In 2010, when David Nish was promoted from CFO to CEO at Standard Life, he knew the scale of the challenge his company faced. The 185-year-old giant had just embarked on a sweeping transformation from an insurer to a long-term savings and investment company. Nish also knew that as the person leading the change, he would be tested by decisions and management situations he hadn’t encountered in the past. Certain that he could benefit from the perspective of someone who had been down similar roads before, Nish turned to a somewhat unusual adviser: Niall FitzGerald, a former chairman of Unilever.

The mentoring relationship they subsequently established is illustrative of those we have studied in our research—a two-year inquiry into an emerging way in which new CEOs in large organizations gain access to seasoned counsel and feedback. We found dozens of executives who were accelerating their learning by engaging the services of high-profile veteran leaders from outside their companies. To learn more about this growing but as yet undocumented phenomenon, we interviewed 15 chairman mentors and 25 protégés—CEOs, CEO designates, and CFOs. (Chairman Mentors International facilitated access to many of the study participants.)

On the basis of what we heard, we are convinced that more CEOs should connect with mentors rather than assume that theirs is a burden to be shouldered alone. But we also discovered aspects of such arrangements that make them trickier than the mentoring that takes place at lower organizational levels. At the CEO level, special considerations must go into making a match between mentor and mentee, structuring their sessions to deliver the intended benefits, and prioritizing the process so that it isn’t crowded out by other demands. By sharing what we’ve learned about these issues, we hope to pave the way for more use of this highly efficient learning model.

Lonely Learning at the Top

Down in the ranks, mentoring has become very popular in modern companies; many of them set up formal arrangements whereby “old hands” help novices learn the ropes. In this way they facilitate the acculturation, performance, and career progress of new entrants, high potentials, and minority populations who lack enough obvious role models. These efforts resemble the age-old practice of apprenticeship: observation of the master, execution with supervision and feedback, gradual accretion of tacit knowledge, and eventual attainment of mastery. The investments tend to pay off well. Research on junior to midlevel professionals shows that such programs enable them to advance more quickly, earn higher salaries, and gain more satisfaction in their jobs and lives than people without mentors do. For employers, the benefits are not only higher performance but also greater success in attracting, developing, and retaining talent.

Most CEOs of large organizations have had the benefit of mentoring—and other developmental activities such as stretch job assignments and leadership programs—during their careers. But their arrival at the top suddenly narrows the available and appropriate options. Gavin Patterson, who was promoted to chief executive of the telecommunications giant BT Group in 2013, told us that his company would have been “happy to send me to a top management program at Harvard,” but he couldn’t afford to be absent so long. “If you are one of the top 10 people in the business,” he noted, “the possibility of being away for three months is practically zero.”

Yet CEOs must keep raising their game—and having their thinking usefully challenged—for the good of their organizations. They must routinely make decisions concerning matters they’ve never before tackled. When have they ever had to spearhead a takeover—or defend against one? Resolve a crisis as the public face of the company? Deal with a board of powerful directors with divergent opinions? These demands require new talents. In the words of one well-known executive coach, “What got you here won’t get you there.”

In such high-stakes situations, CEOs need wise mentoring. That’s not the same as coaching. Although executive coaches are often superb at providing feedback and closing gaps in specific managerial skills, precious few have actually worked in equivalent roles themselves. Mentors, by contrast, are role models who have “been there and done that.” They can offer timely, context-specific counsel drawn from experience; wisdom; and networks that are highly relevant to the problems to be solved. And unlike company-managed mentoring programs, CEO mentoring is driven by the mentee, reflecting a level of customization rarely provided to people in the ranks.

When CEOs get this kind of support, good outcomes follow. We surveyed 45 CEOs who have formal mentoring arrangements, and 71% said they were certain that company performance had improved as a result. Strong majorities reported that they were making better decisions (69%) and more capably fulfilling stakeholder expectations (76%). More than anything else, these CEOs credited mentors with helping them avoid costly mistakes and become proficient in their roles faster (84%). Patterson spoke for many when he called mentoring “a more practical way to develop.”

Making the Match

Given the clear benefits of mentoring for developing CEOs, why is the practice not already ubiquitous? The single biggest obstacle is the difficulty, and sometimes awkwardness, of making a match between mentor and mentee—assuming that the CEO is not already lucky (or savvy) enough to have gained informal access to a valued adviser.

Sometimes it’s the CEO’s boss, the chairman of the board, who puts the wheels in motion. In 2009 Paul Geddes was the head of RBS Group’s insurance division and a potential successor to the CEO. But when European regulators required RBS to spin off the insurance business, he had a short time to prepare for an IPO. He recalls, “I had a lot to prove, and a lot to learn very quickly.” Geddes was introduced to the idea of a mentor by a board chairman who had himself been part of a mentoring process.

However, an interesting alternative to colleagues as connectors is emerging: high-level external consultants who play an intermediary role. These professional “matchmakers” use their networks and their insights into personality, often gained through executive recruiting, to set up meetings between previously unacquainted business leaders. Typically a first meeting is followed by a series of conversations, allowing both parties to assess the potential for good outcomes from the relationship. (Contrast this with what often happens at lower organizational levels, where mentors are simply assigned to mentees.)

The mentors in our study were all former CEOs themselves and unaffiliated with their mentees’ organizations. This profile satisfies three needs: the need for relevant experience, the need for a broad perspective, and the importance of complete trust.

“Relevant experience” usually means the mentor has sat in the hot seat as the CEO of a large, complex enterprise and visibly succeeded. Geddes talked about the need for mentors who were “10 to 15 years ahead” of their mentees. Many of those in our study were semiretired and serving on multiple boards.

A broad perspective, too, generally comes from the outside. You want mentors who not only think differently but also understand how the company is regarded in the marketplace. Take Nokia, once the mobile phone market leader, which found itself in a precipitous slide as Apple and Samsung claimed increasing market share. In 2010 Stephen Elop—a former Microsoft executive—was brought in to turn the company around. At the suggestion of his chairman, he began meeting with Peter Sutherland, a former chairman of BP and the chairman of Goldman Sachs International. Sutherland’s help was on a purely personal basis, and Elop, a Canadian, found him invaluable in many ways, including as a guide to the unfamiliar dynamics of European board governance. Moreover, Sutherland could offer an objective view as to whether Elop’s new strategy was building positive momentum. (In September 2013 Nokia announced the sale of its key assets to Microsoft at a significant premium to shareholders.)

Finally, the absolute necessity of trust in a mentoring relationship drives CEOs to seek counsel from experienced outsiders. As Peter Lynas, the CFO of BAE Systems, told us, “Only a certain level of issues can be raised with an internal mentor.” For some chief executives it is simply too risky to expose gaps in knowledge and experience to a chairman or a member of the board. Martine Verluyten learned from mentors when she was the group finance director of Umicore SA and found that it was “most effective when I was trying to show my strengths and weaknesses, as opposed to trying to put up a front.”

Speaking from the other side of the table, Roger Carr (currently the chairman of BAE Systems and one of Paul Geddes’s two mentors) stressed the importance of “being able to talk to someone in confidence who is not a stakeholder or a paymaster.”

Making It Work

In the strongest CEO mentoring relationships we studied, clear rules of engagement ensure that both parties commit to total confidentiality (even when a CEO’s boss contacts the mentor to ask how his charge is doing). This emboldens mentees to disclose without fear of repercussions. Beyond that, interactions are designed to deliver what both see as the aim: helping the CEO traverse the learning curve more quickly and perform role functions more effectively.

Related to these rules of engagement is the expectation that both parties will prioritize and prepare for meetings that are set and organized by the mentee. It’s never easy to carve out time on a CEO’s calendar. But to engage in the kind of mentoring described here and stick with it, the executive must make it a part of his or her workflow. Sessions should have formal agendas, defined by the problems currently confronting the CEO and shared far enough in advance to allow mentors to reflect on their experience. Geddes described an approach that was “structured, driven by me, irrespective of topic,” and “felt like a live business process.”

Regular sessions—fairly long but fairly infrequent—are a must. Putting dates on the calendar allows the CEO to set aside some thorny issues that might otherwise be a nagging distraction, knowing they will be thoughtfully addressed in due course. Robert Swannell, the chairman of Marks & Spencer, describes why he chose this kind of mentoring arrangement for a new CEO: “We wanted it to be a formal program where people knew we were spending money on it, it would be taken seriously, and there would be a certain rigor to it.”

Finally, and despite such a disciplined structure, the mode of knowledge sharing generally preferred by both parties is storytelling. Most mentors told us that they shared specific and relevant examples from their own careers—including not only triumphs but also poor decisions that resulted in bad press, tarnished reputations, employee layoffs, or share price declines.

“The common thread would be genuine advice based on true-life experience,” Carr concluded, thinking about the mentoring he had provided to a number of executives. “The credibility of what I say is rooted in the visibility of what I have done, over a long time.”

Plenty of research demonstrates the power of stories to advance learning and development. Because they evoke emotion and empathy, they prove far more memorable than other forms of information and idea sharing. By presenting a chronological series of events, decisions, and consequences, they suggest lessons without asserting them aggressively. They are always about someone other than the listener, so they create psychologically safe spaces in which to ponder “What would I do?” Thus a session that might have felt like an interrogation or a lecture becomes a productive dialogue. Gavin Patterson put it this way: “The mentoring was about codevelopment in situ, not about preparation. Having the problems in front of you and sharing them with an experienced mentor is really where the value comes.”

Most interesting to us was the psychological boost that mentors’ war stories seemed to give new CEOs. David Nish told us, “The storytelling my mentor gave me was way beyond expectations. It’s about believing I’m unlimited…and I try to give my people the same—the belief that they can do anything.”

Similar sentiments came from Chris Jones, the chief executive of Welsh Water, who described a mentor’s habit of sharing what had worked well elsewhere and then probing to find how the problem at hand was similar or dissimilar: “Talking these issues through with someone who has experienced similar challenges in their own past helps to give me a great deal of confidence.”

Teaching Top Dogs New Tricks

David Nish has little doubt that the mentoring he has received from Niall FitzGerald has made a very real difference to his performance—and Standard Life’s. Without testing his ideas against this seasoned leader’s experience, he would have found it harder to assert a bold strategic refocus, to tear down the walls of a stodgy hierarchy, and to put new emphasis on performance management, talent management, cost effectiveness, and investments in growth. Standard Life’s share price is at a record high. Over the course of three years it returned £1.2 billion to shareholders and doubled its market capitalization. The company is now seen as a leader in its industry. Other CEOs in our study, and their organizations, have had similar success.

Not every CEO has had the benefit of such a valuable mentor. But for the good of their organizations, perhaps more of them should. When business leaders fail to decide and act wisely, their companies suffer. With the right mentoring at the top, everyone stands to gain.

A version of this article appeared in the April 2015 issue (pp.100–103) of Harvard Business Review. Article written by:
Suzanne de Janasz is the Thomas F. Gleed Chair of Business Administration at Seattle University’s Albers School of Business and Economics.
Maury Peiperl is a pro-vice-chancellor of Cranfield University, in England, and the director of its School of Management.
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Of course we’ve heard that before. Every organization’s senior leadership longs for something great to happen, for the next great idea to emerge and propel the organization forward into a position as a market leader.

So we stimulate creativity….at least we think we do. We attend creativity sessions. We post our ideas to the company’s website, thinking we submitted them anonymously to avoid the follow-up questions from the good idea czar asking, “Where’s Mark, so I can ask him about his perpetual motion device?” Sadly, we’re always found out and our good idea is quickly dispatched. Today, we can use the “Good Idea Bad Idea” (GIBI) app to help bound the creativity that routinely may be missing in our decision making. Who thinks that good idea app is a good idea?

Creativity exists within every organization but it languishes until forced to reveal itself usually in times of crisis. By then, the good idea is too late, not relevant, and fails. We occupy our time with the exigencies of the moment. The way-too-full inbox of emails dictates how we expand our energies. We spend our time putting out fires when we need to be starting fires and building the environment where good ideas can flourish. It starts with re-imagining risk.

Risk is defined as “the potential to lose something of value weighed against the potential to gain something of value….the interaction with uncertainty.”  We can quantify the potential gain or loss and, in almost all cases, handicap the likelihood of each. This calculation is fairly objective. If our numbers line up, we go for it. By comparison, we have never been able to quantify the “interaction with uncertainty.” Resultantly, we naturally walk away from risk; it can burn us.

So here’s my suggestion if we “interact with uncertainty.” Tell the boss. It’s really that simple.

We must view risk as the participation of the organization in our decisions and resulting actions, not as singular or isolated events. As organizational leaders, we must buy-in to the decisions of our team. We must set the authorities and responsibilities within the team and be accountable for the results however and in whatever form they may manifest themselves.

By comparison, a gamble is not a risk, but we often conflate the two. A risk includes the leader’s knowledge of the intended activities and the potential gain versus the loss. A gamble is the decision of an individual within the organization to act alone, choosing not to include the team, the leader’s involvement in the decision, nor the broader set of goals and principles upon which the organization rests. In other words, a gamble is a solo act and a bad idea! If we take risk, we include the boss in our decision. If we gamble, we choose not to. The modern cultural definition of a gamble is “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” Not sure about you, but I don’t need an app to help me with that decision matrix.

However, organizational leaders often treat risk and gamble similarly regardless of the results. When a risk or a gamble goes well, the boss and the organization benefit. By comparison, when both fail, only the individual is held accountable. That kills creativity.

If I’m “rolling my own,” acting with no authorities from my leadership, I alone own the results of my actions if those results are bad. I must be held accountable if things go badly. I am, after all, a member of a team. I will need a lifeline that only my teammates can provide if things go south. If I fail to ask for one, there is precious little the leadership can do to rescue me. By comparison, if I’m acting at the behest of my boss and minimally she acquiesces to my recommendation or, ideally, she provides authority and even resources to support my proposed course of action, this is her decision….good or bad.

Organizations see this. When leaders encourage risk taking and demonstrate acceptance of risk through organizational structure, and leaders assume responsibility for all results….good or bad, there will be a limitless supply of creativity generated at all levels.

The alternative is not surprising. Creativity hides in the corner and migrates to competitors when failure flops in the hallway and the boss takes no ownership. For creativity to flourish, innovation must be present. This is where leaders must thrive.

Creativity is the thinking. Innovation is the doing. Innovation rests with the leader. An organization that encourages, no demands, risk, will be innovative. Daring, courageous, and bold things happen when the leader underwrites risk and all employees know that the boss has their backs.

