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Business & Finance

Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 sep 2020

COVID-19 brought about changes in buyer behavior and retailers responded with tech-driven solutions to help them adapt to pandemic-driven restrictions. These solutions are not totally new, but current situation brought them to the fore. Three retail technology trends that became part of the 'new normal' are - (1) Online Grocery Delivery: Shutdowns, social distancing norms, fear of infections etc combined with essentiality of grocery requirements help exacerbate this trend. Even non-traditional retailers jumped on this trend. (2) Contactless Payment: According to the 2020 State of Retail Payments study released by the NRF in August, 58% of retailers accept contactless cards and 56% take digital wallet payments on mobile phones. Since January 2020, no-touch payments have increased for 69% of retailers surveyed, of whom 94% expect the increase to continue over the next 18 months. (3) Virtual SMB Product Pitches: Number of retail platforms invited small-to-mid-sized businesses (SMBs) to virtual competitions. COVID-19 brought about homogenization and consolidation of retail and only two types of retailers will survive in this scenario and beyond - the mass and the niche. Mass retailers can enhance their product offerings through SMBs and differentiate themselves from competitors. Read on...

Chain Store Age: Three hot retail tech trends from the summer of 'new normal'
Author: Dan Berthiaume


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 aug 2020

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been around in its various forms for many years. But now it is reaching a level of disruption in many industries and has potential to influence many more. There are major investments in AI with tech giants leading the pack. Businesses are seeing value in AI to make process improvements, enhance efficiencies etc to improve bottom line and at the same time there are concerns related to job losses. Even creative industries like graphic design, that require exceptional human skills to thrive are being significantly influenced by AI. Graphic design softwares are now AI-powered and can mimic human designers by understanding client requirements effectively. These may not not be emotion-powered like humans, but can provide outputs that are fast, affordable and customizable. Moreover, these softwares have their own limitations at this time and the role of designers is not becoming obsolete. In fact, on one side these tools are designed and developed by incorporating inputs from designers and on the other they are complementing and enhancing the capabilities of designers and assisting them to achieve even better outcomes. Following are some limitations of AI in graphic design - Understanding nuances that come naturally to humans; Originality of humans that is derived from being highly imaginative; Human touch that is needed as part of a personalized interactive experience. Read on...

ClickZ: The rise of AI in graphics design
Author: Carl Dean


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 aug 2020

Timing, as in most things in business and elsewhere, is the key to get the most effective and valuable outcome. Public relations for organizations and brands is no different in this regard. When and how much PR is needed requires diligent research and assessment. To avoid costly PR mistakes, April White, founder of Trust Relations, suggests ways to evaluate PR-readiness of a brand. She emphasises that both clients and PR professionals should assess the PR requirement for optimum results. She says, 'A brand is PR-ready when it has a great product, service or story to tell - and assets to support them.' Following are the 10 tips - (1) Professional website providing sufficient information is a must for credibility. (2) Clear brand positioning with defined mission statement, core values, SWOT analysis, competitive landscape etc. (3) Identified target audience to achieve business and marketing goals. (4) Expertise or thought leadership of executives running the company and their credibility to provide industry commentary and insight. (5) Professionally designed packaging to match with the stories brand wants to tell. (6) Supportive research about the product or service like market data, white paper on industry topic, survey regarding demand etc. (7) Dedicated and trained spokesperson to handle queries and interviews. (8) A client representative with the capacity to effectively manage a PR team and be a communication link. (9) Relevant and compelling content in the form of professional images, videos etc to share with the media. (10) Brand's ability to scale to meet the demand after the PR efforts are done for long-term value. Read on...

Forbes: When Is A Brand PR-Ready? 10 Things For Agencies And Clients To Have In Hand
Author: April White


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 aug 2020

Collaborative and coordinated efforts by multiple agencies and institutions are needed to manage, control and overcome a crisis like COVID-19 pandemic. Team from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is partnering with Commonwealth of Pennsylvania agencies and stakeholders in the areas of public health, economics, and emergency management, to create data-based tools for informed decision-making and strengthen planning efforts of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf to re-open the state's economy. Some of the main criteria to determine when a region is ready to re-open and return to work will include - The incidence rate of COVID-19 cases per capita will be evaluated and several public health requirements must be met; A region need to have an average of less than 50 cases per 100000 individuals over the course of 14 days to return to work; Enough testing available for individuals with symptoms and target populations; Robust case investigation and contact tracing infrastructure need to place; Identification of an area's high-risk settings must be made and would include adequate healthcare facilities with sufficient safeguards and equipments. The model dashboard developed through the collaboration will take a regional and sector-based approach to re-openings, the easing of restrictions and response. This data-driven decision support tool will help to better understand the current health and economic status, as well as the inherent risks and benefits to re-opening certain businesses and industry areas. Using data that considers worker exposure and spread risks, health care capacity, economic impact and supply chain impact, the administration will prioritize re-openings where it has the potential for the most positive impact on the economy for workers and businesses, while mitigating risk to public health and safety. Ramayya Krishnan, dean of CMU's Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy and director of CMU's Block Center for Technology and Society, says, 'The purpose is to provide important information to the governor's team to make data informed decision. For example, all indicators could point to opening a specific county, but other factors, such as population density around a hotspot, availability of supplies to ensure workers are protected, or Department of Health criteria could make the county unfit to open.' The multidisciplinary team from CMU involved in the project include - Laurence Ales; Kasun Amarasinghe; Scott Andes; Gary Franko; Rayid Ghani; Jared Kohler; Tim McNulty; Illah Nourbakhsh; Roni Rosenfeld; Randy Sargent; Richard A. Stafford; Chris Telmer; Anne Wright; Ariel Zetlin-Jones; Xuege Zhang. Other contrubutors to the project include - Beibei Li; Lee Branstetter; Jon Caulkins; Karen Clay; Baruch Fischhoff; Marty Gaynor; Joel Greenhouse; Po-Shen Loh; Dan Nagin; Rema Padman; Wes Pegden; Lowell Taylor; Hai Wang; Peter Zhang. Read on...

