Author Archives: Bradford University School of Management

Cultural guide: Advice for international students doing a UK MBA

Many MBA students – like Hajime Sudo from Japan who is blogging for the FT about doing our MBA in Perugia, Italy – find that studying abroad gives them the opportunity to experience a different business culture.

Now more than ever employers are looking for international experience. MBA study abroad is a fantastic opportunity to gain real insight and understanding of a range of different cultures from both the country you’re based in and the international students and staff you’re exposed to.

At Bradford University School of Management, we have developed a particular expertise in helping international students get the most out of their studies. This is especially important for our MBA and MSc students who come from all over the world and are only with us in the UK for a year. The quicker you settle in, the more value you get from your significant investment.

We used all this experience to produce a guide packed with case studies, insights and tips from our academics, students and companies who work internationally. Here are the guide’s top tips for international students doing a UK MBA

1. Creative thinking

In the West, the education system encourages people to think for themselves. When you are examined on a subject, you are expected to refer to what you have learned but also add your own thoughts and ideas. It is very normal to challenge a teacher, manager or mentor and ask questions about the thinking of a subject and not necessarily to agree with it.

When studying for an MBA in the UK

  • You will be expected to offer ideas and experiences. Some of your ideas will be accepted, some will be ignored, some initially debated and then dropped – and some developed and improved
  • Ideas do not have to be right. You can disagree with other people’s ideas and even change your mind about your own idea!
  • Offering an idea that is not accepted is part of a creative and discussion process and often triggers other ideas in other people
  • No-one should be offended if other ideas are chosen over theirs. It is OK to point out why you do not agree with an idea but you must respect everyone’s contribution
  • Be open to new ideas – it helps to read around a subject, listen to ideas on the TV or radio that could be adapted to a project you are doing, cut out snippets from newspapers, search the internet, do research with people you know

2. Team working

Teamworking is a fundamental part of working and studying in the UK. Often a task will be discussed and agreed by a team and then different tasks allocated to individuals. It is often the performance of the team that matters and not the performance of individuals. When working in a team, make sure you agree what has to be achieved and who will do what. Set deadlines and meet regularly and discuss any problems you have with your team.

You will be expected to keep an eye out for how other people are doing, be interested in what is going on around you and offer support if a colleague has a deadline that you could help with.

If you do not join in with your team, you are losing a valuable opportunity and experience to work with other people.  You may also cause frustration among others in your group if you do not contribute actively to the success of the group project.

3. Group discussions

Group discussions are an important part of MBA study. People in some cultures tend to be very polite and wait to be asked and don’t want to seem pushy by offering their ideas. In other cultures, people tend to offer their ideas whether they are wanted or not! Westerners will often dominate an international group discussion if the group leader does not control this.

When taking part in a group discussion, offer your ideas and encourage others to speak up. You can disagree with people whilst still respecting their opinion.

4.Defining success and failure

Different countries have different views on what is a success or failure. Students in many countries expect to get nearly 100% if they are achieving well. Marks of 68%, considered to be very good in Britain, can be regarded as low in other countries.

Equally, some cultures see ‘failure’ as the way to improve. They see something going wrong as an opportunity to learn and change processes or products – and perhaps gain a competitive advantage.

Discussing ‘failures’ is fundamental to the UK process of problem solving. You have to agree there is a problem and there is room for improvement before you can go on to solve the problem. There is a tendency for Western cultures to be very upbeat.  So ‘problems’ are always ‘challenges’, ‘disagreements’ are ‘issues’!

5. Loss of face

People in different cultures are embarrassed about different things. Many cultures do not like to admit they do not understand or do not want to say ‘no’, because it appears rude.

In some countries, people can feel uncomfortable turning down invitations because it feels unkind. They would rather say ‘yes’ to please the person and then just not turn up.  Other cultures would be more upset at not turning up – they would rather the person had said no in the beginning!

When you are working in a team with people from different cultures, ensure that everyone really understands what it is you are saying by testing their knowledge rather than asking ‘do you understand?’ For example, ask ’can you show me how you would do that?’ or ‘how would you put that into practise?’ Try to avoid suggesting it is the individual who is ‘wrong’ but find a new angle – such as going back to a manual or text book – to discuss new information that could help improve performance and understanding.