How can you measure the innovation within an organization? Here are the characteristics:

5 Characteristics of Innovative Organizations

 1. Inclusion

Ideas will originate on the edges of an organization but they will never be realized unless they can be normalized. Leaders must encourage creativity to race to the core in order to innovate and push ideas to reality. Soldiers always solve problems long before Generals know the problems exist. Innovative organizations get the idea to the General so he can pay for it.

2. Inequality of ideas

Not all ideas are good. Innovative leaders must be willing to encourage the competition of ideas and then pick favorites. The market picked Facebook, not MySpace. We should be similarly harsh or the market will make a decision for us that we may not like.

3. Empowerment to act

Don’t try to empower creativity; you’ll fail.  Build an innovative organization and watch what happens. Provide the tools necessary to realize creativity through innovative design and structure. This will cost money but it’ll be well spent. Look at the top tier companies for innovation, IBM, General Electric, and DuPont. They do not suffer a shortage of overhead dollars to fund their research and development efforts but the results of their innovative efforts continue to change how we live.

4. Be impatient 

Drive innovation and expect results. Use a combination of force and persuasion. I would not suggest using the words attributed to General Douglas MacArthur to General Robert Eichelberger upon his assumption of command in New Guinea in World War II, ”take Buna or do not come back alive” but you get the point. Impatience can be a virtue. By the way, Eichelberger took Buna.

5. Function before form…always

Focus on the functions, not the form, and publish them. Functional alignment is a compass. When people hit a snag, they refer back to the functions and adjust accordingly. Stay on course.

We may think we’re looking for a creative genius like Steve Jobs and a tech innovator like Steve Wozniak to build the next big thing. Why shouldn’t we? They’re out there right now. Creativity exists in all corners and levels of your organization. However, creativity will never be realized until innovators bring it into the light of day and subject it to scrutiny.

That’s the job of leaders. Build and demand an environment of risk taking where ideas “on the edge” are accelerated, welcomed, and embraced by the core; bad ideas are discarded without casualties; and everyday should begin with a tad of impatience and eagerness for results.

Bosses will always seek the next big thing and assume that more can be done to realize it…whatever “it” is. Through organizational leadership that expects its people to take risk, courage will not be lacking. Be bold!


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“Visual thinking is the foundation for being creative and solving some of the most complex problems.”

Below, I’d like to share five visual-thinking based skills that disruptive innovators must master:

1) Observe
Set your phone down and actually pay attention to what’s going on around you. You can’t come up with new ideas unless you observe the world with fresh, empathetic eyes. Keep a design journal and document what you observe at least once a week.

2) Question
Once you have a look around, review your design journal and ask: “What’s going on here?” Questions allow for space in the brain. If you’re not curious about something, then there’s nowhere for your observations to go. As an innovator you should ask questions to nail down the problem you’re trying to solve.

3) Associate
Combining ideas leads to new insights. In the book “Where good ideas come from”, author Steven Johnson proposes that innovation comes from places where half-baked ideas can bump up against other half-baked ideas and together create something even better. Doodling is a way to cultivate these seeds of ideas.

4) Experiment
Visualization makes your ideas tangible and concrete. If you can’t draw your ideas in stick figures, you don’t know what you’re saying. Drawing by hand is a method of prototyping that allows you to test out the core essence of your idea in a low-res way before you spend more time on it.

5) Network
Get access to people in diverse universes to expand your opportunities and areas of expertise. What are some big areas missing from your knowledge bank? We often end up just having a deep network of people like us instead of a diverse network.

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Having shut down the government without causing disastrous damage to the nation’s economy, some Republican lawmakers are now playing Russian roulette with the debt ceiling. They seem comforted by the notion that, with the exception of some general warnings, few economists have been able to demonstrate convincingly why failure by Congress to raise the debt limit would be such a disaster. Indeed, despite all the political wrangling, there are is as yet no consensus on the potential hit to growth, jobs and income.

This comfort could quickly dissipate if these politicians were to understand better the plumbing of the domestic and international monetary system. And, like any major plumbing issue, a previously overlooked and downplayed area can quickly create a huge big mess that is difficult to clean up and leaves structural damage.

There are no models to predict what happens in default. There are no historical precedents to go by.

The context is quite well known by now. According to the U.S. Treasury, the country will hit its debt ceiling on or around October 17th. If Congress does not act to lift the limit, the Administration would be faced over the next days and weeks with the difficult task of trying to prioritize and delay payments in the context of a limited cash reserve cushion, lumpy revenue collections, and less-then-adequate expenditure flexibility.

If the Congressional impasse is prolonged, the U.S. would face the risk of accumulating some types of payments arrears, including potentially down the road interest and principal payments on bonds held by residents and foreigners. In such circumstances, the U.S. would be defaulting not because of a problem with its financial ability to pay but, rather, due to the lack of political will to do so.

Unlike the government shutdown where economists have put forward broadly consistent estimates of the economic damage – an initial hit to quarterly GDP of about 0.1 – 0.2 percentage points, the bulk of which would likely be both temporary and reversible – the profession is all over the place when it comes to the impact of a debt default. This is understandable.

There are no analytical models that handle well the impact of a U.S. sovereign default. As such, running economic scenarios is very challenging. There are also no historical precedents to go by. And even if one could trace the exact impact on government outlays and payments prioritization, it is virtually impossible to quantify the response of consumer and business confidence, let alone the reaction of the rest of the world that operates in a dollar-anchored global monetary system.

This lack of specificity should not lead to complacency. Indeed, if you want to get a handle on the potentially catastrophic effect of a default on the country’s well-being, you need only consider how the pipes of the global system are organized and function.

Being the most powerful and financially sophisticated economy in the world, the U.S. is at the core of the international monetary system; and U.S. Treasury securities are at the core of the core.

Domestically, Treasuries are used as a store of value and, along with cash, constitute the largest portion of the precautionary holdings of individuals and companies. They provide the operational benchmarks for a wide range of other securities, be they mortgages or corporate obligations. They are the most important form of collateral used in both simple and sophisticated financial transactions. And they anchor the very notion of financial stability and soundness.

Outside America, many foreign individuals, companies, governments and central banks rely on U.S. Treasuries for these uses too. Indeed, they have essentially delegated an important part of their financial intermediation process to the U.S., and reasonably so. After all, our country issues the world’s reserve currency and provides the deepest and most liquid financial markets, and one supported by a solid rule of law.

Now, and this is critical, this whole construct is based on the assumption that the core of the system will act predictably, responsibly and rationally. If this assumption proves faulty – which is what would materialize from a Congressional refusal to lift the debt ceiling in a timely manner – the rug would be pulled from the critical underpinning of daily financial transactions.

A U.S. debt default would result in multiple sovereign and corporate credit downgrades, widespread disruptions to collateral exchanges, and the triggering of disruptive legal clauses in a wide range of contracts. As hard as they try – and they would try very hard – central bankers from around the world would find it difficult to fully compensate by stepping in as reliable counterparties. The result would be cascading failures in financial markets that would meaningfully disrupt economic activities.

In such circumstances, there would be a major flight into cash, a rapid decline in consumer spending, and a virtual sudden stop in business investment. With intricate cross-border financial networks also in play and transmitting the disruptions widely, it would only be a matter of time before a world falling quickly into recession would also face the even more frightening threat of a global depression.

Indeed, all this sounds quite similar to what happened five years ago when the disorderly collapse of Lehman Brothers disrupted the payments and settlement system. And even though we still live today with the negative aftermath of that global financial crisis – including stubbornly sluggish economic growth, unacceptably high unemployment, and alarming long-term and youth joblessness – the world was able back then to rely on large public balance sheets to act as mitigants to a great depression.

This time around, the world has fewer spare tires. Accordingly, the economic hit to growth and jobs would be much harder, the duration longer, and the recovery even weaker and more protracted. Also, this time around, the rest of the world would work much harder to reduce dependency on what could become an overly unpredictable U.S.-centric global financial system. With that, our global standing and political influence would suffer, further undermining our national interests and national security.

Today’s deeply polarized Congress, combined with a particularly disruptive and driven minority, is naturally tempted to play a game of chicken with whatever attracts national attention. The government shutdown is an example of this. Yet, in relative terms, its impact is small when compared to the breakage that would result if the debt ceiling were not lifted.

Have no doubts, politically-induced disruptions to the plumbing of the global financial system would create a huge global mess. And the negative consequences would be felt by both current and future generations.

What happens to the so importantly needed responsibility of the first line politicians…??

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I’ve been recently studying in order to identify the characteristics that describe highly driven, achievement-oriented people who are also among the most well-respected in any organization. The intersection between drive and respect is an important one, because we all know people who are highly driven but think nothing of running others over along the way. And, we know examples of people who are respected but stagnant.

What follows is a taste of things to come, but here are a few initial thoughts on what makes respected achievers different.

1. Tempered Tenacity

Respected achievers are incredibly tenacious. They do not allow obstacles to stop them, at least not for long, chiefly because they’ve trained their thinking to immediately seek out other ways of reaching a goal. To a tenaciously driven person, there is never just one way to get there, and no one will convince them otherwise.  However, the sort of achiever we’re talking about also keeps the well-being of others in mind, and if one of those alternate routes will result in unnecessarily harming someone else, then that route isn’t an option, period. To the respected achiever, it doesn’t have to be, because they know there are other ways to get where they want to go even if it takes longer to get there.

2. Consistent Commitment

Another hallmark of respected achievers is that they do what they say they’ll do. They don’t spin out an elaborate vision, get others to buy into it, and then run off to the next big idea because it has sparked their interest more than the first. While nurturing multiple visions is fine (assuming they are manageable), the respected achiever sets a high standard for her/himself that what they commit to do on a project, they fully intend to do and will make every reasonable effort to make it happen. Granted, failure or unforeseen circumstances are always a possibility, but those are the exceptions. The respected achievers’ standard of following through is consistently maintained whether or not adversity materializes, and others know that when they collaborate with a respected achiever it won’t be a waste of their time.

3. Soulful Pragmatism

Respected achievers are typically pragmatists – they focus on what works. If one approach isn’t panning out, they either figure out how to tweak it in subtle or significant ways, or they abandon it altogether and adopt a different approach. Their focus is on outcomes. But, implementing a pragmatic approach without being mindful of how changes will affect others isn’t commendable, it’s cruel. Respected achievers know this, so they balance an outcome-focus with a situational awareness of the adjustments required by others, and they work with them to make those adjustments. Again, this may build a little more time into the process, but respected achievers don’t value outcomes above peoples’ lives if there is any possibility of creating a mutually beneficial arrangement. And if there is not, they take it as a personal goal to help others transition into roles that will benefit them.

4. Strategic Resolution

Just like anyone else, respected achievers can become negative when things aren’t going well, and just like all of us, they may vent now and again about how crappy a situation is.  What they do not do, however, is drop anchor in that negative place and allow their negativity to feed itself and eventually seep into the perspectives of those around them. Instead, they experience the pain, recognize that whatever caused it (business or personal) is now part of their repertoire of experience, and then they resolve to strategically move on.  In this case, strategy refers to a guiding set of action steps to push forward – and, it also refers to decisions about what not to do.  Strategy is choice, and resolving into a strategic mindset to pull out of a negative place requires making hard choices. Respected achievers are seen by others as those willing to make those choices, and that carries tremendous weight in any organization.

5. Responsibility Ownership 

One less-than-admirable trait of many driven people is that they’re good at figuring out how to avoid taking responsibility for what went wrong. If that means throwing someone under the proverbial bus, so be it. Better him than me. But the respected achiever sees things differently in a couple of ways. First, if something went wrong due to a mistake made by the team, the respected achiever owns responsibility whether or not other team members do the same. Why? Because teams are essentially organizations structured to accomplish specific goals, and if those goals aren’t reached, then the team (not any one person) owns the blame, because the team (not any one person) was given the responsibility to succeed. Respected achievers own their role on the team instead of trying to explain why their responsibility should be less than that of the others’.  Second, respected achievers are intuitively reciprocal people – they treat others in the manner they wish to be treated. Their embodiment of the “Golden Rule” is not situational; it’s a consistently applied maxim that guides their behavior.

 Article by Alexander R. Paruschke (@aparuschke)
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Quick. Picture a business leader.

 The one that traditionally comes to mind is that of a Jack-Welchian type “taking the hill,” “gaining share,” “beating the competition,” “cutting losses,” operating through “command and control.” War, sports and gambling analogies abound.

 In this world, size matters!

And this has been in part because having many customers also meant having better insights into their behavior, a significant competitive advantage.

And even if large companies didn’t always really “listen to their customers,” as they’ve said they did, their sheer might and resources could often shape their industry in a certain direction, regardless. (“Any color as long as it’s black” worked back in the day.)

 But this is changing!

Technology and social media today are enabling almost anyone to tap into what consumers want… by simply asking.

And these same resources are also allowing customers to “talk back” to companies, and in some cases to mobilize their reaction to company actions.

I’ve heard a number of thought leaders (like the super-smart Businesswomen and Speaker Nilofer Merchant) point out that this dramatic shift of the “rules of engagement” with customers was exemplified by Bank of America’s debit card fee roll-out. It is clear that the bank did not fully engage with its customers on what they valued, or how they would react to the shift; the bank instead bet that its might as an industry leader would serve as a forcing mechanism, expecting competitors to fall in line. Negative customer reaction was swift and dramatic, in a way it couldn’t have been a decade ago, and the bank reversed course.

 Thus, the prototypical leader of the future will shift from the steely-eyed command-and-control type to one who is more open to feedback….one who specializes in communication, collaboration and co-ordination.

I gained a first-hand preview of this when I attended my clients throughout Europe.

A number of leaders of those businesses over the years had approached the job with a “follow me” mentality… and the Financial Advisors just sat back and watched them with bemused smiles.

By taking several months to engage them instead in a discussion of what they observed from clients, what was working, what wasn’t working, where we were spinning our wheels – and what our business strategy should be – we saved an enormous amount of time and resources, and had their buy-in on strategic moves.

And I found that the great ideas were as likely (or more likely) to come from the 200th Advisor whose hand I shook at a get-together as from our strategic planning department.

 While this approach may not lead to Steve-Jobs-type innovation, it can certainly help companies of all sizes understand what consumers value.

Thus, the most successful CEOs of their future will view customers not in a paternalistic way (at best) or as sales targets, but instead as partners… whose buy-in to a course of action will be the key component of their success.

Article by Alexander R. Paruschke (@aparuschke)


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How many times have you been in a meeting and someone says to you, “That’s a great idea, you should take the initiative and make it a reality.”

What typically happens? Most of the time – nothing.

Most great ideas remain dormant because people don’t have the courage, resources, time and/or money to take action. And for those who take action, most are unprepared and thus find themselves spending their valuable time and money on a dream that simply goes astray.

Converting an idea into a reality (regardless of the required investment of time and money) is never an easy task.

