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Invensys' IOM strategy is flawedInvensys Process Systems (IPS) has been pretty unstable over the past couple of years. It's the largest part of Invensys, and the other segment, Invensys Rail, is for sale. The next fiscal year ends March 31, 2010. They can blame everything on the economy for another year or so, but after that...
After respected former IPS CEO Mike Caliel departed for greener pastures, Invensys CEO Ulf Henriksson passed over popular Foxboro acting-CEO Ken Brown and appointed Paulett Eberhart (ex-EDC) who brought in a bunch of old cronies.
Then, (this is still hard to believe) Paulett moved IPS HQ from Foxboro, MA. to Plano, Texas, seemingly to suit her own private agenda. Nobody can explain the move, and the real cost of the damage has yet to be tallied. Paulett was subsequently fired by Ulf without any explanation. This is still a subject that Ulf does not even attempt to rationalize. Frankly, if I was on the board, I'd fire Ulf.
Post-Paulett, Ulf made Wonderware CEO Sudipta Bhattacharya the IPS CEO. Soon, Sudipta came up with an obtuse "strategy" - IPS would be called IOM (Invensys Operations Management). This changed the relationship with Wonderware (formerly seen as the IPS crown-jewels) and included faltering hardware manufacturer Eurotherm in the mix. They should have sold off Eurotherm; but apparently no one wanted to buy.
What's the IOM strategy? Knowledgeable industry pundits like Andrew Bond (Automation Insider) and editors Gary Mintchell and Walt Boyes have tried to explain it (weblinks below). I suspect they are simply parroting the press-releases, with the "emperor's clothes" syndrome. Privately most admit that it has little chance of success.
Heck, I can't explain the IOM strategy. I was the dinner speaker at a recent JP Morgan Analysts Conference in Houston, and they'd just had a pitch from Sudipta and Ulf armed with a plethora of Powerpoints. None of the analysts understood the strategy, and they were asking ME to explain it!
Peter Martin, IOM's VP of "business value generation" (now, there's a trumped-up title!), explained the IOM strategy at the recent ARC meeting in Orlando, FL. Apparently, Ulf was not there, and Sudipta was supposed to pontificate. But a last minute switch put Peter Martin on center-stage - perhaps that's why they made him VP (of what?) and he bravely recounted the story.
What this all actually represents, said Peter Martin, is the latest stage in an evolution which can be traced back to the original bringing together of the elements of IOM: Foxboro, Triconex, SimSci-Esscor, Wonderware and Eurotherm, all linked together in a single product line called InFusion.
Hey, if you can understand all this, "You're a better man than I am Gunga Din"!
Speaking to the London Sunday Times shortly after announcing Invensys' Q3 statement, Ulf proclaimed that Invensys was technology-led, providing advice and answers to business problems rather than being driven by selling "products". Of course, this surprised many IOM product people and their vital sales channels. Whoops! A case of "foot-in-mouth".
Positioned between the likes of Siemens, ABB, Accenture and IBM, Ulf saw Invensys as being in the "sweet spot" which others are clambering to occupy. Apparently, Ulf drank the cool-aid. But Sudipta brewed the brew. I feel a poem coming...
Ulf didn't deny the possibility of a bid for the company. The important thing, he insisted, was a share price that values the company properly, so "it doesn't go too cheap." Clearly, he's getting ready to jump ship.
New Business ParadigmsParadigm: "A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them."
We are now in the second decade of the new century, and the business world keeps rapidly transforming. And yet a lot of people are spinning their wheels trying to get back to "the good old days", the old paradigms.
Over the past couple of years, I've spoken and written on the subject of new paradigms in a number of different business arenas: Growth, Workplace, Manufacturing, Pricing. I've had lots of discussions on various aspects of the changes that have already occurred as the world keeps accelerating forward.
Relating to future planning, Dick Morley cites the example of a tiger beetle's hunting habits. It rises on its hind legs to look for prey; and then it puts its head down to scurry towards where the prey was. But, of course, the food may have moved.
It's amazing how many of us operate with the tiger-beetle type of strategic management. We're using old strategies, proven to be effective in the past. And we expect them to work today.
Clearly, good management demands knowledge and understanding of the changing business environment. Take a look at my "paradigm" series of articles (weblinks below). You might just find a few ideas that will act as the antidote to your own tiger-beetle tendencies.
Layoffs are bad for businessAfter the post-9/11 recession, US airlines announced wholesale layoffs. There was just one exception - Southwest - which has never had an involuntary layoff in its almost 40-year history. Today, Southwest is the largest US airline, with market-cap bigger than all its domestic competitors combined.
The key question Southwest brings up - if people are your most important assets, why would you ever get rid of them?
Southwest's attitude is unusual. As the economy emerges from recession, Americans continue to suffer through layoffs, cutbacks, RIFs (reductions-in-force), pink-slips and other names disguised to seem like normal business in tough times.
In spite of proclamations that the recession is over, the US economy continues to lose jobs. There are currently 15 million unemployed Americans; plus when you count those who have given up looking for jobs and others who work only part time to make ends meet, that's another 10 million "underemployed".
These days, layoffs have become all too common. Companies cut workers even when profitable. Some industries recognize that change is coming, and instead of developing growth strategies to adapt, the bean-counter mentality takes over and cutbacks occur to "protect the bottom line". Sometimes, this even drives a company's stock price higher.
At Honeywell, pay-freezes are the rule, and employees are slaves to spread-sheets while jobs are steadily outsourced to India and China. Meanwhile, CEO Dave Cote was on the list of top-paid CEOs in 2008. In 2009, Cote's incentive plan was suspended, and bonuses for top executives were canceled. But still, poor "Diamond Dave" (as Honeywellers call him) pulled in only $13.2M, compared with $30.8M in 2008.
