Dallas (874)

Cloud computing has grown in popularity because it can help boost productivity and reduce costs by allowing organizations and employees to work collaboratively over the Internet from the office and remote locations.

But that ease of access to your business applications and data brings increased risk.

“Cloud computing presents a number of risks, ranging from data leakage to cyberattacks on cloud computing vendors and their customers,” says Jim Stempak, a principal at Crowe Horwath LLP.

Smart Business spoke with Stempak about a methodology to periodically assess cloud computing IT security risks.

What risks are associated with cloud computing?

Whether you sign up for software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS) or some combination of service models, your organization is exposed to risk because security is applied differently than in traditional noncloud IT environments. Additionally, your vendor might not have security standards on par with your own.

Some areas of risk are:

  • Cloud governance risk. Cloud governance refers to controls and processes for cloud planning and strategy, vendor selection, contract negotiation, implementation, operation and possible termination of service. Some companies rush into cloud computing and don’t properly assess risks and implement controls to mitigate them.
  • Weak identity and access management controls. Moving to the cloud can drastically change how customers control access to accounts and computing resources, thus introducing new security risks.
  • Unsecured data connections. With the cloud, much of the data communication takes place outside of your IT environment. It’s important to understand where your data is and assess vendor protection of data in transport and storage.
  • Workforce security risk. Often employees use personal cloud storage services such as Dropbox, Evernote, Google Apps, SkyDrive and iCloud to transfer and store work-related files without authorization or oversight from IT management. A recent Nasuni Corp. survey of 1,300 corporate IT users found one in five respondents put work files in personal Dropbox accounts. Personal cloud storage services lack enterprise-class security protection, and, in turn, could put sensitive data at risk and increase the chance your organization is noncompliant with industry and government standards.


How should a company assess its cloud security risks?

Companies should review all layers of risk associated with the specific use of cloud services in their IT environment. Start with a review of common controls, including cloud governance, identity and access management, and transmission security. A corporate cloud security assessment typically focuses on controls affecting cloud governance, such as cloud planning and strategy, vendor selection, implementation, termination and transition of cloud services; identity and access management, such as account setup, level of access and single sign-on; and secure connectivity, such as encryption, backup plans, logging and monitoring.

You also need to conduct a workforce assessment to identify unauthorized use of personal cloud services, which includes:

  • Network scanning — special software applications scan networks for the most popular services for storing and transferring data in the cloud.
  • Passive monitoring — applications track network traffic to uncover connections with website addresses associated with personal cloud services.
  • Log analysis — servers have log files that capture useful data about network activity to help pinpoint cloud services traffic.
  • Workforce survey — ask if employees are using personal cloud services for work and why. This can help you understand cloud service needs and identify potential risks.

Cloud computing changes the way people work and is here to stay. Organizations need to completely understand how they are using cloud services — in both known and unknown ways — before valuable data winds up in the wrong hands.

Jim Stempak is a principal at Crowe Horwath LLP. Reach him at (214) 777-5203 or jim.stempak@crowehorwath.com.

Insights Accounting is brought to you by Crowe Horwath LLP

Wednesday, 30 October 2013 11:57

How top executives procure success

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Twelve years ago, EY decided to go global with its Entrepreneur Of The Year awards and establish the World Entrepreneur Of The Year program — and the results have been, shall we say, an international success. The conference, held annually in Monaco, features Entrepreneur Of The Year country winners competing for the World Entrepreneur Of The Year title.

Assembling business leaders from around the world in one place to be honored is a huge accomplishment — the wealth of experience, as well as the variety of successful leadership styles, is outstanding.

Here are some thoughts from the collection of the world’s most accomplished entrepreneurs — innovators, futurists, turnaround specialists and problem-solvers — about leadership styles. ●

 

“I built the company based on people, not on experience from before. They were willing to learn and try anything. We had a bunch of people who had never done this before. None of us had run companies. None of us had worked in high levels of companies. None of us were from Fortune 500s. Chobani not only became a business that grew, but Chobani was like a school to us, including myself.”

Hamdi Ulukaya

founder, president and CEO

Chobani Inc.

Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 United States

2013 Entrepreneur Of The World

 

“Early on, the business was centered on me, and I had to make all the decisions alone. Now I share those decisions with my 10 main directors. If there are differences in opinion, I make the last decision.

