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Tag Archives: Management

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Who should absorb home office costs?

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If there’s been one bright spot in the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s the ability of employees to work from home. According to a new report by Owl Labs and Global Workplace Analytics, employees love working from home, and 77% of respondents say that even after COVID-19 is over, they would be happier if they could continue working from home.

However, the report also reveals that only 20 to 25% of companies pay or share the cost of home office equipment, furniture, internet, etc. And employees believe that companies should be paying more.

“Before the pandemic, working from home was perceived as a privilege — something a person chose to do; but now they don’t have a choice,” says Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics. “Understandably, employees don’t feel they should have to go ‘out of pocket’ to cover new costs.”

The report also reveals that many employees are saving money by working at home. “While most are saving somewhere between $2,500 and $4,000 a year, that savings doesn’t come in a lump sum they can spend on office furniture or technology.” (These savings are likely in transportation, clothing, and the cost of eating out.)

And there’s another factor that could explain why remote workers want help paying for their work-from-home necessities: the demographics of remote workers have changed. “Before the pandemic, it was mostly the older, more senior, higher-paid employees that were allowed to work from home,” Lister says. “Now, everyone’s doing it and those at the lower end of the wage scale are feeling the pinch.”

Plus, workers aren’t the only people saving money as the result of a remote workforce. Companies are saving money on utilities, security and cleaning personnel, snacks and various paper products (including toilet paper and paper towels) and some renters have even discontinued their leases. “I think people see how much money their employers are likely to save by reducing their real estate costs and some might feel they deserve a share,” Lister says.

Adam Gordon is the co-founder of PTO Genius, an HR tech platform that helps companies increase employee satisfaction and engagement. “Organizations provide employees the right supplies at the office so they can be engaged, happy and productive.” And he says that shouldn’t be any different if employees are forced to work from home. “After all, how can you expect an employee to do their best if they don’t have a functional computer or they’re spending 8 hours in a chair that doesn’t provide back support?”

Gordon points to a survey by Procurify that reveals 32% of professionals said they’d never worked at home prior to COVID-19. Understandably, they wouldn’t already have the tools needed to do so effectively. “Working from your couch or perched uncomfortably at your kitchen table gets old fast,” he says. “You want to ensure employees are both comfortable and productive, so providing employees with necessary tools is critical now more than ever.” Plus, there’s another bonus to helping employees set up a home office. “An organization that contributes to these set up costs sets an example that shows they care for their employees’ well-being.”

And Lister says that employers do feel that they should take responsibility for at least some of the home office costs. “Equipping people with necessary technology was a priority right out of the gate — without it, employees could not function.” But now, so many months into this new work arrangement — especially since there is no definite end in sight, she says they may need to increase their efforts. “Many, if not most, are realizing that an ergonomic chair and desk are important for employee health and productivity,” she says. “Working at the dining room table for eight or more hours a day is an invitation to repetitive stress and muscular skeletal injuries.”

According to research by Namely, 47% of employees say their monitors, laptops, and desks were being subsidized, and 41% felt that companies should also be paying for Wi-Fi. In addition, 11% thought ergonomic support was crucial.

“The issue of home-office reimbursements could become a legal problem if an employer doesn’t follow certain state and federal laws,” Gordon says. “In some states, including Massachusetts, Illinois, California and Montana, employers are legally required to reimburse their employees for certain business-related expenses that they pick up on the job, regardless of wage,” he explains. “Meanwhile, in every state, employers must reimburse minimum-wage workers for job-related expenses.”

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8 typography design trends for 2021

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Typography transforms words from mere text to artful communication. So much can be said by the font and type design — from prominent, bold sans-serif fonts to delicate serifs; from traditional, timeless variations to totally new techniques.

Typography’s prominence in modern culture and business was influenced by the Bauhaus art movement. Herbert Bayer was a student of Bauhaus and left a prominent mark on typography by adopting the principles of reductive minimalism.