Carnegie Mellon University News: CMU Dashboard Will Help Inform State Decision-Makers During Pandemic
Author: Jason Maderer


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 jul 2020

For B2B marketing effectiveness segmentation is a reliable strategic tool. But with evolving B2B e-commerce marketplace traditional broad macrosegmentation may not suffice. According to the report, 'Microsegmentation Yields Contextual Customer Experiences That Convert' by Lori Wizdo (VP and principal analyst for B2B marketing at Forrester Research) with Caroline Robertson, Aldila Yunus and Kara Hartig, to fulfil the growing customer demand for more contextually relevant shopping experiences, B2B marketers should leverage new data and analytics tools and strategies to fine-tune macrosegmented audiences into microsegments. The report says that new data and analytics capabilities now allow B2B marketers to break macrosegmentation, that places audiences into large demographic groups such as company size, industry, geography and the end market served, down further into microsegments - covering, in addition to demographics, such criteria as customer buying behavior, record of sales growth, price sensitivity and aspirations - which allows sellers to reach even more targeted audiences. The report further says, '68% of buyers say it is important that vendors provide relevant content at each stage of their buying journey without having to rely on sales reps to deliver it. By targeting the drivers of customers’ actions, you can build trust through more empathetic, relevant content and accelerate the buyer's journey.' Some of the other valuable points of the report are - Microsegmentation will boost a B2B company's return on its content marketing and inbound strategies by using customer information to customize experiences that persuade and influence specific clusters of customers; Microsegmentation will help B2B companies build a high-yield marketing portfolio; Microsegmentation benefits both the B2B customer and the B2B seller because it results in more relevant shopping experiences for the buyer and increased conversions for the seller. Read on...

DigitalCommer360: How microsegmenting boosts B2B conversion rates
Author: Cate Flahardy


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 jul 2020

Downtime for workforce is a reality that needs to be managed well. Experts provide suggestions to web designers to effectively utilize downtime, whether it is normal as in between projects or unusual circumstances like COVID-19 pandemic - (1) Support Your Juniors: Priscilla Coates, managing director at Magma Digital, says, 'Our developers focus on continuous learning as a principle...they engage in targeted supervision opportunities to support more junior developers more closely...we embrace the notion of working on the business as well as in the business.' (2) Test Your Skills With A Side Project: Melin Edomwonyi, director of product for Illustrate Digital, says, 'Downtime is a great opportunity to work on something you've been needing or wanting to do for a while...If the downtime is short, i.e. less than a day, then we'll use this time to explore new UX trends or tidy up our code library to make future projects more efficient.' (3) Read A Good Book: Bryony Sutton, UX and UI designer at Banc, says, 'When a project ends, I take the opportunity to meditate my mind and desktop...To help draw a line under a project, I like to read. I find that completing a book separates one project from the next and puts my mind in a different space.' (4) Host A Hackathon: Paul Ferry, director and co-founder of ShopTalk, says, 'At ShopTalk, we have an internal initiative...a quarterly design-hackathon where the team get to apply their creative skills to their own ideas, and ShopTalk invest in helping to make these happen.' (5) Learn A New Skill: Benoit Soucaret, creative director of experience design at LiveArea, says, 'Downtime can present an opportunity to upskill...So while disruption can see many projects shorten, downtime can still be used productively. There are more opportunities to learn than ever before, designers and developers simply have to open to them.' (6) Improve Your Processes: Arrann Diamond, digital director at Greenwich Design, says, 'I use downtime to improve our processes...I also like learning about new ways to make projects run more smoothly...As digital director, really understanding a developer’s point of view and having a good knowledge of technologies and build processes is essential...Understanding information, rather than just relaying it, is very different, but it’s the key to conveying trust with both clients and developers.' Read on...

Creative Bloq: The web designer's guide to dealing with downtime
Author: Tom May


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 11 jul 2020

According to the survey conducted to find out impact of COVID-19 pandemic on 567 small businesses and nonprofit organizations in US by the research team of Prof. Samantha Paustian-Underdahl of Florida State University, 15.2% of its participants closed permanently, and 14.5% of participants closed temporarily. Another 31% of participants are operating below 40% capacity, while close to 40% of participants are operating at 40% or higher during COVID-19. The survey also found that 46.7% laid off their employees during COVID-19, while 51% reported that they did not. The average number of employees laid off was 10.5. Prof. Paustian-Underdahl says, 'Small businesses and nonprofits have taken a huge hit during this time, with nearly 30 percent of our sample needing to close temporarily or permanently as of early May. The good news is that most organizations are getting some help.' The survey revealed that 92% received some type of financial assistance from the government's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and/or Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). 75.5% applied for one or both types of government aid. Of participants who applied, 28.9% received PPP funding only, 26.8% received EIDL only, 11.3% received both PPP and EIDL, and 8.3% did not receive anything. Moreover, researchers also found that business owners and nonprofit leaders are experiencing different effects of COVID-19 on their overall well-being and performance, depending on their gender. Prof. Paustian-Underdahl says, 'Consistent with recent research by Gallup , we found that women who own small businesses are experiencing higher levels of stress and burnout during COVID-19 compared to men. While some may assume this could be due to higher work-family-conflict, we found the men surveyed are reporting higher work-family-conflict than women.' Some of the strategies and solutions that respondents have implemented to meet the challenges faced during COVID-19 include - increased communication with employees; an increased focus on implementing technology and creating online content; creating unique ways to contact and keep existing clients instead of seeking new one; increased focus on healthy living, exercise and mental health for their employees and customers. Read on...

Florida State University News: Survey reveals COVID-19's impact on small business, nonprofits
Author: Calvin Burrows


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 jun 2020

COVID-19 impacted the retail sector and brought about unforeseen challenges. Recent study by Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) at University of Warwick (UK) and Blue Yonder examined how retailers have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure their survival. The study is based on the survey responses from 105 different retailers from Europe, Asia and the Americas and identified the human vulnerabilities across the supply chain and the need for future investment in flexibility, visibility and automation to improve future resilience. Some of the challenges that retailers faced are - unprecedented demand for some products while no demand for others; many stores were forced to close, or adapt their operations to accommodate social distancing; shift to online shopping wherever possible but it had its own operational challenges. REPORT HIGHLIGHTS - (1) The majority (61%) of retailers used inventory to buffer against the disruption of COVID-19. Supply chain processes and systems were effective, but more than half (58%) of retailers said a high degree of manual intervention was required to respond to the fluctuation in demand and supply. (2) Workforce issues were dominant issues for retailers with 59% of warehouse and 48% store operatives being affected by quarantine or illness. This often resulted in the closure of online operations and the need to recruit temporary staff. (3) Retailers were polarised in their treatment of supplier payments, with 37% delaying payments and 30% making early payments. Prof. Jan Godsell of University of Warwick says, '...only just over a quarter (29%) of retailers relied on suppliers with more agile manufacturing and distribution networks, which is a potentially more resource efficient and resilient response. With 75 to 80% of products seeing a demand fluctuation, retailers were slightly better at responding to decreases rather than increases in demand...' Wayne Snyder of Blue Yonder says, 'A critical learning for retailers is the need to invest in creating supply chains with greater flexibility, visibility and automation. Here technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning will play a key role in helping retailers navigate future disruption, whilst still meeting customers’ expectations.' Read on...

