Hold Travel Notebook Athens, Find Yourself

Louis Vuitton, proud for its luxury culture, so, must do something about the culture. That is Travel Notebook series. It seems to say hi friends, do not indulge in the material world. You need some fresh spirit to enrich your mind. Just like us, Louis Vuitton. In fact, we care about the culture more about our clothes and bags. So, get our travel notebook, travel around the world, and write down every marvelous moment. By the way, if you like, Louis Vuitton outfits will give you a gorgeous and sumptuous journey.

It is indeed a sly yet smart merchant. Nevertheless, that does not interfere with Travel Notebook series. There are six Travel Notebooks, respectively Paris, New York, Rio, Athens, Mumbai, and Peking. My favorite is Athens.

The pure blue is from Aegean Sea. The painting on the cover is the famous Athenaeum. Travel Notebook Athens catches the city’s features and enchants my heart. I really love that city. Everywhere is blue and white. Pure, simple, and unaffected, far away from prosperity and fickleness, it is Athens.

Walk along the narrow pebble street, gaze the endless Aegean Sea, chat with local people, and enjoy the local cuisine. Then go back to the hotel to write down your feeling on the travel notebook. I have to say, it is a so special and absorbing experience nowadays. Every people are used to computer. But you still write down everything on paper. It is a process to find yourself, the origin one, through silently writing.

Selecting Employee Benefit Plan Auditors

As you know, you began filing your Form 5500 electronically last year and the DOL now has the ability to search those forms for “targeted concerns”. We’ve discussed some of these at length but just to review they include:

1. Delayed investment of employee contributions
2. Valuation of employer securities
3. Fees for your service providers
4. Review of low volume financial auditors

The fourth item is the one I want to highlight today since we are in audit season.

Back in 2004, the DOL’s sample of audits found 30% of them to be defective meaning the auditors did not understand or follow established practices and requirements. The problem the DOL ran into is that they have no authority to discipline or sanction auditors even though they are the primary overseer of audits for ERISA covered plans. So they tasked the 2010 ERISA Advisory Council to review the situation since the primary purpose of the audit requirement is to protect plan participants. The Council recently released their findings and the recommendations included:

1. The DOL should require Plan administrators to identify on the Form 5500 whether or not the Plan auditor is a member of The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center.

2. The Department should establish a fiduciary safe harbor in the initial selection of Plan auditors who are members of that same organization.

Please keep in mind that only 20% of the firms that conduct employee benefit plan audits are members of this organization since membership is voluntary. The recommendation from the Council seems fairly aggressive to me but most professionals work under a self-regulatory organization and it appears that this structure would be a version of that.

For your reference there are three attachments to this email. One is published by the AICPA called “The RFP and Auditor Evaluation Process” and the second is “Selecting an Auditor” published by the DOL. My understanding is that you already have a competent auditor engaged for your plan but since this is a priority of the DOL you should quickly review the attachments and keep them in your files for reference.

The third attachment is the 2010 ERISA Advisory Council’s report which highlights another important area that I do not have time to cover this month, which is limited scope audits. The limited scope audit allows you to instruct your auditor not to audit the investment information prepared and certified by a bank or insurance carrier that is regulated by a state or federal agency and that holds the plan assets. The Council recommended that the DOL clarify what kinds of entities are qualified to issue certifications and that you include those certifications with your Form 5500.

We’ll see where all of these recommendations go but for now it is a good idea to keep them in mind and I will let you know if the Department issues any guidance on the matter.

The Cumulative Effect of Marketing and Advertising

One of the most difficult for people to get used to is the fact that they do not get any return on their advertising dollar.

When you start testing advertising and marketing done the emotional response way, you’ll have to decide whether advertising and marketing campaigns you start and test are working well enough to continue.

All the biggest myths about advertising and marketing that are professed by all the so called “gurus” is that there is a cumulative effect of marketing and advertising. That “name recognition” builds from this cumulative effect and eventually results in business.

Image marketing can and does work in very limited circumstances. Those circumstances are strictly in situations where someone has so much money and so much time that they can afford to build name recognition that eventually leads to a large and successful business.

For example, we all know McDonald’s and Coca Cola, and we’ve all seen the polar bears and the Golden Arches. We know about those products as things implanted in our brains. Keep in mind though, that Coke and McDonald’s spend literally millions and millions of dollars a year to get and keep that kind of name recognition.’

In many businesses, while some large companies do have name recognition, there isn’t always a so-called “taste” as there is with Coke or McDonald’s. People go to buy those products and eat or drink them because they like the way they taste. They don’t go just because they recognize the name.

Now keep in mind a very, very important difference between these types of products and many other kinds of services.

In services, nobody knows what you taste like, or whether one office of “Great way Brokers” is better than “Smart Financial Services”.

Why? Because many services are highly personal. They require making personal connections. “Name recognition” won’t help you a bit if your advertising isn’t seen by anybody because it’s boring and uninteresting.

The cumulative effect and measuring the success of your marketing clearly presents when you want to do any direct marketing project, it either works well right away, or it doesn’t. Occasionally, you have a mediocre result that can be tweaked and improved. Normally you know instantly whether your advertising and marketing is working.

Let’s say for example you were in sales and you decided to run an ad in your local paper for $40. After two days you receive eight leads who leave their name and address in your Voice Mailbox. Now, using a ballpark of $10/lead as the maximum acceptable cost for any type of marketing or advertising campaign, you can get an idea of whether your promotion is in the ballpark or not.

