Here is another outstanding interview of Didier Lombard from a series featured by strategy+business magazine, published by Booz & Comany. The interview was conducted by Art Kleiner and Pierre Péladeau.
Although this is a somewhat lengthy interview, with an extensive introduction, I think it is a “must read” for anyone either employed by a telecommunications company or is in some way(s) associated with one.
To read the complete interview, check out a wealth of other resources, sign up for email updates, and obtain subscription information, please click here.
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The former chairman of the board of France Télécom says telecommunications companies must outpace — or be inundated by — the coming explosion in data traffic.
A formidable transformation is taking place in the global telecommunications industry. Over the past few years, the operating margins for many telecom companies have shrunk rapidly, as mobile phone service has overtaken fixed-line service, data traffic has outpaced voice traffic, and the old bread-and-butter phone service has become commoditized. Meanwhile, global demand for data services has increased massively, especially with the emergence of video streaming and downloading on the Internet. This “data tsunami,” as it’s been called, has grown in intensity with the proliferation of data-enabled smartphones. Cisco Systems Inc. estimates that the total volume of data circulating on mobile networks will grow from 0.09 exabytes (97 million gigabytes) per month in 2009 to 3.6 exabytes (3.9 billion gigabytes) in 2014, roughly doubling every year. Even with new technologies for compressing data, the ability of mobile networks to absorb this traffic remains limited. The net result is a major challenge for telecommunications companies: finding the capital to build all the networks needed to handle this data while still maintaining the loyalty of customers and the goodwill of regulators, and fending off new Internet-based competitors such as Google, Skype, and Facebook.
In Europe, one major telecommunications company facing this challenge is France Télécom SA. Known for its Orange brand, it offers voice, Internet, and mobile services. France Télécom is the third-largest European telco (after Deutsche Telekom AG and Telefónica SA), with about 193 million customers worldwide in 2010 and approximately 180,000 employees (roughly half of them located outside France). Its annual revenues are about US$80 billion, of which it invests more than 10 percent in building new infrastructure.
Didier Lombard, the chairman of France Télécom since 2005 (and CEO from 2005 to 2010), has championed a vision that might have seemed unthinkable several years ago: Large, incumbent telephone companies as pioneers of digital enterprise. In his years leading the company, he has stepped up innovation in services and content development, expanded service into eastern Europe and Africa, and created Orange Labs, a global network of R&D facilities. These all represented dramatic moves for a company that had been a government-controlled organization before 1998, and part of the French postal, telephone, and telegraph ministry before 1990.
To some observers, they were also unusual moves because Lombard had spent most of his career in the French government. Having started in 1967 at France Télécom as an engineer, he moved in 1988 to the French Ministry of Research and Technology, where he became scientific and technical director. In 1991, he took a post as managing director of industrial strategy at the Ministry of the Economy, Finance, and Industry; in 1999, he became the founding chair of the French Agency for International Investments, making him in effect the government’s chief ambassador to potential investors in his country. He rejoined France Télécom as a senior vice president in 2003, became CEO and chairman of the board in 2005, and was succeeded by Stéphane Richard as CEO in 2010. (Lombard remains chairman.)
Lombard, who is 68, believes that telecommunications companies will have to cope with the data tsunami by finding new business models. In some cases, this will mean pay-for-access Internet services, including various forms of video on demand; it will also mean new applications in healthcare, financial services, and many other industries as digital telecommunications inundate them. It will almost certainly mean new types of partnerships with other technology companies; for example, France Télécom recently began selling the Apple iPad in its retail stores.
Lombard’s stance has landed him in the middle of the debate over Net neutrality — the idea that Internet access providers must offer equal access to all sites, without favoring them on the basis of either the type of content or the business relationship. Although he acknowledges the importance of open access for Internet users, he is also a leading proponent of value-added businesses, which he says are needed to generate revenues to pay for the continuing rollout of new infrastructure. In 2008, his book The Second Life of Networks (co-authored with Georges Nahon and Gabriel Sidhom) was published by Odile Jacob, in French and English editions. Lombard met with strategy+business in New York in October 2010, when he was chairman of France Télécom; in March 2011, he retired, and his successor as CEO, Stéphane Richard, also became chairman.
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To read the complete interview, please click here.
Art Kleiner is the editor-in-chief of strategy+business and the author of The Age of Heretics (2nd ed., Jossey-Bass, 2008).
Pierre Péladeau is a Booz & Company partner based in Paris. He specializes in communications and technology business development.
Here is an article written by Zach First, the Drucker Institute’s managing director. To check out all the resources at the Drucker Institute and sign up for its free online newsletter, please click here.
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Not long ago, I’d have guessed that research university professors would rank last on the list of professionals likely to engage in design thinking—a process that, as has been noted, the Drucker Institute holds in high regard.
