1. The Sponsor as the face of organisational change

    November 25, 2013 by

    A large proportion of projects are not given enough executive level attention. Due to this, a large number of projects ultimately fail, as they move further and further away from the business’ core competencies, and strategic alignment between business and project breaks down. In order to overcome this, effective organizations recognize project sponsorship as a key part in any project. It is very important to have active sponsors who support change. Sponsors establish direction for the future, communicate through vision, and forge aligned, high performance teams.

    Dr. H. James Harrington, CEO and Douglas Nelson of Harrington Associates, have written a white paper explaining further how an effective sponsor, who sits at an executive level, can help eliminate the barriers to change and ensure the rapid and effective implementation of project outcomes. Commissioned by the Project Management Institute (PMI), the white paper, outlines characteristics and skills of a strong sponsor, including; power, sense of urgency, vision, public role, private role, and leverage. It includes a small but effective tool for assessing the suitability of a person for a sponsor role.

    The following statement from Managing Change in Organizations: A Practice Guide (PMI, 2013b) provides the foundational concept for this whitepaper.

    “A sponsor provides resources required for change and has the ultimate responsibility for the program or project, building commitment for the change particularly at the senior management level across the organization. Direct responsibility and accountability for the change needs to be clearly defined and accepted at an appropriately high level within an organization. Consequently, the sponsor for a change effort should be someone who has sufficient authority, influence, power, enthusiasm, and time to ensure that any conflicts that could impede the change are resolved in a timely and appropriate fashion.”

    Read the white paper HERE hosted by PMI.

  2. Creativity: Finding Creative Space

    August 22, 2012 by admin
    Creativity is an essential part of innovation. Creativity requires the two sides of the brain working together; right side for imagination and the left side for logic and planning.Creativity is one of the best ways to set an organisation apart from its competitors therefore creativity is a core competency for leaders and managers.

    Many people think that creativity can’t be taught and either you have it or you don’t. Well, this is a wrong perception. Research shows that everyone has creative abilities and the more training received, the greater potential for creative output.

    One of the factors that improves creativity is setting up the right environment for creativity.

    Below is an interesting article by James Harrington about setting up a creative space.


    People often call on their creative powers only when they’re faced with a problem. This is unfortunate because underutilizing this gift results in a reactive rather than a proactive approach to creativity. Individuals need to develop and use both their proactive and reactive creative powers to make maximum use of their creative potential.
    Individuals or groups are motivated to become creative for different reasons. The most common are:
    • A significant emotional or traumatic event (e.g., your car doesn’t start in the morning, so you need to create a new way to get to work)
    • Playfulness, brainstorming, or listing new ways to come up with something (e.g., a new way to serve a hot dog, such as on a stick)
    • Systematic, purposeful creativity. The objective is to fill a void or come up with a better way to do something. It needn’t be playful or problem-solving in nature.
    • To satisfy a personal desire. Some individuals are driven to look at things in a different way, or they feel the need to be creative.
    Creativity can occur at any time and any place. Sometimes we’re very creative; at other times, it’s just impossible to pluck out an original thought. We can do a lot to prepare ourselves to become more creative. To become creative, the following three conditions must be present:
    • Time. Extra time is often required to develop and sell a creative solution that isn’t in line with an individual’s or organization’s culture.
    • Environment. It’s difficult to be truly creative when you’re continually interrupted by phone calls, questions, or children climbing onto your lap.
    • Success. Nothing gets Felix’s attention better than when we’re recognized because we come up with creative new solutions.
    Our emotions and actions are directed by our preconceived notions about the environment in which we find ourselves. We enter a library and begin to talk softly and move carefully. We go to a party and laugh and smile more. We go to work and become more conservative, reserved, and formal. This behavior is not only acceptable, it’s expected. We’ve been trained to conform to the expectations related to a given environment or situation.

