Tips for licensing your product or service outlets

Ensure that the organisation behind the brand name is invisible

On the same day recently, I had two negative experiences with large Australian organisations. Both had outsourced part of their operations to independent companies.

Licensed data products

The first situation was relatively straight forward. I went to my local Australia Post office to pick up a passport application form as Australia Post handles most passport applications. The post office is where you go to have your passport applications verified and processed. I had been to other Australia Post offices with the same enquiry. However, this particular office did not process applications. I could accept that. A larger office may have been more appropriate. However, as the official agent, I believe every post office should stock the forms. To my mind, it is a basic service for every post office. Apparently the independent operators can choose whether or not they offer this service. In this particular case, because they did not process the applications, they did not carry the forms.

The second situation concerned Telstra, Australia’s largest telephone company. I had bought a mobile phone from a Telstra employee over the telephone. Part of it did not work, so I went down to my local Telstra Shop to exchange the faulty part. I had to argue the case for them to exchange it. Manager approval had to be granted (it was). The problem of course was that the Telstra Shop was an independent company, completely separate from Telstra itself. This is not apparent when you walk into the shop. Telstra signage is everywhere. The shop staff were able to access my Telstra account details. Yet they tried to argue replacing the part was not their responsibility as they were a ‘separate company’.

In both of these cases, the organisations have outsourced key parts of their operations. Outsourcing can be a legitimate business approach, but it has to be done well.

In the Australia Post case, there should be minimum service level expectations of companies who operate retail outlets. To my mind, passport services are an essential service and they should be included. It may not be necessary to process applications, as this does take up resources and requires particular skills. However, every post office should be able to provide the basic information to start the process i.e. the forms that explain the specific steps required, the information needed and the support documentation to be gathered.

The Telstra case is more complex. If you present yourself as one organisation, then your internal operations should also be transparent. What Telstra needed was an internal system that handled inter-company transfers. If someone buys from one arm and returns it to another, the system should allow the necessary financial adjustment between the different companies. They should not be any discussion with the customer. It should be just done. The customer does not even need to know.


The growing practice of licensing independent companies to operate retail outlets does not have to have negative consequences for the customer. Clearly there can be operational and financial benefits for the organisation, but these should be achieved without diminishing the service levels to customers. It is just a case of ensuring the right systems are in place to allow the different parts to operate seamlessly.


Leadership: What Makes a Good Leader

Leadership Development

It goes without saying that good leadership is crucial to any successful business. But, what makes a good leader and how can someone develop himself or herself into a good leader if they are not one to begin with? The answer is that there are many factors that contribute to good leadership. And, whether someone is naturally a good leader or not, anyone can become a good leader.

Get To Talking

One of those factors of good leadership is communication. Communication is one of the most key elements of leadership. Good communication skills need to be learned to effectively become a good leader or manager. When communication occurs, as a leader, you will be able to accurately convey your ideas and thoughts to those that work for you. In fact, simply being able to convey these things in the first place, much less accurately, puts you in the right direction for leadership. If employees have no idea what is on your mind, your leadership is going to falter. Employees are not typically mind readers.

If there is a problem a certain employee is experiencing, good communication can filter the problem out. You, as a leader, can dissect the problem and offer solutions in various ways.

Ideas that are given to employees work both ways, as well. Employees can give helpful feedback and generate new ideas to you that help the company as well, when good communication is present.

Get Something Moving

Motivation is another variable that plays into good leadership. Employees tend to stagnate when motivation decreases and it will decrease, without proper motivation. Many leaders try to motivate the old-fashioned way through fear. (Do what I say or something bad will happen) This is not advisable, since it tends to only deliver short-term results and cause even less competent work in the long run, due to resentment resulting from the fear tactics.

Instead, try adding challenges for employees. A fresh challenge always adds excitement and spawns creativity. Challenge your employees with tasks that may be slightly out of their range and let them at it! This increases motivation.

If they run into a snag, guide them towards a solution but don’t offer the actual solution outright. Coach them into discovering the solution themselves. Once they have, their self-esteem will rise, thereby raising their motivation level.

Two Heads Are Better Than One

Teamwork is always something to consider when striving to become a good leader. This means not only teaching your employees to work together but to become part of the team yourself.

