In evidenza

Mismanagement

virus

Mismanagement is a virus affecting all kind of organizations, in every state of their growth. Mismanagement is a real plague of entrepreneurship,

Mismanagement can be seen as a degeneration of leadership, when leaders stop producing added value for their firms and literally feed on their own organizations, sometimes causing its death.

Why is that?  There isn’t probably a specific reason, but a combination of many causes.

Bringing competition inside the organization instead that concentrating outside is one of them; excess of self-confidence is another: just because once you were  successful, that doesn’t make you all of a sudden a world’s expert on everything. (Know one’s limit is the key for success: as a manager and leader you should know that is exactly there, reaching the limits of your abilities, where you should find partners and teammates ready to help you integrating your skills)

Mismanagement is often connected with the trend of over-simplifying problems; not considering possible alternatives and assuming that compromise in necessarily negative.

As a matter of fact, a good manager, a leader, is one able to recognize a mistake, and transform it into an opportunity of improvement: sometimes instead is easier to blame someone else for your problems, bring into play “external factors” for misfortune (Yes, Napoleon used to ask, before promoting someone at his service “I know he’s a good general, but is he lucky?”, but I think that a manager should mainly be architects of their company’s fortune).  This is very often associated with ambiguous internal communication/talking company’s jargon: then communication within the company is meant only for initiated members, excluding the rest of the world.

Finding/inventing an (imaginary) enemy” is a common strategy adopted when motivation or enthusiasm is on the wane, but this is good only if we are discussing about healthy competition. Healthy competition provides motivation but this is not the case if a leader is constantly managing the firm against something or someone looking for destruction rather than construction.

Somehow this is about self-deception; mismanagement uses information asymmetry inside the organization to focus the attention of middle management and human resources towards fake targets; it’s always easier to deceive ourselves than someone else.

But the “find an enemy” syndrome attacks the organization too: mismanagement brings into the organization the culture of suspicion, an overall and contagious lack of confidence in each other’s skills, and this is sometimes able to jeopardise company’s ability to take decisions; Due to this general feeling of mistrust is easier:

  • Taking too quick decision, trusting only your own faction opinion;
  • Deciding not to decide, when in doubt that a certain decision might be favourable to “internal enemies” (the other faction);
  • Looping the decision process

When an organization breaks up into factions, you are missing the big picture: instead always act (professionaly) local but feel global: give the best highly specialized contribute to your company, but never miss the big picture. Just because you’ve got done properly your piece of the puzzle it doesn’t mean your job is over. Final success depends also on how conscious and respectful you are of the colleague who’s in charge of putting the last piece.

Let’s put this way: “Don’t ask what your company can do for you, ask what you can do for your company”!!!

Mismanagement has sometimes huge consequences:

  1. Improper use of resources;
  2. Bad (or even impossible) strategic planning;
  3. improper use of datas;
  4. Loss of company’s identity .

Here a test to perform in order to avoid mismanagement practice and discover its early symptoms:

  1. Is internal training efficient? There are enough investments on this process? And in measuring effectiveness of delivered training?
  2. Management invest and improves internal communication? How long it takes for bottom-up communication? Hoe many “filters” there are? (f.i. is possible that a message/suggestion form the base reaches the attention of CEO?)
  3. Is company investing in R& D as it happened before? What happens next to projects? Is the time to market of relevant ones in line with the past?
  4. Is management conducting routine company’s organizational climate surveys?
  5. Is company measuring (when possible in many active and alternative ways) customer satisfaction and listening to the “voice of the customer”?
  6. How you will define overall company’s transparency?
  7. Is turnover trend under control in your company?
  8. From time to time, is company performing surveys on suppliers/evaluating possible new ones?
  9. Concerning communication and decisional processes: is possible to define and to keep under control an overall “crossing time”, expressed as time needed for an information to be delivered crossing all company’s organizational and decisional levels or for an authorization to be given to someone into the company? Is this time proportional to the importance of a certain decision?
  10. Is your organization feeling comfortable with the concept of recognizing a mistake? F.i. is taking care of internal and external claims? There is space for submitting complaints or simple suggestions? Is internal communication using only words like “success”/“challenge”/ or also words like the concepts of “issue”; “difficulties”, “experience”; “challenge”? Sometimes apologize is an act of courage and true leadership.