Another artist, Jan Tschichold wrote “Die Neue Typographie” — The New Typography. The book was published in 1928, and called “a masterpiece of the modern typography and graphic design.” This book helped standardize and modernize communication styles that affected many designers and advertisers.

While the strong roots were laid early in the 20th century, the explosion of digital graphics mediums and designers themselves has allowed for a wide array of amazing ideas and evolution. Some ideas are simply fads, while others are trends that are here to stay. We’ve highlighted what we see as the top typography trends for 2021.

Infographic courtesy The Word Counter

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Lazy motions and casual votes

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The meeting was gaveled to order. After introductions, motions were made to approve the minutes and accept the financial report.

Next on the agenda were committee reports. Actions needing board approval were presented with rationale, performance metrics and fiscal impact.

When the recommendation had merit, the board chair asked, “Does anybody want to make a motion?”

Lazy Motions

Motions often entail a directive, deadline or have financial consequences. Specificity is key.

Lazy motions occur when directors are not paying close attention. Discussion occurs and the chair “calls the question” or asks the board to vote.

If the motion was not clear at the start, or restated before the vote, you may hear a chorus from the directors, “I’m OK with it, yeah sure, sounds good to me, aye, yes.”

Ask the group about what was passed, and some have no clue. “I voted because the rest of the board liked it,” an example of “group think.” Or, “I thought I heard the motion, but I guess not.”

As far as directors know, it could have been a motion ranging from ordering tacos for lunch to spending $10,000 on computers. Rather than asking that the motion be restated, they feign they know the specifics and simply concur.

Casual Votes

When directors, especially new ones, hear a lazy motion followed by a casual vote, they think it is acceptable governance practices.

The senior directors may have a casual approach at meetings, “yeah, whatever the motion said, I’m sure its fine.”

Newer directors will think that’s how decisions are made. They don’t want to be chastised by asking the chair, “How will we measure success? Does this fit in our strategic plan? Could you restate the motion?”

Fiduciary Duty

Directors are fiduciaries representing the interests of membership. It is difficult to fulfill one’s duty of care without knowing the specifics of the proposal.

The intent of a motion may be changed by omitting a word or two. A director understanding their duties to represent the membership should ask, “Would you restate the motion for clarity?”

Process

Proposing and passing motions is a process.

A member of the board addresses the chair asking for the floor to make a motion. The director states the motion precisely. The motion requires a second by another director or it will die.

The chair repeats the motion exactly as it was stated. Many groups require that it be submitted in writing for accuracy. The motion will be recorded word for word in the minutes.

After sufficient discussion, the chair restates the motion. A vote is taken, and the results announced.

Nobody should vote on something they are not certain of its intent or impact.

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5 services you should use for your interior design business

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Interior design makes homes more comfortable, attractive, and luxurious than in previous ages. The field is heavily driven by creativity and innovation, resulting in functional designs and beautiful spaces.

With the interior design industry booming to greater heights, you might need a helping hand to help you deliver articulate projects. The following are some services you should use for your interior design business.

Restoration and home décor retailers

Your interior design business needs a source of materials for your decorating and design needs. You will need someone to supply materials such as vases, furniture, paintings, wallpapers, flowers, and other fashionable home décor pieces. Consider creating credibility with these retailers to run your business smoothly and get the best pieces of décor.

Part of interior design projects entails general construction, carpentry, painting, plastering, and other handy jobs. Depending on your clients’ needs, you might be required to pull down ancient house structures or fittings and put up new ones. The design may also entail restoring vintage pieces of art and structures.

Vlogging, website development services, and content creation services

In an era where most people are internet and social media users, there’s a huge loophole that could boost your business. As you focus on interior design, you could consider getting a content creator and vlogger to market your business via social media. This should help you attract a wider audience, which means more business for you. Put out your blogs and videos to showcase your work and let your target audience decide.

Do you have a business website that sells your services to interested clients? If not, you need one to integrate technology into your business. If you do, you’ll need to retain your website developer to incorporate upgrades as your interior design venture continues to grow. Your website plays a significant role in showcasing your work, portfolio, and services.