After all, academics typically operate on very long time cycles (multiple years for a research project), face massive incentives to avoid failure (the tenure process is pretty unforgiving) and work in near-monastic isolation. “Collaborate to fail fast” wouldn’t seem to be their mantra.
Turns out I was all wrong. I recently ran a meeting of the National Forum on the Future of Liberal Education, where I am a Fellow. This was our third of five two-day meetings over the course of three years, and the group was ready to pivot from ideas to action. (Here’s my previous post about the group.)
I engaged my fellow Fellows in rapid prototyping, iteration, failing fast and user tests, and shared some basic principles of good design. I was delighted to discover the seeds of design thinking even in the rarified air of academe. It turns out that common practices such as peer review, interdisciplinary teaching and collaborative research have some powerful areas of overlap with design-thinking methods.
The group built on these affinities to rapidly prototype and iterate a handful of different ways to shape the future of liberal arts education in America. They accomplished this in just a day and a half. And they’ll be following up before our next meeting in October to further refine and test their prototypes on their home campuses—and beyond.
More broadly, the process underscored for me the importance for all workers—even professors—to be both thinkers and doers, and to master sound managerial practices (such as design thinking). “Intellectuals see the organization as a tool; it enables them to practice . . . their specialized knowledge,” Peter Drucker wrote. “Managers see knowledge as the means to the end of organizational performances. Both are right. They are opposites; but they relate to each other as poles rather than as contradictions.”
If you’d like to learn more about the work we did at this meeting check out the story in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
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To check out all the resources at the Drucker Institute and sign up for its free online newsletter, please click here.
I’ve been thinking about Earth Day a lot this year.
How do we make the planet a better place, environmentally or otherwise?
By making the world we actually live in a better place.
Which means affecting the people around you in a positive way.
Which means changing their lives for the better, somehow.
If enough of us can make a positive fact in our own lives, THAT will save the world.
I can’t tell you how to do it, all I can do is tell you that you CAN do it.
The world is changed, one good life at a time.
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To visit MacLeod’s Gaping Void website, please click here.
To visit Hugh’s gallery, please click here.
To visit Hugh’s blog and sign up for email updates, please click here.
Note to authors and their agents as well as to publishers, Hugh MacLeod created brilliant illustrations for Nilofer Merchant’s The New How: Creating Business Solutions through Collaborative Strategy, published by O’Reilly Media.
I am not well read. I wish I were. In an earlier chapter of my life, I read church books, theology books, books about church life and church growth and God. I liked those – then. Now I read business books, and quite a bit of general non-fiction. But I have never tackled much fiction. It is my loss. It has been a mistake. I wish I had… but I never did. Maybe one of these days…
Anyway, Roger Ebert is well read. Yes, he is. I blogged about his love of books earlier (Roger Ebert Reminds us All Just Why We Love Our Books), quoting from hisBooks do furnish a life. Now, here he is, in his own words, from Roger Ebert’s Journal, Does anyone want to be “well-read?”
For the book lovers who read this blog:
That’s how I’ve done my reading: Haphazardly, by inclination. I consider myself well read, but there has been no plan.
There is no pattern. My only goal is to enjoy reading. I learn that he average American teenager spends 17 minutes a weekend in voluntary reading. Surely that statistic is wrong. Do they mean reading of “serious” novels? I would certainly count science fiction, graphic novels, vampires, Harry Potter, newspapers, magazines, blogs–anything. Just to read for yourself for pleasure is the point. Dickens will come later, Henry James perhaps never.
At the end of the day, some authors will endure and most, including some very good ones, will not. Why do I think reading is important? It is such an effective medium between mind and mind. We think largely in words. A medium made only of words doesn’t impose the barrier of any other medium. It is naked and unprotected communication. That’s how you get pregnant. May you always be so.
Here is an article written by Kelly Goldsmith and Marshall Goldsmith for BNET, The CBS Interactive Business Network. To check out an abundance of valuable resources and obtain a free subscription to one or more of the BNET newsletters, please click here.
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Talent is never out of fashion. But high-impact performers are in demand now more than ever. We’re speaking here of those indispensable workers who will do what it takes to help your company succeed even in the most difficult and fast-paced of times.
They’re the staffers who pick up the slack when the organization is forced to cut back, whose ideas save time, money, and effort, and whose positive outlook helps keep the organization moving forward.
How do you retain these people? This is a great question and the answer is simple. Leaders must manage their human assets (i.e., employees), and they must do so with the same vigor that they devote to financial assets. Tough economic times may put more talent on the market. But it also requires investing in people, no matter how difficult; it is critical for the success of the organization.