Annunci
In evidenza

The Naked Pitcher at the “25th World Islamic Banking Conference”

We are glad to attend this important event we the aim to give also in this field a contribute in facilitating strategic opportunities,  and connecting international market players, academic and research world, startuppers and institutional investors

In the coming weeks there will be more interesting contents and full coverage during the event days. We also would like to give a special thanks to the organization for making this possible.

25th World Islamic Banking Conference Announces 4th Series of WIBC Leaderboard to Foster Global Islamic Banking

WIBC 5

Top performing Islamic Financial Institutions from Bahrain, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan, Turkey, UAE and Saudi Arabia are vying for the WIBC Awards recognizing the Best Performing Banks at the Global and Regional level.

Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain, 22 October 2018: A testament to its vision of advancing the global Islamic banking industry, the 25th World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC) will continue in its endeavor of enhancing the performance and quality of key Islamic financial institutions by means of the 4th WIBC Leaderboard.

Held under the patronage of HRH Prince Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa, The Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain and with the strategic partnership of the Central Bank of Bahrain, the World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC) will take place on November 26th, 27th & 28th at the ART Rotana Hotel in Amwaj Islands, Kingdom of Bahrain. A key highlight of the three-day forum will be the annually anticipated WIBC Performance Awards 2018, whereby industry leaders will be recognized for their excellence at the Gala Dinner on November 27, and the nominees of which have been already announced and can be viewed at: https://wibc2018.com/awards

Introduced in 2015 and forming the basis of the annual WIBC Performance Awards is the WIBC Leaderboard: a first-of-its-kind comprehensive assessment tool aimed at helping the Islamic finance industry to critically appraise the challenges and growth opportunities that lie ahead.

The WIBC Leaderboard ranks Islamic banks as compared to their key competitors at the global and regional levels, based on various robust financial and governance metrics. These metrics comprise: Financial Stability (Total Capital and Tier 1 Capital Ratios, Loan-Loss Reserves (LLR) to Gross Loans Ratio, Loan-Loss Reserves (LLR) to Non-Performing Loans (NPL) Ratio, Non-Performing Loans (NPL) to Gross Loans); Financial Performance (Return on Average Assets (ROAA), Return on Average Equity (ROAE), Cost-to-Income Ratio (CIR), Assets Growth) and Governance and Social Responsibility (Financial Disclosure Index, CSR Disclosure).

In addition to the individual metrics, banks will be ranked on the basis of an aggregate score, which forms the apex of the WIBC Leaderboard. This aggregate index holistically ranks entities on the basis of the aforementioned financial and governance measures. The data employed in creating the assessment framework has been sourced from the ICD Thomson Reuters Islamic Finance Development Indicator (IFDI) and Orbis Bank Focus.

Top performing Islamic financial institutions will be vying for 2 categories of the awards: One Global Award and Three Regional Awards for each of the following world regions: GCC, Asia and Levant. Currently, top performing Islamic banks vying for the Global Award include: Kuwait Finance House (Kuwait); Al Rajhi Bank (Saudi Arabia); Jordan Islamic Bank (Jordan); Kuwait International Bank (Kuwait); Boubyan Bank (Kuwait); Ahli United Bank (Kuwait); Warba Bank (Kuwait); PT Bank Syariah BNI (Indonesia), Maybank Islamic Berhad (Malaysia) & Dubai Islamic Bank (UAE).

Introduced as part of the 2nd WIBC Leaderboard, The Governance & CSR Award (Corporate Social Responsibility) will be a key award constituting this year’s WIBC Performance Awards, the scores of which will be aggregated as per the CSR Index and the Islamic Finance Development Indicator (IFDI). The Governance and Social Responsibility variables are extracted from the Thomson Reuters database. The innovative 25th edition will also see an Award for the Fastest Growing Bank (in terms of asset growth) to recognize an Islamic financial institution that has expanded rapidly over the last year.

