Idea's space

This blog is dedicaded to share ideas about personal and professional development.

Archive for November 2009

Stay focused on your goal.

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Dont' miss your target !

Anybody is dreaming about something, a goal, a project; but sometimes, the dream stays a dream and do not become reality. Are we afraid to realize our dreams because they are too extraordinary for ordinary people? They are many reasons why dreams are staying dreams. It is first a question of temper. Some people are followers, others with strong personalities are leaders, actors of their own live, always moved by a project.

The only question of temper does not explain why we are scared to transform a dream to reality. We often put barriers on a subconscious way, between us and the goal we want to reach. We are afraid sometimes by the constraints which could abort our goal, our project. By doing this, we are in fact not focused on our goal, but on the constraints of our goal, and it is for sure we will miss the goal by acting like this. It is exactly the same when you are walking on the street on a Saturday, when everybody is shopping. If you are fixing the person walking front of you, it is for sure you will collide with other. If you are looking just near her, where you have to go, then you will escape the collision.

But is it enough to fix only your goal? No, of course. In order to cover the distance between the place you are and the place you want to be, it means your goal, you will have to develop a strategy. This strategy will include all the components you will have to deal with, the advantages and the constraints

Let assume you want to start a business of IT consultant. Your goal is to provide IT services you defined. In order to succeed in your project, you analyzed if there is a matching between the competences you want to offer and the market. Then you will have to make prospection in order to develop your commercial portfolio, to make some marketing, to develop a commercial pitch. Of course, it takes time to gain reputation and customers, and at the beginning, your turnover will not be sufficient to balance your financial results.

Here is another important point of your strategy: your business plan. A good business plan includes normally different scenarios, from the pessimistic to the optimistic one. The key question is what I really need as goods and services to work and what are the ones of secondary importance. As IT consultant, computer material, internet connection, software, technical books, ..and your brain, are the most important things you need to work. The nice luxurious car you are dreaming of, is not essential. Do only with what you have. Could you imagine being able to work, if you have a car, but no computer, no phone, no internet connection? In my case, and for a lot of people, the answer is no ! And if you do so, as an IT professional, it is obvious that you will not be credible at all, and you will surely miss your goal…because you forgot your goal.

And we are back to the goal. If you create a company, it is not to buy a nice car or the last smart phone, but to create and develop an activity you like to do. Do not make confusions between the constraints and the advantages linked to your project and the final goal. By staying focused on your goal and developing the appropriate strategy, you maximize your chance to reach it and make it sustainable.

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Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

November 30, 2009 at 16:20

Small could still be beautiful

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Silicon Valley, land of innovation

In my previous posting, I was talking about the social economy as an alternative. Of course, to face such complex problem, there is not only one solution, but different ways of alternatives. If I am coming back to this subject, it is because when some indicators are showing that the recession seems to be over, other consequences of the economical crisis are still there, to prompt us to stay moderately optimistic ….or pessimistic. That is what we could see in the news these last days.

Few days ago, there were around seven hundred people losing their job in the Brussels region. A major media distributor felt in bankruptcy and around four hundred people will lose their job. Another pharmaceutical group announced a new restructuring process, by cutting one hundred and seventy jobs. A press group, facing to a decrease of advertising revenues announced also a job cutting of seventy six employees. These tree companies were obliged to axe jobs for different reasons. There are circumstances where we have no choice to cut jobs in order to ensure the company continuity.

Regarding this problematic, I would like to talk about the axed jobs as consequences of merging and acquisitions processes. We can hear very often companies explaining that they acquired other companies or merged with other companies because there are synergies and complementarities between activities. In my mind it should mean that the combination of different activities should provide new opportunities and generate more revenues. It makes sense for small companies who have similar or complementary activities but which can not reach a critical size in their market. But for bigger companies, like international groups, it appears that most of the time, the purpose of such operation is often a financial goal. Most of the time, after such operations, it follows a restructuring wave and a lot of jobs are axed. As already mentioned in other postings, how can this economy survive, when the principle seems to be “do more with less people”? If people are losing their purchasing power, how can we sustain a growing economy? Are merges and acquisitions always necessary to ensure a business? Some years ago, a Belgian fashion designer, Olivier Strelli decided to expand his activities in Japan. After some problems of unfair concurrency and piracy, he decided to stop his activities in this country. Finally, such decisions did not have a negative impact on his business.