University of Warwick News: New study provides insights into how retailers have responded to COVID-19
Author: Alice Scott


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 may 2020

During Covid-19 related lockdown many countries faced issues related to providing food to where it is needed the most. There were huge challenges in food distribution and logistics from farms to markets to homes. In many cases farmers had to dump their produce due to the broken supply chain. Moreover, farmers lacked the resources to transport their produce themselves as markets were unwilling to buy that at reasonable price. Amid all this, in Philippines, one social enterprise led by Cherrie Atilano has found a way to get food from farms to consumers and enabled farmers sell their produce that otherwise would have been wasted. Agrea, her social enterprise, in normal times intended to end rural poverty by helping farmers move from subsistence to small-scale commercial farming. But, during pandemic crisis farmers and the food distribution networks collapsed, so Ms. Atilano started #MoveFoodInitiative to overcome the produce dumping by farmers. She used her extensive network to appeal to private truck owners to help ship the food to consumers in towns, villages and the capital. In addition to moving fruits from farmers to families, the initiative is also donating food to community kitchens set up to feed frontline medical staff treating people with coronavirus. 'Movers', as the workers associated with the project are called, have created impromptu community fresh food markets at various locations. Ms. Atilano also plans to encourage the development of urban farms and says, 'It is time to learn how to produce food near to you. This is the new normal that we need to prepare for.' Dom Hernandez, COO of Philippine fast food chain Potato Corner, is another entrepreneur helping to get food from farms to urban consumers. He has set up a scheme to allow farmers in his home province of Benguet to sell directly to consumers through the use of social media and his family owned bus network. Read on...

World Economic Forum: This entrepreneur is helping farmers get food to consumers during lockdown
Author: Douglas Broom


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 may 2020

According to Wikipedia, 'Experiential marketing or engagement marketing is a marketing strategy that directly engages consumers and invites and encourages them to participate in the evolution of a brand or a brand experience...Consumer engagement is when a brand and a consumer connect. Brad Nierenberg says that experiential marketing is the live, one-on-one interactions that allow consumers to create connections with brands.' With experiential marketing brands can develop more interest among consumers about their products and services. Covid-19 has brought new challenges to experiential marketing. 13 experts from Forbes Agency Council explain the current and future impact that experiential marketing is likely to have on the industry and how leaders can adapt to its effects - (1) Continuing To Build Relationships And Leadership (Serenity Thompson, A23 Advisors): 'To play well as experiential marketing, virtual events will include moderated group breakouts, gamified agendas and in-app click-to-share social content at a minimum.' (2) Emphasizing The Power of Shared Experience (Steve Wilson, Wilson Dow): 'When delivering a virtual experience, keep a people-first approach.' (3) Reinventing Experiences And Platforms (Lili Gil Valletta, CIEN+): 'Experiences matter; we just need to innovate in where and how they come to life.' (4) Connecting With Audiences During Social Distancing (Jon Waterman, Ad.net): 'Whether it be through VR, playing an interactive game, attending a virtual concert or a live streaming demo, experiential marketing will move towards brand engaging audiences for experiences online.' (5) Offering Consumer-Level Multisensory Experiences (Hamutal Schieber): 'Experiential marketing can benefit from emerging technologies to create personalized, multisensory experiences.' (6) Delivering Personalized Experiences To Wider Audiences (Nicolas Van Erum, Sid Lee): 'Brands will quickly pivot to digital efforts...with greater avenues to track, measure and attribute consumer behavior.' (7) Leveraging New Technologies With Social Spacing (Jackie Reau, Game Day Communications): 'Experiential marketers will need to consider how to use new technologies with social spacing to connect with consumers in an engaging manner.' (8) Growing The Number Of Virtual Conferences, Activations (Scott Harkey, OH Partners): 'As we navigate through this pandemic, brands are challenged to pivot to provide a utility, adopt new technologies and continue to provide value and insight to consumers.' (9) Helping Brands Stand Out From The Crowd (Anna Crowe, Crowe PR): It will be an important part of an integrated marketing strategy to communicate brand stories and grow awareness and loyalty.' (10) Creating A Community (Dmitrii Kustov): 'They (brands) now have the opportunity to find real connections with their audience.' (11) Providing Immersive Experiences Via Influencers (Danielle Wiley, Sway Group): 'Influencers who provide enjoyable, immersive experiences boost brand visibility, build audience connections and drive action.' (12) Leveraging Augmented And Virtual Reality (Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS): 'Every company is ready for it. Apple and Android support it.' (13) Bridging The Gap With Video Demos (Francine Carb, Markitects, Inc.): 'By promoting technical experts as the heroes, customers can gain valuable insights, and companies can more intimately represent their brand.' Read on...

Forbes: How Will Experiential Marketing Evolve? 13 Experts Share Their Views
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 mar 2020

Global COVID-19 crisis has made content marketing vital for lead generation as all events and roundtables have been cancelled. According to the CMO Council's latest report 'Making Content Marketing Convert', only 21% of marketers are sufficiently partnered with their sales counterparts in developing and measuring demand generation programs, and most view their content marketing process as ad hoc, decentralised, and driven by internal stakeholder, rather than customer, interests. CMO Council's another report 'Better Lead Yield in the Content Marketing Field', highlighted the critical need for marketing organisations to bring more discipline and strategic thinking to content specification, delivery, and analytics. Donovan Neale-May, executive director of CMO Council, says, 'Marketers must act quickly and decisively to increase the impact, scope, reach and return of their content marketing investments in 2020.' The report said good content is vital in the selection of vendors, and peer-powered organizations are the most trusted and valued sources of online content - 67% of respondents named research and whitepapers from professional organisations among the most trusted content sources. The report recommends the following top 10 essentials for effective authority leadership-driven content marketing - (1) Partner with credible and trusted sources. (2) Produce relevant and compelling strategic insights. (3) Add customer-contributed views and validation. (4) Present authoritative, newsworthy and enriched content. (5) Engage qualified, verified and predisposed audiences. (6) Target the whole influencer, specifier and buyer ecosystem. (7) Embrace multi-channel distribution, promotion + syndication. (8) Authenticate content consumption and buyer engagement. (9) Ensure lead legitimacy and compliance. (10) Cultivate, activate and convert prospect flow. Read on...

CMO: Why content marketing can make the difference amid the COVID-19 closures
Author: Vanessa Mitchell


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 mar 2020

According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor's (GEM) 2019-20 Global Report, more than 40% of entrepreneurs in 35 of 50 countries agree or strongly agree that their motivations to launch a business are to make a difference in the world. Fifty economies participated in the GEM 2019 Adult Population Survey (APS) and more than 150000 individuals took part in extended interviews as part of the research. Entrepreneurs are trying to blend profits with social good and environmental sustainability, giving rise to innovative business models. In 2006 a company called TOMS popularized social entrepreneurship with a 'One For One Model' to provide a free pair of shoes to someone in need for every pair purchased. Jake Strom, co-founder of TOMS, now invests in and consults companies that intend to incorporate social business models into their existing businesses. He termed this as 'Profit + Purpose Model' that encourages for-profit ventures with deeply woven social benefits. Following are key takeaways from this approach - (1) Create Evangelists, not Customers: Company's story is key branding element. Emphasize the social good aspect to inspire customers to become brand champions. It eventually becomes a competitive advantage. (2) Popular Perception Has Shifted: The idea that a for-profit business could do well and do good at the same time has become substantially acceptable. Profit + Purpose model will further grow in future. (3) Purpose-Driven Brands Can't Take Shortcuts: Effective business planning is essential. Do whatever is needed to provide best products and services and work to gain profits. Purpose would provide added motivation. (4) Think Long-Term: Balance the demands of Profit vs. Purpose. Making a sincere effort to put people, planet and long-term sustainability before short-term gains. (5) There is Never a Perfect Timing: The great idea to do good shouldn't wait. Start with whatever knowledge, resources and expertise is available. Keep learning, growing and evolving along the way. Scale-up when the concept is proven in the market. Read on...

Entrepreneur: 5 Takeaways From an Entrepreneur's Profit + Purpose Social Business Model
Author: Jared Polites


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 mar 2020

Social media has demonstrated its effectiveness for B2C and it has a lot to offer to B2B marketing when done with the right audience. Social platforms are all about interacting and engaging with people and B2B customers are people too. According to Forbes, 83% of executives use social media as part of their consideration of a vendor when making purchasing decisions. Of that group 92% said that they had been influenced by social media in a purchasing decision in the last year. Moreover, among B2B marketers, 82% prioritize social media marketing among their channels. Susan J. Campbell, founder of SJC Marketing, explains the benefits of going social with B2B marketing and suggests ways to do it better. She says, 'First, remember that sales and marketing are always social...Social media works for the same types of conversations...We also see social media as an opportunity to show off what we know...We offer content that we know adds value and allow our contacts to notice that we seem to have some insight to offer...This also ties in with your search engine optimization (SEO). When traffic makes it to your website via social media, it bumps up your search rankings.' According to Accenture, 94% of B2B buyers say that search is an important part of their purchasing process. Ms. Cambell suggests - Set clear goals along with related metrics to track success; Consider social media as an add on to overall B2B marketing; Develop a social media strategy focusing on conversations and engagement with potential buyers; Be consistent and share messages that target audience expect. Read on...

Business 2 Community: B2B Social Media Marketing: Because Purchasers Are People, Too
Author: Susan J. Campbell


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 feb 2020

Volunteer time off (VTO) is the new concept in employee benefits in which a company offers paid time off for its employees to volunteer with nonprofit organizations. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) around 21% of American companies offer VTO, while Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose (CECP) says that more than 60% of enterprise-level companies are going all-in on VTO. Organizations implementing VTO can benefit in many ways - (1) Recruitment: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of employees who are voluntarily quitting their jobs is higher than ever. VTO can help attract the attention of young, fresh talent. A report from Fortune showed that Millennials were more likely to work for a company that has a proven history of social activism and corporate volunteerism. (2) Retention: The 2019 Global Talent Trends Study showed that 51% of employees wish their company offered more flexible work options. VTO is the most desired option that companies can give to philanthropic employees. According to NP Source Charitable Giving Statistics For 2018, employees who engaged in corporate giving programs tended to have 75% longer tenures with the company. (3) Corporate Visibility: According to NP Source stats, 90% of companies indicated that partnering with reputable nonprofit organizations enhances their brand and 89% believe partnering leverages their ability to improve the community. Turning employees into employee brand ambassadors empowers them to represent your company in a positive light. (4) Company Culture: Companies are highlighting their workplace culture as a way to retain current employees and recruit top talent. A 2017 study from Project ROI showed that companies investing in corporate responsibility are seeing the fruits of their labor - Turnover reduced by 50%; Employee productivity increase by up to 13%; Employee engagement increased by up to 7.5%. A 2017 Glassdoor survey showed that 75% of employees expect their employer to get involved in charity work either through donations or volunteer efforts, and nearly half of all employees surveyed expect their employers to allow them to company time to advocate for social change through volunteering. (5) Employee Growth: Employees seek growth opportunities. Volunteering has become popular to build resume and sharpen skills, thus making VTO attractive to employees. NP Source showed that 92% of surveyed HR executives agree that contributing business skills and expertise to a nonprofit can be an effective way to improve employees' leadership and broader professional skill sets. Following are some tips to effectively implement VTO - (i) Organize your time-off request process. (ii) Communicate with employees. (iii) Use software to optimize (corporate volunteering platform). Read on...

G2.com: Here's Why VTO Is the Next Big Thing in Employee Benefits
Author: Lauren Pope


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 feb 2020

Australia's retail industry is in turmoil with some of the big ones entering into voluntary administration. Tom Youl of Ibis World says, 'Weakness in the Australian economy, in particular, deteriorating conditions for households, has been placing pressure on the retail sector...Weak wage growth has been a contributing factor to decreasing discretionary incomes, but rising household costs have also played a part. The bad news for store-based retailers is online players are going to continue to grab a larger share of the pie.' Eloise Zoppos of Monash Business School says, 'Customers are seizing control of the retail landscape and those retailers not up to the changes proposed by their loyal shoppers will be left behind. Friendly and knowledgeable staff, and eye-catching and easy-to-navigate store designs, can help create memorable experiences that customers can share with their friends and family after their purchase.' Even though online shopping is on the rise but Monash's 2019 consumer survey reveals that more than 70% respondents prefer to shop in bricks-and-mortar stores. A positive story coming out of the retail churn is that of an electronics store JB HI-FI. Retail expert Amanda Stevens explains, 'If you've been into JB Hi-Fi lately, it's a fast-moving big box retailer, but they really have knowledgeable staff, which is always a sigh of relief for consumers versus other retailers you go into, and you could spend up to 15 minutes finding someone to give your money to.' Regarding the future of Australian retail Mr. Youl suggest, 'Many retailers have been thriving in recent years. A sound brand strategy and market position are always vital to success, but these factors become of paramount importance over periods of weak growth, as we have been experiencing.' Read on...

