Recent Posts


  • Green is the New Red this Valentine's Day

    Happy Valentine's Day! Social/cultural is an important element in the external environment of business. Managers consider social/cultural trends before making decisions. The infographic above depicts the new Valentine's Day trend of consumers choosing "green" or eco-friendly products when buying gifts to give on Valentine's Day. What "green" or eco-friendly trends are emerging? Choose a business product and suggest how it might change to become more "green" or eco-friendly.
  • CEOs Foresee Technological Changes

    Top managers use conceptual skills to scan the external environment. They think about how the political, economic, social, and technilogical elements that might affect their businesses. A December 2013 survey of US CEOs conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found that 86% of those surveyed believed that technological advances would transform their businesses the most. See the graphic below. CEOs are investing in technologies in order to help drive growth. See the graphic below. Read more at In the video below, Tom Archer, US Technology Industry Leader, shares PwC's point of view relative to the technology trends. Mr. Archer says that the technology trends are in the cloud, social, and mobile. How are these technologies "rewriting the rules of business"? Do you agree with Mr. Archer that "every business is becoming a technology company"?
  • Technology in 2014

    15 Tech Companies That Will Define 2014 from The Motley Fool Managers don't control the external environment, but elements in the external environment influence the decisions of managers. An easy way to remember the external environmental elements is to think PEST or STEP. The external elements might be a threat (PEST) or an opportunity (STEP). P is for Political/legal; E is for economic; S is for social/cultural; and T is for Technology. In the slideshare above, The Motely Fool, looks at 15 technology companies that they think will be successful in 2014. Read through the slideshare above. How might the technologies be threats or opportunities for existing businesses?
  • 2014 Outlook for the Franchise Industry

    In this video, the International Franchise Association looks back at 2013 and ahead to what's coming up for 2014. How does this relate to an environmental analysis? What are the opportunities and threats for small business owners?
  • Elements of Disruptive Innovation

    Entrepreneurs, like Steve Jobs of Apple and Bill Gates of Microsoft, have brought us products that reduce costs and improve quality. Yet, even though the United States leads the world in health care innovation, no entrepreneur has appeared. Why not? Disruptive innovation, also known as cost-cutting innovation, is described in The Innovator's Prescription by Clayton Christensen, Jerome Grossman, and Jason Hwang. The professors explain that cost-cutting innovation comes from the supply side, not the demand side. The elements of disruptive innovation can be seen in the graphic below. The entrepreneur understands what consumers want. But, many times, consumers can't describe these wants. Who among us visualized using a personal computer, smart phone, or tablet computer? In the video below, Jason Hwang talks about disruptive innovation in health care. He is co-author with Clayton Christensen and Jerome Grossman, of The Innovator's Prescription: A Disruptive Solution for Health Care . In the regulation of healthcare, Robert F. Graboyes, senior research fellow with the Mercatus Center and professor at George Mason University writes, "Medicare's reimbursement formula muffles prices and distorts resource allocation in ways that affect prices and distorts resource allocation in ways that affect private insurance. Tax laws effectively bind employees to their employers' health plans. State regulations protect insiders through scope-of-practice regulations, protectionist licensing, and certificate-of-need requirements" ( Robert F. Graboyes, " Where are the health care innovators ?"). How can managers influence the external environment of political/legal/regulations? How can managers drive costs down while increasing quality?
  • DOJ Blocks AA and US Airways Merger

    The US Department of Justice (DOJ) and attorneys general of Arizona, Florida, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and the district of Columbia filed suit August 13, 2013 to stop American Airlines and US Airways from merging. The proposed $12 billion merger would combine the two airlines into the world's largest carrier. The lawsuit alleges that the merger would reduce competition. It would "raise prices, impose new or higher baggage and other ancillary fees, and reduce capacity and service." Managers see the merger as necessary in an increasingly competitive market. The airline industry's business model is challenging. Since the 1980s, more than 40 U.S. airlines have declared bankruptcy. But, unlike airlines in earlier mergers, both American and US Airways are profitable. Cheryl Hall of the Dallas Morning News interviewed Robert Crandall the retired chairman, president, and CEO of AMR, parent company of American Airlines (August 14, 2013, D1, 10D). Crandall told Hall the following. "This is another indication that the U.S. government does not know the first thing about the aviation industry. The government made a mistake when they allowed US airlines to send their airplanes overseas for maintenance, thus sacrificing tens of thousands of middle-class maintenance jobs in the U.S. And they made a mistake when they permitted Delta to absorb Northwest and permitted United to merge with Continental because they created monolithic carriers that require monolithic competitors. Without a merger, neither (American or US Airways) in the very long run can make it -- be sure to emphasize in the very long run . Ten years down the road, if American and US Air don't succeed in creating greater mass and more ubiquity, they can't compete effectively against United and Delta." The merger would have left just four large companies serving the U.S. airline market. Does the merger hurt consumers? All managers study the business environment, with political being one of the most important elements. Did the managers under estimate the government issue? How could the relationship with the Justice Department have been managed more carefully?
  • Internet Trends 2013

