Thursday, February 27, 2014

Will Silicon Valley ever grow up?

Silicon Valley is dominated by companies that are innovative, fast growing, ambitious and intense. They face the need to be efficient, keep growing and stay ahead of newer competitors. Yet, these challenges have been faced by companies for hundreds of years. Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and Harley Procter had to overcome them long ago. They did. Procter and Gamble is over 180 years old. Ford Motor is almost 100 years old. Many companies in Silicon Valley act as though they are the first organizations to have to deal with these old issues in Management. They tend to spend much effort and relatively little time (shooting from the hip) in re-inventing the wheel. So you get stupid interview questions such as: "how many golf balls fit inside an airliner?" Decision and implementation processes are not thought through and are sometimes ill conceived. Executives at all levels in many companies have not experienced being in a more mature, effective company. There are exceptions, such as Intuit, of course, but too many are unlikely to last a fraction as long as P&G.

Yet, until Silicon Valley does develop some maturity and balance, there will continue to be cycles, poor predictability, and bubbles. The smart companies make sure that they hire experienced executives, even from outside the industry. They also make sure that they have the processes and thinking such as that required to get on a Best Place to Work list.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

When Westport, CT was the center of the Marketing World

Following 14 years in Brand Management at Procter & Gamble, Ralph Glendinning moved to Westport, CT in 1962 to start Glendinning Associates, the first Marketing Consulting firm in the World. Early clients included consumer giants like General Foods, Lever Bros., Ogilvy & Mather and H.J. Heinz. David Ogilvy once wrote that "when it comes to sales promotion, Ralph Glendinning is a true genius."Glendinning became a powerhouse, with offices in London, Paris and Frankfurt. It also spawned many spin-offs in the Westport area, as well as copycats and other Marketing Service firms. The most successful spin-off company, Marketing Corporation of America, was founded by Jim McManus in 1971, and grew to be a behemoth of Marketing Services, with Strategy Consulting, Sales Promotion, Market Research, Advertising Agency, Couponing, and even a Venture Capital Arm. At the time of this article in 1982 M.C.A. was still growing rapidly, and ended up also owning car dealerships, restaurants as well as the largest regional airline in the North-East. Just as Glendining had other spin-offs such as the Weston Group, Connecticut Consulting and New England Consulting, so M.C.A. had its own such as the Ryan Partnership, Main Street Partners and others. Quite separately, other Marketing service firms such as Greenfield Consulting, Clancy, Shulman and others, set up shop in the Westport area. Westport still has many Marketing services in the Area, but one could argue that the Hedge Funds and Private Equity firms have taken the pre-eminent position now.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Why are managers so bad at managing people? Becoming a "Best Place to Work."

Survey after survey tell us that the No. 1 reason people leave their jobs (or hate them if they do not leave), is a bad manager.We also know that each year, 2 Million people leave their jobs. Are so many managers bad? The answer is certainly less. The fact is that little attention is given to training managers in being good at it - in fact, the odds are high that their manager is not good at it! While the number of people who have been academically trained in "Management" had grown dramatically in the past 60 years, the amount of practical, on-the-job training managers get has dropped. People management skills are more readily absorbed by on the job training than in an academic setting.

Over the past twenty years, there has been growth in companies trying out for "Best Paces to Work" lists, but many companies do not know how to qualify. Training in this has only very recently become available and it is worth companies checking out the need for it: