Seeking a way to improve the company’s internal training methods, tax advisory consulting firm WTP Advisors has hired Kathi Mettler, a longtime Director in the International Tax Services Group at PwC, to serve as their Director of Learning and Education. http://bit.ly/1hDRcXN #WorldConsultingGroup
(Photo: Jacob Ehnmark)
In most countries, houses get more valuable over time. In Japan, a new buyer will often bulldoze the home. Why? That’s the question we try to answer in our latest Freakonomics Radio podcast, “Why Are Japanese Homes Disposable?” (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen via the media player above, or read the transcript.)
Jiro Yoshida, a professor at Penn State University who specializes in real-estate economics, tells us that, per capita, there are nearly four times as many architects in Japan as in the U.S. (here’s data from the International Union of Architects), and more than twice as many construction workers. There is also a huge demand for new homes. When you put all those numbers together, it sounds like a pretty typical housing boom — and yet Japan has a shrinking population and a long-stagnant economy.
It turns out that half of all homes in Japan are demolished within 38 years — compared to 100 years in the U.S. There is virtually no market for pre-owned homes in Japan, and 60 percent of all homes were built after 1980. In Yoshida’s estimation, while land continues to hold value, physical homes become worthless within 30 years. Other studies have shown this to happen in as little as 15 years.
Does this make sense? Not according to Alastair Townsend, a British-American architect living in Japan, who is perplexed — and awestruck — by the housing scenario there:
TOWNSEND: The houses that are built today exceed the quality of just about any other country in the world, at least for timber buildings. So there’s really no reason that they should drop in value and be demolished.
In the podcast, we look into several factors that conspire to produce this strange scenario. They include: economics, culture, World War II, and seismic activity.
Richard Koo, chief economist at the Nomura Research Institute, has argued in a paper called “Obstacles to Affluence: Thoughts on Japanese Housing” that whatever the rationale behind the disposable-home situation, the outcome isn’t desirable:
KOO: And so you tear down the building, you build another one, then you tear down the building, and you keep on building another one, you’re not building wealth on top of wealth…And it’s a very poor investment. Compared to Americans or Europeans, or even other Asian countries where people are building wealth on top of wealth because your house is [a] capital good. And if you do a certain amount of maintenance you can expect to sell the house at a higher price. But in the Japanese case once you expect to sell it you expect to sell at a lower price 10 or 15 years later. And that’s no way to build an affluent society.
All that said, economists continue to debate whether a house is such a great investment in the U.S. One more burst bubble and maybe we’ll all start thinking about the Japanese model.
(Special thanks to Gavin Hayes and Paul Earle at the U.S. Geological Survey for helping us sort through earthquake data.) http://bit.ly/1hCRG0u #WorldConsultingGroup
New York Times bestseller projects both an awe-inspiring and an unsettling view of the future. http://bit.ly/1hCM3zh #Management #WorldConsultingGroup
People talk about motivation, work-life balance and developing a productive team. But only a few realize the importance of happiness within this equation.
Look no further than the recent cricket matches between England and Australia for a very interesting case study of the effect of leadership and morale on sustained team performance.
I’m not going to explain cricket other than to highlight that it’s a team game and that each test match takes up to five days, with six hours of playing time each day. It requires sustained concentration, and outcomes are significantly influenced by the collective expectations and attitude within the team. Unlike many sports, a single star cannot make a huge difference without support from his teammates and the playing time resembles that of a normal workweek.
In parts of what was once the British Empire, the game of cricket reigns supreme. One of the sport’s major contests is the series of five matches between English and Australian teams every couple of years for "The Ashes." The outcome of each of the five series is of significant national importance — defeating the “old enemy” makes headline news in both countries.
Unusually, in the last nine months, there have been two series played: the first in mid-2013 and the second in the current Australian summer. England won the first series 3-0. And after losses in India and England, the Australian team was written off as “the worst ever” by the local press. But then Australia won the second series 5-0, a feat only accomplished twice before in Ashes history, and now they’re national heroes. What caused the change?
The difference wasn’t in the skills of the players or the support staff (they were basically the same). It was the team’s attitude. Prior to the start of the English series, Australia focused on peak performance at all costs. There were rules, curfews and strictly enforced discipline, which led to dissent, internal divisions and disenchantment.
