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266 weeks ago @ Catarina's World - White House Maker Fair... · 1 reply · +1 points

I think it's a great idea - innovation is what creates new business opportunities and enriches nations!

267 weeks ago @ Catarina's World - Will more investors op... · 1 reply · +1 points

Good post - I think this really ties back to a growing realisation that 'short-termism' is not a good way to run business. The focus we've seen on short-term results, where every quarter has to exceed the previous one, has led CEOs to focus entirely on the short-term or face ousting by the board at the behest of the shareholders.

Many studies have now shown that running a business in a way that benefits the community - having a focus on the longer term, rather than the immediate quarter - returns much better performance over the medium term, as well as resulting in happier employees and a richer (in all senses of the word) community. This is where Impact Investing comes into play - if investors stop looking only at the short-term, everyone benefits...

268 weeks ago @ Catarina's World - Which were the best gl... · 1 reply · +1 points

Many people confuse brand with logo (I seem to recall you having an earlier post on this topic), whereas in reality a company's brand is everything that makes that company - products, service, attitude, employees, community/market perception, and so on. Traditional marketing forms a relatively small part of this whole. Successful companies are absolutely recognising this and branding for them is a key discussion in the C-Suite.

I'm not surprised to see Apple leading this year - one only has to look at what has happened with the company in the past 5 years to understand how they have become such an integral part of the lives of so many people, and done so in a way that has grown a strong community of supporters and even evangelists.

What the Internet is facilitating for branding is a far greater reach than ever before, and also a far more vociferous and immediate level of feedback - both being opportunities for companies to expand their brand and threats to the brand if they don't keep on top of what's being said about them. Brand management is truly a 24x7 activity today, and the companies that understand this will flourish.

270 weeks ago @ Catarina's World - Which economies will g... · 1 reply · +1 points

I do think that African economies in general - probably excluding South Africa for the time-being - are set to be among the world's fastest-growing ones. While South Sudan is tipped here to be the fastest of all, I am not sure that will happen as the instability there is likely to overtake things. However, in much of the rest of Africa, growth will be very significant.

I also believe the Middle East countries that could grow quickest (e.g. Iraq) probably won't for reasons of instability, too.

With the possible exception of Macau, Asia will be seeing slower growth, I think.

271 weeks ago @ Catarina's World - Can Mary Barra lead Ge... · 1 reply · +1 points

That must mean I'm a "young man" which is great news for me :-) !!

271 weeks ago @ Catarina's World - Can Mary Barra lead Ge... · 3 replies · +1 points

I don't see a problem here, Catarina. Mary Barra has spent her entire working life in GM and has run divisions as diverse as Engineering, HR, Design and Supply Chain successfully, so clearly understands all the facets of the business.

My view is that gender is of less importance to people nowadays when deciding whether or not they respect them as leaders - it's more about that leader's understanding of the business and the ability to communicate a clear vision. There's no question that she understands the business and her past leadership roles have shown her to be a successful leader.

276 weeks ago @ Catarina's World - Are you a disruptive i... · 1 reply · +3 points

An excellent short video, Catarina, and highly pertinent. I agree that too many big companies focus on "adding more bells and whistles" to persuade customers to buy more / upgrade (just look at the PC software industry today - how many people use more than a very small fraction of the features of a typical Office suite?), and miss the opportunity to give customers what they really need.

Disruptive innovation is about clearly engaging with (potential) customers and listening to them. But it's one step more than that - hearing what they say they want now (as few will look ahead) and then taking the leap into producing something that they will discover they want / need in a couple of years.

What is interesting to watch is the number of big companies that encourage "skunk works" divisions in the business - remote from the normal product teams, and focused on "the next big thing." This enables these companies to continue servicing existing customers in the normal way, while preparing themselves to disrupt their own products with the innovations coming out of the skunk works.

285 weeks ago @ Catarina's World - Do you agree with Jose... · 1 reply · +1 points

This is a very complex topic, Catarina. I think it has more to do with societal norms and pressures than the size of the gap - look at India, for example, which has on of the largest gaps between rich and poor, and yet the poor are generally less fractious there than in many countries with much smaller gaps.

The biggest danger is too much government - after all, governments do not inherently have money (democratic ones, that is), but take money from some people/companies and give to others - a modern-day Robin Hood, if you like. The danger is that the size of government keeps increasing, costing more while delivering less. I saw something a while back that suggested that Whitehall today had more than 100 times the number of civil servants that it had when England had an empire covering 1/4 of the world. There certainly isn't 100x the workload!

People need to feel that if they work hard and take (business) risks, they can reap the rewards. The less fortunate needing a helping hand, but it should be a helping hand onto the ladder, helping them to be able to succeed - the old story about teaching a man to fish rather than just giving him one. This is where Western governments should be focusing their efforts, and reducing the cost of government, too...

392 weeks ago @ Catarina's World - Do you agree with Harv... · 1 reply · +1 points

They all make great points, Catarina - thanks for posting this. I think that Bill George probably best encapsulates it by talking about the disturbing incidence of executives putting their own interests first - above those of the business. Under UK Company Law (and that of many other countries) this is, of course, illegal, but it can sometimes be hard to prove and it certainly does lead to executives showing the other traits mentioned in the clip.

413 weeks ago @ Catarina's World - External directors boo... · 1 reply · +1 points

An excellent post, Catarina. In fact, there is a strong push for companies to appoint independent Non-Executive Directors (or, external directors, as you put it). The latest UK Corporate Governance Code, for example, suggests that larger companies have a preponderance of independent NEDs (including a Non-Executive Chairman) and that even small companies have at least 2 independent NEDs on their board - for all the reasons you give. It's not just starts-ups: but all companies...

Apart from anything else, as a business owner/CEO you're able to draw upon the extensive skills and experience of your NEDs, you will have mentors available to you and, very importantly, somebody independent to talk to (alleviating the loneliness of being at the top).

A key point to remember, too, is that as company directors - even Non-Executive ones - these people have a statutory duty to act in the best interests of the company, whereas outside consultants have a duty to their own company first.