The other thing is that I have had to ensure that the people who are invited to work here are people with principles, values, integrity, responsibility and passion. If I don’t see a person with passion, they don’t hang around the company very long.”

Lorenzo Barrera Segovia

founder and CEO

Banco Base

Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 Mexico

 

“I’m a very passionate person, which will never change. When you grow, you gain more experience and the kind of problems you face change. As you grow, you need to grow with your organization.”

Martin Migoya

CEO

Globant

Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 Argentina

 

“In the startup days, you have to be very innovative, hire and retain talent, refine your business as you deploy in the marketplace, and you learn things from it. Today, with a solid track record of business success, I can focus on what’s next and think more strategic and long-term than you’re allowed to in the early days. My style has evolved as the business has matured.”

Jim Davis

President

Chevron Energy Solutions

 

“Entrepreneurship and leadership is about always having ideas, knowing that it is possible even though everyone says it is too difficult. Maintain the positive and always have new ideas.”

Mario Hernandez, founder and president, Marroquinera

Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 Colombia

 

“To keep the entrepreneurial spirit and entrepreneurship alive once you've got past the startup base, I think it is making sure people understand why they are there. There are always things you can do to improve your business. You should be rethinking and retooling it every chance you get. The key thing is to make sure everybody in the organization understands the story, where are you going — how are you going to get there? And the belief that you are doing the right thing —people want to know their purpose. Keep the energy going, keep a strong sense of purpose.”

Dr. Alan Ulsifer

CEO, president and chair

FYidoctors

Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 Canada

 

 

“The skill sets of an entrepreneur involve understanding how to create business. Why not work with kids who need it the most and actually teach them and help them to be entrepreneurs? That’s what is going to grow our economy and create stability where otherwise we’re going to have a lot of social unrest.”

Amy Rosen,

President and CEO

Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship

 

“I like to be involved. I want to know everything that is going on. But I have to delegate to my team. That was the biggest adjustment for me, and it’s not an easy thing to do. It’s that delegating to others, trusting them and reinventing yourself. Now that we’ve grown, I put more responsibility on my team and rely on my team more than I once did.”

Corey Shapoff

President and founder

SME Entertainment Group

 

“If someone makes a mistake, what do you do? You laugh with them. You don’t yell at them. You laugh. It just keeps things light and lively and people want to do their very best. You let them know they screwed up, but you also let them know it’s OK.”

J.C. Huizenga

Founder

National Heritage Academies

Wednesday, 30 October 2013 11:46

Listen, learn and lead

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Leaders often talk about how the traits of accountability and transparency helped make them who they are, but to retired Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, who served as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for four years under President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, leadership is quite simply how you listen, learn and lead.

It’s not just a coincidence that communication is as important in the war zone as it is in an organization — and that’s where Mullen emphasizes listening to what his team members have on their minds.

Smart Business talked with Mullen about the challenges of being in command:

Q. What do you see as the most important trait that any leader must possess?

A. Integrity. Be true to yourself, and obviously true to your values. The value of integrity intrinsically has been a driver for me since I was a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy. It has served me exceptionally well.

Integrity encompasses being honest, truthful and consistent — both publicly and privately in leadership positions — and representing that in every situation. It is most evident in the toughest decisions you have to make.

Q. And how can you ensure integrity is present in leadership?

A. What I loved about command was the responsibility and authority that came with it. But more than anything else, the other piece was accountability — accountable leadership. That is not just having someone hold you accountable, but having enough strength yourself as a leader to hold yourself accountable.

I just found that even with those decisions that can be very unpopular, if you are true to that value of integrity, even if it may not seem to some to be the best decision, it [integrity] holds you in the best stead as a leader over the long term. And because of that, it becomes incredibly supportive of those very, very tough decisions.

Q. So what can help a leader make those tough decisions more effectively?

A. As a more senior leader, I learned to keep a diversity of views around me. The more senior I got, the more diverse the people, the recommendations and the discussions had to be in order for me to make the right decision.

I had people around me who were willing to say, ‘Hey, this is when you got it wrong,’ as opposed to the opposite, which is isolation, where nobody will tell the emperor [he] doesn’t have any clothes on.

Q. You’ve mentioned the importance of listening to others in order to help you become a better leader. How did you do that?

A. Everywhere I went, whether we had a town hall meeting or we could call an all-hands meeting, I would take questions from the audience. So, for example, when a young enlisted man would give me a question of which I didn’t know the answer, I said, “I don’t know the answer, but give me your email address. I will go research it and get back to you.”

