Management textbooks, whether they be about strategy, operations, marketing or H.R., are full of ‘tools’ that an organisation might use in order to succeed. Such tools include mission statements, SWOT analysis, competitor and market analysis, budgeting, goals and objectives, performance measures, and etc. etc. For medium sized businesses this is both time consuming and challenging. So having a web-based template that enables operators to systematically utilise these tools effectively seems like a good idea. That is precisely what Aha! provide.
Aha! have developed a platform that enables a business to articulate its strategy and link this to operations through what they call “product roadmaps”, as explained here. Linked to these are also templates for eliciting new product ideas, for new product design and development, and for performance analytics.
On 20 July Amazon issued a press release entitled “New Shop the Future store from Amazon.co.uk features innovative electronics, home, health & beauty and food & drink products destined for future fame”. It explains that this “store” (i.e. web page) would be “full of the latest cutting-edge electronics, home, health and beauty as well as food and drink products set to become mainstay must-haves of the future”.
Well, here’s the link to that “store”. It offers products under five main areas – lifestyle, health and wellness, home, entertainment and leisure, and food. Click on any one of these and you too may be underwhelmed.
Of more interest, at least to me, is the link in the press release to their “Shop the Future Report”, written by two futurists – Anne Lise Kjaer and William Higham. Albeit a brief ten pages long, the report does introduce some interesting foresight into what kind of products may become available in the very near future. These include:
- pet translators ie devices that are activated when a dog or cat makes a sound, translating it to tell the owner what it means
- insect diet meals i.e. not meals for insects, but human meals from insects
- personalised augmented reality tattoos which will be able to ‘speak’.
Airbus A3 Transpose is what air travel might be like in the future…
Stratasys is at the forefront of the 3D printing revolution. On its website it has over 100 “case studies” of how the technology is being applied across eleven different industry sectors, including the entertainment industry. This page includes video of how the Iron Man movie used 3D printed parts.
I’ve blogged before about how most companies on their website refer in some way or another to innovation or being innovative. That’s because all, or nearly all, CEO’s recognise that the world is changing rapidly and that their operations cannot stand still. My blogs on this subject have then typically gone on to identify that whilst companies are good at talking about innovation, they are not so good at doing it. So I’m not surprised by this PAConsulting article which identifies that “leaders talk the talk on innovation, [but] few of them actually embrace it”.
More interestingly, PAConsulting go on to identify how to “create the right conditions for successful innovation”. The headlines are:
- Identify the people who will pioneer innovation
- Invest in an agile recruitment strategy
- Make sure leaders encourage, inspire, and reward innovation
- Plan for the future
Having mentioned gigtogig in yesterday’s blog, I thought you’d be interested to see how it works in practice…
And this is how the operator makes work available to potential workers…
Petit Pli is what happens when an aeronautical engineer decides to design children’ clothing. This startup sells outerwear that will fit a child from the age of 4 month up to 36 months. As I have three grandsons ranging in age from two weeks up to eight years old, this sounds like a great idea to me. To find out more, click here.
Interesting piece on the hotelowner.co.uk website explaining how independent operators can take advantage of some startups that will facilitate their business. The five they list are as follows:
Hotelchamp – this is software that is designed to optimise the effectiveness of the hotel operator’s website and encourage more guests to book direct.
gigtogig – this is an app that enables operators to find workers on a flexible basis.
roomstorm – this startup enables airlines to find hotel rooms when their flights are delayed or cancelled, and hence hotel operators to make available unsold rooms at short notice.
tripcraft – focused on the hospitality industry, this startup increases web funcionality on mobile devices.
RoomChecking – this platform lets hotels customise workflow of specific employees, allocating them individual tasks to complete, so that every worker understands their activity.
Whitbread PLC operates the Premier Inn hotel chain, Costa Coffee outlets, and a number of restaurant brands on nearly 5,000 sites across the U.K, employing around 50,000 people. It is also expanding into international markets. The company has recently released its Sustainability Report 2016/17 (PDF available here). I am blogging about it because Whitbread is the largest hospitality company in the U.K., it is eighth on the Sunday Times ‘Best Big Companies to Work For’ list, and it’s report is a good insight into how this kind of operator addresses ethical and sustainability issues.
It has broken down sustainability into three main strategic areas – team & community, customer wellbeing, and the environment. For each of these it has some clearly measurable targets (page 23 of Report) to be achieved by 2020. Some examples are:
- creating 5,000 apprenticeships
- offering 7,500 industry work placements
- raise £10m. for Great Ormond Street Hospital
- reduced added sugar by 25% in all Costa drinks
- reduced salt by 5% in all Costa sandwiches
- reduced carbon emissions by 15%
- reduced water use by 20%
- increase direct operations recycling rate by 80%.
When American retail giant Walmart acquired online retailer jet.com last year it hit the headlines because of the $3.3 bn price tag. Subsequently, the merged companies have been in the news because of the ongoing clash between their two corporate cultures (for instance in the Wall Street Journal 25 June 2017). Both organisations have had strong cultures. Walmart, based in Arkansas, is long-established, conservative, and somewhat bureaucratic; whereas jet.com was a dynamic, Silicon Valley style tech company.
Immediately after the merger, Walmart imposed its own standards on jet.com with regards specific aspects of work behaviour, and in particular the availability and consumption of alcohol in jet.com offices (described in one article as “unconventional office amenities”). For jet.com employees, happy hours and booze were part of the way they did things – they worked long hours in a high pressure environment and it was one of the ways they reduced stress. Subsequently, Walmart has realised that a complete ban on alcohol was having a detrimental effect on jet.com staff morale, so it has relaxed its approach by allowing for after hours “celebrations of success”.
Smith’s article on inc.com tells you more about this story and suggests three ways in which merging organisations can facilitate each others cultures – focus on core principles, be open and transparent about cultural issues, and accept that both organisations may have to adapt.