The Australian Cricket Board decided a change was needed and appointed Daren “Boof” Lehmann as the new team coach just 16 days before the first English test. The change was too late to make much of a difference in the England series, but by the time the Australian series started, Mr. Lehmann’s philosophy had made a fundamental — and enduring — change in the Australian team culture.
With Mr. Lehmann at the helm, every team member is committed to team excellence. And rather than training drills for the sake of drills to drive performance, players want to improve and develop. The drive is intrinsic, not extrinsic. The most often repeated comment among team members is, “Lehmann made it fun again!”
The Australian team members are happy, taking genuine delight in each other’s successes as well as providing support and encouragement when things don’t go as planned.
This transformation will undoubtedly be the subject of research in years to come, but my initial impressions of the key skills Mr. Lehmann has used are:
* Respecting and trusting his players — garnering responsible behaviors in return
* Allowing time for life beyond cricket, resulting in a fresh enthusiasm for both the training regime and the game
* Setting high expectations, but using a supportive style to encourage striving for excellence rather than demanding excellence
Applying these techniques takes courage (especially under the glare of national publicity). This is the challenge for any leader — building a champion team that enjoys its work and challenges.
Applying these techniques takes courage (especially under the glare of national publicity). Building a champion team that enjoys its work and challenges is the challenge for any leader, particularly if you want your team to help you push your project through to a successful conclusion.
How do you make your team’s work fun when you need high performance? http://bit.ly/1huVzED #WorldConsultingGroup
(Photo: Boston Public Library)
Our last two podcasts, “Why Marry?” (Part 1 and Part 2) explored the broad and deep changes in the institution of marriage. One theme was that the old marriage model of “production complementaries” has shifted to one based on “consumption complementarities.” Here’s Justin Wolfers on the subject:
We have more time, more money, and so you want to spend it with someone that you’ll enjoy. So, similar interests and passions. We call this the model of hedonic marriage. But really it’s a lot more familiar than that. This is just economists giving a jargon name to love. So you want someone who’s actually remarkably similar to you or has similar passions that you do. So it fundamentally changes who marries who.
But is this change also related to income inequality? Wolfers briefly referenced that idea a few years back; in a recent article for Vox, the economics Jeremy Greenwood, Nezih Guner, Georgi Kocharkov, and Cezar Santos further the argument:
Think about the following simple thought experiment. Suppose that there are only two types of people, equal in numbers, those that went to college and those who did not. Those who went to school earn $30 and those who did not earn $10. If educated men marry uneducated women and uneducated men marry educated women, then every household will earn $40 in total. So, household income is perfectly equalised. Now, imagine a world in which educated people only marry other educated people. Then, a household made up of an educated man and an educated woman will earn $60 versus the $20 earned by a household that consists of only uneducated spouses. The households at the top of the distribution would have three times the income of those at the bottom.
Obviously, the example above is a dramatic simplification of reality, but it does capture an important trend that is actually taking place in the U.S. economy. To study its impact, we track samples of hundreds of thousands of households from the U.S. Census Bureau for the period 1960 to 2005 (see Greenwood, Guner, Kocharkov and Santos 2014). The upshot of the analysis is that rising assortative mating together with increasing labour-force participation by married women are important in order to account for the determinants of growth in household income inequality in the U.S. http://bit.ly/1cLG9fa #WorldConsultingGroup
Procurement Operating Models: A vision for the future, Vodafone http://bit.ly/1cJEcjp #WorldConsultingGroup
Disease Diagnostic Group now testing device prototypes in the field. http://bit.ly/1cHFY4x #Management #WorldConsultingGroup
The picture below is of a “beer” I drank at a friend’s house this past weekend. It actually tasted pretty good; but why 0.5 percent alcohol, which surely added to the cost of production, but couldn’t, I think, have added to the taste? Including the minuscule amount of alcohol would certainly exclude teetotalers from consumption; and to get any kind of buzz a real beer drinker would need to drink at least several gallons.
My only explanations are: 1) Having a little bit of alcohol somehow deludes beer-lovers into thinking they are getting something approximating the real thing; or 2) Some tax deal made it cost-decreasing to include a bit of alcohol, although I can’t see how. Any others?
