Business Goals for 2019: Looking back over 2018 and forward

December is a great time for setting personal and business goals for next year. I’d hoped for some downtime at this time of year, but I’ve picked up a crucial data science project which needs to be delivered over Christmas so there isn’t much downtime. I’m also starting to write another book, which will be my fourth published book, and that will require focus. So I will be working every day except Christmas Day, and that includes weekends as usual.

As part of my MBA program, I’ve done lots of strategic analysis modelling for businesses, starting with the default SWOT and a PESTLE analysis through to different models: Porter, Business Canvas Model, SOAR, and so on. I am not going to share here. The reality is, with Brexit, it’s more difficult to plan. Markets, and businesses, do not like uncertainty. Businesses, like countries, benefit in the longer term from open trade. Increasingly, global competition will occur on a more level playing field but there has to be open access for that to occur. Brexit is a plan for the right by the right, and it is stopping the open access that we enjoyed previously.

For what it is worth, here is my take on Brexit: I believe that May’s Remainy Brexit plan will never get through Parliament because it pretty much keeps us in the Customs Union. This means that the People’s Vote option will become increasingly likely. We are no longer talking about the big red bus lie and we see the chaos. If there is another vote, I hope that we will stay in the EU as we are now.  So I am going to assume that all other things remain equal.

More than talking a good game

I was contacted me recently, by a former colleague who explained to me that someone had spoken to them about me. This ‘someone’ had told them that I was too small to deliver a project, that I didn’t know what I was talking about but I talked a ‘good game’, and that I would never deliver on time or on budget. The former colleague was so concerned about what they’d heard, that they invited me to lunch to explain the accusations which were stated behind my back. I was so horrified and fairly mystified; I had never worked with this individual and I didn’t really know them. I just asked for specific examples where I had just ‘talked a good game’ and not delivered on time or on budget, because I had no idea where they got their evidence from. It was all fairly alarming but of course the ‘someone’ hadn’t given any basis for their assertions at all.

In any case, the former colleague simply said that they would continue to work with me and they enjoyed working with me in the past; they had their own evidence to go on, and it is a mark of our good relationship that they talked to me about it at all. I was hugely relieved but I do wonder how often these tactics work, so I’ve decided to explain myself here and discuss this in terms of my goals.

So if you’re here because you’ve heard something similar, please let me know and we can have an honest discussion. I’ve got over twenty years as a Consultant, and I have postgraduate degrees plus industry experience in delivering Artificial Intelligence solutions. I’m writing my fourth book in Business Intelligence and I’ve edited another two. I have presented to five thousand people in the past month. So I do talk but I also deliver.

How was 2018 for you?

Data Relish Ltd was originally set up as Copper Blue Consulting, and was rebranded three years ago in order to make the offerings more clear. I have employed people in the past, and I had a business partner for a few years but that relationship is no longer in place. I do work for myself but note the following points:

Contracts and Partnerships

Current Status for 2018: I have partners who help me to deliver effectively. I have contracts in place with large partner organizations which allow me to scale; I have partnerships for 24 by 7 support, for example. Partnerships allow me access to sales, marketing and legal backup when I need it. Some of these partnerships are with Azure resellers and organizations, and I do not directly sell Azure so that my customers can benefit from the support that my partner organizations offer.

I am not releasing partner names here; I have a degree of concern, originating from the conversation with my customer, that there is a strong need for confidentiality on the basis that I’ve had the aforementioned stunt pulled on me. I am not giving any names away so that I inadvertently give detractors the opportunity to repeat their performance.

Customers

Current Status for 2018: 50% repeat customers with 50% new customers generated by word–of-mouth from previous customers

I am able to provide references on request from organizations of different sizes, verticals and global impact. Some of my customers are multi-billion turnover, right down to startups. I don’t make a huge effort to market myself because all of my work comes from word-of-mouth. Since I am so dependent on word-of-mouth marketing, it can mean I’m susceptible to stunts like the one mentioned above since I don’t have the flashy marketing that might give some people comfort. I have started to look more closely at marketing and I have set up a partnership with a small consulting firm to help me. It works well since they give me help, but I also pass on leads that I receive, and we have jointly delivered projects on occasion.

