Dott Cornwall : Design-Thinking in practice

21 11 2010

Dott Cornwall is bringing together local communities and world-class designers to work on projects that improve how communities in Cornwall live, work and play.

I was privileged to be able to interview Programme Director Andrea Siodmok and we chatted about the work they are doing.  She describes how this social enterprise is using Design and Design Thinking to help solve the problems faced by Cornwall’s communities.

The interview lasts about 20 minutes :-

Andrea Siodmok - Courtesy Design Council website

<a
<a
<a
<a
<a
<a
Follow this link to audio file: –

Dott Cornwall : design thinking in practice

from Cultivar on Vimeo.

&

&

For more information visit their website: Dott Cornwall

If you would like to discuss how Cultivar can help you to develop and implement Design Thinking in your organisation then please get in touch.

James Rock – MD and Chief Business Designer





Can business mend Broken Britain?

7 10 2010

You can also get an audio version of this podcast here: Listen!

I guess that before answering the question we have to ask ourselves “Is Britain Broken?”

These questions were posed to a panel at a fringe event held at the recent Conservative Party Annual Conference in Birmingham. The event was sponsored by the Tory Reform Group and included the following speakers :-

Nick Venning – Chairman of THRIVE CSR network Birmingham; Richard Fuller Cons MP for Bedford; Jane Ellison Cons MP for Battersea; and Margot James Cons MP for Stourbridge.

It was good to see these new MP’s who came to power in the 2010 election talk positively about what they think this new government can do to mend Britain. They agreed that there is a massive disparity between those at the top of the social pyramid and those at the bottom.  They agreed that people have “fallen out of love with capitalism”.  They agreed that the public sector had grown out of proportion to the private sector. They seemed to agree that there isn’t a quick-fix, and posed the following ideas on how business can help mend Broken Britain :-

– Businesses need to Partner with government to create a form of “Caring Capitalism” – using examples like John Lewis Partnership to share ownership with employees and embrace apprenticeships, etc

– Businesses need to demonstrate they are ethical and act with a sense of shared purpose to work for their community

– Government needs to praise and support the job-creating industries – such as the service sector and financial services sector who between them have created 4.8m jobs whilst manufacturing has lost 4m jobs

I would suggest that no-one will argue with these ideas. However, it struck me that they are somewhat conventional in thinking. We are entering a Government “Spending Review” and the expectation is a wave of cuts which everyone is fearful of. This may be necessary in the short-term, but as I wrote in my earlier blog post “Saving our way to prosperity…” it will not deliver more jobs or create greater wealth. So is more creativity and innovation needed in how we re-invent our businesses and re-position them for growth? We all know that growth of private sector businesses and creation of new jobs will result in shared wealth. So is now the time to foster the development of a new wave of caring capitalists to accompany the existing wave of social entrepreneurs who have created jobs, but taken a lot of public money to do this?

I believe that government and business both need to be more creative and innovative in supporting new ways of working. Developing Authentic businesses with a real purpose within the community. Sharing rewards via new forms of collective ownership. Government supporting these moves with financial support, grants and tax incentives designed to encourage more activity in this field.

What do you think? Is this a movement that we can get moving?

James Rock – MD and Chief Business Designer





Inspired Thinking with Adnams CEO Andy Wood

10 08 2010

Adnams have long been on my list of Inspiring Companies (see blogroll on the right).  I wrote a short article about them last year which you can read here : –

Avoiding Mediocrity – An exemplar of sustainability

Photo Copyright Jason Dye - http://www.jasondye.com

Adnams is the Southwold based brewing firm founded in 1872 when George and Ernest Adnams purchased the Sole Bay brewery with the help of their father. The business has grown steadily and won great acclaim for their beers, and recently many awards for their sustainable achievements.

Since 1990 the business has expanded to include wine and leisure retailing. Today the business is focused in three areas – Brewing and Brands, including its tenanted estate; Hotels and Managed Houses; and Wine and Shops including the Cellar & Kitchen chain of stores. In 2009 improved growth and profitability led to turnover of more than £50m and in their peak summer season employs more than 400 people

Last week I got the chance to interview Adnams CEO Andy Wood (right) about the business, its authentic values, and strategy for sustainable development.

You can listen to the interview here : Authentic Business Directory – Adnams plc

I would love to hear your comments about Authentic and Sustainable business – post a comment below.

If you would like to discuss how I can help you develop and implement your own sustainable and authentic business strategy then please get in touch.

James Rock – MD and Chief Business Designer





The value of being Authentic…

14 07 2010

You can also get an audio version of this podcast here: Listen!

I had an interesting meeting with a CEO this week. Our discussion focused on his desire to develop his business Authentically but he was worried about the opinions of significant and vocal shareholders who are constantly pushing him for short-term profitability.  He felt that board meetings had recently become something of a battle zone, and despite a track record of success he felt both insecure and angry that these shareholders are taking such a short-term perspective. This isn’t a new phenomenon of course, its a well known fact in publicly quoted companies, and is often one of the key reasons for under-investment.

Our conversation reminded me of an interview I heard recently with the owner of a Japanese family business that had been trading for more than 100 years. He attributed the long term success of the business to a philosophy of “growing like an oak tree not like a water melon….” He knew that slow organic growth made for a strong business with “A Heart of Oak”. He had seen many businesses that had pushed for aggressive and acquisitive growth that had failed or been taken over and integrated into other companies. I thought it was a good lesson for sustainable business.