Furniture refurbishing and junkyard services

As you find innovative ways to transform your clients’ spaces, you will be burdened with finding ideal spots to dump the obsolete, worn-out, or damaged items. Your business will appreciate the alliance of a junkyard service that purchases junk furniture and fittings and sells them to people that may need them for their offices and homes. Have a junkyard service provider on your speed dial to keep your products moving.

It’s easy for some clients to get rid of certain pieces of furniture. However, a significant population will want to retain their antique furniture. For this selected portion of clients, you’ll need to work with a furniture refurbishing company to help with repairing the damaged and worn-out sections instead of getting rid of them. You could select a refurbishing company that deals with all house fittings and furniture to make things easier.

Logistics services and moving companies

As an interior designer, you will be tasked with purchasing the necessary items for your clients’ projects. Organization and planning should be the core mission of your business. What better way than to outsource all your logistics services to an interior design receiving warehouse?

Have some peace of mind working on your projects as the company receives your purchases, stores your packages in pristine conditions, ships them to your clients’ destination or your office, and even installs the loads. Delegate some of these duties to make work easier for you and your employees, giving you time to concentrate on your interior design projects.

Whether you are embarking on a kitchen remodeling, bathroom upgrade, or an entire house renovation as part of the interior design project, you might want to have a moving company on your contact list. You don’t want to struggle with limited space when you can request the moving company to transport some of the items to a self-storage before completing the project.

Roofing services

A leaking roof and ugly dark streaks on the ceiling will instantly degrade a home’s or office’s interior look. While determining whether the roof is damaged or not isn’t your business, working together with a reputable roofing company will preserve the integrity of your work. Clearing the roof’s problems before proceeding to redesign the space will save both you and your client the hustle of redoing the project before its expected lifespan is over.

Conclusion

No business is an island. You need partners in the industry to help you provide quality services and make the process smoother. Consider getting into a partnership with some of these businesses discussed above for your company’s long-term success.

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Private jet travel: 2021 to be the year private flying takes off

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2020 was a banner year for private jet travel. And given the unabating proliferation of new virus outbreaks and mutations, it is likely that 2021 will not see those statistics moving backwards. While airlines see passenger counts off by more than half, private flights are running at 90% of normal — or what they were in what is now tabbed as “pre-pandemic times.”

VistaJet in October was reporting a surge of 49%in corporate interest globally since the start of the pandemic, with the U.S. driving that corporate demand and accounting for over 41% of the interest. The company went on to report:

  • Corporates are increasingly flying entire teams to multiple locations around the world to ensure business continuity, according to industry research from Private Jet Card Comparisons showing that 31% of U.S. companies are expanding their use of private aviation for business trips.
  • Business aviation is flying at 86% against 2019 levels;
  • Technology companies are driving corporate bookings, given the industry’s growth and positive outlook for future growth; and
  • A rapid growth in demand for long-haul routes — the percentage of flights over five hours — increased 44% YOY during the first seven months of the COVID outbreak in the U.S. Some 11% of VistaJet flights at that time were at least eight hours long, with popular international destination pairs running between the U.K. and France, the U.S. and China, and the U.K. and Italy.

And while not all private jet options are international, indeed many are short hops between two points. The idea of flying privately is taking off in markets not previously considered viable for these services and in ways that make this form of transport accessible and even sensible as costs, advantages, benefits, safety and convenience are rolled into smart and effective purchasing packages.

A New Type of Private Flyer

“We are seeing record interest from those completely new to travel by private jet. Recent statistics released by McKinsey show that over 90% of people who can afford to fly privately do not, so we believe private air travel is well positioned for a continued rebound and growth,” Megan Wolf, COO of Cleveland-based Flexjet, told Barron’s recently.