Read the Honeywell and Rockwell weblogs. Frankly, some of the moans and groans make me very uncomfortable. But I continue to publish because it provides a voice for many who have no other way to protest.
Downsizing and pay-freezes are most often big mistakes, with big impacts on morale and productivity because anxiety ("Will I be next?") infects the remaining workers.
Read my article on the perils of downsizing (weblinks below). The more you examine this commonly accepted business tactic, the more wrong it seems to be. Simply put, it "sucks".
10 steps to finding the right jobMy advice for job seekers. If you're employed and see layoffs and pay-freezes coming, start your search early. Don't wait to be laid off - you'll lose a lot of your bargaining power.
If you're already unemployed, it's time to consider what you'd REALLY LIKE to do. DO NOT look for a similar job in a similar company. If you're an engineer, maybe this is a good time to get into sales or marketing, or start a different job in a totally different type of company. Find something you LIKE to do.
Find the right job-search firm ("head-hunter"). That's not easy; don't pick the first one you find. Register with more than one if you can. A good one will expect exclusivity; before you sign anything, make sure there is a time limit, and define the conditions for doing your own search.
Here are 10 steps to landing the right job for yourself:
Howard Bloom's book - "The Lucifer PrincipleIn previous issues of eNews, I extolled Howard Blooms books ("The Global Brain" and "Genius of the Beast") as among the best I've ever read. I've had feedback from many who agreed.
So I went back to Bloom's earlier book, "The Lucifer Principle". It too resonated with me, giving me new insights, new understanding, new ways of looking at humans, our societies, our behaviors.
Howard Bloom is a multi-disciplinary intellectual, a pop-culture Renaissance man, former PR agent for the likes of Prince, writer for Omni magazine. He seeks to explain why civilizations rise and fall, why nations go to war, and why violence and aggression don't disappear with the progress and ascendancy of culture.
The "Lucifer Principle" is Bloom's theory that evil - which manifests in violence, destructiveness and war - is woven into our biological fabric. A corollary is that evil is a by-product of nature's strategy to move the world to greater heights of organization and power as national or religious groups follow ideologies that trigger lofty ideals as well as base cruelty.
Human behaviors are based on our genetic makeup, our "memes" (ideas and cultures that develop over centuries and epochs) and "the pecking order" (from chickens to nations, and everything in between). This extrapolation is clever, neat and sometimes over-simplified. But it stimulated in me many "Ahhhh, I see it!" insights.
Bloom helps us with a simple acknowledgement that in the natural world we take the bad with the good. Often, bad is simply the flip-side of good. The same forces that promote cooperation also promote barbarism against those who disagree.
Howard Bloom certainly pulls together and makes sense of an amazing diversity of ideas. I "fear" that he is too accurate.
eFeedbackGlenn Harvey [firstname.lastname@example.org] former Executive Director of ISA (1977-99) gives his view on the "Freemium" membership proposals for ISA:
"The 'freemium' concept you propose is exactly the path I believe that ISA (and all other technical societies) should pursue. However, I don't believe that your ratios for converting freemium subscribers to regular, paying members is realistic.
"The basic model is a highly interactive web site that offers free 'membership' and free information in exchange for basic registration information. Now generally known as 'Web 2.0', or 'freemium', this approach results in large numbers of free subscribers (members) who keep coming back if you provide information they want or need. In brief, you give them 80% of your information, free, and sell them the other 20%.
"It is a numbers game and if you do it well, the revenue stream does just fine. Winning the numbers game requires the organization to constantly monitor the interaction with the free members, and to continuously update its products, services and mode of operation to retain the freemium members. That can lead to very dramatic changes in an organization - in fact, the changes are too dramatic for most association leaders to swallow.
"The conundrum that you so bluntly stated - getting association leaders to accept and to lead dramatic change - is what keeps many associations on the path of continuing to do the same old thing, while hoping something different will happen.
"The harsh reality is that today's professionals do not join associations to gain information and advance their careers, as we had to do in the 60s, 70s and 80s. If an association adopts a Web 2.0 or freemium approach that works, the new members will have no desire to pay dues to become 'regular members.' And why would the association want to force them into the old membership mold, if the new relationship is mutually beneficial?
"We should all give thanks for the few 'giving' professionals who will always volunteer their time and talents to leading the association. At the same time, much of the inertia that keeps associations from adopting a new model for 'non-joiners' is that these same leaders think everyone sees the world as they do.
"Too many associations, such as ISA, are dying because their leaders are not willing to set aside the age-old traditions of basing membership rewards and leadership roles on longevity instead of relevance. ISA needs to set aside their extensive volumes of organizational procedures, and focus on how best to serve the web-savvy person who wants a solution to his/her problem almost instantaneously."
"I remember when my grandparents paid off their house before their retirement. They had a party to celebrate the event. That was 25 years ago. I have never been to another one of those parties since then.
"Some friends of ours took out a second mortgage to take their kids to Disneyland. Now their house will not be paid off until they are in their 70's. Do you really think they will pay off that debt? One thing is for sure: their kid's kids will never be able to afford to go to Disneyland with the debt that their parents leave them."
"I have found a number of other countries where I would rather live. Places where families are close and care for each other. Places where people respect each others' views.
"I have found that the only benefit of being American is the passport - and even that is beginning to fade as other countries react to America's restrictive visa policies. It's happening already in Latin America. How did we reach this point?"
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