Monday, October 30, 2006

Using a virtual taskforce to keep CR relevant at Sky

The corporate responsibility team at Sky is aided by a CR steering group and "virtual taskforce" to ensure its CR efforts are constantly in tune with the business needs. The following 10 points outline the responsibilities and benefits of the taskforce. Would this successful model work in your organization?

1. At a board and executive level, the CR Steering Group (CRSG) provides leadership and drives corporate responsibility practices.

2. The CRSG is supported on the ground by a taskforce of senior operational managers that works to embed responsible business practices throughout the diverse range of functions within Sky. The taskforce was established in 2004 with approximately 12 initial members, but the virtual nature of the taskforce has enabled its growth to some 50 people.

3. The taskforce is supported and guided by the CR department, bringing relevant areas of the business together to address issues.

4. It meets periodically around core management activities such as risk workshops and diagnostic sessions and has proved to be most successful as a more virtual entity that interacts with the CR department and CRSG to address key issues.

5. The day-to-day integration and management of CR business practices are run as part of the general function of operating areas.

6. The taskforce provides an internal framework to help ensure CR activities remain relevant for the business and for its stakeholders.

7. Taking action to deliver against commitments and performance indicators is another key role of the taskforce.

8. Annual commitments are set with input from the taskforce in light of findings from consultation, risk assessment processes and issues tracking.

9. Keeping those commitments simple helps to focus the business on what it needs to deliver. In the last year Sky has trimmed the number of commitments set in order to focus on the key issues for the business.

10. The nature of the commitments enables the business to apply them to existing initiatives and new opportunities as they arise throughout the year, therefore maximizing action from the business.

For more information on Sky's corporate responsibility work, visit:


Blogged on 11:40 PM by Upay



Your subconscious mind will believe anything you tell it - if you repeat the words often and with conviction. When you are faced with a daunting task that you have never attempted before, focus on the potential for success, not on the possibilities for failure. Break the job down into smaller elements and takle each one separately. The only difference between success and failure in any job is your attitude toward it.

Napoleon Hill

Blogged on 11:34 PM by Upay



Thursday, July 06, 2006

Defining corporate culture

23 June 2006

Corporate culture can be a key source of competitive advantage - but how do you define it?

According to Paul Sanchez, global director, organization research and effectiveness at Mercer Human Resource Consulting, corporate culture can be defined as the sum total of how an organization accomplishes all that it has to do to fulfill its purpose or mission. This definition covers an organization’s operational procedures as well as the standards, behavioral norms and deep-rooted values that underpin them.

Culture as "enduring personality"
“All the overt and subtle patterns of behavior in organizations weave themselves together to create an unmistakable personality and identity,” explains Sanchez. “This enduring personality or abiding culture is a deeply embedded cause of an organization’s capacity not only to cope in challenging times, but also to thrive and prosper. In other words, an organization’s culture is key to its success or failure.”

Five windows on culture
Sanchez identifies five constructs that offer insights into the heart of an organization to form the basis of a cultural audit focused on developing an understanding of the workings of an organization. “These characteristics can be observed from the outside and assessed by those on the inside as ways in which employees behave and respond,” he explains. They are:

1. Achievement – the collective and individual drive to produce results.

2. Environment – whether an organization has a process- or outcome-driven approach to accomplishing work.

3. Perspective – whether it is traditional or innovative.

4. Power – whether it is shared or retained.

5. Risk – whether it is avoided or encouraged.

“This model resulted from collective thinking based on actual experience and the theory of organizational dynamics,” explains Sanchez. “Because these are working constructs, they give the organization a lever with which to shape its culture.”

Sanchez uses the five constructs as the basis of a diagnostic instrument that includes organization-wide surveys and workshops comprising groups of senior management, middle management and employees “The responses provide a snapshot of the organization’s culture,” he explains.

Further reading from Melcrum:
This is an extract from the Melcrum report, Driving a high-performance corporate culture


Blogged on 12:38 AM by Upay



Is wholesale culture change really required?

23 June 2006

South Africa-based consultancy The AA Group say the very idea of “managing corporate culture” leads organizations to plan changes that are far more wide-ranging than is actually necessary.

Most organizations only need to modify their existing culture rather than change it totally. Change is far more likely to be successful if it builds on the existing culture and values.

