Thursday, July 21, 2016

Building the Perfect Operations Team

By: Ciaran Nagle, Global Marketing Manager, OND LLC

Take a solid alloy Mercedes engine block. Add some Ford cylinders that are slightly too small. Wrap around some Honda rings that are slightly too large. Fit Toyota spark plugs that don't synch with the combustion cycle. And finally throw in some Mobil gas with the wrong vapour mix.

What have you got?

You've got a metaphor for the typical corporation's Operations Division. It works, sort of. But it's horribly inefficient and it will break down completely if any load is placed upon it.

Most operations and back-office teams get the work done, eventually. But too often they are more like a motley collection of individuals than a smooth-running team machine. The employees were hired without any regard for whether or not their underlying talent was a match for the needs of the work group. Let's look at what all that inefficiency means.

o   Staff are restive because they can't achieve what they were hired for
o   Management spend more time hiring than doing
o   Other divisions are slowed down as a consequence
o   A fortune is spent on external consultants to fix the problem
o   Company profitability vanishes like a dream at waking

Yet the cause of the problem is completely avoidable. Staff were recruited for their skillsets and experience but without any thought for how they would fit in the team. It was assumed that they would all just 'get along' and work together in harmony. Yet if you looked back in time at that operations division, you would find it never worked in harmony. The current management is repeating the failed hiring practices of the past and hoping that somehow the outcome will be different.

It's a faint hope.

The good news however is that there is genuine hope for the future. Over the last decade or so research in businesses has developed and perfected an entirely new science. Teaming science. As more and more work is performed by teams, not individuals, this teaming science is bubbling to the top of the agenda in boardrooms everywhere. Among other things, the science has revealed that an individual's natural strengths and talent - that huge part of us which is invisible - is far more important to our effectiveness at work than our learned skills.

And the science is not immature or incomplete. It has been rigorously tested in both Fortune 100 corporations as well as smaller enterprises and found to be 99.7% accurate. Teaming science will help you build work teams that

                Have high levels of engagement (job satisfaction)
                Have low turnovers of staff        
                Are easily managed
                Are an inspiration to the rest of the company

and here's the best bit: they are 28% more productive on average. What would it mean to you if your team could up their output by 28% and be a lot happier? It would be more significant than assembling a kit car in your garage, am I right?

Which brings us back to the Mercedes engine. It's still there on the block waiting to be finished. You can buy new parts from the store where the labels on the box have the one-word description you're looking for. Or you can select parts that are a mission-perfect fit for that engine and intended to synch with the whole.

The correct answer is fairly obvious.

But once you've finished making the kit car and you go back to the office, how are you going to build your team: failed hiring practices of the past or a proven science-based process?

About the Author: Ciaran was introduced to Method Teaming, OND's ground-breaking science for effective business team formation four years ago. Realizing that his marketing skills, honed at GE over 10 years, could help OND break out of their narrow client set (HPE, Big Four Consultancies) into the wider corporate world he was excited to become their world marketing head. He is based in London and can be reached at

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

BEI 2016: Where Innovation Meets Implementation

Inventor of the Internet of Things (IoT) keynotes at BEI 2016, New Orleans

Join Kevin Ashton, author of “How to fly a Horse” as one of the distinguished keynotes at this year’s Back End of Innovation conference, November 15-17, 2016 at the Hyatt French Quarter in New Orleans, LA.

Widely known as the founder of “The Internet of Things” IoT, Kevin also co-founded the Auto-ID Center at MIT and took it from a converted broom closet to a global organization with six labs around the world, 103 corporate sponsors, and over a hundred researchers.

As a successful entrepreneur and innovator, with three highly successful tech start-ups, most recently Zensi, which he co-founded and sold to Belkin in 2010, Kevin will demonstrate how innovation can be COMMERCIALIZED.

Attending this year’s conference guarantees your access to top-notch content, knowledge and techniques to successfully execute, socialize and commercialize your ideas!

Sign Up to Receive the Back End of Innovation Agenda:

Why New Orleans?

Following the events of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans was forced to re-invent itself and implore innovative ways to keep the city thriving. The city was able to re-brand itself as a tourist destination once again. We can learn from how they were able to reach the market and successfully sell their new image as a go-to destination amongst local and international tourists.