In fact, it is extremely difficult. Whether you are an entrepreneur or corporate executive, “giving ideas life” is much like giving birth to a child.

You must own the responsibility regardless of the circumstances. No one will ever understand your idea or the dynamics associated with it like you do. In this regard, you are on your own and the journey will require you to learn about yourself – more than anything else will in your career.

As the old saying goes, “If it were easy – everyone would do it.”

Many articles have been written about this subject, but I have yet to read one that really digs deep enough to help one truly understand what is required mentality, physically and intellectually to go from idea to reality. Perhaps it’s because the process of cultivating an idea into a reality is a never ending cycle if you want to keep the idea alive over changing times. For example, we see this all the time with companies based on great ideas that then did not remain innovative and/or competitive enough to sustain their market leadership positions. Let’s face it, Blockbuster should have thought of the ideas behind Netflix and Redbox – and made them a reality – well before these two companies became their competitors.

The same thing holds true in the workplace – were the workforce is not innovative enough because we are trained and wired only to execute on what we are told to do. No wonder we are most proficient at completing short term, immediate tasks. On the other hand, employees are least proficient at multiplying the opportunities inherent in the initial task they were asked to complete. Yes, we should be concerned about our ability to remain competitive – as both individuals and in our organizations.

Today’s fiercely competitive marketplace requires us all to either convert our own ideas – or be a part of converting someone else’s ideas – into a reality. If you are not participating in either of these activities, you must re-evaluate your purpose, what you stand for and your desire to be relevant. Everyone must be a part of cultivating innovation around the clock. You must begin to accept that embracing the entrepreneurial attitude is a requirement to cultivate growth and opportunity for the organization you lead and serve.

Entrepreneurship is no longer just a business term anymore; it’s a way of life. You don’t need to be an entrepreneur to be entrepreneurial.

Did you ever think that not being involved in innovative activities was irresponsible? Well, it is – not just to yourself, but to those around you.


As you think about how you can begin to embrace the entrepreneurial attitude more actively, here are 12 things you must actively do – at all times – in order to convert ideas into reality:

1.       Believe in Yourself

You can’t take action until you believe in yourself enough to handle the consequences of your decisions. Any time you assume the responsibility to give something that had not existed before an opportunity to become a reality – you become accountable for your actions.

Accountability requires believing in yourself enough to be 100% dedicated to getting the work done. Most people fail to take an idea to fruition because the unexpected challenges become more than they think they can handle and thus they no longer want to be accountable. They lose the belief in themselves to see things through all the way to the end.

2.       Create Your Own Personal Board of Advisors

Learn from those who have done it before. Don’t ever think you have all of the answers, just because it’s your idea. Ideation is distinctly different than execution.

Allow your personal board of advisors to guide you with wisdom born from their own failures and subsequent successes. I talked to a couple of fellow entrepreneurs about this and they offered some of their own wisdom.

Rich Melcombe, President & CEO of Richmel Media & Productions, says that: “If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, listen to everyone because you never know when you will hear a good idea. Advice from stakeholders is usually more meaningful, but not necessarily right. Few people will have enough context to fully understand what you’re trying to do. Synthesize their comments so they make sense to you, understand the thinking behind any negative comments, and then make the decision on your own.”

Brad Lea, Founder & CEO of Lightspeed VT, adds: “Although it is valuable to have a personal board of advisors, be careful not to let them deter you from your vision. Steve Jobs’ board said he was “crazy” to enter into the cell phone space because it was saturated and it would not be worth the long and laborious effort.”

In the end, carefully evaluate any input that you get – but proceed with your own gut instinct.

3.       Embrace Risk as Your Best Friend

Risk becomes your best friend when you give birth to an idea. If you can accept this fact, you will approach the process with a lens that keeps your dreams and ambitions in perspective and on track. When things don’t go as planned along the way, stay focused on the mission at hand and do not allow disruption to set you backward. Risk is normal and steps nr. 1 and nr. 2 will keep you looking forward.

You often hear that “working hard” is an imperative to convert ideas into reality. But in fact, it is the most fundamental commitment one must make to assume any form of risk management. As such, you must find a way to make this level of commitment if you want to continue on the journey.

4.       Be Extremely Patient

Compromise is a choice, not a sacrifice.  Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Take the time to appreciate the journey and understand how things work. Most people are too anxious to get their desired results and thus start to make bad decisions as they go.

One thing is certain: the journey will be filled with unexpected outcomes that you may not be prepared to deal with. Don’t let this get you down, but keep your head up and respect the process and where it takes you. You will learn a lot about your threshold of risk and ability. Equally, you will learn that many doubters are ready to stand in your way and may attempt to bring you down; this is when the ride gets uncomfortable. Constantly reevaluate those with whom you are sharing the journey (i.e., your inner circle).

5.       Learn How to Sell Your Vision

Converting your idea to a reality requires you to help others understand your vision. Selling vision is much like selling change. Clearly define your value proposition and how it can generate revenue. Selling lofty ideas without understanding how it will achieve financial results will never get you the right audience. The bottom line is what gets everyone’s attention.

Simplicity is the key to selling the vision for your idea. Making it easy for someone on the “outside” to understand what you are trying to accomplish will create engagement and increase your probability of expanding buy-in for your idea. This skill comes into play when selling to possible investors. Learn how to sell your vision sooner than later. Don’t wait as it takes time to piece together and refine your message.

6.       Connect the Dots Along the Way

Everything is connected to something else. Learn how to spot the paths of connectivity along the journey.  What may be your “core idea” today can mature into something bigger as you connect other tenets that naturally associate with your idea along the way.

Never stop connecting the dots!

7.       Be Passionate With Your Pursuit

The pursuit of excellence requires you to unleash your passion. When you put your passion into everything you do, it gives you the power to become a potent pioneer. You will blaze paths few would go down, and see them all the way through to the end. Your passionate pursuit of converting your idea into a reality will open new doors to endless possibilities.

Your ability to remain passionate about what you stand for is the ultimate enabler for the success of your idea.

8.       Be Purposeful

Your intentions for your idea must have purpose and meaning. If not, your probability to quit along the way will increase. It will also increase the likelihood of you “psyching yourself out with unnecessary excuses.”

Entrepreneurs must have passion and believe in what they are doing or they are destined to fail. You need to make a commitment to yourself and have a fiduciary responsibility to anyone who supports your idea or concept. Your purpose is to execute the idea and make others believe too.

Purpose fuels your passion and makes your journey less lonely. Perhaps this explains why family-controlled firms outperform their public peers by 6% on company market value. Today, one-third of all companies in the European Stock Exchange Index are run by families.

9.       Focus on Building Momentum

Carefully identify all of your resources and build upon them via relationships, networking and sharing of resources to expand the opportunity for your ideas. Building momentum is critically important to convert your idea into a reality.

Stay focused, stick to your plan, eliminate distractions and neutralize the noise. Remember to manage your time wisely and never get overly excited about new opportunities that stem from your original idea. Step-back, don’t commit too quickly, and understand how the dots connect.

Building momentum has a lot to do with timing and the management and deployment of resources. Every resource counts. Know when and when not to use them so their value is optimally utilized at the right place and time.

10.   Always Make the Idea Better

Never grow complacent. You can always expand upon your idea and make it better. When you begin to see how the dots connect, challenge yourself and your personal board of advisors to make your ideas even better.

This is what Steve Jobs did with Apple, Pixar Animation and Apple again.

Continuous improvements were part of his legacy. He never stopped thinking of ways to make his ideas better. The Japanese even have a name for it: Kaizen.

11.   Make Work/Life Balance a Priority

No matter how smart, passionate, or focused you work, without balance we are all susceptible to burnout. Mind, body and soul must be properly aligned. Take the time to make work/life balance a priority. It will give you greater clarity of thought and help you keep things in perspective.

Successfully converting an idea into a reality is a marathon, not a sprint. Pace yourself so that you can reflect upon the mission at hand. Always be aware of what you are attempting to accomplish. Don’t overwhelm your mind; give yourself some breathing room and allow your creativity to expand.

12.   Build a Legacy Around Your Idea

Let’s say you made the commitment to assume the responsibilities associated with the first 11 steps and have already been successful. Your original idea was born and its impact has now morphed into multiple areas that you would have never thought possible at the beginning.

The success of your idea is now real; it has become something more significant and it is up to you to make sure its legacy remains sustainable.

Once you give your idea its life, it is your responsibility that its impact stays alive forever.


Article by: Alexander R. Paruschke (@aparuschke)


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As you reflect upon your career and future, step-back and asses your body of work and how it has impacted the manner in which you lead.    What makes you a stronger leader and provides you the perspective to cast a greater vision and help others achieve more?  It is the wisdom embedded within your failures.   Understandably, most people would rather not talk about their failures, but it sure does teach one how to manage adversity; for example, to understand why certain dots didn’t connect in their career, or why certain relationships or opportunities went awry.

Failure ultimately shapes you as a leader.

As both a senior corporate executive and an entrepreneur, failure fueled the most rewarding opportunities and learnings in my career.   Whether it was the decisions I made , the people I hired, the investments I made, the relationships I invested in – or any of the ones I didn’t – from each experience I learned something new about leadership.   For example, I developed a better understanding of the expectations people had of me as their boss; of how to deal with  a marketplace that can be so unpredictable;  of how certain relationships are connected to resources you didn’t know about that could have made your path to success much easier.

Failure is the most powerful source for know-how and understanding.  It teaches you about survival, renewal and reinvention of yourself and the organization you are leading.

You can learn about others based on their history with failure.   If you really want to know more about another person’s character, simply ask:   What have been your (3) greatest failures and how did you overcome them?  If they can’t think of at least three, they either haven’t stretched themselves enough (and are extremely risk adverse) or they are not valuing the benefits of failure (and thus are too proud to examine – or even admit  – their failures).

Failure is one of life’s greatest enablers.  Think about it.  If you never failed at anything, you would never be forced to take action to course-correct or try new ways to seize opportunities previously unseen.   In the end, it’s what you do with failure that defines your character as a leader.  For example, do you admit defeat – or do you find a creative way to mask reality?   Do you ask yourself what you learned during the process of failing – or do you hold someone else accountable and / or blame the circumstances you were faced with to deflect criticism of the failed outcome?

Great leadership (like great management) is about being accountable for your actions.   Some of the greatest leaders in history failed at one time or another, a list that includes Thomas Edison, Bill Gates, Walt Disney, and many others.   Their ability to hold themselves accountable enabled them to persevere, become better leaders and build their legacies.

Here are (5) things failure can teach you about leadership that can make you a better person too:

1.      Confront Your Failure and Learn from It

Instead of running away from or masking the failure you experienced, take the time to reflect upon the situation.  Confront the issue head-on and evaluate what you could have done better and identify the lessons learned.

If other people were involved (directly or indirectly), ask them to provide you feedback and identity the opportunities that can be seized from this learning moment.   Quickly create a plan of action while the pain you experienced is fresh and begin to outline how the key learnings from the failure can be used in different situations.

2.      Build Your Team and Make the Business Better

Early on in my corporate career, I was responsible for losing a business relationship that cost the company $5 million dollars in annual revenue.       At the time, my leadership style was too relaxed and I trusted the management system that I had inherited – from production, inventory, and quality control to marketing and customer service, etc. – rather than being proactive about making the system better.

This failed relationship forced me to find ways to make the system more effective and interdependent upon the decisions made by each departmental leader.  In the process of reinventing the system, it made our team stronger and more united. We all matured   and designed an entirely new set of best practices that renewed our entire business model; this allowed us to acquire new business relationships and become a much more innovative company.

Failure teaches you about who you can trust and depend upon.  It gives you real perspective about who really has your back.



3.      Trust Your Gut and Make More Decisions

Allow failure to make you stronger and wiser.  With this attitude you must become fearless when embarking upon new ventures.   As such, failure should empower you to trust your gut and thus enable you to make better decisions; based on your failed experiences,  you will be better equipped to navigate new situations.

This may sound counter-intuitive, but once you understand why you failed you may realize that you weren’t that far away from success.  In other words, now that you have taken the time to reflect upon what you could have done to avoid failure, it puts you in a position of strength that allows you to trust your instincts.  This also allows you to be more resourceful with your relationships.  It enables your entrepreneurial spirit as a leader –  and you can begin to see opportunities with greater clarity and focus.

Many people have the tendency to quit when faced with the disruption that failure can bring.  I have learned that failure gives you hope if you allow yourself to manage through the adversity rightly.  I encourage you to read this poem written by former College Football Head Coach, Terry Hoeppner, “Don’t Quit”

4.      Second Chances are All Around You

Failure is not fatal.   It is a wake-up call for the next opportunity.   Remember, opportunity is the true mother of success.  As such, you must never forget that second chances are all around you.  With this lens, failure allows you to see opportunities with broader observation.   You can now identity the opportunities that lie around, beneath and beyond what you seek – thus widening your field of opportunity.

I have always found that with failure comes opportunity. Never forget this. How you go about seizing the next opportunity gets you closer to learning how to overcome adversity. Each encounter with failure makes you understand why the following quote has become so popular:  “If I only knew then what I know now.”

5.      Appreciate Your Leadership Responsibilities

Failure has always opened my eyes to appreciate my responsibilities as a leader.  It’s made me think about my duty, its impact on others and the business at-large.   It has made me want to become a more effective leader by finding innovative ways to improve my skills.  In fact, I am a student of leadership.   I practice what I teach (as a consultant) by studying how great leaders have overcome adversity.

As you plan your week, be more aware of your responsibilities and make the effort to seize each opportunity that you have before you as a leader, by applying lessons 1 – 4 each day.

Article by Alexander R. Paruschke (@aparuschke)



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For years we have been talking about the education bubble and the problem that colleges charge tons of money and then graduates are unemployed and in dept. Colleges are responding by becoming job preparation centers. And Frank Bruni, opinion editor for the New York Times, says this is a waste of time and resources. Here’s what’s better:

1. Skipping college
The real issue we have with admitting that college is not a path to the work world is then we have to ask ourselves why we send our kids to high school. There is plenty of data to show that teens are able to manage their lives without the constraints of school. The book Escaping the Endless Adolescence is chock full of data, and a recent article by my favorite journalist, Jennifer Senior, shows that high school is not just unnecessary, but actually damaging to teens who need much more freedom to grow than high school affords.

2. Focus on internships instead of school
Kids should be working in internships in high school. Because the best path to a good job is a bunch of great internships. But great internships don’t go to people who need money. They are mostly for young people. Yes, this is probably illegal and classist and bad for a fluid society. But we will not debate that here. Instead we will debate why kids need to go to college if the internships are what make them employable? Kids should do internships in high school and by their college years, they are capable of real jobs where they are doing work that people value, with cash.