With this $40 ad divided into 8 leads, you’re paying $5 a lead. Which is certainly an acceptable cost per lead. This sort of cost-per-lead range will end up being very productive and successful for you as you move through the testing and increase the frequency and size of your ads.

But, if you ran the same $40 ad and only got two responses, you’re at $20 a lead. That tells you that the ad probably either A) has the wrong headline, B) is in the wrong place in the paper, C) is in the wrong publication altogether, or D) is in the wrong time of the week or month, or any combination of the above variables.

This would work the same way if you were in the retail business. Instead of getting leads you would get customers.

Wouldn’t it be better to get 8 customers to respond to you rather than 2 customers? The ad cost the same no matter what your response is, however the bottom line on your business makes it a huge difference.

Benefits Of Future Technology

In this write up, the readers will get information on future technology and learn to what extent modern technology has been developed to assist the growth of human civilization.

Technology of the Future would be more sophisticated and user friendly. The rapid technological advancement will make technology more convenient and usable. New technology should be used for the benefit of the society. Now, it is better to say to what extent science and technology have been acceptable to the present generation. In comparison to conventional devices and equipment, future technology news states that ultramodern devices are more workable and powerful in their functionality. According to scientists and researchers, modern technology can make modification and upgrading of common things for their proper usage applying modern methods. The world will be more glamorous and attractive with newer technology and without any trace of carbon footprint.

If you check future technology news, you will find that there are newly launched products and technical accessories which have multifunctional features. For instance, recently Kevin Cheng invented Solar Planter which protects the natural green resources of nature. Plants will be highly protected using the Solar Planter which artificially creates solar energy to preserve green plants in a perfect way. The device is also equipped with powerful exhaust fans to clean out stagnant air from within the Solar Planter. Air will be circulated well inside the planter for the safe keeping of trees and plants. The Solar Planter is also energy efficient and environment friendly. According to future technology news nature will be completely protected from pollution using these new technologies as it will not produce any lethal or hazardous chemical solvents or gasoline products into the air.

In the sphere of the telecommunication, future and modern technology is very powerful and has contributed extensively for the betterment of the communication system. The invention of the humanoid robot is a burning example. Future technology news say that this robotic structure will be sent to out of the planet to strengthen the communication system. Experiments are still going on the upgrade of this robot.

Concept Cloud Blackberry is a sophisticated mobile phone which is both eco friendly and pollution free. This mobile is activated by liquid fuel which doesn’t disturb the peace of nature. Future technology will bring a lot more inventions and accessories to upgrade human lifestyles. The scientists believe that modern science is very effective to make the world green. Future technology must be more user friendly and should not hamper the natural growth of the human race. It must not disturb nature or the society.

Science is a boon and man needs to utilize this for the overall development of the world. Future technology these days not concentrated only on the benefit of humans. Scientists are trying to create technology that will be beneficial to the earth as well.

Conclusion: To get updated information on latest technology, you can check future technology news on the Internet. There are new discoveries and upgrades available every day.

Marketing Research & Elements of Marketing Research

Marketing research “The systematic gathering, recording and analyzing data about problems relating to the marketing of goods and services”.

Market research on the other hand, is only a part of marketing research that covers a few of aspects of marketing. It is only the sub function of marketing research ‘some companies use “market research” for describing research into markets the size geographical distribution incomes, and so on. However it fails to cover the idea of research into the effects of marketing efforts on markets, for which the term marketing research is the accurate. Elements of marketing research.

1. Market Research. It covers the aspects regarding size and nature of the market including export markets dividing the consumers in terms, of their age, sex, income (market segmentation), economic aspects of marketing etc.

2. Sales Research. This relates to the problem regional variations in sales fixing sales territories, measurement of the effectiveness of salesman, evaluation of sales methods and incentives, etc.

3. Product Research. This relates to the analysis of strengths and or weakness of existing product testing problems relating to diversification, simplification, trading up and trading down (all product line decisions), etc.

4. Packaging Research. In essence, it is a part of product research. But the recent development in packaging and its contribution in the advertising made it to occupy an independent position. This necessitates a separate study concerning the aspects of package to know its impact and response in the market.

5. Advertising Research. It undertakes a study relating to the preparation of advertisement copy (copy research), media to be used (media research) and measurement of advertising effectiveness.

6. Business Economic Research. Problems relating to input output analysis, forecasting, price and profit analysis, and preparation of break -even charts are the main fields of the research.

7. Export Marketing Research. This research is intended to study the export potentials of the product. In such cases any or all kinds of research mentioned above become necessary.

Translation: Is It a Science or an Art?

Translation is the interpretation of the meaning of a source text and the subsequent creation of an equivalent text in other words, transmission of information into another language.

This definition seems to explain accurately the essence of the so-called science. If you’re reading this, then probably you most likely either a written or oral translator and you have to understand this classic tackle that continually faces almost every translator: you understand the context of a source text, but you are not able to find the equivalent in your own language; you are also not allowed to change the context of a text and your main aim is to find the solution and find appropriate words in your native language.

From this point of view, everything depends on the text that is in front of you. Legal document or a patent must be translated with precision surgery, while at the same time sales presentations, marketing documents, as well as artworks must sound naturally on a target language.

To give a translation natural-sounding requires a certain linguistic skills, understanding of language and its processes. Translation can hardly be called a science, but it is rather the inner music of language, a stream of phrases that are connected into the text, with a precise set of terminology.

