Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Surge In Digital and Direct Marketing Hiring Has Begun - Supergroup

This is the latest from Jay Dunn's SuperGroup posting.

Sleeping with the Dog May Be Unhealthy

This is news?

Sleeping with the Dog May Be Unhealthy

Story posted 2011.01.22 at 10:48 PM CST

NewsChannel5 Wireless News

NASHVILLE, Tenn.- A new report finds sharing a bed with a pet can sometimes be hazardous for your health.

The Centers For Disease Control warns that pets can bring a wide range of zoonotic pathogens into our environment.  Zoonotic pathogens are infectious agents that can be transmitted between animal and humans.

Experts say the odds of actually getting sick are high, but kids or people with compromised immune systems could catch a disease.

In a survey from the American Kennel Club 21 percent of dog owners admit they regularly sleep with their dogs.

Story posted 2011.01.22 at 10:48 PM CST

© 2004-2010 LSN, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Thank You,

Kenyatta Lovett

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Thinking in Terms of Systems

There was a recent article about American Airlines joining forces with I begins to show how companies are truly becoming virtual - nodes of core competencies and competitive advantages formulated by data to make money. Where does the value exist in this new game? Is it all about things, or systems - access to these systems. Your thoughts

How 50 Cent Made 8 Million Cents on Twitter | Futurelab

How 50 Cent Made 8 Million Cents on Twitter | Futurelab

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Higher Education: Product versus Function

I must admit, my class today was quite interesting. I enjoyed the lecture. More important, I appreciated the discussion on a particular topic: products. For a few years, I have tried to wrap my mind around developing an argument position against the current structure of higher education. This argument is not intended to discredit the existing structure. Instead, I would like to recommend an alternative solution for institutions pursuing better standards in the midst of a sharp reduction of resources – primarily funding. It would be incorrect for me to recommend any organizational suggestions to successful colleges and universities. However, there are several institutions that have either been unsuccessful or ineffective when it comes to improving standards and performance. I believe many of these organizations have some major issues applying their perception of their product with the mission.

Walker and Lorsch (1968) provided a structural analysis of how companies can best achieve efficiency, responsiveness, and the other operational attributes associated with long-term survival. The book, Organizational Choice: Product vs. Function, analyzed organizational structures that were contingent on the institution’s perception of environmental stability or strategy related to the final product. For some organizations, it was better to structure their operation to carry out a specific function, such as delivering mail or offering vaccinations. These systems could function at a high level of efficiency, but only in stable environments, with more constants than variables in the operational equations. Burns and Stalker (1961) influenced this writing by highlighting the differences between, Mechanistic and Organic Systems, focusing on the contingent nature of organizational structure and strategy. The flipside of the coin for Walker and Lorsch’s work is the product-focused organization.

Some organizations are designed to operate with the final product in mind. The two choices may appear to be the same, so let’s look at it a different way. Let’s take a generic company that produces MP3 players. This company would have a team of product developers, engineers, software developers, and other related professionals. The output of the company would be a variety of MP3 players to sell in the marketplace. A company focused on function would organize the operation by like functions – engineering division, software division, etc. All these units would function within their own individual vertical unit. Product-focused structures would organize the operation by product type – sports solutions, home/office, etc. The difference between the two has to do with a term the authors coined, “differentiation and integration”. Sparing you all the details, product-focused structures offer more flexibility to changing environments. Based on this information, I believe many higher education institutions could benefit from a structure that valued product more than function, especially community colleges.

Community colleges are designed to offer responsive and efficient modes of higher education. Although many perceive the value of the currency of community colleges to be inferior to universities, the attempt to compare the two would be similar to comparing net-books to laptops; the price point and functionality are uniquely positioned in the value-chain. Back to the point, many community colleges are structured to mirror larger universities. In spite of their different missions and audiences, community colleges perceive their primary output in society to center on higher education. A closer look at the two can easily present variances in output products. Universities produce three primary products (degrees) geared toward employment. Community colleges have many more products, with some geared toward employment, and others designed to retain employment. Additionally, community colleges have products that integrate with the university product structure. The final product can either be purchased (admitted) by another manufacturer (university) for further development on a more complex product (bachelors degree) to gain a higher price (wage) in the marketplace. The final product can also be sold (hired) direct in the workforce. Or, the final product can be retooled (workforce training, continuing education, etc.) to function better at an organization. In any case, community college products are more complex, due to the many variables. However, these lean organizations often operate by lumping the product development function in one vertical unit, and creating other similar units based on certain functions. Yet, only one division creates any relevant output to support the needs of the entire organization: academics. Not to mention, the ability to make sudden product/service changes can be very difficult, based on the writings of Walker and Lorsch.

I recommend a product focus for community colleges that captures the essence of their final outputs. The diagram below follows more of a matrix structure, which is mentioned in the work of Walker and Lorsch. The solution, in my opinion, establishes efficiencies for many of the support functions, while giving attention to the full development of certain outputs. Most community colleges create products (A.A., certificates, etc.) based on limitations or compliance issues. If the organization was divided by product type, the approach to certain opportunities would (1) develop a more strategic purpose, (2) be more responsive to the emerging need, and (3) quickly educate the support areas necessary for successful outcomes.