You cannot take this route if you’re saddled with huge student loans. You can’t take this route if you’re inundated by homework in required subjects you don’t care about. You can’t take this route if you have no work experience when you graduate college. It’s too late. (Don’t tell me you need to go to school to learn, okay? People just do not belive this anymore!!!)

I was reading the Fortune list of 40 under 40 and I was struck by the career history of Kevin Feige (number 11 on the list). He’s president of Marvel Studios at age 39. He wrote that he interned with the Superman movie director as a film student and that was the last job application he filled out. That’s because if you get an internship with someone great, and your performance is great, your network will cover your employment needs for a very long time.

3. Start a company instead of writing a resume
I’m struck by Marissa Mayer (number 3 on Fortune’s list) whose announced acquisition strategy is buying small, cheap companies. Which is, in effect, buying the team. Silicon Valley calls these acqui-hires. She is looking at young people who start companies that are not necessarily successful in terms of product or sales but successfully market the founders as visionaries, self-starters, and hard workers. You can’t show those traits in school, so if you have those traits, you slow yourself down by going to school where you cannot exhibit your best, marketable traits.

4. Refuse to present yourself in a linear way
Do any work around that lets you forgo the linear obsession the standard resume format. Because linear presentations favor people who have long, rule-following careers – which don’t necessarily make you look good anyway! I could write a post ten thousand paragraphs long of all the new things people with nonlinear work histories are doing to get jobs.

People use Twitter as a resume, according to the Wall Street Journal, which requires only that you publish ideas, not any sort of academic experience.

Young people are selling stock in themselves – paying out dividends for decades at a time.

Agents represent workers who pick and choose projects that match them rather than signing on for indefinite amounts of time. The Harvard Business Review calls this supertemping. Business Week calls it going Hollywood.

But here’s the big takeaway. A fundamental shift is taking place, where the path to getting a job is massively circumventing college credentials. And, at the same time, the European and American public is fed up with the insane debt that college are expecting new grads to take on in order to graduate. (Good essay: How College Ruined My Life.)

If you are not going to school in order to “fit” into the adult world, then why are you going to school? The love of learning, presumably. But school reform pundits are 100% sure that kids will choose to learn if you put no constraints on them. They will just learn what they want. Best example: The MIT program that gave iPads to illiterate kids in Ethiopia, and they taught themselves to use it, program it, and read it in English. No teacher-no curriculum!!

The biggest barrier to accepting the radical new nature of the job hunt is the reverberations throughout the rest of life. If you don’t need school for work, and you don’t need school for learning, then all you need school for is so parents can go to work and not worry about taking care of their kids.

It takes bravery to go against the grain. It’s difficult to say that the great learning and the great jobs come from leaning out, doing things in a nonlinear, non standard way, and playing only by the rules that fit your own style for personal learning and growth.

 Article by Alexander R. Paruschke (@aparuschke)
Source: Penelope Trunk-Brazen Careerist
Publicado en Economy, Management, Philosophy | Etiquetado , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 comentarios


 “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.”

Whether in business or life, there’s a fine line between success and failure.

Booker T. Washington’s quote highlights the inevitability of obstacles on the path to success. In fact, I firmly believe success and failure go hand-in-hand.

Those looking to succeed must first fail or learn from those who failed.

Successful individuals aren’t just born, there’s a lot more that goes into the equation. I’ve found those who are highly successful have a lot more in common than we may think.

If you’re seeking success, these habits may come in handy.


No matter how hard you work, failure can and will happen. The most successful people understand the reality of failure, and its importance in finding success. Rather than running and hiding when you fail, embrace it. Learn from this mistake and you won’t fail in the same way again.

Set goals

Those who are successful set daily achievable goals. Find success by solidifying S.M.A.R.T. — smart, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely — goals. Stop juggling a mental to-do list of just long-term goals and establish small daily goals to achieve your vision.

Don’t rely on luck

Many relate success to being in the right place at the right time. While this is an element of success, there’s also the crucial involvement of blood, sweat, and tears. Don’t hold yourself back by waiting for the perfect timing or idea. Some of the most successful people got there by hitting the ground running, even if timing wasn’t perfect.

Track progress

Success comes from regularly monitoring behaviors, strategies, and tactics. How can you make adjustments if you don’t know how you’re doing? Hold yourself accountable by checking your progress as often as possible.


Successful people don’t always know the right answer, but the keep moving anyway. Don’t let obstacles stall you when you’re searching for the right solution. Taking action will lead to answers.

Connect the dots

Those who are successful have the ability to see the greater picture. They identify and connect the tiny details to get there. Look at things in a “past, present, and future” context to receive favorable results.

Display realistic optimism

Those who succeed truly believe in their abilities. This respectfully drives them forward. Assess your abilities to gain a clear understanding of what you are able to accomplish. This will allow you balance yourself through the aid of find someone or something else.

Continued improvement

Successful people habitually thrive on self-improvement, whether it’s in terms of learning from mistakes or simply using their weaknesses as opportunities. Channel this habit by continually searching for ways to be better. Maybe your networking skills are rusty or you need some extra training — set goals for improving your weak spots.


Success doesn’t come without effort. The most successful individuals are often the most committed to what they’re working toward. Throw yourself into your tasks and go the extra mile every single day. Make no exceptions.

Be alert

A keen sense of awareness breeds success. If you’re not keyed into your environment, you’re sure to miss opportunities. Do you know what’s being said within your company, feedback from clients, or even in your entire industry?


Truly successful people never give up. Do they ever fail? Yes. But as times get hard, their stamina to move forward doesn’t wane. Develop a willingness to work through the challenges you encounter along the way.

Communicate with confidence

Those who are successful have an ease for convincing others. They don’t manipulate or pressure, but logically explain the benefits. Communicating with confidence will allow you to more easily negotiate your visions.

Display humility

The most successful individuals lack an ego. It’s their fault when they fail. Hold yourself accountable for every aspect of your life by focusing on remaining focused and humble.

Be flexible

Plans may change. Successful people roll with the punches. Rather than getting frustrated, swiftly maneuver in another direction.

Make connections

Successful people often attribute their achievements to the help of others. You can’t and won’t be able to do this alone. Invest in generating mutually beneficial business connections and partners. Even if you have all the skills necessary to run your company, a business partner could complement your weaknesses.

Initiating these habits of successful people will fuel you on your search for achievement.


Article by Alexander R. Paruschke (@aparuschke)
Source: Ilya Pozin

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Did you know that nearly 70% of Strategic Planning fails? 

For a process that presumably receives so much attention, this is an appalling figure.   Knowledge of the pitfalls below will dramatically increase the probability that you will fall into the 30 % of Strategic Plans that succeed during your next Planning Cycle.

There have been at least 50 documented reasons explaining the misuse of strategic planning (ref. Strategic Planning, George A. Steiner).

The most important are listed below while the FACTS are from the Harvard Business Review.

Executive Leadership
1) Top management’s assumption that it can delegate the planning function to a planner.

2) Top management becomes so engrossed in current problems that it spends      insufficient time on long-range planning, and therefore the process becomes discredited among other managers and staff.

3) Top management’s consistently rejecting the formal planning mechanism by making  intuitive decisions, which conflict with the formal plans.

4) Lack of continuity due to turnover of Executive Leadership.  This is particularly a problem with appointees to government agencies but also can be a factor where private sector CEO’s change frequently.

5) FACT-85% percent of management teams spend less than one-hour a month on  strategy issues.


1) Failure to create a climate in the organization which is congenial and not resistant to planning.

2) Resistance to Change (reference last week’s blog)-People are typically resistant to  change and prefer to stay in their comfort zone. With people who are anti-change, it   would be hard for the organization to successfully push through their strategy. Hence, it is  important that communication of the plans be handled carefully, as well as the proper management of the resistors.


1) Failure to assume the necessary involvement in the planning process of major line personnel especially in the SWOTs stage.

2) FACT-95% of employees do not understand their organization’s strategy

Lack of Integration

1) Assuming that comprehensive planning is something separate from the entire management process.

2) Failure of top management to review with departmental and divisional heads the long- range plans which they have developed.

3) FACT- Only 27% of a typical organization’s employees have access to its strategic plan.

4) FACT-60% of typical organizations do not link their strategic priorities to their budget.

5) FACT- 70% of middle managers and more than 90% of front-line employees have
compensation that is not linked to the strategy.

Excessive Structure

1) Injecting so much formality into the system that it lacks flexibility, looseness, and
simplicity; and restrains creativity.

2) FACT- Many larger organizations don’t have a consistent way to even describe their strategy, other than in a large strategic planning binder.

Poor Execution

1) Lack of a periodic review cycle during the strategic cycle.

2) FACT-90% of well-formulated strategies fail due to poor execution.

3) FACT-according to several surveys of top executives only 19% of strategic plans achieve their objectives.

Lack of Goals and Metrics

1) Failure to develop company goals suitable as a basis for formulating long-range plans.

2) Failing to use plans as standards for measuring managerial performance.

 3) FACT-92% of organizations do not report on lead performance indicators.

Unsuccessful Strategy

1) Failure to develop plan on coherent company strengths and address current weaknesses.

2) Failing to consider competitive changes.

If you use the above as a checklist against which to measure the quality of your planning and execution process, you will dramatically improve your chances for success.

Even though, to adequately write and implementate Strategic Plans is probably one of the most complex and senior activities to execute in a company.

Article by Alexander R. Paruschke (@aparuschke)
Sources: Harvard Business Review


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If there’s one thing all successful business leaders and entrepreneurs know, it’s that making mistakes can be a hugely positive learning experience.


Well, a wise man once said that our mistakes guide us towards perfection, as we get opportunities to learn from our mistakes and do things better next time.

The thing is, if you’re a manager or leader responsible for motivating and mobilizing a team of employees or executives, you may not actually able to afford to keep making management mistakes – especially when never-ending staff turnover and disillusioned employees are the result.

But what if you don’t actually realize you’re making them?

In this article, we’ll be looking 5 of the most common people management and leadership mistakes, and highlighting what you can do to avoid them.

93% of managers expressed concern that low levels of management skills are having a negative impact on their business



1st MISTAKE: Acting like an Employee and not a Leader

The key to management is in the title. Manage.

And being a successful manager means, that you are no longer just responsible for yourself but for a range of individuals.

Authentic and strategic leadership is one of the pillars of a building a strong team or organization, and is also central to effective people management.

Managers who keep operating as employees will never be able to truly gain the respect and trust of their people.

As a recent Leadership report from the UK shows, lacking leadership qualities are one of the main reasons why business on the U.K fail.

Like it or not, once given the title of manager, you have a greater responsibility than just your own success – employees look to you for leadership and direction, and without it, they’ll lose momentum, and you’ll lose them.

You are no longer just part of the operational team now.

You are the driver behind the team’s success. Being responsible for other people requires you to think like a leader, not just another member of the team, with only your own stable to tend to.

As a manager, you’re also required to be able to roll your sleeves and get your hands dirty for the benefit your team. After all, it’s their success that’s important now, not just yours.

“The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say ‘I’…They don’t think ‘I’. They think ‘we’; they think ‘team’… They accept responsibility and don’t sidestep it, but ‘we’ gets the credit…. This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done.” – Peter F. Drucker

If you’re a people manager who spends more time counting sick days than inspiring and engaging your team, you might want to take stock and start understanding how leadership can become a part of your ethos.

Effective managers build authentic and positive relationships with their team and take time to personally understand each how each team member prefers to work.

They assign their people tasks which they enjoy, and are repaid in commitment, trust and loyalty.

Just be careful though.

Leadership, in my opinion, is not about wielding power and control and throwing your weight around…contrary to what Yahoo! CEO, 37 year-old Marissa Mayer, would have you believe with her latest “leadership” shenanigans over the pond in the USA.


2nd MISTAKE: Forgetting about Employee Motivation and Drive

If there’s one thing that everyone needs to be productive at work, it’s motivation. And human motivation is a seriously complex thing!!

For a manager or team leader, though, the formula is quite simple:

*High employee motivation= more engagement, less sick-days, greater collaboration, better employee satisfaction & talent retention

*Low employee motivation= frustration, disillusionment, low productivity, less loyalty, greater staff-turnover

Failing to understanding the value of motivation is one of the key mistakes in people management. Many managers think that monetary benefit is the only motivation a person needs…but little could be further from the truth.

Understanding individual motivation is the core building block of managing any team successfully. Because each of your people is motivated differently – by different things, and in different ways- it’s worth investing time into understanding what really makes your employees tick.

Some people seek a high work/life balance and are driven by the chance of stability and predictability in their vocation. They need praise, confirmation and regular pat on the back to feel valued and motivated.

Other, more goal-driven employees need freedom from authority, big-picture projects and a varied and exciting work environment which is constantly changing. These results-oriented go-getters may be driven by money to a certain extent, but take their freedom and limit their creativity, and watch them wither and leave.

“An employee’s motivation is a direct result of the sum of interactions with his or her manager.”- Bob Nelson

It really is that simple, and many of you working in HR and management have more than likely seen it too.

Remember, to motivate your people, find out what they love, observe the moments when they are in the flow, and provide them – as individuals – with the kind of the working environment that makes them feel like they can conquer the world!!!


3rd MISTAKE: Employing the wrong People in the wrong Positions

As far as employee retention and successful people management goes the search for the holy grail of effective people management actually begins at the recruitment phase.

Many hiring managers look for the best and brightest talent in their industry, and are driven to bag that elusive “leadership superstar,” without actually knowing who the job requires for long-term success, not just short-term gratification.

Next time you hire, focus on:

a) Understanding what the role actually requires from a person, in terms of behaviors
b) Creating a strategic selection process to identify the right person, not just the best

Hiring people to jobs that they love and are naturally talented at will not only ensure better talent retention for you, but it’ll also help you create a great place to work too.

I’m sure you’d agree that a company full of happy employees is a much nicer place to work than a company with lots of qualified people who hate what they do.

If you don’t think real business leaders think this way about work, you may not have seen this wonderful and highly-inspiring video of Steve Jobs.


You’re hiring?

Then ask yourself these two questions, and see if they help you find the right person this time:

1) Why did previous candidates fail in this role and which behaviors did they lack?
2) What kind of personality will be have most successful in this role?

Sure, you need someone who has the right credentials, I understand.

But will that MBA from Harvard really help that much, if your CFO – 6 months down the line – turns out to have no eye for detail, a sever lack of follow-up, and a natural preference to make quick, uninformed decisions…??

Hire for personality, not just skills and credentials – after all, it’s the person you have to work with, day-in day-out, not the qualifications.