Someone still believes that translation must be considered as an exact science. They say that the main thing is professional skills and knowledge, but not a subtle perception or sense of language. The science alleges it is a properly prepared and trained mind that can easily transform one language to another – like a computer.

Translators can be divided into two groups: those who always use logic, concentrating on the original text, and those who do it with a sense, focusing on a language. It also applies to consecutive and simultaneous interpreters. There are technical translators who possess the ability to translate a technical text and make it sounds quite naturally and translators who literary translate the text that adhere to the original context and create a huge number of pages, hardly amenable to reading and understanding (the last statement applies in particular to translation of literary texts in Chinese or Japanese languages in Europe).

The process of translation and interpretation reflects how it is complex to transmit communication messages. And especially if you are doing interpretation, being a person who wants to facilitate communication and understanding between the two other people, you might want to translate something that was not said: the “hidden” meaning of words or something that someone did not say out loud, for example, because of uncertainty. Without exaggeration I can say that you, as an interpreter, can influence the fate of nations. A good example of what you’ll find in a novel by Javier Marias “White Heart» (A Heart So White). Read it if you are interested in the literature on translation activities.

Strategies Management Adopt in Handling Change

Theoretically, there are various strategies that explain how change can be successfully initiated and implemented. However, let us first take a look at some of the common things to consider, before you embark upon an organizational change:

What do I want to change? Typically this might point towards a specific “problem” area.

Is this the fundamental thing that needs to change or is there a deeper “reason” lurking behind the “problem” that needs to be addressed? This question is particularly important because many times, after the change process has been run halfway, it is realized that a problem exists at a more basic level. Focus then shifts between new change areas that are discovered and the energy of change efforts get dissipated.

Why do I want the change?

How will I achieve the change? This will involve weighing the risk and incentives, balancing them out and addressing any gaps between intended process to achieve the change and issues related to these processes.

What about the finances required in implementing the change?

Will business possibly continue as usual during the change phase or will it get affected adversely?

What type of resource (external or internal consultants) should I use, given the size of my organization and knowledge base?

How, if at all, will the change impact the work culture or vice versa?

How critical is the situation and how much time do I have to respond to it?

Does my core change driver team have the contextual and operational knowledge, capability and influence to survive the change process or do I need to empower them in some way?

Once you have precise answers to these elementary questions, you can decide upon the strategy you want to adopt. Theory offers at least four different change strategies. In practice, we typically use a combination of some or all of these to address change situations. These four strategies are: The Empirical-Rational Approach, the Normative-Reeducative Approach, the Power-Coercive Approach and the Environmental-Adaptive Approach.

All four provide you with different insights into the type of change environment that may exist in an organization. The type of change environment broadly varies with the ideology of the informal organization or the cultural consensus that they may share and the type of change being introduced. The relevance of the different change strategies lies in the fact that they explore different assumptions about human motivation and behavior in order to understand or anticipate response to change. Thus, they take into account the psychology of the informal organization, and hence help effectively manage the human side of change.

Their beauty, however, is that they are never mutually exclusive, and different strategies may be used at different stages in the change process. Thus, depending on your change environment, you must decide on the appropriate mix of strategies, to be used to push change.

EMPIRICAL-RATIONAL STRATEGY

A “classic” approach to change management, developed by Robert Chin and Kenneth D. Benne, this strategy is built on the premise that, in general, human beings are rational and can be reasoned with.

Hence, although change innately is resisted, people can be won over by the genuine logic behind the change, and by what is there in it for them.

If people are convinced on these two aspects of change, the process becomes easily navigable. Thus, this strategy uses persuasion to make individuals accede to change, through planned, managed dissemination of information, which makes the incentives of change clear to them. Thus, this strategy demands skillful use of communication in selling the benefits of change. The emphasis is on providing correct information; education and training that inspire people to change of their own volition. Also, it is important to identify potential carriers of change – people who willingly accept the change, and are influential enough to spread the same.

The role of the CEO is important here. Being the leader of the organization, not only is he an influential figure, but also has relatively more credibility than anyone else in the organization. Hence, he can play a major role in securing the buy-in of his people and inspiring them to embrace the change.

However, by virtue of rationale again, people are seen to be generally resistant to change, if it has an imbedded downside that is not balanced or offset by an equal upside. Hence, a foolproof plan for successfully initiating change, or at least managing the human side of it, must work out the following:

A strong basis for initiating the change

Linkage to actual benefits or incentives to be derived from the change

The pros and cons, including an exercise on possible measures to negate the “cons”

This strategy works well only if you can balance the incentives against the risks in a profitable manner i.e. only if you are able to show that the value-add from the change is proportionately much higher than the risk involved.

This strategy becomes difficult to execute, if your risks outweigh your incentives, and especially so, if the general perception is that your company is in a relatively comfortable position, even without the change. A good idea then might be to show people some genuine reasons as to why the perceived comfort is just a passing phase and won’t last long.

In such a situation, some people may buy your logic, some may not. If you find the buyers to be capable of influencing the rest, endeavor to form a class that can serve as interpreters between you and the mass of people, and hence serve as drivers of change.

For the empirical-rational approach to succeed in the later phases of change, you also need to build your case on a strong Current Situation Analysis, proceed with proper training and development programs, initiate appropriate education, and carry out relevant research and development to support the change. Hire the services of field experts and Organizational Design and change specialists if required. Once these backups are in place, people will inevitably become much more confident of shouldering the responsibilities of change. Also, while you may initially identify a representative class to drive the change, eventually you must graduate to a phase where every team player is encouraged to come up with creative solutions aligned towards attaining a “best-of-all” situation.