Yahoo Finance: Why Australia's retail industry is drowning
Author: Anastasia Santoreneos


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 jan 2020

According to recent ad industry reports large traditional advertising agencies are facing challenging times. Larry Light, CEO of Arcature (a brand consultancy), explains how the existing model of advertising that built the industry is undergoing transformation and how digital technology, changing human behavior, mobile phones etc is changing how brands communicate with customers. He says that if TV is watched in a mute then except for logos the ads of some big name restaurants are indistinguishable. 'This commonality in creativity is illustrated by the use of generic thinking,' he adds. He further explains the use of common phrases in various ad campaigns. He says, 'This kind of brand thinking is a reflection of the overuse of research testing over creativity. Asking consumers to be creative is a certain road to genericization of communication.' He quotes Ryan Reynolds, 'Ads are generally disposable pieces of content,' and comments, 'These advertising greats (David Ogilvy, Bill Bernbach, Mary Wells Lawrence and Phil Dusenberry) would be horrified to learn that advertising has been demoted to disposable, fleeting bits and bytes of single use creations. With the digital advances making short-term marketing spend easier to measure, the marketing focus has shifted away from long-term brand ideas...Advertising messages are now short-lived, disposable throw-aways, meant to capture someone's attention for a moment and then disappear in the ether.' He advocates, 'The primary role of marketing in general, and advertising in particular, is to create, reinforce and increase brand loyalty...Regardless of the small screen digitization of our world, a great advertising campaign can be a key driver for establishing and maintaining brand loyalty. Response to advertising is selective: experience with a brand strongly affects one's response to an ad and advertising can affect one's response to a brand experience. The most important effect of meaningful brand advertising is to build and reinforce brand reputation. Advertising helps to reinforce a customer's personal perceptions of the total brand experience...Brand loyalty is something that grows, slowly and incrementally. A brand can generate clicks and views but not necessarily build brand use or brand loyalty. However, if you are predisposed to a brand, you are more likely to be influenced by the brand messages.' Read on...

Forbes: Advertising As We Know It Is Dead
Author: Larry Light


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 11 jan 2020

Food security problem is a global concern. Everyone should become a part of the solution. Technologies like drones, data analytics, blockchain etc can assist in solving some of the issues related to farming and agriculture. This is what Agriculture 4.0 is all about. It is a new age of food production that leverages digital technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) to cater more precisely to the needs of crops, farmers and consumers. The coming together of - farming communities, researchers and policy makers; farm equipment and machinery, biotechnology, computer and telecommunication companies - can bring agriculture to a new state of success. Multinational agriculture and biotech companies are competing in the race to achieve the technological breakthroughs and expand their businesses and profits. Advocates of Agriculture 4.0 believe that it will solve the food security problems of the future. While critics on the other hand caution that without proper regulation few big companies will attain huge monopolistic power in global agricultural decision-making that will adversely affect small producers. According to the 2018 report Agriculture 4.0 by World Government Summit, approximately 800 million people currently suffer from hunger and by 2050 we will have to produce 70% more food to feed the world. Juanita Rodríguez, Vice-Chancellor of Innovation at Ean University (Colombia), says, 'Even though it's still not widely known, this fourth revolution in agriculture has been agile and its benefits are beginning to show, helping farmers maximise crop yields and developing ways to stop the epidemic of waste that destroys 45% of our supply.' In Mexico, Mexican engineer Julio López and German economist Manuel Richter, have created a platform helping producers to manage their crops using drone and satellite technology. Mr. Richter says, 'There is a huge potential to make the work more efficient, reduce agro-inputs, improve water use, lower environmental impact and create more economic sustainability for the farmer.' Big data use and privacy are other areas that are part of Agriculture 4.0. In 2018, North American companies spent almost US$ 20 billion on third-party data, 17.5% more than in 2017. Silvia Ribeiro, Latin America director of the Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC), says, 'Companies have a huge amount of data at their disposal. They can convert it into another business. What lies behind this is the generation of new profits.' Gabriel Cuéllar, an AI researcher, says, 'Data is the new oil. Companies today need data to make their systems more powerful.' Big data and analytics has positive side in agriculture and can assist farmers in effectively detecting pests, spotting failures in agricultural processes, or understanding market demands. The question with data is not only who is collecting it, but who can analyse it, and who wins or loses as a result. In the report 'The Unsustainable Agriculture 4.0 - Digitization and Corporate Power in the Food Chain', Pat Mooney of ETC explains his concerns on big data in agriculture. He believes that the concentration of power in agricultural data collection could result in a few companies controlling seed patenting data, pesticides, fertilisers and machinery, leaving little or no option for farmers and workers to choose what they buy. In recent times many multinationals have been drawn into controversy regarding Agriculture 4.0. According to Ms. Rodríguez, there is also a significant hacking risk associated with Internet of Things devices. Dennis Escudero from UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says, 'The profile of the farmer is changing. It is more digital. You have to understand the new tools. They don't threaten farmers, they empower them.' Read on...

Diálogo Chino: Agriculture 4.0 promises to transform food production
Authors: Emilio Godoy, Alejandra Cuéllar


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 10 dec 2019

Customers are at the core of any business. No one can think of products and services without thinking of their buyers. Profits are made with happy customers because they continue to buy products and services from those companies and organizations that keep them satisfied. They also recommend to others what they themselves like. For organizations to become truly customer-centric it is essential to create a customer oriented mindset and at the same time develop procedures and actionable tools to provide best possible customer service. This would also involve continuous training and learning on the part of customer service executives and workers. As the customer behavior changes over time with technologies so should the interactive behavior of customer service personnel to adapt to changing scenarios. But above all, the personnel who deal directly with customers should keep the care of customers in their mind and behavior at all times. Organizations should develop a proper framework for customer service excellence. Read on...

ilmeps/read: From Customer-Centric Mindset To Doing What Customers Want - Finding Ways To Do Customer Service Right And Avoiding What Not To Be Done
Author: Mohammad Anas Wahaj


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 nov 2019

Traditional market research involves quantitative methods like group surveys or self-reporting to obtain valuable data, but to get the whole story, Prof. Rebecca Rast of marketing department at Missouri State University, has embarked upon a new methodology of research that utilizes iMotion software technology and uses facial expression analysis to develop a deeper understanding into the complexity of human behavior in the marketing field. iMotion technology captures physiological reactions, such as how humans think, feel, act and respond, in real time and helps to quantify engagement and emotional responses. The software can measure seven core emotions: joy, anger, fear, disgust, contempt, sadness and surprise. Prof. Rast says, 'I'm continuing to think of other applications I can use the software for to continue to look at marketing behavior...If I can share it with my students so they understand the outcomes, then I can apply it right back into the classroom when it comes to topics such as consumer behavior.' Read on...