Confirmed partners at The 25th WIBC so far include: Casablanca Finance City Authority, Ithmaar Bank, Khaleeji Commercial Bank (KHCB), World Gold Council, Bank ABC, Bank of Khartoum-International, First Energy Bank, Bahrain Islamic Bank (BisB), DWF, Al Baraka Banking Group, Thomson Reuters, Path Solutions, Moody’s Investor Service, Emerico, The Perth Mint, WTS Dhruva Consultants, Baker McKenzie, Eiger Trading, Department for International Trade – British Embassy Bahrain, DDCAP, Fitch Ratings, Sadad & GPS.

The theme for the 25th WIBC – “Islamic Finance & Sustainable Economic Growth in the Age of Disruption” is in line with the conference’s steady vision to serve as a compass for the global Islamic finance and banking industry, with the three-day forum expected to draw participation from over 1300 global industry leaders, policy makers, innovators and stakeholders, all focused on generating breakthrough insights that help navigate through the complexities of the global financial system.

To stay updated on the happenings of the WIBC Performance Awards, visit: https://wibc2018.com/awards

To find out more about the 25th World Islamic Banking Conference, visit: www.wibc2018.com

Join the global conversation on Twitter at: @WIBC2018 #WIBC2018 #25YearsOfWIBC

ABOUT MIDDLE EAST GLOBAL ADVISORS

Connecting markets with intelligent insights & strategic execution since 1993

 Middle East Global Advisors (MEGA) is the leading gateway connectivity and intelligence platform to Islamic finance opportunities in the rapidly developing economic region that stretches all the way from Morocco in the West to Indonesia in the East- The Middle East North Africa Southeast Asia (MENASEA) connection. For 25 years, our exclusive focus on achieving business results for the Islamic finance industry has enabled us to create significant value for the leading players in the Islamic banking, finance and investment markets.

 Visit us at www.meglobaladvisors.com

 ABOUT WORLD ISLAMIC BANKING CONFERENCE (WIBC)

The World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC) has established its reputation as the world’s largest and most influential gathering of international Islamic banking and finance leaders for over two decades. With the strategic support of the Central Bank of Bahrain, the next generation WIBC will focus on transforming Islamic finance into a global proposition by facilitating strategic opportunities, addressing systematic challenges and connecting international market players and institutional investors to the industry’s catalysts, thought leaders, partners and institutions.

To find out more, visit www.wibc2018.com

© Press Release 2018

 

In evidenza

Starting up, integrating up

COMMUNITY STARTUP

Is entrepreneurship a facilitator to cultural and social integration?

Lately, while talking with a friend who recently started up an ethnic newco in the food distribution industry, he suggested that young entrepreneurs, especially if established in foreign countries as a migrant business should make an extensive use of funding/crowdfunding platforms not just for mere financial reasons but also in order to accomplish a social and a cultural task.

Is difficult to get investors to know about us, to soundly evaluate our own specific needs and values and overcome their scepticism especially when our idea is designed mainly to serve local communities or minorities” he said.  Therefore he added “with my success I can produce value for my community and beyond, but even with my failure I’ll spread my cultural and entrepreneurial values and I’ll get more and more people and potential investor to know and appreciate them; I’ll make it easier for myself and for future entrepreneurs like me”

The same happens for some interesting Muslim startups reported troubles in tapping capital sources from investors that can fully understand Shariah rules and appropriately value their markets.

This sometimes impairs value creation within the territory where those startups act, because they just don’t have some appropriate partners providing services overthere.

Entrepreneurship therefore can represent a way to overcome problems and favourite integration, and forums, angel investors, mainstream VC and equity-based financing can probably in this case boost this process much better than other traditional financing channels.

