An executive shortage by 2016?

I just recently saw the results of a study from Odgers Berntson from 2011 showing some very frightening statistics about executive succession planning. When you look at the numbers below, think about how your organization is handling this issue.

  • 17% of organizations expect to lose more than 50% of current leadership by 2016
  • 25% expect to lose more than 20% of leadership
  • 68% have no executive team replacement strategy
  • Next generation of leaders likely to be at least five years younger
  • 43% anticipating a shortage of executives by 2016

The first question that comes to mind is, “What are we doing about it?” I would be interested to know if the answers from these same executives have changed since 2011. This shows a clear lack of succession planning, which is something that we see every day. For some reason most organizations don’t do it. As a leader, one of your accountabilities is to find a top-notch replacement for yourself. We all know this, yet it’s often not done effectively.

Think about these statistics and then think about what you can do to ensure you don’t fall into one of them.

Miller’s Monday Morning Message

Andrew MillerMiller’s Monday Morning Message
presented by ACM Consulting Inc.

Andrew Miller on operational excellence, strategy, life balance and everything in between

Toronto – May 27, 2013
When pursuing, and eventually mastering operational excellence, there are only four things that can happen to an organization:
  • They can achieve operational excellence and maintain that mastery (3M).
  • They can achieve operational excellence and then lose significant market share (Blockbuster).
  • They can achieve operational excellence and then disappear (Netscape).
  • They can achieve operational excellence, lose it, and then reappear even stronger (IBM).
The organizations that are able to maintain a high level of operational excellence implement stops or gates to prevent them from sliding backwards from the culture they worked so hard to build. These gates help them anticipate future changes in their industries, their customers, their employees and their products and services. Some examples of ways to ensure forward progress are:
  • Hold an innovation competition in your organization. Ask for improvement ideas from employees, customers, suppliers and other business partners and hand out awards for the best ideas. This will generate an influx of new ideas that might help improve performance.
  • Have a third party interview some of your key customers and suppliers to identify why they like working with you and what could be improved. This will give you some insights on what you need to keep doing to be successful and what you need to improve.
  • Ask your existing customer base for referrals to new prospective customers. This will provide you with a series of new leads to follow up with and gives you a reason to have additional conversations with current customers.
  • Perform a review on a key department in the organization and look for gaps in the processes or in communication. Odds are you will find some opportunities to improve the way you operate.

“The most successful organizations can anticipate where they need to be next in order to take advantage of changing markets and changing customers,” says Andrew Miller, president of ACM Consulting. “They don’t rest on their laurels as they know they need to constantly grow and innovate to stay successful.”

To request an interview or more information, please contact:
Andrew Miller
Follow me on Twitter @AndrewMillerACM
© Andrew Miller. All rights reserved. 2013.


A great example of customer service from the Pierre hotel

Last week I stayed at the Pierre hotel in New York City. A great property with a great view of Central Park and even greater service. It is one of the only remaining hotels (I think there might be one other in New York) that still uses elevator attendants to move you up and down the floors.

After my stay, I took a few minutes to complete the survey that I was sent. I usually do this because if I have something valuable to add, I want to help the organization improve. In this case, I had a great experience but provided feedback that for the rate that people were paying to stay at the hotel, it was difficult for me to wrap my head around being charged $12 per day for Internet access. In this day and age when we are always connected, Internet access should be included with any hotel room.

To my surprise, I received an email from the Pierre’s Director of Guest Relations within a few hours of completing the survey. Now talk about providing a personal touch! I thought this was a great example of going the extra mile. The email thanked me for my stay and for taking the time to complete the survey, but also addressed my issue about Internet access directly. This just showed that someone took the time to actually read my comments and address them specifically.

This is not something that most companies do so I applaud the Pierre and Taj Hotels for implementing a culture that encourages this kind of extra effort by its’ employees. In a world where communication is becoming less and less personal, acknowledgement of a customer’s concerns is a great strategy.

As I’ve said before, you don’t always need to do something extraordinary to stand out from the crowd.

Aligning technology with how employees use it away from work

In an earlier post, I talked about how technology is used in the workplace is not aligned with the way employees use technology away from the workplace.

What I mean doesn’t relate to updating hardware and software or getting the latest version of something, but more about how people communicate and making sure organizations align how they use technology to achieve specific outcomes.

Outside of work people use mobile phones and tablets and other technology to stay in constant contact with one another, share information, gather information, search for resources, etc. They expect immediate results. Yet in many organizations, technology is not used for collaborating or communicating quickly and effectively. In fact, it’s the opposite and can act as a hindrance to performance because the objectives for using the technology were not considered appropriately before it was implemented . Hence the reason you see many people with two mobile devices, one for work and one for personal use, which makes little sense to me.

If technology is not supporting employees to do their job as quickly and effectively as possible, then there will be lost opportunities, hence the impact on profit.

I’m not suggesting that organizations always determine technology decisions based on how employees are using it away from the office. I do think however, that technology adoption would be higher inside organizations if it was used in a way that was better aligned with the way people are using it outside of the office.

Turning customer complaints into new sales

In a recent post, I identified different ways to find money and performance boosts. One of the statements was, “Instead of focusing on resolving customer complaints, measure the amount of new revenue generated from those complaining customers.”

Many organizations measure the amount of time it takes customer service representatives to get off the phone, or the volume of calls per hour or maybe even the number of customer issues resolved on the first call. But what about turning that customer complaint on its head and actually making a sale after resolving the issue. When their issues gets resolved quickly and to their satisfaction, customers are grateful. You have just removed one point of stress from their lives.