Missouri State News: Understanding consumers through emotion
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 nov 2019

Achieving global food security is a challenge that requires all humanity to participate and work together. It is imperative to improve food production and distribution, tackle environmental degradation and climate change, alleviate poverty and resolve conflicts through peaceful means. Prof. Miguel Altieri of University of California at Berkeley focuses his research on the concepts of agroecology. His group's research and publications aid in the emergence of agroecology as the discipline that provides the basic ecological principles for how to study, design, and manage sustainable agroecosystems that are both productive and natural resource conserving, and that are also culturally-sensitive, socially-just and economically viable. He explains that urban agriculture has potential to enhance food security in US cities. According to him, 'I believe that raising fresh fruits, vegetables and some animal products near consumers in urban areas can improve local food security and nutrition, especially for underserved communities.' US Dept. of Agriculture estimates that for 1 out of 8 citizens food insecurity is a near-term risk. The current food distribution system in cities of Califormia, where large population resides, requires enormous amounts of energy and generates significant greenhouse gas emissions. Prof. Altieri says, 'The food it delivers fails to reach 1 of every 8 people in the region who live under the poverty line - mostly senior citizens, children and minorities. Access to quality food is limited both by poverty and the fact that on average, California’s low-income communities have 32.7% fewer supermarkets than high-income areas within the same cities.' In the past 30 years, urban farming has grown by more than 30% in the US. Moreover, it is estimated that urban agriculture can meet 15 to 20% of global food demand. But, it is yet to be seen what level of food self-sufficiency it can realistically ensure for cities. There are limitations and challenges. According to a survey, 51 countries do not have enough urban area to meet a recommended nutritional target of 300 grams per person per day of fresh vegetables. Moreover, it estimated, urban agriculture would require 30% of the total urban area of those countries to meet global demand for vegetables. Land tenure issues and urban sprawl could make it hard to free up this much land for food production. Prof. Altieri explains, 'Although urban agriculture has promise, a small proportion of the food produced in cities is consumed by food-insecure, low-income communities. Many of the most vulnerable people have little access to land and lack the skills needed to design and tend productive gardens.' Cuban model of urban farming can be applied, where local urban farmers were trained to use well-tested agroecological methods to cultivate diverse vegetables, roots, tubers and herbs in relatively small spaces. In Cuba, over 300000 urban farms and gardens produce about 50% of the island's fresh produce supply, along with 39000 tons of meat and 216 million eggs. Most Cuban urban farmers reach yields of 44 pounds (20 kilograms) per square meter per year. Access to land and unaffordable water for irrigation are critical challenges for urban farming in US. Discounted water rates and land reforms specifically for urban farming can provide a boost to the concept. Prof. Altieri says, 'Cities have limited ability to deal with food issues within their boundaries, and many problems associated with food systems require action at the national and international level. However, city governments, local universities and nongovernment organizations can do a lot to strengthen food systems, including creating agroecological training programs and policies for land and water access. The first step is increasing public awareness of how urban farming can benefit modern cities.' Read on...

The Conversation: How urban agriculture can improve food security in US cities
Author: Miguel Altieri


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 oct 2019

Visibility is critical for the success of business ventures. Public relations is what provides businesses just that when done right. Deborah A. Geiger, CEO of Geiger Communications, suggests a 3-step process to create winning pitches that provide meaningful coverage - (1) Introduce Yourself: Reporters need professional information and capabilites of those they cover in their stories. Provide them all the required details and make them confident about yourself. (2) Place Your News In Context: For the winning pitch place your news in geographical, historical and industry context to make your business and work stand out. Make your story truly unique and newsworthy. Do competitive analysis and differentiate yourself. (3) Consider The News Cycle: News cycle is predictable. Understand it and time your pitch accordingly. Select reporters who cover events and news related to your area of expertise. Keep communication with them helpful and positive, and offer your expertise for their future stories. The core of best PR pitches is simplicity and clarity in communication. 'If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.', said Albert Einstein. Keeping this in mind, with no confusion about who you are, what you do and how you can help, you will no doubt make a positive impression. Read on...

Entrepreneur: How to Write a Winning PR Pitch
Author: Deborah A. Geiger


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 oct 2019

For CPAs (Certified Public Accountant) to successfully transition from the for-profit sector to the nonprofit sector requires a specific mindset and skill sets. Even though their for-profit experience will highly benefit and enhance the value of nonprofit finance department, but they would need add-on soft skills - (1) Adaptability: Understand and adapt to the new organizational culture. (2) Flexibility: Ability to multitask. With resource challenges nonprofits lack support staff and CPAs would need to handle administrative tasks. (3) Leadership and the ability to drive change: Emphasize the value of accurate financial reporting and use of latest processes and technologies for effective and efficient finance department. Explain that doing so will enhance chances of funding. Implement change through collaborative approach. Nonprofit organizations can benefit from for-profit CPA's in many ways - (1) Technology implementation: Many nonprofits are not fully equipped with latest financial and accounting technolgoies. For-profit CPAs bring the experience to do so. Implementation of online technology maximizes productivity, increases transparency, facilitates document flow and approvals, and improves accuracy and timeliness. (2) Documented policies and procedures: The implementation and maintenance of a documented accounting policies and procedures manual ensures continuing operational efficiency and governance, accuracy, and reliability of financial statements, as well as well-defined roles and responsibilities. (3) Effective and efficient internal controls: The system of internal controls is necessary to mitigate risk, increase transparency, and safeguard the organization's assets. For-profit CPAs are familiar with identifying and evaluating internal controls and aware that the process requires understanding and documenting the step-by-step processes that staff members follow to perform their jobs. (4) Audit management and oversight: CPAs with auditing background are familiar with the types of schedules and documents the auditors will request. The books and records of the finance department should be maintained throughout the year so that when the books are closed, only year-end adjustments are needed. Although CPAs spend most of their time with numbers, processing transactions, generating financial reports, and racing to meet numerous internal and external deadlines, but in nonprofits it is more than that - a mission to improve the lives of those in need and to make the world a better place. The transition to nonprofit career can be highly rewarding both professionally and personally. Read on...