I believe this is an excellent opportunity for certain organizations to realize substantial efficiencies to redeploy resources in areas in most need. Please give me your thoughts on this approach. If you know of a higher education example that is based on a product-focused design, please send me the information to insert in future discussions.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Don’t Look at Actions, Look at Vision

I’ve come to understand how the problem with organizations doesn’t come from a collection of actions, but a collection of misguided perspectives. Similar to the concept of neo-institutionalism, bad organizational performance cannot be understood through aggregating individual actions. However, an organization’s performance can be understood through collective visions. How does an average employee view the organization’s mission? How do they view performance, position, demand, quality, or success?

If you can change their vision, you have a chance to change their actions. The greats like Tiger Woods or Peyton Manning often make bad choices and even major mistakes. The difference between them and the rest of the pack centers on their perspective on the entire matter. One can’t make a major comeback if one doesn’t believe they are losing. 

Friday, January 07, 2011

When Planning and Policies Will Not Do

I will give you a quick secret about me. I am in love with strategy and planning. Sure, I like the execution that leads to success, but the thought of success and the plans to get there are fascinating to me. Of late, I have tried to approach leadership from a hands-off perspective - trying to find the right words and policies to influence a winning attitude. I want the expectations around me to reach a new height, which in turn will help me to improve on my own shortcomings. But sometimes planning and policies will not do. Sometimes, you have to get the herd running and conditioned to run before you can establish the rules and standards necessary to sustain a successful attitude. It's very similar to the Karate Kid's "Wax On Wax Off" exercise.

For 2011, planning and polices will not work. It's time to condition your team to function within success. No, this is not a call for boss-style management, where you tell them to "do it or else". This is a call for small base hits - doing things outside of everyone's comfort zone. Call meetings early in the morning - important meetings that no one can afford to miss out on. Embrace suicide missions that have a high probability of failure - knowing it will ultimately fail, but not result in a costly endeavor. Initiate projects after hours with the few crazy people that will entertain your ideas at an inappropriate time. Get people comfortable with the value of failure, rewards of change, and the process of success.

The problem may not be in their expectations, but yours.

If you are interested in developing plans of action to transform your unit, please contact a KLCS representative for more details.

Thursday, January 06, 2011 Article: Retailers Fall Short as Blizzard, Angst Freeze Spending

So, what's the explanation for the high gas? Article: Retailers Fall Short as Blizzard, Angst Freeze Spending

Despite reporting some of the strongest sales gains in four years, retailers largely fell short of Wall Street's estimates as a still-cautious consumer spent their money carefully, and a Northeast blizzard stole from post-Christmas sales.

Full Story:

Download CNBC Real-Time from the App Store for Free and get Streaming Real-Time quotes, breaking news and the latest videos from CNBC.

Thank You,

Kenyatta Lovett

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

What You Won't Do

I have said this in a previous post - your brand often depends on what you will not do, more so than what you will do. Product choice is a scary thing. You are tying up all your resources in inventory that may or may not turn into cash. But that doesn't mean that you should sell a little of everything.

Let's look at Ian's Shoelace web site. Ian, for whatever reason, has decided to sell shoe laces. Who buys shoe laces you say? People with feet, who so happen to wear shoes. Is this enough of a product mix to survive as a business? Only Ian knows this answer. In any case, I like Ian's approach. He is taking advantage of economies of scale and scope to deliver a simple, but varied, product to the world. Ian is at the top of the search engine, by the way.

If this focus is too narrow, maybe Professor Arun Kanda can help you understand it in a more complex way.

Thanks Professor Kanda, now you should be on your way. If you didn't like his methods, you may want to go with a real focus. Try it today, tell you customers what you will not do.

For advice and consultation on product development and product marketing strategies, please contact a KLCS representative for more details.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Success is in the Supply Chain

If you begin to think about the companies that have been successful in the past few years, you will notice that they all have one common trait: a good supply/value-chain strategy. Think about it, the technology and innovations of today provide the means for a flexible organization to adapt to any situation or circumstance, assuming there are competent leaders to recognize the changes in the environment.

Branding and marketing experts claim to have the ability to capture an organization's brand essence. The reality of this farce is that your brand image/essence has already been captured; the logos and brand statements come secondary. For 2011, it is important to get back to the essence of your business, assuming you know what that is. Once you get to the essence of your business, then it's time to figure out the advantage - the differences in cost structures that give you the competitive edge. If you don't have it, you need to figure it out quickly. If you can't find one, you may be in trouble, or it may explain why you are having trouble.

Just to bring this home, let's think about the well-known drug cartels in history. Work with me here. If we remove the acts of violence (which could be translated to laws, policies, and wars on the legal side), we can see a common theme of an efficient supply/value-chain. Some gangster/criminal develops a systematic process to distributing their product at a level that moves product quickly. If you disagree, try selling a kilogram of cocaine today on your own and see if you can get the margins of the kingpins. That's right, how will you grow it, process it, get it here, distribute it, set a competitive price, and most important not get caught or killed.
The legitimate world is not different.

In a world of mass production and global enterprises, it's very difficult for small businesses to establish any form of competitive advantage. However, you can't always think of competitive advantage simply in the product cost itself. You need to think of the cost of ownership, the complexity of the purchase decision process, and the higher levels of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. People still want good local news that has an intellect appealing to the entire world. Customers are giving hints to their preferences in shopping through their search terms. What if a car dealership only sold black cars - different brands?

The problem with our economy is that we still want to build stuff, mainly because we are a materialistic society. We think building things creates value, because we value people by the things they have. The problem with our economy is not from the lack of building stuff, but from the lack of understanding value. Figure out that common value in your region, and develop an efficient system to supply this thing that your customers value.

If you are interested in learning more about our new system for developing business plans, please contact me for more details on our products and services.