Business Community

Current Status for 2018: I started more business networking last year but it tailed off in February. Reason: I was not picking the right events well enough and I got disheartened.

I have started to attend Chamber of Commerce events again, and I met with David Gauke MP (Minister for Justice) and Richard Harrington MP (Minister of Business and Industry) this year. I am interested in learning from the local business leaders here in Hertfordshire, and also looking at ways that I can feed back into the business community. Networking is important and it builds trust. Additionally, being part of the local Chamber groups is offering the route of having our voices heard jointly in Government, and I was surprised to learn that our local MPs have regular and frequent meetings with Chamber representatives. Business is crucial to the success of society by keeping cashflow moving, providing jobs and stability and homes. I advise businesses strategically because I believe in putting the business back into business intelligence, and at the front-and-centre of artificial intelligence efforts.

Charity

I was a Data Ambassador for DataKind this year. Wow! What a rewarding, creative experience and it was incredibly satisfying to work with people who love data and want to do good with data science to help charities.

Current Status for 2018: I got involved with DataKind. You know who you are and I love you all; you have brought such knowledge, fun and great company to my life and you shine your light far out. You cancel out the darkness where people behave as in the anecdote above. Thank you for your healing.

 

So what are my Goals?

Here is the list of goals for 2019:

Contracts and Partnerships

Goals for 2019: I have partners who help me to deliver effectively and I will continue to honour the trust that they have put in me.

In 2019, I do not intend to employ people now since it takes me away from doing things that I love. I may do so in 2020 but it is not the right thing for me at this time. I have previously lost sleep over making people redundant and I do not want that burden again. I work on projects, often, that are simply too big for me to run out and hire a whole team of people and it would be madness to try. How could I even support things like 24 hour support? These are big projects and I need help quickly. Customers need help with AI, BI and Data Science leadership. So it works well.

Customers

I have done extremely well this year and I am proud of my customer list. Through partnerships and on my own, I have punched well above my diminuitive size to have a customer list where my customers have billions and billions in turnover and it is a mind-boggling amount when I add up the turnover amount of all these customers combined.

I do help them to be even more successful and I do help them make technology choices as part of the vision and strategy that I help them to formulate and devise.

Goal: More repeat custom and generate new customers. 50%/50% split between regular customers and new customers is a good split, and it worked well for me this year. As I lead customers to success, they drop off my customer list because they don’t need me any more; but that’s what I want! Self-sufficient, satisfied customers who are enabled and empowered to move on, and who recommend me to their colleagues and community.

Business Community

I am going to set myself the target of attending more business events this year. I am currently researching the business events that have value, and the ones that do not offer value to me.

Goal: I intend to re-ignite my business networking in a more targeted way. I have been pleased to meet leaders that I can learn from, and i hope to contribute more.

Charity

I was a Data Ambassador for DataKind this year. Wow! What a rewarding, creative experience and it was incredibly satisfying to work with people who love data and want to do good with data science to help charities.

Goal for 2019: More of the same. I get enormous richness from philanthropic efforts and I want to help people.

I wish you all the best for 2019! And don’t let anyone steal your pixie dust.

pixiedust

 

 

Motivating Teams and Individuals: Reward Systems

What is motivation? Willingness to exert high levels of effort toward organizational goals, conditioned by the effort’s ability to satisfy some individual need or desire (Robbins, p.168). Motivation is studied in terms of how it refers to other things, such as needs, drives, goals, incentives of disincentives. (McKenna, E., 1996).