However, the Empirical Rational Approach disregards the fact that while employees may understand the need for change or the rationale behind change, they may still not like to undergo change, because of the emotional troubles, adjustment issues etc. that come with transition.

NORMATIVE – RE-EDUCATIVE STRATEGY

Another “classic” approach to change management, this strategy takes wings from the fact that humans are social beings. Hence, they always have the inherent urge to conform to social norms and standards.

It does not deny that humans are rational and intelligent creatures, but views their behavior as being guided by socio-cultural norms and their allegiance to these norms. Restructuring their normative orientations and inducing them to commit to new norms introduce change.

Often, a cultural shift in the organization becomes imperative to adapt to market situations and survive competition. For example, your competitor may be producing twice your output because of their technological advancement, whereas you lag behind because you still rely on manual operations. This needs you to shift work culture from a manual to a technology oriented people set, which in turn requires you to appropriately train and prepare people for the change. Normative – Reeducative Strategy is defined as a strategy that believes that norms in an organization can be purposely shifted to attain higher productivity, through collective people efforts.

Given that culture and norms quickly become a part of who you are, an initial resistance to anything non conformist or maverick is quite expected. Ironically, norms and standards too are not constant over time. If they had been, evolution of society would never have been possible. Just like a stream of water that changes its course, when it meets a strong obstruction, culture and norms can also be re-established and redefined.

This approach believes that changing the attitudes, values and culture leads to an automatic change in behavior. The very logic that makes initial resistance to such change inevitable is used to explain how, over a period of time, this kind of a change tends to adhere. Thus, although it may be paradoxical, it is actually practically observable that once a new culture sets in, people instinctively feel the need to conform, simply in order to survive.

An important tool in initiating this change is the presence of a magnetic and dynamic personality, who can considerably influence people and their perspectives. This personality can be a leader, a change agent or most effectively, the CEO of the company. Given his visibility, prominence, credibility and authority in an organization, he possesses all that is required to effect a change.

While a culture change is possible, it is never immediate. For it implies considerable adjustments to the hitherto established thought patterns and mindsets. As a result, it can emerge only as an outcome of a gradual process. Hence, this strategy is applicable only if you have a longer time frame at your disposal for enabling the change.

The Normative – Reeducative Approach is perhaps the most widely used strategy in present times. When using this strategy, it is important to remember that it is better to try and work through the existing culture, collaborating with people, and helping them see a new and better possibility, than to wake up one fine morning and replace it with a new culture. After all, you cannot change culture the way you change clothes, because it connects to a deeper part of you and how you operate. So, this approach calls for an honest endeavor to work in sync with people, identify problems and facilitate solutions. It should be directed towards improving problem-solving capacities, upgrading processes within a system, and fostering new attitudes, skills, and norms for people. While the bright side is that when your efforts engage people so much, chances of resistance are minimized. But on the other side of the coin, this approach is too dependent on employee cooperation. For instance, new software developed for a certain insurance company was found to be left unused even till months after, because the employees did not want to step out of the comfort of the “old way of doing things.” Often, such a change involves unlearning and relearning, and while the change may ultimately trigger simpler solutions to their work problems, the transition phase comes as a real challenge, often leading to resistance.

This strategy could be used in conjunction with a change in the employee performance management systems that reward people who facilitate change and penalize those who oppose it. This may help to beat the resistance and build a more cooperative atmosphere. Further, since work culture falls as much within the domains of the formal organization as the informal organization. Therefore, a change to the work culture can succeed only if an amiable relationship exists between these two counterparts, or at least if leaders of the informal organization buy the proposed change.

Another perspective on this strategy tells us that while most of the time, individuals prefer to stick to established conventions; the story is different when people within the system are not happy with the status quo. This is a situation where people are actually looking out for change. In this scenario, the preliminary step that the management needs to take to trigger a change is to evaluate and clarify organizational norms and culture. This can be done through interactions, discussions and at a personal level, introspection by the employees of the organisation. So, more often, this strategy will intimately involve people in the “process” of change rather than have them face only the “impact” of change.

Hence, the normative-reeducative approach targets attitudes and values. It tends to produce long lasting changes as it usually involves group goals, group norms or common values. The reason is that once a new norm sets in, after being initiated either by the formal or the informal organization, it eventually becomes part of the system – “the way things are” – and therefore stabilizes over time.

POWER – COERCIVE STRATEGY

This “classic” strategy bases itself in the power of “power”. According to Hans Morgenthau:

Power may comprise anything that establishes and maintains the control of man over man. Thus power covers all social relationships, which serve that end, from physical violence to the subtlest psychological ties by which one mind controls another.

Applied to our context, this strategy advocates “power” in the form of threat sanctions, and believes that people are, in general compliant, and will ultimately bow down to those who possess greater power.

At times, when the change is not radical but moderate, the company may also use subtler forms of power or hegemonic power to attain its objective. In fact, the Normative Reeducative Approach or the Empirical Rational Approach ultimately uses hegemonic power very subtly, to navigate through the change process. Hegemony is like an internalized form of social control, which makes us feel we are choosing when really we have no choice. The 20th century French Marxist Louis Althusser called this ‘trick’ as Interpellation.

