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Marketing Focus Newsletter

Barry Urquhart
International Conference Keynote Speaker

Issue 73: July 2008
Page: 1 of 1 Author's Profile | Send to a Friend | Printer Version

Failure, like success, comes with choice. Many people choose failure to survive because of one or more four primary reasons. Pulitzer Prize winning writer Jared Diamond in his text “Guns, Germs and Steel” crystallised those four factors to:
* Failure to anticipate a problem; * Failure to perceive it once it has arisen; * Failure to try to resolve it once recognised; * Failure in one’s attempt to solve it.

Failure, it seems, is almost inevitable in life and in business. Contemplate the fact that 99% of all species which have inhabited and graced the planet are today extinct.
According to Charles Darwin, the 1% which have survived were not or are not the smartest or fastest. Rather, they have been most able to adapt.
Today, we face increasing complexity and accelerating change. Interaction between complexity and change generates volatility and occasional bursts of turbulence.


These interactions also produce obsolescence and invention.
There is an apparent emerging and evolving sequence, being:
* Convergence; * Complexity; * Turbulence; * Accelerated change; * Volatility; * Obsolescence; * Invention
.

Identification of which phase one finds oneself in provides the opportunity to develop appropriate strategies and tactics, as well as expedite the process to the reinvention of oneself, the organisation, product, service, market place, national or global network.

The 19th Century Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto has much to answer for. Abuse and misinterpretation of his original principle has led to a lot of antipathy and indifference among some in business. Pareto simply stated that typically 20% of people accumulate 80% of a community’s, region’s or nation’s wealth. The power-law distribution of wealth persists today. Use of the multi million websites bears witness to that. Most use is limited to a relatively few which have developed their profile and relevance.

Hopefully, more will be driven to act now, for it is a great time to accumulate, often on the misfortunes and the failure to choose of others.

NOT FOR PROFIT

The statement, “Not for Profit” is in many instances illusional, misleading, inappropriate and may be offensive.
No entity exists, persists or should operate unless it is to the advantage of its members and broader set of stakeholders. The word profit has meanings and interpretations well beyond economic return.
Executive officers of many so called not-for-profit entities enjoy considerable income, financial benefits, travel and access to or the scope to exercise appreciable political and institutional power.
They should therefore be tentative about or preferably choose to delete references about being limited in their capacity because they operate under the philosophy of being not for profit.

Entities and executives who embrace and are driven by the objectives and pursuits of benefiting and rewarding all stakeholders within their respective spheres of influence inevitably grow in relevance, stature and influence.
Members and prospective members are not motivated to maintain membership because of any not-for-profit status. They should be and are typically driven by advantages to their profession, industry, entity and self. Fulfilment of those criteria alone justify increments in fee structures.

In these economically straitened and volatile times membership will be retained and indeed, may improve for those associations, clubs, movements and similar entities which embrace, promote and deliver profit in whatever form may be deemed relevant and beneficial to all stakeholders.

CHILLED OUT IN CHILE

At the conclusion of many conference keynote addresses presented around the world, I am repeatedly advised by delegates that I remind them of John Cleese and his character Basil Fawlty.
It is perhaps understandable with my height, grey hair, moustache and relatively slim physic.

It is from that authoritative standpoint that I am able to dispel the myth that John Cleese and Basil Fawlty have retired to California. Based on my experiences during a recent lecture tour in Santiago, Chile, I can advise you that they are alive, well and operating in the hospitality industry of regional Chile.
In fact, I might be mistaken but I feel sure that Manuel is franchising his waiting skills to several restaurants.
However, let me qualify my comments by recognising the gracious nature of those who live and work in Santiago, Chile. They are caring and patient. The national tourism and hospitality industries are in their infancy, after 17 years of dictatorial rule by the Pinochet regime.

In essence, the Chilean tourism industry had its genesis in the 1970’s. Accordingly it is so young and confronted with so many challenges.
Service is a global industry and all nations are confronted with the challenge of delivering the service promise.
The recent visit to Santiago, Chile was stimulating. The people from Independent Brands Australia and those in the respective banner networks of Cellerbrations, the Bottle-O, Liquor Force and IGA Plus were great. Watch out for big things from these people.

