Get Summer 2014 Right First Time with tutor2u Exam Coaching & Revision Workshops
No doubt like many of you, the bulk of this week (and last) has been spent attempting to get on top of my workload and capitalise upon the opportunity the Easter break has presented. Having said that, work and revision for the June papers is only optimised when effectively combined with an appropriate amount of rest and relaxation. For me that has mainly consisted of over-dosing on the hit TV series Breaking Bad.read more...»
Students attending our BUSS4 exam coaching workshops will know that I'm a big fan of Harriet Green, the CEO who has done so much to lead the turnaround of Thomas Cook. In fact, I'd almost go as far as to say that Harriet Green is my favourite CEO. Except, of course, that there is Howard Schultz of Starbucks who has long held that position in my mind!
Nevertheless I highly recommend that business students take some time to learn more about the leadership and management style of Harriet Green who was awarded the Leader of the Year accolade at the 2013 National Business Awards.
Here are two articles which I think are pretty accessible to students wanting to undertake this research.read more...»
Following on from Jim's blog updating us on Starbucks strategy, here is another great 4 minute CNN video interview with Howard Schultz in which he talks about his app that allows customers to order on-line. The factors leading to this are the rise in internet shopping and subsequent reduction in footfall in shopping centres, but will online-ordering reduce the impact of this? Schultz talks about the need for all retail businesses to completely transform the way they do business, and as always, Starbucks seem to be ahead of the curve.
He explains the benefit of technology and data to help him better meet the needs of the customers (and ultimately shareholders), but is adamant that robots will never serve the coffee as this will detract from the customer experience instead of enhance it.
Another gem of a video that covers strategic planning, innovation, technology and customer service.
A combination of excellent news articles from last week have helped my students and I to fully understand the size and scope of Alibaba. Former teacher (and self-confessed technophobe) Jack Ma’s online company has experienced exponential growth and led to fear and envy from some of China’s (and the world’s) biggest companies. However, in his modesty he has described himself as “a blind man riding on a blind tiger”, giving him instant legend-status in our eyes!
The attached presentation has videos, hyperlinks and infographics that allow students to focus on the various elements that have led to Alibaba’s potential $150bn valuation. Each slide focuses on a different section from the BUSS4 specification thus giving information on leadership, strategy, competition, diversification and the economic (electronic) environment.
Hope it helps.
I talk way too much in lessons, I can’t help it. So, to reduce my word emissions, my students and I collated a handful of concise quotes from artist, sportsman, writers, leaders and businessmen on the topics below. Some are great, many are cheesy, but they make for a good display and help students find links between business studies, entrepreneurship and the other subjects they are studying.
In 2012 Anthony Jenkins (nicknamed “Saint Anthony”) succeeded Bob Diamond and promised to clean up Barclays and eradicate the worst excesses of the banking industry. Speaking to those who received huge bonuses for unscrupulous behaviour, he said “my message is simple: Barclays is not the place for you. The rules have changed. You won’t feel comfortable at Barclays and, to be frank, we won’t feel comfortable with you as colleagues”.
Despite this, profit dropping 32% to £5.2bn, and making 3,700 jobs cuts last year:
- Jenkin’s himself pocketed just under £5m in shares
- Staff paid over £1m increased from 428 to 481.
- The bonus pool increased 10% to 2.4b
The justification for this? Many senior traders have left, or threatened to do so, and to keep hold of the top earners, he had to offer top pay. Had he not, the investment wing of Barclays would have plunged into a “death spiral”, with staff and high-value customers going elsewhere.
This is part of the bigger issue regarding European Commission’s rule to reduce banking bonuses, how George Osborne is fighting the decision and why, it would seem, he really didn’t need to as bosses of RBS (81% owned by tax payers) and HSBC also side-stepped the rule by giving large “fixed pay allowances” in the form of shares.
This story always provides great impetus for emotive debate on BUSS4 topics such as government intervention, culture, pay and leadership.
What do Kanye West, a Flappy Bird and American footballers have in common?
I had no idea either, but it was interesting to have a go. I saw these three news stories this week and they seemed to cover the full gamut from money, sport, culture, fashion, business and (most importantly for the students) trainers.read more...»
Does the combination of Apple’s falling sharing price and market share, their perceived lack of innovation post-Jobs and Samsung’s cross-licensing deal with Google spell trouble for Apple?
Attached is a 10 slide PowerPoint (Apple_V_Samsung_Research.ppt ) with infographics, hyperlinks, videos and questions that can be used to help students research the two tech giants.