In both these cases, when a change has been decided upon, people have no choice but to accept it. They may resist for some time, but ultimately must go with the flow. However, instead of using force, these strategies use “reason” and “collaboration” to make the “change situation” seem like a choice that will lead to a better situation than the status quo. So, while the idea that the change will lead to a prospective better situation is true, it is ultimately never open to choice. Hence, indirectly even these strategies use some form of subtler hegemonic power. However, the difference is that while these approaches secure the support of the people through logic or collaboration, hence ensuring that change endures and stabilizes over time, the direct use of imposing power, as advocated by the Power – Coercive Strategy, runs the risk that once the power is removed, people may revert to their original behavior.

But many times, exerting authority, subtly or otherwise, in the form of political and economic sanctions, legislation, policies, “moral” power etc. may seem the only way to bring about a change. This happens when people in the organization collectively fail to perceive a threat that is, in reality, grave and must be resolved within a restricted response time. Use of power may also be necessary when people become obstinate and intractable in the face of a change, which has lots at stake. So, people may become even during times of an exigency. The trick applied here is to have it your way and leave no other option for your people but to accept the change. While political sanctions usually reward non-conformists with imprisonment, economic sanctions curtail financial incentives to those who resist the change. Thus, the use of coercive power is an attempt to make people yield to change by inducing fear or using actual force.

However, the use of power may not always be negative. For instance, one power – coercive strategy uses the behavioral psychology concept of “the carrot and the stick”. In this approach, power can be used to both reward employees who support change through financial incentives and punish those who don’t with political or financial consequences, through sanctions. Thus, power can operate both ways.

The success of this strategy, however, depends on the general temperament of the organization.

Some organizations, as a part of their culture, believe in the authority of seniority, and appreciate the role of the hierarchy in issuing guidelines or directives for organizational development. If your people are attuned to a system of healthy authoritarianism, this may come easy. But in an organization where liberality has long been practiced, Hitlerian tactics will face resistance. Still, with Power-Coercive strategies, people have little option but to accept change, since most of these strategies use stringent policies, where impunity is ruled out. However, to ensure that the foundations of change are built on unanimity rather than repressed fear or dissatisfaction, it is important to evaluate the nature of your organization, the problem at hand and the time frame at hand, before embarking on this strategy, as a last resort.

Robert L. Kahn observed that:

To say that A has the power to change B’s behavior necessarily implies that A exerts some force in opposition to some or all of the previously existing forces [including B’s own needs and values] on B. This is conflict….The exercise of [coercive] power, thus, necessarily creates conflict…

Thus, while the use of authority structures and threat sanctions can accomplish change, they may breed hatred and contempt for the organization or the senior management, which is harmful to organization in the long run.

ENVIRONMENTAL – ADAPTIVE STRATEGY

The Environmental-Adaptive Strategy, suggested by Fred Nickols, is built on the premise that while people innately resist change, they also eventually adapt themselves to it, when they are left with no choice.

Also known as the “die – on – the – vine” strategy, it takes its cue from the common observation that while individuals are quick to oppose change that they find threatening, they also have an innate ability to adapt quickly to a new set of circumstances. Applied to our context of organizational change, this human psychology translates to a strategy of first creating a new environment and then gradually moving people from the old to the new system. Thus, rather than proactively trying to “change” the organization by effecting a “change” in the behavior, processes, culture and norms of people, this strategy recommends that a new set of circumstances be created, and the innate nature of humans to eventually adapt be exploited, in letting the change “sink in”. Therefore, in this strategy, the ball shifts court from the management to the people, as the responsibility of regularizing the change now lies on the people and how they adapt to the change. They practically have no choice to accept or reject the change, unless of course one prefers to quit the organization altogether. Here, the change is made, and the individuals merely adapt themselves.

This strategy is best suited for changes that are radical in nature rather than those that are gradual. Say, you want to introduce the SAP-HR system to increase efficiency and speed of HR related work. This is an incremental change that will happen over time, as your Business HR personnel gradually learn how to operate the new system and shift from the old manual practice to the new systematized process. If you were to use the Environment Adaptive strategy here, creating the environment and leaving them to adapt to it in their own way, the transition phase, very likely would stretch too long. This is because, your managers already operate within a framework that they are comfortable with, and so they may be reluctant to shift to a new system. Here, you might have to use a mix of the empirical-rational and the normative-reeducative strategies instead to change that comfort culture and enable them embrace the change.

Now, consider the example that Nickols gives, of a radical change handled in the Environmental-Adaptive way. Rupert Murdoch wanted to shift to an entirely new operating structure, on terms that were very different from the current one at Fleet Street. So, he set about quietly establishing an entirely new operation in Wapping, some distance away from Fleet Street. As soon as the new system became operational, he informed the printers at Fleet Street that he had some good news and some bad news for all of them. The bad news was that they would have to shut down their operations at Fleet Street. So, everybody was fired. The good news was that a new operation had jobs for all of them, albeit on very different terms.

Now, most people in this situation will embrace the new option – a radical change, tackled using the Environment-Adaptive strategy. Of course, the strategy is a mix of the empirical rational and power coercive strategies, and that is only a reinforcement of the fact that practical situations often need a mix of different strategies to effectively manage change.

Many years ago, my work took me to a slum infested area. I was pained to see the kind of life those people led, the abject poverty everywhere, the bowl that every child held out in his hand, not for food, but in the hope that a kind passerby may drop some alms.

