Showing posts with label business. Show all posts
Showing posts with label business. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Does Military Budget Cuts Offer New Opportunities?

The world is changing and the military is changing with it. As the heavy trench warfare of WWI and WWII subsides and new forms of guerrilla warfare emerge it becomes important for the U.S. military to maintain its capacity to use both pinpointed and mass insertion strategies. This requires a higher level of knowledge and ability that will likely put pressure on the Army to adapt to higher forms of combat.

General Martin Dempsey announced at the Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing that dwindling resources is a major factor in a reduction from 490,000 to 450,000 troops (1).  There has already been a 13% in civilian and 11% in civilian billets (2). This will mean that current resource levels will need to be used more efficiently and effectively to ensure that they create maximum results.

What happens in government is important for the Army. Overspending in some areas leaves other areas with less. Balancing the national budget ensures that the military has adequate supplies and resources when they are needed. Resources are used as a deterrent and as a capacity builder for our armed forces.

Even though reduction in budgets does come with some tough choices it does offer a few opportunities to adapt the system to do more with less. All systems change the most when under pressure. The Army’s design can be improved to encourage new ideas, technology, learning, and skill sets that can create responsiveness to new threats. It is possible to use the platform of the old to create something even greater.

The military of the future will look less like the past as new levels of functionality are created. Robotics and high technology gear will make their way onto the battlefield and this will require a new type of soldier. Recruits will need to be highly adaptable, fast learners, and high skilled to keep up with new needs.

A few ideas among the thousands:

-Integration of Functions with Other Agencies: ISIS has taught us that lines between insurgent and civilian can be blurred. Integrating certain intelligence and operational functions helps utilize information more effectively.

-Outsourcing Non-Essential Functions:  Entities that focus on their core value propositions often have higher results due to focus of effort. Evaluate which functions are non-essential and whether or not they can be outsourced to save money and improve functionality. For example, some aspects of education and training can be outsourced.

-Actively Recruiting High Performers: Actively recruiting promising young recruits that either have the potential or realized physical and mental skill to engage in modern military practices creates a stronger base to build from. With fewer slots available the basic skill requirements should move upward.

-Using Veterans in Support Functions: Veterans knowledge and skill shouldn’t be wasted once they leave the military. Encouraging veteran’s to work in support functions helps to ensure that these functions get more efficient and effective over time.  

-Developing Innovative Internal Frameworks: Developing mechanisms for the exploration and implementation of new knowledge, ideas, and efficiencies. The same innovative policies and approaches should be encouraged among suppliers.  A flatter organization could be beneficial with a rise in soldier skill and knowledge.

-Raising Active Duty Years: Higher skills will require additional costly training.  Raising the years of service requirements and potential pay/incentives for highly skilled soldiers encourages a higher return on investment from training. Age is more subjective in today’s world.

-Streamline and Cut Fat: Once new ideas are developed and are shown to be effective they should be streamlined to create efficiencies while still allowing for sufficient adaptability. Streamlining allows for less waste and greater effectiveness that saves taxpayer dollars.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Innovation in San Diego Creates Investment Opportunities

2014 has come and gone, but the benefits of a growth year are likely to carry on for some time in San Diego. According to Connect, a non-profit group that supports innovation, they counted 446 technology and life science start-ups in 2014 up from 426 companies in 2013 (1). Of these firms, Bio-tech got 62% of the $805 million investment capital dollars while software and medical devices got a third and fourth place in total investment influx.

What does this say about San Diego? It says that San Diego has a budding bio-tech and software industry that should be supported by city policies, higher education, corporate training, and international promotion. Encouraging investment funds to find receptive companies seeking those investments for expansions puts money where it has the quickest and most efficient economic contribution.

The Economic contribution comes from using the investment money to expand operations, hire new people, and create additional contractual deals that grow not only the parent business but also smaller suppliers. Money invested into one company makes its way to other firms and the overall tax base of the city.

It is important for decision makers to look at their growing industries and find a connection between what their local competencies and resources offer to determine places to generate higher levels of investment growth. Making sure that the public is aware of these investments through various mediums that reach motivated investment entities helps in speeding up this growth process.

