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An Appetite for Disruption

-By Gary Ashton

If you want to develop game-changing business ideas, you need the right sort of people to develop and implement them. But having the right ‘disruptive talent’ is only half the story. If you don’t provide them with the right environment in which to act, their talent and ideas can very easily be wasted.

001_w240Making the best of disruptive talent requires you to answer two questions: what degree of protection and support are you willing to give the disruptive talent and what degree of protection are you willing to give the core business that most likely will be impacted by the disruption?

Let us consider five ways in which organisations can create this ‘opportunity’:

1. Time to Think

This is where you give individuals and project teams time to think through and investigate ideas that could potentially take the business beyond the status quo. Vodafone R&D used to categorize their different types of development projects, with most being specified and funded by internal customers, but with others being supported by R&D itself to explore and think differently and not expect anything specific to materialize (internally nicknamed ‘whizz-bang’ ideas).

2. Informal Permission to Act Continue reading →

The Science of Success

- By Brian Mayne

“If you think you can, you can”! Hearing seemingly simple quote by Henry Ford turned out to be the greatest turning-point of my life.

I was 30 years old when I first really heard those words. I had heard the saying before, of course, as I expect you have, but I had not understood the great depth of wisdom that it represents.

At the time I was unemployed, my family business had gone bankrupt, I was £1,000,000 in debt, my home had been repossessed and my wife had left me. Continue reading →

Speaker Gems

Ten incisive one-liners from the Academy’s roster of speakers

  1. Under-performance is a virus that will infect your organisation. It gets worse because then your best people move on (David Smith)
  1. Keep it simple – business is about selling products and services that don’t come back to customers that do (Phil Jesson)
  1. If you know where you are going you are already half-way there (Ken Minor)
  1. Getting rid of the layers gets rid of delayers (David Smith)
  1. You don’t get ulcers from what you eat – you get them from what’s eating you! (Celynn Erasmus)

Continue reading →

Lessons in Communication

In aviation circles, variants of this story have been doing the rounds for years. The factual basis is that many airlines and airforces ask pilots to complete a ‘gripe sheet’ of any mechanical problems on the aircraft report after every flight which they pass to the ground crew.

These responses (usually attributed to Quantas ground crew) are supposedly real extracts from gripe forms completed by pilots with the solution responses by the engineers.

(1 = The problem logged by the pilot.) (2 = The action taken by the ground crew.)

  1. Left inside main tyre almost needs replacement.
  2. Almost replaced left inside main tyre.
  1. Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.
  2. Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.
  1. Something loose in cockpit.
  2. Something tightened in cockpit.
  1. Dead bugs on windshield.
  2. Live bugs on back-order.

Continue reading →

Market Research: Start with the Basics

- By Carter McNamara

It is extremely difficult to develop and provide a high-quality product or service without conducting at least some basic market research. Some people have a strong aversion to the word “research” because they believe that the word implies a highly sophisticated set of techniques that only highly trained people can use. Some people also believe that, too often, research generates lots of useless data that is in lots of written reports that rarely are ever read, much less used in the real world. This is a major misunderstanding.

The chances are that you have already conducted at least some basic forms of market research. For example, you have listened (a research technique) to others complain about not having enough of something — that should suggest providing what they need in the form of a product or service. Continue reading →

Customers or Competence?

- By Paul Sloane

It’s a question that goes to the heart of your strategy. Should you base your new product or service development on your technical expertise, the things that your business is good at, or on the needs of your customers, even if those needs are in areas where you have little or no strength?

How should you go about new product development? Where is the place to invest your precious and limited resources? Ideally you should build new products or services that play to your competencies and meet clear customer needs, but sometimes that combination is not an option. Continue reading →

Get your R’s in Gear to Improve your Customer Service

- By Gerry Brown

Today’s customers are impatient, fickle and increasingly vocal about being forgotten in long phone queues, let down by poor web sites and misunderstood by disinterested or powerless customer service agents. And there’s nothing like a powerful personal experience to remind us just what good customer service entails – and just how badly many organisations do it.

My white paper on the Four Principles of Customer Experience: Culture, Commitment, Communication, Community, expands on the Four Cs every customer-facing business needs to grasp. But the result of my own great customer experience means that I’ve now moved on the letter ‘R’ in alliteration and game-changing concepts. Continue reading →

Case Study: The Power of Listening

Bonmarché, one of the UK’s largest womenswear value retailers, catering for women over 50, won the IPO of the Year Award at the 2014 Annual Small Cap Awards after is floatation on AIM in November 2013, having raised some £40m. What makes this so remarkable is that less than two years previously, the Wakefield-based company had faced an uncertain future after its parent group, Peacocks, collapsed into administration with debts of £250 million.

Bonmarché’s phoenix-like rebirth and turnaround from the ashes of what was one of the largest retail failures since Woolworths was masterminded by Academy Group 45 member, Beth Butterwick, who had joined Bonmarché as Brand Director in 2011. Continue reading →

Remember, the customer is always right . . .