Well prepared to Presend her First Strategy Plan
A member of a group should prepare her first strategy plan. Other members of the group were also interested in strategy planning, so the group discussed strategy over two meetings. At the first meeting they discussed cases from the group. After the meeting all cases were uploaded to the group website.At the second meeting a guest speaker from McKinsey visited the group and talked about how to set up a good strategy plan. As the member did not have much experience with strategy preparations, a couple of the group members set up an extraordinary meeting after the network meeting. After two hours the member had a template to a strategy plan that she could use in her company. Three days later she held a meeting with her management team in a summerhouse. Now she was well prepared! In addition to this, she sent out a query in the network about strategy plans, and received 53 answers from members saying “we are ready to help you”.
New Position through her Network Group
A CEO member had got a new owner of the company. The new owner had changed the position and the responsibilities of the CEO. The CEO asked the group for a personal advice: “What shall I do in that situation”. The group discussed the situation in small groups and their advice was that she should leave the company. And so she did. Two months later she had a new job – through her contacts from the group.
A Group Project to Start Up a New Company
A member had decided to start up a new company based on raw materials produced in South America and with production in Scandinavia. He intended to sell “the high end product” to restaurants in New York, Paris and London. A very interesting project. Profitable, if he succeeded. The group decided to follow this project very carefully from the beginning and with follow up at each network meeting and act as his “board”. It became a “group project”. He changed a lot during the process due to the advice he got from the group, and the product is today a great success.
The Network Group Acted as 'Board'
A newly appointed CEO was preparing his first strategy plan. He asked the group whether he could present the plan to them and let then act as his “board”. They did so and gave him some very good and relevant comments.
Feedback on Strategy Plan
A CEO had prepared a strategy plan for his company. He wanted to discuss the plan with his network group. The plan was very aggressive. After the presentation it was very quiet in the meeting room. The chair felt that something was wrong with his plan so he decided to split up the network group in smaller groups and discuss the strategy proposal. So they did, and the feedback from all groups was that his plan was wrong. Instead they proposed alternatives. The member listened to the feedback and the comments he received. Subsequently, he changed his strategy plan and the following year he had success with his new plan.
Preparation of Cost Savings Catalogue
A number of the members in a group had to introduce cost savings in their resp. companies. The group decided to hold a meeting with cost savings as main topic – and decided at the same time to produce a “cost savings catalogue”. This catalogue is now part of the “library” on the group website, so that all members – also new members – can get inspiration from that.
A member was asked to give an interview to a newspaper in a very delicate case. He asked the group for advice on what to do, as the interview could have a negative influence on his career if it went wrong. The group advised him not to do the interview – which he did not. After this the group decided to have a PR advisor as guest speaker at a meeting and tell the group about external and internal communication. On the group website they now have some basic rules for communication.
How to Approach a Head Hunter?
A member was contacted by a head hunter and he could not decide whether he should go to the meeting or not. He asked the group whether some of the members had been in a similar situation and how he should react. The group members advised him to go to the meeting. Subsequently, the group decided to invite a head hunter to a network meeting so that they could hear about how to approach head hunters if some of them would be searching for new jobs.
Open Discussion about Work Life Balance
A member had been offered a new job. He was married and had two small children. His wife also had a “good career”. He wanted to discuss how the group members handled the balance between work life and private life. This lead to a very personal, private and open discussion in the group. Everybody participated and brought the group members even closer together.
Advice on Being Stationed Abroad
A member was offered a position in the American branch of his company. He was ready to accept the job, but his wife feared that she would be “lost”, as she could not get a job with her education. Some of the members in the network group had been stationed abroad. The member received some good advice and four of the group members decided to meet privately with their wifes so that the family could get some input on the issue.
How to Handle Share Options?
A member was offered shares in his company. He wanted to discuss share option models with his group, as some of them were very experienced in this area. The group also asked a banker to attend the meeting so that they could get some input. At the following meeting they asked a representative from a venture capital firm to come and tell them about their work and how they handle share options.
External Speakers - Change Management
Some of the members in a group wanted to discuss change management. At the following meeting they had two external speakers (two members from other EGN groups). They spoke about their experience with change management based on a couple of cases. Later a professor visited the group and spoke about the topic.
How to Buy a Company?