And this is important, because entrepreneurship is inherently a growth, transcultural and transborder factor for society, because for its nature believes in value creation, communication with an always larger base of consumers, growth through partnership etc etc

We all know, 9 times out of 10 starting up isn’t successful at all. What we do with this stories? We learn from failure, is the most common answer. For ethnic, migrant community and minority entrepreneurship probably there is an extra value and meaning to learn, even from their stories of failure, and this extra value to be learned is about starting a “mind the gap/close the gap” process.

Investing in a migrant or minority startup represents in facts a higher risk from investor’s perspective. There is a cultural gap to overcome. Their “traditional” questions to every startupper are:

  1. Is this idea viable/feasible?
  2. Will it be enough to overcome customer laziness?

For a community or an ethnic startup, the typical additional questions are:

  1. Are we culturally prepared to understand the value of this proposal
  2. Is this consistent and compatible with our rules and regulations
  3. Is this niche-market big enough for getting the expected reward?
  4. Will it ever be bigger (will this product of service ever become a mainstream one)?

…and sometimes these additional questions are likely to completely stop the process.

However, not always this way to think is correct as well as not necessarily an ethnic startup represents a riskier activity. For the same reasons, serving a market niche is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if that niche gives the access attractive, uncontested blue ocean and the proposed idea is really innovative.

Therefore, using a mainstream funding platform, a crowdfunding platform etc can represent a way to make it easier for you and for the future entrepreneurs who will accept the challenge, because this tools generally give to the ethnic, migrant and minority startuppers the possibility to tell their stories, exchange their point of views with other entrepreneurs, to get investors more familiar with their business views, with the values they are trying  to carry in their business plans.

Tell always your story, then!!! And, most of all, the difficulties you experienced.

Every entrepreneur should get the same chances of presenting their idea and of being objectively evaluated for the value of their plans.

To make this chance of integration trough entrepreneurship something more than a dream, such a kind of startups certainly need more than others:

  • To have a special assistance on their business plan, not providing generic models but taylor-made ones;
  • to get some clear specifications regarding the different legal and juridical forms for a start ‐up, and related issues i.e. from fiscal responsibility point of view;
  • to gain the access to funding platforms able to give space for their stories and connecting them properly with potential investors;
  • to get incubation services able to encourage a cross fertilization process between entrepreneurs sharing different ideas and cultures, avoiding isolation and dangerous monocultural approaches;
  • to obtain the access to training services to acquire an appropriate financial culture and the possibility to adopt suitable financial products.
In evidenza

The secrets behind a product specification

What is a Product Specification?

Is what makes you stay tuned with customers’ problem.

The official way to define sounds something like: “a document that provides critical defining information about a product and a full set of requirements; it may include images that visually illustrate the product and note distinguishing characteristics”

inizio target

So product specification is what makes you sure to hit the target with your business idea.

You simply cannot wait for customer request. They will be:

 

THE MIST

generic (what your customer is telling you likely will be reported to your competitors too)

misleading because of information asymmetries (f.i. about new technologies they don’t know/use)

chaotic and full with expressed but also with unexpressed/implicit requirements (obvious for them, not necessarily for you!!!)

not innovative (customer is lazy and used to what is already standing in the market, you are the innovator!!!!)

So to get out of the “customer mist” you need to be proactive and anticipate customer requests; and in order to do that you have to:

write down a one- page product specification (there are endless models on the net to use for this purpose)

ask different people with different roles in your company to do the same exercise.

You will soon realize that also in your company there are many ways to see and describe the product and to write down its requirements, its structure, the operations/processes behind it.

TRE VISIONI

 

Don’t get scared and work as a team, constantly asking yourself:

  • What are we building and why/for who?

  • What kind of customer problem we have in mind to fix?

  • What we want to achieve? How the final product will look like?

  • How we can reasonably and reliably measure its success?

You’ll then realize that your ideas will finally start to converge. Welcome back to your company’s purest pirit: its vision!!!