I did that. I went back and looked at whatever their concern was. And some of those concerns generated significant changes in the military, or in the particular service they were in. For me, as chairman, that was a vital part of trying to understand what I was asking them to do, and then taking that feedback and trying to fix the problem that they raised — if it made sense to do it.

A good leader can make such a difference, and create something out of nothing, whereas a bad leader is unable to do that. The ingredient that makes a difference is leadership. ●

 

Retired Navy Adm. Mike Mullen served more than 43 years in the Navy, having served as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007 to 2011, and as chief of naval operations from 2005 to 2007. He will be the keynote speaker at the Dec. 5 American Red Cross Hero Awards. Learn more about the Hero Awards at www.clevelandheroes.com.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013 11:42

Beyond conversion

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Consider this business scenario: You’ve landed a big account for your company by converting a highly prized prospect into a valuable client. The new client has hired you to handle a specific scope of work and is counting on your team’s ability to deliver work that goes above and beyond.

While nothing is more important than delivering great customer service to satisfy the client, you may not realize that you’re probably overlooking unrealized opportunities to forge a stronger relationship with your customer.

In today’s business landscape, most large companies offer an array of products and services. More often than not, however, your clients use you for a specific service or skill set. And unfortunately, in this scenario, most companies focus solely on the task at hand — delivering what they’ve been contracted to deliver — failing to take ample time to think about the bond they’re creating with the client and what could be next.

In more simple terms, it is one thing to provide service that keeps a customer; it is another to keep that customer and expand the relationship to become a trusted partner.

Provide value in a deliberate way

The good news is that this is an easy fix. Establish a content marketing program that allows you to distribute thought leadership to your clients.

A content marketing program will help you provide value that other service providers may not, and when clients see you as an informational resource and partner, it will be easier to expand the relationship.

Take this example into consideration: You are an insurance provider and your main product is life insurance, therefore most of the communication you have with your clients surrounds that topic.

With a comprehensive content marketing program in place, however, you can educate your clients on the recent trends in the insurance industry and how that affects the individual. At the same time, you can give them an overview of your company’s wellness program and let them know that if they joined, they could reduce their monthly premiums.

As you can see, you’re not just providing your client with the original service, you’re also providing them with both your thought leadership — aka value — and additional offerings.

Personal connections payoff

Aside from providing value to the client with the content you distribute, a strong content marketing program allows you to showcase your brand’s personality. Clients will be able to connect with your brand on a more personal level.

Providing continually updated content through the right channels to the right clients enhances your day-to-day communications. Clients start seeing you as thought leaders and partners instead of just service providers.

It will help you expand relationships and, as a result, generate new business through more products and services.

Show them more than just what they see on the surface — show them how active you are in the community, or how much fun you had during a recent company outing. If may sound trivial, but your clients do similar things, and seeing you connect with the community and/or employees will help forge a more personal connection. You never know; you and your client may support the same charity, organization or team.

Open communication also will help strengthen relationships to the point where you can capture a premium price and eliminate price-jumping clients. Clients will pay more for a valuable relationship than simply look to get the lowest price elsewhere. ●

 

David Fazekas is vice president of marketing services for SBN Interactive. Reach him at dfazekas@sbninteractive.com or (440) 250-7056.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013 11:37

Watch your margin

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You would think someone like Douglas Merrill would be a heavy multitasker, with multiple devices in hand, fielding several conversations — both real and virtual — simultaneously.

But you would be wrong.

Merrill, who was the CIO at Google until 2008, doesn’t like to multitask. He says that when you do it, you aren’t using your brain’s full capacity and aren’t as effective. He recommends focusing on one thing at a time.

Billionaire Mark Cuban has his own time management strategy. Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, says you should completely avoid meetings unless you are closing a deal. Otherwise, he says, they are a waste of time.

Both of these proven leaders have learned that how you manage your time is paramount to your effectiveness.

As a CEO, you are swamped every day with calls and emails from people wanting a piece of your time. Some are internal, some are charity requests, some are from friends or family members and others are from service providers.

To help wade through this sea of information, it’s important to have a system in place to help you free up time to think about your business and the things that matter most in life. These open times are what author Richard Swenson refers to as “margin.” They are the spaces between ourselves and our limits that are reserved for emergencies.

But for many business leaders, there are no spaces left.