    Managers scan the external environment to find opportunities and threats. One way to scan the environment is to look for trends. Mary Meeker has uploaded her latest report on Internet trends, which can be viewed below. KPCB Internet Trends 2013 from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Some of the highlights: Google, Microsoft, and Facebook are the top global internet properties. Emerging markets, especially China, continue to lead in the growth in global Internet users. “Wearables, drivables, flyables and scannables” will become more popular. What other trends did you find interesting? Which industries might be interested in these trends?
  • The Ideal Organization

    Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones identified the six most essential imperatives for creating an ideal work environment. Let people be themselves. Unleash the flow of information. Magnify people's strengths. Stand for more than shareholder value. Show how the daily work makes sense. Have rules people can believe in. How can a manager create a work environment with the above 6 elements? To get more ideas, look at the following statements created by Goffee and Jones . How close is your organization to the ideal? To find out, check off each statement that applies. The more check marks you have, the closer you are to the dream. Let Me Be Myself ☐ I'm the same person at home as I am at work. ☐ I feel comfortable being myself. ☐ We're all encouraged to express our differences. ☐ People who think differently from most do well here. ☐ Passion is encouraged, even when it leads to conflict. ☐ More than one type of person fits in here. Tell Me What's Really Going On ☐ We're all told the whole story. ☐ Information is not spun. ☐ It's not disloyal to say something negative. ☐ My manager wants to hear bad news. ☐ Top executives want to hear bad news. ☐ Many channels of communication are available to us. ☐ I feel comfortable signing my name to comments I make. Discover and Magnify My Strengths ☐ I am given the chance to develop. ☐ Every employee is given the chance to develop. ☐ The best people want to strut their stuff here. ☐ The weakest performers can see a path to improvement. ☐ Compensation is fairly distributed throughout the organization. ☐ We generate value for ourselves by adding value to others. Make Me Proud I Work Here ☐ I know what we stand for. ☐ I value what we stand for. ☐ I want to exceed my current duties. ☐ Profit is not our overriding goal. ☐ I am accomplishing something worthwhile. ☐ I like to tell people where I work. Make My Work Meaningful ☐ My job is meaningful to me. ☐ My duties make sense to me. ☐ My work gives me energy and pleasure. ☐ I understand how my job fits with everyone else's. ☐ Everyone's job is necessary. ☐ At work we share a common cause. Don't Hinder Me with Stupid Rules ☐ We keep things simple. ☐ The rules are clear and apply equally to everyone. ☐ I know what the rules are for. ☐ Everyone knows what the rules are for. ☐ We, as an organization, resist red tape. ☐ Authority is respected. How could the above statements help you in your job search?
  • The Sharing Economy

    Managers scan the external environment to determine problems, opportunities, and trends. An important element in the external environment is the economy. In this video, Loic LeMeur states that people will share possessions instead of owning them. Can you imagine no possessions ? Is this a trend of the future? How might it affect business?
  • Business Roundtable CEOs are Optimistic about Sales, but not Hiring

    Business Roundtable (BRT) is an association of chief executive officers (CEOs) of the 200 largest corporations in the United States. The CEOs are surveyed about sales, capital spending, and hiring. The results are reported as a composite index used to gauge their economic outlook. The long run average of the index is 79. The current index is 81. According to the latest quarterly survey of Business Roundtable members, 72 percent of the CEOs expect sales to increase in the next six months. While the group is more optimistic about sales than in the past, they are not as optimistic about hiring. Only 29 percent of the CEOs expect to increase hiring in the next six months. (See attached press release.) Why does hiring not increase when sales increase? The BRT video at explains how corporations work and the value they provide to the U.S. economy.
  • McDonald's Around the World

