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

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Follow this link to audio file: –

Dott Cornwall : design thinking in practice

from Cultivar on Vimeo.

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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





Masterclass : Business Leadership for the 21st Century

16 02 2010

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

Copyright : World Economic Forum swiss-image.ch/Photo by Monika Flueckiger

Founded in 1971 the World Economic Forum is the influential think-tank that is “Committed To Improving the State of the World”. Every year it holds its annual meeting of Global leaders in Davos, Switzerland. The theme for this year’s meeting was “Improving the State of the World – Rethink, Redesign, Rebuild”.

One of the key plenary sessions covered the subject of “Business Leadership for the 21st Century” – where a panel of Chairmen and CEO’s from some of the worlds leading companies discussed how businesses and organisations need to change if they seek to follow the Rethink, Redesign, Rebuild message.

Central to their debate was Peter Druckers quote that “Management is about doing things right – but Leadership is about doing the right things”.

The panel consisted of Indra Nooyi – Chairperson and CEO of PepsiCo; Wang Jianzhou – Chairman and CEO of China Mobile; Stephen Green – Chairman HSBC Bank; Eric Schmidt – Chairman and CEO of Google; and Rosabeth Moss Kanter – Author and Professor in Business at Harvard Business School.

These opinion formers all agree that following the economic crisis of 2008/9, business leaders need to provide a new direction in 2010. After the huge breakdown in public trust in organisations, the financial system and capital markets, they understand that the nature of capitalism must change.

Indira Nooyi summed it up by saying that: –

  • We need to focus on Stakeholders not just Shareholders
  • We need to marry Performance with Purpose
  • We need to plan and act for the long-term not short-term

Wang Jianzhou identifed 3 key leadership challenges: –

  • Management should focus on real practice not theoretical models
  • Everyone should embrace technology to innovate
  • Companies need to be more socially responsible

Stephen Green made these key observations: –

  • The implications of the economic crisis will last for years
  • Out of crisis will come a better and less geared financial system
  • Companies will need to contribute to both economic and social development in future

Eric Schmidt’s view centred on:-

  • Where will growth come from – reshuffling money in the system? or creating something new?
  • Embracing new technologies is a way of empowerment

Rosabeth Moss Kanter commented on recent HBS research on Global businesses that are outperforming their peers, which clearly supports the emergence of 4 attributes for success: –

  1. Organisations need to understand how they serve society by defining and organising their resources around a “True Purpose”
  2. They need to be innovative in the way they serve society by creating new solutions to societal problems
  3. They need to develop an eco-system network of partnerships that extend their reach
  4. Strategies need to be people-centric and focused on the engagement of employees and customers who want to be involved in something that “makes a difference”

These observations show a startling degree of congruency from a wide range of Global Leaders from different sectors and regions. Their key messages resonate with the key elements of Authenticity discussed in my earlier blog postings on the big business issue.

Perhaps the time is right for you to follow the example’s being set by these wise folk? Will you change your leadership style in 2010? Will you set out a new route for success in the forthcoming decade? Why not consult me and my colleagues from Authenticis about how our methodologies can help you succeed in Rethinking, Redesigning, and Rebuilding your message?

You can see the full video of this panel from WEF 2010 here :-

Video : Business Leadership for the 21st Century

Posted by: James Rock – Managing Director, Cultivar Consulting





David and Goliath – The battle for Authentic British Chocolate…

25 01 2010

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

Cadburys Dairy Milk

US based Global Giant Kraft foods

The David Vs Goliath battle for ownership of British chocolate maker Cadbury now seems to have been won by powerful global brand Kraft Foods.

Employees of Cadbury, residents of Birmingham where its HQ is located, and the wider British public and press are generally up in arms about this planned take-over.

Their real concern seems to be about the Authentic legacy of the Cadbury brand, and fears that Global food giant Kraft will end the higher purpose and philanthropy that the British brand is famed for, particularly within the Bournville Village suburb where it was founded.

But is this fair? Kraft is recognised in USA as one of its most reputable companies, and Forbes Magazine recently ranked Kraft as number one USA company for sincerity i.e. doing what it says it will do; and number 3 for overall reputation. So why is the British public so concerned?

Recent economic events have created a great deal of scepticism regarding the blatant pursuit of profit – and much of the press reporting in this case has focused on how Kraft has borrowed heavilly to buy Cadbury at a time when the Dollar/Sterling exchange rate makes the purchase cheap. And traditional financial reporting has primarily focused on the profit motives of Kraft, and I have yet to see any journalist dig deeper into the values of the Kraft management team, and its social responsibility record or future strategies and policies. However, Kraft itself also seems to have failed to capitalise on its reputation, and its communication programme seems to have stumbled in todays world of word-of-mouth communication. Its management team has a duty to shareholders to pursue opportunities that meet its stated strategy – which this take-over is, but it has failed to engage the wider stakeholders and is now seen as a hostile enemy.

This leads me to conclude that Authentic businesses need to be GREAT at communicating their values and policies, to generate trust, and to make sure that what they do is aligned with what they say they will do. It also confirms a wider trend that I and my colleagues in Authenticis are finding – that people in general are more concerned about the greater purpose of brands and are shunning those who purely pursue short term profitability for economic gain. Kraft will need to beware of boycotts to both brands in the post-acquisition period.

What do you think? leave a comment below, or get in touch to hear how we can help your organisation in developing its Authenticity.

James Rock Cultivar Consulting

Member Authenticis Consulting Network