Five alternatives to wholesale change
The AA Group suggests five ways to consider shaping organizational culture as an alternative to wholesale change:

  • Clarifying – Revisiting existing cultural values and providing reassurance of their continued importance to the organization.
  • Emphasizing – Prioritizing certain key values within the organization in reaction to the external environment.
  • Redefining – Bringing in new practices that support an existing value.
  • Building – Giving weight and meaning to an existing value that hasn’t yet been fully internalized by the organization.
  • Creating – Creating new values or replacing existing values that are no longer relevant.

Set realistic time scales
Think carefully about the timescale you set for achieving your objectives. James O’Toole, author of Vanguard Management: Redesigning the Corporate Future, says companies attempt culture change in one of two ways: through revolution or evolution. Attempts at revolution are most certain to fail. An organization’s culture is formed over many years of company history through people’s shared experiences and its future culture will be formed in the same way.

If you’re being asked to help deliver change to short time scales (i.e. less than a year), either the objectives being set are unrealistic or you’re back in the arena of more simple, short-term behavior change rather than a major culture change.

Further reading from Melcrum:
This is an extract from the Melcrum report, Driving a high-performance corporate culture


Blogged on 12:37 AM by Upay



Succession Planning, an Acquired Skill

New York-based drug manufacturer Pfizer has had systematic succession planning in place for at least well over a decade, but that doesn’t preclude it from having to deal with new challenges to the process. The latest hurdle it’s had to meet is integrating newly acquired employees into its succession plan, says vice president, global talent development Chris Altizer.

"Because the organization is in pretty much continual flux after going through two major acquisitions, the whole concept of knowing your talent becomes a fundamentally different exercise," he points out. Namely, it means the company needed to revise how it thinks about possible successors. Instead of thinking about a neat list of replacements for particular jobs, it had to learn to be more adaptable. "Being more flexible in terms of [asking ourselves about] not just a specific job, but what is a role, and how similar are these roles in terms of scope and scale and then the criteria required below that," Altizer says.

Tracking talent for possible succession is not easy since 50 to 60 percent of the 156-year-old company is composed of employees that joined in just the last six years following the acquisition of former competitors Warner-Lambert in 2000 and Pharmacia in 2003. What used to be certain in terms of the composition of in-house talent is no longer such a sure thing. "In '98 or '99, the senior leaders of this organization could sit around a table and they generally knew the talent, so the robustness of assessment and documentation probably not so much," says Altizer of the need, or lack thereof, back then for highly structured succession planning. One way the company is adapting is by putting together common criteria for senior positions. "You get a company of our size, you have so many jobs that are similar at senior levels," he notes. "You have to get down to the roles, and the folks who are qualified to perform in that role. So, even if the job changes somewhat, our assessments and predictions of their ability to be effective don’t change that much."

Early communication with employees from the newly acquired company also helps. When the Pharmacia acquisition occurred, Pfizer took a direct approach with its new additions. "The statement from the very beginning was, 'This is an acquisition by Pfizer; it is not a merger of equals, and there is a place for people who want to be here,' " Altizer says. Sending a message to new talent that they can be successful if they are willing to work on their new parent company’s terms did the trick. "When we look at several of the very successful senior leaders we have today, several of them are from Pharmacia," he notes.

The first step toward integrating new employees into your talent management program following an acquisition is obtaining information from your new subsidiary on the employees it has identified as "high potential," Altizer says. "We would look at their assessments of their high potential talent, and we would ascribe a degree of credibility to those." In a strategy Pfizer referred to as "high touch," he explains, it spoke with Pharmacia’s most senior leaders about high potentials, and then made a point of reaching out to those employees. "The whole point was to let them know they were valued," he says, "and while whatever position they were in may or may not be the position they would be in [at Pfizer], if there was a place for them to be, we were going to work to make it happen."

See Training's July issue for more on succession planning.

source: Inside Learning - Training Magazine

Blogged on 12:07 AM by Upay



Wednesday, July 05, 2006


TDF e-Net recently spoke with Lou Russell, president and CEO of Russell Martin & Associates and the author of IT Leadership Alchemy (Prentice Hall, 2002) and Leadership Training (ASTD, 2003), about some of the most effective ways to lead staff, project teams, and even oneself through burnout.

Here's what she had to say:

TDF E-NET: What creates stress and burnout in teams?

Russell: One reason people get overwhelmed, stressed and burned out -- especially in today’s business environment -- is that they have too much to do. And when that happens, it makes them feel inadequate because they are constantly facing the fact that they're "not good enough."