Economic expansion comes with the development of better city policies that further the growth of the area and better capitalizes on its local resources. Biotechnology and technology have significant international interest and is a field that is expected to grow in the future. Local military stakeholders may strengthen this industry, but the global market will determine the innovative value of its outputs. Getting companies and government to focus in the same area can mean higher levels of synergy.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Understanding Differences as a Sign of Intelligent and Scientific Thinking

The ability to understand differences between similar objects has always been a sign of intelligence. Science itself is based on the idea of investigating the differences and similarities of objects to create a full picture of a phenomenon. When done well, we can create hypotheses, models and theories that help to explain and predict our environment. Our adaptation and full development as a person is based on recognizing and appreciating differences.

Simplicity and definiteness make for great followers but hardly constitutes leadership. Intelligent people look deeper at issues to see if they can find differences or similarities that help them understand and create working models to use in other places. Persons who lack the will to put forward effort, or the faculty of intelligence, to understand complex ideas jump to quick conclusions.

The issue of categorization is a significant problem. Broad categories are simple and easy to use. Examples of simplicity include discrimination, racism, bigotry, etc. that cannot differentiate between members of a general category. They are not able to understand that sometimes the general category doesn’t represent anything but what is going on in the perceivers head.

Intelligent people rarely say, “All people are like this….or “Those people all do this….). Then have the insight and intellectual faculty to see differences between people and events by looking beyond the obvious. They are not easily fooled into believing false information or opinion without some proof to back up the claims. They are societies intellectuals and thinkers.

Maslow and Rogers described the fully functioning person as extensional. Rogers wrote in his paper Towards a Theory of Creativity, “The creative person, instead of perceiving in predetermined categories is aware of the existential moment as it is, and therefore he is alive to many experiences that fall outside the usual categories (As cited in Hayakawa, 1958, pp. 62).”

In essence, intelligent people are more scientific in their thoughts and avoid putting items into quick heuristic categories. They think about differences, view the multiple ways in which a thing or event can be categorized, and then are open to the possibility they are wrong. Beliefs and rules are adjustable based upon new information.

Such people are aware that the world around them is not so simple, and they become accustomed to ambiguity and using their cognitive fluidity to adjust their understandings. As a fully developed individual, they can use science as an enhancement to discriminate among different elements in their environment while understanding that scientific findings are always in flux. What we believe today may be different than what we think tomorrow.

The next time you are SURE you know something…..consider re-evaluating the facts from a different perspective. Jumping to conclusions is almost never beneficial as simplicity of thought limits what we see in any particular situation.

Hayakawa, S. (1958) Symbol, Status and Personality. pp. 62 New York:HBJ

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

What Your Car Says About You?

Cars have personalities in the same way we have personalities. Cars are designed to appeal to particular demographics and seek to emulate the characters of their target market in their design. This is one reason your personal image becomes associated with the type of car you drive and the items you buy. To the outside world, your car becomes an extension of yourself.

There is brand personality and consumer personality. Brand personalities are those values a brand image symbolizes. Brand personalities revolve around personas of excitement, sincerity, ruggedness, competence and sophistication.  When there is mutuality between consumer personality and brand personality the car is said to “suit you."

People with particular personalities are attracted to products with similar personalities (Seimiene, 2012). If you see yourself as a cowboy chances are you will walk past the smart cars and head straight over to the 4X4s. Your idea of fun may look more like “mudding” with Garth Brooks blasting than having a glass of wine with Beethoven playing in the background.

As consumers, most purchased beyond that which is necessary to sustain life are personality driven. If you are a beach going hippie you may just get yourself a VW Bus while if you are seeking status you could option for a sparkling Lamborghini. Of course, if you are more sophisticated with a refined sense of taste there is Mercedes S-Class Sedan with its polished design.

Practicality and finances mitigate this need to enhance our persona. For example, if you are on a budget you might consider your neighbors $500 1990 Ford Escort that leaks oil and has a mammoth dent on the side. An excellent deal if you don’t care about status!