If you just spilled water on your computer and someone at Apple’s Genius Bar was able to fix it, wouldn’t you be open to listening about an additional warranty to replace your computer if that ever happened again, or some kind of storage device that automatically saves your data? Sometimes it takes a problem for customers to realize what they really need and they’ll be willing to take steps to avoid that problem happening again.

These are the types of opportunities that the best companies in the world look for and exploit.

Of course it requires customer service reps to have a different set of skills, but it also creates a new revenue stream and strengthens customer loyalty. What other opportunities can you find to turn negative situations into growth opportunities?

Getting performance boosts from areas where you don’t normally look

One of the great competitive advantages an organization can have is being able to find money and performance boosts in areas where most other organizations don’t normally look. This is how to turn conventional business wisdom in it’s head:

  • Instead of focusing only on the acquisition of new customers, measure the seamless on boarding of new customers and the retention of existing customers.
  • Instead of focusing on resolving customer complaints, measure the amount of new revenue generated from those complaining customers.
  • Instead of spending a great deal of time on strategy development, focus on execution and implementation of the strategy.
  • Instead of only focusing on pursuing new customers, find a way to have customers seek you out.
  • Instead of focusing only on product development timelines, measure the uptake of that product relative to other new products that were successful.
  • Instead of over-delivering on features, benefits and services, determine what the customer needs and only provide that.
  • Instead of measuring the number of new ideas developed, measure the number of ideas that become commercially viable and from where those ideas were generated.
  • Instead of focusing on customer satisfaction, measure the number of referrals to new prospective customers received from each customer.
  • Instead of treating all customers equally, treat your most important customers better than the rest.
  • Instead of measuring employee turnover or attrition, measure how many of your best people stay with the organization for more than three years.
  • Instead of providing incentives to sales people for making the initial sale, only measure and reward them for repeat, long-term customers.
  • Instead of focusing on the number of new products and services you bring to market, measure the percentage of revenue and profit those new products and services represent in their first three years of existence.

As you can see, there are many different areas where there are tremendous opportunities for increases in profit and performance. And we have just scratched the surface.

I will be hosting a free teleconference going into more detail about these areas on Thursday February 28 at 10:00EST. To register, please provide your name, organization and email address to [email protected].

Look for future posts over the next few days where I will go into more detail about each of the ideas above.

Miller’s Monday Morning Message

Andrew MillerMiller's Monday Morning Message
presented by ACM Consulting Inc.

Andrew Miller on strategy, operations, life balance and everything in between

Toronto – February 27, 2012

In a recent discussion I had with some colleagues from around the world, we realized that many of the challenges we have in our healthcare systems were the same. The group represented people from both publicly and privately funded healthcare models and covered people from North America, Europe, New Zealand and Australia. Here's what we discovered as the common healthcare challenges we all face and my thoughts on solutions:

A reactive healthcare system

Each of our healthcare systems was very reactive in the way that services were being delivered. New services would be developed only once a need had arisen, but little effort was spent trying to anticipate the future needs of patients in order to better serve them. This is most evident in the fact that governments focus on treatment of disease and other medical issues more than they focus on their prevention.
Solution: Look at different models of care and engage patients more to determine not only what they need now, but what they will need in the future.

An inefficient healthcare system

Many of the healthcare systems we discussed have old and antiquated technology platforms. In a world where the electronic transfer of health records is paramount to patient treatment, this was very surprising. Many countries have stifled innovation with medical technology. Often, strict procurement processes and a focus on lowering costs dictated the way technology was purchased. This not only stifles innovation for leading edge technologies, it also discourages some companies from even participating in the marketplace for fear of being commoditized.
Solution:  Provide different options for different types of purchases. For products and services that should not be commoditized, encourage a process of collaboration between healthcare providers and their suppliers that focuses on the best solution for the provider.

A poorly integrated system

Hospital resources are strained and performance suffers, yet the integration of varying levels of care is still done poorly. We don't always remember to address issues from the patient's perspective and once they are discharged from hospital, what support system are we providing them? The communication between family doctor and patient is often broken (the doctor speaks in terms the patient doesn't understand and the patient is afraid to ask for clarification) and patients don't know where to turn for help. The result is that they go back to the hospital, often unnecessarily.
Solution:  Governments should provide incentives for regional providers to get together to share information and make the transfer of patients and their information seamless. Think of a health authority where home care, hospital care, and clinical care was fully integrated with the patient at the centre of the model.

A complex system

Of course a subject as large as healthcare is going to be complex, but that doesn't mean it has to be unclear. There are major issues around lack of clarity of healthcare legislation, misunderstandings about how the system will be sustainable through current funding models and the issue of the aging demographic within our societies. These are important issues that politicians aren't tackling adequately enough.
Solution:  We need to look for a model where smaller specialty clinics can take some of the pressure off of hospitals. We also need to align legislation with the concept of patient-centred care, so every decision made is in the best interest of patients and the healthcare system as a whole, not just focused on lowering costs.

Since we are all facing the same issues, why are we not collaborating more? Why are we not engaging industry and patients on a global scale to help resolve these challenges and turn them into opportunities? Because we are too busy cleaning up our own backyard to see how beneficial that collaboration would be. We should be looking at initiatives that are working successfully and build on them. Only then will we see a sustainable and improving healthcare system.

To request an interview or more information, please contact:

Andrew Miller
Follow me on Twitter @AndrewMillerACM
© Andrew Miller. All rights reserved. 2012.