CONVERGENZA

Having a product specification (the sooner, the better) in the early stage of firm development will help you to:

-reducing costs and investements;

-establishing a moreclear and productive relationship with partners (f.i supply chain, outsourcers, etc);

-reducing risks;

– getting quickly and efficiently customer attention and trust

-having a guarantee of customer satisfaction

 

…AND FEEDBACK!!!

inizio target

Yes because, through the specification, you can start a continuous process of improvement and optimization, getting precise and punctual feedback by partners and customers.

In evidenza

L’ombra del caso, prossimi appuntamenti

L'ombra del caso.Bellavista_prima_preview-1

 

Le prossime presentazioni:

  • Milano 19-10-2018 posti esauriti
  • Roma,   09-11-2018 ore 18.00 Bookstore del Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Via Milano 15/17, all’angolo con via Nazionale
  • Roma Fiera nazionale della piccola e media editoria di Roma (5-9 dicembre 2018)
  • Fringe Festival di Roma (7-28 gennaio 2019)

Grazie a tutti per il supporto e gli incoraggiamenti ricevuti!!!

 

 

How to make powerful investor pitches

 

Elevator pitch

I recently attended several investor pitch competitions, and came away from them all feeling that none of the pitches gave me what I’d need to be interested as a potential investor.  So, I began to think about what might be the elements of the best, most powerful investor pitch.

I spoke with a selection of Angel Investors to learn what they look for in an investor pitch, and what causes them to want to look more deeply into a potential investment.  The following elements are those that were mentioned by all of the investors I spoke to, and so I feel are the elements that not only attract stakeholders, but represent the most powerful investor pitches.

Value Proposition.  This is a term in business parlance that most everyone talks about like they know what they are talking about, but generally get wrong.  A simple, clear definition, and the way it should be discussed in an investor pitch, goes like this.  Every problem is an opportunity for a creative solution.  So first, describe what the problem (the opportunity) is.  Now, all opportunities have a current solution.  So next, tell your audience what the current solution is.  Because yours is a better approach, tell them next what your solution is and why it’s better, faster or cheaper.  Follow this up with what you need to execute.  Make this a punchy, staccato overall statement that doesn’t take more than two minutes to present, and at the end of those two minutes the investor completely understands what you are doing.

Management Team.  Investors don’t invest in products or services.  They invest in people, because it’s people who make the business happen…or not.  So, sell the management team as full-time, committed and passionate people who intend to make this business happen.  Don’t forget to also discuss the team’s collateral resources, like a value-add Board of Advisors, who can bring an immense amount of credibility to the overall management team.

unicorn

Market.  Investors are attracted to large, primary markets, although niche markets can be interesting because they often represent an underserved audience.  Investors like markets that are growing because it’s easier to enter a growing market.  Because market share is a zero-sum game, when a new company enters a market and begins to get sales, it is accumulating share, and that share is coming at the expense of another competitor.  But, if the market is growing, that competitor’s sales may actually be increasing.  If that’s the case, he may not take immediate action to thwart your efforts.  And, that all you need: time – time to accumulate strength so that you can more effectively respond when he does come after you.

Financials.  Frankly, financials are much less important than most people think.  Investors know that the management team doesn’t have a crystal ball and the numbers are no more than a projection.  However, they do have to be addressed.  What investors will take notice in though is a management team’s discussion of a clear path to profitability and positive cash flow.  That tells investors that the financial projections have been thought about and might be more than a simple guess.

Technology.  If technology is involved, and it generally is with today’s new companies, describe the technology as both proprietary and protected.  Software, for example, can be protected by trade secret.

Finally, enthusiasm is infectious.  Said another way, there’s absolutely no way that you can get a potential investor enthusiastic about the prospects of your new company unless you first are enthusiastic yourself.  So, include these five things in your investor pitch and exude passion and enthusiasm, and you will have a much more powerful investor pitch than any I listened to at the competitions I attended.

