Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Multinational

I have an intern from the American University Brussels in my department. I tried to explain that a multinational is not just a company you work for. It is everything but a company. First of all it is a stage. People who survive more than 5 years in a multinational have proven to be worthy actors. Secondly it is an animal, a beast. It devours your character and personal life. Thirdly it is a ghost with an incomprehensible logic and a peculiar set of ethics. Fourthly it is woman, more caring and careful than you, neater, richer, seductive and lethal. Fifthly it is a sanctuary, an escape from every day life, your own private formicary.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Mission Statement - Dow Jones & Company's Mission and Core Values

Always a good reminder. Curious to see what will stay and what will go the coming months when the influence of new owner Murdoch will start to redirect the ship.

Our Mission

To be the world's best provider of high quality, premium branded, indispensable and conveniently accessible business and related content and information services across all consumer and enterprise media channels, consistently generating superior value to all our customers and shareholders.


Our Core Values

Make it Personal - all commit to make DJ one of the world's most respected, admired and financially successful companies

Commit to the Virtuous Circle - excellent journalism, business and people are mutually reinforcing drivers of success

Live our values - quality, integrity and independence, everywhere and always

Build Value - for our customers, shareholders and employees

Constantly Innovate - content, products, technology and business processes; purposeful change and smart risk-taking

Build Top Talent - attract, develop, motivate and retain the best diverse talent; insist on teamwork; abhor silos

Get Results, Now - commit to action and results


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bob Proctor on Wealth

So American, so funny.

(At seventy years of age, Bob Proctor is widely considered one of the world's greatest authorities on attracting wealth! ....His teachings come from Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich, and other sources)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

10 Ways to Innovate

1. Innovation Starts with “And”:
All innovation starts with the word “And.” If you really want to innovate, take two statements that can’t possibly go together and join them with “and.” Like “Jump off a high cliff” and “Land light as a feather on the bottom.” It doesn’t matter how ridiculous the two statements are - just pick two and mash them together.

2. Not Just Smart, But Always Focused:
Now get a couple of really smart AND creative people in a room and start asking questions about how to make it happen.

3. Make Sure You Have the “No But” Critic in the Room:
You need one critic (and preferably only one) in the room. This is a way to keep from flying off into the ether.

4. Build Crappy Prototypes Fast:
Innovation is like hoping you’ll find a gold coin at the bottom of a pile of manure - you don’t know whether it’s worth the dig until you are covered in the stuff. You quite literally want to guard against getting the prototype right.

5. Don’t Listen To Customers, Watch Them:
Now get your idea in front of a potential customer. Always get in front of the customer as fast as possible. …. watch them. How much time do they spend with your prototype? Do their eyes light up?

6. If It’s Right, Change It.
Challenge it by changing it.

7. Sell it Like you Play It:
….don’t sell it like work. Sell it like play.

8. Iterate 'Till You Drop':
Just keep on going. Iterate the hell out of thing.

9. Appoint One Person Bad Cop and Follow Their Command:
…you have to ship something to really have been “innovative.” (Real innovators ship.) So have one person responsible for calling it quits.

10. Innovation Is About Learning, not Genius:
…the most important thing to remember is that most of innovation is learning, not inspiration.

Friday, January 18, 2008

WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management: Campus for Finance: Valendar, Germany

We were welcomed by Sebastian Pollok. A very young looking university staffer, ...I thought. He wore a red badge reading the words 'core team'. I was advised a few weeks ago by other Wall Street Journal Europe employees to check out the Campus for Finance conference at the WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management in Germany.
Topic of this year's 2 day conference (8th edition already): "New Horizons for Financial Markets - Investing in a Changing World". I quickly learned that the organization of the conference was completely in hands of students. Key note speaker this year: Dr. Josef Ackermann, CEO Deutsche Bank. Our contact person, Mr.-Core-Team-Sebastian-Pollok, turned out to be student, responsible for the press.

I organized some events in my time as a student, but nothing compared to this event. My admiration for the organizing student team at WHU grew whole day long.
Some small facts:

  • They booked my hotel. When I arrived after midnight, I ended up in a beautiful castle overlooking the Rhein under my window.