4th MISTAKE: Not adapting your Management Style to Suit Employees

Companies that have a strong hierarchical structure will generally expect their employees to adapt to their manager’s needs, rather than the other way round.

Following orders, “doing what you’re told,” and “the manager is always right,” are phrases which spring to mind when thinking about these types of businesses.

And that’s great. There’s no doubt it’s worked well for them so far…but for how much longer?

Employees nowadays don’t expect to have to follow their manager blindly, and are unlikely to respond with a “how high?” when the manager’s says “jump.”

The truth is, as managers, we just can’t get away with that anymore.

As Generation Y demands more flexibility and freedom to work how they want, and to have managers who support them, as oppose to control them, things could be looking bleak for the authorative style of management.

Again, see the recent decision by the (young, yet, in her approach, rather archaic) CEO of Yahoo!, to halt all remote working amongst Yahoo! employees and revert to the “good old days” – I don’t think their top-talent will be sticking around much longer, do you?

A team or organization is often made up of a group of people from different background, cultures & personalities. To get the most out of your team, you’ll need to learn exactly who you are first, in order to be able to adapt your management style to suit different personalities in the team. Management and leadership really do start with self-awareness.

“You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar

Sure, adapting your own management style isn’t always easy, and it takes time to really master. But it’s also important to understand that there is no one formula for getting individuals and teams to work together well. But when you do, you’ll notice how much more positively your people react to you, and how much more you and your team achieve.

5th MISTAKE: Thinking Workplace Conflict and Staff Turnover are not connected

Did you know that some managers report spending up to 2 days per week dealing with workplace conflict?

Workplace conflict is one of the most uncomfortable things for a people manager to have to deal with. Due to the highly personal nature of conflict, a simple disagreement over a simple issue can often spiral into huge team problems, unrest and disruption in your organization.

Sparring employees, toxic team members, and a complete lack of management or conflict resolution will most likely also have a knock on effect on staff-turnover.

“Perhaps most importantly for leaders, good conflict resolution ability equals good employee retention. Leaders who don’t deal with conflict will eventually watch their good talent walk out the door in search of a healthier and safer work environment.”

So what to do?

Well, firstly, if you’re a manager, these issues are your issues, and not just HR-territory!!

 You can run but you can’t hide from workplace conflict, and resolving it isn’t’ always as tricky as you think.

As a manager you should always be prepared to step in to manage conflicts between the team members, and preferably be proactive in pre-empting them.

Conflict is usually a clash of personalities, wishes, desires and expectations.

In understanding and managing these elements amongst your people, you’ll go a long way to staying clear of the types of conflict which can tear a great organization in two.

Listen to your people, don’t take sides, and facilitate the “space” for the aggrieved parties be heard by each other.

Managing conflict effectively and taking the role of objective mediator, will certainly contribute greater retention levels and a great feeling of teamwork amongst your people, as you prove – with the way in which you deal with the more uncomfortable side of management – that you actually deserve the title of manager, rather than just expecting it.

 Article by Alexander R. Paruschke (@aparuschke)
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Alan Watts about the Need to focus on Peoples’ Strengths

Alan Wilson Watts (6 January 1915 – 16 November 1973) was a British-born philosopher, writer, and speaker, best known as an interpreter and populariser of Eastern philosophy for a Western audience.

It is far more easy to boost one people’s strengths than focus on how to eliminate his/her weaknesses. You certainly engage far less time to focus on the positive side of a person, and you are way more efficient if you are able to understand your employees’ needs and dedicate your time identifying peoples’ skills, trying to fit them into the global enterprise strategy.

Through this way of behaviour, if you are able to maximize the peoples’ contribution to the whole, you will obtain a far better result than simply “using” them in their current position, as you are truly investing on a long-term basis in these people and in the company’s interest, as you are able to identify the functions they do best and cover the waeknesses by another collegue.

Note by Alexander R. Paruschke (@aparuschke)
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Anything–even doing laundry–will help you dream up new ideas better than sitting in a meeting

What uses to happen…

Eleven men and women file into a conference room and take their places around a large table. Coffee cups and pastries are assembled in front of them.

George, the leader, steps up to a large whiteboard and scrawls across the top “SOAP STORM SESSION 9/18/12.” “Okay, let’s begin,” he tells the group. “Let’s just start free-associating.

What do we think of when we think clean laundry?” he asks. “To get the ball rolling, I’ll write a few words down,” he says and dashes off chore, piles, whites and bright, and fresh on the board. “What else?” he asks. Several people add a few more words: time-consuming, fold, bright, uncontaminated, pretty, nice, old-fashioned, and pleasant.

The meeting continues for about an hour, with more words and thoughts added. The plan was for the team to come up with a new idea for laundry detergent. When the meeting is over, the team members file back to their cubicles, word lists in hand, to ponder the outcome–but none of them ever produced any new insights into doing laundry that would lead to a new product. That’s because the group made the fatal error of trying to innovate by brainstorming around the idea of the central attribute of laundry–cleanliness. So while they came up with a pretty long list of words, none of the few concepts that came out of the meeting–“cleans in a shorter time,” “cleans without presoaking,” “brightens without fading”–was out-of-the-box spectacular.

Result Orientated – Innovation does not come from scheduled meetings

This scenario takes place every day in office suites around the world. That’s an important point to remember, because companies everywhere are brainstorming the same things about clean laundry as my imaginary team. Everything about clean laundry likely has been thought of before. It turns out that a brainstorming session is a great place to load up on baked goods and caffeine, but it’s not so great for generating ideas. In fact, the team in my imaginary example would have come up with more original associations and innovative thoughts had they stayed home and sorted a sock drawer, taken a hike, relaxed in a bathtub, or done just about anything else autonomously–including a load of laundry.

The conventional wisdom that innovation can be institutionalized or done in a formal group is simply wrong. Part of what we know about the brain makes it clear why the best new ideas don’t emerge from formal brainstorming. First, the brain doesn’t make connections in a rigid atmosphere. There is too much pressure and too much influence from others in the group. The “free association” done in brainstorming sessions is often shackled by peer pressure and as a result generates obvious responses. In fact, psychologists have documented the predictability of free association.

You can see this clearly from the responses to “clean laundry” in my example. One association feeds off the next in an expected fashion. The leader does what leaders often do–inadvertently gets the upper hand by throwing out certain words that generate conventional results, thereby dominating and directing the “free” association of the group.

Research Example

As I said earlier, the team should have been given the day off to do laundry. That’s pretty much what happened at Philadelphia-based Cot’n Wash Inc.

Originally the company was a cotton mill that spun cotton and made sweaters. In the 1980s, the owner’s wife developed a gentle detergent that would wash the sweaters without yellowing or stretching. Flash forward about 30 years. Nina E. Swift, wife of the original owner’s son, Jonathan Propper, was doing laundry one day and realized that even though she loved Cot’n Wash, she disliked measuring and pouring liquid or powder from a jug or a box. Both were messy, and she used far more detergent than was recommended (measuring is imperfect and people err on the side of generous, she discovered).

This was a mega consumer insight. Was it just she who felt this way, or was it everyone? She talked to Jonathan, who thought she was on to something. So he brought the idea to his small company and created Dropps, a single-use package of detergent. One small package, similar to those used in dishwashing packets, washes a load of laundry–all you have to do is toss it in the wash and go. It solved a lot of problems–no more measuring, mess, or waste. The product also benefited the environment by using less water, plastic, and packaging. No phosphates or chlorine means it’s green.

“The technology actually existed for the dissolvable laundry detergent package,” says Dropps’s Remy Wildrick, who calls herself the pragmatic side of Propper’s creative mind. “And the patent happened to be owned by a person in Philadelphia, which was just a nice side note. We bought the technology from him and developed Dropps.” The product is sold online, at independent retailers, and at Target. Other larger manufacturers didn’t introduce their versions of the single-serving detergent pod until years later.

“What’s funny is that the technology was sitting there for quite a while, but none of the big guys were using it. They were sticking to the same old jugs and boxes–but in mid-2012 they all started coming out with uni-packages,” says Remy. Since Dropps is small, it can’t compete on volume sales with the big guys, but it can compete on the product’s green aspects and focus on the fact that it contains Cot’n Wash detergent, which has an almost cult-like fan base, especially among the environmentally conscious.

Another way of doing…

Fresh ideas come when your brain is relaxed and engaged in something other than the particular problem you’re embroiled in. In the Dropps situation, Jonathan Propper’s wife identified a problem, and he made a connection to a solution, a technology that existed for another application. This is the polar opposite of what happens in brainstorming sessions. Long showers, soaks in a tub, long walks, or doing chores are frequently when those “synapses” that find alternative solutions to a problem in new ways all hit together so that the big idea can spring.

Article by: Alexander R. Paruschke (@aparuschke)
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When Karl Ronn recently said, “Companies that think they have an innovation problem don’t have an innovation problem. They have a leadership problem,” I listened carefully.

I featured Ronn, a former P&G executive (and current executive coach and entrepreneur), in several places in The Little Black Book of Innovation, most notably for his rant against the evils of focus groups. Ronn is thoughtful, widely read, a seasoned practitioner, and a great communicator.

Ronn’s basic idea was that four decades of academic research and two decades of conscious implementation of that work have provided robust, actionable answers to many pressing innovation questions. Practitioners have robust tools to discover opportunities to innovate, design, and execute experiments to address key strategic uncertainty; to create underlying systems to enable innovation in their organization; and to manage the tension between operating today’s business and creating tomorrow’s businesses. Large companies like IBM, Syngenta, Procter & Gamble, 3M, and Unilever show that innovation can be a repeatable discipline. Emerging upstarts like Google and show how innovation can be embedded into an organization’s culture from day one.

Yet, with all of this progress it still feels like a positive surprise when you see a large company confidently approach the challenges of innovation.

In Building a Growth Factory, my co-author David Duncan and I suggested at least one root cause: too many companies use point solutions to address a systematic challenge: Let’s run an idea challenge! Have an ideation session! Form a growth group! Open a corporate venturing arm! Create incentives for innovation!

None of these is bad, but point solutions don’t solve system-level problems. Duncan and I suggest working on four systems — a growth blueprint, production systems, governance and controls, and leadership, talent, and culture. It isn’t easy to do all of that, but it is what is required to really make innovation work at scale.

Ronn agrees, but notes that the responsibility for such systemic work ultimately rests with a company’s leadership team. And it’s absolutely necessary. Research by Clayton Christensen, Rita McGrath, Richard D’aveni, and Richard Foster make very clear that we are in a new era where competitive advantage is a transitory notion. (McGrath’s forthcoming book is provocatively titled The End of Competitive Advantage) Any executive that doesn’t make innovation a strategic priority, ensure there is ample investment in it, and approach the problem strategically is committing corporate malfeasance.

Further, leaders can’t just set the context and hope that innovation happens. Innovation is enough of an unnatural act in most companies (which were built to scale yesterday’s business model, not discover tomorrow’s) that it requires the day-by-day attention of the company’s top leadership team or it simply won’t stick.

Critically, leaders have to figure out how to manage two distinct operating systems: one that minimizes mistakes and maximizes productivity in today’s business versus one that encourages experimentation and maximizes learning in tomorrow’s business. It isn’t either/or. It is both/and.

So what stops senior executives from rising to the innovation challenge? Leaders will typically highlight factors such as short-term pressures from investors, talent deficiencies, the challenge of implementing innovation-friendly rewards structures, the still fuzzy nature of innovation, and, in candid moments, their own discomfort with the different mental frames required to lead innovation.

Those are real issues that haven’t been comprehensively solved. But forward-thinking leaders need to heed the advice of’s Jeff Bezos, who says that innovation requires being “willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time”.

It’s time for leadership to step up. Match innovation rhetoric with personal involvement and investment. Move beyond narrow solutions to more systemic approaches. Raise aspirations from being the most innovative company among a tightly defined peer group to approaching innovation like Amazon, Pixar, 3M, or IBM. Actions that feel like luxuries today will be imperatives tomorrow, so get started.

 Article by: Scott Anthony (Harvard Business Review)


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Historias de Creencias obsoletas de Décadas atrás

Muchas de las personas que vendieron con éxito cigarrillos para Philip Morris hace treinta años, fueron no fumadores!!

Preguntándolo a un comercial varón de la época: “¿Cómo se puede vender cigarrillos, incluso si usted no fuma??” El hombre respondió con una sonrisa: “Si vendiera ropa interior, también esperarían que llevara un sujetador?”

Yo claramente no lo haría!

Sin embargo, existen muchos empresarios que siguen pensando que la experiencia en un sector determinado es la base sine qua non para tener éxito en la gestión al nivel de dirección.

Otro ejemplo: los vendedores de un fabricante de tornillos, pueden vender los mismos solo si han pasado toda su carrera exclusivamente con tornillos, conociendo las prácticas de aplicación del producto como usuario??

Incluso la máxima en todos los negocios, la “atención al cliente”, debe de estar vinculado a los conocimientos del sector por parte del comercial? Qué pasaría si este mismo comercial de repente tuviera que vender coches en lugar de sujetadores o tornillos?

O preguntado de otra manera: ¿Cómo pueden tener los hombres tanto éxito en la venta de implantes mamarios y botox?

Sólo aquellos Interim Manager que tengan exhaustivos conocimientos del sector en el que deben de intervenir, son, según muchas empresas, aptos para ser utilizados en el desarrollo de procesos de reestructuración.

Necesidad de Pensamiento Estratégico y Desarrollo de Procesos Profesionalizados de Gestión

¿No parece mucho más importante que la experiencia en un sector determinado, la capacidad de un pensamiento estratégico por parte del Interim Manager, que sea capaz de hacer las preguntas simples y más banales y a continuación desarrollar los procesos de gestión profesionalizados necesarios para canalizar los mecanismos de cambio en la gestión de la compañía?

A menudo, las preguntas necesarias que convienen ser contestadas, se hacen por parte de quien no conozca el sector en profundidad, pues lo cuestiona todo desde el más mínimo detalle: “¿Por qué se hace eso?”

Búsqueda equivocada de Gestores Temporales por parte de las Empresas

Usted adivinó que quiero evidenciar?

No suele encontrarse habitualmente como criterio de exclusión en los requerimientos para puestos de responsabilidad en los ámbitos de Turnaround Management, la necesidad de tener una experiencia de por lo menos una década en un sector determinado?

Actuando de esta manera e imponiendo dichos criterios de selección, se pierde una parte importante del valor añadido del Interim Manager  (en numerosas ocasiones las empresas profesionales de Recursos Humanos o Headhunter tratan de convencer a las empresas que dicho criterio no puede ser excluyente, pero con poco éxito visto la actuación de la mayoría de las compañías).