William Rossi is Professor Emeritus of Entrepreneurship at the University of Florida, having taught at both in the undergraduate and graduate Entrepreneurship Program there for 15 years.  Prior to teaching, Professor Rossi initially held several senior level positions with Ford, Goodrich and Picker International.  After relocating to Florida in 1986, Rossi worked in executive management positions in smaller entrepreneurial companies and was a principal in several.  Rossi holds a Master of Science degree in Operations Research from the University of Massachusetts and an undergraduate degree in mechanical and industrial engineering from Ohio University.

 

Quality, ISO 9000, QSM, what is what? (Quality concepts made simple)

by Ouijdane El Arabi (A graduate of the national school of management and trade Oujda Morocco, a current student in EMUNI University Slovenia in Euro-mediterranean entrepreneurship diploma (EMED). Worked previously in several non profit organizations but also interned in many businesses.

quality systems 

ISO 9001, quality, QSM quality management, certification… Many terms and concepts that have been talked about for the last 10 years and many new entrepreneurs, managers, business students and public get mixed between these concepts and others and find it hard to understand exactly what is about!

In this article we will explain in very simple words what quality is about and what are the most important concepts that we have to know about as students, consumers, entrepreneurs, present or future managers.

Quality, is it about price or about the best product in the market?

Quality can be defined by the International Standards Organization (called also ISO) in ISO 9000 (2015) as “degree to which a set of inherent characteristics  of an object  fulfils requirements

In other very simple words, quality is the degree of which the organization presents the object (product, service, process, system…) the way it was exactly demanded by the customer.

The concept of quality is dedicated towards the customer and not for the businesses or for the marketing as lot of people think

Before continuing on other concepts I must clarify something: A Product coming from China is not a product of a small quality, and another product coming from Germany is not a product of a high quality In fact there is NO high , medium or small quality: There is only QUALITY or  0 QUALITY (or NO quality). It all depends on what the customer REQUIRES.

For example if, as a customer,  I am asking for a pink long sleeves shirt with a high black neck made of pure cotton  and there are 3 companies telling me that they have what I want, when I go and meet with the sales managers of the two businesses I found out that:

Company A’s offer Company B’ offer Company C’ offer
A PINK T-SHIRT with a  high neck made of cotton A PINK SHIRT with HIGH BLACK NECK made of cotton A GREEN shirt with high GREEN neck made of polyester

So, after reviewing the 3 offers, I figure that Company B is the one who executed what I required: that is QUALITY

Companies A & C have offered different things than what I required: that is 0 QUALITY or NO QUALITY.

And of course the quality issue depends on what I want as a customer, how I want it, when and using which tools.

This subject is strictly related to another important and critical topic, especially for startups and SMES’: writing down product specifications, written statements of an item’s required characteristics, documented in a manner that facilitate its procurement or production and acceptance. Understanding the real meaning of quality assurance and writing down accurate product specifications, may represent the key to success for many firms.

QMS, certifications what are these concepts ?

A quality management system (QMS) on the other hand is a set of policies, requirements, standards, rules needed to accomplish the execution, production through a particular process in the company.

For example, ISO 22301 (business continuity) is a standard to create a BCMS (Business continuity management system).

We hear often that the organization X or the Process Y is certified ISO 9001, and we often do not understand what it means or how it can help us as customers. First of all,  the term certification or conformity is a set of processes that show your product, service or system meets the requirements based on ISO’s definition. So when we say that X or Y are certified means that they follow the requirements of a standard (ISO 9001 for eg).

In very simple words, it means that the organization respects the rules of ISO 9001 in making a certain product, service or system. This is verified by an independent, third party competent Organization (http://www.bulltek.com/registrar_assistance/registrarassistance.html). Anyhow, you can internally use the standard references as a guideline even without being certified”

ISO 9001, 27001, 22000,14000…., what is the difference ?

Each of these standards is designed in most cases for a particular type of industry, service… Let’s see which is which:

ISO 9000: is related to quality management (ISO 9001 means that the business have respected the quality required by the customer from the very first stages of concepts to the very last steps of production and beyond. ISO 9002 means that quality was respected from the production till the after sales services….)

  • ISO 22000 is about food safety management
  • ISO 27001 is related to data and information management
  • ISO 14000 is related to environmental management
  • ISO 4217 is a standard for currency codes.