6. Language

When communicating in a language which is not your first language, we all share some natural concerns:  a lack of confidence, a fear of getting things wrong and the potential for misunderstandings or confusion. In the UK we prefer to try to communicate and smooth out problems as we go along, rather than not communicate at all. Debating issues and presenting ideas is a key part of business and academic life in the UK.

Do not apologise or be embarrassed to say if you do not understand. No one will be offended and you can learn from mistakes. Also read English newspapers and magazines, watch TV and listen to English radio. They are all good ways of broadening your use of the English language

7. Plagiarism

Plagiarising means deliberately to take and use another person’s invention, idea or writing and claim it as your own work. In areas such as science, academic or literary ideas, plagiarism is the equivalent of fraud or theft.  Plagiarism is treated very seriously and blatantly plagiarised work is usually disqualified.

There are four main forms of plagiarism

  • copying another person’s work, with or without their consent, and claiming or pretending it to be your own
  • presenting arguments that use a blend of your own and the actual words of the original author without giving credit to the real source
  • paraphrasing another person’s work, but not giving proper acknowledgement to the original writer
  • colluding with other students and submitting identical or near identical work.

Quoting, applying, analysing and criticising other people’s work is perfectly reasonable and acceptable providing you always

  • Attempt to summarize in your own words another person’s work, theories or ideas and give acknowledgement to that person. This is usually done by citing your sources and giving full references
  • Or
  • Use quotation marks to distinguish between the actual words of the writer and your own words. Once again, you must acknowledge your sources in references

8. Socialising – feeling as if you belong

When you are away from ‘home’ where everything feels comfortable and familiar, it is easy to feel lonely and isolated. There are many different social and cultural etiquettes which often take time and effort to understand, but once appreciated can help you to feel you belong!

Socialising at work and in education is encouraged in the UK to build teams. Joining sporting, social and cultural activities is one of the quickest ways to make friends and understand how to fit in. Student unions tend to be at the heart of socialising for students in most universities. However, ‘intimate’ relationships between work colleagues and academics and students are usually discouraged because they can create tensions and compromise professionalism.

Etiquette around time keeping can be complicated. You should always be on time for business appointments, lectures, classes and meetings with academic staff and work colleagues. But when it comes to social life, arranging to meet to see a film at 8pm means arriving at 8pm whilst it is acceptable to arrive between 10 and 20 minutes late for dinner at someone’s home. If going to a student party an invitation for 8pm probably means anytime from 9.30pm onwards!

For more advice and insight from academics, students and professionals download our cultural guide.

Have you studied or worked abroad? Tell us what surprised you most about the cultural differences?

Bradford ‘Management Thinking’ Digest – the latest on business strategy, leadership, finance, innovation and sustainability

bradford-new_logo_blackWelcome to our new students across our global campus. We hope our monthly digest of the latest thinking on business strategy, leadership, finance, innovation and sustainability from within the School of Management and beyond will help set your studies into context and give you some food for thought.

This edition of Bradford Management Thinking features

  • New research shows bosses put profit before ethics
  • Live QnA with one of world’s leading leadership experts
  • ‘Mobile boardroom’ helps Yorkshire companies innovate
  • Eurobonds and fiscal union: The only way to resolve the Euro crisis

Please share your views here and on Twitter @BradManagement

STRATEGY & SUSTAINABILITY

FT: New research shows bosses put profit before ethics

A survey of 2,500 workers by the Institute of Leadership & Management and Management Today magazine found that less than a third of chief executives of large companies were seen by their staff to put ethics at the heart of business decisions.

The FT reported that these findings come at a sensitive time for businesses following Ed Miliband’s proposal for tax and regulatory policies that favour “good” companies.

Peter Cheese, the institute’s chairman, said: “Employees, customers and shareholders expect ethical values to be at the heart of business decisions. The fact that so many leaders and organisations are perceived not to have that is a cause for serious concern and attention.”