Hay que matizar en este punto, que conforme que vayamos descendiendo en el organigrama de una compañía, aumenta la ponderación de importancia de disponer de conocimientos del mercado en el que la empresa está operando.

Sin embargo, asistimos diariamente a procesos equivocados en los que se desestimen profesionales altamente capacitados por no disponer de suficiente experiencia de mercado.

Muchas de estas empresas, piden además conocimientos específicos, dentro de una dilatada experiencia en un sector concreto.

Esta es una de las mejores maneras para desaprovechar oportunidades en forma de incorporación de capital humano cualificado!

Hacer las Preguntas Apropiadas

En el otro extremo están las compañías que levantan la vista conscientemente y buscan cuidadosamente aquellos recursos que tengan la capacidad de hacer las preguntas incomodas, estratégicas y entusiastas que hacen reflexionar y avanzar a la empresa.

Es decir, las empresas de sujetadores buscan aquellos Interim Manager con experiencia en el mercado de Tornillos y las empresas de cigarrillos fichas a los Interim con conocimientos en el sector de sujetadores.

Por desgracia, son una mínima parte del total del conjunto de empresas con necesidad de llevar a cabo procesos de Reestructuración y/o Desarrollo de Negocio, por que a menudo se dejan de hacer las preguntas más básicas:

¿Cuáles son los beneficios para el cliente?

¿Por qué haces eso?

Un Vice-Presidente de Rank Xerox preguntó a todos aquellos que presentaron un proyecto nuevo para la petición interna de apoyo en forma de liquidez o para presentar un proceso de innovación: “¿Cómo nos ayudará eso a vender más fotocopiadoras?” Los que no podían contestar con seguridad a esta pregunta, estableciendo la conexión lógica entre proceso/innovación y cliente final, tenía un “no” por seguro.

Él siempre solo hacía esta pregunta tan simple. Parece claro que este gestor había previamente hecho experiencias en otros mercados ajenos al negocio de Xerox, aplicando un pensamiento abstracto en una fase incipiente de trabajo.

Es evidente, que lo que más hace avanzar e une a las compañías, son las personas que tienen la capacidad de hacer las preguntas adecuadas.

Las preguntas, sin embargo, quién las hace mejor…??

Tal y como mencionado anteriormente, de ninguna manera es recomendable negar para ciertas posiciones los numerosos beneficios de una necesaria experiencia en el mercado.Así como la importancia de contactos construidos a través de redes año tras año, y los conocimientos profundos de procesos propios del sector.

No obstante, es claramente visible que todos aquellos gestores innovadores y con visión de futuro, así como los miembros de consejos de administración que tienen verdadera necesidad de cambios en las organizaciones que representan, anhelan Interim Manager con la capacidad de hacer las preguntas correctas.

A menudo, se conocen casos en los que la compañía se separa del primer ejecutivo, por falta de “química” y actitud, puesto que dichos gestores que han sido contratados con altas expectativas y una amplia experiencia en el sector en el que trabajan, sin embargo no han sido capaces de innovar los procesos de la empresa, ni de introducir nuevos estímulos en ella.

Dichos gestores no son capaces de ejecutar procesos de cambio, puesto que sus amplios conocimientos del sector, del producto y de la empresa, no le dejan “ver el árbol en medio del bosque”.

Y finalmente, la empresa que contrató dicho recurso, se hace la pregunta de cómo podía fallar la selección de un candidato ideal con un nivel de experiencia en el sector tan alto?

Interim Manager con experiencia en diferentes mercados, en áreas funcionales con diferentes niveles de responsabilidad, y en el mejor caso con experiencia internacional, aportan a las empresas un valor añadido incalculable!

Autor: Alexander R. Paruschke (@aparuschke)
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A couple of weeks ago, the global elite have again descended on Davos for their yearly pundit-fest.

Prognostications have been made, as have commitments to save the world, end poverty, and clean up the environment. But with a minimum entry cost of 15.000€, not to mention the inflated prices for food and accommodation—the resort is filled with rich businesspeople and executives with giant carbon footprints and little firsthand knowledge of poverty.

What they do know well is how to manage companies effectively – and that’s what they should talk about.

Because management, despite its horrid reputation, has the power to transform the world.

By exporting better management to the rest of the world, we could raise standards of living dramatically and really make the world a better place.

How can management be the world’s salvation? Let’s consider the facts.

First, better management produces more efficient companies that boost economic output, which may ultimately translate into higher incomes and wealth for the world’s poor.

Need proof? A recent experiment by World Bank and Stanford researchers, illustrates the dramatic impact of management “technology” on the way companies are run.

The researchers randomly assigned a management makeover to a handful of Indian textile firms, while at the same time following a set of control textile factories to benchmark the effects of good management.

Out of chaos, order arose: Supply closets were no longer strewn about with yarn, factory floors were cleaned up, inventory and control processes improved production line efficiency.

The benefits of good management were such that professional management’s services—which were provided to the companies for free as part of the experiment—would have paid for themselves through greater profitability within a year!!

The researchers estimated a profit increase of more than 300.000€  annually as a result of management improvements, as compared with the 250.000€  market price of the consulting services they received.

What brought about these changes?

Exactly the sorts of things that the managers of Davos are good at: designing incentives, ensuring clear and well-defined assignments of tasks and responsibilities, putting in place protocols to manage and track inventory and production.

These are not new ideas.

They have been the standard protocols of management professionals since they first appeared on the scene with the advent of transcontinental railroad.

It’s just that management, despite its age, is not evenly distributed around the world.

And while you might balk at the idea that what worked for Indian textile factories will work elsewhere, the truth is that much of the world is, by the researchers’ definition, poorly managed.

Together with economists at the London School of Economics and Harvard, they have surveyed management practices around the globe. While India’s managers held the bottom ranking, those from China, Brazil, Greece, and Argentina weren’t that far ahead of them.

There are spectacularly well-managed firms in all of these countries—the China Telecoms and Tatas of the world—but the average firm has a lot to gain from some managerial guidance and expertise. (The countries with the leading management practices are, unsurprisingly, the United States and Japan.)

This is not just about increased efficiency in the private sector, as important as that may be. While nonprofit firms and governments clearly face different management challenges than private firms, the evidence suggests that sectors like education and health care could also benefit from better management.

The global management survey has also analyzed the link between management quality and organizational success in these areas, and found that better management is associated with, among other things, higher student test scores, better heart-attack survival rates, and shorter patient wait times.

Yes, it’s the hospital manager, at least as much as the heart surgeon, who will save your life.

If the purpose of Davos is for the rich and famous to gather for esoteric yet superficial discussion, to make business deals, and to bask in their own splendor, then maybe they’ve got the model just about right.

But if the World Economic Forum, which organizes the Davos event, wants to make good on its mission of “improving the state of the world,” it would do well to focus their mountaintop discussions on how to export what they really know: their management skills.

Better management stands a far greater likelihood of making the world wealthier and healthier.

Article by: Alexander R. Paruschke (@aparuschke)
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The effort to take Dell private has received a fair amount of attention, in part because it is the first big leveraged buy-out in years.

There is reason to believe that the deal could be a harbinger of things to come, although the conditions that make big buy-outs attractive may not persist for much longer.

The question for analysts is whether the current spread between the cost of equity and the cost of dubious debt is sustainable.

You might think that corporate debt should yield less than shares because debt has a higher place in the capital structure than common stock.

However, equity owners have a claim on the bulk of any growth in profits over the lifetime of the company. This claim is generally worth more than enough to offset the junior status of equity holders in the event of bankruptcy, especially for firms that are not already on the brink of collapse.

As a result, the earnings yield for a firm’s shares is usually lower than the yield on its bonds. In America, the yields on stocks have generally been below yields on corporate debt since the mid-1960s.

Since the crisis, however, the pattern has reversed itself. Irrespective of whether you prefer using Robert Schiller’s cyclically-adjusted earnings yield or the more common one-year trailing earnings yield, stocks now yield either the same as Baa corporate bonds or slightly more.

Perhaps even more striking is the collapse in the spread between junk bond yields and the yields on stocks issued by America’s most valuable firms.

This suggests the possibility of an arbitrage: borrow money at a rate comparable to the junk bond yield and use it to buy public companies.

That, of course, is a key ingredient in the private equity business model.

As long as the target’s earnings grow over time and there are no problems with debt refinancing, this should generate a nice return. We may see more big leveraged buy-outs if this unusual spread persists.

Source: THE ECONOMIST – Free Exchange Economics


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The private equity industry justifies its high fees to institutional investors in part by claiming that PE allocations improve a portfolio’s diversification.

While there may be individual PE firms that can deliver this kind of uncorrelated outperformance, there is significant evidence that the industry in the aggregate provides few services for its investors that cannot be obtained elsewhere at far lower cost.

Diversification has often been called the one free lunch in economics.

That is because the tradeoff between risks taken and returns earned can be improved by adding cash flows to a portfolio that have a positive expected value and are uncorrelated to each other.

For an extremely simple example, you can imagine a world with two assets.

Investors who have a buy-and-hold strategy with asset A earn 3% (above t-bills) every odd-numbered month (January, March, etc.) and lose 1% (relative to t-bills) every even-numbered month, while investors who own asset B lose 1% every odd-numbered month and gain 3% in every even-numbered month.

Either asset by itself generates a decent return over time, but a portfolio that combines both is much better because the gains of one asset more than cancel out the losses of the other.

Of course, in the real world it is impossible to achieve this kind of perfect diversification.

One reason is that you cannot know how an asset will perform in advance. Yes, there are plenty of data out there about historical correlations, but correlations are not constant.

Back to private equity.

It so happens that Fidelity, the mutual-fund company, offers something that sounds quite similar to PE (buy smaller companies with lots of debt), but without the 2% management and 20% performance fees.

The best part is that the 10-year returns of this product (15.8% annualized), which I am not endorsing in any way shape or form, are significantly higher than the 10-year returns  generated by the PE industry on behalf of their limited partners after fees (13.7% annualized), according to Cambridge Associates.

Intriguingly, the differential in performance is extremely close to what you would get if you took the numbers from Fidelity and subtracted out private equity fees. This would be tolerable for investors if PE firms compensated for their underperformance by providing diversification benefits.

However, it does not seem that this is the case. Both the mutual fund and the PE industry did well and did badly at the same times over the past decade.

One defense offered by the PE industry is that their performance is less volatile than that of a mutual fund.

This may be true in theory (performance fees reduce measured volatility but not in a way that is helpful to investors.)

In practice, however, the supposedly lower volatility provided by private equity does not really exist. The problem for investors in PE funds is that they cannot easily cash out of their position. This illiquidity means that investors are still exposed to wild swings in value if they ever try to sell their stakes early.

During the crisis, the Stanford University endowment needed cash and was forced to sell its PE holdings at steep discounts.

Putting it all together, it is difficult to see why sophisticated investors choose to allocate such large shares of their portfolios to active managers that fail to outperform cheap replicas.

It seems like an interesting area of study, doesn’t it??

Source: THE ECONOMIST – Free Exchange Economics
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Turnaround Management als Interim Management Dienstleistungen

Das Interim Management ist ein eigenes Angebotssegment im Markt der Management Dienstleistungen. Die Branche ist geprägt durch selbständig tätige Interim Manager, professionelle Vermittlungsagenturen (sogen. Provider) und Zusammenschlüssen von Interim Managern.

Es gibt in der Regel Führungspositionen, die müssen nur für begrenzte Zeit besetzt werden. Wenn Manager demnach ausfallen, erst zu einem späteren Zeitpunkt zur Verfügung stehen, oder für eine temporäre Aufgabe die notwendigen Kompetenzen im Unternehmen nicht zur Verfügung stehen, bietet Interim Management schnelle und effiziente Lösungen.

Bei Turnaround Projekten geht es oft um ein schnelles Eingreifen in einer schnell zu verändernen Situation. Hierbei kommt die Interim Lösung oft zum Einsatz.

Interim Management – Flexible Einsatzformel

Planungsunsicherheit, schnelle Marktveränderungen und internationaler Wettbewerbsdruck verlangen von den Unternehmen vor allem eines: Flexibilität. In diesem Kontext können Interim Manager als Katalysatoren die erste Wahl sein, vorausgesetzt die Rahmenbedingungen im Vorfeld sind gut abgestimmt.

In dringenden Fällen kann der Einsatzbeginn schon wenige Tage später erfolgen.

Mit etwa 15 bis 20 Prozent jährlicher Zunahme dürfte das Interim Management zu den professionellen Dienstleistungsbranchen mit dem höchsten Wachstum in Europa gehören.

Handlungsdruck kann unmittelbar entstehen und erfordert vom Unternehmen ein rasches Eingreifen, um grösseren Schaden zu verhindern.

Die meisten Projekte entscheiden sich am Anfang, in den ersten Tagen und Wochen, bevor sie operativ in der Implementierungsphase sind. Dies gilt umso mehr, je zeitkritischer, komplexer und festgefahrener ein Projekt ist. Jeder unserer Kunden kann von einem guten Interim Manager (zu Recht) ein außerordentlich hohes Maß an Professionalität, Erfahrung, Know-How, Dienstleistungsorientierung, Führungskompetenz und Kommunikationsvermögen erwarten. Eben solides und innovatives Management. Zauberkünste und Superkräfte scheiden leider aus.

Die Interim Manager sind oftmals die Lösung in letzter Minute und bringen somit bei Turnaroundsituationen ihren grössten Mehrwert in das Projekt ein.

Die Bedarfsfälle lassen sich in zwei Interim-Gruppen einordnen:

       1)      Kritische Führungssituationen (Turnaround Management)

wie z.B. unerwarteter Ausfall einer Führungskraft, Sanierungen, Turnaround-Aufgaben, zu wenig Management-Kapazität, fehlende Management-Kompetenz, Coaching von Führungskräften oder Führungsengpässe jeder Art

       2)      Sicherstellen der Unternehmungs-Entwicklung (Business  


wie Aufbau neuer Geschäftseinheiten, Marktabklärungen für neue Standorte, Einführung neuer Technologien, Leitung strategischer Projekte, Bewältigung von Mergers und Acquisitions, Fachspezialist in einem Due Diligence-Team oder Projekt-Management jeder Art.

Interim Manager sind sofort einsatzbereit, innerhalb weniger Tage verfügbar und können dank ihrer Persönlichkeit, Erfahrung, Flexibilität und ihrem Fachwissen in kürzester Zeit lösungsorientiert und gewinnbringend eingesetzt werden.

Beispiele von Turnaround Situationen

1)      Die vorhandene Managementkapazität muss rasch erweitert werden, da dringliche neue Aufgaben anstehen, die vom bestehenden Management nicht mehr bewältigt werden können.