“FUNNY BUSINESS”

That’s funny……. interesting and significant !
There exists an important and consistent variable in the attainment and maintenance of high productivity, stable staff composition, customer satisfaction and client retention.
Refreshingly, it need not involve large outlays of capital, investments in infrastructure and systems or the support of expensive incentives.

It is difficult to quantify and is not evident in entity debit and credit registers. However, believe me, it’s impact on market worth, image and competitive advantage is substantial. The contribution to the price : equity value is infinitesimal.

Moreover, management and marketing departments are relieved of the need to authorise and script promotional texts and advertisements which declare that the entity is an employer of choice. This variable is declaration enough.
Many job descriptions and job specifications are lacking, because they do not address this attractive and valuable ideal.
Sadly, in the current volatile marketplace with the pressures of time constraints, stress and competitive forces, its presence is less conspicuous and falls short of being considered ubiquitous . The deficiency is palpable.
You may well have consciously or subconsciously noted the shortcomings in so many business, political and life settings. However, few find themselves able to verbalise the inadequacy.

FUN is like that. It counters negatives, overcomes impediments, creates focus, sustains motivation and fulfils the insatiable need of all stakeholders.
It is not hard work. It overcomes and makes light of hard work. Conflicts are typically cancelled because of fun. Group cohesion is enhanced and sustained by it.
There is no suggestion that one should not take business and the pursuit of excellence, quality, trust and integrity seriously. However, it is often good for all to not take yourself too seriously. Laugh. Have fun.


THE STEPS FORWARD

MEETINGS :An initial step to inculcate fun as an integral part of the business is to call a meeting or series of meetings to enable people to express their perceptions of the essential culture of the entity and the degree to which fun is part of its character. Team members usually are a bountiful pool of fresh and refreshing ideas on how best to reintroduce, increase and sustain fun.

COMMUNICATIONS: Human beings are social creatures. They have an infinite need to interact. What is increasingly lacking in much of contemporary communication is the word personal.
Interoffice emails and sms text messages should be minimised and personal contact encouraged. Technology is best applied when it complements, not replaces, people and people contact.

TIME: Our time-poor society and typical lean business entities impinge on the relief which is introduced by the fun of interacting with people. It’s not easy and is easy to overlook. However, there is an importance and multiple returns from the provision of regular, periodic and spontaneous “time-outs” for team members to enjoy the fun of rotating duties and focus.

INFORMALITY:
In 1983 Tom Peters and Bob Waterman Jnr released their international best selling book “In Search of Excellence”. It was significant that many of the corporations that were identified to be excellent, tolerated and indeed, encouraged informal structures called “skunkworks”. These typically breached many traditional rules and conventions. Members of these skunkworks enjoyed the informality, fun and self generated energy which evolved.
Core values were respected, but standard practices were at all times subjected to questioning.

CELEBRATE: Daily, countless milestones are achieved, not recognised nor celebrated.
Ask elite sportspeople where they derive most fun in their individual pursuits. The focus tends to be in “PB’s” (personal best), premierships and gold medals. These symbols and tokens make all the hard work and sacrifices worthwhile. Life in the fast lane of business is no different. Therefore, we need to create and revere our heroes. It’s fun!

INVOLVE: Connecting with internal and external customers is an imperative for business success in the contemporary business environment. Networking has been developed to an artform, with countless hours dedicated to expanding the spheres of influence of team members.Nothing facilitates and expedites better the establishment and maintenance of mutually rewarding relationships than an environment in which fun is a key element.
Therefore, specific focus should be developed to include and embrace associates, suppliers and clients – the pursuit of having fun in business.

UNWRITTEN DIMENSIONS: The introduction and pursuit of fun does not impact on corporate visions, missions, policies, practices or job descriptions. It does, however, add immeasurable value.
Predictably, some people will dismiss the contention because of heavy workloads and a lack of time. Much of that can and is overcome by a change of thinking, which precedes a change of doing.
It is a case of :-
THINK IT - DO IT

THE AUTHOR

Barry Urquhart, Managing Director of Marketing Focus, Perth lectured full time for 5 years at the Curtin University of Technology in Western Australia. He regularly consults to entities, large and small on management, corporate culture and organisation effective issues.


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