Market Value of Effective Management Practices

We all know that stock markets respond in an irrational way dependent on the availability of information, and several key criteria related to the company. Innovation, consumer appetite for new products or new uses of products, and leadership changes are the typical price influences that the market experiences, outside of global economic and political stability. It is the information that is readily available. Private companies on the other hand have a different perspective. Ask a private capital company what they look for in an investment and the best ones will tell you it’s about passion and a sustainable management process.These two items together create the magic that produces innovation, consumer attraction and strong leadership in a sustainable way. Lose either and you fall victim to individual heroics that may or may not produce that for which the public markets deem worthy of paying a premium. What are management practices exactly? They are the behaviours that company managers exhibit when executing the company’s management processes. More specifically, they are behaviours that:
Illicit creativity
Align and motivate teams and individuals
Provide candid and productive feedback in all directions
Create vision and excitement, and
Produce a steady flow of change that results in consistent and dramatic performance improvement over long time horizons
Management processes include strategic planning processes, annual objectives-setting processes, performance management processes, process improvement processes, and employee and customer feedback and communication processes. A company that can consistently find innovative ideas, create an appetite in the market, and execute on the market demand on a repetitive basis shows signs of having a strong set of management processes that are practiced very effectively. Think Apple in recent years, who made a killing on iPads and iPhones in the wake of a terrible recession. A company that produces one great innovation and then struggles to find more is likely suffering from poor management practices. All new ideas or projects are relying on individual heroics, and any weakness in its execution should be a sign that there are weaknesses among the management.Think Blackberry in recent years, and their poorly received Playbook and Blackberry Torch. Which one would you rather invest in? When the market values innovation, consumer appetite and company leadership, what they are really valuing are the signs and symptoms of effective management practices. Why not go straight to the source and make sure the fundamentals are in tact before you invest in the symptoms? Over the last 6 years I have assessed the management practices of various companies in multiple different fields, from consumer goods to financial services and beyond. By addressing and improving a few key management practices, my clients have earned significant premiums on their valuations. It is possible to measure the effectiveness of a company’s management practices, and that research should weigh heavily on an analysts estimates of a company’s value.The best way to learn about a company’s management practices is to find out from their customers and employees. A fractured company, with poor feedback from customers and employees is a sign of a company with fractured management practices. Perhaps there is lack of clarity in the organization’s strategy. Maybe the employees don’t know how they fit into the big picture. Maybe there are pervasively inefficient business processes. Or perhaps there is a severe fear of giving performance feedback that is based objectively on tangible results. All of these root causes lead to limited innovation and poor understanding of customer appetite.Your Best Stock Bet- The best bet from my perspective is to put your money in on the companies that meet any of the following characteristics:
A low stock price, and new leadership that has a track record of great management practice
An IPO in which the prospectus or your own knowledge of the company shows clear indication that there are robust management processes in place, and skilled practitioners of those processes within the management ranks
An undervalued company that has strong management processes, and is investing in upgrading its management’s execution of those processes
Companies that you might want to divest of or avoid are ones that:
Have stale management processes that are not being practiced in a way that produces creativity and excitement
Use their management processes to hold the company and its employees hostage
Are bringing in leadership that have demonstrated a greater interest in personal celebrity than in sustainable management practice
Have low employee engagement and customer feedback scores
How to Influence the Management Practices of Your Company- Many organizations have management processes in place that are quite robust. Where they fall down is in how they are practiced. This is because how these processes are practiced are often left to individual interpretation, which is limited to the individual’s experience and biases. Some managers are excellent individually, and demonstrate awesome management practice. Others are learning as they go, emulating the leaders they want to be, and hoping they are being taught the right stuff. Some are even paying large premiums to get an MBA, which invariably doesn’t actually teach them the process skills of management such as gaining consensus, managing people, and making efficient multi-disciplinary decisions.The secret to organizational value is to have management practices that are consistently high across a large number of managers. Leadership has an interesting position in the equation. In a company that has and practices robust management processes effectively, leaders can be created. What the market values when they see a change in leadership is the leader’s ability to implement and execute an effective set of management processes.For those of you who are leaders, this means spending your own time learning the best practices, experimenting with them on an ongoing basis, and mastering them over time. For managers, it also means working in an organization where the leader values the investment in creating effective managers. These practices can be learned with an executive coach who has explicit experience in the development and application of management practices. No matter how you get there, the best chance you have at increasing a company’s valuation and stock price sustainably is if you take a look deep inside the guts of the company at its management processes and practices.

