On Thursday February 11, 2016, we had the pleasure of visiting the headquarters of Koru, a startup which aims at reducing unemployement of college graduates. The company’s offices are located in Boston, Seattle, and San Francisco. In the United States, a lot of graduates currently encounter problems with finding a job. They often do not fit the required standards of corporations, 53% of them are un-employed or under-employed.
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“Mark Twain once proclaimed that ‘If you have nothing to say, then say nothing.” Two highly mediatised events over the past year should remind managers that such literary advice from the 19th Century is just as relevant in the 21st Century business world.”
“Abercrombie and Fitch: “No fat, ugly people”
The most well known case is the infamous Abercrombie and Fitch (A&F) “fat, ugly, people” debacle. Faced with criticism that the store did not have clothes for larger sized women (though it does for men), CEO Mike Jeffries came clean about the corporate strategy. He only wanted the “cool” and “beautiful” to be seen wearing their clothes and did not want his products on “fat, ugly people.” Full marks for blatant honesty perhaps but as a communication approach it was a disaster. The following day the stock price of A&F fell by 17%. Mr Jefferies also seemed to have forgotten exactly who were his major customers. Many of them were young people with a developed notion of social responsibility. They might want to look good and feel “cool” but they don’t want to be associated with such elitist opinions.”
“Sales plummeted over the next quarter at Abercrombie & Fitch dragging its share price from a high of $56 to just $31 (a level it has barely improved in the last 18 months.)”
For full article click here
During the holiday I had a very pleasant surprise. Over the last 2 years I have looked at other blogs when writing my own to get ideas and inspiration. One of the best blogs I have seen in higher education is written by Martha Graham at James Madison University. We had both left several messages on each other’s blog (which included me stupidly calling Martha “Graham” for the first couple of months!) Even though we have never had the chance to meet we have had many exchanges over the past year or so.
Martha had written an excellent article on Bob Reid, former Dean at JMU and who is now Executive Vice President and Chief Accreditation Officer AACSB. Bob and I met up at the EFMD Annual Conference 2013 in Brussels and I send Martha the photo never expecting her to publish an article on it! I am very flattered indeed by what she has said.
An article in “The Economist” this week discusses research that shows the more time people spend on Facebook the less happy they are. Like Martha, I totally agree with this. However, technology today means that we can communicate with people without ever meeting up and I have been delighted to have many exchanges with Martha. As she says, we have become friends without ever seeing each other.
There is another positive side. In her article, Martha refers to a friendly bet that we had concerning Greenland. Because of that, I did some quick research and was lucky enough to stumble upon a wonderful blog called The Fourth Continent. This is written by a lady who has emigrated to Greenland and gives some amazing insights into life there. I have become an avid reader of her blog which is quite a unique blog and well worth a read. So even a friendly challenge with someone you have never met can have a positive effect.
The start of the coming academic year will be a little different for me this September, so I have asked a member of my team to begin writing another blog to take up some of the themes I have explored over the past two years. “Mainly International” will begin publishing in just over a week. When my colleagues and I started talking about the layout and the themes, I first asked them to look at the one Martha writes. My basic message was that I wanted the blog to be as good as “Be the Change.” That is just how highly I regard the blog. Not only does Martha write quite beautifully, the warmth and the attachment she feels towards students, staff and other members of the JMU community is quite evident. It makes it great reading.
So, many thanks to Martha, not only for this post but also the the inspiration you have provided me in writing over the past year or so. I am sure that you provide the same inspiration to many other as well.
Go to any discussion board about social media or modern communication and you’re bound to find comments about the dismal state of interpersonal communication. Parents decry watching their children and friends sit side-by-side texting each other instead of talking face-to-face. And who among us has not doubted that one person can have 986 friends?
While the discussion is valid, it’s also worth noting that adaptation is a significant component of change. And what we are experiencing in the fast-changing realm of communication requires — demands, actually — an adaptation.
As a devotee of handwritten letters, I love getting real letters in my real 3-D mail box. Much history has been recorded by such letters. I’m reading a book by Dava Sorbel (Galileo’s Daughter) based on letters written to Galileo by his daughter. I’ve also written here about Dorie McCullough Lawson’s book (Posterity) a compilation of letters from…
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“Great purchasers are great salesmen.” Philippe Grau, A GEM Alumus (ESC ’97) talks about purchasing and networking at Airbus.
Philippe Grau, an alumnus from Grenoble Ecole de Management (graduated 1997), is currently a Commodity Sourcing Group Leader in Airbus’ Procurement, an Organization with over 2000 employees, including buyers, sourcing group leaders (like Philippe), multi-functional team leaders, supply chain specialists, and many other professionals.
BOOK REVIEW: “The New Age of Innovation: Driving Co-Created Value Through Global Networks” by C.K. Prahalad & M.S. Krishnan ” (2008)
The New Age of Innovation is one of C.K.Prahalad last works. The central theme lies around what they define as N=1; R=G. Increasingly today business is having to adapt to the logic of the individual needs of each customer (N=1). At the same time, they are finding their resources on a global scale (R=G).
Millennials Incorporated: Our Student Cohort
At the AACSB Associate Deans Conference in Houston, Texas, Andrea Hershatter, Senior Associate Dean at the Goizueta Business School, Emory University gave a wonderful presentation about the Millennial Generation. It was such a rich, entertaining and well researched talk, that it really would be difficult to do it justice in a short blog. (And no, I’m not her agent!) This short article sets out some of the main ideas, but if you get the chance I highly recommend that you go and see her speak.
The Strategy Book gives a clear and concise introduction to some of the main challenges that organizations face. It has many examples from different industries and challenges the reader to ask some difficult questions about their own practices. It is a useful introduction to the subject and a good book to provoke some discussion for more experienced managers. Continue reading
This week an American athlete twittered that getting coming second just meant that you were the best of the losers. It is easy to understand his disappointment. Most silver medalists will have begun their completion thinking that they had a realistic chance of walking away with gold. Their emotions will have no doubt been mixed as they stood listening to the national anthem of another nation.
From Victoria Komova of Russia (Gymnastics) to India’s Vijay Kumar (Shooting) to Ryosuke Irie of Japan (Swimming), there was a certain air of sadness as they received their silver reward for all those years of work. Even Michael Phelps had a glum look after he received his silver medal in Men’s 200m Butterfly (despite being the Olympic’s most successful competitor). The Australian press is currently lamenting the poor performance of the nation despite having won 12 silver medals (but only two gold).