Dr Sarah Dixon, Dean of Bradford University School of Management, said: “The next generation of business leaders need to make a valuable contribution to the economy, society and the environment. We have embedded sustainable and ethical values throughout the student experience including the content of our programmes and approaches to learning, to ensure that our graduates can offer more than just economic value.”

LEADERSHIP

Live QnA: with one of world’s leading leadership experts

The Chartered Management Institute is holding a live online Question & Answer session with John Adair, one of the world’s leading authorities on leadership and leadership development on Thursday 6 October 2011 at 2.30pm. Bradford University School of Management students, alumni, staff and partners are invited to get involved and quiz Adair on his expertise.

John Adair has written over 40 books including ‘How to Grow Leaders’ and ‘Effective Leadership Development’. He is also a teacher and consultant. Watch the live QnA by clicking here.

INNOVATION

Event: ‘Mobile boardroom’ helps Yorkshire companies innovate

A mobile boardroom created by Bradford University School of Management, has helped 15 business leaders with ideas to innovate in their own organisations.

Professor Christos Kalantaridis, who leads the School’s Innovation Club for businesses, organised a tour of three Yorkshire companies: Systagenix (formerly Johnson and Johnson), WebAnywhere and the off-site manufacturing arm of NG Bailey.

Each business highlighted a particular challenge and the background and asked the directors how they would tackle the issue, using their experiences from non-competing sectors. The challenges included how to prioritise good ideas, quality control and building an innovation pipeline.

Other businesses on the bus included Walker Morris, Foster’s Bakery, Beaumont Robinson, Lhasa and Northern Lights PR as well as ten academics and MBA students.

FINANCE

Blog: Eurobonds and fiscal union: The only way to resolve the Euro crisis

In his recent blog, Jean-Marc Trouille, Director of Master’s in European and International Business Management at Bradford University School of Management assesses the weaknesses exposed by the Euro crisis and says that creating Eurobonds and implementing a fiscal union by mutualising national debts is the only solution.

He says that leaders face a political as well as an economic dilemma.

Bradford “Management Thinking” Digest – the latest on business strategy, leadership, finance, innovation and sustainability

bradford-new_logo_blackThis edition of Bradford University School of Management’s digest of the latest business thinking features

  • HR’s role in brand value
  • 10 ways managers can improve trust in the workplace
  • A regime switching approach to pension plan solvency
  • Creating the sustainable business leaders of tomorrow

Please share your views here and on Twitter @BradManagement

STRATEGY

Blog: If the HR role is to survive, it has to link up with marketing

Simon Kingsnorth, managing director of Optimal HR and alumnus of the Executive MBA programme at Bradford University School of Management, challenges HR teams to understand their role in brand value in his guest blog.

He warns: “I fear for the future of HR – the days of personnel, tea and sympathy, and the days of rules and compliance are over – it’s just that some have not moved into the value add arena yet. The true role of HR is in leading change and articulating and delivering the capabilities that will deliver the business strategy.”

“Beware, change is coming – there are a number of organisations putting non HR people into leadership roles in the HR function – Shell have done it, Sainsbury’s have done it too and there are others. Will it be marketing that ultimately drives people experience? HR people – make friends with your marketing colleagues – discuss culture and branding with them, talk attraction strategy and retention strategy – you have lots in common!”

LEADERSHIP

Blog: 10 ways managers can improve trust in the workplace

Nearly a quarter of employees have lost faith in their manager, according to recent research by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI). Adi Gaskell offers advice on the top 10 ways to improve trust in the workplace in his guest blog.

He says: “High levels of trust are widely regarded as essential when motivating your team and improving job satisfaction. Once your staff lose faith, productivity goes down. Alas during the recession levels of trust have fallen.” His 10 tips include empathising with staff, treating all ideas as equal, being open and honest, admitting your mistakes and being accountable for your team’s mistakes.

FINANCE & INNOVATION

Research: A regime switching approach to pension plan solvency

Our Professor of Finance Mark Freeman is leading a collaborative research project to help pension fund managers, trustees and regulators better understand potential future pension fund solvency risk.