“Our primary demographic remains the ultra-high-net-worth individuals from all walks of life. They are trying to avoid crowds to reduce their potential exposure to the coronavirus on top of all the other benefits to flying private, like time savings and the ability to reach more airports directly. During past economic downturns and adverse world events, spending on private aviation by individuals and businesses was usually one of the first expenses cut and the last to resume. Because of the inherent safety afforded by private aviation in a Covid-19 world, this time around has been different.”

Whether it is about upgrading from a commercial airline seat in business or first, or chartering a four- to 12-passenger aircraft for a company meeting, private aviation companies are hearing from a host of new sectors seeking safer travels.

“Those who normally travel in first class commercially are elevating their experience with personal well-being in mind, especially for older clients who have more health concerns. Half of our calls are from new customers,” said Richard Thompson, president of Air Charter Service’s Americas division, also speaking to Barron’s, noting his company saw a 75% increase (year-on-year) in inquiries during May and June 2020 alone.

The United States is, by far, the largest market in the world for private aviation companies, with some 21,900 business aircraft (defined as aircraft designed for transporting small groups of business people for commercial reasons at a time convenient to their needs) in inventory in 2019. By contrast, there were 4,159 business aircraft in all of Europe.

Making sense of what is a newfangled form of flying for many is an art and a science, and one that veteran media executive and journalist Doug Gollan has been studying for years, now as a contributor to Forbes and editor-in-chief and founder of Private Jet Card Comparisons, a site that provides consumers an unbiased and comprehensive view of private aviation trends and drills down in comparing private travel options.

The Jet Card Approach

“Jet card” is a rising term heard in business travel circles referring to membership options and privileges offered by private jet companies to attract and keep travelers by managing cost-effective pricing and perks for their memberships or subscriptions. They may run from fixed hourly rates to mileage-based pricing to frequent travel discounts — easily dozens and dozens of variables to consider when choosing private jet companies for joining or partnering.

Cost is one consideration, but not the only consideration when looking into flying privately. Overall, however, cost will be the first line of entry — or the bar into this rarefied club. A per hour glimpse of cost offered by one US charter service produced these at-a-glance tiers with rates per craft, not per seat:

  • Light jet (4 to 6 passengers): $4,000 to $5,500
  • Medium jet (6 to 9 passengers): $5,500 to $9,500
  • Heavy jet (16 to 19 passengers): $11,000 to $20,000

Booking by the seat, however, is what many travelers are required to do and on a small commuter plane it can be a simpler, easier, more convenient option than booking an upgraded seat on a commercial flight — and can cost as little as $100 for short hops and close to $2,000 for a three-hour flight. Plus, commercial airlines these days may not service the points travelers want to fly.

“Companies that are doing well but haven’t been spending on airline tickets and hotel rooms are increasingly looking towards private aviation for critical trips,” said Gollan. “In many cases, teams can take care of business, returning the same day. They also avoid connections at airline hubs and longer travel times because of reduced schedules. I’m definitely hearing now from subscribers who will be using private aviation for business trips for the first time.”

For travelers who have set routes or continuing travel requirements that are not satisfied through Zoom calls, buying a jet card is the way to go. A jet card is a low-commitment way to engage private jet travel and may require little in the way of prepayment to get onboard.

“Cards are typically sold increments of dollars or hours, for example, 25 hours or $150,000, although we have seen deposit amount range from $15,000 to $1,000,000. Pay-as-you-go programs entail paying a joining fee, and then paying on a trip-by-trip basis,” said Gollan. Some cards are sold directly by the aviation companies or operators, others by brokers who match flyers with appropriate flight options. Some operate locally or regionally, others domestically and others offer international routes to private flyers.

Gollan notes that some companies operate flights with turboprops to very light jets and others offer long-range, large-cabin jets such as the Bombardier Global Express and Gulfstream G650. But because there are so many companies, operators and variables to consider in this tier of aviation, the growing demand has also required services that parse though the options and differences and give travelers a transparent look at what is available to them.

