Strategy Matters in Turbulent Times: Think Big Data. Think Business Models Reply

Our Business Perspectives masterclass will take place in London on 21 September, led by Professor Thomas Lawton, Professor of Strategy and International Management at The Open University Business School (OUBS). Professor Lawton is a published author on international business and strategic management and has spent twenty years advising leaders, managers and entrepreneurs on business development and market growth.

Guest speakers include:

  • Antoine Boatwright, CTO, Hillgate Travel
  • Patrick Callinan, Global Head of Data and Analytics at Added Value (a Kantar/WPP Plc company)
  • Hilary Collins, Lecturer in Management, OUBS

A symbiotic relationship exists at the heart of successful strategy between what the customer wants and what the company can deliver. In this masterclass we’ll explore:

  • What are the critical components to design and deliver an innovative, effective business model?
  • How do you render a growth-oriented business model robust enough to deal with today’s unpredictable world?
  • How can you factor in global disruptions driven by digitalisation, big data and geopolitical risk?

We’ll also look at the latest thinking and frameworks to better enable growth oriented business strategies that are adaptable and responsive to technological change.

Places are limited. For more information and to register, visit our website.

Intercultural Working webinar – recording available 1

Our webinar on Intercultural Working took place on 15 July. If you missed it or want to watch again, the webinar is now available to view on demand.

Watch the webinar

Listen to what our speakers had to say about the issues relating to leadership and management in different multicultural settings, cross cultural coaching and the role of political astuteness in communicating with impact.

Our webinar panellists included Dr Björn Claes, Senior Lecturer in Operations Management at OUBS and MBA alum Jeremy Roebuck, volunteer Business Consultant, Grow Movement. Facilitating this virtual event was OU Associate Lecturer Peter Wainwright, host of our previous Business Perspectives webinars.

You can also share your views and comments about the event or topic by following us on Twitter @OUBSchool  #OU_BP

Intercultural working trend report & webinar Reply

Intercultural Working trend reportOur latest Business Perspectives trend report looks at our current topic of Intercultural Working. The report considers the wider world of business culture, focusing on hiring, development, communication, embracing and the big picture.

The pace of business has never been so fast, which is why this summary has been designed so it can quickly inspire you at home, in an airport or on the go. You can download the report now, absolutely free.

Download the report

Continue the conversation with our free Intercultural Working webinar, where we’ll explore issues relating to leadership and management in different multicultural settings, look at the role being political astute and hear about cross-cultural coaching. Our free one hour webinar will take place on Wednesday 15 July 2015 at 19:00 (BST).

The online webinar will introduce video highlights from the Business Perspectives masterclass, held in London recently. During the webinar, we’ll draw on contributions from our masterclass and further develop these discussion points. You can contribute via our live online polls and Q&A forums.

Register for the webinar

We invite you to download and share the report and send us any comments.

If you would like to contribute your perspective towards future topics, please contact our Business Perspectives Editor.

Leaders still don’t understand culture Reply

Peter Cheese crop

Originally posted on http://www.hrmagazine.co.uk

Business leaders still lack understanding of what culture is, CIPD chief executive Peter Cheese has said.

“Historically we haven’t done a good job of teaching leaders what culture really is,” Cheese said at a recent Leadenhall Consulting conference, hosted by employment law firm Mayer Brown and focusing on the topic of ‘Culture: Revolution vs. Evolution’.

“One of the big myths of corporate culture is that management understands what their culture is. Senior directors typically talk about what they want culture to be and what they think it should be rather than understanding what the culture they’ve created is actually like.”

“Managers often don’t understand the culture because they are not very good at listening to employees,” he added.

Cheese said this is crucial to the health of an organisation because strong culture creation starts with senior individuals. He stated: “Where does culture start? At the top.”

The ex-Accenture global managing director said it is the role of HR to help train leaders on this.

“I would point the finger at HR too. We should be the function that understands the corporate culture and helps to educate the business and provide the levers to change it.”

Speaking on the financial crisis, Cheese said: “We were not equipped to confront management and say ‘this is what’s going on in your organisation and it’s got to change’. HR has a massive role to play in this.”

