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Wij lezen voor u: Happy Profit – Herman Toch


Happy Profit - Herman TochIs het nog OK om als bedrijf voor winst te gaan in een tijd waar de hele wereld elke actie van je volgt? Is je bedrijf voldoende transparant in wat het doet en waarom? Hoe kan je de klanten betrekken om jouw droom waar te maken en tegelijk de wereld beter achter te laten. In Happy Profit bekijkt Herman Toch hoe het anders kan. Streven naar duurzame groei via winstoptimalisatie en tegelijk zorgen dat je écht impact hebt.

Er zit spanning op het concept winst en groei. Als je te hard groeit, te hard naar de wolken reikt, dan is de weg terug vaak sneller dan heen. We kunnen hier naar enkele beursbubbels verwijzen om dit te staven, maar onze Nederlandse taal kent op zichzelf al genoeg spreekwoorden om hetzelfde te bewijzen.

Alles wat ons jarenlang succesvol gemaakt heeft, zal niet meer werken in de nieuwe, steeds veranderende wereld. De verhouding tussen organisatie, klant en stakeholders is gewijzigd. De klant wil betrokken worden, wilt zichzelf herkennen in het merk. De organisaties willen stakeholders die in het bedrijf geloven en op lange termijn investeren, niet op korte termijn winst nemen.

Toch blijft streven naar groei goed. Groei is namelijk iets natuurlijks, een levensvoorwaarde. In 270 bladzijden legt Herman Toch uit hoe het anders kan. Hij velt hierbij geen waardeoordeel, maar probeert te tonen hoe het in de nieuwe wereld wél kan door uitdagingen als opportuniteiten te zien.

Happy Profit kijkt op een fundamentele andere manier naar winst: winst is een beloning, geen doel. Het is de combinatie van zaken doen en (im)materiële waarde genereren, en dit op een manier waardoor je een betere wereld nalaat. Maximalisatie van winst- en shareholder value is niet duurzaam in de tijd. Daarom is het belangrijk te zoeken naar wat je organisatie meer doet, dan enkel winst maken. Winst is een middel, geen doel. In de toekomst zullen we moeten stoppen met het winnaars-verliezers model: winstmaximalisatie gaat ten koste van anderen en zal niet langer meer werken in de nieuwe wereld. Moeten we winst dan over boord gooien? Nee, we zullen evolueren naar winstoptimalisatie in plaats van -maximalisatie.

Auteur Toch beschrijft een circulair Happy Profit transformatieproces in vijf stappen.

1/ In contact komen met jouw kern

Waarvoor sta je? Waar geloof je in? Consumenten willen echte en authentieke bedrijven. Fakers vallen door de mand. Hoe kan je het merk (terug) naar zijn essentie brengen, vaak te vinden in de dromen van de oprichter?

2/ Transformeren is anders leren kijken

Transformeren gaat over het zien in nieuwe perspectieven en oude dominante logica los te laten. Herman bespreekt 5 fundamentele nieuwe paradigmawissels die leiden tot nieuwe economische denkrichtingen. Voort blijven werken vanuit een topdown machtsrelatie is iets uit het verleden: je moet rekening houden met alle relaties, ook met de stakeholders en consumenten. Het concept “een sterk ik in een sterk wij” door te leven op een hoger bewustzijnsniveau en het bouwen van een nieuwe identiteit.

3/ Het merk in zijn kracht zetten

Bedrijven en merken zullen een nieuwe identiteit moeten opbouwen in de nieuwe wereld. Deze merken laten zich leiden door innerlijke kracht en niet vermeende opportuniteiten. Merken hebben sterke, ambitieuze dromen.

4/ Negen Happy Profit highways

Er zijn negen manieren om een bedrijf te laten groeien in/naar Happy Profit. Voor elke highway bespreekt Toch de issue, de opportuniteit en de (im)materiële waarde. Deze highways kan je niet allemaal tegelijk doen. Het is belangrijk om te kiezen welke het meest geschikt zijn in de situatie van jouw organisatie.

5/ Doen

In een laatste hoofdstuk wordt aangespoord om het niet te laten bij de theorie, maar in actie te schieten. Er is al veel tijd gespendeerd aan het “waarom”, maar niet aan de “hoe” en “wat”.

Ter illustratie: wanneer je als organisatie wilt groeien op CSR vlak, kun je mooie slogans, marketing en plannen maken, of je kunt ook effectief iets realiseren. Het “waarom” wordt dan ondersteund door feiten in het “hoe” en “wat”. Van story telling naar story doing dus.

Besluit

Ik had al veel gehoord en gelezen over duurzame groei, ook in onze organisatie. Happy Profit is voor mij een eerste kennismaking met hoe dit in de praktijk zou kunnen. Er worden vele interessante concepten en business modellen uitgelegd.