“Because every flyer is different with different needs, different destinations, different budgets, different space needs and varying flexibility requirements, we help travelers move through all that. Some companies may roll in taxes and fees into quoted rates while others charge additionally for these. There are daily minimum charges, peak day surcharges, long-flight discounts, refund policies, pet policies, fuel surcharges … this is a serious financial purchase and by no means a cookie cutter product or service. The devil is in the details, and that’s here we help buyers sort through the options,” said Gollan.

In an unprecedented trend, some private jet companies, such as Jet Linx and Private Jetaway, package private flights with private villas — especially in Mexico. Mexico has remained the No. 1 destination for private jets leaving the U.S.

“Private aviation flights have less than 20 touchpoints, meaning less interaction with people you don’t know. When you buy a jet card or charter an entire aircraft and even for shared flights, you are not navigating through massive, crowded airports. Private aviation is the best way to travel,” added Gollan. “For those who can’t stay home and wait out the virus, or for those who simply want to go and go now, flying privately is clearly the option of this precarious time.”

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Why you should think about moving your business to a new city and how to do it

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Last year was not easy on anyone, and businesses have been hit especially hard. The pandemic has forced many business owners to look at ways to adapt, both in the short-term and for years to come. One way that some businesses have adapted is by considering new locations for their businesses, whether it means a move across town, across the state, or even across the country.

There are many reasons businesses should consider moving their businesses, because location could be the difference between success and failure. Taking a look at your financial situation, employees, customers and potential customers, and quality of life in your current location (and any location you are considering) will help you decide on whether you should move your business.

Finances

Moving a business’s location can affect finances in several ways, including cost of living and average wages. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly wage in the United States (as of 2019) is $19.14. There are many states, especially those with large cities, that have a higher median hourly wage than the national average, like New York ($22.44), California ($21.24), and Washington ($23.15). In many states, the median is much lower, like in Idaho ($17), Alabama ($16.73), Mississippi ($15), Arkansas ($15.84), and South Dakota ($16.71).

Being close to a larger metropolitan area can mean an increase in expenses and wage costs for many businesses. But it can also bring in an increase in your business rates (what you can charge your clients and customers). It is worth noting that expensive cities like New York and San Francisco are seeing people leave — between January and June 2020, 80% more people moved out than moved into those cities.

Also consider whether you are looking to apply for a loan when you arrive, because different states may have different rules on when and how to apply. Because the costs of moving a business can be extensive, applying for a loan may be an important consideration for the move. If you cannot get approved for a loan, there are many things you can do, but it should always be a consideration before moving.

According to Fiscal Tiger, you should first determine why you were declined and then take the actions to fix those issues, including taking some time and actions to help repair your credit, increasing your income, getting a second opinion (from another lender), asking for a lower amount, or putting up property or assets as collateral. Another thing to consider is your current real estate — if you have a current lease, make sure the lease is up or you will be able to get out of it.

Other ways finances may affect your decision to move include business tax credits, where you may be eligible to receive credits for real estate owned, number of employees, and many others. Different states have different rules for business tax credits, and many companies will choose a state based purely on their rates.

And don’t forget the cost of the move itself — which includes moving yourself and your family, any employees you are bringing with you, your equipment and office supplies, and expenses associated with opening a brand-new location in a brand-new city. Hiring movers, hiring employees, finding real estate to lease or buy, and doing initial marketing will cost you, but are necessary to set up correctly in a new location.

Before you decide on a move, research your full financial picture to see if it makes sense. Your accountant or financial advisor may also be able to help you decide the pros and cons of a move, so reaching out to them can help you decide a black-and-white way.

Employees

Although finances may be the first concern when considering moving your business, hiring will also be important. The benefits of moving a business to a large metropolitan area include having access to a larger pool of potential employees. Some companies may have a harder time finding employees in specific professions the further away they are from a large population center. The more specialized the skills needed, the greater pool of expertise that can come with a larger community may be essential for your business.

However, if the company is not near a population center but in an area with a high quality of life, drawing quality employees to that area could be a consideration.