Use others potential. Many times, employees potential is wasted. A good leader recognizes that his or her employees are more than just employees, they are people too. These people have lives outside of work where they have to make decisions on a daily basis, from how to deal with house payments, to car bills, to raising children, to uncountable tasks in everyday lives. Yet, at work, their decision making skills are not trusted enough to choose what type of toner needs to be ordered for a set of printers.

The point here is that employees need to be trusted to do more. A good leader doesn’t manage every single detail. Use others potential to your benefit. You will find that you have become a better leader for it.

Back to School

As always, increasing your education and knowledge is definitely a good thing when trying to improve your leadership skills, but the school that really needs to be brought to attention here is the kind of school that you don’t get a degree from.

Take the time to learn as much about your position of being a leader as possible. Take advantage of leadership training material to help develop your professional skills. Do some reading at the nearest bookstore. Attend seminars, workshops, webinars and other professional development events. Watch online videos by top leadership experts on YouTube and other sites. Talk to other leaders and see how they do things; exchange ideas.

The more you continually evaluate yourself and your practices and search for as much information on leadership as possible, the more you will be able to keep up with changing times and the better leader you will be for it.

Should I or shouldn’t I?

Sometimes it seems easier to just do it yourself

Most of us would have said to ourselves: “It would have been easier if I had done it myself”.

Decision Illustration

Communication is a difficult process. It is easy to forget to tell someone a key piece of information when passing on information or giving them instructions. Consequently, people may not do exactly as you expect. So is this a reason to stop trying? No – I believe it is a reason to get better at communicating. Both parties should learn something.

I remember an incident very early in my career. I was asked to do an accounting task. Apparently I did not do it correctly. The manager concerned redid the task, without telling me. I found out from somebody else. The manager was angry. I was angry too because I had not had the opportunity to learn. I was also upset that I had made mistakes. I did not want to do that either. It was a no-win situation. I should have asked for more guidance. The manager should have had better controls in place. We both should have learnt from the experience.

This article is about allocating tasks as well as delegation. There is a difference, see: What is effective delegation? – effective delegation is defined and discussed.
The long term benefits

A useful parable is:

Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime – Author unknown.

Most of us have seen this parable before. Yet many choose to ignore it. Why?

As explained above, communication difficulties causing frustration can be a starting point. Another reason can be a lack of appreciation of what the parable is saying. Sometimes it takes a little longer to explain or train someone in a task or delegation. But if it is a repetitive task, the time saving in the long run can be very substantial. This increases personal productivity. It can also have motivational effect which also increases performance.

Recently, the power of this parable has been brought home to me. In a world where there is so much to do, it is essential that we pass on our knowledge and skills to others, so they in turn can pass on that knowledge and skills to others as well. The parable can be taken at face value as a story, but it also applies literally. We really should be teaching people how to fish.

Our time is such a critical resource. Failure to concentrate on the more important things is a waste. It is easy to work on the more straight forward tasks, but if you have people that you can delegate these tasks to – do so. Do it for their sake. Do it for your sake. Show people that you trust them. Allow them to develop their skills further. Take responsibility for your actions. Start doing it today. Make the world a better place.

Best Practice in Developing Business Budgets

Developing a business budget is an exercise that all accountants undertake on an annual basis and which forms an integral part of any successful business planning.

A budget is a document that allocates financial, physical and human resource use over a specified period of time to attain certain goals.

A good budget upholds organizations’ long-term goals and should allocate resources to activities that will drive the company towards achievement of such goals.

The following are the best practices adopted by world class businesses while developing a budget:

1. Link budget development to corporate strategy

To best serve the company’s long term goals and objectives the managers develop a budget that is in line with the company’s corporate strategy.

This unites together personnel in focusing what matters most to the organization and avoids uncoordinated and scattered efforts by various departments and managers.

Read more on corporate governance:

2. Leverage on technology while designing the budget

More companies are automating their budget management to ease the process and also involve every stakeholder as much as possible. When developing a budget it is best that every stakeholder is kept in the loop on progress during the budget implementation period on performance.

Technology eases business budgeting process and makes it possible for line managers inputs to be incorporated in the budget. Effective technology can be used to make, updating and track of budget much easier.

