Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at www.thevertexfighter.blogspot.com.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

"Five approaches to using a strategy palette"/ changing workload

Sept. 7 "Five approaches to using a strategy palette": I cut out this article by Harvey Schachter in the Globe and Mail on Aug. 10, 2015.  It's more about running a business:


Setting strategy is an art. Perhaps you could use a palette.

Three management experts from Boston Consulting Group have developed one, intended to show the various ways you can approach strategy in this complicated, turbulent world.
“It’s not that we lack powerful ways to approach strategy; it’s that we lack a robust way to select the right one for the right circumstances,” Martin Reeves, Knut Haanaes, and Janmejaya Sinha write in Your Strategy Needs a Strategy.

Since strategy involves problem-solving, the best approach depends on the specific problem at hand. They zeroed in on three dimensions by which business environments can differ: Predictability (whether you can forecast what’s ahead), malleability (whether you can, alone or in collaboration with others, shape it), and harshness (whether you can survive it).

The spread between companies in the intensity of those three dimensions has increased dramatically recently, requiring far more care in choosing how to approach strategy than when the discipline was first developed as a concept in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

“There are incredibly more conditions. There is no single approach that can meet all these conditions,” Mr. Reeves, director of BCG research arm the Bruce Henderson Institute, said in an interview.

Considering the first two elements, predictability and malleability, they came up with a matrix that revealed five distinct approaches:

1. Classical

I can predict it but I can’t change it

This is the approach historically taught in business schools, where planners meet to figure out the important elements of the environment and how they can best position themselves within it, confident major disruption is unlikely. He points to the confectionery industry as an example of where this approach is still viable. The method’s steps include analyzing, planning, and executing. The overriding imperative: Be big.

2. Adaptive

I can’t predict it and I can’t change it

A lot of companies feel they are caught in this Twilight Zone of unpredictability with any advantage short-lived and not controllable. At best, you can gain an edge repeatedly over competitors that will only come through constant experimentation. The semiconductor and textile industries are caught in this drama. Companies need to vary their approach, select the most successful paths, and scale up those opportunities. In short, Mr. Reeves says, vary, select, and amplify. The overriding imperative: Be fast.

3. Visionary

I can predict it and I can change it

Leaders in this environment – Apple’s Steve Jobs was a prime example – believe that they can reliably create or recreate an environment largely by themselves. They are usually the first to introduce a revolutionary new product or business model. Entrepreneurs have always done this but big companies are now getting in on the act. He says the success algorithm is envision, realize the possibility, and persist in scaling up the opportunity. The overriding imperative: Be first.

4. Shaping

I can’t predict it but I can change it

When a company can write or rewrite the rules of an industry at a nascent stage of its evolution, this strategic approach is recommended. It can apply in highly fragmented, young, dynamic industries, freshly disrupted industries, and emerging markets. Shaping is often done with others, an ecosystem collaborating, as with software apps or Amazon’s online platform.

The shaper orchestrates the effort following a three-pronged approach: Influence, co-evolve, and maintain. The overriding imperative: Be the orchestrator.

In a harsh environment, however, a company may need to turn itself around, restoring vitality and competitiveness. That leads to a fifth approach they call:

5. Renewal

My resources are severely constrained

You need to step back and transform the organization, acting decisively, knowing that the odds of a turnaround succeeding is probably only 25 per cent. Often cost-cutting will be an immediate goal. But after balance is restored, you must shift your approach to one of the other four elements on the palette. The overriding imperative: Be viable.

A painter wouldn’t succeed with one colour. And you probably won’t succeed with just one strategy on your palette. Different arms of your organization are probably competing in different environments, and you must select accordingly.

It’s hard for companies to embrace contradictory strategies. They might, for example, be pushing cost restraint. But a new business unit within the company might require deliberate inefficiency in order to test the market and find its way.

This is not a dilettantish idea, despite the artistic metaphor. He says that statistics show that 32 per cent of companies will be gone in five years’ time, dead or swallowed by another organization. In such stark conditions, some argue that strategy is dead. But you need strategy – and that strategy needs a properly picked approach.

“Strategy is not dead. It’s more important than ever. What you learned in business school – classical strategy – is not a panacea. It works in some situations and not in others,” he warns.


My opinion: I did learn a new word:

Dilettantish- 1.
a person who takes up an art, activity, or subject merely for amusement, especially in a desultory or superficial way; dabbler.

"What are my boss's rights when changing my workload?": I cut out this article in the Globe and Mail on Aug. 10, 2015.

THE QUESTION

Since starting with my current employer on Oct. 1, 2011, I have been at 18-per-cent commission.

In May, it was announced that a second person with no experience in sales would be added to my department, that my commission rate would be cut to 15 per cent and my income would be dependent on his sales, as well. Last month, this change cost me close to $3,000 and, because of his inexperience in the industry, increased my workload and decreased my ability to take my days off. Does my employer have the right to do this?

THE FIRST ANSWER
Daniel A. Lublin Employment lawyer, Whitten & Lublin, Toronto

An employer cannot impose fundamental changes to your job and compensation that adversely affect you without first giving you reasonable notice of the changes or obtaining your consent. Otherwise, the changes amount to a constructive dismissal, meaning you may be able to leave the workplace and sue for lost wages while you look for another job.

The tricky issue is whether the changes are significant or minor.
Previous cases with similar facts can often provide some guidance.

For instance, in a recent British Columbia case, a judge noted that employers can generally reduce compensation by up to 10 per cent without causing a constructive dismissal, as long as no other changes occur.

Here, you have to determine how much of a relative monthly loss $3,000 is. If it is only a few percentage points of your overall compensation, you can protest and object, but legally there is not much more you can do.

However, if the changes are more substantial, you may be able to assert a constructive dismissal.

Since it is a complex legal claim, it usually requires retaining a lawyer to advance the case and provide you with specific advice, including whether you can leave work and sue.

THE SECOND ANSWER
Bill Howatt Howatt HR Consulting, Kentville, N.S.

It depends on your employee contract. If you think there is a breach of contract, it may be wise to get a legal opinion. It sounds as if your employer gave you notice of change with respect to compensation and staffing and, typically, employers in sales-driven organizations are within their right to change these factors with due notice.

There are perhaps a couple of options for you.
One is to spend energy being frustrated, focusing on the negatives, challenging the decision and thinking about looking for a new job.

Option two is to objectively evaluate the opportunity. If this person's productivity affects your compensation, and you still make 15 per cent on sales, you now have the opportunity to tap into a bigger compensation pool that, in time, could net more dollars. The new person's lack of experience is an obstacle, but what if you took an interest in supporting, coaching and encouraging him? This may be a better long-term option.

Change can be difficult, and sometimes the benefits are not obvious, especially when viewed through the lens of familiarity.


My opinion: The first answer was more about law.  The second answer was more about a positive way to look at this job.

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