Here are some steps that organizations can take that will help them keep today’s high-impact performers and tomorrow’s great leaders.
[The Goldsmiths provide six suggestions. Here are the first three. To read the complere article, please click here.]
1) Show Respect: This may seem obvious, but it can’t be done by rote. Genuinely treating employees with kindness, respect, and dignity will elicit loyalty to both the leader and the organization. It is possible to lead people through fear and intimidation; however, the odds of retaining and developing people using this style are slim.
2) Focus on a Thriving Environment: You need more than the fad-of-the-month leadership development program to create an environment in which high-impact performers want to stay and will put their all into an organization. You need an environment where people are learning, getting training, and developing their skills-where through inquiry and dialogue, the leader creates an environment that allows each individual to thrive.
3) Offer On-Going Training: High on the list for leaders who want to retain high-impact performers is training and on-going education, both of which ensure that people can 1) do their jobs properly, and 2) can improve on existing systems. Cross training — giving people the opportunity to experience and train in different aspects of the company — is a great way to cross-fertilize between departments and across regions. This is a great competitive advantage when organizations are required to cut back on manpower. Cross-trained employees are equipped to handle different functions in the organization far more easily than those confined in silos.
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Developing people is a strategic process that adds value to both the employees and the bottom line of the organization. Highly committed, highly competent people create financial rewards for the organization; organizations that develop their people and provide opportunities for growth are sought-after by high-impact performers. Great leaders know this simple formula. They understand it and strive to create an environment that supports it. And the result is success!
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Kelly Goldsmith is a recent Ph.D. graduate from the Yale School of Management and a member of the faculty at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Her specialty is research in consumer decision making.
Marshall Goldsmith is an executive educator, coach and author. His books include What Got You Here Won’t Get You There and Mojo. His specialty is helping successful leaders achieve positive, lasting change in behavior.
Here is an excerpt from PsyBlog, a website that features scientific research into how the mind works. Its author is Jeremy Dean, currently a researcher at University College London, working towards a PhD, having previously completed an MSc in Research Methods in Psychology at the same institution. The studies he covers have been published in reputable academic journals in many different areas of psychology.
To read the complete article, check out others, and sign up for email updates, please click here.
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Are you building castles in the sky?
Psychologists have found that fantasising about future success can be dangerous.
We all have fantasies about the future. It’s only natural to dream happy dreams about how things might go right.
We often hear from self-help gurus that just this type of happy dreaming is a good source of motivation. If we can picture our future success then this will help motivate us.
Loosely speaking there is some truth to this: positive thinking about the future is broadly beneficial. But psychologists have found that visualization and fantasy can be tricky customers and research carried out by Oettingen and Mayer (2002) shows why.
Fantasy versus expectation
The researchers wanted to see how people cope with four different challenges that life throws at us: getting a job, finding a partner, doing well in an exam and undergoing surgery (hopefully not all at the same time).
Across four studies the researchers examined how people thought about each of these challenges. They measured how much they fantasised about a positive outcome and how much they expected a positive outcome.
The difference might sound relatively trivial, but it’s not. Expectations are based on past experiences. You expect to do well in an exam because you’ve done well in previous exams, you expect to meet another partner because you managed to meet your last partner, and so on.
Fantasies, though, involve imagining something you hope will happen in the future, but experiencing it right now. This turns out to be problematic.
The researchers found that when trying to get a job, find a partner, pass an exam or get through surgery, those who spent more time entertaining positive fantasies did worse.
Take those looking for a job. Those who spent more time dreaming about getting a job, performed worse. Two years after leaving college the dreamers:
• had applied for fewer jobs,
• unsurprisingly had been offered fewer jobs,
• and, if they were in work, had lower salaries.
On the other hand those who entertained more negative future fantasies were more likely to achieve their goals. Similar results were seen for the other goals.
Although positive fantasies were associated with failure, positive expectations were associated with success. People who had positive expectations about finding a partner, recovering quickly from surgery and passing an exam, did better than those whose expectations were negative.
Recall that expectations are built on solid foundations while positive fantasies are often built on thin air.
Why positive fantasies are dangerous
The problem with positive fantasies is that they allow us to anticipate success in the here and now. However they don’t alert us to the problems we are likely to face along the way and can leave us with less motivation—after all it feels like we’ve already reached our goal.
It’s one way in which our minds own brilliance lets us down. Because it’s so amazing at simulating our achievement of future events, it can actually undermine our attempts to achieve those goals in reality.
This isn’t to say that thinking positively about the future is problematic or that fantasy in itself is dangerous, just that a certain type of positive fantasy thinking is associated with poorer performance.
So that’s a warning about the dangers of visualization and fantasy in goal-achievement, onto more positive findings about motivation and success in future posts.