Archive for category Work

2018.11.25 A Small Issue with Digital Transformation

As if the world of consulting have unanimously come to the agreement that the “Industry 4.0” hype was over and they needed to invent something new, recent two years have seen a large increase of companies undergoing their multi-year digital transformations. When I first heard of it, I was as suspicious as when I was towards the “I40”, thinking it must be another “in” thing invented by the IT/consulting firms so as to sell their services.

Then I dug deeper, and found something interesting.

What do you think when someone tells you his company is going through a digital transformation? I don’t know about you, but at first I thought that’s some kind of campaign to digitalise their business, moving their brick and mortar stores online, or going paperless when applying leaves. Well, digitalisation could certainly be part of outcomes of the transformation, but it’s not all, and definitely not what triggers a company to transform.

In this world of the finite resources and time, we do everything for a reason. And the reason for digital transform isn’t for the sake of going digital. In fact, according to BCG, the very first question should be asked before commencing the implementation of a digital solution is – “what business value will it bring?” Because sometimes, digitalisation (are digitisation, there are differences between these two) aren’t the silver bullets for every business.

So why on earth do businesses transform and why is it called “digital transformation”? I think, and it is totally a personal opinion, the name is a bit misleading. It’s better to be coined “business transform in the digital era” or “business transformation to survive the digital competition”. Yes, they are not as catchy as “digital transformation” itself, but at least they won’t lead the audience to think that the only way is to transform is to do it in some sort of digtal format.

The question follows next is that “what is so different in the digital era that businesses have to proactively think about transforming themselves?” Key word here is “proactively”. A little bit of research will show that a large percentage of companies initiated “digital transformation” are in actual the industrial leaders, and most of them are still doing OK. Nonetheless, they decided to spend a substantial amout of money over a long period of time, usually no shorter than 2 years, to transform into something that not yet clearly defined. Weird? Yes. make sense? Absolutely.

This “digital era” we currently live in is packed full of business innovation wildcards, made possible by technological advancements and super-charged by free capitals. When we first witnessed the Kodak bankrupcy, everyone was astonished; then after the Walkman was discontinued, the sadness lingered for a while; and right now nobody, except probably John Oliver, gives a damn about the Blockbuster going under. The collapses of big companies and the conventional business models they associated with are quickly becoming a norm. Being big and being a leader in your market do not any more guarantee the sustainable success, nor the survivorship. At anytime, perhaps 6 months or perhaps 6 years down the road, somewhere in this world a smart kid with computer in his bedroom will create a platform on the cloud that could potentially over-throw your global operations in let’s say, a few years.

Big businesses are very worried about this unforseeable threat, and that’s the underlying reason for doing the “digital transformation”. It’s basically to say that “we have to transform (disrupt) ourselves before that smart kid from his bedroom has the chance to do so.”

Then there came the question of “what to transform?”

There is this more traveled path of “strengthening the core” approach, which has more to do with using digitalisation to improve the existing operations and/or customer satisfaction. It is arguably “the easier path” of “digital transformation”, most probably because people naturally feel more comfortable making improvements on something they are familiar with.

And there is also a more ambitious and ambiguous approach of exploring new business models or even new business areas, which may or may not mean making future ways of conducting your business 100% digital. Take a simple example, a tuition centre that concerning about the competition from online course platforms could consider moving up the value chain to providing professional training to new teachers (still face to face and nothing digital), rather than jumping into the red sea of making its own online platform. If let’s say pivoting into teacher training eventually works out for that tuition centre, I don’t think anybody would aruge whether or not it is a “digital transformation”.

There you go: my view on “digital transformation” and why I think it can be phrased better.

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2018.09.07 管理和风筝

听到一个比喻:管理和放风筝一样。回拉确实能避免风筝坠地,短时间还会升高一点,但风筝上天只能靠放线。

贴切!