    McDonald's - Around the World from PosterBoy Edit on Vimeo . McDonald's has a strong identity around the world, as shown in this commercial. People in almost every country recognize the name. McDonald's legally protects its name or trademark to ensure consistent communications inside and outside the company, around the world. (See the " Global Logo and Trademark Standards Reference Guide " from 1999.) Why would McDonald's create a reference guide for its logo and trademark standards? How does McDonald's define trademark in the 1999 reference guide? What has changed about its trademark since 1999?
  • New Mega Trends

    The book, New Mega Trends (by Frost & Sullivan Partner Sarwant Singh, published by Palgrave Macmillan) identifies 10 global trends that will have global impact in the future. The book gives readers the tools to identify and evaluate the trends, and to translate them into business and personal opportunities. Table of Contents E-Mobility Urbanization Health, Wellness and Well-Being Social Trends New Battlefields Virtual Connected World Innovating to Zero Value For Money Business Models Smart is the New Green From Planes to Trains For example, the chapter, "Smart is the New Green," discusses business opportunities to develop, use, and sell "smart" products which have information and communication technology embedded in them so that workers can use tablet computers to communicate as they move around the business facilities instead of being tied to a desk with a personal computer. View the slides below and think about the external environment which influences management decisions. How might the factory of the future use advanced technology and automation to improve product quality, monitor costs, adjust production, and "go green"? New Mega Trends - Implications of Mega Trends to Businesses, Cultures, Society and Careers from Frost & Sullivan
  • Frankenstorm Hurricane Sandy Stops Business in the East

    NASA timelapse of Sandy - Photographer: NOAA Yesterday, Hurricane Sandy, dubbed "Frankenstorm," hit a 1,000-mile-wide area of the East Coast, from Massachusetts to Virginia. The storm brought rain, flooding, cold wind, and power outages. Managers in the area decided to close or limit business hours. Retail stores and restaurants closed. Oil refineries in the Northeast shut down or cut production. Even the U.S. stock exchange closed for the first time since 1888. New technologies were used to communicate during the storm. Weather and News feeds on the Internet were enhanced for those situations where citizens might lose television or cable but have some access to Internet, especially through mobile devices. Utilities and police sent emergency update email and text messages. Need disaster information? There's an app for that! FEMA's app contains a checklist for an emergency kit and a page on what to do during a hurricane, including tips like "take refuge in a small interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level." The American Red Cross released a Mobile App that includes a request for help, a flashlight app, and weather updates. It has information about open shelters and an "I'm Safe" alert for Facebook, Twitter, and email so people can tell their friends and family that they are OK. People can follow key accounts on Facebook and Twitter ( @FEMA and @RedCross ) to track the storm. Even though businesses in the affected areas closed, several are running some of their technology operations through offices in other parts of the U.S., Europe, and Asia. How has the storm affected businesses where you live? Do you think the storm will have a significant impact on business? Photo source:
  • Consumer Confidence

    Managers study the external environment or outside factors that may affect an organization. One of the directly interactive forces in the external environment that managers study is customers. The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index is a tool managers can use to gauge consumers' collective confidence in the economy. The Conference Board is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization based in New York. The board's trustees include chief executives of leading global corporations. The Consumer Confidence Index is a number that fluctuates depending on responses to monthly surveys. The consumer confidence surveys are conducted on the first day of each month with 5,000 U.S. households. A different group is surveyed each month, and each is screened to try to represent a demographic cross-section of the nation. The same five questions have been asked since the survey began in 1967. The questions asked are to discern consumers' thinking about the economy, their place in it, and where it's headed. That consistency and long track record make the board's index highly regarded. Below is a graph of the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence index from September 2011 through September 2012. The September 2012 consumer confidence index stands at 70.3, up 9 points from 61.3 in August. The benchmark level is 100. Source: RTTNews Why is the Conference Board's survey closely watched? How can managers use it?
  • Crowdsourcing at Domino's

    Companies are outsourcing research by turning to crowds ( crowdsourcing ). In the past, focus groups were asked research questions. Today, many companies are asking consumers for ideas. An example is Domino's Think Oven, as shown in this video. Think Oven has two parts, projects and idea box. Projects ask for help on something specific. Idea Box asks people to submit their ideas for Domino's. Users can post ideas on Domino's Facebook page . Co.create reported that "customers aren't the only ones voicing their ideas: Domino's store managers and employees have taken to Think Oven with genuine suggestions. The idea for one of Domino's new products, Parmesan Bread Bites, came from Brian Edler, a Domino's store owner in Ohio instead of from product development types at HQ." How is crowdsourcing improving Domino's business?