Value chains. You've studied them, heard about them and most probably been involved as an actor in many of them. In my 11 years of entrepreneurship and corporate value-making experience, I have learnt that mastery of the value chain is key.

Influenced from too many books and sources to count, here is my conception of the Product Value Chain - going from idea to satisfied costumers, from the product life cycle angle.

1. Planning value chain
          o Investments
          o Market research
          o Product research

2. Supplier value chain
          o Raw material
                + Creation
                + Transformation
          o Inbound logistics
                + Brokers
                + Dealers

3. Organization value chain
          o Creation / invention
          o Tech transfer
          o Product hardening
          o Transformation
          o Product development

4. Channel value chain
          o Marketing
          o Sales
                + Brokers
                + Resellers
                + Distributors
                + Retail
                + Direct
                + References
                + Partners
                + Final client
          o Outbound logistics
                + Brokers
                + Distributors
                + Direct

5. Customer value chain
          o Customer service
          o Product return logistics

Audit your company to see where the holes are between the idea and the happy customer. Master this process and you become a value - creation expert.

 
 

One of the subjects I deal with daily is the increasing chasm between the baby-boomer generation and the students entering the workforce today. Much ink has been spilled on the subject and no clear solution has been brought forth. The debate goes far beyond the older generation saying 'they want everything without working for it' and the younger one saying 'they are doing things the old inefficient way'.

Listening to the other side is a crucial step to mutual understanding is the realization of what your company will inevitably look like in the very near future. Both sides can gain from youth's tech knowledge and previous generations' experiences.

The following video was created by the (brilliant) teacher and the 200 students in ANTH 200 : Introduction to Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University. It began as a brainstorming exercise, thinking about how students learn, what they need to learn for their future, and how our current educational system fits in.

The conclusions drawn are applied to the school system (that I also teach in) but most importantly, it should be clearly explained to future bosses and HR personnel. This is tomorrow's workforce, these students are your biggest assets and your ultimate threat.

 
 

This is the last post in the series on Maslow's pyramid and how it affects the corporate strategists and entrepreneurs. Maslow's theories are taken again and again under different words in many business books and it always comes down to this conclusion :

Get people (friends, clients, suppliers, investors, family, etc) to the highest plateau of the pyramid and they will thank you. Get yourself to the highest plateau of self-actualization and they will love you and you will love yourself.

Maslow had it. He described self-actualization as
"A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be. This is the need we may call self-actualization ... It refers to man's desire for fulfillment, namely to the tendency for him to become actually in what he is potentially: to become everything that one is capable of becoming ..."

So what are the characteristics of these people ? What must an entrepreneur / corporate strategist think about when developing the corporate services they offer ? How can look to help others and myself acquire these characteristics.

The best list I found was in Wikipedia's post on the Hierarchy of Needs. So I am blatantly copying the interesting part of the entry here. I know it's not part of the Blogging Rulebook, but I suspect you won't make the effort to click on the link and find the interesting text.  So here it is (and again, I am ripping this from Wikipedia.)

1. Clearer perception of reality.
Self-actualizing people perceive reality more effectively than others and are more comfortable with it. They have an accurate perception of what exists rather than a distortion of perception by one's needs, and possess an ability to be objective about their own strengths, possibilities and limitations. They judge experiences, people and things correctly and efficiently, and have an unusual ability to detect the spurious, the fake, and the dishonest. They are not afraid of the unknown and can tolerate the doubt, uncertainty, and tentativeness accompanying the perception of the new and unfamiliar.

2. Acceptance of self, others, and nature.
Self-actualizing persons are not ashamed or guilty about their human nature, with its shortcoming, imperfections, frailties, and weaknesses. They can accept their own human shortcomings, without condemnation. Nor are they critical of these aspects of other people. They respect and esteem themselves and others. Moreover, they are honest, open, genuine, without pose or facade. They are not, however, self-satisfied but are concerned about discrepancies between what is and what might be or should be in themselves, others, and society.

