Friday, 6 November 2009

Notes from "Managing & Leading Through Challenging Times" - part 3 of 4

Third installment of my notes from the recent Chartered management Institute's conference (part 1, part 2).  In this episode we will meet Prof Lord Eatwell, have lunch and then hear from Lord Bilimoria.

Prof Lord Eatwell is the chief economist for the CMI and is responsible, amongst other things, for the production of their "Economic Outlook".  He discussed the second edition of this publication which is based on survey responses from the CMI membership.  During Aug/Sept 15,000 members were invited to respond and the report brings together the responses from those who took part.

Couple of points of interest that I noted down.  A year ago there was a strong sense of commitment from managers to trying to preserving the workforce and retain investment in skills growth.  Twelve months later the continued recession has had an impact and managers are being forced into making redundancies and have reduced investment in skills. On the positive side, though things are bad, the perception is that we are getting through.  A year ago the responders thought that the recession would last for 2 years.  This time they are expecting it to last another year or so.

Next we had lunch which provided an opportunity to talk with other delegates.  On hearing I had worked for IBM for over 21 years one person amusingly remarked "but I didn't think people like you were supposed to exist anymore".  As ever things aren't quite as cut and dried as they may seem.  We hear a lot of attention on changes in patterns of careers with people moving between companies more than they did before but of course there are still those who will remain with one company for many years.

Lord Bilimoria (Chairman of Cobra Beer) was first up after lunch and spoke about "Leading your business through challenging times".  He spoke about the history of Cobra Beer from its creation through to where it is today working with Molson Coors.   He provided lots of examples and insights but for me the thing that shone through most was the need to be responsive to change.   He talked about some key moments where external events had impacted his business and had the potential to destroy much of what they had built.  There would have been no way to forecast these changes and so the ability of the organisation to adapt to the new circumstances was critical to their survival.  This chimed well with some of Brent Hoberman's comments in the morning.  In another nice link to an earlier talk he listed Molsen Coors' definition of what makes for an extraordinary brand :-
  1. Tell a compelling story based on an undeniable brand truth
  2. Live by & refuse to compromise on your principles
  3. Be instantly recognisable
  4. Provide a unique, relevant and consistent experience
  5. Inspire people to become loyal brand champions
  6. Deliver enduring extraordinary profits

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