In addition, team projects are so different nowadays. Look at trainers, for example. Five to 10 years ago, we used to schedule a two-day project-management class by putting it on the calendar once a month for 12 months. Every time, the class would have the same format and supplies –- and that, alone, was a full-time job.

That world is so gone.

Today, trainers are balancing so many things. We are delivering performance improvement in addition to learning. Our world and our jobs have become infinitely more complex. To do anything, we have to get a whole bunch of people together -- leadership, stakeholders, learners, managers, SMEs, etc. -- and work with everyone effectively. At any given time, we may be juggling everything from a training component and an e-learning component to facilitation, assessments, posttests and pretests. And there is huge pressure to deliver ROI (and rightly so).

What typically happens is that people who are new to the industry just write everything they need to do on a "to-do" list that has 5,000 tasks on it and they never get through a single day feeling like they are making any progress because, for every 10 tasks they cross off on any given day, they add 20 more to the list.

TDF E-NET: What are some ways that training professionals can help teams to minimize stress and burnout?


  • Prioritize and delegate. A big part of managing stress is having the ability to manage what is important to you; understanding, realistically, how long things take to get done; and delegating. So, help team members to focus on the project as a whole rather than on the individual tasks associated with the project and help them to put everything together so that their focus is on the project and the next thing that absolutely needs to be done. In other words, team members need to prioritize instead of trying to manage 5,000 different things at a time. They'll not only work better by doing so, they'll also feel better about delegating work to other people instead of trying to take care of everything themselves.

  • Acknowledge the elephant in the room. One of the most important things you can do when dealing with team stress and burnout is to acknowledge the fact that they exist. If a team member is burned out, he wants someone to say, 'Wow. You are really going through a rough time right now.'

    Problem is, everyone is going through a rough time right now and everyone is waiting for someone to say the same thing to her. Thus, we end up in situations where no one on a team is acknowledging the stress of others or empathizing with them. And if the whole team is mad and stressed out and feels that no one appreciates them, you're going to have burnout.

    To solve this problem, trainers can go into the team environment and almost do corporate therapy. Just spending an hour listening to the team and acknowledging what team members are going through can be very powerful.

  • Create a team to-do list. As the trainer, go in, sit down with each team member one-on-one and create a spreadsheet that lists everything that needs to be done. Based on that list, ask, "Realistically, how much do you need to do? How much can you delegate?"

    Once everyone has created a spreadsheet, merge the individual spreadsheets of the entire team together and display the completed document for all to see so that every team member understands what his or her colleagues are up against. That way, people will be much more likely to ask for help from -- and give help to -- other team members when it's needed.

    You can also put the to-do list to use by leveraging it as a conversation-starter with team members’ bosses and managers when asking for resources that the team might need.
Russell will present the "Learning Leadership Certificate Program" as part of Training magazine's Training Live and Online series of online certificate programs. The program shows participants the most "effective ways to lead while allowing the people one leads to master their own skills and continue to grow." The next start date for Russell's six-week online certificate program is September 8, 2006. Visit the above URL to learn more or to register.

Blogged on 11:54 PM by Upay



Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Vital statistics: 44% increase in international assignments by multinational companies

According to a new survey by Mercer Human Resource Consulting, a global HR and financial advisor, 44% of 200 multinational firms questioned report an increase in the number of international assignments to and from locations other than the headquarters over the past two years. Much of the increase in the number of international assignments is due to the widespread use of short-term placements which have become more prevalent over the past few years. According to survey findings, while the vast majority of multinational companies (84%) place employees on short-term assignments, only about half (56%) have a formal policy for this type of assignment.

"Short-term assignments are generally more cost-effective than long-term assignments and they allow companies to transfer skill sets quickly and easily. However, for short-term assignments to be successful, companies need to develop well-defined policies to manage costs and limit risks," said Yvonne Sonsino, a principal with Mercer in London. Incentives and cultural support Only 22% of companies say they do not provide mobility premiums as an incentive for international assignments.

