• J&J Tarnished Credo

    Johnson & Johnson (J&J) used its credo to guide management decisions in 1982 when it recalled millions of bottles of Tylenol. Seven people died after their Tylenol pills were laced with cyanide. When Tylenol came back on the market, it was among the first products to have tamper-proof packaging. J&J's credo put consumer safety before profits. The Tylenol recall became a textbook case for crisis management.

    The credo was written in 1943 by Robert Wood Johnson, former chairman from 1932 to 1963 and a member of the Company’s founding family. (It is attached.) However, today’s J&J management doesn’t seem to be using the credo as a guide. Profit seems to be the number one goal. The company has been accused of lapses in quality control, failure to promptly respond to product safety issues, and marketing drugs for unapproved uses.  

    Is the J&J credo out of date? Should profits come first? OR should customers come first? Should J&J management recommit to using the credo to guide decisions?

  • Spring Black Friday

    The managers at Home Depot, an Atlanta-based home-improvement retailer, say that Thursday (today) starts "Spring Black Friday." The start of spring for Home Depot this weekend is just as important to Home Depot's business as "Black Friday," the day after Thanksgiving when the biggest crowds shop.

    Home Depot has higher customer demand in spring and summer when people start to work on out-door projects, such as painting and fencing. Its sales forecasts are in line with the United States (U.S.) GDP (gross domestic product). See 'Regression Basics for Business Analysis' for an explanation of using GDP to forecast sales.

    What other variables (besides GDP) might managers at Home Depot have used to predict increased sales?

  • “Don’t confuse entrepreneurship with recklessness”

    "Don't confuse entrepreneurship with recklessness" is one of Joseph Jan Collmer's 50 rules for the entrepreneur. This is an interesting rule from a man who performs aerobatic stunts at air shows nationwide. (See attached article.) But, it makes sense when you know that as a young man in the 1950s, he was a military fighter pilot.

    "You have to deal with risk in a business, but it can't paralyze you. And you can't panic. Panic is the enemy of a pilot and the enemy of a businessperson because it stops all functioning. A parachute in the form of a contingency plan is vital." (Jan Collmer interview with Cheryl Hall, "High-flying advice starts with lowly pocket cards," The Dallas Morning News, March 28, 2012, p. 10D)

    He founded Collmer Semiconductor Inc., a $60 million company, as well as the Frontiers of Flight Museum at Dallas Love Field Airport in Dallas, Texas. You can find the other 49 rules in his self-published book, Go Start Something! Live Life on the Edge.

    Collmer wears a shirt with a pocket. In the pocket are index cards containing to-dos, mental checklists, thoughts for the day, and goals. Why do you think that writing these ideas on pocket-size cards is his most effective management aid?

  • Managers Can Prevent Social Media Crises

    Smart managers at companies like Intel, Dell and Adobe don't need to ask employees for their passwords to social media sites, like Facebook. Jeremiah Owyang found three ways they did this:

    • Create an easy-to-understand non-invasive policy about what behavior is expected from employees
    • Train internally with existing employees and new hires to build a culture of good behavior
    • Reward good behavior instead of penalizing the bad.

    What would you tell an interviewer if he or she said, "You are hired, once we know your Facebook password"?

  • The World Has Gone Mobile

    Picture Source: Pew Research, How smartphone owners describe their phones

    In just a few short years, people have started to use their phones for everything.

    While walking around, people use their phones to solve their problems. Where can I find the specific brand of a product? Where can I find the retailer? Where can I have lunch?

    While shopping, people use their phones as a shopping companion. They plan their shopping and compare prices. What's the best brand? What are the ratings? What's the best price? Is there a special discount code or a coupon? Is the product in stock? Give me the directions to the store.

    An early adopter of mobile advertising is 1-800-Flowers. Customers can use their phones to order on the site; click-to-call to talk to someone in customer service; check stock locally; find out about product launches; get calendar alerts.

    Companies know that their customers are going mobile. But, many managers have been slow movers leveraging mobile for their employees. They just think about online desktop. What would work for employees on the small screen? How can mangers leverage mobile phones to help their employees work smarter, not harder?

  • Flip the classroom

    The mission of Khan Academy is "a free world-class education for anyone, anywhere." Some elementary schools use Khan Academy to teach math. They "flip the classroom." Students watch interesting 10-minute videos at home. Then, in class they work on practice sets at their own pace. The teacher is a coach or mentor and uses a dashboard to track student progress over time.

