

I had to do considerable amount of research on TOMS for my leadership and marketing course assignments. I gained a deeper understanding and need to embrace social responsibility; and also the power of words, advertisement of conscious consumers, and era of storytelling successful companies. I discussed this concept with our company’s marketing team to rethink branding and customer connectivity. We needed a story; a story that connects with our customers and makes them our passionate advertisers.

Original Thinking Applied

One of the most enjoyable workshops and one that I can vividly recall is the Accounting workshop! Marketing, Operations, CIB and all other workshop assignments helped me to gain a deeper understanding of the fundamentals but Accounting was very focused on one particular aspect of the organization or situation. I probably have never spent 6-8 hours analyzing just 3 sheets of papers before, the Balance Sheet, Cash Flow and Income Statements! It was a workshop in which I truly realized the potential of applying the thinking – understanding what financial ratios really mean, challenging whether the numbers are really telling a true story, what should the company or an investor be looking for.

Our group spent hours endorsing and debating each other perspective. I remember our professor being intrigued by the new metrics and ratios that we identified and how we linked them with a balanced score-card strategy. The level of analysis and realization of the importance of certain metrics all helped my immensely in applying the learnings in the business simulation course.

The business simulation course was another opportunity to bring all our learnings together for the first time and I enjoyed the challenge of managing and competing against my peers. Managing finances, building on equity, improving net margins, borrowing cheaper capital were all a result of application of deep analysis of the company’s financial statements and the market. This was also an opportunity for us to apply the concepts of strategy, adapt dynamically to market changes and build a road map for the future profitability. This gives me confidence in my ability to manage business operations in certain roles like strategic integrator, program manager in companies like TOMS or Gates Foundation.

 Leadership

My perspectives on definition of leadership have gradually changed over the course of my student and professional life. Growing up, my father was a leader for me; responsible, knowledgeable, humble and passionate. I inculcated lot of those values and owe my growth to his leadership skills as a parent. My views on leadership skills expanded during my career at Ingersoll Rand while working with my peers and my manager. We were now in a dynamically changing environment and it was educating to understand the need for a leader to find a “balance” – compassion and setting expectations, leading and allowing to lead, teaching and allowing to learn and most important of all humility and approachability.

The Manchester MBA program has expanded my horizon further on leadership traits and I was introduced to the concept of Servant Leadership. The ability to build a vision and then inspire and influence people to adopt and engage is truly a remarkable skill set. In this era of social consumerism the ability to reach out to people who are remote and influence their decisions is a differentiating attribute of the new generation leader.

The new era of conscious consumers and employees is suited in supporting and associating with a leader who is empathetic and is committed to social responsibility.

 


How books became unbound in the new era of e-publishing

February 7, 2015

The new era of e-publishing marks the decline of the printed book and the rise of a new mode of knowledge management

As a lonGutenberg's Pressg-time committed author and editor, I find two inter-related ideas which make e-publishing attractive and which will take us beyond the era of the printed book.

First, there is the speed at which an e-book can be produced, giving it an immediacy that cannot be matched through traditional publishing channels.

Secondly, there is scope for a far richer interaction with readers, through operating as a portal between the world of the internet, and the worlds of experience of author and reader.

To explain what I mean, I would like to trace briefly the distinguished history of the printed word, and one of its longest-standing products, the monograph. This helps me explain the way I turned the problem of retrieving information from a thousand blog posts on leadership into a new interactive approach to teaching and researching the subject.

Before and after the Gutenberg revolution

A milestone in human civilization was reached through the efforts of a fifteenth century German goldsmith skilled in the craft of metal working and manufacture of coins for the archiepiscopal mint of his home town of Mainz.  His name was Johannes Gutenberg and he is known today for a brilliant insight or transfer of technology. He applied his skills in creating moulds for making coins to the invention of the moveable type process.  His new press  punched out not coins but the obverse letters or types from which pages of a document could be mass produced. We retain the word type in various usages which may be traced to the original meaning in printing

The invention created the profession of craft printer, and with repeated improvements was to survive over 700 years to recent times.

Marshall McLuhan, in the 1960s, anticipated a world of mass communications. He saw how Gutenberg’s innovation accelerated the shift from pre-modern to modern societies, and indirectly to the Renaissance and the age of information.

Who ‘wrote’ this book?

Pre-Gutenberg, short ‘books’ were collected and bound together. The volume was ‘written’ by the mediaeval scribe who copied and bound together the contributions of the original authors.

Gutenberg enabled the process to reach far wider audiences. It had many consequences such as the e rise to the printed political pamphlet, with acknowledgment to its original author. Knowledge become more freely transmitted to any person schooled enough to read or willing enough to listen to its message.

The first books were serious pieces of work devoted to capturing thoroughly and in depth the interests of a monastic or scholarly calling. Printed monographs long after the invention of the printing press retained the legacy of their scholarly ancestry as universities took over the duties of the monastic scribes. Then, the great innovation of the printed word received its first serious challenge from the so-called electronic revolution.

New forms for a new age

I had become familiar with the potential for a new more interactive form of teaching through combining e-material into my work with business executives. I noted how students were interacting more in class through their own connectedness with the internet through their PCs, and then through their tablets and smart phones.

One obvious point was that the textbook was no longer the focus of learning. Instead it was more like a portal through which tutors and students interacted with the wider world on the internet.

The Leaders We Deserve e-experiment

I began to see opportunities in exploring a space between the scholarly style of the traditional textbook and the dynamism of the e-format. I was increasingly teaching and writing as a member of a learning community interacting with colleagues and readers.

Specifically I saw that I could not hope to explore adequately the thousand posts and counting that hadwritten partly for my executive audiences. I couldn’t, but the community of learning could.

The experiment means that I could try new ‘voices’ to communicate that would have been inappropriate for the traditional textbook. The experiences of the community were becoming living cases, non-linear at least partly unbounded by an author’s teaching aims and objectives.

Where will the experiment lead?

I’m still not sure. But I am sure it will be one of many such experiments at the dawn of a 21st century revolution will take us beyond The Gutenberg Galaxy, the legacy bequeathed us by a 15th Century German goldsmith.  As times change, words take on different meanings. Why should we expect a book to have the same features today when it is no longer bound (no pun intended) between hard covers, and no longer is produced by skilled crafts workers working with molten metal and moveable type?


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