3. Tie employee incentives to performance measures

To ensure that the business budgeting is a success leading companies tie organization reward system to how best they meet the budget. While managers are expected to uphold the organizational goals in some instances they can engage in counter productive activities creating risks. Tying budget to the reward system can bring a balanced conduct within the management.

4. Keep an eye of cost management in the budgeting

Managers should keep abreast current costs and probable futures costs to ensure that they provide the budget developers with accurate and relevant information.

This is very useful as it reduces time and cost of developing a budget, since information is readily available.

5. Manage effectively the budget process

To develop a quality budget at low cost the managers should streamline the process by ensuring necessary information is available for access during budgeting and avoid possible delaying circumstances. This will ensure the budget cycle is cost effective and budget developed is effective.

6. Ensure that the budget is flexible to accommodate change

A good budget should be flexible such that it can incorporate changes in the future. Ideally the future cannot be fully be determined and therefore a good budget should be one that can accommodate changes brought by uncertainties in the future.

Management power

I left my office for five minutes one day this week. When I returned, the first thing I noticed was a new addition on the top of my desk.

One of my sons had been sorting my old files. He found a nameplate (a sign with an old organisation logo and the name ‘Derek Stockley’ printed on it). It had a very attractive wood grain appearance and still looks quite smart many years later.

My son didn’t realise that there was a story behind the nameplate – he just thought he was being funny.

Everyone in the organisation had a nameplate made for them. Each one was made inhouse by a workshop facility. When a new employee started, a request would go through to the workshop.

I happened to be acting as the administration manager of that workshop shortly after I started. Consequently, the employee who made the nameplates came to my office and I made my request.

When my nameplate arrived, I was pleasantly surprised by its appearance. It had the woodgrain finish rather than the standard corporate colours.

I didn’t think much more about it. Sometime later I saw the employee again. He made a remark about how he had carefully chosen the woodgrain finish to match my desk and office furniture.

Without knowing, my management position had influenced his behaviour. He had paid extra care and attention to what to him would have been a very regular task.

We often do not realise the power we exercise over others. It can come from position and status. It can come from respect and admiration. It can come simply because the person wants ‘to please the boss”.

Whatever the source, power like that is a privilege.

When I conduct training sessions, I am mindful of some research results I once read. The research was about the unconscious power exercised by trainers. When you stand in front of a training group, you wield a lot of power. Participants listen to what you say. Within reason, they will basically do anything you ask of them. They will let you set the agenda and determine how the session will be conducted.

It is the same with management power.

Exercise care with the power you have. Use it wisely and it will reward you.
Personal reflection

Are you aware of the power you have over others?

What is the source of your power? Does it come from status or position? Does it come from admiration and respect?

Do you use your power wisely?
Did you miss it?

Did you see the article about customer relationships?

Business Process Management For Customer Driven Firms – Explained

Business Process Management (BPM) is the definition, management and improvement of a firm’s end-to-end enterprise business processes. For performance-based, customer-driven firms in particular, the goals of BPM are threefold:

1) Clarify the strategic direction

2) Align resources

3) Increase the discipline in daily ops

For customer-driven firms, the concept of BPM spans the entire enterprise, as it involves taking a structured approach to providing customers with the products and services that they find of most value. As a firm grows to understand its key business processes used to meet its customers’ needs, any gaps between the expectations of the customer and business performance wills start to emerge.

The most identifiable processes that are targeted for improvement by businesses are the ones that are ineffective in delivering what the customer requires. Efficient and effective processes save resources while delivering products and/or services according to specifications. As BPM solutions are implemented, the firm as a whole starts to measure performance by customer-driven requirements. Rather than the employees of the business thinking of themselves as managers responsible for functional tasks, they instead see their roles in the context of actually creating loyal, satisfied customers.

Metrics, key performance indicators (KPI), mapping and modeling, process discovery and monitoring, collaboration, and decision-making are all things that make BPM a deliberative discipline used to manage process improvement. distinguishes BPM as a “discipline” as opposed to a “methodology”. By definition, a “discipline” is a form of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, and in this case, Business Process Management produces “process-thinking”. This is in contrast to a “methodology”, which is defined as a “system of methods used in a particular area of study or activity”.