The way out of this trap is to set clear goals and values for yourself and your organization. Once you do that, you will have a filter through which to evaluate everything. Everything will have an immediate yes or no answer, eliminating the “let me think about it” category completely.

The key is to establish what your goals are first and then prioritize what is important. With your priorities straight, you will find more time to put toward important things on your goals list, but don’t forget to leave time on your daily schedule. There is no way to foresee all emergencies, so by leaving yourself some margin, when something unexpected happens, you already have time built in to deal with it.

Once you have margin built into your life, you have to have the discipline to stick to it. There will always be the temptation to take every meeting or answer every email. But if you use your goals and priorities as a filter, those requests are easily either accepted or declined based on where they fall on your priority list.

If you want a life where you can experience more peace and joy and less anxiety, start looking at your priorities and establish some margin in your daily schedule. ●

Wednesday, 30 October 2013 07:31

What to do if you’re under a public, verbal attack

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Deny, deny, deny; fall, tuck and roll; or put your head in the sand?

The quick answer to this headline is none of the above. A leader, by definition, must do exactly that — lead, which means being in front of a variety of audiences, including employees, investors and customers. Not everyone is going to be a gung-ho supporter. Sooner or later you’ll encounter a naysayer who either has a point to prove or is on a mission to make you and your company look bad.

Many of these verbal confrontations come out of nowhere and when least expected. As the representative of your organization, it is your responsibility to manage these situations and recognize that sometimes a “win” can simply minimize the damage.

When under siege, it’s human instinct to fight, flee or freeze. Typically these behavioral responses aren’t particularly productive in a war of words. Engaging in verbal fisticuffs could simply escalate the encounter, giving more credence to the matter than deserved.

If you flee by ignoring the negative assertions, you’ll immediately be presumed guilty as charged. It’s hard to make your side of the story known if you put your head in the sand.

By freezing, you’ll appear intellectually impotent. Worse yet, pooh-poohing a question will only fuel the aggressor’s determination to disrupt the proceedings. You could use a SWAT-type police and military technique to elude a confronter by falling, tucking and rolling to safety, but that usually only works on the silver screen.

Perhaps the best method to manage unwelcome adversaries is to be prepared prior to taking center stage. This applies to live audiences or a virtual gathering when you’re speaking to multiple participants, which is common practice for public company CEOs during quarterly analyst conference calls.

Most gatherings of this nature include a Q&A segment where the tables are turned on the speaker who must be prepared to respond to inquiries both positive and negative.

Before any such meeting, it is critical to contemplate and rehearse how you would respond to thorny or adverse statements or questions.

A good practice is to put the possible questions in writing and then craft your responses, hoping, of course, that they won’t be needed. This is no different from what the President of the United States or the head of any city council does prior to a press conference or presentation. The advantage of this exercise is that it tends to sharpen your thinking and causes you to explore issues from the other perspective.

In some cases you’ll find yourself in an awkward or difficult situation where there is no suitable yes or no answer, or when the subject of the interrogatory is so specific it is applicable to only a very few.

The one-off question is easiest to handle by stating that you or your representative will answer the question following the session rather than squander the remaining time on something that does not interest or affect the majority.

The more difficult question is one that will take further investigation and deliberation, in which case the best course of action is to say exactly that. Answer by asserting that rather than giving a less-than-thoughtful response to a question that deserves more research, you or your vicar will get back with the appropriate response in short order. This helps to protect you from shooting from the hip only to later regret something that can come back to haunt you.

Effective speakers and leaders have learned that the best way to counter antagonism is through diplomacy. It’s much more difficult for the antagonist to continue to fight with a polite, unwilling opponent.

Finally, when being challenged, never personalize your response against your questioner; always control your temper; and don’t linger on a negative. Keep the proceedings moving forward and at the conclusion keep your promise to follow up with an answer. This will build your credibility and allow you to do what you do best, lead. ●

 

Michael Feuer co-founded OfficeMax in 1988, starting with one store and $20,000 of his own money. During a 16-year span, Feuer, as CEO, grew the company to almost 1,000 stores worldwide with annual sales of approximately $5 billion before selling this retail giant for almost $1.5 billion in December 2003. In 2010, Feuer launched another retail concept, Max-Wellness, a first of its kind chain featuring more than 7,000 products for head-to-toe care. Feuer serves on a number of corporate and philanthropic boards and is a frequent speaker on business, marketing and building entrepreneurial enterprises. “The Benevolent Dictator,” a book by Feuer that chronicles his step-by-step strategy to build business and create wealth, published by John Wiley & Sons, is now available. Reach him with comments at mfeuer@max-wellness.com.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013 11:26

Is your next big thing built to last?

