28.10.11

Antreprenor pentru viitor

Vineri, 21 octombrie si sambata, 22 octombrie am tinut primele 2 seminarii de "Management antreprenorial" din cadrul proiectului Antreprenor pentru viitor, desfasurat din fonduri europene de catre Bucharest School of Management. "Antreprenor pentru viitor" este un proiect pe care in acest moment il vad de mare impact, in care 200 de antreprenori aflati in dificultate au posibilitatea sa intre in contact, sa se instruiasca dupa o curicula in stilul MBA-ului Romano-Canadian, dar mult prescurtata, sa faca un plan de afaceri pe care vor primi feedback de la trainerii MBA-ului si sa obtina o finantare de 10.000 de euro daca se afla printre primele 20 de planuri de afaceri cele mai bune. Si alte planuri de afaceri pot fi considerate viabile si echipa BSM isi propune sa gaseasca "business angels" pentru acestea. Antreprenorii sunt din Bucuresti si Cluj, iar seminariile se fac la fel, in Bucuresti si Cluj.

Am avut cateva mari indoieli cu privire la succesul pe care il vor avea aceste seminarii, care din fericire au fost spulberate de roza realitate. Mi-era teama ca:

1. Antreprenorii din audienta sunt in fapt interesati doar de banii pusi in joc; probabil e adevarat pentru unii dintre ei, dar este si suficient de motivant ca sa traga tare la cursuri, pentru ca isi dau seama ca vor fi evaluati mai bine daca pun in practica ceea ce incercam noi sa predam. Eu mi-am propus sa ramana cu ceva dupa acest seminar de Management Antreprenorial indiferent de rezultatul evaluarii planului de afaceri, si ei au raspuns cu entuziasm, ceea ce a fost o surpriza tare placuta.

2. Antreprenorii nu vor veni la cursuri; de fapt au venit toti si au stat si inainte si dupa ore de vorba cu mine si cu colegii lor, dezbatand diverse probleme si facandu-si unii altora propuneri de afaceri. Chiar si eu am beneficiat in mod suprinzator de acest networking, si mi-am facut cateva contacte care ma vor ajuta foarte tare pe viitor.

3. Antreprenorii vor fi dezinteresati, plictisiti sau blazati de o abordare mai academica asupra mediului de afaceri, ca cea dintr-un curs de management; aici si eu m-am straduit sa vorbesc pe limba lor, sa le insuflu entuziasm si sa ii focalizez pe ceea ce pot ei controla: propria strategie, propria echipa si propriile abilitati. Adesea, frustrarile legate de mediul economic si de afaceri au iesit la suprafata sub forma de "La noi nu se aplica" si "La noi statul ia, nu da"; dar incet, incet am canalizat discutia spre "Poate ar fi mai bine daca as sti taxe sau as consulta un specialist pe taxe" si "Gata, ma inscriu la masterat de drept comercial sau ma duc la un avocat".

4. Eu nu voi avea ceva nou sau util sa le spun acestor oameni. Aici suprizele placute au fost multiple: Au considerat ca am ceva interesant de spus lumii, au invatat si din studiile de caz (romanesti) pregatite cu ajutorul colegului meu Adrian Chindis si au invatat unii de la altii, tot dezbatand si contrazicandu-se. Si eu am invatat de la ei tot felul de lucruri si mi-a placut entuziasmul pe care nu il asteptam de la niste antreprenori in dificultate.

Asadar, despre ce e vorba in cursul asta?

Acest curs are ca obiectiv principal să convingă antreprenorii ca notiunile și abilitățile de baza de management le sunt de ajutor pentru dezvoltarea unei afaceri sustenabile și pentru a face față situațiilor dificile. Iși propune să motiveze antreprenorii să gândească strategic și să planifice mai degrabă decât să exploateze pur și simplu o oportunitate întâlnită.