  • 2.000 students from 83 countries from approx. 600 universities applied for a ticket to the event.

  • only 160 students were selected. As such the event is not that big, 250 participants top (of which 160 selected students)

  • all attending students had to pay 70 Euro entrance fee upfront

  • at the event, all students - except those living in a 30 km circle around the WHU school- were reimbursed a significant part of their transportation costs, all food and all boarding

  • 2 days about financing with top level speakers

  • impeccable organization ('core team' -red / last year students- and 'team' - green/3rd year- students)

  • whole day long free cold buffet and drinks

  • Audi limousine service to escort all guest speakers to trains, hotels and airports ... manned by students

  • complete video captation unit ... manned by students

  • when I checked out and wanted to pay, hotel-reception told me WHU conference had already paid

Only one conclusion: the students must have raised a enormous amount of money to organize this event. It is a pity that the key note speaker, the CEO of Deutsche Bank, informed them Thursday night he would not come. I heard some very unhappy comments about this amongst the organizing and attending students.

I am sure that we will be seeing some of the students of this year's 'core team' as CEO's or well known politicians in Germany in about 20 years.

(Pictures: Top Left: arrival at Schloss Engers.
Top Right: my room under the roof, no television !
Bottom Left: seminar picture at WHU venue.
Bottom Right: Prof. Michael Brennan (Oxford, Pittsburgh, MIT):
look at the formulas on the screen,
I had not a clue what he was talking about)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Flexicurity and the Lisbon Strategy: Lessius University College Antwerp

Since I created The WSJE Future Leadership Institute I have to match my search for sponsors with a search for content. My battlefield: the universities and business schools In Europe, Middle East, Africa and Russia where The Wall Street Journal Europe has been made available to students and professors the past couple of years. I am traveling all over Europe to strengthen our relationship with these temples of knowledge, often green paradises in the city centers of the capitals of their countries.

Meanwhile by attending numerous conferences in these universities I have the feeling I am following my own private MBA. At the same time I am receiving lessons on how to, or how not to organize events (never organize an event in an auditorium where the entrance door comes out behind the speaker)

Today I learned about 'flexicurity'. It represents the pursuit of a balance between flexibility and security as a key target of the European economy, taking into account the mission of the EU Lisbon strategy. Flexicurity has been defined as a "policy strategy that attempts, synchronically and in a deliberate way, to enhance the flexibility of labor markets, the work organization and labor relations, and to enhance security -employment security and social security- notably for weaker groups in and outside the labour market."

The flexicurity seminar was organized by Lessius University College Antwerp (Belgium), the Leo Tindemans Chair, in cooperation with the Jean Monnet Chair.

I learned most from a Danish PHD researcher, Mrs. Anna Ilsoe (picture), who compared the higly acclaimed Danish flexicurity model with the US model (she was very pregnant and about to go on maternity leave, for 6 (six!) months > kind of living proof of the Danish model she was talking about).

(Picture: Mrs. Anna Ilsoe, Danish PHD researcher, speaking about 'Flexicurity'
at the Lessius University College in Antwerp, Belgium.)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Downside of Chinese Wall between 'News' and 'Business'

"There is a Chinese Wall between 'News' and 'Business'", I was told when I started to work for The Wall Street Journal Europe. As a mantra I repeated the phrase to other people the past couple of years. Sometimes people with a certain interest asked me if I could help them get an article in the newspaper. It had always been very easy to answer this question, it was sufficient to talk about the 'Chinese Wall' and people understood I -or anybody else from the 'business' side- was not the right person to talk to.

News is also physically separated from 'the rest'. They occupy the second floor. 'The rest' occupies floor 1 and 3. The only reason we had to go to the second floor in the past was the 'big' meeting room situated on the second floor. But this meeting room has been remodeled. The biggest meeting room is now at the third floor, which will lead to even less visits to the island of news. (There is one exception, there is 1 guy from the opinion pages who has an office at the first floor, but that is being done deliberately as the op-ed people are not considered journalists, they are considered the 'soul' of the newspaper, they have nothing to do with the 'objective' side of the news, they won't even sign their articles with their names most of the time. Usually they occupy page 11 to 13 in the newspaper).