A few weeks ago, I got the opportunity of revisiting the same place to run an education camp, and was pleasantly amazed at the buildings that stood in place of the slums – an obvious outcome of a rigorous rehabilitation program! It was only when I ventured inside that I realized, that barring the safer, better and more decent dwelling place to live in, nothing much had really changed. The litter was still around, the kids still ran about in the mud in tattered clothes and they still held out their hands for alms. The rehabilitation program had done well in shifting them to a new place, but perhaps something more remained to be done to have them live a new, more meaningful life. Their “homes” had changed, their way of life hadn’t.

And to change that culture, they needed to be educated, to be shown that a better way of life existed, and existed within their reach. But even for that education to show its impact, I was now beginning to understand; I needed more kids like Jana, Neil and Don. Among the close to thirty kids I had been asked to supervise, there were only these three who were genuinely interested. The rest were happy with their life, as it was.

The above incident links to an important factor that you must consider before using this strategy. Ensure that you have at least a few capable, influential and probably “non conformist” employees, in your organization, who will embrace the change and drive the others. These are your “seed” employees – people who will foster a new and more effective work culture in the newly established setup. Correspondingly, Nickols uses the term “bad apples” to refer to people from the old culture, which are detrimental to the new culture and must be done away with.

If there is no buy-in on the change, at-least at the “seed” level, the strategy may not work. Rather, it may lead to a situation where you have a new workplace that continues to work in the old manner and follow the old culture. Effectively then, there hasn’t been much change.

Products And – Or Services – Defining "Service-Oriented" Products and the Related Role of Technology

The economy can be analyzed using both market-driven and production-driven approaches to industry classification. The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) uses a market-driven approach; the older Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) uses a production-driven approach.

Under a market-driven approach, the economy comprises goods-producing and service-providing industries. Goods-producing industries include: natural resources and mining, construction, and manufacturing; service-providing industries include: wholesale and retail trade, transportation (and warehousing), utilities, information, financial activities, professional and business services, education and health services, leisure and hospitality, and public administration.

Under a production-driven approach, the economy comprises product-driven and service-driven industries. Product-driven industries comprise enterprises that manage inventories available for sale as primary activities (regardless of whether they transform them or not). Under this approach, the retail, wholesale, and food service industries are product-driven. (The kitchens of food service providers are equivalent to factories.) Product-driven enterprises may have extensive cost accounting and operations practices for inventory management.

Industry classifications can be applied to an enterprise as a whole (the primary industry), and to the establishments within it, which may be in differing secondary industries. Establishments are facilities that include plants (factories and warehouses) and branches (retail and wholesale outlets).

For example, the hospitality industry is service-driven; under the production-driven approach, the bar and restaurant establishments within a hotel are product-driven. The entertainment industry is service-driven; under the production-driven approach, the retail and bar establishments within a theater are product-driven. The health care industry is service-driven; under the production-driven approach, the retail pharmacy establishment within a hospital is product-driven. Under the market-driven approach, all of these establishments are service-providing.

For example, a manufacturing enterprise is goods-producing under a market-driven approach, and product-driven under a production-driven approach. If it also operates a retail delivery system, the stores are service-providers under a market-driven approach, and are product-driven under a production-driven approach. If all sales revenue is sourced from its own products, the enterprise is in two primary industries. However, if forced to decide, its selection should be based upon core competencies – activities that it performs well. The enterprise can be divided into two separate business units: manufacturing and merchandising. The merchandising unit is an internal customer of the manufacturing unit. However, depending on strategy and policy, the manufacturing unit could sell products to wholesalers and other retailers, and the merchandising unit could buy products from other manufacturers and wholesalers. Under a market-driven approach, the manufacturing unit is goods-producing and the merchandising unit is service-providing, whereas under the production-driven approach, the merchandising unit is product-driven.

The make-up of the economy changes overtime as newer industries emerge and grow and older industries mature and decline. For example, the manufacturing industry is shifting from vertically integrated to strategically outsourced. Strategic outsourcers may manufacture specialized components and assemble finished products. However, by outsourcing the manufacturing of utility components to specialty scale manufacturers, strategic outsourcers can lower their production costs.

Biotechnology and nanotechnology are emerging industries. The information industries are growing as technology becomes more ubiquitous, and as knowledge is packaged in digital products. Knowledge is information that has been learned and retained. In the future, knowledge will be retained extensively in electronic form.

Products and services…

The term “product” is associated with something that is tangible – the resulting inventory from agricultural, mining and drilling, construction, and manufacturing activities. Outputs are either end-products, or components that are assembled into end-products in downstream processes within the enterprise or in its customers.

The term “service” is associated with something that is intangible – capabilities either delivered at the point or time of sale, or shortly thereafter, or as a supporting service. Supporting services can be purchased at the time of sale for downstream use, or later, and consist of such items as warranties beyond those bundled with the product, preventive maintenance, and routine cleaning and repairs.

Functions and features of products are easier to discern than those of services, which are event or activity driven, and may occur in the future.

The term “time of sale” means when a contractual or non-contractual agreement between a buyer and a seller is made, and does not necessarily mean when revenue is recognized and earned. Revenue is recognized and earned according to the accounting principles that fit the service offering, which may be over a period of time.

A commodity is a product or service that is indistinguishable and interchangeable with another of the same type because there is little to no value added. Many commodities are natural, such as produce, minerals, oil, and gas. Services can be commoditized too. The distinguishing factors of a commodity provider include convenience, quality of service, and price.

Product-driven enterprises also offer delivery and supporting services. Delivery services include arranging for transportation, dealer preparation, training, and gift wrapping. Supporting services include cleaning, repairs, and maintenance. To remain competitive over time, enterprises have to add services with their product offerings that exceed customer expectations. However, if customers require such services, then they must become part of the basic offerings. For example, bathroom facilities and color TV are included in modern hotel rooms, even though the primary purpose is providing a place to sleep.

