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Best Practices


I tackle every big new problem by asking two questions: Who has dealt with this problem well? And what can we learn from them? --Bill Gates.  

This is where the Center's Workgroups share the latest think on management Best Practices. Contact us for more information.

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Workgroup Report: Quantifying the Value of Good Management

Good managers help the organization become more profitable year after year. That’s common sense. But how can you use KPIs to measure and then manage the changes you want? Most businesses use lagging indicators—and that’s a big mistake...

Derrick Van Mell

Management best practice of the week: 2.5 Sales management

The sales team needs help to focus on—and only on—the kinds of sales that are in the plan. The “sales hero” is a dangerous myth: it’s a team sport.

Derrick Van Mell

Best Practice of the week: 6.3.3 Forecasting

Every management decision, plan, and process is based on a forecast, often someone’s faulty hunch. Fortunately, there are established techniques that reduce costly and embarrassing forecast errors.

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 5.1.2.1 Delegation

Remote work had grown by 44% before the pandemic. All the practices of collaboration still apply, but with a premium on clear communications of goals and constraints. Your value as a manager is directly proportional to your ability to delegate.

Derrick Van Mell

Management best practice of the week: 5.2 Organization structure

Organization structures have been stressed by COVID. Get new org chart wrong, and your building collapses. But get it right, and everyone will feel and see that their time, skills and passion are being used to their full potential.

Derrick Van Mell

Workgroup Report: How should executives allocate their time?

Everyone wants to spend their time working on the right stuff. Ask your team to compare calendars every six months: no one wants to be working efficiently on the wrong thing. If your email threads are growing and growing, pick up the phone!

Derrick Van Mell

Use Strengths to Attack, Not Just Offset Risks

On September 29, 2020, CFOs from several industries participated in a Roundtable Intensive on risk: “What Else Could Go Wrong?” Michael Best was our sponsor. One key idea: Use your strengths to resolve, not just counterbalance your risks.

Derrick Van Mell

Best Practice of the week: 5.5.2 Performance pay. How to reward an employee's heroic efforts when cash is tight?

Nothing can hurt morale more than getting the bonus system wrong: you can spend a lot of money to get the opposite of the desired result.

Derrick Van Mell

Workgroup report: Assessing, mitigating and collaborating on big risks

Workgroup #1 shared lessons learned from big risks they'd led their organizations through. Some worked out. Some didn't. Don't you think you should look before leaping?

Derrick Van Mell

Best Practice of the Week: 2.3.3. Discounts

Discounts have long-term risks: reducing profits to an unsustainable level, cheapening the brand, creating habituation to lower prices, or starting a price war. But what if customers just don't have the money?

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 6.6 Risk Management

We overestimate our ability to influence events that are heavily determined by chance. This is due to cognitive biases, Are you putting in the uncomfortable work of looking for new risks? Here are ideas, terms and tools to save you from bad surprises.

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 4.1.5 Collaboration software

Lack of collaboration is estimated to cost $37 billion per year, which will grow with more working from home. Workers spend on average 570 hours, or 27% of their annual working hours, just dealing with email.

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 5.3.1 Worker Safety

In our focus on COVID-19, are we distracted from seeing other safety threats? Every year, work injuries cost industry $170 billion. Don’t let one crisis create another.

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 1.5.1.1 Goal

Does your new set of goals pass these tests: Are they ensuring your organization’s continuity? Do they support your customers? Are they stimulating the innovation and change you’ll need to compete in the new world?

Derrick Van Mell

Workgroup report: The Center's Workgroups are optimistic they can help people stay optimistic

Seven Center members share hard-won ideas about managing through a crisis, including how to keep up their own spirits and optimism when things look dark. The 3 discussion questions frame a checklist everyone should use. You'll feel better.

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 2.6.1 Customer support

86% of customers quit doing business with a company due to a bad customer experience. How understanding are your locked-down customers?

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 1.5.1 Business planning

The pandemic is causing organizations to respond to huge changes and uncertainties in demand, supplies, and workforce. Does this mean it’s a waste of time to plan?

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 2.2 Channels of distribution

To compete, it’s important to focus on channels where you’re confident you can take significant market share. Have you asked your customers recently about their online experience?

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 3.2.1 Workflow analysis

You might now see disrupted workflow, supply chains and lines of communications. There are best practices for quickly defining and redesigning efficient processes: your employees, customers, vendors and community are counting on you.

Derrick Van Mell

The “big producer” is always a net loser for the firm

Who hasn’t had to deal with a prima donna? Experienced Center members have learned the hard way that you’re much better off without them. What are good practices for deciding whether or not to fire them? And how do you survive in the meantime?

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 2.6 Customer Service

Has the pandemic distracted you from your customers? Your organization won’t survive if your customers felt you weren’t there for them when they needed you.

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 5.3.4 Employee policy

The spike in remote work is changing forever how people work together. When did you last audit your employee manual?

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 2.1 Market research

Market research is the only way you can feel confident you’re selling the right products at the right price in the right place and in the right way. Or are you afraid of what your customers will say about you?

Derrick Van Mell

Did years of “open-plan better-togetherness” make us sloppy managers?

The Center’s Workgroup 1 (USA) found that managing remote staff meant imposing the meeting discipline they should have used all along. Now teams are much more productive. Which is rewarding. Which makes you even more productive.

Derrick Van Mell

Best Practice of the Week: 3.4 Supply chain

Supply chains are now disrupted badly. The immediate effects are obvious and everywhere: hand sanitizer in short supply, nonexistent toilet paper and empty grocery store shelves. This might be the time to ask questions about your supply chain.

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 2.4.1 Target market

Don’t let habit keep you from looking for good customers in new niches: maybe the barriers are easy to knock down. If you’re not taking small risks in new niches, you’re taking a big risk being stuck in your old one.

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 5.3.2 Staff Communications

The large shift to remote work has put a premium on quality communications. One way to protect against costly misunderstandings is to execute a simple, well-designed communications plan that delivers clear messages through the right channels.

Derrick Van Mell

The Use, Misuse and Abuse of Managerial Power

Everyone said they learned about power in their very first supervisory job. Conscientious first-time managers immediately sense how easy it is to be seduced by power. That discomfort should prod us to examine it.

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 3.6 Inventory

An inventory depletion shock is coming to Western business inventories as Chinese exports have declined by over 18%. How will you be able to buy or sell inventory, even when orders are shrinking?

Derrick Van Mell

The Center's USA Workgroup 1 debates a key word

There’s a reason not to dismiss a discussion of a terms with, “Oh, that’s just semantics:” you’ll be smarter. And you’ll save a lot of time and money. Every time.

Derrick Van Mell

Building sales collaboration in the entire organization

What’s the best way to align sales staff with the other departments? Reward a “sales first” culture and lose the checks and balances of collaboration—or fail to motivate the ales team and see revenue drop? USA Workgroup 1 makes the path clear.

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 2.2.3 E-commerce

E-commerce’s share of all retail sales is now 25%, up from 17% in 2019, and shoppers are rapidly changing brands. Are you waiting for your old channels to come back?

Derrick Van Mell
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