    Watch the video and decide. Is Khan Academy the future of education?


  • Co-workers Can Ruin Your Diet

    Food is at the most basic level of Maslow's Hierarch of Needs. We know that food can be used as a motivator. In addition, food at the office is often used to celebrate, to be social, to build teamwork, to relax, and to de-stress. According to a Wall Street Journal article about a January 2012 survey of 325 women who have dieted or are dieting by Survey Sampling International for Medi-Weightloss Clinics, 44 percent of them said their co-workers are a source of pressure to go off the diet. Pressures include being made fun of, encouraged to eat more, and being given food that is not on the diet.

    Picture Source: Sue Shellenbarger, "Colleagues Who Can Make You Fat," The Wall Street Journal, March 15, 2012

    Dieters are trying to be healthy, but it is very difficult for them to deal with a fattening work environment. Are the motives of co-workers good? If you were on a diet, how could you ask your co-workers for support?

  • Challenge Yourself to Do More

    Recently, Dr. Wright Lassiter, Chancellor of the Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD), challenged employees with an adaptation of William Arthur Ward's poem, "Do More."

    "Do More" by William Arthur Ward

    Do more than belong: participate.
    Do more than care: help.
    Do more than believe: practice.
    Do more than be fair: be kind.
    Do more than forgive: forget.
    Do more than dream: work.

    "Dr. Lassiter's Personal Challenge to DCCCD Employees"

    I will do more than belong - I will participate.
    I will do more than believe - I will practice.
    I will do more than forgive - I will forget.
    I will do more than teach - I will inspire.
    I will do more than comment - I will help.
    I will do more than be fair - I will be kind.
    I will do more than dream - I will work.
    I will do more than give - I will serve.
    I will do more than hope my people are accountable - I will hold them accountable.
    I will do more than wish my people understand - I will give feedback.

    The DCCCD has over 7,000 employees, and Dr. Lassiter is the top manager. He used a poem to try to motivate employees to do more. Does the poem motivate you? Explain. If you were to use this poem for motivation, would you delete any of the lines? Which ones? What would you add?

  • Start Saving Now for Retirement

    Retirement is one of the last things on young employees' minds. But it should be top-of-mind, because time and the power of compounding are huge advantages in building retirement savings. The high cost of labor has resulted in firms replacing traditional pensions with 401(k) programs. This shifts the responsibility for saving for retirement from the employer to the employee.

    According to the 2012 Retirement Confidence Survey, employees' confidence in their ability to retire comfortably is at historically low levels. (See attached Fact Sheet.) Thus, baby boomers , born between 1946 and 1964,may become the first generation to never retire.

    Just as scanning the environment helps managers make better decisions; it can help individuals make better decisions. Let's look at the environmental elements of social/cultural, political, and economic. Demographics are important to the social/cultural element in environmental scanning. The approximately 76 million baby-boomers are beginning to retire from the workforce. But, since they haven't saved enough money, they may delay retirement. If they do retire, the huge numbers will affect the political element. Congress could raise the retirement age from 66 to 70. If not, the government will have to print money to pay for social security. That will affect the economic element. Printing more money will trigger inflation and devalue the currency. Interest rates will move higher.

    Many baby boomers will work longer, consume less, and save more. How can young employees and managers meet the challenge to balance the cost of retirement with the quality of work?

  • A Day in the Apps of Aaron

    Many managers and employees have found that using tablets, smart phones, and mobile devices can make them more productive and efficient. They can work in an office or out, anywhere, anytime. The tablet can be used on the retail floor and at meetings.  For example, employees can take the tablet computer to the customer and demonstrate or reference products. Employees can show images and videos. Information can be found in real-time, giving customers the confidence that questions can be answered on the spot. Credit cards can be processed off the mobile device. To maintain contact with customers or employees, managers can take pictures and video with the tablet, enabling video conferencing. The camera can be used to document a product or process. It can be used as a scanner.

    Aaron Stout, North Lake College Manager Media and Production Services, told me, "Tablets are all about the apps. Like software, different apps perform the same functions differently. Individual choice of apps makes tablets very personal." He went on to tell me how he uses his iPad. (The apps are italicized.)