As with the “Will Google rule the world” post, the lesson covers most of the following BUSS4 topics:
- Mission statements & corporate objectives
- Globalisation and emerging markets
- Technological change
Hope it helps!
Google’s $3.2 billion purchase of Nest and current shopping spree into all things futuristic has made for an excellent BUSS4 case study. Attached is a 10 slide PowerPoint (Google_mergers_and_acquisitions.pptx) with videos, articles, hyper links and questions that can either be used as a homework task to start students on the road of research, a lesson in which students work independently and focus on the sections they find most interesting, or a catalyst for discussion about the similarities of Google, 1984 and Brave New World.
Whilst it focuses on acquisitions, by the end of the lesson all students were able to analyse Google in relation to the following BUSS4 topics:
- Mission statements, corporate aims and strategy
- Government intervention (or Google’s intervention with the government)
- Managing change
Most amusing is the Daily Mash's vision of a world run by Google... as if we have a choice!
These two pieces of video evidence on South Korean multinational giant Samsung are pure business studies gold - particularly for students preparing their evidence for AQA BUSS4.
Samsung is a highly diversified multinational that is the most significant firm in the South Korean economy. It has achieved a strong record of improved profitability, quarter after quarter, as demand for its product portfolio has grown, particularly mobile devices. However, in January 2014 it announced that it expected to suffer a fall in profits, It expects to make an operating profit of 8.3 trillion won ($7.8bn; £4.8bn) for the last quarter of 2013, down 18% from the previous three months.read more...»
There’s just been a terrific book review in The Economist picking up on a great topic: corporate culture. The term is on everybody’s lips at the moment, helped by the current Leonardo DiCaprio movie ‘Wolves of Wall Street’, which is said to present a damning picture of the behaviour of some US banks.read more...»
A terrific example here of how a return to core, basic retailing skills has enabled fashion retailer Bonmarche to turn around its performance and future.read more...»
The recent trouble at the Co-Op Bank Group highlight numerous weaknesses amongst the management which have damaged its ethical reputation and USP. “Friendly” banks – that is, a wide variety of types owned by members and customers rather than shareholders – are hugely popular around the world, with an estimated 20 per cent of the market for deposits and loans in Europe alone.read more...»
Last week The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visited One Angel Square in Manchester to open the world's "greenest" office, the new £100 m 14-storey headquarters of The Co-Operative Group. Yet within 72 hours, celebrations turned to dismay when The Mail on Sunday printed a story linking The Reverend Paul Flowers, a former Co-Op Bank Chairman with illicit drug use.read more...»
Entrepreneurship, finance, research, corporate culture, marketing, product development, changing management structures are all part of the ingredients in this BBC entrepreneurship feature about the development of Charlie Bingham's Foods.read more...»
"The 20th Century was about dozens of markets of millions of consumers. The 21st Century is about millions of markets of dozens of consumers."
So said Joe Kraus, founder of a search engine called Excite in the middle of the 1990s. Never heard of it? That's not surprising; in 1999 it was a $6.7bn enterprise with hundreds of employees, but a year later the dot-com bubble burst and it disappeared from the market place. But this quote is one of in an article about Peter Day's Radio 4 Archive programme to be broadcast tonight, and already recommended by Michael Owen in his blog below; forgive me for this repetition, but this is such a brilliant article that it really merits a second look, and hopefully between us we will convince you of that!read more...»
I think it is always hard for students to remember which of the motivation theories is which - whose was the one with the two factors, who was that one with the lightbulbs, and who was the one with the triangle? This article about Maslow might help a bit, as it gives some interesting background on the man and his theory, and adds a bit of Application in the form of business examples for each of the five layers, and also the results of Maslow's own research into people who he viewed as 'self-actualisers'.
There is even an accompanying 30-minute programme, broadcast on Radio 4's 'Health Check' series during the summer, which includes interviews with some of those who worked with the man himself at Brandeis University outside Boston, where Maslow was founding Professor of Psychology.
Could Ryanair be about to make a concerted effort to change its organisational culture? Can the low-cost airline soften its corporate image and improve its customer service performance at the same time?
That appears to be the plan following comments made by Michael O'Leary, Ryanair's controversial Founder and CEO, at the recent Ryanair AGM.read more...»
Say the word e-commerce in the US, UK and many other developed economies and one word usually comes to mind – Amazon. The Seattle-based multinational claims to be the world's largest online retailer. It has highly diversified operations that have taken the business well beyond the original proposition - selling books online. CEO and Founder Jeff Bezos launched Amazon.com in 1995 and over the next two decades Amazon has expanded its retail websites to dominate the market in Canada, the UK, France, Germany and elsewhere.