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My 7-year-old son Cole recently gave me a Rainbow Loom bracelet, which is made of linked rubber bands. It is today’s school-age children’s craze, and Novi, Michigan-based Choon’s Design LLC is churning out the kits at a record pace.

With more than 1 million units sold in the last 24 months, Rainbow Loom is the brainchild of Choon Ng, a former Nissan crash safety engineer who invented it while working on a craft project for his daughters.

And Rainbow Loom, it turns out, isn’t its original name. When it was created, it was called Twistz Bandz.

Timing is everything, and Twistz Bandz may have sounded a bit too much like Silly Bandz — the last “wrist” craze that swept the nation. Between November 2008 and early 2011, every school-age child in sight was wearing layer upon layer of Silly Bandz on their wrists. It was as hot a product as anything since Beanie Babies.

Twistz Bandz’s arrival, it seems, happened just as Silly Bandz ran into what every hot new product eventually faces: competition. Look-a-likes with similar-sounding names began flooding the market. They were cheaper, and you could buy them more readily at more retail locations. The core brand quickly diluted. So Ng did what any smart businessperson would: He changed the dynamics of the situation.

Thus, Rainbow Loom was born.

Enter social media

Within a few months, the product — which allows its young owners to custom-create bracelets — was gaining attention. Much of this was due to a full-tilt social media blitz, including videos on YouTube and an engaging Facebook page, where users could share their designs.

More recently, Ng has become vigilant in protecting his patent and U.S. trademark — battling all wannabe competitors from launching similar-sounding products and flooding the market to dilute his own brand.

His success — or failure — is yet-to-be determined. But his efforts will prove fruitless if he’s not already looking ahead to the next product. This is the dirty little secret to any hot toy craze and the core dilemma every business leaders faces: How do you remain relevant as consumers’ wants, needs and desires ebb and flow — sometimes as swiftly as the wind changes direction. 

Get beyond being a fad

Success in business relies upon building a sustainable operation that will outlast any cyclical “must have” product explosion.

There needs to be the creation of an idea continuum — an innovation factory, if you will. Innovative leaders must review, measure and adapt a company’s products, services and solutions to the changing whims of the marketplace. You need to talk to customers, vendors and prospects. And you need to regularly take the pulse of the market.

If you haven’t taken at least some of the gains from today’s success and invested it into research and development for tomorrow, you’re already losing ground. Today is today, and just like the disclaimers for financial investing warn — past performance does not indicate future results.

In the end, the only thing that matters is this: Is your next big thing built to last? Or, like every other craze that’s every hit the market, will your opportunities to remain relevant long into the future fade away after the competition creeps in and dilutes your market? ●

 

Dustin S. Klein is publisher and vice president of operations for Smart Business. Reach him at dsklein@sbnonline.com or (440) 250-7026.

Succeeding a popular, long-term CEO is never easy, but it’s especially hazardous in the IT services industry where even the slightest change can disrupt a firm’s delicate equilibrium. But then again, the industry really hadn’t seen the likes of Tony Doye. He’s the charismatic leader of CompuCom Systems Inc. who was hired as divisional CEO and heir apparent to veteran CEO Jim Dixon in November 2012.

Historically, sloppy leadership transitions in the tech world have led to the mass exodus of scarce professionals, customer defections and shareholder revolts, and as Doye says, there is always nervousness when a new leader comes in from outside the company.

“In addition, our styles and approach to the business are totally different,” he says. “Jim comes from the sales side, and I’m operationally-driven, so I’m sure people were concerned about how I might impact the company’s growth and future.”

Even CompuCom’s board was anxious, and for good reason. Research has found that when companies fail to effectively integrate senior executives, they face lost opportunity costs of about 10 to 20 percent of the executive’s salary. Worse yet, failures can lead to public distrust, resulting in loss of productivity and social costs of about $14 billion per year. Hewlett-Packard’s infamous botched succession sent the high-powered brand spiraling into decline, and its leaders are still struggling to right the ship.

Although CompuCom’s board initially wanted a longer transition period, the ex-IBM’er with a dry sense of humor and beguiling British accent quelled their fears, ascending to the helm of the $2.3 billion firm last May.