Before you can make appropriate purchases understand what the car says about you. If you are practical and educated, go with a Honda Civic while if you have some money to burn soup up your drive with a Camaro. Keeping your brand image consistent will help others formalize an opinion. The next time you get attracted to this car or that car, stop and ask yourself “why”? You might just find something out about yourself.

Seimiene, E. (2012). Emotional connection of consumer personality traits with brand personality traits: theoretical considerations. Economics & Management, 17 (4).

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

How to Bounce Your Business Off the Bottom

Businesses can decline over the years until they no longer have enough working capital to maintain their current course of action. Without drastic change, the business will either be sold or liquidated in bankruptcy court. Change requires a new way of thinking about things, taking risks and making better strategic choices that lead to higher outcomes.

Organizations operate on processes & procedures. The culture of an organization will determine its overall communication and work patterns. When processes & procedures and culture are aligned to market needs it becomes more likely that the business will be able to pull out of its current predicament.

Consider a company that produces a single product that once brought in a lot of money but over the years alternative products have been developed by competitors that are eating away at a shrinking market. Continuing to do the same thing over and over without adjusting course is likely to end in a complete disaster.

Companies usually wait too long to make changes like many of us wait too long to adjust a bad habit. It is a human problem that we avoid change until it is necessary. By being proactive and watching for trends and opportunities it is possible to make smaller and easier to handle changes to keep a company focused on market relevancy.

If your company’s market is dwindling, competition is increasing, and your adjustment capital is dwindling consider a few helpful hints in developing a more sustainable business. Bounce your business off the bottom by answering a few questions

1. Are you in the right market? Take a hard look at your capacities and market need to ensure your business is still relevant.

2. Are your processes & procedures focused on outcomes? Adjusting processes & procedures can create better outcomes, at lower cost, and more efficiency.

3. Do you have the right people? Ensure you have the right intellectual and skilled capital to transform your company.

4. Are there new markets? It is a global world out there. Companies can open up new markets and reach more customers.

5. Are you giving your customers what they want? Make sure that your business is focused on what the customers need and want.

6. Can you find more value? Take a look at your products/services and see if you can enhance their value.

7. Should you diversify? There are times when it is necessary to add new products and services to ensure that you are not overcapitalized into a single risk.

8. Should you Collaborate? Your product/service might match well with another product/service from another company that can raise the value of both.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Online Learning Has Earned its Permanent Place in Higher Education

Online learning is now a permanent part of higher education and will continue to expand its market. The ease and convenience of online education is changing the face of colleges across the country. As a modality of learning, it allows students to connect to their class and professor at times that are more convenient for them.

Traditional education is face-to-face and requires the student to be present in order learn. This leaves out many people who balance families and careers. Besides, those who live in rural areas, or out of a university’s geographical area, will be cut off from higher education.

A selection process not based on actual skill or ability is bad news for the economy. Employers require highly skilled employees who continually update their knowledge to stay competitive with the market. Those who are most likely to capitalize on higher education are left out of the mix.

Online education will likely continue to grow and become a standard, possibly superseding tradition modalities, as a delivery channel for teaching and learning. Professors and students are becoming familiar with online education and are likely to adopt more of it in the future, (Mbuva, 2014).

There is also an additional cost benefit. State budgets are getting squeezed and colleges are running in the red. Online education may continue to become a popular method of reducing campus costs and lowering overall operating costs.

Universities will continue to look toward for-profit, online models, to cut costs; even if they continue to lobby against competitive higher education ideologies. They don’t really have much of a choice. Most avenues of increasing wealth have dried up and cutting heavily will lower the quality of programs.

Virtual classrooms lower costs and expand a university's customer base. Land based colleges will maintain their prestige but will need to augment with hybrid, and/or fully online programs. They will seek to expand their offerings to support a growing need for higher education.

Online education is here to stay and it will continue to be adopted by institutions. It reduces costs and fits the needs of students. Professors and students are becoming accustomed to the online process and will seek its convenience in selecting future programs. As market factors adjust, online education may find itself a hot commodity.

Mbuva, J. (2014). Online education: progress and prospects.   Journal of Business & Educational Leadership, 5 (1).

