5 Business KillersNovember 29, 2010
4 Trends; Wacky Practices; Tiger’s New Coach; Real-Time MarketingDecember 10, 2010
"…keeping you great"
Please Mark Your Calendar — Fortune Growth Summit, October 25 – 26, 2011
5 Business Killers – my latest Venture column in Fortune magazine is out on the newsstand where I describe 5 "stop doings" — please take one minute to scan my list of the 5 business killers you should stop immediately.
Stop Eating Alone — this is one of my 5 "stop doings" in the Fortune column and one of the best practices I've adopted this past year. Since moving to Spain, where the two hour lunch is standard practice, I have built deeper business, social, and political connections in Barcelona in one year than I did in ten years living and working in the DC area.
Geneva Is Hot — notes the NY Times yesterday "Companies from Europe and the United States, and more recently, Asia, are being drawn to the area (Geneva) by low taxes, generous write-offs and labor laws that are more flexible than much of the rest of Continental Europe. Then there's the central location and, of course, all that fresh air." Locating in Europe puts you six time zones closer to the phenomenal growth opportunities in Asia. If interested, here's a link to the article.
India On Fire as Well — with 8.9% annual growth so far in 2010 and a stock market that has over doubled the past 12 months, I'm hearing nothing but upbeat news from my audiences in India this week. 25% to 100% growth rates seem to be the norm as our regular clients describe "expanding into two more countries" and "adding 20 more locations" as if these are normal, everyday expectations. I was particularly excited to catch up with Ashiana Housing, one of 39 Indian companies named to the Forbes 200 list of Asian Companies Under a Billion.
7% of Management Compensation — this is what Ashiana Housing, the 480 employee New Delhi-based housing construction firm, calculates they spend bringing all 70 managers from around India together for their monthly management meeting, but it has already paid off 10-fold. Launched in January, it was difficult for them to imagine getting 70 senior and middle managers to find a day each month, let alone, go to the expense of hosting a Friday evening and all day Saturday meeting. Yet, they trusted I knew what I was talking about and hosted the first meeting.
Revenues tripled — at the first monthly meeting in January, designed to help senior management "pass down their DNA" to the middle managers, they tackled a huge issue collectively — sales. The market for housing, even in India, had slowed down in 2009, so they wanted to boost business. The challenge wasn't getting visitors; it was their conversion rate into sales. So the 70 leaders tackled the issue for several hours. The big idea that emerged was creating a "wow factor" at each of their locations. In addition, they improved the customer service approach of the guards greeting potential customers and increased the number of signs directing customers to the sales and rental offices — all activities that could be implemented immediately because they had complete buy-in from the start. The result? Monthly sales tripled two months later and have been high ever since.
Huge Time Savings — Ashiana also hosts a show and tell session where a team from construction and a team from maintenance highlight a best practice from the previous month. In one case, their new Pune construction team had innovated a way to construct a kitchen in 6 — 7 fewer days for slightly less money as well. Immediately, the construction teams at their five other locations implemented these best practices. Cutting down construction time by a week improves cash flow and speeds sales — another big win providing big returns in their monthly investment.
Breaking Down Barriers — pulling all 70 managers together has also helped forge stronger relationships across functions and business operations. For instance, legal now understands better some of the challenges maintenance faces. In turn, having all 70 together creates some positive peer pressure as each manager shares "their number" at the beginning of the meeting Friday evening. Just 7 monthly meetings later, 85% of the 70 have a main Key Performance Indicator that definitively measures whether they've had a successful month or not.
Specific Meeting Agenda: Ashiana Housing provides a perfect case study for why the monthly management meeting, bringing together all the senior and middle managers, is so powerful. Their agenda:
6:30 – 8:30pm — After a round of Good News both personally and professionally, all managers share "their number." In addition, the owners (3 brothers), review the mission, vision, and values and update the team on key targets for the year.
8:30pm — ? Dinner and drinks give the team some important social time. And the personal good news the managers shared earlier fuels a lot of the conversations creating bonds among the team members.
8am – 10am — All the managers share their issues from the previous month while the senior team is looking for patterns and trends among the issues. The main benefit, from the owners' perspective, is that it gives the managers a chance to vent and verbalize their challenges — and often other managers have constructive solutions which are shared later through private conversations.
10:30am – 12:30pm — After a tea break, two hours of training is conducted. Recent topics include delegation, email etiquette, and executive health (Vishal Gupta, one of the brothers, lost 5kg in weight as a result). In addition, they are starting to use Gazelles' one-hour online seminars.
1:30 – 2:00pm — After lunch two 15 minute "show and tell" presentations are made, giving the managers practice with their presentation skills and the opportunity to share best practices.
2:00pm – 5pm — Last, the team collectively tackles one or two huge issues, like the sales issue, allowing the senior team to tap into the ideas of the middle managers and to "model the way" in terms of industry knowledge and their approach to decision making. To wrap-up the meeting, they share a round of "one phrase closes" where each leader expresses their reaction to the management meeting.
This is How It's Done and Why — congrats to Ashiana Housing for having the discipline and making the investment in a routine that will continue to propel them ahead of their competition.