BEI in 2016

Broadening the scope of BEI’s existing focus on execution we will delve deeper into the understanding the right commercialization strategies and actionable ways to launch, market and grow products. Key topics of this year’s conference include:

·         Building and sustaining partnerships
·         Product design and implementation
·         Corporate culture and innovation management
·         Marketing and brand development
·         Supply chain and scaling for success
·         Resource allocation and project management
·         And more!

Use code BEI16BL for $100 off the current rate. Buy Tickets:

See you in NOLA!

The BEI Team

Monday, July 18, 2016

The 6 Principles of Strategic Portfolio Management: Value, Creation, Focus

 By: Don Creswell, Co-founder & Vice President, SmartOrg Inc.

Value creation focus is a strategy by which all stakeholders involved in decision making answer a simple question: how does everything we do contribute to creating economic value for my organization?

In an ordinary setting that lacks focus, peoples’ objectives tend to be driven by personal agendas, functional perspectives and individual biases. There is no structure – metrics and analytics are not clearly connected to value creation, or they are manipulated to advance personal agendas. Without a focus on value creation, information is more likely to be selected to support personal agendas or positions, resulting in the application of irrelevant information to arrive at decisions.

By focusing on value as a prime metric, when managing the strategic portfolio, we ensure that a forum is created to allow individuals and groups to think clearly about economic and strategic issues, and creatively about how to improve the value of their portfolio. In this scenario, metrics and analytics inform analysts, giving them an understanding of economic outcomes that drive universally beneficial choices. By focusing on value, all information needed to inform value creation is put on the table, both positive and negative, and is, ultimately incorporated into neutral evaluations.
Let’s look at a case study involving too many projects and not enough resources – what would you do in this situation?

A high-tech packaging company that had built on tremendous innovation in materials and design over the decades was facing serious challenges. They were looking at a marked increase in global competition and an erosion of the advantage the company had in the market. Its products were increasingly undifferentiated, their margins were dramatically eroding, and R&D and NPD had failed to produce anything really new and exciting.
Their portfolio was choked with R&D and NPD proposals. The CEO was demanding more innovation, but cost reduction and incremental projects were inhibiting innovation, which created a lot of churn and debate. Projects started to struggle for resources, with over 70 projects on the table, with only the resources to support about 15 of them.
They tried traditional evaluation approaches. The CFO created a business case in finance terms based on gathered relevant data, modeling it after a successful capital investment process. They used a project-management approach, assigning clear project leadership responsibility, forming teams, creating plans with clear milestones and deliverables. They pursued the beset plans and held people accountable.
They looked at their resource allocation, addressing the core issue that certain resources were over-subscribed. They created resource manager positions to assign key resource based on guidelines and situation specifics.
They created scoring rules by defining essential criteria such as strategic fit, size of opportunity, technical difficulty and investment, and then they assigned a score for each project on a scale of 1-5 based on each dimension, taking the weighted measure to arrive at a “figure of merit.”
None of the above worked. When asked “why?” the executives commented on how these traditional approaches failed their business:
“Business cases strongly favored incremental projects.”
“Project management methods created more work on projects we would (ultimately) cancel.”
“Resource allocation efforts abdicated the company’s most important investment decisions to relatively low-level managers.”
The company turned to emphasis on value creation – and it worked.
“When we got cleaner about value, many project leaders voluntarily cancelled their own projects; they realized they could better direct their efforts to higher-value projects.”
“We reduced our portfolio from 70 to 20 projects, improving the return by more than 100 per cent.”
Focusing teams and decision makers on identifying the relatively few factors that drive value is fundamental to developing value-based, believable business cases for the strategic management of project and project portfolios.

This is the third in a series of blogs on The Six Principles of Strategic Portfolio Management. Subsequent blogs address each of the six principles in detail. For further information about SPM processes and decision-support software, visit or contact

Thursday, July 7, 2016

What the Game of Chess Can Tell Us About Building a Perfect Team

By: Ciaran Nagle, Global Marketing Manager, OND LLC

"Not much is known, of early days of chess beyond a fairly vague report, That fifteen hundred years ago two princes fought, though brothers, for a Hindu throne…" (from 'The Story of Chess' written by Tim Rice)

It's 150 years since Wilhelm Steinitz became the world's first chess champion in 1866. Co-incidentally that's exactly a tenth of the time since chess was first invented, according to the lyrics of Tim Rice who wrote the words to the musical 'Chess'. But chess has much to teach us about the dynamics of building the perfect team.