Navigant announced today that William M. Goodyear will retire from its Board of Directors at the Company’s 2014 Annual Meeting of Shareholders. His term of employment as Executive Chairman of the Company will conclude on April 30, 2014. Julie Howard, CEO, will assume the role of Chairman effective May 1, 2014. Howard has been CEO and a director on the Navigant Board since March 2012. http://bit.ly/1hf0md0 #WorldConsultingGroup
In my last post, we discussed the five basics of a PMO implementation plan. Here, I’ll delve deeper into those five:
1. Current State Assessment
When assessing the current state, it might be helpful to hire an external consultancy, as internal initiatives may lose momentum along the way. The people internal to an organization might not be able to ask the right questions or they might even resist due to a fear of change. An external consultancy can assist in overcoming political issues by adopting a structured approach. Usually, consultants force or drive change because that’s what they are hired to do. In the end, a good diagnosis will point out issues and opportunities for improvement.
2. Future State Vision
Based on the assessment, it is possible to design a future state vision, describing how projects, programs and portfolios should be managed in order to fulfill organizational needs. That’s because when the current state is clearly understood, it is easy to compare to benchmarks. Consequently, the organization can realize what is missing or what is done but could be improved. Ultimately, the future state vision details exactly what the organization wants to become.
3. Gap Analysis
The next step is to carry out a gap analysis by comparing the current state to the future vision. This analysis has to focus on three factors:
* What is desirable?
* What is effective?
* What is feasible?
A successful gap analysis clearly identifies what is missing or what could be improved, prioritizing which features, processes and structure the PMO should have, according to effectiveness (cost x benefit), desirability (sponsorship; what the company want to implement) and feasibility (what is realistic and what is possible to do). We have to select and prioritize based on cultural and organizational feasibility, not only based on resources available.
For example, imagine an organization wants to implement enterprise project management (EPM) software. There are plenty of options in the market. Some have fancy features and are more expensive. It might be desirable to have top-notch software, so we won’t have to substitute or upgrade it for years. However, it is effective to choose software that offers the simplest solution and satisfies future state needs. Finally, it might be feasible to start with familiar software to overcome people’s resistance and rejection to the PMO implementation.
In this particular case, project professionals might desire the best EPM in the world (desirability) — but the company could do well with a free version or simpler software (effectiveness). Finally, considering that people unfamiliar with project management practices will have to use the software, it might make sense to get something familiar or similar to other software they already use (feasibility).
4. Implementation Strategy
After the gap analysis, introduce stakeholder requirements to define the implementation strategy. I recommend thinking of the PMO like a new business unit or a small new company. The PMO should have its own mission, vision and goals. We have to identify who are its stakeholders and customers, so we can define its value proposition and its services. Personally, I use the Business Model Generation canvas to do that.
The implementation strategy defines the approach to implement a PMO, major expected results and the overall framework, considering organizational strategy and corporate project management governance. Consequently, the PMO business model must support and enhance strategic alignment by selecting, prioritizing and managing portfolios of projects that sustain and boost organizational strategy.
5. Implementation Plan
Finally, the implementation plan is the detailed project management plan for implementing the PMO. While the implementation strategy is the approach chosen to implement the PMO, the implementation plan puts that strategy into action.
We start by defining its scope and work breakdown structure. Then we create a schedule of tasks to deliver the project scope. Resource needs are identified and a budget is set. Other subsidiary plans are created to manage integration, scope, time, cost, quality, communications, human resources, risks, procurement and stakeholders.
The implementation plan should be as detailed as you need. I want to emphasize the importance of defining a business model for your PMO, allowing for performance measurement and improvement after the implementation.
In my next post, I’ll provide a framework for sustaining and improving your PMO, once it is set up and running. Do you have any tips or examples of PMO implementation plans?
For more on PMOs, check out the PMI® Thought Leadership Series: Strategic Initiative Management - The PMO Imperative. http://bit.ly/1cyujVD #WorldConsultingGroup
- teacher:im giving you three projects at once because im getting you preparedme:for what? hell? a labour camp? satan's administrative office?
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