Some of the members wanted to hear about expansion through growth or through acquisitions. They had two internal cases and an M&A banker visited the group and spoke about “how to buy a company” – the strategy and the completion.
Shared Experience on Lean
The members in a network group wanted to discuss Lean principles. As one of the members already had worked with lean, they decided to visit his company in order to see and study the production and to study the results. Furthermore, the person who had helped the “member company” gave an introduction to the lean process.
How to Get a Project Back on Track
A member had been appointed responsible for a Danish/French co-project, where production people from Denmark and from France should work closely together for one year with the purpose of developing a new product and the machinery for the production of the new product. The dialogue was almost “none existing” and the project was taking a wrong turn. The member asked the group whether one of them had tried to be a leader of a similar project in France. Two other members had experience with this. They met two days later and helped their fellow group member to get the project back on track again.
How to Sell a Project Internally
A young executive in a large multinational company wanted to discuss how to sell internal projects in a large organisation. If part of the organisation would not participate in his project he would fail as a leader. Other members of the EGN group had been faced with similar challenges and at the following meeting there were 4 cases about this topic and the group developed some techniques on how to sell a project internally.
Communication and Long-distance Management
One of the group members had employees in 4 different countries and needed some good advice on how to lead the employees and to communicate with them in a uniform manner. Other members in the group had the same challenge and at the following meeting the group prepared a list of techniques of how to deal with employees in many countries, the group also worked on how to communicate with long-distance subsidiary companies.
From Strategy to Operations
A member had participated in developing a strategy plan. However, internally in his company the management group had discussed how to get the plan operational and how to follow up on the plan. Some of the group members had experience with this and they held a meeting with the member who needed help and shared their experience with him.
Sharing Ideas on Motivation During a Recession
As a consequence of the crisis some members of a group wanted to discuss how they could motivate their employees during a recession. Several in the group had the same challenge, and they decided to change the agenda at the upcoming meeting and discuss crisis management. They prolonged the meeting, shared experience and had two guest speakers – a Communication Manager from one of the EGN groups and a Consultant who had been working with this topic.
The Challenge of Being Leader of Former Collegues
A young executive had been appointed leader of the department, where he for several years had been employed together with 35 other colleagues. Now he was their boss. How do you handle such a situation? And his boss was the one, who has had his job before – and of course he knew that job better than the new leader did. How do you handle this situation? Two other members from the group had been in the same situation. They held a meeting with their fellow group member and helped him through this – also how to handle his first staff meeting with his former colleagues.
A group member who was responsible for a global sales organisation with more than 250 employees wanted to become better when finding the talents. One of the other member companies had for many years worked with “talent management”. The group member from this company organised it so that his HR Director participated in the next meeting and gave the group a catalogue about how to find and develop the talents and also how to test them.
One of the members in a group was facing stress problems in his department. The employees worked with telephone sales. One of the other member companies had previously had similar problems and they had hired a “Stress Manager”. At the following meeting the Stress Manager came and spoke about his work and about how to work with stress. He gave them some techniques and invited the member in question for a talk over a cop of coffee and helped him.
Study Tour to China
A member responsible for the production in his company was facing the challenge that they were considering to move their production to China. Four other members of the group were having the same thoughts. The Chair – who was also chairing 3 other production groups – knew that this was an issue for many other members. Therefore, he organised – together with the groups - a study tour to China where they visited a number of production facilities and met with the Chinese authorities.
Shared Experience on How to Make a Turn Around
A member had just been appointed CEO of a company in deep crisis. His job was to make a turn around. Two other members of the group had done that before and they decided to meet the following weekend to help their group colleague to develop a plan for the turn around.
To Make an Offer or Not?
A member contemplated purchasing the company where he was the CEO. The owners of the company had thought about selling the company – they had even discussed it with the CEO – but had not invited him to give an offer. The group discussed the situation and a member who had tried this before provided contact to the people he had used in a similar situation. The group also discussed – what could be the risk if he made an offer at the company where he was the CEO. The group member who has been in a similar situation before did not get the company and he even lost his job.
Communication on Management Level
A CEO member had problems with the communication between him and his chairman and the board. Other members had the same problem so the group invited an experienced chairman to participate at a group meeting and tell the group about the communication between the CEO, the chairman and the board. In a confidential setting, they also discussed the situation and the CEO received some good advice on how to improve the communication –because if he did not manage this, he would presumably lose his job.
