Company Culture

 
  • Why Current Profitability Model is Unsustainable By Dr. Bill DeMarco

      Why Current Profitability Model is Unsustainable By Dr. Bill DeMarco     Profitability is the gaining of advantageous returns on investments. When I began my career decades ago, there was some discussion about the role of service to customers, service to employees, and service to the community as a major if not primary purpose for a business’s existence. That was still the era of mutual insurance companies, multi‐generational company employers, and company dominated towns.   “Defined benefit” (DB) programs were real and highly valued. The past few decades have seen a shift to fundamentally profit­‐driven corporate models. Even mutual insurance companies, originally founded to perform some noble purpose for widows, orphans, and the general public, have almost all migrated to for­‐profit models. “Defined benefit” programs have given way to “defined‐contribution”(DC) programs, which derive the funds for “benefits” mostly from stock investments. In Ontario over the past twenty years, pensioners rarely receive pension checks from funded company plans, because companies mostly failed to fund their pensions by taking “contribution holidays” If in surplus; or in the case of solvency deficiency, they were allowed to amortize unfunded liability for up to fifteen years. (Ontario Pension Benefits Act, 1990), Ontario pension law was not significantly different from other North American jurisdictions. Companies that took this course of action hoped to achieve higher market evaluations, stock splits, and other market­‐related activities which would generate “money” over time, putting a happy face on quarterly and year‐end numbers. To illustrate this, I once had a major Fortune 500 company client which had a fantastic year­‐end in Europe, driven in no small part by the strength of the American dollar vis‐à­‐vis the German Deutschmark. Their European executives received large bonuses. In all these cases, irrespective of whether it was pension­‐related or not, we have examples of a “fools gold” model of what good performance looks like. Like a drug addiction, these companies over time failed to see what was happening until it was too late. The Fortune 500 company I mentioned, like so many others, was eventually sold off in parts. They all failed to recognize what really counted was truly growing the business through innovative new products, superior customer service, increased sales, constant happy returning customers and more effective operations; for companies with underfunded pension liabilities, this is particularly more important than the risky roll of the dice they too frequently engage in.   Governments in both the U.S. and Canada, responsible for overseeing the funding of contractually agreed to pension plans, allowed this, frequently charging an administrative fee for deferring funding company pensions, placing those fees into government operating funds. All of this has led to a domino effect, not unlike families today relying on borrowed money (credit cards, lines of credit, home equity loans, etc.)…it looks good in the beginning until it comes time to pay the bills, or the income line slows down.   In the early to mid 1990’s, it seemed to work well for everyone. These diverted pension funds initially […]

     
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  • My Top 10 Tips to Shorten the Life of Your Family Business by Tom Deans, Ph.D.

    My Top 10 Tips to Shorten the Life of Your Family Business by Tom Deans, Ph.D.   I’ve certainly enjoyed more than my fair share of quality time on airplanes to contemplate some of the fascinating family business stories I’ve collected on the speaking circuit.   It’s pretty common for professional speakers to spend a little time with audience members who confess their stories and share details about their family firm fiascos after an event – typically during the book signing.   Sadly, most of these stories are stranger than fiction. Some people who share their tales are looking for a kind of absolution for their family business sins. But dispensing penitence is a task I’ve never done particularly well; it’s always my cue to send someone in the direction of the advisor who hired me so that they can receive the proper professional care they deserve and require.   Underlying these tales of family business woe is always personal tragedy on a scale that for me is unfathomable: estrangement between children and parents and between siblings, and physical violence that’s been known to include murder – and I’m not kidding.   On a lighter note, as I vacation in Spain recharging my battery before another busy fall speaking season, I’ve prepared a lighthearted list of the Top 10 Tips to Shorten the Life of Your Family Business. Read ’em and weep. Top 10 Tips to Shorten the Life of a Family Business   Tip #1 Invite all your children into your business as soon as they’re able to walk so that you can enjoy as much of their free labor as possible. Remember to promise them that “one day all this will be yours” and look closely for the excitement in their eyes. Those are tears of joy.   Tip #2 Always give the most important jobs to your eldest child (but only a male) and pay him (if you must) vastly more than your other children – this is how great family dynasties are built. It may seem unfair, but it’ll toughen some of them up and really set the stage for great Thanksgiving dinners for years to come.   Tip #3 Talk about your family business history often with your children and remind them that “we have always been (fill in the blank – shoemakers, dry cleaners, widget makers…)” and that this is all they will ever be. This will instill great pride and confidence that life is about tradition and not about pursuing their own dreams and definitely not about reaching their full potential. Talk about how Henry Ford should have followed in his father’s footsteps as a farmer and Steve Jobs in his father’s footsteps as a restaurateur.   Tip #4 Tell your children that the only reason you work so hard is so they will have a guaranteed job waiting for them when they graduate from school. Definitely do not let them work outside the family firm, for that will only build their self-confidence and […]