The list goes on and on (please check the ISO website for popular standards https://www.iso.org/popular-standards.html ) , and ISO has put a standard for various numbers of disciplines, industries and areas and that are very specific, however ISO 9000 is one of the standards that can be applicable to every industry or process and has become very important in many aspects of business life.

How can ISO 9000 helps my business as an entrepreneur?

Being certified as ISO 9000 family does help the organizations in many ways:

  • Works positively towards image building and good reputation of the business.
  • Gives quality insurance to the customer.
  • Facilitates having funds and cooperation.
  • Facilitates growth capital and the search for new shareholders and investors.
  • Positions the business I a good rank when compared with competitors.
  • Keeps a continuous track of the business audit (Please check DR Max’s article about audit and quality).
  • The employees are very concerned of the customers, so they keep being dynamic towards customer helping and customer services.
  • The business is up to date and has numerous actions towards its inner and external business environment.

 

 

“No” just means “Next”.

by William J. Rossi

ADVISORY BOARD

Powering Up Your Team

The quality of a management team is the single most key determinant of business success.  Following are some tips to assessing, restructuring and powering up your business team.

The Importance of the Management Team. 

First, of the things that most attract investors to a company, a quality management team is nearly always quoted as the most key element.  It trumps product and market in almost every survey.  The reason: a great team can take a mediocre product and make it successful, while a mediocre team can fail with a great product.  A survey conducted by Profit Dynamics among 262 professional investors evidences this notion.  When asked in this survey what factors most influenced the decision to invest, management quality ranked #1 among all responses.  Others like market size and proprietary technology were seen as important, but paled in significance to management quality.  When asked the reasons that most drove the decision to decline investment, again lack of an experienced management team ranked #1 by a wide margin in the response of these investors.

So, what constitutes a quality management team?  The response of these professional investors was overwhelming: it means experience, track record.

While other qualities were mentioned like integrity, vision and dedication, only 17% of respondents did not include successful experience as one of the most key components.  While it’s clear that experience counts the most, those starters among you who haven’t yet achieved that track record should not be discouraged.  A flexible management team, one that recognizes its shortcomings and is willing to recruit the right team members, was quoted a close second. 

Fine Tuning the Team.

The first step in upgrading a management team is to assess both your current talents and your needs.  This has to be an honest assessment.  Remember, investors want to know either that you have the requisite experience, or that you know that you need it and are flexible to get it.  If you find that current talents don’t meet your needs, consider the following in restructuring the team.

  • Be expert in your industry. Focusing on whether you have significant, demonstrated experience in your industry is especially valuable.  Lack of recognized expertise is killer both in terms of directing the company and in securing investment.
  • Drive diversification of disciplines. No company can survive with only techies.  Even Apple has marketing and finance people.  Make sure that the functional disciplines requisite in your business are resident on the team.
  • Mix and match thinking types. Try to incorporate both linear thinkers along with visionaries. Visionaries are creative people and come up with initiatives to take the business in new directions.  Linear thinkers will concern themselves with what has to be done this month to insure that you are there next month to do all those cool, visionary things.
  • Encourage disagreement. While it might be comfortable to have people who always agree with you, make sure you have people who are willing to disagree with you.  Challenging the current thinking of any management team is always healthy.
  • Arm yourself to attract the right, new people. In talking to prospective team members, sell the company and its value proposition.  Remember, this is an investment.  While investors invest their money, new team members are investing their careers.  Sell the current team as this is marriage of sorts.

Advisory Board – Power in a Package.

 An advisory board is not a legal entity, and has no fiduciary or financial responsibility.  It simply operates at the discretion of the company to advise the company in its areas of expertise.  This a critically important, collateral element of the management team, and can provide powerful leverage in both operating and financing capacities.  Populated with people of recognized experience, your board brings instant credibility to the company.