If you are happy with your employees, you can always ask them to move with you. Some will find it an exciting new opportunity and 15% of the population relocates each year. For employees moving with the business, be cognizant of adjustment periods, especially if you’re moving to a larger community. Offer employees survival tips for moving to a bigger city, such as budgeting for the higher cost of living and making sure they get out and explore.

To hire employees in a new location, researching the local market will be an important consideration. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has tips on how to hire and manage employees and recommends looking at federal and state labor laws from the Department of Labor.

Customers

Before you move your business, you will also want to research potential customers in a new location. Customers may be one of the most important parts of reconsidering a business move. If your business has been in one location for a while and has loyal customers, it’s important to think about what that loyalty is worth to you — and how long it would take to build it back up in a new location.

But if you move to an area that is more in tune with your business niche than where you are now, losing that loyalty for a short time may be worth the new customers you will be seeing.

Taking the time to research your potential city (which includes researching your competition) will help make sure you will have enough customers and how popular your industry is in the area. You will want to budget for the marketing you will need when you get there to find new customers, and then decide if you want to hire a marketing employee or employees, a marketing agency, or if you have the time and skills to do the marketing yourself.

Quality of Life

Finances, employees, and customers are all tied to a quality of life to consider for a business move. Quality of life is a more intangible aspect of a business’ location but can include things like cost of living, housing opportunities, crime rates, health care, education, transportation, recreational opportunities, and climate and weather.

A strong business community is also an important part of quality of life for any business owner. Establishing your network as soon as (or before) you move will help you and your employees settle into your new location and will help you feel more at home. Research the new location through LinkedIn, the city’s Chamber of Commerce or Visitors’ Center, and any other networking groups you can find. Anything you can do to understand what the environment will be like in your new location — for you, your business, and your employees — will be important to your quality of life once you arrive.

Making a living is no longer the only consideration for an employee. Choosing a location for your company could make a difference in your employee pool, revenue and expenses, customers, and quality of life. Doing your research before a move to a new city will be important to understand how your business will fit in at the new location, and whether it will just survive or whether it will thrive.

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How NGOs help improve global education

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Education on a global scale is an important topic within the education community and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Not everyone has access to proper schooling, which is why NGOs have volunteered their time and effort to create awareness of this issue.

Everyone has a right to education. It allows people to learn throughout their lifetime, from infancy to adulthood. It also has the power to change lives. Global education nonprofits focus on empowering students of any age to learn.

NGOs can help improve global education, and studies have shown that they already have.

From Birth to Adulthood, NGOs Support Education at All Levels

NGOs boost education throughout the world. There are different types of initiatives.

A common approach to improving global education is by offering traditional formal schooling in classrooms. Some regions don’t have access to this type of education, and NGOs help them set up classrooms for daily instruction and learning.

Other approaches include more informal education with after-school programs, libraries or programs for home instruction. The goal is to spark an interest in learning for the students and to reengage the senses.

Then, there are nonformal education programs. While they may not teach reading or mathematics, they teach skills like swimming and sports and may include seminars.

No matter what approach NGOs take, they empower education at a global level, so everyone has the opportunity to learn. A crucial part of empowerment in people’s lives begins with education, and NGOs are helping drive that passion and privilege. While most are geared toward childhood education, others help young adults gain skills for employment.

Global Education NGOs

In various parts of the world, NGOs have already improved global education. Specified initiatives have created that spark for learning in both developed and developing countries.

Here are just a few of the extensive list of NGOs helping education efforts internationally.

1. Childhood Education International

This organization has volunteers throughout the world working in childhood development, schooling and other practices. Information about innovative programs is shared through Childhood Education International to help develop new programs and international understanding.

2. Barefoot College

Barefoot College, which is located in India, helps teach local community members valuable skills. Some have become teachers, while others are successful engineers. They realize both the importance of schooling basics mixed with what one gains from cultural and familial experiences.