However, far more companies provide these premiums systematically for long-term assignments (73%) than for short-term assignments (31%). Gareth Williams, a worldwide partner in Mercer’s Chicago office, said: "One of the main reasons that assignments fail is because expatriates and their families cannot successfully adjust to their new environment. Companies are recognizing the importance of providing support in advance of employee moves. Investment in language and cultural training, for example, can dramatically improve the chance that the international assignment will be successful."Other Mercer survey findings related to trends in international assignment programs include:

· The proportion of female expatriates has increased significantly, from 8% five years ago to 13%. North America and Asia/Pacific lead this trend. Females now account for 14% of the expatriate assignments of companies based in Asia/Pacific, compared with 9% five years ago.
· 72% of the survey participants provide language tuition and 60% of companies provide cross-cultural training, but the critical process of integration once in the host country is typically left to employees.
· Globally, 42% of companies provide expatriates with free housing, but for North American companies, the figure is just 22%.
· Some 50% of companies include spouse support in their international assignments policy; 11% do not have a policy but are developing one, and 12% handle spouse issues on a case-by-case basis.
· While the majority of companies surveyed believe they have a general understanding of the cost of their international assignments, only a few are in a position to measure the specific expense, resulting value, and, ultimately, return on investment from such postings.

More information about Mercer’s 2005/2006 International Assignments Survey can be found here.

source: the source Melcrum

Blogged on 11:15 AM by Upay



Top Tips: Engineering green product design

By Richard Miller, Cyrstal Faraday

It can be hard to push the challenges of sustainability up the strategic agenda. Here, Richard Miller gives five top tips on moving forward with green product design at your organization.
While everyone wants to be part of a business with a future, the discussion on sustainability often seems to consist mostly of negatives; things that threaten your business.

Issues such as this must be dealt with, but they don't look like they will bring any competitive advantage and it's hard to get senior executives excited about sustainability.

However, a growing number of companies have created genuine competitive advantage by developing new products and services that reduce environmental impact whilst maintaining or improving economic, technical and social performance - what has come to be called Green Product Design.

Innovating with design

Crystal Faraday is the UK innovation centre for green chemical technology. We're here to unite industry, academics and government around a common purpose - to make industry more profitable and society more environmentally sustainable through chemistry and engineering. Over the last 12 months we've been developing a structured approach to green product design suitable for industries making and using chemical products. We've found that one of the key challenges is to develop the right mindset.

Successful green product design uses similar tools to any other innovation process. The main difference is in the questions that are asked and the point of view from which concepts are developed and evaluated. We have found the following ideas a powerful way of challenging conventional thinking and opening up the opportunities.

Environmental issues are not just overhead, they represent real commercial opportunities. IBM estimates that from 1996-2002 it saved $2 in avoided costs for every $1 invested in pollution prevention and green product design.

Don't just fix the problem, re-think the system. The Swiss textile company Rohner Textil had problems with waste and emissions from their factory. Rather than install treatment systems, they re-designed the product range to use only natural fibres and low toxicity chemicals and processing. The Climatex Lifestyle range meets all user requirements whilst producing almost no effluent and leaving only biodegradable waste.

There is no waste, only raw materials. Squalane is a high value cosmetic ingredient traditionally obtained from shark liver oil, an unsustainable source. Uniqema were able to produce squalane from a by-product of the olive oil industry. During the process, the rest of the by-product was upgraded to a saleable material. All of the 'waste' was converted into something with commercial value.

You can have both lower impact and higher customer value. The Dow Sentricon termite colony eliminator puts the toxic bait exactly where it is needed and protects it from weather and exposure to people and domestic animals. The amount of pesticide needed is reduced by a factor of 1000 giving a safer, cheaper and more effective product.

Think about the whole lifecycle. What happens both upstream and downstream of your operations? You may be able to innovate to solve problems for your customers and create new market opportunities. A new label adhesive was developed for high speed bottling lines that was not only safer in use, it also made recycling of used PET drinks bottles faster and less costly, increasing the value of the PET scrap.

Visit Crystal Faraday

Blogged on 10:11 AM by Upay



Vital Statistics: Labor issues in the computer industry
By Bart Slob, SOMO

A recent Mail on Sunday report into alleged labor issues at iPod factories has added fuel to the growing debate of factory workers' rights in countries such as China.
Earlier this year the Center for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) published a report on labor issues in the wider information and communications technology (ICT) sector that covers consumer electronics products such as desktop and notebook computers.

Going with the territory

The ICT sector is characterized by high levels of outsourcing to countries including China and Taiwan, with major brand name companies including Acer and Fujitsu-Siemens outsourcing major parts of their production process to contract manufacturers who then sub-contract. Here, SOMO's Bart Slob identifies seven key statistics of the research.

Nine Taiwanese and Chinese contract manufacturer factories for Acer and Fujitsu-Siemens were researched for the SOMO report. At these factories, ICT products were also being manufactured for nine other companies – also called original equipment manufacturers or OEMs – including: Dell, Apple, HP, Sony, Philips, Lenovo, Nokia, Microsoft and IBM. These companies often use the so-called "barebone" strategy, meaning to reduce lead times they purchase almost readymade computers from contract manufacturers (CMs) and add modules such as hard drives, RAM and other optional accessories closer to consumer markets.