To begin with, there are six different types of piece: king, queen, bishop, knight, rook and pawn. Of these, five represent people and only one, the rook, represents an object, originally a chariot (now a castle).

So people are more important than tools by a margin of 5 to 1. All the pieces have different powers. They move in different ways. It is the combination of their moves and their ability to leverage each other's strengths that determines which side will win. Chess really is a team game.

But it's when we look at the talents within each piece that we uncover the most valuable insight that chess can give us.The queen has shrugged off her 'body of a weak and feeble woman' as another queen, Elizabeth I, put it and become the most powerful player on the board. Her inner talent has more than compensated for her lack of skill with a sword. Natural talent beats skill any day, the game's designers are trying to tell us.

The pawns are serfs, peasants. They are there to be slaughtered. But if a pawn is patient and avoids confrontation and make its way up the board, it too can become a powerful queen. The message here is simple but stark: even the least of us conceals hidden talents that allow us to be leaders when we persist.

So on with the other pieces. It is not our obvious skills that matter, chess is telling us, but our inner talent. It is not what is on the surface, but what is hidden. When that is unleashed, no-one can stop us.
Method Teaming is a science that uncovers our own powerful talents and aptitudes. These may have lain hidden, submerged for years beneath our skills and qualifications. But it's never too late to discover them. If we do, we may find our inner Queen or Knight and play a bigger part in our team's success than anyone, even us, thought possible.

Now just think what could happen if a science like that was applied to our entire organization.

Ciaran was introduced to Method Teaming, OND's ground-breaking science for effective business team formation four years ago. Realizing that his marketing skills, honed at GE over 10 years, could help OND break out of their narrow client set (HPE, Big Four Consultancies) into the wider corporate world he was excited to become their world marketing head. He is based in London and can be reached at

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

How to Instill Confidence in Your Ideas

Highlights from the Backstories Workshop at BEI: Back End of Innovation 2015

People want something new, something innovative. It’s not just about informing. You have got to inspire. You have to make them believe.

Hi them not just in the head, but hit them in the gut and in the heart, so that you deliver not just understanding – but you unleash their passion, and you instill confidence in your ideas. 

Watch the video below to find out how: 

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The 6 Principles of Strategic Portfolio Management: Aligned Decision Forum

By: Don Creswell, Co-founder & Vice President, SmartOrg Inc.

The credibility of a company, both internally and externally rests largely on the abilities of its decision makers to make sound, strategic decisions that will benefit everyone from the corner office to the mail room and stretching out to its clients, vendors and customers. The big question: Do decision makers embody the values and mission of the company?

A company’s C-suite executives’ ability to make decisions that impact its profitability, efficiency and long-term goals determines their success in their roles as decision makers. Decision making for companies can be an arduous task unless a process is in place that organizes the data that is gathered and structure is put in place to control how the date is used to arrive at informed decisions. An aligned decision forum provides an environment that drives decision-making at all levels of business and is key to providing a foundation for analysis and business planning.

Without the structure of an effective forum by which to make joint portfolio decisions, players can find themselves in conflict with other players over competing ideas, or be driven by the desire to advance their own agendas. Multiple players that may not be the right people for the project at hand – from different backgrounds – may bring conflicting processes to the table, making it unclear how to proceed, confusing matters, creating an environment where decision makers are talking past each other. Rather than arriving at decisions that are well thought out or based on hard data, decisions are made based on gut feelings, or worse, on anecdotal information. An aligned decision forum brings things out into the open, including acknowledgment of the uncertainty that surrounds planning for the future.

When decision processes are aligned, players work together under one umbrella process to analyze data, deliberate, resolve conflicts and take actions based on cooperative discussion, rather than being distracted by individual agendas or competition. It also brings the right people to the table for efrfective communication and decision making.

Players have the opportunity to objectively analyze the top-down aspirations of their company within the existing economy and market climate. They can leverage those aspirations against the bottom-up reality of the company’s product, the competitiveness and financial status. Within an aligned decision environment, players are able to strategize and prioritize based on data, available information and informed judgment. Quality decision are made using meaningful and relevant information that is summarized at the appropriate level of detail for the decision at hand.