Het moeilijke aan het lezen van dit boek zijn de lijstjes in de lijstjes en de structuren in de structuren. Regelmatig vervalt de auteur in een opsomming van alle mogelijke opties en modellen, bv. nieuwe business modellen, geschikte leiderschapsmodellen. Niet eenvoudig om de rode draad dan terug te vinden. Daarom vraag ik me ook af of Toch zelf heeft afgetoetst of hij met dit boek zijn in het boek vermeldde grafschrift (cfr. Stephen Covey) kan waarmaken, namelijk fundamenteel wijzigen hoe men naar winst kijkt.

Het boek is een aanrader om meer te leren over duurzame groei en winst, maar kon zelf meer naar zijn essentie gebracht worden.

Meer lezen

Happy Profit

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Share your own champagne


Sharing knowledge, even when you are many not immediately pulling together

Champagne farmThe Blanc-Sec family has been running the drape farm for years. After the death of his mother, Rose, Vin Blanc-Sec takes over the business. Vin is up from 5 AM making the necessary preparations for the day. In the AM he mostly works from at the farm, but the afternoon is in on most days fully booked with meetings with potential customers. A busy schedule, but that’s because of the Blanc-Sec family’s number one product: Blanc-Sec Champagne. Recently voted top 10 in best champagnes.

The recipe of the Blanc-Sec Champagne is a good kept family secret for years. And so is the production process. Only members of the direct Blanc-Sec family can have access to the full procedure. This resulted in a good champagne recipe which meant big business for the family.

But times change, and so does taste. Younger people are looking for another kind of champagne. The Spanish cava is gaining ground and pushing the classical champagne products from their throne. Vin came aware of this fact when he went to his nice’s 18th birthday party, where there was cava all round, but the family champagne was not to be found. As smart as Vin was, he locks himself up in the lab together with the memos of his mother and decided not to come out after he found The New Taste.

There was cava all around, but the family champagne was not to be found.

Some trials and unsuccessful experiments later, Vin decides to give up. He can’t get his production process tweaked like he likes to and decides to call in a family meeting to discuss the issue.

“I’m incredibly stuck”, Vin sighs, “I just can’t seem to find the right flavor.”
“Did you try another grape to …” his uncle asks, but Vin interrupts: “Guys, I think it’s time to seek for help”.
“What? Are you crazy?”, his brother shouts, “We’ve been doing this for years!”
“Now now,” his uncle responds, “let’s just hear Vin out for a moment…”
“Thanks,” Vin says, “I think it’s time to cooperate with our neighbours. Yes, our competition.”

A moment of silence passes.

“We cannot do this on our own. The whole sector needs innovation.”
“If we do not cooperate, we loose. Just look at the growth in popularity of cava!”

The discussion went on for a while (and we will spare you the details), but eventually they agree.

“Let’s give it a try and see what we can learn!”

With the permission of the rest of the family Vin takes up contact with the other major players in the champagne industry. While many reluctant at first, they decided they needed to cooperate to bring the cava popularity to a halt and become market leader again with tasteful champagne products. The champagne farmers set up a community “Champagne For All” and make a vow to help each out in these times of need.

And the results are remarkable. As it turns out, Vin’s closes neighbour, Mark Eting, is an expert in designing fancy labels for the bottle in a very efficient way. Vin decides to give his champagne label an update, but with still a reference to its ancestry. In return, Vin can also help along Mark with his experience in the field of process optimization.

They all benefit from the knowledge exchange, but still keep their independence on the champagne market. You could say they all got a step forward together.

Are you working as single champagne farmers or as community?

In each organization not all departments are pulling together. Each has different targets and different approaches. But when your organization wants to transcend mediocrity and become a market leader, you need to get them to work together. Are you all working together, for the same goal? Or are your departments acting like single champagne farms in your region?

Setting up communities is one way to increase cooperation in an organization. Communities are more than online forums and also encompass face-to-face interaction in the form of meetings, offline forums, conventions, inspirational talks etc. If several departments are all doing the same work, it might be interesting to set up communities to exchange best practices and lessons learned. Each department has his specific context, employees and customers, but there will be added value in exchanging information.

From practice we know that setting up communities is not easy. Information exchange cannot be forced and the “What’s in it for me?” is not always very clear. Communities is give and take, you know. Our advice is to give your communities at work a gentle push, but don’t force it upon the users because they will reject. Give the active members a pad on the back and reward people who are sharing knowledge and helping others. If you are  thinking about how to attract more participants and increase participation, try to reverse the question: “Why should I be interested to join?” If your content is rich enough, the added-value and the  “What’s in it for me?” will be clear. This will attract more community members.

How do/would you stimulate information exchange in you organization? Please share 😉

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Change culture by changing behavior – part 2: distributed networks


Change is a process. Change is a journey. Change is exploration, thinking, mistaking, learning, testing, accepting, supporting and struggling. Change is emotion having an argument with reason. You cannot change culture if you want your employees to change their behavior. It’s the other way around: you need to change behavior to change the culture of your organization.