There are nine areas in a cohesive program in order to applying the BPM discipline strategically:

Align Processes with Business Strategy
Modeling/Discovering Processes
Measuring Processes
Benchmarking/Analyzing Processes
Creating Rules
Improving of Processes
Managing Culture Change
Decision Making
Technology Deployment

BPM usage in the enterprise will have its adoption accelerated as those within become more and more experienced in all nine of these areas.

The Risk Management Process

Having identified the risks further work needs to be done to analyse and evaluate the risks. The risk management process is about identifying risks so they can be managed. The process for management involves a cost benefit analysis. What are the consequences of losing an asset or all assets compared to the cost of putting a strategy in place to reduce or nullify that happening.

There are some simple and basic strategies that can reduce some risks for little cost.

These are:

1. Ensure only the people who have to be directors of your company are appointed as directors. Do not just automatically appoint your spouse. If you have an existing company consider removing your spouse as a director and reviewing your affairs with a goal of ensuring that assets held in his/her name are not exposed.
2. Where feasible keep ownership of assets separate from the business operations. If the business fails the assets are not at risk. Your business premises have the potential to be a significant asset and should not be in the same entity as the business.
3. Family Trusts are still useful vehicles for ownership of assets as a method of protection. They are easily set up by your solicitor or purchased off the shelf form your accountant. Use one to keep your personal assets separate as well as your business assets.
4. Review annually all directors guarantees signed to ensure they are still required. Don’t just sign them for creditors as a matter of course. Even if a particular supplier is the only one you wish to or are able to deal with, don’t sign the guarantee and see if they will still open the account?
5. Review your assets annually. Have you got your entire financial future or no financial future tied up in the business? Can you start diversifying so you have investments other than your business? Does your business have a value in the market place or is it just a job?
6. Changes in legislation such as taxation and superannuation can change the strategies for the protection of your assets. Review this annually also.
7. Properly review your insurance renewals each year. Consider your changed circumstances and ensure your insurances take this into account. Insure what you cannot afford to lose.
8. Have a plan – evaluate it and action it regularly

Future articles will consider other strategies for asset protection that may cost more but may provide greater benefits.

Questions have been used by researchers for a long time

A lot of management theory is based on extensive research. The importance of research and discovery is an essential concept in all levels of education. Research is the basis of many higher education studies.

A remark made by a university lecturer many years ago was again reinforced this week. When talking about research, he stated:

“The most important part of successful study is the question. You have to ask the right question. The topic is defined and framed by the question.”

I often think of this quote when I am completing market research questionnaires or surveys. I look carefully at the questions and wonder how useful the information will be. Too often I believe that the questions are so basic that they only really confirm the obvious.

Questions have a broader use. A conference this week highlighted again how important questions are.

After two days of intensive presentations on e-learning, I conducted a workshop with a focus on successful e-learning implementation. One of the things we did was brainstorm a list of questions. The conference presentations had provided a wealth of information about the e-learning process, traps to avoid and how people and organisations had approached e-learning.

By Day 3, there were a lot of ideas, concepts and concrete actions to sort and process.

Participants would need to review the information, carry out some investigation and incorporate the outcome in what they did.

By asking them to list a series of questions that arose from the conference content, a logical framework to tackle the issues raised could be developed.

Examples are:

How computer literate are our staff?

Have they been exposed to e-learning previously?

What is their likely reaction?

We brainstormed many more questions. The questions were developed by thinking about the key points made in the conference presentations.

By using questions, it is possible to analyse in a structured way the many good points that arose from the conference. The questions help define further areas for investigation.


The ‘question process’ has a wider application.

A business manager faced with implementing a major new task might find it daunting, thinking: “Where do I start?”.

Listing a series of questions at first will help sort out the issues clearly.

For example:

What are the expected outcomes?

What resources do I have? Need to obtain?

Who is going to support this project?

A few minutes spent identifying the questions will help define the project.

Top Business Challenge Poor Implementation of Strategy


We are seeing the gyrating door for top officers whirl faster and faster. 2/3rds of all major firms globally have replaced their CEO at least once since 1995. More than 1,000 CEOs have left office over the past 12 months. In 2000, over 40 CEOs of the top 200 companies were fired. When 20 percent of the most powerful business leaders in The United States lose their employment, there is a problem!