3. Spontaneity.
Self-actualizing people are relatively spontaneous in their behavior, and far more spontaneous than that in their inner life, thoughts and impulses. Self-actualizing persons are not hampered by convention, but they do not flout it. They are not conformists, but neither are they anti-conformist for the sake of being so. They might act conventionally, but they seldom allow convention to keep them from doing anything they consider important or basic. They are not externally motivated or even goal-directed; rather their motivation is the internal one of growth and development, the actualization of themselves and their potentialities.

4. Problem-centering.
Self-actualizing people have a problem-solving orientation towards life instead of an orientation centered on self. They are interested in solving problems; this often includes the problems of others. Solving these problems is often a key focus in their lives. They commonly have a mission in life, some problem outside themselves that enlists much of their energies. In general this mission is unselfish and is involved with the philosophical and the ethical.

5. Detachment and the need for solitude.
Self-actualizing people enjoy solitude and privacy. It is often possible for them to remain above the battle, unruffled and undisturbed by that which upsets others. They may even appear to be asocial. It is perhaps, related to an abiding sense of security and self-sufficiency.

6. Autonomy, independent of culture and environment.
 Self-actualizing persons are not dependent for their main satisfactions on other people or culture or means-to-ends, or in general, on extrinsic satisfactions. Rather they are dependent for their own development and continued growth upon their own potentialities and latent resources. The meaning of their life is self-decision, self-governing and being an active, responsible, self-disciplined deciding person rather than a pawn or a person helplessly ruled by others.

7. Continued freshness of appreciation.
Self-actualizing people have a wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again the basic pleasures of life. They experience awe, pleasure, and wonder in their everyday world, such as nature, children, music and sexual experience. They approach these basic experiences with awe, pleasure, wonder and even ecstasy.

8. The mystic experience, the oceanic feeling.
Self-actualizing people commonly have mystic or `peak' experiences or times of intense emotions in which they transcend self. During a peak experience, they experience feelings of ecstasy, awe, and wonder with feelings of limitless horizons opening up, feelings of unlimited power and at the same time feelings of being more helpless than ever before. The experience ends with the conviction that something extremely important and valuable has happened so that the person is to some extent transformed and strengthened by the experience that has a carry-over into everyday life.

9. Oneness with humanity.
Self-actualizing people have deep feelings of identification, sympathy and affection for other people, and a deep feeling of empathy and compassion for human beings in general. This feeling is, in a sense, unconditional in that it exists along with the recognition of the existence in others of negative qualities that may provoke occasional anger, impatience, and disgust.

10. Deep interpersonal relations.
Self-actualizing people have deeper and more profound inter-personal relationships than most adults, but not necessarily deeper than children. They are capable of more closeness, greater love, more perfect identification, more erasing of ego boundaries than other people would consider possible. One consequence is that self-actualized people have especially deep ties with rather few individuals and their circle of friends is small. They tend to be kind or at least patient to almost everyone, yet they do speak realistically and harshly of those whom they feel deserve it — especially the hypocritical, pretentious, pompous, or the self-inflated individual.

11. Democratic character structure.
Self-actualizing people are democratic in the deepest possible sense. They are friendly towards everyone regardless of class, education, political beliefs, race, or color. They believe it is possible to learn something from everyone. They are humble in the sense of being aware of how little they know in comparison with what could be known and what is known by others. They are ready and willing to learn from anyone. They respect everyone as a potential contributor to their knowledge, merely because everyone is a human being.

12. Ethical means towards moral ends.
Self-actualizing persons are highly ethical. They clearly distinguish between means and ends and subordinate means to ends. Their notions of right and wrong and of good and evil are often not conventional ones.

13. Philosophical, unhostile sense of humor.
Self-actualizing people have a keen, unhostile sense of humour. They don't laugh at jokes that hurt other people or are aimed at others' inferiority. They can make fun of others in general — or of themselves — especially when they are foolish or try to be big when they are small. They are inclined towards thoughtful humour that elicits a smile, is intrinsic to the situation, and spontaneous.

14. Creativity.
Self-actualizing people are highly imaginative and creative. The creativity involved here is not special-talent creativity. It is a creativity potentially inherent in everyone but usually suffocated by acculturation. It is a fresh, naive, direct way of looking at things, rather similar to the naive and universal creativity of unspoiled children.