Big change projects have the tendency to change processes, organization, structures and training to change culture. But that’s only an illusion. New studies, like “Accelerate” by John Kotter and “Viral Change” by The Chalfont Project have arguments against this tendency which are very compelling and make sense.

There are several ways to change behavior, but I would like to discuss three topics with you in separate short blog entries: role modelling, distributed networks and story telling.

Part 2 – Distributed networks

Accelerate by J. Kotter - Distributed networks

Accelerate by J. Kotter – Distributed networks

In each organization, no matter how flat, there is some hierarchy. The role of leadership in this hierarchy is already discussed in part one, but studies show that with a new style of distributed leadership, change efforts can accelerate and have a better effect on the culture.

With distributed leadership you make use of the informal network that your organization has. Distributed leadership build on not only the typical change team, but on many change agents, distributed over the organization. These change agents are popular profiles who are highly interconnected in the organization.

These change agent will form an army of motivated believers who will radiate the desired behavior to the rest of the organization.

In a previous blog post “Dance your way into change we discussed the one lone dancer who gently creates a pull from the rest of the crowd and after a while all of the crowd is dancing along. This theory works perfectly fine if you can witness the action happening. But in large organizations it is more difficult: you need more than one central group starting to dance and which cannot be seen by the majority of employees. To get the organization dancing, you need leaders, spread over the entire organization doing a dance. A dance which is so authentic and catching that it appeals to the ones close to them and gets them to start dancing.

If your need to set the organization on fire, these communities are your oxygen. The task of the organization’s leadership is to orchestrate this pull of connected individuals, but also set boundaries for initiatives that grow without killing the enthusiasm behind it.

In part 3, we will discuss story telling and link it back to leadership and distributed networks.

Additional reading

Changing the way we think about change by Leandro Herrero

Accelerate by John Kotter

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Community building at work


Community building

Community building

After online social communities have almost taken over our real life social network, the community concept starts gaining success on the work floor. Companies are less reluctant to open up their networks for networks like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

If we look back five to ten years ago, thinking that we would use chat clients to work with colleagues abroad but also next to us was impossible.The idea that we have a intracompany social network with liberty to participate in communities of various kinds was unthinkable.

And yet we still have to grow in community building at work.

Since community building is not new and is also a topic in real life, it has been studies by many scientists and psychologists. Pecker describes an interesting four step community development process which can be compared the Tuckman’s stages of group development (forming, norming, storming, performing).

1. Pseudocommunity stage

A pseudocommunity is a freshly produced community. It’s actually just a group people placed together. We see the same with new communities started up at work (eg. when a new change effort is launched): it’s all new, everyone wants to join, but there’s no real community yet. The main characteristic of this stage is that people pretend to be a community: stories are shared, but everything is very correct and polite. There’s no real discussion taken place and the participation is more passive and one-way oriented.

Although it seems artificial, this stage is needed to build safety, trust and respect. (remember: no healthy conflict without conflict!)

Some tips:

  • Don’t invite all participants at once: people are drawn to you over time if you provide good, valuable and authentic information.
  • Think dialog and not pushing information.

2. Chaos stage

In the second stage, chaos, the participants learn they are different and start to explore the differences. In chaos people let go of their manners and blurt out their prejudices, opinions and judgments. The group boundaries and norms are explored: what can be discussed, what can be questioned?

We transition to the next stage when participants start to learn that healthy conflict is natural.

Some tips:

  • It starts with the first conversation.
  • Set boundaries without killing the enthusiasm.

3. Emptiness stage

The word emptiness here is used as in “freeing up his thoughts” and “sharing real experiences and emotions”. The community starts to share authentic stories. Interactions become deeper and more meaningful, the participation of the community goes beyond clicking the “like” button and only challenging.

Some tips for acquiring this in online communities at work:

  • Build in a reputation model (eg. member of the week, most active member, profile badges, …).
  • Create an environment where everybody is a respected leader, and a dedicated follower.
  • Don’t try to create passion, but find passionate participants.
  • Make participants aware that the group can benefit from the information you as participant hold.
  • Encourage users to reinforce their feelings of belonging to the community by identifying themselves actively as a member.

4. Community

In this stage, participants are sharing success and failure stories. They exchange experiences. Differences are appreciated. Co-creation is possible and rewarded.

Some tips:

  • Keep rewarding all members in the community. Keep the connection alive.
  • Keep the interaction alive. Find a community manager who tracks community usage, identifies opportunities and initiates conversations.
  • Avoid saturating your audience with irrelevant updates.

Additional reading

The Community Building Process by Jerry L. Hampton
10 Community Building Tips
Community Building: How to Grow With the Power of People
How to create active online communities
Three Key Stages of Growing a Community Online
How To Build An Online Community: The Ultimate List Of Resources (2012)

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