The CPA Journal: Making the Transition to the Nonprofit Sector
Author: Roberta Katz


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 oct 2019

Even though AI (artificial intelligence) and big data are enabling automation in marketing and customer interactions, enhancing consumer experience, saving cost and improving ROI, but customers still seem to prefer the great old human touch. According to the report by Calabrio titled 'Are You Listening? The Truth About What Customers Want in a Digital World', three out of four consumers in the US and UK are more loyal to businesses that give them the option to interact to human as opposed to only chatbots or digital channels. Morever, 37% even question the legitimacy of the company itself, if not given the option. Michael Brenner, CEO of Marketing Insider Group and author of 'Mean People Suck', explains how organizational empathy is the key to benefit from marketing automation along with becoming more human at the same time. He mentions limitations of AI, automation and martech - Complexity of implementation; Robotic customer service; Uncertainties in decision-making. He explains, 'When businesses use technology such as AI and automation to boost efficiencies, the outcomes will scale quickly. Managing the consequences calls for not just empathy, but alignment of "purpose" between the brand and its consumers. But while humans survive on meaning and a sense of fulfillment, machines thrive on clear instructions...By clarifying their strategic purpose, organizations can not only provide better customer experiences, but also increase brand loyalty, build a community, as well as foster a meaningful and productive work culture.' Kate O'Neill, author of 'Tech Humanist', says, 'Businesses that transform themselves digitally need to do so in a human-centric way and communicate their purpose to their customers.' Mentioning empathy as the missing link between AI and humans, Mr. Brenner says, 'Empathetic Marketing connects companies, brands, employees and customers in a harmonious, productive and win-win way. You might be forgiven for thinking that ROI and the bottom line is all that matters to companies. While authoring my first book 'The Content Formula', I stumbled on the counter-intuitive secret to selling: Don't talk about the stuff you sell. Then what should we talk about? I hear you asking. Show, don't talk. Show empathy towards your customers. Help, don't sell. Help them solve a problem.' Empathy is the only antidote for the phenomenon termed by Google's Noah Fenn as 'collective amnesia of marketers', where marketers begin to see 'people' as users, leads, personas, prospects, audience, cohorts or whatever label is the flavor of the day. Mr. Brenner suggests 'be human, do human' and in order to fix the brand-customer empathy gap, you need to ask (and honestly answer) yourself - Do you understand the core emotional motivators of your customers? Does your messaging resonate with these motivators?; Do you build a connection before you attempt a conversion?; Do you test your assumptions and biases for every marketing campaign?; Does your AI-driven revenue model incorporate the nuances of empathetic marketing? Read on...

Chief Marketer: The AI Paradox: Why More Automation Means We Need More Humanity
Author: Michael Brenner


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 sep 2019

In the closing speech of United Nations Climate Action Summit 2019, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, 'You understand that climate emergency is the fight of our lives, and for our lives. I thank young people around the world for leading the charge – and holding my generation accountable. We have been losing the race against climate crisis. But the world is waking up. Pressure is building. Momentum is growing. And - action by action - the tide is turning.' Not so long ago, Ernest Hemingway (Novelist and Nobel Laureate) said, 'The world is a fine place and worth fighting for and I hate very much to leave it.' And now the stern remarks of Swedish teenager, Greta Thunberg, in the UN Climate Summit resonated around the world and were call to action for governments, businesses and all those responsible. Although all humans have responsibility to maintain the environment, but along with governments, businesses have extra responsibility towards the upkeep of environment, particularly those that use natural resources or have direct impact on natural environment. So, what it takes to be a sustainable business? The answers are many and approaches different. In 1987, the United Nations Brundtland Commission defined sustainability as 'meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.' For businesses to be sustainable would require change in current practices and they come with a cost. They have to evolve strategies towards sustainability by taking all the stakeholders on board. Moreover, one's move to sustainability may impact the environment in some other way. So, there are challenges to attain sustainability. Here are 4 reasons why it's hard for businesses to be sustainable - (1) THERE IS NO SINGLE DEFINITION OF 'SUSTAINABILITY': UN's Mr. Guterres in the recent Summit sets the goal to completely transform the world's economies to be more sustainable and find solutions to climate change. A daunting task considering the slow pace governments and businesses have been moving in that direction so far. Geoffrey Jones, a business history professor at Harvard University and the author of 'Profits and Sustainability: A History of Green Entrepreneurship', says, 'There is a crippling vagueness about what sustainability means. While carbon emissions are receiving much of the focus because of climate change, deforestation, water shortages and soil erosion are also serious problems that should not be ignored.' Lack of clear definition translates to lack of accountability. At present few companies can provide hard evidence that their businesses are not negatively impacting environment. Socially responsible investment funds (Environmental, Social & Governance - ESG) often include oil & gas companies, and also those that have plastics as an essential component of their business model. Businesses are tryig but it is a long way to go before they become truly sustainable. (2) DETERMINING THE VALUE OF SUSTAINABILITY: Switch to sustainability is costly for businesses. Bruno Sarda, President of the Carbon Disclosure Project North America, says, 'Someone can come up with a cost of doing something different much more quickly than determining what is the value to the business.' Sustainability solutions can be complex and expensive. (3) CONSUMING LESS CAN REDUCE PROFITS: Experts suggest that less consumption is road to sustainability. But, it is contrary to the basics of businesses - more consumption, more profits. There are exceptions though. Doug Freeman, COO of Patagonia (an outdoor clothing and gear company), says, 'We hope our existing customers do indeed buy less. But we hope to attract more customers that are interested in our message: to build the best product, to reduce our impact and cause the least amount of environmental harm.' (4) CLIMATE SOLUTIONS REQUIRE COLLECTIVE ACTION: 'Tragedy of the commons', an economic problem, creates a situation of competitive consumption of natural resources thereby depleting them. To overcome this, collaboration and cooperation, is imperative. Companies are now teaming up with each other and with environmental nonprofits. Joanne Sonenshine, CEO of Connective Impact, says, 'By working together, companies gain more leverage in the national and global marketplace and legitimacy in the eyes of consumers. If you have a group of very respectable nonprofits or research agencies saying we are working with this company because we believe they can make a change, that puts a lot of credence behind what they are trying to do.' Read on...