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2018.06.05 ‘a’ question

部门这段时间都在忙教材的事情,20/80原则耗费了我们大量的时间和精力。今天就碰到了一个有趣的问题,为什么字母 ‘a’ 的手写体和大多数字体是不同的?

这个问题要扯的话可以扯很远,简单的答案:学校里教的手写体通俗来说是为了快速书写(一笔完成不用提笔)而演变的不正规写法,写的人多了就渐渐变成标准。下图很有意思,一来说明了大部分时间 ‘a’ 的写法是历史主流,二来 uncial 写法的 ‘a’ 也说明了大小写之间的关系。

the_history_of_a

最后放一张还未定稿的教材,字母A的自然拼读页,敬请期待。

phonics_A

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2018.06.01 Keep Your Clients Informed

试想以下情景:

“你看上一件衣服,询问店员是不是全棉的,她给了你一个肯定的答复。也不是因为不信任她,但你还是很自然的翻出衣服上的标签上确认了一下。”

为什么会有这个动作,事后你问自己,人与人之间的信任呢?其实你也不必太过自责,好的店员也不会把这个当回事儿。面对所见和所闻,人总是偏向于相信前者。

这当然不是我总结出来的,最近在 udemy 学习销售方面的课程,Grant Cardone 的讲解很容易产生共鸣,特别是那句 “People always believe what they see, not what they hear”,以此建议在销售的过程中尽量采用书面材料(合同)和真凭实据来赢得客户的信任。短期看来可以快速完成单笔交易提高销售效率,长期来说可以极大的降低客户的维护成本,防止后院起火的概率。

Inform_buyer.png

Credit: Learn to Sell Anything by Grant Cardone, Udemy.

肯定会有人说,客户拿着合同的话今后会让我们很被动。我说,做不到的东西当初为什么要承诺?主动权从来都在自己手中,把以后救火的精力用在先把工作做好,岂不更好?毕竟我现在聊的是销售,不是忽悠。

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2018.05.17 Deeply Practical Project Management

I recently took a project management course from Udemy and that was indeed a very enlightening journey.

Deeply Practical Project Management

Before taking this course, I always had this ‘mis-conception’ about Project Management to be very dry, inflexible, and unpragmatic. So I purposely picked a course that is not exam-oriented. This course delivered what it promised (to be deeply practical) and totally changed my mind towards Project Management.

I could easily relate the contents of it to what actually happened in my past project management experiences. So often I spoke to myself “Gosh! If only I knew it earlier the result of that project could be quite different!”

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2018.05.14 Lean Management

1 year of streamlining the operations for the company I co-founded, I can totally related to what Mike talked in this 45-mins video.

Business process improvement isn’t just about putting the “best” process in your organisation, trust me more often than not it won’t work.

It is also about understanding your staff, coaching them, designing new process so that its benefits are visible and the slope of change is not too steep, and the most importantly, leading by example.

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2017.06.27 Auf Wiedersehen

拖了快五年,今天终于从博世离职了。

其实从一开始就知道那样的环境不适合我,走终究是要走的,只是时间问题。但头两年的坚持是因为一份工作至少两年的原则;第三年的延期是对德国工作环境的幻想;第四年则是为了对得起自己的时间而拼命想做出一个项目(虽然最终还是给管理层拖死了);到了今年则是对公司彻底死心,熬到年终分红后就毅然提出离职了。我在给人力资源的反馈中写道

“… no clear strategy, nor commitment to whatever shortlived ‘strategies’; making decent products is clearly not the top priority.”

回想我2012年入职的时候,还是个对未来智能方案充满幻想的青年,也做过主动跟老板要工作做的“蠢事”。五年的光阴不仅慢慢耗尽我的冲劲,也慢慢抹平我在之前的工作积累起来的大量的自信心,有时甚至开始怀疑自己的能力,再不走就真的是温水煮青蛙了。

庆幸的是,在什么都慢的博世,离职程序倒是出乎意外的顺利。

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