Brands use different CMs to ensure constant supply but a relatively small number of CMs supply to nearly all the leading OEMs. In fact, in 2004, Quanta and Compal, two of the world's largest original design manufacturers (ODMs - meaning they own the intellectual rights to the designs of the products but they also use contract manufacturers), manufactured some 54.4 percent of all notebook computers available on the world market.

Many of the OEM brands sell near identical computers with identical specifications. For example, the same barebone notebook computers are used for some models in the Acer Aspire, Hitachi Flora, Dell Smartstep and the Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo ranges.

Factory issues

Across the original nine factories it researched, SOMO uncovered the following issues:
Excessive hours: During peak production season, workers have 12-hour days, six days a week.
However, at one contract manufacturer in China, workers complained of not having a single day off for several months.

Wages of most workers at the factories researched by SOMO are insufficient to cover expenses related to food, let alone rent, clothing and education. In four factories researched in China, basic wages are below the local minimum wage.

Health and safety: Workers in the sector often have to work with hazardous materials and substances without proper protection or health and safety measures. In the factories researched, there were 10 different complaints related to working conditions: excessive hours, work-related stress, noise, poor ergonomics, chemical exposure, skin allergies, respiration problems, noise hazards, dizziness and nausea.

After the thorough shake-up caused by Catholic Agency for Overseas development’s (CAFOD) “clean up your computer” campaign in 2004, some companies began acknowledging the labor issues in their supply chains. In late 2004, several leading companies developed the Electronic Industry Code of Conduct (EICC). The code is currently endorsed by HP, IBM, Dell, Cisco, Intel, Microsoft, Sony, some key contract manufacturers and Apple, who's supplier code of conduct (PDF) is modelled on the EICC standard.

The EICC organizers share a vision of creating enhanced social, economic and environmental conditions for all workers in the technology industry’s supply chain and making it more efficient for common suppliers to comply with a single set of agreed-upon high standards.
In the code, clear reference is made to responsible supply chain management: “At a minimum, participants shall require its next-tier suppliers to acknowledge and implement the code.”
Failing to comply

In spite of the relevance of this initiative, some major companies like Acer and Fujitsu-Siemens Computers, refrain from endorsing the code.

The development of the EICC certainly is a step in the right direction, although it’s not clear how compliance with the code is to be monitored. Most of the companies that have endorsed the code are still in the early stages of implementation.

Notwithstanding the ambition and the good intentions of its developers, there is an eminent credibility gap. At least one of the CMs that endorse the EICC is known to have its employees in China work 12 hours a day for months without a single day off.

Excerpted from the article, Labor issues continue to blight computer industry in the Feburary/March 2006 issue of Corporate Responsibility Management. For access to the online archive, visit Melcrum.

Blogged on 10:08 AM by Upay



Sunday, May 21, 2006

Investors are becoming more interested in understanding the business case for sustainable development and corporate responsibility. But too often, CR information is provided too late or it doesn’t meet requirements.

Here, Nicky Amos and Will Oulton give 10 top tips on maximizing your investor engagement strategy.
1. Take time to understand the drivers and motives of investors wishing to engage with your company on CR issues.
2. Prioritize investors that are most strategically important to your company.
3. Identify roles and responsibilities across CEO, FD, company secretary, investor relations and CR functions and agree a coherent communications strategy.
4. Build relationships with key investors as part of your engagement strategy.
5. Actively engage with the investment community by organising analyst briefings, providing regular CR updates on your website.
6. Disclose information on issues that are material to business performance; in other words, those issues that would enable shareholders and others stakeholders to make informed decisions about your company, including social, environmental and governance issues.
7. Apply good communications principles to your disclosure on CR and governance issues. Avoid anecdotal information and ensure that what you communicate is meaningful, timely and tailored to the needs of investors.
8. Articulate the business case for your CR and sustainable development program. Show how good CR performance is critical to your company’s growth and long-term success.
9. Develop robust KPIs in conjunction with your stakeholders in order to provide tangible measures on issues that are material to your business.
10. Keep a watching brief on how the investment community is responding to the need for more refined disclosures on CR and governance and do what you can to anticipate these needs as part of your communications strategy.

Nicky Amos and Will Oulton, Corporate Culture

Blogged on 8:51 PM by Upay