Acest obiectiv global este atins prin:
- furnizarea tehnicilor si framework-urilor de analiza necesare antreprenorilor pentru identificare oportunităților;
- furnizarea instrumentelor de evaluare pentru a vedea dacă sunt capabili să capitalizeze ideea pe care o au pentru afacerea lor;
- furnizarea instrumentelor de articulare a viziunii, misiunii, valorilor si planului de implementare, cu trimitere catre cursul de „Planificare a afacerii”.

Cursul porneste de la premisa ca ideea afacerii în sine, oricât de inovatoare, este doar o parte (importanta) a unei afaceri de succes, pe langa aceasta fiind necesare si o echipa, o tactica de implementare si abilitati proprii de management antreprenorial. Acestea alcatuiesc fundamentele unei afaceri sustenabile.

Cursul se concentreaza si da exemple din afacerile actuale, de preferinta de pe piata romaneasca, punand in discutie nume cunoscute cum ar fi Blue Air, EBoda sau Mic.ro. Are o componenta puternica de tehnologie IT si Internet, care nu putea fi ignorata daca cursul se doreste a fi actual.

Alaturi de prezentarea modelelor teoretice, cursul contine un caz ce va fi prezentat ad-hoc inca de la inceputul cursului de catre un cursant voluntar care a mers pe ideea francizei si va expune din experienta sa dificultatile unei astfel de abordari. Franciza este cea mai facila abordare la prima vedere daca ai un capital de investit si doresti sa pornesti pe cont propriu, este printre primele optiuni in cazul unui start-up si de aceea sunt sanse mari ca cineva din auditoriu sa fi incercat acest model. Altfel, se va alege un voluntar care isi va prezenta povestea si facilitatorul va modifica discursul in functie de aceasta, prezentand conceptele teoretice in lumina experientei prezentate si invitand auditoriul sa expuna pareri pe masura ce conceptele teoretice sunt dezvaluite. In plus, alte două minicazuri vor fi înmânate cursanților și vor fi dezbatute.

De asemeni, cursul are ca obiectiv amintirea unor subiecte mai putin familiare, cum ar fi derularea afacerilor in strainatate sau conducerea afacerilor in familie, pentru a furniza idei in plus de dezvoltare a afacerii sau de identificare a unor oportunitati.

Nu în ultimul rând, dorim ca subiectele expuse să constituie o sursă de inspirație și de motivare pentru antreprenori și să determine o ordine mai corectă a priorităților pe care se consumă resursele limitate ale unei afaceri mici.

Recunoscând ca durata de trei ore este suficientă doar pentru deschiderea unor căi spre antreprenoriatul de succes, cursul conține și o listă de lecturi constând în cărți fundamentale de afaceri precum și materiale alese de pe web cu articole valoroase pentru dezvoltarea personală, abilități de management și problematică specifică antreprenoriatului.

27.10.11

Ram Sharan in Bucharest

I was one of the thousands privileged to listen to, and interact live with Ram Charan in Bucharest. Mind the fine irony between "thousands" and "live interaction" and we will move forward to the good stuff :). (But it was really a great opportunity for which I want to thank my manager.)

The workshop was a fast forward of concepts in Ram Charan's latest books.