In fulfilling this role, HR professionals should be wary of relying on too much rule and policy creation, said Cheese.

“HR is particularly good at saying ‘let’s write some more policies to tell people what we want them to do,’” he explained. “But the hardest parts are those bits of the iceberg below the water – the things that are much less visible.”

“When you make rules you disassociate people from their own actions. We have created a parent/child relationship,” he said, adding: “I’m not saying abandon all the rules, but try having less prescriptive rules in some parts of the organisation.”

Cheese added, however, he was heartened that an increasing number of corporate leaders do seem to now be developing a better understanding of the importance of culture.

“I spent a lot of time trying to talk to banks in the early 2000s about culture. They said ‘this is very interesting but we don’t have a problem’. Now we are in a different phase of thinking that recognises you can’t change behaviour by writing more rules. We have got to really understand why people do the things they do.”

“But it’s not just about shining a spotlight on financial services. It’s apparent that we have not been behaving as we should as corporates. That’s got to change.”

The Leadenhall Consulting 3rd Annual Conference also included presentations from Professor of Psychology at University College London Adrian Furnham, ex-London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC)’s Dennis Hone, and Mayer Brown partner Chris Fisher, who provided a counter to Cheese’s comments by highlighting those areas where formal policies would be needed.

He said: “It’s a nice idea not to have rules but you need to find a way of influencing staff without them. And from a legal perspective, if you don’t tell employees how to behave you can’t discipline them when they don’t behave that way.”

“You have to have a social media policy for example if you want to regulate that behaviour at work.”

Age at Work trend report & webinar Reply

Business Perspectives trend reportOur latest Business Perspectives trend report looks at our current topic of Age at Work focusing on Multigenerational workforces: leading and managing in a new age. The report considers the wider world of ‘4G’ working, looking at flexibility, environment, mindset, future workforce and learning

The pace of business has never been so fast, which is why this summary has been designed so it can quickly inspire you at home, in an airport or on the go. You can download the report now, absolutely free.

Download the report

Continue the conversation with our free Age at Work webinar, focusing on managing in multigenerational organisations and how you can leverage age diversity. Our free one hour webinar will take place on Wednesday 25 February 2015 at 19:00 (GMT).

The online webinar will introduce video highlights from the Business Perspectives masterclass, held in London on Thursday 12 February. During the webinar, we’ll draw on contributions from our masterclass and further develop these discussion points. You can contribute via our live online polls and Q&A forums.

Register for the webinar

We invite you to download and share the report and send us any comments. If you would like to contribute your perspective towards future topics, please contact our Business Perspectives Editor.

How can managers effectively harness the human capital they bring to enhance operational effectiveness? Reply

Gerard McGurk final cropped


Guest blogger: Gerard McGurk, Open University Business School MBA Alumnus and member of our Alumni Council,
Consular Regional Director – Middle East & North Africa at Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The workplace in 2015 is facing a unique opportunity (not challenge) in so far as it will have four generations (or waves) of employees (listed below). In 2015 what does this mean for employers of multi-generationals (whichever label they are given) in terms of recruitment, retention and motivation? How can managers effectively harness the human capital they bring to enhance operational effectiveness?

As global managers, we need to be careful about how we talk about multi-generational working. Most academic literature focuses on definitions of multi-generational employees from a North American or European perspective. It is a mistake to look to apply these to other regions in the world: the drivers and broader conditions (political and socio-economic) vary from country to country. The cultural dimension to multi-generational working therefore needs to be understood – both from a management and leadership perspective.

Traditionalists
: born before 1945. Value hard work. Dislike for conflict and detailed orientated.

Baby Boomers: born between 1946-1964. Adaptive, goal-orientated with positive attitude.

Generation X: born late 1960’s – 1970’s. Independent, adaptable, resilient and family-orientated.

Millennials (Gen Y) – born between 1980’s and 1990’s. Creative, committed and loyal, accept diversity easily.

The continued existence of multi-generational working as both a concept and also a recurring theme for business and academic discussion demonstrates the extent to which there is no agreed approach. Thankfully these broad, sweeping descriptors don’t fully describe the wide range of experiences or knowledge that employees possess. Nor do I believe that these simplistic definitions act as the basis for managing across generations.