It is not forbidden to believe that our economy needs to move to a SME economy, where there is more flexibility in terms of organization, in term of creativity and innovation. I was reading recently in a book written by Philippe Buschini (*) about Personal Branding, a sentence of Nathan Rosenberg saying that “The innovation appears often outside of the existing organizations, partly because the winning organizations are staying in the status quo and are resisting to the ideas which could affect then”. A lot of new high valued activities were created by start up companies, with high potential of development. Let us think for example to the IT industry.

But the interesting point is that in the actual environment, where things becomes more and more complex, these small companies needs to get high value advices and services but on a temporary or part time basis. This could be a real opportunity for other companies and people, to create not only commercial and technical relations, but real business partnerships. This kind of services are already existing, with the field of interim management or project consulting, but we could also consider that people could become partners in several companies, and participate of the development processes for each of then. People would work as freelance, which is still seen as more risky than an employee position, but the advantage could be to gain more experiences by working on different projects and in this way, to ensure their employability.

By thinking about this, it seems that the story is a process of constant renewal. Some small companies grew, became giants and then disappeared. It could be that finally, small could be still beautiful.

(*) Philippe Buschini website: http://www.buschini.com/

Picture from http://www.flickr.com/photos/explorer/112761636

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

November 19, 2009 at 19:45

Social economy, the sustainable way ?

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AGRICULTURE-ENVIRONNEMENT-ALIMENTATION-MAG

In Gironde, consumers are financing the installations of a "bio" market gardner for a local direct sale.

Today, the social economy seems to gain interests. The main principle of this concept is to create an economical model showing more solidarity. When I read these words, I am wondering if we are not busy to re-invent what should be the ideal model?

If you think about the economy, it has to be to the service of the people, and not the opposite. By mentionning this, it implies that the economy has a social dimension…or should have it.  But today, the concerns are more to maximize the profit of the companies in order to create value for the shareholders. But for how many time? In these particular difficult times, people lost their jobs. Sometimes, it was the only solution in order to maintain the continuity of economical activity. But we can see also in many countries, increasing difference between higher and lower salaries. When some people could not spend the money they are earning during all their live, other people try to survive.

Do not forget that some people have high responsibilities and need to be paid for. But until which salary level does it still make cense? When I remember by the past, some salaries and bonuses earned by some directors of companies which did not show exceptional performances or falling in bankruptcy, I see that more as an incompetence premium. Everybody would be ready to miss a target of to fail a project and receive a salary or bonus which allows you to have a comfortable live. Where is the risk?

By reducing the lower salaries, how can we ensure an economical growing, if people can not pay for goods or services? By contracting debts? That is what  happened these last years, and created the financial crisis.

We can not create a social environment in an economical desert, but we can not also develop a sustainable economy without a sustainable social model.

Today, it seems we are trying to find new technical solutions in order to re-start the economy, while it is much more a mentality change which needs to happen. Let us take the example of the automotive industry. Today, in order to save this industry and to boost the car sales, many countries are giving allowance to people buying a “green” car. When we know that the automotive industry is in overcapacity since few years and that this industry is producing more with less people than before, this kind of measure will only produce short term effect, but fundamentally will not solve the problem.

In a sustainable economy model, the profit should only ensure the continuity of the company, giving the capability to finance new projects development. The profit is one of the components, the human resource is another. Maintain the number and the quality of the jobs contributes to maintain the know-how of your company. And this know-how is increasing everyday as long as same people are staying in the company. People should not be considered as employee, but as partners of the company. Reduce the people turnover contributes also to reduce recruitment fees and avoid to lose productivity.

To preserve the environment contributes also to a more social environment and develop a sustainable economy. By producing less and recycling more, by developing new activity fields respecting environment, we can develop a social economy giving opportunities to lower qualified people, to contribute to a high valued environmental project. We can already see such programs, gaining successful results.

Personally, I believe that a social economy is possible. It implies innovation and creativity. Creativity does not mean only to invent new things, but also to do things, to think on another way. But such transformation is possible if it is driven by the common good. It is just a question of will and intellectual honesty, to move to a society where people do not exist only by using a credit card.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

November 11, 2009 at 23:16

Posted in Economy

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