    It’s a good idea to set aside a specific location where you can exercise your creativity. It doesn’t have to be a grand place: It could be a workbench in the garage or an old desk in the cellar behind the furnace. In my case, it’s a desk in a small back bedroom. The important thing is that in your mind – as well as in your family’s or business associates’ minds – it’s your space, and there are specific rules associated with it:

    • Rule 1: No interruptions are tolerated unless it’s an emergency.
    • Rule 2: The clean-desk policy doesn’t apply here. Don’t take time to organize the work area, and make it clear that it’s out of bounds to your spouse and or co-workers.
    • Rule 3: Make your creative place visual. Use lots of Post-its to write down your good ideas, and stick them up around your area. Make sketches and flow diagrams and put them on the walls, too. Put up interesting pictures and change them often. Your creative place should stimulate ideas, not impress others.
    • Rule 4: Create a relaxed atmosphere. Have a comfortable chair, one that you can lean back in while your mind goes blank and opens to creative thoughts. Have furniture that you can put your feet on. Choose a spot that’s not too hot or cold.
    • Rule 5: Have the right equipment. Be prepared to be flooded with new ideas. When they come, you need to be able to capture them rapidly. Things that can be useful are:
      • A computer
      • Lots of paper
      • Colored markers
      • A tape recorder
      • A CD or tape player
      • A filing system
      • A corkboard
      • A bookcase
    • Rule 6: Have a focal point. This is something that relaxes you when you look at it. It could be a window that you look out of or a small aquarium. An ocean scene or an abstract painting works well.
    Each person’s creative place is unique because it must fit into his or her individual personality. Does this mean that it’s the only place where you’ll be creative? No. It’s a lot like the treadmill you buy and put in your house to jog on. When you get on the treadmill, you don’t start eating a sandwich; you start to jog. Just because you have a treadmill doesn’t mean you can’t jog around the block.

  3. Web Services – Ultra Fast Broadband increases the demand for video

    August 15, 2012 by admin
     Taryn Hamilton, [1] from internet service provider Orcon, writes that in a bid to boost productivity the NZ government has committed $1.5 billion towards providing fibre optic cable to three quarters of Kiwi homes and businesses. The expected improvements in productivity, competitiveness and standard of living will come about by how businesses actually use the new technology to their advantage. In the UK and Europe higher broadband speeds have seen the uptake of watching video over the Internet skyrocket. It is predicted that 90 percent of traffic growth on the Internet in the coming years will comprise video transmissions for both work use and for leisure viewing. Driven by video, Internet traffic is predicted to grow some 400 percent by the end of 2013 – which is not too far away! In the UK, the BBC’s iPlayer radio and TV service recently accounted for between 20 and 25 percent of Internet traffic. A similar percentage of internet traffic was experienced by US, Netflix’ online TV and movie streaming services. Cloud computing coupled with ultra fast broadband services have created an opportunity for businesses to minimise costs and improve productivity.

    [1] Hamilton, T., (2011), Get ready for UFB, NZ Business, Vol 25, Iss 6, p 53, Adrenalin Publishing Ltd., Auckland

    Neil Crawford


  4. What’s an Entrepreneur? The Best Answer Ever

    July 9, 2012 by admin
    According to dictionary.com an Entrepreneur is a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk. Wikipedia defines an entrepreneur as a person who is willing to help launch a new venture or enterprise and accept full responsibility for the outcome.But what does being an entrepreneur really mean? A risk taker? An innovative person? Or something else? If someone wants to be an entrepreneur, it’s very important to know the right ingredients of entrepreneurship in order to apply them to be a successful entrepreneur.

    When searching the internet you will find that the most commonly known characteristics of an entrepreneur are:

    • Risk takers: an entrepreneur has to be willing to accept pretty big risks, with some level of comfort.
    • Sacrifice: entrepreneurs also are willing to sacrifice. They give up family time and other personal time, they gave up the comfort and security that working for other people can give. A willingness to make decisions in the absence of solid data.
    • Creative: entrepreneurs are able to make connections between unrelated events or situations. Entrepreneurs often come up with new and simple solutions.
    • Determination: successful entrepreneurs do not believe that something cannot be done, they try again and again till success.

    There are a lot of articles on the internet on entrepreneurship and its definition and how to be an entrepreneur, one of the highly recommended to read is “What’s an Entrepreneur? The Best Answer Ever ” on Inc.com. The article suggests another definition to an entrepreneurship.

    “Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.”