Retention of Key Employees
In 2008 it was difficult to get and retain good employees. All group members had the same challenges. The group decided to discuss the problem and to produce a manual “How to get and how to retain key employees”.
High Performance Teams
A Sales Director asked his group how he should measure his team and make incentives. He wanted to have individual targets, be sure that the team of sales hunter profiles worked towards the same goal, and that each sales rep. got out of their comfort zone with existing products and also took in new products and presented them to customers. The group had a round table discussion and ended up with the following solution. The incentive program was conducted so that each sales rep’s salary was 70/20/ 10. 70 % of their salary came from meeting their individual sales targets, 20% was a team target and 10 % came from selling new products. The idea was that if the sales hunter would only go for the individual targets they would lose the possibility of a large bonus. A part of the salary was also based on a 360 degree survey on how you meet the company values viewed by your employees, colleagues and superiors.
Organization of Sales Teams
A Sales director from an engineering company wanted to have a new look on how to organize his sales people. The entire sales staff consisted of engineers and they were not very keen on “Kicking in doors” to make new bizz but were extremely good at servicing existing customers especially when talking about product details. The problem was that the Sales Director KPI´s was to build up new business, so he asked what to do. The group had a round table discussion and ended up suggesting the following solution. Build a strong sales organization consisting of farmers and hunter profiles. Let the engineers (farmers) do the thing they do best, take care of and service existing customers. Employ a new type of sales staff, viz. sales hunter profiles who can dig up new bizz and kick in doors, but make sure you have a strong link back to the farmers where they can get detailed information when needed. When deals were established farmers took over and hunters proceeded with getting more business.
How to buy a new Customer Relationship Management System (CRM)
A Sales Director had started in a new company and realized that they did not have a structured way to deal with their customers and prospects. He was looking to buy a CRM system and had a lot of ideas to demand specifications. He asked his group for some recommendations. The group had a round table discussion and ended up suggesting the following solution. Two members had some demand specifications that he could have as alternative to his own list. The group came up with several systems: Superoffice, Siebel, Salesforce.com, Microsoft CRM and more. Some of the group members had just implemented new CRM solutions and had some fresh experience on how to work with external project managers and meeting time tables and could also inform about the price level of buying the system and the process of getting it adjusted to fit their company needs.
How to Improve the Relationship between Marketing and Sales
A Marketing Director raised the following question at a group meeting. I simply can not work with our Sales Director. He gets all the credits because he is the one who brings in the money to the company and when it goes a little bad, it is because marketing is doing a bad job. What can I do to improve the relationship with him? The group had a round table discussion and ended up suggesting the following solution. After discussing for a long time about marketing material, social media, sales fairs, web and give aways a group member suddenly said: Do you remember the last time you went on a sales trip with a Key Account Manager to see what his workday is all about? Everyone started to laugh. No one had been on the road for years to see what the sales staff really needed and the group decided that everyone until next meeting should have been on at least one sales trip with sales reps.
Input for Recruitment of Employee
During a meeting in a sales group one of the members informed that his company was looking for a sales manager for Scandinavia. Three of the group members reverted immediately with relevant candidates and two members recommended the same candidate. Both candidates came into play. The member company saved a lot of time and money and the candidates had good references in advance.
Case about New Website
The theme of a network meeting for marketing managers and directors was “Usability of Website”. The theme was based on the host’s actual case regarding development of a completely new website for the company. The website was almost finalized and the host presented the site to the group with a view to test usability and communication. The subsequent discussion provided the host with several constructive inputs for improvement. It was of great value to the member company and they could include the necessary adjustments before lauching the website.
Psychological working environment
During a break a member talked about his work with analysing the psychological working environment of the company. By means of trade unions he had made a screening of the psychological working environment of the company including a complementary health check. It was unknown to the rest of the group that trade unions were able to assist you in this work. Most companies use their own resources or external consultants. The topic was put on the agenda as an exploratory item after the break and several of the members left the meeting with a valuable tool – free of charge.
Surrounded by Experts
During our fixed item on the agenda “The host’s Major Challenge” the host presented his problem. He had come to a halt with a specific task which should be presented to the Senior Management of the company. The problem was of a political, organisational nature and a financially difficult problem, but after being brutally honest about the problem his 15 peers gave him some advice on how to proceed. After the meeting he thanked his panel of 15 experts: “I may have saved a consultancy fee of DKK 250,000”. Furthermore, two of his peers offered to review his plan and to discuss it with him prior to his presentation.