Anyway, today I was asked to host a group of students from The Missouri school of Journalism. I was suggested to ask 3 people from the news side to come up and talk to the students. I didn't know any of the journalists/reporters, although we probably work already for years in the same building for the same company. I introduced all 3 journalists clumsily because of my lack of knowledge about them. One of the reporters was Charles Forelle.

It was only after he spoke to the students that I understood from my boss that Forelle was actually a Pulitzer Price winner. How stupid can one be ? Forelle had been too modest to bring it up himself. And I was the badly prepared organizer who didn't know. To conclude, we failed to tell a class of journalism students they were interacting with a Pulitzer Price winner. I blame myself for my ignorance, I blame the Chinese Wall that prevent us from interacting with each other in a normal way.

Charles Forelle won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in journalism in 2007 for a piece which uncovered stock option scandals at some US corporations. It seemed that several business executives had rewarded themselves millions of dollars by backdating stock options. Forelle's articles for The Wall Street Journal, written and edited with James Bandler, Mark Maremont and Steve Stecklow, prompted the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to investigate more than 140 companies, and at least 70 top executives have lost their jobs since then.

(Picture: Charles Forelle, right, seated, speaks to students of The Missouri School of Journalism at The Wall Street Journal Europe)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Cover Reference Concept The Wall Street Journal Europe

I had a very interesting year end at the company. It all had to do with the fact I came up with an idea. I've learned the past years that ideas in a multinational have the least chance of survival if they come from inside, and from bottom up. In fact I now understand the tremendous value of using an advertising agency rather than enter the swampy stages of allowing ideas to come from inside (despite what multinationals put in their objectives about cultivating and growing ideas, thinking out of the box, creativity etc). But here I was, holding an idea in my hand, looking around for help in massaging the situation in such a way that the idea would have at least a minimal chance of survival.

The way the idea had to travel upwards, like a ball in a pinball machine bouncing from department to department sometimes gaining momentum, sometimes being cornered for a while, was so fascinating and educational it could easily illustrate some chapters in famous management books on creativity. The idea as such was not too far sought in our line of business. Instead of putting expensive stickers on our front-page for all newspapers going to four and five star hotels in Europe, I proposed to actually print a sponsor reference in the left margin of the front-page of our newspaper (hence the name "cover reference").

Since the "cover reference" is not printed on all copies but just on a specified amount of 15.000 copies every day, this requires a plate change in our most important printplants. Our production, technology and distribution department worked very hard in bringing the idea to life. I am glad to say that we succeeded in printing the cover reference on the front-page of our paper as of our first issue in 2008. We are still waiting for the final results after a few weeks of testing this life in the market, before we can say it is a new standard for our executive travel program sponsorship. But so far all signs indicate we are on track to be able to sell the cover reference in the future to new clients.

(picture: the cover reference, a sponsor tag on the front-page of The Wall Street Journal Europe printed only on a specified part of our total circulation)

Saturday, January 05, 2008

"New Ideas from Dead Ceo's"

As of 2 January 2008 I have a daily educational box in The Wall Street Journal Europe, highlighting quality seminars and conferences that could help you excel in your job or study. Except for Thursdays that is, because on Thursdays we will give away managementbooks via a book contest. First book we are giving away is: "New Ideas from Dead Ceo's"

This book starts with a brilliant asssignment:
"To the millions of men and women who wake up to the blare of an alarm, hug their children tight, and then go off to make CEO's look good."

The book is from Todd G. Buchholz and is published by Collins, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Interested to win management books? Turn to the back page of The Wall Street Journal Europe every Thursday.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

A splendid and successful 2008 to you all!

In 2008 Impactroom will reach the cape of 50.000 visitors. Much more than anticipated when I started the blog. Most visitors tend to come via Google Search I have noticed lately. Most of the time the searches are targetting management theories and management guru names.

I hope that 2008 will bring to you what you expect from it. My New Year started in our German printplant DMG (Dogan Media Group) where I was following up on the implementation of 2 projects I created the last couple of months in my new function. More about this in a later post.

Think about yourself, and the others closest around you.
(left: picture of our garden from my home office window a couple of days ago when the world suddenly turned wite)