Here’s an in-depth look at Doye’s well-thought-out and expertly executed transition strategy.

 

Get off on the right foot

Transitions are a critical time for outsiders who haven’t established trust or credibility with the staff or the board. Missteps made during the crucial first three months can jeopardize a CEO’s success and career.

To avoid a fumbled handoff, Dixon branded Doye as a capable successor who could take CompuCom to the next level by winning major clients and the attention of industry analysts. Moreover, he touted Doye’s operational expertise as a much-needed resource for creating sustainable growth including the firm’s expansion into emerging areas such as mobile device management and cloud services.

“No one could deny the facts about what the company needed,” Doye says. “But the emotional, cultural side of a transition is difficult to navigate because it’s not straightforward.”

Offering value instead of criticism is the best way to get off the ground with tenured employees, especially when you’re taking over a healthy operation where change is needed but the staff is content with the status quo.

“I didn’t brand myself as a replacement or someone who was coming in to make a lot of changes, although both Jim and I knew that some things needed to be changed,” he says. “Instead, I presented myself as someone with unique strengths who could add value to the organization, especially in the marketing and operations area.”

Doye did a lot of listening during the first 30 days and used Dixon as a barometer to gauge workers’ reactions and his progress while attending meetings and strategy sessions.

“You don’t want to come off as a know-it-all or someone who has all the answers,” he says. “You have to listen and understand the situation and the culture before offering your opinion.”

After waiting patiently for 45 days, Doye finally got a chance to strut his operational stuff when he immersed himself in the delinquent budgeting process and got things back on track by sharing his insights and recommendations.

“I got a sense of the company’s structure and political landscape by participating in the budgeting process and used the umbrella of naïveté to offer my two cents,” says Doye. “Immersing yourself in a major process or sales effort is a good way to get a feel for an organization because you have a chance to view things from the ground level.”

 

Build credibility and mindshare for your ideas

After achieving fame as a budget rescuer, Doye sensed that it was time to seize control. He created a SWOT analysis and presented his assessment of CompuCom’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the board and members of the executive team.

“A SWOT analysis is a safe and palatable format for showcasing your ideas because it highlights the good things that should be preserved and frames shortcomings as opportunities,” he says. “I wanted to present my ideas before I became imbued in the culture and was viewed as part of the problem instead of part of the solution.”

He socialized his ideas, solicited feedback from the staff while cementing a list of initial priorities and an action plan. Even reluctant staffers gave credence to Doye’s recommended changes after hearing his on-point assessment of the company’s strengths.

“If the company is struggling, then you can start calling the shots immediately because the staff tends to fall in line,” Doye says. “When you come in as part of a succession plan, then I think you need to build support for your ideas before taking action or challenging the way things are done because employees aren’t expecting a lot of change.

“I used the SWOT analysis as a way to stimulate a dialogue at a very high level about change without firing a rifle shot across the bow,” he says. “Even though CompuCom is a billion dollar company, you need to respect its history and family-oriented culture.”

Within 60 days, Doye had moved from socialization to action by launching a series of initiatives. By prioritizing programs that address widely accepted needs, you can avoid friction.

“Everyone agreed that we needed to clarify our message and get it out there, so we launched a new marketing communications plan and worked on portfolio management,” he says. “Meanwhile, I gathered evidence and continued to engage people in ongoing discussions.”

 

Conquer fear with facts

It’s difficult for an outsider to inspire change when the staff doesn’t share your view or recognize the problems.

“The challenge is trying to convince people to change when they don’t know what they don’t know,” Doye says.

So Doye referenced data and insight collected from one-on-one dialogues with customers to validate the opportunities in his SWOT analysis while slowly garnering support for his seemingly renegade ideas.

“I wanted to remove the emotion of change by engaging our staff in fact-based discussions, so I reiterated what I heard during customer visits because their opinions aren’t disputable,” Doye says. “At the same time I collected data to highlight our operational shortfalls.”

For example, he wanted to rationalize the company’s portfolio by discontinuing one-off services that weren’t scalable and squandered valuable resources. In addition, he sought to streamline the assimilation of new customers by aligning delivery and sales, adopting new guidelines and approval processes for pending deals and deploying uniform performance and customer service measures across all service lines.

While he says he didn’t want to create a bureaucracy, he continued to link the need for structure, clear decision-making processes and greater visibility into the company’s performance to sustained growth and attainment of CompuCom’s long-term goals.