2)      Der Aufsichtsrat/Verwaltungsrat hat beschlossen, eine Führungskraft kurzfristig zu ersetzen, da das gegenseitige Vertrauensverhältnis schlecht geworden ist.

3)      Eine Führungskraft fällt auf unbestimmte Dauer infolge Krankheit oder Unfall aus.

4)      Die definitive Besetzung einer Führungsposition gelingt nicht, sodass aus Gründen desZeitgewinns eine Interimslösung gewählt wird.

5)      Unternehmensteile müssen mental und organisatorisch völlig neu gestaltet werden, wofür man einen führungsstarken Manager als Projekt-Leiter sucht.

6)      Zur Umsetzung von Beratungsprojekten will man eine unbelastete Führungspersönlichkeit von aussen beauftragen.

7)      Zur Leitung eines strategisch bedeutsamen Projekts wird eine Person mit hochkarätigerVerhandlungserfahrung gesucht.

8)      Zur Einführung neuer Technologien wird ein Projekt-Leiter gesucht, der aus eigener Erfahrung die Aspekte der Unternehmungsführung einbringen kann.

9)      Zur Generationenablösung soll eine reife Führungspersönlichkeit als Coach eingesetzt werden.

10)   Zur Stabilisierung eines Unternehmens in kritischer Lage wird eine krisenerfahrene Führungspersönlichkeit eingesetzt.

11)   Zum reibungslosen Aufbau neuer Aktivitäten im Ausland möchte man eine Persönlichkeit beauftragen, die fremde Kulturen kennt und über ein grosses Beziehungsnetz verfügt.

12)   Zur Markteinführung neuer Technologien wird ein Projekt-Leiter eingesetzt, der im Zielmarkt überexzellente Branchenerfahrung verfügt.

13)   Der grosse Erfolg eines Unternehmens führt zu Wachstumsproblemen (bis hin zu Störungen am Markt), die mit einem erfahrenem Interim Manager mit Tempo gelöst werden sollen.

14)   Zur Ergänzung des Verwaltungsrates sucht man eine Persönlichkeit mit einem ganz spezifischen Profil.

Einer der wichtigsten Einsatzsituationen: Uneinigkeit zwischen Gesellschafter und Vorstand

Die Gesellschafter haben das Vertrauen in die Unternehmensführung verloren.

Der Vorstand verkennt die kritische Situation, handelt nicht adäquat und es entsteht das Risiko, wichtige Führungskräfte zu verlieren. Ein Interim Manager wird eingesetzt, der nach einer ersten strategischen Analyse das volle Vertrauen der Gesellschafter gewinnt. Ein tiefgreifender Wandel in der Unternehmenskultur ist unvermeidlich. Zudem stehen in der Regel strategische Neuausrichtungen an. Der Interim Manager wird kurzfristig an einer außerordentlichen Generalversammlung zum Vorsitzenden des Aufsichtsrates gewählt (oder ähnliche Position) und erarbeitet in dieser Funktion die möglichen Handlungsalternativen.

Die schwierige Lage verlangt rasches Entscheiden und Handeln. Der Interim Manager übernimmt zusätzlich zum Vorsitz des Aufsichtsrats auch die operative Führung des Unternehmens.

Der unabhängige Interim Manager ist von den internen Denkhaltungen unbeeinflusst, kann die Problemlösungen neu und die sich daraus stellenden Aufgaben unbelastet angehen. Das löst eine neue Dynamik aus, die dem Unternehmen die Chance zu einer schnellen Kurskorrektur und einem aktiven Veränderungsprozess oftmals erst ermöglicht.


Das Marktumfeld für Interim Manager ändert sich. Gefragt sind immer mehr international stark auftretene Manager mit multikulturellen Erfahrungen, die in der Lage sind internationale Teams anforderungsgerecht  zusammen zu leiten und mit den Mutterunternehmen adequat zu kommunizieren.

Die Ausweitung unternehmerischer Tätigkeiten auf andere Länder wird zunehmend zum entscheidenden Erfolgsfaktor für Unternehmen. Sowohl Großkonzerne als auch kleine und mittelständische Unternehmen bauen in zunehmendem Maße ihr wirtschaftliches Engagement in und außerhalb der Europäischen Union aus. Im Zuge dieser Internationalisierung stehen die Unternehmen vor großen Herausforderungen.

Quellen: Dachgesellschaft Deutsches Interim Managements E.V. (DDIM), Arbeitskreis Interim Management Provider (AIMP)
Autor: Alexander R. Paruschke (@aparuschke)
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Procesos de Reestructuración en PYMES

El sector privado español ofrece un amplio espectro de necesidades de ejecutar Procesos de Reestructuración, desde las MINI-PYMEs con facturaciones inferiores a 1 Mio.€ hasta PYMEs con niveles de facturación de hasta 100 Mio.€.

Naturalmente, también existe la necesidad de llevar a cabo Procesos de Reestructuración en compañías de tamaño superior, no obstante suele cambiar el grado de concienciación y el nivel de entendimiento sobre la utilidad de los mismos a la hora de valorarlos por parte de sus responsables.

Motivos de Reestructuración en PYMEs Españolas

En el momento en el que un empresario busca consejos sobre cómo gestionar situaciones de cambio en su empresa, los motivos por los cuales se ve expuesto a una situación de este tipo pueden ser múltiples:

                1.- Cambio Legislativo en su Sector

Lo cual ha conllevado una introducción de barreras en el mercado.

                2.- Mala Gestión  de Inversión (Bajo grado de Profesionalización)

Lo cual produce en numerosas ocasiones una situación de sobre-endeudamiento y disminución de capacidad de pago.

                3.- Fusión, Absorción o Integración en otras Estructuras Societarias

Lo cual causa tensiones entre dos culturas empresariales y conlleva la necesidad de adaptación a un nuevo modelo de negocio.

                4.- Cambio Generacional

Falta de Liderazgo de la generación posterior, y por tanto necesidad de cambio del modelo de negocio.

                 5.- Otros Motivos

Factores Externos a la empresa, sin posibilidad de poder prever su aparición.

No obstante, en la mayoría de las ocasiones, el motivo verdadero de una Reestructuración Corporativa tiene como trasfondo un motivo trascendental que a menudo no forma parte de las preocupaciones más importantes de sus primeros ejecutivos:

                 6.- La falta de Competividad (Internacional)

La empresa ha descuidado la necesidad de desarrollar sus productos o servicios acorde con los gustos y preferencias del mercado, perdiendo la ocasión de haber invertido tiempo y creatividad en procesos de innovación y adecuación del nivel de precios al cliente.

Percepción Equivocada del Empresario

Curiosamente, muy a menudo, la opinión del empresario (estructura de socios) refleja otra percepción, visto que las explicaciones más comunes de los mismos ante una situación de tensión son las siguientes:

                1.- Tensiones de Liquidez

                2.- Falta de Apoyo Bancario

                3.- Necesidad de Inyección de Capital “fresco” por vía de Accionistas

                4.- Bajada temporal de Demanda y por consiguiente de Ventas

                5.- Incremento de Gastos Fijos (a menudo de personal)

El verdadero Problema – Falta de Viabilidad del Negocio

Centrando la atención en el sector de las PYMES (haciendo una definición “superficial”, determinando a efectos del presente artículo que las PYMES son empresas con un nivel de facturación anual inferior a 100 Mio.€), hay que afirmar con claridad que en la mayoría de los casos, los empresarios no son consientes de los verdaderos motivos por los cuales se encuentran en una situación de tensión, alegando los motivos anteriormente relacionados como principal fuente de generación de tensión sin analizar el fondo de sus problemas.

El análisis inicial del Proceso de Reestructuración de una compañía tiene en demasiadas ocasiones como resultado que los problemas reales de la actividad de la empresa, se tienen que definir como PROBLEMAS DE VIABILIDAD, y son, por tanto, problemas de concepto (quiere decir de forma duradera) y no de liquidez (temporal).

Muy a menudo, dicha falta de viabilidad proviene de una carencia en el apoyo de implementación de procesos de innovación en las empresas.

Lograr Competividad Internacional

Para hacer frente a dichos problemas, hay que tratar de ser competitivos en los mercados nacionales e internacionales. Para ello, resulta fundamental segmentar aquellas líneas de actividad en los que existe margen de actuación para lograr dicha competividad, de las actividades deficitarias con pocas posibilidades de convertirse en rentables.

En casi el 100% de los casos, las líneas de actividad más rentables de las empresas coinciden con los valores que ellas representan y con los fuertes de las mismas.

Para, pues, lograr una mayor competividad, existen dos vía esenciales de desarrollo:

                1.- Ajuste de Precios Relativos

Es decir, analizar la capacidad de pago de los clientes y relacionarla con el precio de venta de los productos/servicios. Se puede llegar a ser más competitivo en comparación con otros, mejorando significadamente dichos ratios.

                2.- INNOVACIÓN

Pero sin duda, la mejor vía de actuación, es invertir constantemente en procesos de innovación. Este término no tiene que asustar a nadie, pues debería de formar parte de la actividad diaria de toda la plantilla de una empresa, a través de mecanismos sencillos creados por la dirección de la misma.


Qué es la Innovación y como Implementarla??

ALBERT EINSTEIN: Como puedes pretender obtener resultados diferentes, haciendo siempre lo mismo??

La palabra Innovación proviene del latín innovare y significa literalmente “novedad” o “renovación”.

Adaptando el significado de la frase de Albert Einstein, se puede afirmar que no se puede seguir produciendo el mismo producto/ prestando los mismos servicios durante un arco de tiempo muy prologado, sin adaptarlo/s a las preferencias del consumidor, situándolos en un precio relativo accesible para su consumo por parte de los clientes.

La Innovación empieza por la determinación del tipo de producto a producir, seguidos por pequeñas mejoras en la composición del mismo, mejoras en los procesos de fabricación, por la manera de transportarlo, por cambios en la forma de presentar, vender y comunicar el producto, por los mercados nacionales e internacionales en los que venderlo y por los servicios añadidos prestados y por las posibilidades de financiarlo.

Todo ello con el fin de cubrir una necesidad del mercado que es totalmente dinámica y varia, por tanto, en función de tiempo. Es decir, lo que funciona hoy, puede mañana ser obsoleto!

La innovación, sin embargo, solamente se hace factible si el Capital Humano de la compañía tiene espíritu y formación para poder llevarla a cabo. Para ello, es fundamental la continuada inversión en procesos de formación de los trabajadores y trascendental la mejora de los procesos de gestión de la empresa, con el fin de añadir valor a los productos/servicios ofrecidos al mercado.

Desgraciadamente, en numerosas ocasiones fracasan procesos internos de innovación en empresas por la incomprensión (y por tanto falta de visión y competencia) de sus equipos de gestión y/o la gestión del primer ejecutivo.

Por ello, es muy frecuente que se reemplace dicho personal a lo largo de los Procesos de Reestructuración.

Autor: Alexander R. Paruschke (@aparuschke)
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Clises y División de Opiniones

En estos meses, es fácil encontrar ciudadanos en sur de Europa, por ejemplo en España, que canalizan sus enfados hacía los mandatarios europeos, para encontrar una justificación para la situación económica en la se encuentra un porcentaje importante de la sociedad en la que viven.

Hasta antes del verano del 2012, estos países objetos de los insultos eran Alemania y Francia. Tras el resultado electoral en el país gallo que dio la victoria al socialdemócrata Francoise Hollande, y las primeras reformas emprendidas por su nuevo gobierno, que tomó posesión el 15 de Mayo 2012 y que aumentó radicalmente la presión fiscal a las empresas y las personas de clase alta, los indicadores macroeconómicos de Francia se han resentido y el país se ha alejado de la figura de co-liderazgo que presentaba con el mandato de Nicolas Sarkozy en Europa.

Su actual gobierno se ha sumado por tanto a las peticiones de países del sur de Europa de priorizar políticas de estimulo económico por encima de las de austeridad, contención de gasto y consolidación fiscal.

Se pide abiertamente la creación de mecanismos públicos de protección para los gobiernos EU-27 (Fondo Europeo de Estabilidad Financiera (FEEF) y Mecanismo Europeo de Estabilidad Financiera (MEEF)), socializando por tanto su deuda pública, en forma de fondos de rescate, lo cual ha dejado a Alemania como único defensor aparente de políticas socialmente la impopulares.

Origen del Problema Global

Para intentar resolver un problema, hay que entender el origen del mismo, y el contexto en el que se ha producido.

En el caso de las tensiones económicas en España, hay que retroceder a principios del siglo XXI, concretamente a los años 2002 en adelante. En aquellos años, países como EE.UU. y Alemania se estaban recuperando del Crash Bursátil que había causado la burbuja de las .com en las bolsas de todo el mundo.

Las pérdidas acumuladas de las sobrevaloraciones de las empresas tecnológicas estadounidenses habían creado un clima de extrema incertidumbre en los mercados de los capitales. Las inversiones en renta variable, hasta entonces altamente rentables, se habían convertido en tales con una tasa de riesgo inasumible para los flujos de capitales de los fondos de inversión, según las estrategias definidas por sus comités de evaluación de riesgo.

Mientras EE.UU. volvía pronto a la senda del crecimiento, en gran parte gracias a la expansión de su mercado de vivienda, en Europa, el país de mayor capacidad de generación de recursos e inversión, Alemania (cuarta economía mundial, después de USA, Japón y China), no se recuperó del declive bursátil y empezó a tener grandes problemas estructurales a partir del año 2001 en adelante, lo cual lleva al entonces gobierno socialdemócrata alemán, encabezado por su canciller Gerhard Schröder, a tomar medidas de extrema importancia que finalmente le costaron la reelección por haber sido extremadamente impopulares entre la sociedad alemana.

Ante tal escenario de bajo crecimiento en el país germano, los mercados de capitales (Fondos de Inversión, Fondos de Pensiones, Capital Privado, Sector Bancario, Inversiones de Hogares y Empresas) buscaron otros mercados cercanos que les proporcionaban rentabilidades a corto plazo más altas que las que pudieron encontrar en Alemania en aquellos años.

Fue el momento en el cual muchos de ellos empezaron a invertir en España, Irlanda, Grecia e Italia, cubriendo así dichos mercados con crédito barato por exceso de liquidez.

Precios Relativos y Sociedad del Bienestar

En un mundo globalizado, como es el en el que vivimos actualmente, lo que más importa a fin de cuentas, es la comparación de precios entre competidores, tanto del mismo país como de diferentes países.

La evolución de los precios relativos (es decir la capacidad de compra de sus individuos) permite intuir de qué manera se ha podido desarrollar una sociedad con respecto a los demás. Para aplicar el concepto de precios relativos y analizar su competividad, hay que analizar con determinación los costes laborales, precios de la vivienda, precios de consumo y las exportaciones de un país.

