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Distil `the company's value algorithm' into `an elevator speech'
May, 10th 2007

The Company's business model must be simple and transparent.

Quick promotions, salary hikes, perk heaps, ego massages... Despite all these, workers are restlessly scanning the job horizon for the next stopover. Which only leaves the business leaders as confused fire-fighters all the time. To help them, here is a recent research from Accenture ( On ``how to create a culture of high performance in an environment with high workforce mobility''.

A culture of high performance, a.k.a. performance anatomy, has three components mindsets, practices and results. "When the mindsets are aligned, they generate operational practices that, in turn, lead to superior business results. Left on its own, however, the performance anatomy of even the best organisation will remain at rest, a prisoner of inertia."

The job of the leader is to `get everyone to share the same specific mindsets'. Getting people to think differently is a nearly impossible task, concedes the study. `The central attribute of a successful leader is the ability to change the way people think.'

Five mindsets matter most to improve business performance, says Accenture. One, maintain the right balance between market-making and disciplined execution. That is, insist on `outstanding returns from today's operations (as demanded by investors),' while at the same time investing heavily in `what it will take to be a game-changing innovator in the future'.

Two, obsessively identify and multiply talent; this demands you to `invest a disproportionate amount of time in recruiting and developing people', rather than simply pushing HR harder. Leaders have to "get personally involved in the search for talent and the development of people."

Three, use a selective scorecard to measure business performance. There should be `a simple, memorable way of measuring success', especially in today's organisation, where executives are drowned in `an ocean of technology generated data'. Make the company's business model as simple and as transparent as possible, and figure out exactly which measures are needed to illuminate the model's success, guides Accenture. The leader has to distil the company's unique value proposition, `the company's value algorithm', into `an elevator speech that everyone in the organisation can absorb and act on'.

An example in the report is of `a leading Indian pharmaceutical company', which wanted to establish `a global image of high performance customer service orientation'. The company instituted `an aligned set of customer service metrics, at each link in its value chain,' and all metrics culminated in `one universal metric that everyone in its global organisation understood: customer order fill rate'.

Accountants can perhaps reinvent themselves in their organisations by offering to evolve the right metrics that fit into the performance anatomy.

Human drivers of engagement and results

On employee performance, again, is a study by McBassi ( What would happen to an organisation, which produced good products and services and gave them away for free? The strategy would ultimately lead to bankruptcy, even if the organisation's goal were maximise customer satisfaction. As in this commonsense analogy, so with employee engagement, says McBassi. "It should be optimised, not maximised."

Focusing excessively on employee engagement, at the cost of attention to the human drivers of business results, would be inadvisable. Instead, "HR professionals should simultaneously focus on the human drivers of both employee engagement AND business results, and develop a clear understanding of where these drivers are aligned and where they are in conflict. Only then can an organisation develop a sound strategy for optimising the engagement of its workforce."

Barometers of taxman

COST or the Council On State Taxation ( is `a non-profit trade association consisting of nearly 600 multi-state corporations engaged in interstate and international business.' Its objective is to preserve and promote `equitable and non-discriminatory state and local taxation of multi-jurisdictional business entities,' in the US. A recent publication of COST is a 30-page `scorecard on tax appeals and procedural requirements'. Foremost in good tax administration is a fair and efficient tax appeals system, says the report in a section titled `barometers of state tax administration.' Such a system has to recognise `the potential for error or bias in its tax department' and provide taxpayers access to `an independent appeals tribunal'. Another measure of goodness is `trained judges'. For, `judges not trained in tax law are less able to decide complex corporate tax cases on their merit'; they may rather choose to be guided by `the revenue impact'.

Do we need a COST in India too?

China cost

Talking of costs, there is disquieting news for banks backpacking to the Dragon Land: that `foreign banks find China costly,' as Gita Dhungana writes on, the site of `China's Business Newspaper,' The Standard.

"Any bank that wants to expand in China is going to have to spend money, but returns will take a while to materialise, possibly because they make bad lending decisions," notes the author, citing a research report of Fitch Ratings. "The mainland market holds greater risks for overseas banks that do not have a great deal of experience. Banks that are relatively new in the mainland should expect at least a five-year period, before they can expect to make profit."

Wonder if our banks that made the China foray lately will tell us about the results in their glossy annual reports.

Try HITs

As accountant, the last thing you may wish is to become a hit. Yet, you can proclaim doing HITs, or human intelligence tasks. "Complete simple tasks that people do better than computers. And, get paid for it," invites, the site of Amazon Mechanical Turk. "Choose from thousands of tasks, control when you work, and decide how much you earn."

At the time of writing, top in the list of HITs is one from CastingWords: `Edit this Podcast Transcript: How to Survive and Thrive in Private Practice,' it says, offering $1.10.

Companies, called `Requesters,' use the service to programmatically access a marketplace of `Workers' who select and complete simple tasks called HITs.

An opportunity to earn money by working from home (or anywhere there is an Internet-connection), whenever you want, and using the skills you already have, says the Turk.

"Since Amazon Mechanical Turk's beta launch in November 2005, tens of millions of HITs have been completed by more than 1,00,000 Workers from more than 100 different countries."

To sign-up as worker, you need to provide a scanned image of your PAN card, passport, or voter identity card. Recently, Amazon announced `rupees payment option'.

Worth checking if your client is already floating professional assignments on the Turk!

D. Murali

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