“It’s easier to invoke change if you adjust your strategy to leverage the culture,” he says. “In our case, the customer is king, so the staff was more likely to support my ideas if they improved the customer experience.”

When Doye encountered resistance, he kept his cool, reiterated his goals and kept listening.

“It may take a little longer, but if you listen to people and continue to lay out your case, most of them will eventually come around,” Doye says. “If they don’t, then you have to have a conversation, and if that doesn’t resolve the issue, you have to move on.”

Doye refers to his ascension to the helm of CompuCom as a journey, not a destination, as he continues to muster support for his strategies.

“I’ve succeeded by being smooth, calm and persistent,” he says. “I wasn’t perfect but I did enough to convince Jim, the board, the shareholders and the employees that I’m the right person to lead CompuCom.”

 

Takeaways:

  • Get off on the right foot.
  • Build credibility and mindshare for your ideas.
  • Conquer fear with facts.

 

The Doye File

Name: Tony Doye
Title: CEO
Company: CompuCom Systems Inc.

Birthplace: Doye refers to himself as Cockney, because he was born near St. Paul’s Cathedral in the center of London.

Education: Doye become a telecom apprentice at 16 and joined IBM at 20. He completed the Stanford University Graduate School of Business Executive Program and post-graduate work at The Open University and Cambridge University’s management program for executives. 

How did your early days at IBM prepare you to become a CEO? IBM had great management training in those days. I made a number of lateral moves, working in everything from customer-facing roles, sales and engineering and got my first exposure to outsourcing there. 

What was the best business advice you ever received? I learned several key lessons from my managers during my 10 years at IBM. First, stay in touch with the business when you become a manager, otherwise you won’t be able to keep up with technology changes. Second, you’re always on when you move from manager to leader, so keep your guard up at all times. 

Who do you admire most in business and why? Mike Laphen, the former CEO of CSC, mentored and coached me, but most importantly, he taught me to take chances when it comes to people. He taught me to avoid ‘group think’ by mixing people and diversifying teams and having the courage to stand by your decisions. 

What is your definition of business success? IT services is second only to the retail industry in terms of difficulty. It’s competitive, margins are slim, things commoditize quickly and the employee value proposition is difficult. You’re successful when attrition is reasonable, shareholders are happy, customers are happy, margins are reasonable and morale is good. It sounds easy, but it’s not easy to achieve. 

What are your tips for a successful leadership succession? Don’t hide in your office; get out there and talk to people. Fix easy problems right away while you build support for the more difficult items on your agenda. Avoid the appearance of picking favorites. Give every one equal time. Don’t react too quickly. Count to 10, keep listening and keep your game face on.

 

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Tuesday, 29 October 2013 16:36

Building a culture of productive risk-taking

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The truly wimpy have already written off this article because they are afraid of risk, so you are likely already beating them in the marketplace, or soon will be. Investment is risk, innovation is risk, creativity is risk, growth is risk. These are things that organizations and leaders say they want to include in their enterprise, but risk is a word they shy away from. This needs to change.

In order to encourage risk-taking that is productive in an organization, the environment needs to be right. This is where leadership is required. 

What does ‘almost’ look like?

When you take a risk, you don’t always succeed. It doesn’t mean that you fail; sometimes you just get “almost” the result you were looking for.

It is critical to understand what it looks like within the organization when something doesn’t quite reach the result. Is the team punished, embarrassed publicly, ignored, no longer trusted? Or is there acceptance, an ability to learn from mistakes, a quickening of the bond between the team so that they can avoid the issue in the future? 

Is calculated risk discussed and shared?

When an opportunity or challenge develops in an organization, one of the most powerful training grounds for the team is the discussion of the options available. When we broaden the team that gets exposure to the “what-if” discussions, we are training them on the critical thinking of risk-taking.

Within the discussions of the various options, the pros and cons and the comfort levels of each, employees get insight into the organization’s tolerance for various types of risks. Hearing the early data and seeing the decision-making process unfold will allow their future decisions to be more calculated to the balance of the enterprise’s principles. 

Innovation is risk

The true nature of innovation, solving a requirement in a new way, is taking a risk. An improvement is just doing something better, but an innovation is changing the game.

Sometimes people don’t like change. Sometimes the innovation is ready before the market is. But progress depends on innovation; giving an environment that allows risk-taking is critical to innovation.