He says: “The concern for every pension fund manager and trustee has to be ensuring that their fund will remain solvent into the future. This research project is looking at a new way of modelling better accounts for the real world of financial market peaks and troughs. It will ensure that investment decisions are based on more accurate probability assessments of future pension fund surpluses and deficits.”

An executive summary of the project to date and what it hopes to achieve will appear in the next issue of the Rotman International Journal of Pension Management. Also see Mark’s blog on pension fund solvency.

SUSTAINABILITY

Comment: Business Schools responsible for the sustainable business leaders of tomorrow

Business Schools have a responsibility to create graduates that can make a “valuable contribution to the economy, society and the environment”, according to Dr. Sarah Dixon, Dean of Bradford University School of Management. Sarah shares her sustainable strategy for the School in the Association of Business Schools’ soon to be published ‘Pillars of the Economy 2011’ report.

She says: “Traditionally management education has been seen as a means to a higher paid job and career progression. However, we believe that our graduates should be able to offer more than just economic value that justifies their pay cheque. We have made significant progress with embedding sustainable and ethical values throughout the student experience – not just the environment we have created on campus but also the content of our programmes and approaches to learning.”

The School has launched a new MSc in Sustainable Operations Management and is playing a key role in the University of Bradford’s new Sustainable Enterprise Centre. Its innovative new building is shortlisted in the sustainability category in the RICS Awards.

Bradford ‘Management Thinking’ Digest – the latest on business strategy, leadership, finance, innovation and sustainability

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This edition of Bradford University School of Management’s digest of the latest business thinking features

  • Quotas for women on boards
  • Peer learning on the Ideas Bus
  • Robert Peston on the Greek Economy
  • Cutting the cost of an MBA

Please share your views here and on Twitter @BradManagement

STRATEGY & LEADERSHIP

Blog: Will quotas get the right women on boards?

Our Dean Dr Sarah Dixon shares her thoughts on the pros and cons of quotas coming out of debate at a panel discussion on Women on Boards in her latest blog.

She says: “One of the problems often cited in securing women onto boards is the lack of a pipeline of senior women with the type of leadership and management experience that counts in the selection process. More women than men graduate from university, yet fewer women than men make it to the top of the career ladder. Is it something in the female psyche that inhibits their career? Is it due to different values with respect to work/life balance? Or is it due to the predominance of men ‘at the top’ promoting their own image? Or maybe it is even simpler than that – women just don’t even think about the possibility of putting themselves forward for board positions?”

Ideas discussed at the event for how women can help themselves get onto boards included starting with the public sector to build your CV, making your interest in a board position known to your senior contacts in companies and showing executive search companies the benefits of different perspectives.

Sarah’s view that she is against quotas in principle but that positive action must be taken – and that quotas might be an answer – has invited comment from some top business people from across Europe. Corporate Communications Consultant Christopher Webb said: “The current system doesn’t even seem to get the right men on some boards, so I can’t see that quotas for female board members would do any harm.” Business consultant Rosena Robson responded: “What is most disappointing is that there is a great deal of denial that there is a problem by women and men, I like Christopher’s comment because it doesn’t asssume that all male directors are brilliant and by implication there is a lack of talent amongst women, which is clearly not the case.”

INNOVATION

Innovation Club: Peer learning on the Ideas Bus

Bradford University School of Management’s Innovation Club is a group of forward thinking companies from the region that are interested in learning from each other and working with the School to enhance their ability to innovate.

The Innovation Club will take to the road in September 2011 for its new ‘Ideas Bus’ initiative. The Ideas Bus will visit a number of companies to look at how they are innovating and share ideas. There will also be a round table discussion and visiting lecture at the School of Management.

Christos Kalantaridis, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation said: “Businesses want solutions now and the Ideas Bus is one of the ways that we are trying to open the School and our resources to organisations small and large – and link our research to their needs. It is all about peer learning and sharing ideas.”

To find out more about the Innovation Club, contact Professor Kalantaridis on C.Kalantaridis@bradford.ac.uk

FINANCE & SUSTAINABILITY

Robert Peston on the Greek economy

BBC Business Editor Robert Peston has been following the economic situation in Greece closely, in the wake of Eurozone finance ministers’ overnight decision to withhold payment of 12bn euros (£10bn) of emergency loans. He has discussed whether voluntary aid is a no go and why “letting Greece default in a disorderly, uncontrolled way would probably be a good deal worse for the global economy than Lehman’s collapse.”