1. The first session was called "How do leaders cope with difficult times". They do stuff like these:
  • Always keep an eye for unusual places in business to spot new competitors - using technology in a globalization era, the competitors can be anywhere. Web sites for instance can make you visible anywhere you need to, and freedom to travel, work and do business anywhere in the world attracts talented people in new markets with multiple opportunities;
  • They are "fierce" in their journey to achieve their results;
  • They are "visible"; they leave their ivory towers and interact with people in the low ranks; they aknowledge these people have the potential to emit the next improvement idea and the correct image of the business reality; ivory tower - no good. As a personal comment, I was for a year a direct for a manager that wouldn't listen to people in their own team. This ended up ugly for her and the organization and I promised myself then to be smart, to learn from other people mistakes and never to do the same;
  • They are credible;
  • They are very sensitive about how they choose to allocate their time;
  • They trust themselves and therefore make other people trust them;
  • They are over optimistic and over pessimistic at the same time: something like "hope for the best but prepare for the worst"; or better, "things will get ugly but we will be able to cope";
  • They have courage;
  • They are determined and their actions are decisive - this goes alone with the second bullet, they are "fierce";
  • They pay attention to resource allocation and hate waste - sounds like something very general, but it really refers to being able to choosing and to let go of some opportunities if pursuing to many means dissipating the resources of the organization. He talked about the classic Steve Jobs coming-back to run Apple. Apparently, out of 26 de projects, Steve Jobs kept 5 that allowed everybody to focus and create exceptional products. Personal comment: Steve Jobs also had the reputation that he wouldn't listen to anyone when making decisions.
  • They take care of key-employees: during difficult times, these are the first persons hunted by other companies; this is a fresh idea that did not occurred to me before; I always thought difficult times are difficult for employees, period;
  • Communicate and make sure the information flows smoothly in the entire organization; again, not Steve Jobs-like;
  • They drop business lines that are not bringing cash;
  • They look outside-in at their company - as seen by the clients, as seen by the partners; but not as the company sees itself;
  • The budget allocation is dynamic and flexible - this will make a finance specialist such as myself stop and think. I always looked at a budget as something fixed, analyzed the variations and tried to correct; I never thought being flexible with your budget can be a competitive advantage.
I put in bold above the three most important success factors for coping with difficult times, in Ram Sharan's view.

Ram Sharan suggested the next question for self assessment: Which is my personal brand from an execution point of view? I am perceived as a person that is effective and gets things done? - which transited to the next session, Execution.


2. "Execution" session had the same title as the book and had some of the concepts in it.

Each quarter, perform the following analysis:
  • Which are the 10 companies that are known for their ability of getting things done?
  • And how do they do this?
Setting priorities is key in Ram Sharan's speech:
- Determin 3-maximum 5 "laser sharp priorities" for you and your directs;
- Measure progress for the asssigned priorities.
  • create deadlines because they create discipline, focus, energy, cooperation
  • maximum 3-5 deadlines per quarter
- For each dead-line, create a dashboard that shows completion percentage, in a manner that is transparent and visible to everyone. This stimulated collaboration;
- Analyze progress:
  • what causes the results; if the results are negative, analyze the causes; if they are positive, do the same; congratulations when the results are good is not enough; you need to find out what went well and see how you can replicate that;
  • are these results based on some external factors and contexts? if yes, how can you benefit most (or minimize negative impact) and what should be done after they are gone?
  • analyze people's performance; if the results are good, then the cross-departmental teams are good; if the results are poor, the the cross-departmental teams do not work.
3. Talent masters - "Right people in the right jobs"

-Define three success criteria, the example below has been created through interaction with the participants and it refers also to Apple:
  • Different Consumer Experience
  • Modern, Sexy, Young
  • New Team
- Match internal abilities with business needs
- Provide real-tine, constructive, specific, on one-subject only, 60 seconds long, feedback. Any feedback that is above 60 seconds will not be put in practice (and hurts worse, too, I add).
Feedback categories in an importance order:
  • Behavior/attitude
  • Team work
  • Business/functional/technical
Note the emphasis on the human component (2 components out of 3), while the "hard skills" area is represented by 1 component: business, functional, technical.

4. Create a management team that performs

- Selecting team members: focus on "team player" abilities, helping the team to win, not competing against each-other.
- There is a deviant member in each team: identify that persona, bring it on track or eliminate her.
- Perform real time coaching and benchmarking with your competition.

Ram Sharan's entire speech was based on people and their abilities as being the primordial solution to all problems; or at least the solution generator. This is an idea that is embraced by everyone, but is seldom practiced. So I guess there lies your next competitive advantage: right people, right organizational culture is very hard to get for everyone.