Although services are intangible, their effects are not. Transportation services move people, cleaning services remove dirt and stains, and repair services restore items to working order. Services require facilities, equipment, and supplies that are bundled in. When products are bundled in, the enterprise pays sales or use tax, if applicable; when products are sold with services, the customer usually pays sales or use tax, if applicable.

Service-driven enterprises can produce tangible deliverables. For example, dry cleaners produce clean and pressed clothes; professional service firms, such as architects, accountants, attorneys, and consultants produce reports; and engineers produce design drawings that can be transformed into facilities, equipment, or other tangible products.

The recording and movie industries employ technologies that can capture sound and pictures. Starting in laboratories, these industries transform science into art. Hence, live entertainment performances (services) can be transformed into recorded products. As a consequence, an event or activity can be reproduced, duplicated, distributed, and repeated to the public-at-large indefinitely. Digital products are impacting traditional manufacturing, distribution, and consumer buying behaviors, and placing intermediaries at risk.

Process control and information technologies have enabled seamless integration between designers and manufacturers. The “design-to-construction” process becomes ubiquitous as computer-aided design and manufacturing technologies (CAD/CAM) enable a designer in one location to transmit specifications to manufacturers in others. The designs are virtual, and result in instructions that control manufacturing equipment in both local and remote locations. As a consequence, manufacturing can be outsourced strategically to any manufacturer that can accept electronic designs anywhere at any time. Because the process is seamless, the precision is higher.

As more enterprises adopt the design-to-construction model, dramatic changes will occur in the structure of industries. For example, in the publishing industry, books can be printed on demand from electronic files upon receipt of orders placed over the internet, eliminating the need for physical inventory available for sale at printers, publishers, and bookstores. The electronic files represent a virtual finished goods inventory from which physical products can be made when necessary. As a consequence, inventory carrying costs are lower.

Both product-driven and service-driven industries render service from centers that receive inbound and place outbound service and telemarketing calls. Call center activities can be outsourced in a similar fashion to manufacturing.

The notion of strategic outsourcing can be applied to almost every function in an enterprise provided intellectual property is protected. However, although management consultants may be used in the development of strategy, the ultimate responsibility for planning, deployment, execution, and performance remains in-house with the governance function.

Products and/or services…

The term “products and/or services” describes collectively all types of products and services.

Service-driven industries are evolving into providers of both “product-oriented” and “service-oriented” services. In order to differentiate product-oriented services from the delivery and supporting services, the term “service-oriented” products provides more clarity. Service-oriented products must be definable, duplicable, and repeatable. They are intangible outputs of processes that are represented by tangible items, packaged in a definable form. Technology plays a major role in the delivery through hardware, software, and both voice and data telecommunications. “Hard” products are tangible and “soft” products are intangible.

For example, traditional land phone line services were offerings with few differentiating features, primarily in the style of equipment. As the telephone system migrated from electro-mechanical to electronic, the offerings were transformed into service-oriented products with features such as call forwarding, caller identification, call waiting, and voice mail. Cell phone offerings are service-oriented products with more extensive functions and features than land lines. Cell phone service-oriented products have cameras built-in, and have delivery and supporting services bundled in such as account information, internet access, and application software for calculators, calendars, contact information, notes, games, music, pictures and movies. Cell phone and computer technologies are converging.

In the financial and business and professional services industries, service-oriented products are packaged with such items as accounts, agreements, brochures, contracts, databases, documents, equipment, facilities, policies, procedures, and statements.

In the leisure and hospitality industries, service-oriented products such as flights, hotel rooms, car rentals, and limousine services are packaged with facilities, equipment, and supplies. The types of facilities and equipment define specific offerings. For example, an Airbus A380 renders a different experience from a Douglas DC3 even though the principal service is the same: providing air transportation. A hotel room with a view of the ocean renders a different experience from one with no windows at all, even though the principal service is the same: providing accommodation. The quality of the accoutrements such as blankets, pillows, towels, newspapers, cable TV, internet access, and fruit baskets can affect the overall experience. A Cadillac renders a different experience from a Chevrolet, even through the principal service is the same: providing a rental car to drive, or a limousine.

Travel-related service-providers bundle air, hotel, car rental, and limousine services into packages to make the buying decisions easier for consumers. Event planners bundle travel-related services with conference and convention services for enterprises.

Consumables, durables, and facilities…

Manufactured products consist consumables and durables.

Consumables are products change or wear out as they are used and comprise food, clothing, personal care, health care, household supply, and office supply items. Media such as books, records, audio and video CDs, and DVDs are classed as consumables – the intellectual property is worth far more than the media.

Durables are long lasting equipment items such as appliances, furniture, and vehicles.

Digital products may involve no media if they delivered electronically other than the server of the publisher and the electronic device of the user.

Facilities are the outputs of construction activities and are made of durable materials.

Contractual or non-contractual products and/or services…

Agreements are contractual or non-contractual based depending upon the type of offering, and the nature of the relationship between buyers and sellers.

Consumable products can be sold with the right to return for exchange or refund within a certain period of time. Durable products can be sold with agreements that define warranties and maintenance.

Service-oriented products and services can be sold with agreements that specify exactly what is to be delivered and when, with procedures for reporting problems or complaints.