Do I have the right job?
During a network meeting one of the members presented a very personal case. He was uncertain whether his position and the prospect of the development in the organisation and his own area of responsibilities would develop as desired. Had the company and he grown apart? The case resulted in a more than one hour long and intense dialogue, advice and knowledge sharing. At the following two meetings the group followed his situation and the chair had several phone conversations and one-to–one discussions with the member. Today, he is settled and happy and has got a new view on his career
Oh no! – I was dismissed
It is often hard to announce a dismissal. Especially, when not obvious to the surroundings but expected by yourselves. Hence, it becomes valuable when your network group sticks together and everyone is ready to help, to give advice and to open their network to a peer. The fact that the peers and the chair possess the surplus energy to take care of a fellow peer results in great experience. It means everything to be remembered between the network meetings, to get a phone call or to receive an email from your peers. EGN makes a difference to its members - also in time of crisis.
Knowledge sharing – Cultural differences
At a network meeting for Product- and Marketing Directors the main topic was “Cultural Awareness”. During the discussion the members touched on the challenges related to a merger between Nordic companies. Even though the Danes are closely connected to our Swedish and Norwegian brothers, there are considerable cultural differences that, among others, are expressed in the way you manage a company. The network group discussed their experience. Following the meeting, a network member sent a tip about relevant literature to the group – The literature was of great inspiration to one of the members who worked in a company being a merger of one Danish company and two Norwegian companies.
KnowIedge sharing - Soccer ball sponsorship
A network member used the EGN query system to send a query when her company considered entering into a major sponsorship with a professional soccer club. The member enquired about experience of involving the sales department, the entering of contracts and the benefit of such sponsorship. Within 24 hours she received 7 answers and soon after another 5 answers. At a subsequent network meeting the member told the peers that based on the written answers she had decided not to enter into the sponsorship and thus, have not had any contact with any of the senders by phone. Those responding to her query had either been working in the marketing department in soccer clubs, as professional advisors, been sponsors in a club or have had the same considerations but afterwards decided to skip the idea. Everyone gave the answer that it is difficult to measure the value of a sponsorship (ROMI) and that it is important to ensure a natural link between the sponsorship and the company.
Promotion – Head Office
For a long time a manager in a large company had been qualified for a promotion and to approach the promotion the manager had taken the responsibility for a temporary task which demanded a lot of travelling. When he was offered the promotion it turned out that it was no longer for a job at the head office for which he had been in line. On the contrary the promotion was to a new and difficult task far away. What should the manager feel about being away from the main office again? The networking group had been currently informed about his situation over the past year and one of the members asked if anybody at the head office possibly contributed from the fact that he was away constantly? The manager had not seen it this way, but actually it turned out to be so – while he was away other managers positioned themselves at the head office at the expense of his chance to get promoted! The manager discussed it with his management and he got a central task at the head office – next time other managers were “sent away”.
Specific Knowledge-Sharing on Dismissals
A manager of an international company had been assigned new tasks including the responsibility of several hundreds employees. This caused huge changes in her area of responsibility and i.a. it implied that the company had to dismiss a dozen of employees in three countries. The manager presented this challenge to his peers: How do we handle the internal communication and timing? In order to enable her peers to give specific feedback she presented her plan. The members worked in groups making interviews and Q&A sessions and put forward proposals to changes to process, timing and procedure. The manager used most of the recommendations. It turned out that some of the members had been part of similar processes, however, they had not been in charge of the process but they had reflected on “good and bad things”. Their peer contributed from their knowledge and at the next meeting she said that it had been of great help to her.
A member in a network group for Marketing Managers informed the group about an interesting project which she had been working on for the last 7 months. The company sells goods and services of significant value and invites, among other things, their customers to seminars abroad. The member told the group how she had planned the tours in details and about the success of the project in terms of sale. The project included several good ideas and counted distribution of luggage tags with the company’s logo in the airport, decoration of the busses in company colours, beer mats in the hotel containing the company’s logo and several other good and professional ideas. The member handed out a guide on the project to those interested in her network group and subsequently, two members have used the material as inspiration and have thereby saved time on research. A member even used the same hotel and the same bus company.