3. Save the Children

Save the Children promotes global education and values the right to education for children. It teaches effective strategies for instructors to ensure a quality education experience. Additionally, it encourages parents and teachers to instill a love for learning both in and out of the classroom.

International Education NGOs Around the Globe

NGOs aim to partake in a social mission that isn’t funded by the government. Those who focus on empowering education believe everyone deserves to learn, no matter their country or background.

NGOs have repeatedly proven they can improve global education by encouraging local communities to teach and learn from one another. Without schooling, there’s no empowerment — but with it, we can change the world.

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Pull up, terrain ahead

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Board meetings may be compared to an airline flight. Calling the meeting to order is the originating point. Vectors are included in the strategic plan. Mission and goals are the destination.

To reach the destination the board must maintain flight speed and altitude. When airspeed slows, distractions occur that cause diversions.

If an aircraft drops below a safe altitude, the cockpit computer warns: “Pull up, terrain ahead.” The flight analogy defines the appropriate air space for the board, committees, and staff.

Boards can benefit from the warning to pull up. Governance should reach an altitude in which leaders soar, maintaining elevation for the duration of the meeting.

“I use this analogy for board development, encouraging directors to be strategic and stay out of the weeds,” says David Murillo, CAE.

Within varying organizations there is a culture in which some boards are more strategic, and others are tactical, operating at lower levels. “If a conversation drops into tactics, for instance the color of flowers at the banquet, the board should be urged to ‘pull up.’”

The altimeter helps directors remember the dangers of dropping to lower levels. Once familiar, if they fall below governance levels, don’t be surprised to hear a director admonish, “Pull up, let’s get the conversation back to the board level.”

Altitude

The board operates at the highest altitude. Its job is to be visionary, lead, and govern (not manage).

Reaching the destination is influenced by external factors, member needs, resources, and stakeholder expectations. Let’s call it the “thought terrain” in which the board must consider community well-being, disruptors, or major projects with return on investment.

Vision

Directors set the “what and why” (vision) and leave the “how” to committees and staff (implementation).

In both graphics, the board of directors is identified at the highest elevation. Directors should reach 50,000 feet.

Committees receive assignments from the board and authority from the bylaws. Committee work is below the board level; for example, 20,000 to 25,000 feet.

Management staff implement the initiatives of the board and committees by advancing a program of work. This is recognized as 10,000 feet.

Use the graphic and narrative to guide the board’s success. Understanding the governance altitudes will positively affect outcomes.

Whether you urge “pull up, terrain ahead” or state, “we’re in the weeds,” these analogies heighten board performance.

For Bob’s new 2021 Board Orientation Workbook, please click here.

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To know or not to know, that is the question

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Many organizations seek to use risk management to create added value, but their risk processes often have weaknesses or faults which affect the outcome. Some of them are not aware of these weaknesses, while others know very well what they are.

A Persian proverb says, “The person who doesn’t know, and doesn’t know that he doesn’t know, will be ignorant forever.” It is clearly better to know our process weaknesses than not to know them, but how can we tackle our lack of knowledge? Here are three steps:

1. Where is our process weak?

The first step in tackling hidden faults is to find them. How can we find unknowns? French philosopher René Descartes recommended being skeptical about everything, which involves the following actions:

Analyze outcomes.Findareas in which expected targets have not been met, then explore whether there are root causes hiding in our processes that are leading to problems in performance. We may also find hidden opportunities in our processes that could improve outcomes.

Revalidate infrastructures.Take a fresh look at processes, resourcing, software tools, reporting and other elements of supporting infrastructure, seeking bottlenecks or areas where improvements are possible.

2. Can we tackle the weakness?

When we find a fault, we need to know whether our organization has the necessary resources to deal with it. The following questions can help us decide whether we can effectively respond to process weaknesses that we’ve discovered:

Reliable inputs. Are we currently providing reliable and precise inputs to the risk process? Can we significantly improve the quality of these inputs? Invalid inputs won’t help and might even hinder performance.