In negotiations, discussions should embrace the specific functions and features of hard and soft products, and the delivery and supporting services. Experienced negotiators pay attention to both the tangibles and intangibles because the total cost of ownership comprises both.

Digital-construction and digital-manufacturing…

As technology continues to develop, service-oriented products will become more common because it makes intangible items definable. New knowledge-based industries will emerge.

The reproduction of software on physical media is classified as goods-producing, and all other development and publishing activities are classified as service-providing under NAICS. However, software and other digital products are durable because they can last indefinitely, even if they have to be transferred among storage media. Software products are developed by service-providers such as business and professional services firms, publishers, and “in-house” developers. Nevertheless, software development activities require the project management disciplines of goods-producing industries, such as construction and manufacturing, to be successful.

The “digital-construction” and “digital-manufacturing” industries are evolving: digital construction delivers software; digital manufacturing delivers soft service-oriented, information, and knowledge-based products. However, through CAD/CAM processes, software delivers hard products too. In the future, almost all hard and soft products will result from digital-construction and digital-manufacturing processes.

Defining product and/or services is an enterpriship (entrepreneurship, leadership, and management) competency.

Manufactured Homes 101 – The Things You Need to Know!

Everyone has dreamed of owning their dream house. A place they can call your own. It’s a place of sanctuary to shelter you and your family. Manufactured homes have always been a good option. Putting your money into it is worth while, although, a lot of people are still unsure whether to purchase one.

Factory built houses come in all shapes and sizes. They come in various floorings and fashion that it is easy to find one that will suit your taste. Aside from being way cheaper than houses constructed right on the location, these homes also give you a chance to design your home. Ranging from $20,000 – $100,000, they are ready for transfer to any location you’d want your house to be set.

A Factory Built Home: What is it?

Also known as a prefabricated house, manufactured homes are units of houses constructed in a huge factory. After purchasing, it is then dragged to the site where it can be put ready for transfer to another location or mounted on the ground through masonry groundwork.

Prefabricated homes are constructed upon certain set of codes which administers mobility, fire safety, effectiveness, style and sturdiness. All of these sets of guidelines are closely monitored by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The same set of guidelines also manages the electrical, heating and plumbing systems.

The Basics About Prefabricated Homes

Here are some of the things that you need to know about manufactured or prefabricated homes.

  • They are houses built in large factories.
  • After they are constructed from the factories, they are wheeled to the chosen site for the house. It is done by transporting the whole house one portion after the other.
  • Prefabricated home cost less than the houses constructed right on the site.
  • They are used to be regarded as mobile or trailer houses. They come in many designs.
  • They are constructed under the guidelines set by the HUD or the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
  • After transferring the house’s portions in the site, they are put into pieces.
  • Its market value depreciates as time goes by.

So, now that you have the basic knowledge about what a factory built home is, I guess you can clear up your mind and start weighing things. Buying a house is really a good investment of your hard-earned money and considering the given details about prefabricated homes, counting it as an option is not a bad idea after all.

Importance of Statistics in Marketing – A Concise Account

Over the years, the corporate ambience has cultured a potent need for research and development. While research is just as important an area in other fields such as finance, sales, or human resources, the scope of research in the dimension of marketing and sales management has only amplified with time. Corporations at the very top are investing millions of dollars in marketing research that includes both qualitative and quantitative research. Regarding the latter type, marketing innovations depend a great deal on the findings of quantitative research.

Statistics and Marketing

The statistical inferences delivered from the carriage of these researches are vital factors in determining the direction of an organization’s marketing flow. Be that product development, market development, promotional campaign plans, or knowing the customer standpoint, statistics run the state of affairs in contemporary marketing. The field of statistics contains a whole area of study relevant to marketing. Sophistication of these statistical methods goes a long way in enlightening the marketer about multiple aspects of marketing that aid him in the decision making process. Different methods help in different ways.

MDPREF

For example, there is a statistical analysis termed as multidimensional preference analysis (MDPREF) that employs the use of columns and rows for consumers and products respectively. With the help of this data analysis, the marketer can determine consumer preference patterns for different products. Essentials of the target market come out in the open along with the areas of potential market growth. Also various ideas can be deciphered through these patterns about product innovations.

Standing Out

Then there is multidimensional scaling (MDS), which throws light on the comparative analysis of the product and its competitors. Consumer standpoints generated from this analysis pave a path of illustration regarding the similarities and differences between different products. This, in turn, helps the marketer in descrying the product’s competitors and hence empowers him to develop the marketing base in productive accordance. In other words, the incorporation of insight produced from this method enables the marketer to develop the unique selling proposition of the product, thus making it score an edge over its counterparts.

Conjoint Analysis

Furthermore, another statistical strategy is conjoint analysis, the application of which evaluates consumer preference. Each product has a number of attributes. By employing conjoint analysis, the marketer succeeds in uncovering those combinations of attribute levels that have a high level of consumer preference. Consumers are given choices of different sets of attributes out of which they have to choose the one that will motivate them to a purchase. This is indeed valuable insight that facilitates the process of feature development, a prime context of marketing.

A Complimentary Hand

The aforementioned methods of statistics are just marginal accounts of the otherwise paramount contribution that statistical procedures are making to the field of marketing. Multiple innovations and advancements in marketing can be attributed to statistical findings, the utility of which has only diversified with the passage of time. Insight is key for business success and sustaining the freshness of that insight is exactly what statistics accomplishes. To cut a long story short, marketing owes a lot to statistics, given the consistency of value generation the latter continues to accomplish for the former.