I should declare a strong affinity for the work of Dorothy Leonard and Walter Swap and their 2005 article on “Deep Smarts” – the “stuff the produces that mysterious quality – good judgment”. Leonard and Swap argue that experience is the reason that deeply knowledgeable individuals make swift, smart decisions. In this context, the connection with the developmental principle of “70-20-10”, with the 70 representing the informal, on-the-job, experienced-based and practice, is relevant and needs to be appreciated more in terms of understanding how certain generations of employees integrate pattern based learning into their performance.

If we accept the proposition put forward by Nonaka and Takeuchi that knowledge and intellectual capital act as a company’s primary source of production and value, suggesting experience is a factor in value production, why is there still a level of tension between managing such pivotal contributors of organisational value? Why is there still a tendency to dwell on the differences between Baby Boomers and Generation X’ers rather than focus on common goals?
In my experience of working in a cross-cultural, multi-linguistic environment, there is little to be gained from the “divide and conquer” approach. No one size fits all – the world we live in is complex and diverse and management solutions cannot be framed to capture all possible instances in all locations. Broad principles may be applicable but the policy prescriptions need to be context specific.

Managing a multi-generational workplace undoubtedly has its challenges. However primary responsibility for turning this generational diversity into opportunity rests with managers first and foremost. It is critical that they get close to their employees – whatever their age – and understand what drives them. A tailored approach is likely to be more successful as it will have their personal motivation at the heart of the solution and will address their personal goals and needs.

Building collaborative partnerships is important. Creating blended teams enables mixed experience to be shared across age differences and support a common sense of purpose. Teams comprise of individuals working towards a shared goal. It is the skill-set, knowledge, commitment and dedication to that common goal that are key. Job shadowing, mentoring and coaching are also valid and support methods of developing cross-generational meaning and shared experiences – all with the purpose of adding value, be it organisational, personal or professional.

Challenges of age diversity at work 1

Katrina Pritchard (2)
Guest blogger: Dr Katrina Pritchard, Senior Lecturer in Organisational Studies at The Open University Business School. Dr Pritchard will be facilitating our forthcoming Business Perspectives masterclass in London in February.

Hardly a day goes by without the UK press highlighting issues associated with the changing age demographics of the UK population. My Open University colleague, Rebecca Whiting and I, are never short of materials to comment on in our daily blogs about Age at Work. For example, recently we have considered the announcement of ‘older worker champions’ at UK Job Centre’s to help the over-50’s develop ‘digital skills’, asking if this might perpetuate a stereotype of the older worker as less-IT proficient.

Despite having been on the media radar for the last few years, the challenges of age diversity at work are however poorly understood. Academic research has traditionally treated age as just a number. However ‘age’ is a significantly more complex than a chronological marker or membership of an alphabetically denoted generational category might suggest. For example, it is it is recognised that chronological age is at best a proxy measure (rather than a causal variable) for issues influencing work-related outcomes.

Moreover despite many consultancy-led reports highlighting challenges, there are few fora for managers to share practical experiences. Employers need to consider their legal obligations (avoiding age discrimination, for example), understand the potential implications of an age diverse workforce and also to consider how age-related stereotypes might present challenges to the achievement of organisational goals. Age related issues are often presented as a competition, between older and younger generations. Characteristics which are ascribed to generations are said to cause tensions at work, tensions which managers and leaders in age-diverse organisations need to address.

In this respect our Business Perspectives event provides a great opportunity to explore issues related to age diversity with insights from senior figures in the legal, automotive and health sectors. We are also delighted to welcome Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD, whose mission is ‘Championing better work and working lives’. Alongside academic perspectives, our sessions will explore issues related to both younger and older working lives providing the much need opportunity to share insights and practical experiences with organisations for which age diversity is critical business issue.

Tomorrow’s demands on today’s leaders – highlights from the roundtable discussion & webinar Reply

Highlights from the Business Perspectives roundtable discussion and webinar on Management Now: tomorrow’s demands on today’s leaders are available to watch, in a short 30 minute video.

Listen to our speakers about how managers can tackle the knowledge gaps and skills shortages of the future, whilst embracing new ways of working and creating more effective working environments.