For instance, if we want to move from qualitative risk assessment to using quantitative schedule risk analysis, we will need a reliable baseline project schedule. Without a suitable schedule, introducing quantitative risk analysis won’t improve the process and might even reduce the level of accuracy available from qualitative assessment.

Level of precision. Can precision be improved cost-effectively? Is it worth it? How much precision do we need in order to make good risk-based decisions? For example, if we can predict risk exposure to the nearest $1,000 but our decision processes are working with precision levels of $100,000, the additional precision is not helpful.

Personnel competence. Upgrading risk processes may introduce new tools and techniques for our staff to use. For example, using quantitative risk analysis requires specialist expertise with simulation tools. Do personnel have the required knowledge, skills and competence? If not, can we provide the necessary training to equip them?

3. Should we tackle the weakness?

Once we find a hidden fault in our risk processes that we can address, we shouldn’t always rush to fix it. Sometimes we make things worse by acting without fully considering the outcome of our actions. At other times, the cost of fixing a process weakness can be excessively high. We need to determine whether we need to remove the hidden fault, or whether we should simply protect against its effects:

Fix it. Sometimes it is appropriate to tackle weaknesses in the risk process and decrease the number of unwelcome outcomes.

Leave it. However, sometimes we can decide to continue as we are, consciously accepting a known weakness, but focusing instead on improving and upgrading infrastructures needed to cope with its effects in future.

If we’re serious about creating and protecting value through risk management, we have to seek out hidden faults that cause problems in our risk processes. Then we must work out if we have what it takes to address weaknesses, and finally decide which ones to tackle and which to accept. Only then can we take action to improve our approach to risk management.

It’s always better to know than not to know. The harder question is what to do (if anything) when we find a weakness!

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A strategic plan dilemma: Organizational infrastructure

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A strategic plan guides the board, communicates value to members and empowers the staff. Most have three to six goals.

The dilemma is whether to include anything about the infrastructure in the plan. Infrastructure is internal, focused on governance and management. It would include technology investment, leadership pipeline, professional staffing, and financial resources.

Without infrastructure, the other goals cannot be advanced.

Quandary

Some boards believe members are only interested in goals that communicate value. “They don’t care that we have a leadership pipeline and money in the bank.”

Other boards believe the community should know about the strengths of the organization. “We were founded 50 years ago; members should know about our structure and leadership as a part of the strategic plan.”

To include or not?

When it is included, it is often the last goal in the plan, purposely. The goals are intended to deliver value to the membership; for instance, professional development, community outreach and governmental relations.

The infrastructure goal might be titled “Organizational Excellence,” “World-Class Organization,” or “Sustainability.”

While the board may not insert structure and resources into the plan, it is important that directors realize their responsibility for oversight. For instance, the need to upgrade technology may necessitate multiyear funding. Creating a pipeline of future leaders will require initiatives.

Parthenon

Most groups include an infrastructure in their retreat discussions. But when communicating the strategic plan to members, they focus on the deliverable, value-added goals, leaving the infrastructure invisible or silent.

Others include it so members know the strengths and structure of a well-established organization.

Another approach is to promote only the goals, also called pillars of the organization. Then, promote the infrastructure distinctly.

Imagine the Greek Parthenon. The pillars represent the goals and priorities. They sit upon a solid base that demonstrates the infrastructure necessary to advance the goals.

“By positioning the organizational infrastructure as the foundation upon which other goals are built, leadership clearly sees and better understands its importance,” said Chris Hart IV, CEO at the Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers.

Membership

Another quandary is whether membership is a goal or an outcome.

Associations and chambers rely heavily on recruitment and retention. The board may feel it is important to include a goal titled, “Membership Growth” or “Member Participation.”

However, those reading the strategic plan will judge its relevance and return on investment. Growing the membership may not resonate as ROI.

Position membership as an outcome. If the organization achieves its mission and goals, it will draw members without having to state it in the plan.

For Bob’s new 2021 Board Orientation Workbook, please click here.

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