In terms of recruiting an advisory board:

  • Mine your contacts for introductions. If you knew the right people to get, you wouldn’t need contacts.  But, most don’t.  So, rely on your contacts.
  • Don’t be bashful. There’s nothing wrong with cold calls to identified prospects.  The worst that can happen is that the prospect says “no”.  Like in sales, “no” just means “next”.
  • Aim high for demonstrated experience, but be reasonable. Apple’s Tim Cook likely won’t have the time to help you.

Finally, once you have an advisory board, use it.  Have regular meetings and listen to your advisors.  If you decide against taking a suggestion, (since, of course, it’s your business) explain why so that they know you are paying attention and their guidance is valued.

In conclusion, the quality of the management team is critical for both company direction and financing.  Experience counts the most, but willingness to recruit the right team is a close second.  An advisory board can be a powerful addition to any business team if populated and used intelligently.

William Rossi is Professor Emeritus of Entrepreneurship at the University of Florida, having taught at both in the undergraduate and graduate Entrepreneurship Program there for 15 years.  Prior to teaching, Professor Rossi initially held several senior level positions with Ford, Goodrich and Picker International.  After relocating to Florida in 1986, Rossi worked in executive management positions in smaller entrepreneurial companies and was a principal in several.  Rossi holds a Master of Science degree in Operations Research from the University of Massachusetts and an undergraduate degree in mechanical and industrial engineering from Ohio University.

Want to write a paper? Start at the end!!!

 

PAPER

Writing a paper is surely hard, but it’s also a matter of technique.

When you have to write a paper try to make upside-down the rules you find on the net or in manuals and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Want I’m I willing to demonstrate? (your paper mission)
  2. Write down a statement: something more than a title something less than an abstract. Exactly like a synopsis which appears on back cover or inside-flap summary of a novel: it’s supposed to be a brief summary of the major points of your subject, like a condensation of a to-be work. In the statement both the topic and the point of the paper should find place.
  3. How does it look? Then imagine your paper/thesis title is a product to launch: are you able to write down a title and a pay-off in less than 200 characters?
  4. Now that you have a title and a goals let’s reverse engineer it, work on the index. If you don’t have an index, you do not have a structure: if you do not have a structure we are not talking about a paper but of a word salad. Index is also very important in getting the global picture, have at least an estimate of paper’s size.
  5. A method: now and at least for some time ahead you are a writer: so behave as one of them and develop your best writing habit. Generally speaking, unless you are writing a novel, the more you write the better it is. 10% is inspiration, 90% is discipline. If you are writing a paper as a group, fine tuning this stuff request even more attention.
  6. The introduction: please grab immediately reader’s attention. The introduction isn’t there to tell how good you are or how deep is your knowledge on a specific field. It’s there instead to describe” the door” from which you entered into a specific field, zooming progressively towards paper topic. Don’t’ loose the attention of the reader in the really beginning but instead bring him/her with you!!!
  7. The body: it’s time to split the index into chapters and paragraphs and sharing them with your paper coordinators and reviewers: the sooner and the better. Try to share with them a schedule about the delivery of single parts: if accepted that would help a lot because if you’ll get a much quicker feedback. Better to mess with a chapter or some paragraph than with the all work!!
  8. The schedule is also important in order to other 2 aspects: a) respecting deadlines b) assessing writing effort. If you are writing you cannot research or read sources. How can you efficiently organize your daily life to reach your final objective?
  9. The conclusion: conclusion isn’t either a kind of final exhortation or something that sounds like “and they all lived happily ever after (and I’m happy too because I’ve finished) it’s what remains an echo in your reader’s brain; did you get and prove your goal?: answer to the following questions: a) conclusion confirm the initial statement? Briefly Review your main points; b) are they relevant and why I so? c) what’s next? What would you do to move the subject further?
  10. Do not review your work immediately: if you finished and still have time, take a break. After some days it will be easy to review it objectively and more efficiently.
  11. Ask then yourself the following question: does it work? Try to make a 10 slides ppt presentation. Can you pitch your paper in five minutes?
  12. Sources: work well on sources, mentioning all of them in a comprehensive way.