22 April 2012

That was week ending 20th April 2012

When is BIG TOO BIG?

On Wednesday we had the long trailed statement from Tesco’s Chief Executive Philip Clarke confirming reduced profits in their UK operation. He announced a £1bn investment in UK stores focusing on improving staffing levels, smartening up stores and delivering better prices and product ranges. Clarke said this plan would “… put the heart and soul back in to Tesco”.
However commentators have warned that Tesco is now so big that it will be very difficult if not impossible to achieve a turn around fast enough to out pace the competition. So apart from wondering what Tesco have been doing if they have not been “improving staffing levels, smartening up stores and delivering better prices and product ranges” this also made us think about when is BIG just TOO BIG.
There are different types of TOO BIG - too big to manage, too big for stretched financial resources, too big for market demand and so on. However we think the real issue is when a business becomes TOO BIG TO CHANGE. So size doesn’t matter, what really matters is CHANGEABILITY, the personal and organisational ability and capacity for change. If your business has grown beyond your CHANGEABILITY then it is TOO BIG, for you at least.
So think about what might cause you to need to change your business significantly and rapidly and how you would do that, fast and effectively. How good are you right now at implementing changes in your business, fast and effectively? One tip – if you think this is “change management” you are likely to miss the point.

Off their Marks

M&S also announced disappointing sales figures. By way of explanation, they stated how many items of shoes and clothing they did not sell because they did not buy enough stock. We think it is pretty clever of M&S to actually track what they did not sell but are perplexed as to why they were not clever enough to anticipate a cold snap in February.  Have M&S now become so clever with systems that they have lost sight of some the “arts” of retailing?  Tesco also perhaps?

More Women of the Year please

Congratulations to British fashion designer Anya Hindmarch, for winning the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year Award. The run up to the awards stimulated more debate on women in the boardroom, or rather the lack of them.  There are many different views on why there are still so few women in senior positions in British companies and just as many on what should be done about it.
For us though a fundamental factor in the debate has somehow been lost. It may be considered non PC to say this but …. “women are different from men and men are different from women”. Part of the problem is an unwillingness and lack of skill to manage these differences in ways that can unlock the potential from those differences. It is easier to prefer someone who “will fit in”, “won’t rock the boat”, “will be a team player” in our team and playing the way we think it always has and always should be played.
Show us a board or management group that is largely composed of the same kind of person, male or female and we will show a group of people less productive, innovative and effective than they could be. They may have a nice time together but eventually they will waste away and fail. The “differences” are the reason why we need both women and men at all levels in all organisations.

Women showing how it's done

Finally, CIPD published a labour market analysis which reported that there are 271,000 more women over 50 in the labour market since 2008, an 8pc increase. Of these 172,000 are self-employed, up 16.3%.  By contrast only 3,000 older men are in work.
The report suggest various reason for this. However for us there is a clear message. When the going got tough these older women got going. Now isn’t that the attitude we all want to see in our businesses at all levels?

So that was some of the week before this week. We hope you found some of the above thought provoking and useful for you and your business. We trust you had a good weekend and hope you have a great week this week.

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