Follow him via @Peston on Twitter or read his blog.

NEWS IN BRIEF

Practice-focused research from top European business school

We are launching our new Centre for Managerial Excellence (CME) on 30 June 2011. The Centre will enable the School to engage in business-focused research to address key global challenges for public, private and third sector organisations; students; and academics. The launch event will feature guest speaker Aleem Sheikh, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships with BP and a member of the School of Management Advisory Board. He will talk on “A perspective on Sustainable Business – China’s Energy Future and the World”. Click here to register to attend.

Cutting the cost of an MBA

Amongst other things, the School has remodelled some of the elective modules of its MBA course into concentrated blocks to allow students to specialise if they wish, as well as providing them with the option to take some of these modules at a partner institution in Europe. As a business school closely linked to organisations in the local and wider community, companies they work closely with who fund a student to join its highly ranked MBA programme in September 2011 or January 2012 are being offered discounts of up to 30%. For students who fund the Bradford MBA themselves, the School is offering up to 17 scholarships of up to £5,000 each, offered on a competitive merit basis. For more information, contact mba@bradford.ac.uk, visit  www.bradford.ac.uk/management/fees or attend an MBA Preview Event.

Bradford ‘Management Thinking’ Digest – the latest on business strategy, leadership, finance, innovation and sustainability

bradford-new_logo_blackThis edition of Bradford University School of Management’s digest of the latest business thinking features

  • Cognitive mapping
  • Sustainability Award
  • Chinese companies and investor expectations
  • Measuring the long term success of an MD

Please share your views here and on Twitter @BradManagement

STRATEGY

Journal of Change Management: Cognitive mapping case study

Our organisational behaviour and change expert Dr David Spicer has published an article in the Journal of Change Management on his research investigating managerial perspectives on culture change in a post-merger organisation.

The paper outlines a case study of how cognitive mapping interviews were used in a merger to understand senior management’s view of the organisation’s culture. The interviews conducted highlighted management challenges with ensuring consistent efforts are made to influence the culture of the post-merger organisation and communicate a clear vision of the desired culture.

INNOVATION & SUSTAINABILITY

Bradford University School of Management’s £12m new building wins sustainability award

Our innovative new Emm Lane building has been recognised for its sustainability credentials in the RICS Pro Yorkshire Awards, beating off competition from the University of Leeds’ ‘Edge’ building and six others, in the Sustainability category.

The building includes a Harvard-style MBA suite, social and learning spaces, a restaurant and floating staircase. It unites the School of Management’s existing Victorian buildings through a new modern two-story Atrium. Environmental features include a biomass boiler, energy efficient lighting, solar panels, a live public transport information feed and electric car charging facilities. It is part of Bradford University’s ‘Ecoversity’ initiative to minimise the university’s impact on the environment.

Dr Sarah Dixon, Dean of Bradford University School of Management, said: “This new building was all about improving the experience of our students, staff and the businesses we work with whilst creating a culture of sustainability. It has been outstanding in both respects and our first class facilities reflect our credentials as one of Europe’s leading Business Schools and number one in the North of England.”

FINANCE

McKinsey Quarterly: Can Chinese companies live up to investor expectations?

In a reversal of long-term trends, Chinese companies now enjoy a valuation premium over their peers in developed markets. This McKinsey Quarterly article asks what’s changed?

The authors suggest that while the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s reinforced the perception that Chinese companies were generally risky, the credit crisis of 2007 may have reversed it. They go on to say: “But an important question arises: have companies in emerging markets changed or just investors’ perceptions of them? If these valuations reflect investors’ expectations for future growth and returns, are there valid reasons to believe that those of Chinese companies have improved through the recession? Or are investors already assuming an improvement in economic realities? Economic data suggest the latter.”

LEADERSHIP

Blog: How do you measure the long term success of an MD?