Work motivation can be described as a willingness to apply one’s efforts towards the achievement of the organisation’s goals, while concurrently an individual need is satisfied.​

What is the main interest of managers in motivation?​ Managers and Leaders need to work on motivation in order to achieve objectives for the organisation and the team​. The  aim should be to change employees’ motivations from what they are, to what the manager wants them to be (Purcell et al, 2003)​

Therefore, it is related to performance. Performance is behaviour​ because you are doing something. Concepts of performance involve ‘levels’ of performance and ‘quality’ of performance​, which means that performance is linked to measurement​. Therefore, motivation is key to achieving good performance.

The key theories of motivation involve

  • content theories – the ‘what’ of motivation – This is based on Outcome and Reward
  • process or Cognitive theories – the ‘how’ of motivation – cognitive processes used to connect effort with outcome or reward)

The ‘internal forces that impel action and the external forces that can act as inducements to action’ ​ (Locke and Latham, 1979)​.  There are three main aspects of action:​

  • direction of choice
  • levels of effort or intensity
  • duration or persistence

​Latham and Locke (1979), cited in McKenna (2000), distinguish between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation is derived from expectation of receiving extrinsic or tangible reward (e.g. promotion or pension).​ Intrinsic motivation is derived from expectation of receiving intrinsic or ‘psychological’ reward (e.g. recognition, respect or an Award).

Content Theories

Content theories can be listed below:

  • Maslow’s hierarchy of needs​
  • Alderfer’s ERG hierarchy – ERG (existence-relatedness-growth)​
  • Herzberg’s two factor theory​
  • McClelland’s achievement motivation theory​
  • Hackman and Oldman’s job characteristics model.​

These theories mostly adopt a universal approach, and they assume all people possess a common set of needs. They assume that people have a bucket of motivations that await gratification, and this is used to explain why people choose to act in one way and not another.

Content Theories are described next:

Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs is probably the most well-known, and the theory probably stops there for a lot of people. However, it was later refined by other content authors, and then the emphasis turned to more cognitive theories.

heirarchyofneeds

Credit: Penn State Leadership https://sites.psu.edu/leadership/2014/11/29/prepare-for-success-path-goal-theory-and-maslows-needs-hierarchy/ 

 Alderfer’s ERG theory summarizes these needs into three related needs:​

  • existence needs​
  • relatedness needs​
  • growth needs.​

More than one need can be activated at any one time, and we can regress back to a lower need if a higher need is not met. This is known as the ‘frustration regression’ process.

McClelland’s Achievement Needs Theory (1961) perceives motivation as being influenced by three trait-like needs: achievement, power, affiliation and belonging. Traits are based on experience and can be developed and honed, for example, through training or positive reinforcement through hierarchical positioning.

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Herzberg (1996) is consistent with the earlier theories of Maslow, and, at its simplest, states that people are motivated towards things that make them feel good, and away from things that make them feel bad. There is plenty of empirical evidence to support this idea; if you consider going to the gym at 6am as an example, how does that make you feel? Most people will stay in bed because it makes them feel good. Herzberg applies this idea to the workplace.

two-factor-theory-herzberg-toolshero

Credit: https://www.toolshero.com/psychology/theories-of-motivation/two-factor-theory-herzberg/ 

Cognitive Theories

Cognitive Theories, or Process theories, view humans as actors who want to produce an impact and an effect on their environment, and that humans are fundamentally life-long learners who want to learn skills and new things. We have a need for new information, data and wisdom. Certainly, in my experience, no customer ever has ever said ‘We have enough reports and data now’. We always want to pitch forward with our data.

In this view, humans are essentially purposeful and individua. We understand our risks, and we make plans and set a course. These cognitive or process theories acknowledge choice, and discuss how behaviour is initiated, directed and re-directed, and terminated altogether.

The key theories include:

  • expectancy theory​
  • goal-setting theory​
  • equity theory.​

Vroom’s Expectancy Theory  postulates that individuals will behave or act in a certain way because they are motivated to select a specific behaviour over other behaviours. The choice depends on their expectations on what they perceived the outcome of the behaviour to produce.

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Vroom’s Expectancy Theory

F (Motivation) = V x I x E

V = Valence or value an individual places on  the reward. ​

I = Instrumentality or the extent to which the individual believes carrying out an action will lead to positive reward/outcome. ​

E = Expectancy or the perception that a behaviour/effort will lead to desired level of performance.