This concludes the Management Now quarter. The next Business Perspectives Masterclass will take place in London on 12 February 2015, focusing on Leading and managing in age diverse organisations. More information and details on how to register are available on our website.

Management Now trend report & webinar 1

The Management Now trend reportOur latest Business Perspectives trend report looks at our current topic of Management Now: tomorrow’s demands on today’s leaders. The report considers the wider world of the future manager, focusing on mindset, culture, technology, agility and current trends.

The pace of business has never been so fast, which is why this summary has been designed so it can quickly inspire you at home, in an airport or on the go. You can download the report now, absolutely free.

Download the report

Continue the conversation with our free Management Now webinar, focusing on the challenges that face managers today and the demands of the future. Our free one hour webinar will take place on Wednesday 12 November 2014 at 19:00 (GMT).

The online webinar will introduce video highlights from the Business Perspectives thought leaders roundtable discussion, held in London on Tuesday 21 October. During the webinar, we’ll draw on the contributions from our roundtable discussion and further develop these discussion points. You can contribute via our live online polls and Q&A forums.

Register for the webinar

We invite you to download and share the report and send us any comments. If you would like to contribute your perspective towards future themes, please contact our Business Perspectives Editor.

Skills Shortage Looming Reply

Around the world, governments are predicting serious employment challenges relating to a pending shortage of key skills. The UK Commission for Education and Skills (UKCES) contributes to policy and research on employment and in its report, Working Futures 2012-2022, predicts that by 2022, two million vacancies requiring higher level skills will arise.

In another recently published report, The Employer Skills Survey, UKCES estimates that 20% of all vacancies arise when employers cannot find people with the skills and qualifications they need yet almost half of all businesses surveyed say they have employees with skills and qualifications that are not being fully used at work. Just as the business context moves on, so do the skills necessary to meet them. And where people have skills but are underutilised, they too move on.

There are predicted consequences and implications of this impending shortage including:

  • heavier workload for other staff required to cover the gap
  • increased operating costs
  • difficulties in meeting quality standards
  • greater difficulty in introducing new working practices

What can be done to address this and how does it impact on HR, L&D departments and the companies and institutions that design and deliver development programmes for them?

Perhaps predictably, over three-quarters of those employers who identified a skills gap are trying to overcome them by increasing their investment in training, greater staff supervision and development on the job and more regular and better connected appraisal activity. Yet a quarter have not yet acknowledged any danger.

What Needs to Change?
The increasing alignment in many organisations between strategic business priorities and investment in L&D will, among other things, help to avert a major skills shortage.

Increasingly L&D professionals are more closely aligned to business strategy generally and more so with HR systems and processes. This enables them to identify and make a more powerful case for investing in the skills and knowledge to sustain their organisations through turbulent times.

Many other changes are also taking place reflecting a more strategic approach to L&D:

  1. Greater emphasis is being placed on the measurement and analysis of the inputs and outcomes of development interventions.
  2. L&D departments are working more closely with line managers to upskill them in how to identify their training needs, create L&D plans and follow up programmes to embed learning.
  3. Investment in management training is supporting talent development and retention, while upskilling and encouraging more facilitative approaches amongst more experienced managers.
  4. This stronger dialogue with managers helps to align future programmes with anticipated skills gaps.
  5. More robust and objective evaluation of existing programmes is being undertaken to establish which offer value for money and added value to the business. Those that don’t may need rework; those that do may need to be carefully protected even when budgets need to be cut.
  6. Clearer longer term succession planning and better identification of those employees that could fill vacancies with some training and support. Good induction and follow-up programmes that help to ensure that new employees have training plans in place to get up and running as soon as possible and development plans for the future.
  7. Seek ways to enhance the efficiency of programmes. For example could a more blended learning approach with a significant work based element make learning more accessible and readily applicable. Linking programmes to live priorities not only provides a rich seam of data about the impact on the business but is often seen as win-win by participants and managers and a more efficient use of precious time.

This content originally featured on HR Magazine, an online HR publication for people-focused, forward-thinking, business leaders who want insight into, and examples of, business-contextualised HR to develop high-performing organisations.