    • Wake up and check my Calendar (Google), Weatherbug, Pulse News, Make sure Splashtop is running on the computer
    • Get to the office and check my e-mail (GW Mail, Yahoo and Hotmail), reminders (to-do list), Get a bunch of stuff started, and check in from my desk with Splashtop
    • As I work on projects I might use Safari (Web browsing), iBooks, pdf-notes, iThoughts, Dropbox
    • In our departmental meeting I use TwistedWave to audio-record, jot times down in Notes when the boss tells me to remember something, "copy" a map with my Camera and e-mail it to the group
    • After the meeting, I break out the important audio notes from the meeting in TwistedWave, put pertinent info into Reminders and Calendar, organize notes into a Word or Excel document and save to Dropbox so I can access them later in Quickoffice
    • Then I take a break and check out what my friends are doing on Facebook and entertain myself with StumbleUpon
    • Back to Work

    What are some other must-have business apps?

  • Saint Patrick’s Day

    Holidays are big business, so managers must plan for Saint Patrick's Day. How do businesses help customers celebrate Saint Patrick's Day? What did you do to celebrate?

    What are some of the decisions made by the managers in the video? Identify one of the activities mentioned in the video. What action steps do you think the manager used to accomplish the identified activity?

    After Saint Patrick's Day, interview a restaurant or hotel manager in your town. Ask him or her about the activities planned for Saint Patrick's Day. What decisions did he or she have to make? Was the planned activity successful?


  • Social Media Participation

    As social media like blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube grow increasingly popular managers want to engage more strategically in the space with their employees and customers. Yet, social media is a little frightening to traditional managers accustomed to "controlling the messages" associated with their business. They are used to creating and honing the message and then deciding who will receive it and when. An exchange of ideas or opinions is not part of that process. Now, people expect two-way communication (talking and listening on both sides). They talk about products, services, and businesses whenever and wherever they like - they can praise or chastise, sometimes both in the same message.

    Social media might be used by employees to:

    • Improve customer service
    • Recruit and retain customers
    • Build brand awareness and loyalty
    • Encourage collaboration
    • Generate good public relations
    • Facilitate networking
    • Share information and invite exchange

    Forrester Research has developed a social technology profile tool with content from the book Groundswell (Harvard Business School Press, 2008) by Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li. With it, a company can profile social media behaviors by selecting the age, country, and gender of its customers. Once selected, the tool segments consumers into six different categories of social media participation, depicted in the ladder below.  The rungs at the higher end of the ladder indicate a higher level of participation.

    Groundswell Profile Tool

    Source of graphic: Li, Charlene, “Forrester’s new Social Technographics report,” April 27, 2007, (http://forrester.typepad.com/groundswell/2007/04/forresters_new_.html)

    How should managers encourage employees to use social media? Where are you on the ladder of social media participation? How can you increase your rate of participation? Should you?

  • Customers Before Profit

    Greg Smith, an executive director at Goldman Sachs, resigned with a scathing essay, "Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs," published March 14, 2012 on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times. In the essay, Smith accused the bank of putting profit ahead of customers' interests.

    Just like Smith, some people think that businesses exist to make a profit. But, in today's competitive environment, a strong focus on customer satisfaction is essential to the success of any business. Rapid globalization means that companies now compete in markets all over the world. Foreign and domestic businesses are realizing that profit will only be achieved through satisfying the customer.

    The idea that profit is not the primary goal of business is not new. In 1954, Peter Drucker made the point in his book, The Practice of Management. "Profit is not the explanation, cause or rationale of business behavior and business decisions, but the test of their validity." Profits are an essential result of business success. Again, the true purpose of business is the creation of customers -- the efficient provision of products and services which people want to buy. Satisfy customers and profit will follow.

    Why do you think Greg Smith publicly criticized his employer? If you were his manager, what would you do now?

  • Tablet Forecast Increases

    Tablet sales continue to grow. International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts and analyzes the worldwide media tablet market. IDC's Worldwide and U.S. Media Tablet 2011-2015 Forecast Update: October 2011 was replaced by Worldwide and U.S. Media Tablet 2011-2015 Forecast Update: December 2011 because IDC increased its forecast for tablet computer shipments this year. In February 2012, IDC reported that tablet shipments in 2011 were 9 percent more than IDC had forecast.

    The most successful tablet computer is the Apple iPad, which debuted in 2010. Since then, sales of tablets are booming and may soon outsell personal computers (PCs). One of my students told me, "Tablets are all about the apps. Like software, different apps perform the same functions differently. Individual choice of apps makes tablets very personal." In other words, each tablet is different depending on the software applications (apps) chosen.