So, what has brought down these capable executives? What is the overwhelming problem? In a Fortune article titled, “Why CEOs Fail,” the question was posed, “suppose what brought down all these powerful and undeniable talented executives was just one common failing?”

Top management gurus have been screaming for corporate America to better focus and execute.

Workers are pleading for focus, clearer expectations, and the opportunity to contribute to that focus. FranklinCovey study involved than 400,000 employees who were asked to evaluate their managers. Managers scored lowest in the following areas:

– Prioritizing work so time is spent on most important issues (related to strategy) – Setting clear expectations with employees (related to strategy) – Providing feedback on how to improve – Building teamwork by maximizing the talents of the workgroup

Gallup studied more than 80,000 managers from 400 companies to find out what leadership behaviors are most effective. From that, Gallup identified twelve key behaviors that were most successful. Here are four of those:

– aligning each employee with the mission – letting employees know what is expected – tapping into the talents of employee – talking with the employee about their progress

So how big is this problem?

Some studies show that managers waste 90% of their time on unproductive activities, and only 10% of their time on what proves to have an impact.

FranklinCovey conducted a study of 850 workers from many different companies and found that these (knowledge) workers typically spend 40% of their time on tasks related to the organizations mission-critical objectives. “Imagine the impact on the organization if people were giving 80% or even 60% of their best efforts to your top priorities instead of only 40%?”

Knowledge workers constitute 60% of a typical workforce, and waste up to 60% of their time on low value activities.

Management consultants report that less than ten percent of the business strategies developed get executed.


The solution is an company where every person, every week, knows what they should be doing, how much weight it deserves relative to their other assignments, and how their goals relate to the goals of the people around them — in short, an open system that’s always running in high gear.

4 Ways to Transition From Founder to Successful Manager

soure :

All entrepreneurs dream of founding a startup that turns into a successful venture. But when forming that dream, it’s easy to overlook what will become of your business — and your role within it — once that dream becomes reality.

As customers start rolling in, your company needs leadership and a strategy to stake out the road ahead. In short, it no longer needs a founder; it needs a manager.

Yet management can be a struggle. However, if you own your new role, you have a great chance to fulfill the promise of the startup and start building a real legacy.

Here are a few ways to ease your transition from founder to manager:

1. Build a mission, not a vision.

Starting a business is all about your vision and discovering whether your theory flies in the real world. But once your startup is established, you need to focus on your mission: How you’re going to apply your concept and make it work. Use your initial momentum and build a step-by-step action plan to drive it home.

2. Replace your binoculars with bifocals.

Success isn’t about figuring out the landscape; it’s about understanding your neighborhood. So make your presence known and claim your niche by mastering the details.

Focus on fine tuning and positioning. You already have a good idea of the product, the market and the competition, so make the most of it. Look for opportunities to tweak and improve each individual process you have and pick up even more momentum. Each obstacle is a chance to improve your value proposition and drive up more sales.

3. Scrap the drawing board.

You’ve already proven yourself and your vision, so stop trying to move backward. The manager’s focus should be on improving what already exists rather than reinventing the wheel with each new crisis that comes along.

4. Surround yourself with brilliance.

Managing an organization is all about people skills and trust. As your organization grows, you need to let go of the reins and trust new voices to handle different aspects of your company. Empower your recruiter to find capable people who match the mindset and culture of your existing team. Prioritize attitude and character over specific skills: good people will rise to your level of expectations.

Once you’ve assembled a quality team, make sure you use it to your advantage. Delegate as much as possible, and trust that what must be done will be done. Don’t micromanage. Instead, trust and follow up — that’s what good managers do.

Good managers don’t have to be focused on direction or top-down bossing around. What’s important is finishing what you’ve started. There are plenty of loose ends in the early stages of a startup, and it’s easy to lose track of them when you aren’t focused beyond the big picture. So don’t gaze at the horizon when problems need solving in your own backyard.

Being a founder is about formulating your idea and vision for the future. Being a manager is about something deeper than that; it’s your chance to perfect everything. With the right effort and the right focus, you can take your early success and turn it into a long-lasting triumph.