    By focusing on entrepreneurship as a process instead of personal characteristics, the definition opens the term to all kinds of people to adopt.

    What do think? Do you agree with this definition?


    PS. Two great videos on what is an entrepreneur can be accessed here:

  5. 7 Keys to Creating a Culture of Customer Centricity

    July 8, 2012 by admin
    As a way to deal with the rising cost of doing business, some organisation outsource their call centre operations to specialised third-party call centre. While replacing an in-house call centre staff with an outsourced vendor can often save money, there are also a number of disadvantages associated with call centre outsourcing.

    One of the disadvantages of outsourcing the call centre process is the possible decline in quality of service due to the fact that the outsourcing company will not be driven by the same standards and mission that drives the organisation. They will be driven to make a profit from the services that they are providing to their client and other businesses.

    Also if the outsourcer is operating from a different site (and even different country), with employees that are motivated by a different set of standards, then the organisation do not have any managerial presence within that operation which could lead to a loss of control of the customer experience. And for any company that values the importance its customers, this disadvantage of outsourcing may outweigh any potential advantages.

    To overcome such issue and to create a culture of customer centricity, Ramon Lcasiano of Zynga Inc. shared 7 key guidelines for creating a cultural alignment between customer service partners.

    If both the organisation and vendor collaboratively move towards these seven guidelines, they will allow for the creation of a seamless customer experience culture that pays dividends in customer satisfaction and loyalty.

    1. Align on Core Values: A culturally-driven customer experience is about believing more than it is doing. Customer service partners want their paychecks and will step up when asked, but if they are not fundamentally committed to the same priorities and objectives as the brand they represent, they will always fall short in uniting to delight the customer.
    2. Reinvent Partner Engagement: Partnerships cannot be predicated on “us and them” mentalities, let alone “us versus them” mentalities. The “seamless” experience offered to customers must be rooted in a truly seamless internal experience that makes agents from the outsourcing provider feel dialled into the brand and brand staff feel dialled into the vendor. Cultural exchange programs and agent swapping are among the practices that will actualize this concept.
    3. Unite on the Guiding Principle, the “Moment of Truth”: Did you delight the customer? Check yes or no! In addition to sharing core values, the partners must share in recognition of a clear result that occurs at the “moment of truth” when the customer evaluates the experience he had with the brand. Contrasting views of success are unworkable here; if both brand and vendor are not united in their interpretation of that ultimate “moment,” they will struggle to create truly successful customer engagements.
    4. Magnify the Voice of the Customer: Customer service is ultimately about the customer. Excitement about organizational culture often manifests itself as “Kumbaya” initiatives that are nice on the surface but ultimately meaningless for the customer experience. True cultural revolution is about assuring that the service organizations are uniting to create the experience the customer wants, and that means basing call language, metrics, CRM programs, promotions and upsell opportunities on their ability to bridge a real gap for buyers.
    5. Motivate Agents to Excel: Excel is the key word when it comes to agent engagement strategies. Anyone can throw pizza parties or offer up half-hearted cries of, “Good job, sport!” but truly-connected, customer-centric managers know how pivotal agent happiness is to customer satisfaction. Rewards should be meaningful, substantial (think, more than a free cup of coffee) and in the spirit of the organization’s culture. Rewards are only worthwhile if they help make agents want to succeed as brand ambassadors.
    6. Shore Does Not Matter: Focus on Customers at Every Touch Point – As long as customers are at the center of support efforts, shore need not be a concern. Some businesses prefer to keep their processes in-house. Others see value in outsourcing their workloads. But neither is inherently better than the other; the differentiator is a customer focus. The office’s location does not matter if your brand can consistently be there for the customer. Successful agents identify themselves by their role in delivering customer satisfaction rather than by their native accent or office location.
    7. Stand for Something Bigger: Research continues to show that customers gravitate towards brands that stand for something. It might not be wise to vocally support a polarizing political candidate, but showing evidence of morality and support for the community is a clear key to the customer’s heart. It is also a great means of engaging agents, who want to feel a fundamental attachment to the brand they represent. Believing in what the brand believes them will make them infinitely more confident and comfortable representing that organization to customers.
    This blog is credited to Brian Cantor – see his full blog for further information.