    He went on to tell me what would make him happy:

    Blackboard works!

    My teacher uses Facebook!

    My textbook is available for iPad!

    My syllabus is available as a pdf!

    I can audio record my lectures to my iPad!

    My professor lets me video her demonstrations straight to my iPad!

    My lectures online are in mp3 format!


    Do you use a PC or tablet? What would you add to the list above?

  • Change and Innovative Questions

    Every organization must plan for change in order to reach its ultimate goal . Effective planning helps a business adapt to change by identifying opportunities and avoiding problems.

    But, when is it time to change? What should be changed? How can change happen?

    Sharon Drew Morgen has designed the facilitative questions below to help individuals begin the process of change and innovation decision-making. Use these questions to determine if you are ready to make a change, or ready to become an innovator.

    Change and Innovation Template (increase box sizes as appropriate)

    1.1 Take a look around your environment (home, family, business, personal). What issues do you see ongoing that you have not managed yet?

    1.2 What has stopped you from managing them until now?

    2.1 What would you need to see/hear/feel to recognize when it was time to do something different?

    3.1 What criteria do you use to decide what aspects of the situation need to be changed?

    3.2 Which aspects should stay the same?

    3.3 What is the difference between the two?

    3.4 And how will you know if you've chosen the appropriate elements for each?

    4.1 How will you decide who would need to be brought into the 'change' conversation to ensure you have buy-in from interested parties?

    4.2 How do you plan on bringing them into the decisions you need to make?

    4.3 How will you know that they are indeed supportive of your change issues?

    4.4 How will you know if they are not supportive?

    4.5 How will you manage the situation if they believe they will be harmed by the change?

    5.1 How will you and your decision partners determine all of the aspects that need to be managed?

    5.2 What elements of the situation need to be shifted first?

    5.3 What elements of the situation need to be shifted second?

    5.4 How will you handle differences of opinion?

    6.1 How will you monitor your process?

    6.2 How will you know if/when you are going off course and need additional support (possibly from the outside)?

    6.3 How will you and your decision partners help you in your monitoring?

    7.1 What will success look like?

    7.2 How can you be sure that the problem will remain solved over time?

    8.1 What does follow up and follow through look like?

    © Sharon Drew Morgen, template/design Alan Chapman 2004-2009

     After answering the questions above, reflect on the experience by using the "reflective diary template" produced by Alan Chapman and Sharon Drew Morgen.   It is attached.

    How successful do you think these questions would be in facilitating change? Did you use them to make a change? If so, share your experience.

  • Resistance to Change

    Rapid changes quickly make yesterday's strategy obsolete. The future requires managers with the skills to integrate many unexpected and seemingly diverse events into planning. Thus, managers should be proactive, making change happen instead of reacting to change.

    But, some managers cling to yesterday's successful product, technology, or customer service instead of embracing something new.

    Below are some examples of resistance to change. Can you think of others? Add to this list.

    "Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy."
    --Drillers whom Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859

    "This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us."
    --Western Union internal memo, 1876

    "Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction".
    --Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872

    "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible."
    --Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895

    "Everything that can be invented has been invented."
    --Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899

    "We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out."
    --Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962

    "There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."
    --Ken Olson, president, chairman, and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

    "So we went to Atari and said, 'Hey, we've got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or, we'll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we'll come work for you.' And they said, 'No.' So, then, we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, 'Hey, we don't need you. You haven't got through college yet.'"
    --Apple Computer Inc. founder Steve Jobs on attempts to get Atari and HP interested in his and Steve Wozniak's personal computer

    "640K ought to be enough for anybody."
    -- Bill Gates, 1981

    "$100 million dollars is way too much to pay for Microsoft."
    -- IBM, 1982

  • Cupcake Vending Machine

    Candace Nelson, founder and owner of Sprinkles, decided to use a vending machine at the Beverly Hills, California store to offer cupcakes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to her customers. The cupcake vending machine is continuously restocked to serve fresh cupcakes. The consumer uses a touchscreen to order and to choose the cupcake flavor. A robotic arm pulls the cupcake from a wall of single-serving boxes inside the store. Cupcakes in the store cost $3.25. A boxed cupcake from the vending machine costs $4.00.