     
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  • Beyond Empowerment – Are We Ready for the Self-Managed organization?: Doug Kirkpatrick

    Beyond Empowerment – Are We Ready for the Self-Managed organization?: Doug Kirkpatrick   Doug is a Northern California-based executive coach, organizational consultant, speaker, author and educator. He is the author of Beyond Empowerment: The Age of the Self-Managed Organization. An economics graduate of Pacific Lutheran University, he also holds a law degree from Willamette University College of Law and a Senior Professional in Human Resources designation (SPHR). He enjoys traveling to rough parts of the world and appreciates the perspective that he gains from it.  

     
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  • John Mackey on Whole Foods, Conscious Capitalism, and Life Beyond the Profit Motive

    John Mackey on Whole Foods, Conscious Capitalism, and Life Beyond the Profit Motive   “I think the critics of capitalism have got it in this very small box – that it’s all about money,” explains John Mackey, co-founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods. “And yet, I haven’t found it be that way. I’ve known hundreds of entrepreneurs and with very few exceptions most of them did not start their businesses primarily to make money.” In “Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business,” Mackey and his co-author, Raj Sisodia, make a case that businesses are at their best when reaching for a higher purpose that ranges far beyond any simplistic notions of the profit motive or self-interest. Reason’s Nick Gillespie sat down with Mackey to discuss his new book, the success of Whole Foods, the growing burden of government on day-to-day life, and how the Austin-based entrepreneur came to appreciate what he calls “the heroic spirit of business.”

     
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  • What if… We knew the difference between leadership and management?

    What if… We knew the difference between leadership and management?   Presenter: Tony Mortensen, Director of the Executive Development Programmes   · What is strategic leadership? · What is effective management? · Do organisations know the difference? · What is best for achieving sustainable growth?   The last decade has seen an exponential increase in the number of courses offered in the area of organisational leadership, with almost every major business school worldwide now offering specialised training in this area. Do organisations truly understand the key difference between leadership and management? Do they understand what is needed in their organisation to achieve efficiency, profitability and sustainable growth? If we employ skilled people to undertake the different tasks in an organisation do we really need to manage those people or are we better off allowing them to do what we employed them to do. The flip side of this is that if we do not manage these people effectively then the organisation runs the risk of becoming less efficient and effective at providing society with the desired outcomes. At odds with both these ideas is the fact that New Zealand is now seen as one of the hardest working countries in the OECD, yet our productivity continues to fall. Therefore, are organisations getting the best from their human resource or are we as a society destined to be out-performed? Tony has over 18 years’ experience in accounting, management and education and is now responsible for executive training through the Master of Business Administration (MBA), Postgraduate Certificate in Strategic Leadership, Master of Business Management (MBM), Master of Professional Accounting (MPA) and Executive Education (short courses).  

     
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  • Lessons In Leadership – Episode 2 – Family Businesses

    Lessons In Leadership – Episode 2 – Family Businesses   When it comes to family-run businesses, there’s a common saying that the first generation creates a business, the second builds it and the third squanders it away. Is there any truth to that? Bloomberg TV India’s Mini Menon discusses how best family run businesses survive generations as she speaks to Professor John Davis, Senior Lecturer of Business Administration, Harvard Business School on Lessons In Leadership.  

     
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  • Harvard Business Review: #1 Key to Motivation

    Harvard Business Review: #1 Key to Motivation   In a multi-year study, researchers at the Harvard Business School first asked 600 managers from dozens of different companies to rank the impact of five factors that are normally associated with motivation – recognition, incentives, support from managers and colleagues, clear goals and a sense of making progress. In this first phase of the study, recognition for good work was ranked by managers as the most important factor in motivation.

     
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  • How to Build a Team | Eric Papp | Teambuilding

    How to Build a Team | Eric Papp | Teambuilding Work with a highly sought after Leadership speaker and leadership consultant. Organizations and Associations. Experience the difference in working with a professional speaker who listens first and then speaks. Eric helps organizations build teams.

     
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Center for Family Conversations

The Center for Family Conversations (CFC) is a resource center that provides the integral tools and ideas in helping families establish a 100-year-plus Family Legacy Plan.

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