But the Oak Tree metaphor didn’t really help my client… he could see the long term benefits, but he needed help to convince his shareholders that adopting an authentic approach can deliver increased shareholder value in the short-term too.  So we sat down and brainstormed just some of the benefits, which include:-

Increased Sales

  • increasingly customers seek to do business with sustainable companies, and with those that fulfill a social need;
  • customers of authentic businesses tend to tell their family and friends and these word-of-mouth recommendations results in more business; and
  • happy customers keep returning – so customer retention is higher.

Reduced Operating Costs

  • a true sense of purpose helps everyone focus on core competence, and reducing distracting activities;
  • marketing spend is lower since word-of-mouth overtakes advertising and special offers as the principal source of acquiring new customers;
  • staff turnover is reduced – resulting in lower recruitment and training costs;
  • staff feel more rewarded – since money isn’t their key motivator – resulting in greater productivity; and
  • suppliers are more helpful since the respect you show earns their loyalty – they go that extra mile to deliver on time, help develop new products, and find joint ways to reduce total costs.

Improved Shareholder Value

  • sustainable growth and steady contracts leads to increased P/E ratios;
  • increased profitability is multiplied by the higher P/E ratios to deliver higher shareholder value; and
  • business success attracts more potential buyers – increasing competitiveness in the buy cycle.

The above benefits now need to be quantified, but the CEO feels reassured that he can justify investing in developing an Authentic business strategy, and adopting Authentic leadership across the organisation… Is this an opportunity for you too?

Why not get in touch for an exploratory chat about the benefits that your organisation could get from Authenticity…

James Rock

Chief Business Designer – CULTIVAR Consulting

Partner – AUTHENTICIS Consulting Network





The Art of Business Design 2.0

1 04 2010

I recently published a free eBook on the subject covering my philosophy of Authentic Design Thinking.

This covers Design Thinking and Authenticity, and how I believe that these are both crucial important elements in designing and/or redesigning business models that cope with the miriad of challenges of today, and position businesses to be the leading companies of tomorrow.

You can view and download your FREE copy of this book from Slideshare.net – just follow this link:-

The Art of Business Design 2.0

Don’t forget to share your comments about this subject below.

If you would like to discuss it in more detail and how it can apply to your business then contact me…

James Rock, Chief Business Designer – CULTIVAR Consulting





Stuff We Believe In – Howies philosophy for business…

1 02 2010

You can also get an audio version of this blogpost here: – Listen!

Dave Hieatt - Co-founder of Howies | photo courtesy of Mike Lusmore see: http://www.mikelusmore.com

Being Authentic means having a greater purpose than making money. This is what drove Dave Hieatt, founder of Howies clothing, to give up a career in advertising and set up in business doing something he was passionate about. His desire? To make people think about the world we live in. Profits come second – or should that be third, after mountain-biking

I purchased a tee shirt from Howies recently and found a tag which tells customers about their business – I like the  statement below which convinced me to buy more of their products in future – I really empathise with these values :-

Stuff We Believe In…

  • We believe in making stuff that lasts.
  • We believe in good old fashioned service.
  • We believe in sport. We believe in play. We believe in having fun.
  • We believe the environment needs more friends.
  • We believe in making people think.
  • We believe the glass is always half-full.
  • We believe higher quality means lower impact.
  • And we believe tea should always be made in a pot.

It seems to be working – the company grows from strength to strength – 90% of their business is done via their website and catalogue and with minimal advertising – customers keep coming back, and referring family and friends – so Howies must be doing something right.

What do you believe in? Are you doing something that you are truly passionate about? Is the company you work for as Authentic as Howies? If not then why not? You can always talk to me about how myself and my colleagues from Authenticis can help transform your work into something truly motivational.

James Rock – Cultivar Consulting

For more about Howies visit their website : Howies





Making work a happier place in 2010

11 01 2010

You can also listen to the audio version of this blog post here : Listen!

Five years ago TIME magazine published an article entitled “The new science of HAPPINESS” which described research on exactly what it is that makes people happy.

In the article Dr Martin Seligman of University of Pennsylvania describes how he discovered the three components of happiness: –

  • Pleasure (“the smiley-face piece”)
  • Engagement (the depth of involvement with one’s family, work, romance and hobbies)
  • Meaning (using personal strengths to serve some larger end).

Of those three roads to a happy, satisfied life, pleasure is the least consequential, he insists: “This is newsworthy because so many people build their lives around pursuing pleasure. It turns out that engagement and meaning are much more important”.

You can read the full article here : TIME article

Since 2005 life has become less pleasurable for the vast majority of people.  The economic downturn has encouraged many to ask themselves what it is that makes them happy, and many have shunned the blatant consumerist lifestyle that they had been encouraged to pursue in the past. Has this affected you? Do you want to make work a happier place in 2010? If so then make sure that Engagement and Meaning feature in your working life.  Taken together, these are what constitute a sense of Purpose – one of the key principles of Authenticity (see blog article below : Being an Authentic Business ).

For individuals, this means that understanding exactly what provides engagement and meaning for you is really important if you seek true happiness in your work.  For companies, it means that leaders need to provide a true sense of purpose that will deliver the necessary engagement and meaning that will motivate employees. A great example of this is Apple whose CEO Steve Jobs (pictured below) set out to create a team environment to make products that are “Insanely Great”.

Steve Jobs - who set out to make Apple "Insanely Great"

This purpose has created a huge following for Jobs and Apple, from fans of its products and employees alike. The success of the business is one of the phenomenal stories of the decade.

If you want to find out more about Authenticity – for individuals or companies – then contact me and I can share with you the research work I am engaged in at present with a group called Authenticis – we are currently seeking to create a network of  Authentic businesses and would love to hear about those examples you can recommend to us.

James Rock – Cultivar Consulting