    One area of decision making by managers is distribution or placement of products, which must be accessible to potential customers. Most people don't have a lot of time. Thus, vending machines provide convenience by making products available when and where consumers want them. This is known as place utility. Utility is the attribute in an item that makes it capable of satisfying wants.

    Would you purchase a cupcake from a vending machine? Why or why not?

  • Newspapers Search for a New Business Model

    Environmental forces create challenges and opportunities for a business. For example, new technologies arrive, which create new product and market opportunities. An important technology, the Internet has changed the way people get their news. Instead of reading a printed newspaper, many people read news online and share it with friends.

    Traditionally, newspapers have made money by selling print advertisements. A new study by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism ("The Search for a New Business Model, How Newspapers are Faring Trying to Build Digital Revenue") found that the papers studied are losing seven dollars in print advertising for every one dollar they are gaining in new digital revenue. Thus, newspapers need a new business model to survive.

    The study found that successful business models for papers incorporated new categories of revenue. One newspaper sold local digital advertising targeted and customized based on customer online behavior. Another sold consulting services helping businesses promote themselves digitally.

    Technological developments are the most manageable uncontrollable force faced by managers, but managers need to be aware of new technologies in order to turn these advances into opportunities and a competitive edge. But, they must act quickly to adapt.

    The digital revolution is not that new. It has been around for many years. How can newspaper managers chart a faster digital course? What would you buy from a newspaper?

  • Do Some Good

    Corporate social responsibility (CSR) attempts to align corporate goals, such as profits, revenue, and growth with the social needs of the community. Choosing the social need is the key. The company's assets must intersect with the greater community's needs, while resulting in a sustainable program. In other words, the company must make a profit. The company inspires sales while it makes a difference.

    An example is Denver-based Chipotle Mexican Grill's "Food With Integrity" movement, which educates consumers about Chipotle's use of local and sustainable farm suppliers. "We have always understood the importance of serving food that is raised right. We produced this film to help illustrate the choices people face in deciding what to eat, and hope that it will encourage people to choose food that is raised with respect for the land, the animals and the farmers that produce it," said Steve Ells, founder, chair and chief executive of Chipotle.

    How does Chipotle's commercial engage consumers to share the message? 

  • Corporate Social Responsibility

    In Corporate Social Responsibility: Making Good Business Sense, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development defined the strategy as, "...the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as the local community and society at large."

    Many companies encourage charitable efforts on the part of their employees. Apple Chief Tim Cook announced that Apple would match its employee's charitable contributions to non-profit organizations up to $10,000 per year (2011). Other companies pay their employees for volunteer time (an hour each week, for example) at local charities. It is important for managers to support employees' charitable efforts. While most companies can't afford to match their employees' contributions or pay them for volunteering, they can show support in other ways. For example, a manager could support an employee's charity of choice by volunteering or participating in a fundraiser, such as a walk or run that raises money for charity.

    When a business chooses one important cause, such as McDonald's and Ronald McDonald houses, it is important for the entire team to be in agreement. Managers should talk to employees about the causes that are important to them before choosing a cause. Then, once the cause is chosen, managers must make sure employees are engaged and motivated because the cause becomes part of the business strategy.

    How do you think employees show their appreciation for getting volunteer time or matching charitable contributions? Do companies lose money by letting employees contribute their time?

  • Windows 8 Unveiled

    Microsoft unveiled its upcoming Windows 8 operating system at the Mobil World Congress in Barcelona, Spain yesterday (February 29.) It was demonstrated on a hybrid machine that is part tablet and part laptop computer. Users can tap into and swipe in and out of applications.

    The ability to change and innovate to meet the needs of the marketplace separates the winners from the losers in today's business environment. Since products go through life cycles, new products are necessary to sustain sales and profits. The competition and customers must be assessed to determine what new products might satisfy customer needs. The new product development process includes generating new product ideas, screening ideas, business analysis, prototype development, market tests, and commercialization.

    Key questions managers should ask in the process include:

    • Is there a current need for the product?
    • Does the new product meet the users' needs uniquely? completely?
    • Will the user and buyer believe that you have the solution?
    • Is the size of the market big enough for the company to make a profit?
    • Have you tested and validated?

    Microsoft has dominated the PC market, which is past its prime. Apple is dominating the new market for smartphones and tablets. Will Windows 8 help Microsoft gain a stronger position in the area of mobile devices? Will consumers consider purchasing the new hybrid PC which is part computer, part laptop?