Welcome To The Blog

Are you protecting your trade secrets effectively? Many larger corporations are very conscious of the existence and value of their trade secrets and have very comprehensive regimes, processes, and systems in place to protect them and to maintain confidentiality. Probably the most well-known examples would be the multinational soft drinks companies who are renowned for their very elaborate and effective protections of the ingredient formulas for their products.

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On my Interlinks podcast show I always ask my interviewees, who include businesspeople, entrepreneurs, academics, and diplomats from all over the world, where they think we are headed with the process of globalisation. The most common answer I get is that globalisation is here to stay and is a process that, while it may change, it will not stop.

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In times past, major warehouse automation projects were largely the domain of big corporations. In the 1990s and early 2000s, the perception was that these projects were expensive and risky, required lots of technical expertise to operate and maintain, and introduced a high degree of inflexibility into operations. Additionally, they generally required large scale, preferably 24/7 operations for payback and return on investment to stand up. In an era of plentiful, and relatively affordable labour combined with low inflation, that was justifiably the case.

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It is true, left untended, things do tend to fall apart. It’s the law of the universe. I learned this at college in engineering as The Second Law of Thermodynamics and the phenomenon is known as Entropy, that is, the natural tendency towards disorder and chaos. This explains why hot cups of coffee go cold, cut flowers wilt, and why the paint peels off your garden fence.

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One of the best books on business strategy that I have ever read is Good Strategy, Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters by Richard Rumelt, Professor Emeritus at UCLA Anderson. In the book, Rumelt states “Strategy is a cohesive response to an important challenge”.

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Strategy should be a tool that you use to guide your decision-making every day, in every meeting, workshop and review. Let me show you how.

In manufacturing, distribution and logistics services, strategy should be a tool that you use every day as a manager, executive or business owner – a living, organic and pragmatic tool – not an abstract concept or an idealistic aspiration written down in an unread folder on a shelf. It should be present in every decision, meeting, review and workshop that you and your team conduct.

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Listening to media reports in relation to the coronavirus crisis from around Europe today, we can be cautiously optimistic that there is now some light at the end of the tunnel. However, there is still a long process ahead over the coming weeks and months. Firstly, a process of grieving for those lost, as well a process of physical and psychological recovery for survivors and front-line workers. The return to normalcy will no doubt be gradual and staged with some measures remaining in place to guard against future reoccurrences, while treatments, tests and vaccines are developed and deployed over the next 12 to 18 months. Countries like Austria and Denmark have begun to lift some restrictions and no doubt will be the scouts who develop the best practices that other European countries will follow.

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In the alpine regions of northern Italy, trees don’t grow above 2,100 metres. Back in January, I was in
the Dolomites at an altitude of 2,500 metres looking out over an astonishing vista. The Sun is
shining, the sky is blue and the view is awe inspiring. I can clearly see the clusters of trees down
below me, I can see the clear ways through the trees and I can see the villages in the valley, way
down below, Ortisei to my left, Colfosco to my right and Selva straight out in front of me.

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The Strategic Context: The Meaning of Words

It can be illuminating to trace the roots of the original meanings of some of the words we use everyday without thinking. In English, many of the technical words that we use in business have their origins in ancient Latin and Greek. One such word is strategy which comes from the Greek work strategós meaning generalship in the military sense.

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Japan is the country in the world with the highest proportion of centenarians in its population. In fact, one in every 3500 Japanese is 100 years of age or older. Some other developed countries, most notably Italy, are not far behind. 

This increased longevity, combined with reduced fertility is leading to an ageing of the human population worldwide. Japan and Italy are just the leading edge of this global meta-trend that will have significant implications for business strategy everywhere.

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