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Advantages of English as an International Language

English is the language of business and offers unique advantages for international commerce and business education. As a communication medium, the ability to share ideas and conduct transactions across multiple continents helps speed up trade and idea sharing that often leads to wealth generation. The building of international relevance in the business world is fostered by connecting people and their ideas.

Consider the purpose of communication and its impact on the transference of information. When two people share similarities of a language, they need fewer feedback loops to understanding the conversation. Using the same language lowers the time it takes to propose and clarify propositions within daily interactions. This process of knowledge sharing speeds up exponentially and can increase the profitability that people will enhance knowledge.

American companies have an advantage because of the commonality English as a business language (Cavaliere, Glasscock, & Sen, 2014). The more English is used around the world, and the more likely the U.S will be advantaged from present and future business contracts. International commerce becomes more plausible when two companies can communicate and integrate easily. A similarity of language can create similarity of thought and purpose.

Language is embedded with codes, symbols, patterns of thinking and values. When a particular language is spoken in different cultures and locations, the people’s culture will begin to align with the values of that language. The more the people speak a particular language, the more they are going to find similarities with others who speak that language.

In the education arena, opportunities for employment in English speaking companies support English education.  English as a business language ensures that the majority of the great ideas and opportunities are supported by using the mental framework set out by the semantic structure of the language itself. Language changes the way we think and understand problems.

Using English as an international business language also helps in educating and employing individuals with American businesses. Graduating students will associate opportunity and education with English speaking companies. The eventual result is the attraction of talent to an opportunity like a magnet is attracted to metal objects.

The way we think is related to the way we talk and use words. Speaking in a particular language activates various centers in our brains and becomes part of our memories and thought processes. Using English as a business language helps people to understand the same perspectives and values that made America an economic powerhouse. Ease of communication speeds up the transference of knowledge, ideas and collaboration with other entities and countries. The commonality of language can encourage higher business theory development and marketing effectiveness.

Cavaliere, F., Glasscock, K. & Sen, K. (2014). The englishization of business: does this help or hinder teaching global business? Education, 135 (2). 

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Power of Perceiving - The Secret of Entrepreneurship

Perception is a powerful way to create opportunities. It is so powerful that it can change lives and spark opportunities in abundance. Entrepreneurship is about perceiving differences and then capitalizing on those differences through applicable market solutions. Perception is created by years of hard work that culminates into a moment of clarity and innovative inspiration.

Entrepreneurial insight is derived from connecting lots of information together in a way that creates new products or services. This development relies on experience with the product, exploring uses of the product, and finding ways to improve the product. When education, experience, motivation come together, a new perception is created that leads to innovation.

Perception is not a passive process and requires the full engagement of the individual. Finding innovative market solutions relies on gathering and interpreting information. Information can come from formal research or experimentation with different solutions. The more someone is familiar with a product or issue, the more they can perceive areas of improvement.

Entrepreneurship actively interprets information. People assume that the body takes in information from its senses and passively records that information without interpretation. Perception is strongly influenced by experience, education, cultural values that interpret information from the body’s sensory receptors (Curry, Meyer, & McKnney, (2006). Our past experiences help us create meaningful use of information.

Two people can look at the same problem and see different solutions precisely because they are interpreting information differently. Entrepreneurs have developed cognitive models that allow them to find potential solutions through a process of connecting and deconstructing information to find similarities among elements. Reconstructing elements creates new products and services.

The problem-solving model they use is learned over years to create an effective approach. This is one reason success results from years of failure. Failure is only part of the learning process of establishing a successful model. Once the model has been developed it can be applied to many other locations with higher rates of success. Thomas Edison was invented thousands of products based upon the effectiveness of his model.

The secret of entrepreneurship rests in perceiving things in new ways and finding that which no one else has yet seen. It is a process of turning the unseen into the seen. Capitalizing on the perception requires the ability to find value in the solutions and market those solutions to others. Once an effective mental model has been built it will continue to use successful processes to detect new problems and find solutions that lead to innovation.

Curry, D., Meyer, J. & McKnney, J. (2006). Seeing versus perceiving: what you see isn’t always what you get. Professional Safety, 51 (6)