Locke’s Goal Setting Theory (1968) may be something that you use a lot. Have you seen SMART objectives? They arise from Locke’s theory. Goals must be:​

  • specific and challenging​
  • capable of objective measurement​
  • attainable and time bound​
  • owned and accepted by employees.​
  • Prompt, precise feedback required so people know how they are doing​

Equity Theory (Adams, 1965) postulates that employees consider the inputs they bring to the work in relation to the outputs. It is a balance between inputs and perceived rewards they gain as a result of their inputs.  ​It is particularly important for performance appraisal and reward, since a perception of unfair or unjust treatment will be demotivating.

Does money motivate?

It is implied as a motivator in content theories e.g. Taylorism, Maslow, Locke  etc and therefore is implied as a motivator.​ Barber and Bretz (2000) suggest that money is among the most important factors for people when deciding on a job.​ Anecdotal evidence from exit interviews shows that money is the key reason why demotivated employees leave the job or they leave to earn more elsewhere.

Some theorists argue against the idea that it is a main motivator, such as eming, Herzberg, Kohn, Deci and Ryan, Pfeffer​. The theme here is that a job gives people meaning, purpose, commitment and engagement. Job satisfaction is also considered to be a primary motivator.

Some research shows that money can reduce the effectiveness of intrinsic engagement. For example, Deci et al (2001) found that “rewards as a motivational strategy is a risky proposition”.

A reasonable conclusion is that money is a motivator for some and most will not work without pay, but it depends on individual circumstances and other factors.​ “The question of whether money is a motivator that can lead to improved performance is a very complex one and the answer is by no means clear” (Latham 2007).

Here, we can combine expectancy and equity, by perceiving it as a vicious cycle for some individuals. The individual might be motivated to increase inputs, in the hope of getting increased rewards or outputs. People who are underpaid can see their role in terms of cost rather than value, thereby decreasing overall performance of the team because the competition within the team has been increased. If the value of the role is perceived as equitable to the cost, or amount of pay or reward, then the perception of fairness and balance is met.

Position and reward distribution need to be met fairly, or one team may not feel valued. If the reward distribution is perceived as being concentrated at C level at the expense of others, this can result in a perception of unfairness. There have been plenty of stories recently about overpaid C-suite members!

The reward mix is also important. The gender pay gap is well documented, and the finding is replicated across the world (Costa Dias, Joyce, and Parodi, F., 2018).

Conclusion

The reality is that motivation is a difficult and complex topic and there is the element of choice. That said, understanding people’s motivations can impact performance so there is a real need to understand this complex topic, in order to demystify people’s choices and make possible predictions and outcomes on their behaviour.

References

Adams, J. Stacy. “Inequity in social exchange.” In Advances in experimental social psychology, vol. 2, pp. 267-299. Academic Press, 1965.

Alderfer, C.P., 1969. An empirical test of a new theory of human needs. Organizational behavior and human performance4(2), pp.142-175.

Barber, A.E. and Bretz, R.D., 2000. Compensation, attraction, and retention. Compensation in organizations, pp.32-60.

Costa Dias, M., Joyce, R. and Parodi, F., 2018. The gender pay gap in the UK: children and experience in work. Institute for Fiscal Studies. https://www. ifs. org. uk/publications/10356.

Latham, G.P. 2007. Work motivation: History, theory, research, and practice ISBN 0 7619 2017 X; 337 pages. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

Locke, E.A., 1968. Toward a theory of task motivation and incentives. Organizational behavior and human performance3(2), pp.157-189.

Maslow, A.H., 1943. A theory of human motivation. Psychological review50(4), p.370.

McKenna, E.F., 2000. Business psychology and organisational behaviour: a student’s handbook. Psychology Press.

Vroom, V.H. and Yetton, P.W., 1973. Leadership and decision-making (Vol. 110). University of Pittsburgh Pre.