PBS: 4 reasons it's hard to become a sustainable business
Author: Gretchen Frazee


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 sep 2019

Jeff Bradford, PR expert and President & CEO of Bradford Group, suggests that now it is imperative to think about business-to-business (B2B) marketing strategy the same way as thinking about building relationships. He says, 'We expect to gain something from our friendships or relationships. Potential customers have the same expectations. You need to prove your value. Tactics like targeted media exposure contributed content, influencer relations, social media, speaking engagements and website downloads invite potential customers into your company story as friends versus onlookers. A strategic B2B marketing approach builds a relationship with the customer by providing valuable, relevant and consistent content.' He provides 3 ways to build lasting customer relationships - (1) Get Social: According to GlobalWebIndex's latest report on social media trends 2019, more than one in three internet users revealed that they go to social networks when trying to find out more information about a brand, company or product; Share recent company news, media coverage and industry articles to keep a steady stream of content; Add CSR initiatives, videos and behind-the-scenes photos to enable deeper customer exploration of brand; Aim to win customer engagement and share content that encourages dialogue; Implement gated content. (2) Tell Your Story: Have a compelling story to reveal to potential customers, just as in new friendships; Each piece of content should invite customer to the brand; Highlight CSR efforts on social media and website; Welcome new faces to your brand by proving you have a clear vision and showing how they can be a part of it; Make sure to honor customer's time by using your social media, website and media exposure to explain how you can help solve your customer's problem, not simply sell your services. (3) Renew And Recycle: Extend value of content by updating and resharing to reach wider audience; Repurposing a blog post into a series of social media posts linking back to the blog, a YouTube video, an infographic or a pitch for a bylined article; Strike a balance between quantity and quality of content; Existing content can be a foundation to build more content. With all this done right will make marketing to businesses simple, making them brand friends and customers for life. Read on...

Forbes: Three Ways To Bolster Your B2B Marketing
Author: Jeff Bradford


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 sep 2019

According to Learning Enterprise Institute (lean.org), the book, 'Designing the Future' by James M. Morgan and Jeffrey K. Liker, describes the robust new Lean Product and Process Development (LPPD) framework and shares real-world examples from a diverse set of industries. The book explains how the leading companies are using LPPD to create better futures for themselves and all their stakeholders. Authors go beyond broad generalizations on how to 'be innovative' and dig deeper into the theoretical bedrock and concrete development practices that are generating exceptional results at pioneering LPPD companies. Examples in the book show specifically how companies are redesigning product development systems to consistently design and deliver a progression of market-leading products and services. The book explains how LPPD is different from traditional ways of thinking and doing product development. The book helps in learning how to - (1) Avoid the 'extremes' that turn milestones into a 'coercive bureaucracy' and instead turn them into the foundation of a lean development process. (2) Drive out fear, but not accountability. (3) Develop high-performance teams and team members. (4) Cultivate chief architects with complete product and business responsibility. (5) Create flow and reduce rework in the development process. (6) Apply leadership lessons from Alan Mulally and other senior development leaders, as well as the critical elements of a powerful management system. (7) Use the Obeya (big room, war room) system to increase transparency, collaboration, focus, and speed while engaging the entire enterprise. (8) Improve the scientific thinking skills of engineers and developers. (9) Apply the seemingly contradictory concept of 'fixed and flexible' - Yin and Yang - of lean product development as an opportunity, not a conflict. (10) Hire the right people using different approaches, including extreme interviewing events. (11) Use a Commodity Development Plan to develop components in parallel that are on time, functional, and fit together. (12) Improve development problem solving through effective use of A3s and employ a simple but effective 'trick' to check the quality of an A3 report. EXCERPTS FROM INTERVIEW WITH AUTHORS - James M. Morgan: 'The book is for all serious practitioners who are working to find a better way to develop products, processes and services. Especially for those who are in leadership positions who want to improve organizational development capabilities in order to create great products and a great place to work.'; 'Deep immersion at the gemba (the actual place) during the study period to truly understand your customer and their context. To truly study and listen deeply to your customer in a very intentional way. To look broadly across your industry to understand the current state and conduct detailed product or service dissections where called for. Creating an active learning plan and experimentation to test ideas and close knowledge gaps. To create a concept paper to clarify your thinking and engage and enroll others.'; 'Milestones are the key to orchestrating development across functions. They are the primary mechanism for integrating work and for understanding normal from abnormal conditions so that the development team may act accordingly.'; 'The obeya space needs to become the center and the heartbeat of the project. Whether the team is collocated or not, it is the place where they come together to share and collaborate. It is the primary source of project information.'; 'I believe that it (to build aligned and focused teams) is impacted by hiring/selection of people, development of people, manager selection and promotion and of course leadership behaviors. One key is to develop an effective management system. In my view a management system is comprised of two key elements: leadership behaviors and an operating system.'; 'The best leaders have the grit to keep going - and to keep their team moving forward. One key is to look at problems as gems, as opportunities to improve your product, your process, your team - yourself.'; 'Make it okay to experiment, make mistakes, question things and raise issues. Create time and resources for learning - both capturing and applying learning. Design reviews are an excellent mechanism for learning. Then make knowledge available in user-friendly way.'; 'Apply the LPPD principles and practices in your transformation. Start by deeply understanding your current state, develop a compelling vision, learn through pilot experimentation, create an aligned plan, and focus on relentless executing leveraging tools like obeya, milestones, reflection events and design reviews.' Jeffrey K. Liker: 'We also talk about the role of the chief engineer - an overall architect for the product who assimilates all the data and spends time with customers and integrates many perspectives into a vision. These are specially developed people who become the chief architects.'; 'The main failure mode of milestones is viewing them as checkpoints. In LPPD there is feedback and adjustment happening all of the time. The checkpoint is a major opportunity to reflect and learn. It should not feel like passing a test.'; 'The obeya paces the work of many functional specialists so they are checking the status of their work products in short intervals, seeing how they can help each other, seeing gaps between plan versus actual and taking corrective action. It should focus on deviation management.'; 'A big part of the management system is the target setting process. The chief engineer sets the product targets and each function develops appropriate targets to support the chief engineer.'; 'It is also critical to have knowledge gatekeepers for each function who are the keepers of the know-how database for their specialty to avoid lots of information that never gets used.'; 'An exciting culture leads to an exciting product. We also talk about the importance of strong functional groups that are teaching the deep knowledge of their engineering discipline.' Read on...

InfoQ: Q&A on the Book 'Designing the Future'
Authors: Ben Linders, James Morgan, Jeffrey Liker

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