A portfolio manager is challenged to set funding priorities, allocate resources among segments, balance innovation and incremental projects, meet corporate finance goals and assure a steady stream of successful projects. By working through the process, the group can address the important questions about where the company wants to go; what are the goals; what is needed to accomplish them; what resources, funding, technology are needed; what already exists in the company’s portfolio and what should be retained, modified or shut down?

An aligned decision environment provides the setting and structure to bring people and information together, resulting in better, faster and cheaper decision that benefit everyone.

This is the second in a series of blogs on The Six Principles of Strategic Portfolio Management. Subsequent blogs address each of the six principles in detail. For further information about SPM processes and decision-support software, visit or contact

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Start Accomplishing More with the Product Development and Management Association

By: Charlie Noble, PhD and Chair of the Product Development and Management Association

When you’re passionate about something life changing all you want to do is share your excitement, right?

I have been involved with the Product Development and Management Association (PDMA) for over seven years. As an active member across several different task forces and volunteer positions within the organization, I am proud and honored to hold the PDMA Chair position. During my tenure as a member, I have had the opportunity to experience PDMA through its variety of programs and interact with diverse community of members. But there is one key reason why I continue to stay involved. PDMA offers what no other organization can - it is a unique home for practitioners and academics alike to connect on the latest theories, empirical findings and see in practice how companies are implementing their product development and management programs. When these different areas of the profession join together, extraordinary bonds and transformative knowledge is born that only benefits the industry as a whole.

As a product development and management professional, you know that the field of innovation is critical to economic development. So, why not apply that same drive of innovation to your professional development and start accomplishing more? More connections, more knowledge, more idea sharing, and even more business growth for your organization. 

My experience with PDMA allows me to do all of the above and more. The PDMA community has guided me through my career and provides the resources I need to accomplish new goals and professional achievements. In addition, I am fortunate enough to build connections with others in the industry that I have relied on as a resource when it comes to identifying solutions for day-to-day challenges.  

Becoming a member not only moves your career forward, but it empowers you to create new, innovative strategies for growth – all while driving profitability for your organization.

We understand that over your career your needs will change and PDMA’s resources expand across all development stages. PDMA will grow with you and beside you.

Do yourself a favor; give your role as a product development or product manager a boost. Join this global community of people just like you: open-minded individuals from some of the world’s leading brands who have been where you are today. It’s an investment that pays for itself and will provide immediate benefits to you and your organization.

Need more incentive? Save $30 off membership when you use the code FEIBlog by July 1, 2016.

Charlie Noble, PhD is the Chair of the Product Development and Management Association. He currently holds the position of Proffitt’s Professor of Marketing and Director of the Marketing PhD Program at The University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

How Will the Future of Food Impact Your Business?

Explore the Future of Food at Foresight & Trends

Technology, Wellbeing and Environmental Change are revolutionizing food consumption and manufacturing across the globe. The effects of this movement are far reaching, impacting industries across the board, from CPG to Healthcare to Automotive to Retail.

How will the future of food impact your business?  The opportunities are limitless.  The Future of Food Summit will provide a platform for industries to join together and discuss the impact these changes will have on their business and their consumers. 

View the Foresight & Trends Agenda:

Check out these can't miss sessions:

·         Changes In Our Industry: Food Trends & Disruptors Panel
Lara Migliasi, Hyatt Hotels, among others, discusses what the future holds for their industry and consumers.
·         Millennial Tastes: A Food Landscape Comparison of Millennials and Gen-Xers
David Schliecker, Food Network, looks at Millennial’s relationship with food and how their dinning, cooking habits and inspirations differ from those of their Gen-X predecessors.
·         Entrepreneurship & the Future of Food
Manoj Fenelon, Former PepsiCo, hosts a number of entrepreneurs who are doing their part to re-imagine food production, consumption and culture.
The future of food is just one of the trends we explore at Foresight & Trends.  Also delve into technology, heath & wellness, the future consumer, family & home, and the future of work. Discover how to activate these trends and implement processes, skills, and tools into your business. 

Visit the website for more information:

Use code FOOD16BL for $100 off. Buy your tickets:

See you in Miami!

The Foresight & Trends Team

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