Our director of Executive Education Julian Rawel explores measuring the long term success of MDs in his blog for the Chartered Management Institute.

He argues that ‘hard measurements’ of performance and potential of MDs, such as return on investment, don’t measure their long term impact. He argues that ‘hard’ metrics should be combined with ‘soft’, ‘personal’ and ‘strategic’ measurements. How do their employees work as a team? What is the MDs relationship with the board like? Are they actively looking at innovating into new markets? All of this gives a much better picture of whether the MD has it what it takes to give the business a sustainable future.

Bradford ‘Management Thinking’ Digest – the latest on business strategy, leadership, finance, innovation and sustainability

bradford-new_logo_black

This edition of Bradford University School of Management’s digest of the latest business thinking features

  • How to grow like Apple
  • Tomorrow’s MBA
  • Finance transformation
  • Leaders’ conversation skills

Please share your views here and on Twitter @BradManagement

STRATEGY

Business News Daily: How to grow like the ‘Golden’ Apple

Mario Simon, the managing director of Millward Brown Optimor, publisher of the recent BrandZ Top 100 Brands Survey, shares his advice on how small businesses can emulate the success of big brands like Apple.

In this interview with Business News Daily he says: “Many small business owners think you have to be a Proctor and Gamble or a Coca-Cola to invest in brand. But, the concept of the brand and what brings employees, consumers and customers together is powerful. Great businesses understand that intuitively. They do that systematically and leverage that asset.”

“For small business, building brand equity – no matter what kind of business you are – starts with deeply understanding your customer and then developing a strategy to allow your company to add meaning to their lives.”

INNOVATION

MBA-Channel.com: Tomorrow’s MBA – teach us how to run our own business!

Our Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Christos Kalantaridis, talks to MBA Channel about why Business School is the best place for future business owners to learn entrepreneurial skills.

He says: “Business Schools provide an education that is formed not just by economics but also draws from other social sciences, business and management theory. They have a broad range of disciplines and can help to create the right mix of skills and competencies for future entrepreneurs.

“The process of creative thinking, for example, is a matter of routine in my class. At Bradford, we teach an idea management system and my students learn entrepreneurial techniques to use in their own venture or in their role as part of a larger organisation. MBA students often become executives in large organisations and need to understand the importance of creating a corporate culture of entrepreneurship. The core classes of any good Business School in marketing, operations or finance are all essential for entrepreneurs.”

FINANCE & SUSTAINABILITY

Business Finance Magazine online: How to leverage sustainability initiatives for finance transformation

This article by Deloitte Consultants Chris Park and Samuel Silvers discusses the finance function’s expanding role in supporting sustainability. They identify 6 ways that sustainability initiatives can involve a new role for the finance function.

1. Enterprise value: Sustainability initiatives can be evaluated as investment opportunities rather than just costs, so the finance function can provide input into sustainability investment decisions and maximising potential returns.

2. Stakeholder relations: Companies are increasingly using sustainability communications strategy to help position them as a leader and influence investment opportunities, recruiting and retention, and product and brand loyalty.

3. Reporting: Many organisations seek sustainability information from companies today. Finance has a role to play in defining and developing internal and external reporting strategies, processes, and controls to communicate information accurately and consistently.

4. Tax and regulatory drivers: Governments often influence private sector sustainability initiatives through tax laws and regulatory requirements. This means that companies are building sustainability considerations into tax planning, risk management, and operational performance assessments.

5. Greenhouse gas and waste stream impacts: Greenhouse gas regulations effectively introduce a cost of carbon and monetise an organisation’s reduction efforts, which can be factored into financial planning.

6. Enterprise risk management: Reduced energy, commodity, and resource consumption can lower business risks of dramatic price increases. Leading organisations are incorporating sustainability-related risks into their risk maps and accounting for the impact of fluctuating resource prices in their planning, forecasting, and treasury activities.

LEADERSHIP

Pan European HR Network Blog: Conversations still difficult for leaders

This blog explores the reasons why leaders at all levels still find ‘difficult conversations’ with their teams and their boss the biggest challenge in leadership, despite new technologies meaning that we have more connections and conversations than ever.