However, in China, say e-commerce and a different "A" word is on everyone's lips. Alibaba is a private Chinese company that is now the largest business-to-business and consumer-to-consumer company in the world. Amazon might dominate global business-to-consumer online retailing. But, in China, Amazon has a very small market share and it is Alibaba that dominates.
In fact, Alibaba can legitimately claim to be the world’s leading e-commerce business. Reports suggest that Alibaba handled total sales of $170 billion in 2012 – which is more than the transaction value handled by Amazon ($96bn) and eBay ($75bn) combined!
After more than eight years of effort, Amazon has less than 1 per cent of China’s $196bn e-commerce market. Alibaba is estimated to have a market share of nearer 75 per cent.
To put this into perspective, China’s e-commerce market is already the largest in the world and by 2020 is forecast to be bigger than the existing markets in the USA, UK, Japan, Germany and France combined. So Alibaba’s market share of over 70% makes it a very big player indeed.read more...»
It's all over for Nokia CEO Stephen Elop and his 32,000 employees in the core of Nokia - their mobile phones (handset) business. After several years of struggling to turn the business around in the face of intensive competition from Apple, Samsung, Google, Huawei and others, Elop has decided the best option is to sell the business to Microsoft.read more...»
This short BBC clip is an excellent introduction to some of the key skills and abilities that are required to be the leader of a complex business.read more...»
Over the summer I’ve kept spotting reference to an article that appeared in The Economist that has caused me to smile and reflect. With a busy term coming up, the advice seems very welcome: the biggest problem in the business world is too many distractions and interruptions, too many things done for the sake of form, and altogether too much busy-ness.
I’m well aware of my own time wasting habits, and I see plenty of it going on around me too. Here are some of the key points that are raised:
Microsoft has announced that its CEO Steve Ballmer will retire from the business within the next 12 months. The Microsoft share price rose 9% on news of the announcement which might tell you something about how investors feel about how Ballmer has performed as CEO in recent years!
Lots will be written about Ballmer's time at Microsoft and the resulting strategic review which the business will inevitably conduct when a new CEO is appointed.
However, for now, enjoy a selection of videos which show Steve Ballmer in action! He has certainly attracted lots of attention for his unusual leadership style!read more...»
I highly recommend teachers and students reading this new profile of Apple CEO Tim Cook. It is packed with insights into the leadership challenges faced by Cook, his leadership style and the link with organisational culture change at Apple.read more...»
This 5 minute video from the excellent Andrew Hill of the FT should be required viewing for every advanced business student.
With an increasing number of companies refocusing their priorities beyond profit and towards the welfare of their suppliers, employees and the planet, Andrew Hill, management editor of the FT, asks what the repercussions are for business. Superb.read more...»
I've just come across a web page that steered me onto one of my favourite topics (see below). I started putting links together here which I intended to be about management in general, but the list has become dominated by an issue that I find particularly interesting: how the physical design of the workplace influences the performance of organisations. This is a debate that you can take in so many different directions, from organisational structures through to motivation and workforce performance.read more...»
Excellent BBC2 business documentary last night on the growth of low cost airlines 'Flights and Fights: Inside the Low Cost Airlines'. The programme explores how Ryanair and Easyjet have transformed the European airline industry.
A good visual way of analysing your BUSS4 research organisations for both Section A and B is to relate them to different concepts or models. (apologies for the drawings in the picture above) To go even further could be to link elements of some of these models and concepts together which can give a more in-depth, holistic view of the organisations in relation to some key BUSS4 topics. I have started to get my students to relate them to the following 6:
The link between Leadership, Values and Organisational Culture will be a familiar one for BUSS4 students. This video “Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action” from TED talks is a simple and really interesting way to make these links. It’s summed up by a “Golden Circle” and 3 words: What, How and Whyread more...»
At what stage does organisational culture need to fundamentally change?
If culture is like the DNA of an organisation, then you can argue that the culture of every organisation is unique. However, it is still possible to group certain styles or types of organisational culture. By doing, students are provided with an opportunity to compare and contrast - a vital exam skill!
Let's look at an obvious basis for comparison - strong versus weak culture.read more...»
The Co-Op has keen to highlight their ethical credentials as a key part of its marketing and positioning strategies. Supporters claimed that its mutuality was a more desirable form of ownership than PLCs.