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Automotive Advertising Agencies Drop Conventional Media in Favor of Social Networking by Consumers

Old school wisdom like ‘the customer is always right’ have often taken a back seat to automotive advertising agencies and auto dealers who presumed to talk “at” customers rather than listen to them. Hard sell tactics built on that presumption may have sold cars in the past but with the rise of the Internet and social networking media — not so much!Today’s educated car shoppers are bypassing the auto dealer’s real and virtual showrooms in favor of visiting other online information resources. Auto dealers are being replaced by consumers in the formative stage of their buying cycle who turn to trusted friends in social networking communities. These online groups of like minded consumers share their car buying experiences before, during and after the sale and customers find that they are able to provide far more transparent and relevant information than any self serving auto dealer; real or imagined.Similarly, the reach and frequency of the best planned automotive advertising campaign can be trumped with the click of a mouse by a car shopper who can get the information they need to buy a car without having to listen to a sales pitch from a self serving auto dealer. The solution for automotive advertising agencies challenged by a shrinking economy and a consolidating auto industry is obvious — if you can’t beat them, join them.Social networking on the World Wide Web is an extension of an equally established wisdom that people like to do business with people that they like. The social part of this growing online marketing phenomenon is built on trust in friends which is an element of human nature that has survived on the Internet Super Highway. Networking references the value of word of mouth advertising that delivers a single message to a sphere of influence that used to be limited to close friends and family. The Internet now distributes that same message virally on channels like You Tube, My Space, LinkedIn, Face Book, Bebo, Twitter and too many others to list that are growing exponentially.Automotive advertising agencies have been challenged to monetize social networking with mixed results primarily because they attempted to apply best practices learned from their past experiences on conventional media like radio, T.V. and print. Initially, it was assumed that the only adjustment needed was to post the same retail messages that worked in conventional media on the social networks. That was accomplished through the use of banner ads linked back to the auto dealer’s website or with an invitation for the customer to call or visit their real world dealership to get the information they needed beyond the low ball price or payment that was often offered but rarely trusted. These banner ads were seen as an easily avoided nuisance by community members who opted not to play. However, evidence does suggest that they did/do provide a residual impression that adds to the auto dealer’s top of the mind awareness with the car shopper; although sometimes the impression was tainted by the dealer’s intrusion into the community of friends.When the R.O.I. of the banner ads did not meet expectations, automotive advertising agencies attempted to register their auto dealer clients as members of the community to promote themselves from within. Auto dealers were quickly discovered as the wolves in sheep’s clothing that they were and the unwritten rules of etiquette of these social networking sites drove them from the community with their tails between their legs.Automotive advertising agencies have since learned that the elements of human nature that drive word of mouth advertising are fragile and they require transparency to survive in social networking communities. As is often the case, the solution has been provided by the developing technologies that have matured along with the Internet as a marketing media.One such solution is provided by ronsmap.com, a game changing customer centric marketing platform with proprietary applications including vBack and SellersVantage that generate Intelli-Leads with market and consumer intelligence not previously available to auto dealers. vBack is a social media engine that is embedded on the vehicle postings on ronsmap as well as the auto dealer’s website and linked marketing channels with an Ask-a-Friend/Tell-a-Friend feature functionality that develops viral messages trafficked through the social networking communities that the customer belongs to and trusts. In addition, related comments from friends solicited by the customer are attached to the Intelli-Lead as part of their SellersVantage application that also accumulates data on comparable vehicles from the auto dealer’s inventory in accordance with the customer’s stated preferences as well as related real time product and pricing information from local competitive dealer inventories posted on the Internet. This added information is sourced from within the social networking community by the customer — not the auto dealer — preserving the anonymity of the dealer while providing the auto dealer virtually unlimited access to members.This method of C2C marketing from the inside out vs. the now dated B2C marketing from the outside in is unique to ronsmap and it promises to allow automotive advertising agencies access to this growing online media. Conventional media is, and will always be, an integral component of any comprehensive marketing plan, however access to leveraged viral messaging offered by consumer driven social networking channels is the best way for budget challenged auto dealers to sell more for less. After all, what are friends for!