It is never enough to only give the R&D department the risk-taking reins. Allowing voices to be heard throughout an organization fosters engagement. 

Does risk-taking require the death of accountability?

Contrary to the risk naysayer voice, accountability is a key element of risk-taking. Knowing where ideas are coming from and who owns resources and decision-making frees the innovators to navigate the organization and get progress pushed through.

Accepting risk does not mean mistakes are swept under the carpet and disregarded. It means the risk-takers are recognized for the bravery, tapped for their knowledge and when necessary, called on the carpet if they are reckless.

Risk and recklessness should never be considered the same thing. Accountability is the guardian of responsible risk-taking. 

In order to progress, choices are constantly being made. Recognizing that millions of decisions are constantly in flux aids in developing a productive risk environment. Accepting and constructively discussing the risks and results will allow for continual improvements to be made throughout the organization. And sometimes … we just have to lighten up. 

Lois Melbourne is the co-founder and former CEO of Aquire, a software company in the talent management space. After selling Aquire, she is exploring options with her co-founder and husband, while working on a series of children’s books about careers you can follow worthy of the things you love to do. 

 

The vast amount of public funds and programs in federal, state and local governments can make it difficult to keep track of expenditures. Far too many people seize this opportunity to commit fraud, which in turn halts intended improvements or services.

For example, the Houston-based Dubuis Health System and Southern Crescent Hospital for Specialty Care Inc., in Riverdale, Ga., were accused of overcharging Medicare. The hospitals allegedly hospitalized patients longer than necessary to obtain larger reimbursements from the government. They agreed to repay the U.S. government $8 million to resolve various False Claims Act (FCA) allegations dating back to 2003.

“When fraud involving public funds occurs, the amount of goods or services those funds can purchase diminishes, and taxpayer dollars are wasted. Constituents see declining value. Public officials and stakeholders face questions regarding the use of tax dollars or other people’s money,” says Trish Fritsche, a senior manager in Forensics and Litigation Services at Weaver.

Smart Business spoke with Fritsche about how public sector officials and other stakeholders can respond to fraud schemes with the help of forensic accountants.

What are the most prevalent fraud methods used in the public sector?

Common ways to divert public funds from intended use are asset misappropriation, corruption and financial statement fraud. Although internal controls can be put in place to prevent fraud, in reality, fraud is potentially as unlimited as the human ingenuity to circumvent those controls.

How should organizations respond?

Once an incident of suspected fraud is identified via a hotline or other source, questions to ask include:

  • Should the investigation be handled internally or externally?
  • Who are the stakeholders?
  • What are the resources needed?
  • Should the entity self-report fraud?

At this time, attorneys and forensic accountants may need to become involved. Forensic accountants possess the skills necessary to appropriately respond in a crisis. They understand how to discover and develop information that can be used by governmental entities, boards and others with fiduciary responsibility. Forensic accountants also provide consulting services or expert testimony. They work closely with law enforcement and others to properly address the fraudulent conduct.

What laws can assist with addressing fraudulent conduct?

The Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009 (FERA), enacted just after the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, seeks to reduce fraud involving federal money and property. The act expanded various civil and criminal fraud statutes to include mortgage businesses, as well as entities associated with recovery act funding.

Liability under the FCA was originally limited to individuals or entities that directly or indirectly induced payment by the federal government. FERA, however, expanded that. Now, the FCA not only applies to direct recipients of government funds, but also to any contractor or other entity receiving funds. It explicitly prohibits the retention of government overpayments to individuals or entities.

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) was enacted in 1970 to combat organized-crime activities. It has since been used to prosecute other offenses, including fraud cases involving government funds. Under RICO, anyone who has committed any two crimes from a list of 27 federal and eight state crimes —such as bribery, embezzlement and money laundering — within a 10-year period can be charged with racketeering. RICO allows a U.S. Attorney to temporarily seize a defendant’s assets and prevent the transfer of potentially forfeitable property. In addition, private parties are allowed to file civil lawsuits under certain circumstances.

Each fraudulent act involving public sector funds not only decreases the funds available, it also causes constituents to lose faith in officials. Effectively combatting fraud enables entities to do the greatest good for the greatest number, while establishing trust among all stakeholders.

Trish Fritsche, CPA, CFF, CITP, CGMA, is a senior manager in Forensics and Litigation Services at Weaver. Reach her at (800) 332-7952 or trish.fritsche@weaver.com.

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