The Banking Division has run into difficulties, and there have been significant changes in personnel within the last few weeks, in part as a response to major financial problems. On Friday there were reports that it had stopped offering loans to new business customers, and today The Independent on Sunday reported that The Co-Op Group's Finance Director Steve Humes had resigned. This followed the recent resignation of Brian Tootell after Moody's downgraded the Bank's bonds.
Mr Humes The Group Finance Director for the last two years, had been involved in managing the Co-Ops food operations, and may have had insufficient experience of its banking operations. Euan Sutherland the Co-Op's new CEO who was appointed in May, could be about to make significant changes in other key management positions.
The decision to stop lending to new business customer may imply that the there may be insufficient capital to support current obligations let alone new loans. The ethical bank may be about to meet its most serious crisis.
Do you have a set a core values? What deeply held beliefs shape the way you see the world and how you act?
Your core values underpin the way in which you behave, act, and how you live your life. So, if someone asked you to list your two most important values, what would they be?
I ask the question because the concept of core values is essential to understanding organisational culture.
Indeed I would hope that the role of core values would feature in many high-scoring BUSS4 essays for students answering questions about organisational culture – they are important!read more...»
It is relatively easy to identify evidence on how organisational culture can be an intangible asset of a business - a source of competitive advantage and a key reason for a business enjoying industry-beating financial performance.
However, the reverse can also be true. If organisational culture is managed incorrectly or (worse) left un-managed, it can become dysfunctional or toxic. In these situations the organisational culture of a business can become a liability, not an asset. It can even lead to the failure of the business.read more...»
If students are looking for a research example of a business that is truly built around a deliberate attempt to create and nurture a strong organisational culture, they need look no further than online shoe retailer Zappos.
Tony Hsieh - the founder of Zappos (bought by Amazon a couple of years ago) wanted to build a business based around a simple idea. That it - if you get the organisational culture right - then everything else that you need to be successful will fall into place.
Is he right?read more...»
Right. That's it. I'm off to work at Ikea. I just know I'd fit in...read more...»
“Our strategy is delivering. The transformation of Royal Mail is well underway”.
That’s the view of Moya Greene, CEO of Royal Mail, as she announced the full year results for Royal Mail to 31 March 2013 today.
As students who attended our BUSS4 Exam Coaching Workshops will recall, I think that Royal Mail is one of the very best research case studies to use for both Section A (organisational culture) and Section B essays in the BUSS4 exam.
The latest financial results of Royal Mail Group are packed full with useful insights and data which could be used effectively to support paragraph points in a BUSS4 essay.
Here are just a few examples:read more...»
How far did the management style of Roberto Mancini contribute to his removal after the FA Cup defeat?
Mancini was the most successful manager of Manchester City's 23 managers hired after the retirement of Joe Mercer in 1971. He took the club to 2 FA Cup Finals, and City thrashed Manchester United 6-1 on the way to winning the Premier League with almost the last kick of the 2011-12 season.read more...»
We've previously highlighted the arrival of Harriet Green as the new CEO of Thomas Cook as a great research example for business students. New CEOs - particularly those recruited externally - tend to dive straight into "strategic reviews" which then result in changes in strategic direction, disposal of non-core businesses etc. Harriet Green is no exception. And in this YouTube clip, she outlines her proposed strategy for the ailing travel industry business.
The clip is almost two hours in length. However, it is the first section (from about 3 minutes 30 in) which is particularly interesting and relevant for business students. You get a strong sense of Harriet Green's personality from the presentation and a clear statement of her strategic objectives for the business.read more...»
Can Apple's CEO Tim Cook provide the right leadership to sustain the firm's reputation for innovation?
That's the question posed in this short Businessweek article which looks at three key factors which may determine whether Apple's innovative culture can be sustained and nurtured.
It's a good piece and well worth reading not just as an example of analysis and evaluation!read more...»
That may be over-stating it a bit, but it's not often that the BBC's Political Editor calls a football manager "...the mastermind of one of Britain's greatest brands." Nick Robinson is clearly somewhat biased, as a self-confessed Man United fan, but the piece he wrote on Thursday to justify his off-the-cuff comment, in which he did jokingly suggest that Sir Alex Ferguson was 'the greatest living Briton', suggests that students of leadership, management and business culture should reflect on what led to his success.
One of the strengths and a key component in the Co-Op Bank's USP after recent banking problems - sub-prime lending, collapse of Northern Rock and LIBOR rate fixing, was its emphasis of ethical banking.
This new blog entry from the HBR is useful research material for students wanting to develop the link between organisational culture and competitive advantage.read more...»