Cuando sus precios de consumo (IPC) y precios de vivienda crecen muy por encima de los costes laborales, se produce un empobrecimiento de la población activa, teniendo como consecuencia un menor consumo interno y caída de compra de viviendas y otros.

Durante prácticamente toda la primera década del presente siglo, Alemania reformó su mercado laboral con una ambiciosa así llamada “Agenda 2010”, reestructurando por completo el sistema, gracias a propuestas realizadas por el ilustre economista alemán Peter Hartz. Durante estos años, el país fue capaz de bajar en términos relativos, sus costes laborales y por tanto sus costes de producción, generando así productos cada vez más competitivos para abastecer sus mercados de exportación.

A su vez reformó el sistema de pensiones,  el sistema de sanidad, introduciendo modelos de co-pago entre empresas, empleados y estado y el mercado laboral.

Naturalmente, dichas reformas causaron mucha revuelta social entre los trabajadores del país, pues por un lado renunciaban durante muchos años a aumentos salariales (hasta incluso aceptaron bajadas en sectores muy concretos), los cuales descontados por la inflación acumulada del periodo significaba una pérdida superior al 10% de su poder adquisitivo, y por el otro lado se veían ante un incremento de los gastos sanitarios introducidos por las reformas del gobierno.

Por ello ha sido imprescindible la constitución de una Gran Coalición entre los socialdemócratas y partidos de la derecha (CDU, CSU) durante el periodo 2005-2009, para impulsar las mencionadas reformas con contundencia y visión a largo plazo. En un acto de responsabilidad ejemplar por parte de todos los agentes sociales alemanes (sindicatos, empresarios y gobierno) se entendió que el crecimiento del país pasaba por la ejecución de las reformas estructurales propuestas por los gobiernos Schröder, y a partir del autumno 2005, Merkel.

Además, desde entonces se observó una actitud de patriotismo por parte de los empresarios alemanes, invirtiendo conceptos de Offshore y devolviendo centros de producción desde otros países del este y China de vuelta a Alemania. La economía alemana no mostró signos de recuperación hasta el año 2009, desde el cual ha sido creciendo contundentemente, marcando máximos en los niveles de inversión y reduciendo a tasas record la desocupación en el país.

Fiesta en el Sur de Europa

Con Alemania inmersa en los problemas domésticos, y su mercado poco competitivo y por tanto poco rentable e interesante para los inversores, la atención de los mercados de capitales se centraba fundamentalmente en el sur de Europa, en donde España jugó un rol fundamental por la capacidad de expansión de su mercado inmobiliario.

Este es un mercado que necesitó un volumen de liquidez importante y presentó desde el año 2002 hasta verano del año 2007 rentabilidades muy importantes y a muy corto plazo, puesto que el dinero prestado a las entidades bancarias españolas, se invertía en pocos días/semanas y se titularizaba para su venta en los mercados secundarios, sin control ni discriminación.

Las entidades bancarias de España pero también de Irlanda y Portugal, invertían sin estrategia coherente sus recursos preferiblemente en el sector inmobiliario, lo cual generó una gran dependencia de dicho mercado de sus cuentas de explotación, generando grandes beneficios durante 7 años y dejando en evidencia su vulnerabilidad a partir del autumno del 2007 con la entrada en la crisis de los mercados europeos, y de forma muy acentuada a partir de septiembre 2008, con la caída del banco estadounidense de inversión, Lehman Brothers.

La deuda pública de España, antes de empezar la crisis, se situaba en un prudente 40% del PIB, mientras seis años después haya superado el 85%, y de un superávit por cuenta corriente del 2,4% en 2006 ha pasado a un 9,3% de déficit en 2011.

Durante los años de bonanza económica, todos los países del sur de Europa, especialmente Grecia, España, Portugal e Italia han perdido la ocasión de sanear sus cuentas públicas de manera que tuvieran menos capacidad de reacción ante posibles adversidades de mercado.

Un ejemplo muy claro: Italia tuve a su entrada en el Euro en 1999 una deuda pública del 120% de su PIB. Hoy día sigue teniendo el mismo porcentaje de deuda pública. Si los gobernantes italianos hubieran dedicado los sobreingresos generados durante los años desde su entrada en el Euro a la reducción del endeudamiento público, la deuda pública de hoy se situaría aproximadamente en un 60% del PIB.

Considerando que una de las principales lecciones de la actual crisis es la importancia de una adecuada gestión de los niveles de endeudamiento, no parece haber sido la estrategia más adecuada desarrollada por parte de los mandatarios públicos italianos.

Consecuencias del exceso de Liquidez en España

En cualquier mercado, en el momento en el que las tasas de crecimiento del mismo hagan que esté abierto a la entrada de cualquier competidor sin esfuerzo añadido, por eliminación de barreras por exceso de liquidez, se produce un acomodamiento de todos los actores del mismo, dejando que los gestores sean cada vez menos profesional y cualificado.

Por el otro lado, estas situaciones conllevan el efecto temporal positivo de unas tasas de desocupación muy bajas, por existir una fuerte componente de inversión y por tanto de demanda de trabajo cualificado y no cualificado.

Concretamente, en España, el gobierno central, a través del Banco de España, no supo regular el crecimiento de las entidades bancarias, pues se les permitía construir una cartera de inversión fuertemente expuesta al sector inmobiliario, con bajos criterios de valoración de riesgo y a menudo con gestores con visiones a corto plazo y poco profesionalizado.

Esto tuvo como consecuencia una inyección de liquidez masiva en el mercado nacional, hacía las empresas y familias, cuyo endeudamiento resulta muy preocupante en los tiempos actuales, situándose por encima del 380% de su renta acumulada.

Una vez estallada la crisis, después del verano del 2008, con un crecimiento galopante de la deuda pública española y sobre todo de la tasa de desocupación, situándose a principios del 2013 en niveles superiores al 26% de la población activa (y más del 50% de paro juvenil), una vez más el gobierno central español no supo definir la estrategia adecuada para resolver los problemas estructurales a largo plazo que padece el país, sino inicialmente aplicaba políticas de incremento de gasto público para el estimulo de la demanda interna y a continuación políticas tácticas que tenían como finalidad esquivar los problemas reales del país.

La Clase Política – El Lastre irresuelto de España

“Como puedes pretender que las cosas cambian, haciendo siempre lo mismo” dijo en los años ’40 del siglo pasado el científico alemán Albert Einstein.

El país sufre el sexto año de crisis y por la fuerza, en el sector privado, está cambiando su actitud hacía temas tan importantes como la gestión profesional de sus empresas, la exportación, la internacionalización, los gastos variables y el incremento de la productividad de sus empleados.

Dicho ejercicio de responsabilidad impuesto por la situación económica del país no se ha podido apreciar con igual rigor y resultado en la clase política del país.

España vive desde la Guerra Civil de finales de los años treinta del siglo pasado en una división política entre izquierda y derecha, que con la caída del Franquismo en el año 1975 volvió a acentuarse cada vez más.

La división se mantiene viva entre la izquierda y la derecha, interpretada por representantes públicos que tienen como principal objetivo perpetuarse en los puestos de control de los órganos públicos del país, véase en Empresas Públicas, Fundaciones & Asociaciones, Ayuntamientos, Diputaciones, Parlamentos Regionales o el Senado y el Congreso de los Diputados.

La ausencia de un espectro político amplio, con la representación de numerosos partidos que ocupan nichos en las preferencias de los votantes hace que la decisión electoral del pueblo a nivel nacional se inclina siempre hacía los mismos.

Esto ha generado un acomodamiento entre los mandatarios que promociona la corrupción por falta de supervisión, la falta de dignidad política por no dimitir ante hechos de extrema gravedad que afectan al ámbito de responsabilidad a la hora de interpretar un cargo público, la implementación de estrategias políticas a corto plazo y no resolviendo los problemas estructurales del mercado laboral, de las pensiones, de la sanidad, del sector bancario y de las administraciones públicas en el país.

Todo ello, con el fin de seguir hibernando en los cargos ocupados, convirtiendo la política no en un servicio público de personas hábiles y demostrados en el sector privado, sino en un coto de caza para personas que ven la política como una profesión en la que se puede desarrollar una trayectoria de por vida, sin tener que asumir responsabilidades personales de ningún tipo.

Reformas Urgentes

España tiene una buena posibilidad de salir de la situación actual y volver a la senda del crecimiento. Pero esto sencillamente no puede pasar en cuestión de pocos meses, ni siquiera años, sin que se ejecuten unas reformas inevitables para resolver los problemas estructurales del país.

Tal y como sucedió en Alemania durante los años 2002-2009, sería mucho más viable que para ello se uniesen los dos principales partidos del Congreso de los Diputados, con el fin de constituir una Gran Coalición y aprobar una agenda ambiciosa de reformas estructurales.

Entre ellas, debería de figurar:

1.- Reforma del Sector Bancario

El Banco de España debería de actuar con Independencia, ejerciendo una supervisión del sistema bancario severo y actuando de forma preventiva contra las malas praxis de los gestores bancarios.

                2.- Reforma del Mercado Laboral

La reforma laboral aprobada por el actual gobierno va en la dirección adecuada, flexibilizando la contratación y reduciendo los gastos de reducción de personal en caso de necesidad. Sin embargo, en comparación con los competidores Europeos, seguimos teniendo una estructura laboral muy rígida y muy poco competitiva.

                3.- Reforma de las Administraciones Públicas

Hace falta una drástica reducción del aparato político, los privilegios concedidos y los organismos a menudo duplicados. Se tiene que instalar una nueva filosofía de “servidumbre publica temporal” con un código ético que valga para todos los miembros de todos los partidos políticos.

                4.- Reforma de la Justicia

El sistema judicial español es extremadamente lento y no trasmite ni rigor a la hora de ejecutar sentencias, ni seguridad para la atracción de inversión extranjera.

                5.- Reforma del Sistema de Sanidad

La reforma de la Sanidad es inevitable, por no ser sostenible un sistema universalmente gratuito. Conviene introducir un modelo público-privado que permita la cofinanciación de los servicios a través de los ciudadanos, haciendo hincapié en que haya colectivos más desfavorecidos para los cuales haya que establecer reglas excepcionales, como para pensionistas, enfermos crónicos o rentas bajas.

Estrategia Europea

La Comunidad Europea, a través del Eurogrupo (una reunión institucionalizada que en la Unión Europea congrega al menos una vez al mes a los ministros de Economía y Finanzas de los Estados de la Unión), ha aprobado en dos fases fondos utilizables para el rescate de países, el Fondo Europeo de Estabilidad Financiera (FEEF) en el 2010 y Mecanismo Europeo de Estabilidad Financiera (MEEF) del pasado año 2012.

Ambos fondos tienen como base la socialización inter-comunitaria de la deuda pública, puesto que el dinero puesto a disposición proviene de los miembros acreedores de la EU-27 (encabezado por volumen de aportaciones por Alemania) y tendrá que ponerse a disposición en caso de emergencia, recaudándolo por la vía tributaria a su propia población.

Es decir, si a modo de ejemplo quebrase el sistema bancario español, y provocase un encarecimiento de la deuda pública de dicho país, hasta niveles en los que el incremento de la prima de riesgo hace imposible el poder financiarse y tiene que pedir el rescate a nivel de país, esta ayuda se financiaría gracias a los impuestos que pagan los alemanes (y otros acreedores de la EU, como Holanda) a su fisco.

Puesto que el órgano que decide este tipo de ayudas sea el Eurogrupo, hay que tomar en consideración que en este momento casi el 70% de los votos del consejo de dicho órgano están representados por Francia, Italia, España, Gracia, Irlanda y Portugal.

Quiere por tanto decir que Alemania no tiene el poder absoluto a la hora de imponer sus políticas en Europa!


Europa tiene que decidir si quieren seguir asfixiando a los países del sur, tal y como a Grecia, Portugal y España.

Se ha visto claramente que las duras imposiciones de austeridad y políticas de recorte de gasto no llevan a una adecuada consolidación fiscal en los países nombrados.

Por el otro lado, se ha visto también que reformas dolorosas con cambios importantes en las estructuras de un país como Alemania sentó las bases para el crecimiento unos años después, y este tipo de estrategias a largo plazo desgraciadamente todavía no son del todo visibles en el plan de actuación de gobiernos como España.
Resulta evidente que no habrá crecimiento futuro sin previas reformas estructurales y austeridad en el gasto.

El Presidente del Instituto para Investigación Económica (IFO), el economista alemán Hans-Werner Sinn defiende la teoría de que exista la posibilidad de que haya países que tengan que salir, aunque sea temporalmente, del Euro (no de la Unión Europea) para conseguir la devaluación de sus precios y costos laborales.

Solo así ganarán en competividad para poder volver a exportar productos y servicios y así crecer a medio-largo plazo y generar capacidad de pago para la devolución de las ayudas recibidas.

En todo caso, solo sería factible tal modelo, si previamente hubiera existido un condono parcial por parte de los acreedores.

Un ejemplo grafico que demuestra dicha necesidad: El Plan Marshall que doto a Alemania con fondos para su reconstrucción, después de la II Guerra Mundial, ha sido repagado a los Aleados durante más de 50 años, terminándose en los años ’90 del siglo pasado su obligación de repago.

En términos relativos, Grecia tiene actualmente un montante de deuda 8 veces superior que Alemania en el año 1948. Por lo tanto, tardaría, en igualdad de condiciones unos 400 años en repagar dichas ayudas a los acreedores.

No es por tanto aconsejable que los acreedores privados (Fondos de Inversión, Fondos de Pensiones, Sector Bancario, etc) que habían invertido en Deuda Pública Griega o en el mercado inmobiliario Español, recuperen sus inversiones a costa de un mayor endeudamiento público, llevado a cabo por necesidad de aceptación de mecanismos de rescate Europeo, así terminando en las manos del erario público europeo el rol del acreedor mayoritario de dichos países, con las respectivas perdidas futuras de una buena parte de sus inversiones, y la correspondiente necesidad de recaudación añadida de las mismas en sus ámbitos tributarios.

Algo parecido puede pasar a España, en caso de que tenga que pedir un rescate país, sin resolver sus problemas estructurales, y que por tanto no depende de las preferencias de la Sra. Merkel o Alemania, sino de su propia voluntad y capacidad a la hora de enfrentarse a sus problemas.

Autor: Alexander R. Paruschke (@aparuschke)
Publicado en Economy, Politics | Etiquetado , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Deja un comentario

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A partir de hoy, voy a tratar en este espacio temas de actualidad de carácter económico, político  cultural y social.

Un abrazo!

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