Blog author Alan Arnett says: “It is more comfortable to sit behind a computer or smartphone screen and compose your own thoughts without having to pay attention to someone else’s reaction. But, the most widely used online conversation tool used by businesses internally is instant messaging – which is the technology closest to real time conversation. The tool they are most excited about? Cisco Telepresence (other video conferencing systems are available).  And why are they so excited?  Because it is most like having the person in the room and talking face to face.

“So, while I am sad that humans still find conversations difficult, I’m really happy that humans still prefer real conversations and are working to find better ways to have them.”

Bradford ‘Management Thinking’ Digest – the latest on business strategy, leadership, finance, innovation and sustainability

bradford-new_logo_black

This edition of Bradford University School of Management’s digest of the latest business thinking features

  • The Yorkshire Mafia
  • What stops a business being creative
  • Retail banking
  • It’s not change we fear but uncertainty

Please share your views here and on Twitter @BradManagement

STRATEGY

Sunday Telegraph: Think Tank – Yorkshire Mafia’s opportunities can’t be refused

The exclusive networking group started on LinkedIn by Yorkshire’s business “mafiosa” was featured in the Sunday Telegraph last week for its success in generating business for its members.

This success is undoubtedly down to its strategy to encourage “self help” rather than direct selling. Yorkshire Mafia’s Geoff Shepherd, says: “We all buy things from each other. Then no one needs to sell. It’s easier to operate in that environment.”

Relationship building and mutual favours which bring long term business benefit rather than traditional networking to generate direct, short term business leads is what social media is all about – could this model become the new growth strategy for many businesses?

INNOVATION

Video: What stops a business being creative?

Australian social entrepreneur and founder of Creativity Australia and Creative Universe Tania de Jong shares her views on what stifles creativity in business.

She sites lack of personal self belief, fear of failure and rejection of new ideas as being the things that make employees feel disengaged and start feeling that “no one listens to any new ideas round here” – which she says signals the death knell of creativity.

Giving people a voice, taking their ideas on board and looking into whether they are implementable rather than dismissing them immediately is what drives innovation but takes a change in culture from the top.

FINANCE & SUSTAINABILITY

Peston’s Picks – Retail banking must be ringfenced

The BBC’s Business Editor Robert Peston responds to what he calls “the most important response in the UK to date to the financial crisis of 2007-8” – the Independent Commission on Banking’s interim report.

The report’s recommendation is to put a protective firewall around the British retail banking operations of big universal banks, such as HSBC, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland – which he says will “anger and worry both the banks and the banks’ sternest critics.”

This would protect the retail operation of banks –  safeguarding savings, lending to businesses and movement of money – should the wholesale or investment arm of a universal bank were to get into trouble. Many are arguing that the report has been too timid for Vince Cable but Peston believes that the recommendations are framed with “more than half an eye on what each party said it wanted before the election.”

LEADERSHIP

Blog: It’s not change we fear but uncertainty

Our organisational change expert Dr David Spicer offers advice on businesses on minimising uncertainty brought about by change in turbulent times in his latest blog.

He argues that organisational change has shifted from being about development and growth to being about redundancy and cost cutting. This leaves all employees, whether secure in their jobs or not, feeling uncertain and means they won’t perform to the best of their ability, hampering change further still.

His top 5 tips for minimising uncertainty are:

1.      Accentuate Communication: Ensure open, honest communication. Completeness is key – ensure that the whole message is provided in a timely manner.

2.      Adapt Leadership: Recognise that different forms of leadership might be needed. In times of crisis, people look for new forms of leadership, favouring approaches that support them over charismatic leaders who they feel have failed to deliver the visions they were asking people to commit to.

3.      Avoid Contradictions: Watch out for contradictions between strategy and practice. If anything, decisions taken during periods of change should ensure a focus on core strengths to sustain the organisation through challenges.

4.      Behave Coherently: Don’t say one thing then behave in a way that suggests something fundamentally different is guiding what you do. It is important with uncertainty to ensure that what you say and do are as well aligned as possible.

5.      Act Ethically: Deal with people in a fair and just way and when handling difficult situations, allow people to act in an informed way.