Students attending our BUSS4 exam coaching workshops on Organisational Culture will be familiar with Jeff Skilling - the former CEO of Enron which collapsed so spectacularly over a decade ago.
The Enron collapse was closely linked to a strong, through ultimately toxic organisational culture that developed at Enron, which was an online energy trading business that rose quickly to become the 7th most valuable firm in the US.
The culture at Enron, described so powerfully in the film The Smartest Guys in the Room (and Broadway play of the same name) was a tough culture - a VERY tough culture. Students may recall the infamous policy of "rank and yank" in which 15% of Enron staff were dismissed each year as a result of Jeff Skilling's PRC (Performance Review Committee).
Skilling rose to the position of CEO in 2001 only to abruptly resign six months later. Soon after that, Enron collapsed in one of the most notorious corporate scandals of all time.
Jeff Skilling was sentenced to 24 years imprisonment back in May 2006 after he was found guilty on 19 counts of securities fraud, conspiracy, insider trading and lying to auditors.
However, it now looks likely that Skilling will end up serving only 10-11 years of his sentence. The news clip below explains why in more detail as does this news article from the BBC.read more...»
I've become increasingly convinced from recent discussions with major accountancy firms and other major employers that workplace learning is going to challenge the preeminence of universities and colleges when it comes to obtaining higher level qualifications. The emergence of some industrial-strength Higher Apprenticeship programmes recently is a sign of that. And so to is the news that John Lewis Partnership is to extend its programme of workplace learning to offer Level 6 (university degree level) qualifications for some of its management.
This story would provide the basis for some excellent analysis by students exploring how and why John Lewis Partnership has decided to extend its internal training programmes.
Some clues can be found in extracts from the JLP press release: for example;
The so-called "University of John Lewis" will also offer a number of other development initiatives through its ‘skills programme’, which will include training in product knowledge, line management and leadership. read more...»
"Our partners give us our competitive edge, and if we want them to stay with us for the long term, we need to make sure that they have the right skills to meet the challenges we face in an evolving retail environment."
For Sony's CEO Kazou Hirai - a promise is a promise.
Back in April 2012, when Kazou Hirai took over as CEO from Sir Howard Stringer, he pledged to restore Sony's troubled Consumer Electronics division to profitability within one year.
In a significant programme of retrenchment, Sony has shed over 10,000 jobs (about 6% of the workforce), sold off major property assets and substantially cut production at the heavily loss-making Sony Television business (which is a significant part of the Consumer Electronics division). The result is expected to be Sony's first corporate profit for five years when it reports final result for the year to 31 March 2013 in May. However, the Consumer Electronics division remains unprofitable - Sony has not met its objective.
The reaction by Hirai? It is reported that forty of Sony’s top executives, including Hirai, are to give up bonuses worth between 30 and 50 per cent of their pay. The decision will save Sony around $10m, which is not particularly significant in financial terms.read more...»
It is often claimed that the organisational culture of a business is formed and developed in the "shadow of the leader". And perhaps nowhere is this more true than the organisational culture of Ikea which was founded by Ingvar Kamprad.
Here is a some evidence which helps explain the concept and also tells us more about the core values that have been used to build the Ikea business.read more...»
Kazou Hirai took over as CEO of Sony on 1 April 2012 replacing Howard Stringer. Hirai inherited a business with many problems and experiencing heavy losses. What has he done in his first year?read more...»
Lots of great information from Schultz here and insights into his business strategy. Many insights too into Schultz's personal background and his views on what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.
Put simply, this interview has everything! Organisational culture; entrepreneurship; CSR; emerging markets; retrenchment; ethics.read more...»
Here is one of my all-time favourite video clips for business studies, featuring one of my business heroes - Herb Kelleher.
You might not have heard of Herb Kelleher. However, I highly recommend that you take a little time to find out more about him and the business he founded - Southwest Airlines. It is a fantastic example of a business which has identified organisational culture as a source of sustainable competitive advantage.
Kelleher identified the need for an employee-centered culture at Southwest as the way in which his airline could deliver outstanding customer service. Put simply, Herb believes that the "business of business is people".
In this short, five minute video, Herb explains why putting employees at the centre of Southwest's culture is so important to him.
About a minute into the video, Herb demonstrates a superb example of "analysis" using a logical chain of argument. The argument goes something like this:
...If the employees come first, then they’re happy…. A motivated employee treats the customer well. The customer is happy so they keep coming back, which pleases the shareholders.
A simply stunning video, that stands the test of time.read more...»