You can ‘goal’ your own way…achieving business goals

Achieving business goals

Achieving goals, whether they’re personal or professional, can be tough. We’ve all got our own personal mountain tops. The goals that we set ourselves that, from the outset, seem nearly impossible to conquer…

I read a book called ‘The One Thing’ by Gary Keller. The premise is: what is the ‘one thing’ that you need to do that will subsequently make everything else fall into place and become easier?

In the book, Keller talks about breaking down your goals into long and short term, and how by doing this you can turn them into more manageable and less intimidating tasks.

Once you’ve broken them down, you can then consistently ask yourself questions about your progress to keep you on track with your overall goal.

The process

This process works in two parts. The first is about finding the right direction, and the second part is about chasing the right action.

For the first part, think about the big picture and identify what your overall goal is, what is the one thing that you want to do or achieve. This can be anything from your career goals to a personal ambition that you have.

The second part of this process is more short-term and practical. You have to ask yourself questions that provide you with a small focus on what you can do right now to help you get to where you want. For example, making that phone call that you’ve been putting off, or signing up for that networking event that you find intimidating.

Stay on track

By repeatedly asking yourself these more focused and short-term questions, you will not only keep on target to your overall goal, but you will also find yourself taking actionable steps that all build on one another and provide you with the momentum to finally reach your mountaintop!

To have a chat about your goals or your executive search, contact me at carl@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about Carl Hinett our Executive search of HR professional’s specialist here.

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Kingfisher’s struggles shows the pitfalls of nailing international retail

Nailing international retail

International success is one of retail’s holy grails but despite notable wins, Kingfisher’s results today show it is one of the most elusive of prizes. 

As one senior retailer with extensive overseas experience told me, things are always going wrong in at least one important market. He questions whether it is actually possible to be successful on a truly global basis. 

There is plenty of evidence to support that view. It’s not just Kingfisher that has beat a retreat from markets once seen as great opportunities like Russia and China. Tesco has too. And Walmart, which hopes to offload Asda to Sainsbury’s, is another case in point. 

Global ambition is frequently spurred by the idea that there is today an ‘international consumer’ who wants the same whether they live in Swansea or Shanghai. The success of Asos, which describes itself as “a global fashion destination for 20-somethings”, is typically cited as proving that point. 

While such a generation may be nascent, the particularities of place and people still matter hugely, as the travails of B&Q’s owner show. The mixed success so far of the ‘One Kingfisher’ strategy, including greater product in common across its markets, illustrates that starkly. 

Uniting consumers 

Kingfisher can certainly claim some advances from the strategy and it can point, as it did in its results statement, to the fact that “sales of our unified and unique ranges continue to outperform non-unified ranges”. 

However, its overall performance was poor and the architect of the strategy, chief executive Véronique Laury, is to depart when a successor is found. 

As Whitman Howard analyst Tony Shiret noted: “The news that Laury will be leaving the group… effectively means the company is calling time on her ambitious One Kingfisher transformation plan.” 

Whether you put Kingfisher’s difficulties down to unaddressed differences in consumer tastes in various countries, generally tough conditions or the disruptive influence of the gilets jaunes protests in the important French market, the point is that international success is extremely difficult to achieve. 

Gone are the days when giants could simply replicate abroad the model that brought success at home. More than product, what perhaps does unite consumers around the world is shared aspiration and behaviour. 

Everybody wants a better life. Increasingly everybody is conducting more of their lives through smartphones. That’s evident from China to Africa, where pan-African etailer Jumia has grown to the extent that it is planning a Wall Street IPO that could value it at $1bn. 

And while Walmart is scaling back its interest in the UK, it is upping the ante in India, where its $16bn acquisition of Flipkart shows that it is how shoppers buy as much as what they purchase that is seen as most likely to bring future success. 

Bold moves 

That same combination of aspiration, combined with the desire for convenience, speed and value is what has driven the rise of one of the big contemporary international retail success stories – Amazon. 

But the ability to key into unifying behavioural patterns isn’t restricted to the new online giants. Ikea, which itself has had its ups and downs, has perhaps been more forward-looking than its rival Kingfisher. 

The Swedish furniture titan is boldly nailing its colours to the mast of urbanisation, which is occurring across the world, and developing new formats in response. Similarly, Ikea initiatives such as renting furniture are driven in reflection of changes in how people live rather than just product. 

Whether Ikea’s bets pay off remains to be seen, but it looks as if its ideas could tap into transforming times more than some of the shifts Kingfisher has made. 

Ironically, Kingfisher owns one business that does reflect the common desire for speed and convenience – Screwfix, which can offer click and collect in just one minute. 

It’s a business that has been built through intimate customer knowledge that is then executed upon with flair. That’s a foundation stone of retail success anywhere in the world. 

Click here to read the original article from Retail Week. 

To discuss this article further, you can email me on danny@refind.co.uk

re:find help businesses find the talent they need to deliver transformational change.  Clients call us when they need change to happen quickly and effectively. We are Executive Search and Interim Search specialists. 

Click here to read about what we do specifically in the retail sector. 

Shared Services vs. Business Process Outsourcing – who will survive?

Shared Services vs. BPO

There has long been an argument between Shared Services and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) – is one better than the other? I think both have their merits. However, in the evolving world of shared services and outsourcing, will one become extinct?

BPO is the process of engaging a third-party vendor with the right skills and resources, to carry out work on your behalf.

Shared Services relates to the creation of an autonomous business unit, based on-site, which carries out these processes for multiple functions within an organisation (HR, Finance, procurement).

The services that BPO and Shared Services provide is generally to remove manual, operational and often repetitive tasks out of your everyday work.

Business Process Outsourcing

BPO is often thought to be more efficient, due to it having better systems and processes. It is frequently based offshore, so labour costs and overheads can be significantly lower than having this service in-house.

Outsourcing can often be implemented quickly and more effectively, due to the experience of the resource within these companies. The transition to an outsourced model may not offset the savings you make and the increase in the quality of the work you receive.

Feedback is often that BPO can be seen as ‘faceless’ or lacking the human approach that people sometimes want from these services and in a world where employee engagement and experience is paramount, this can cause real issues.

Shared Services

Shared services can be a better solution if your needs are bespoke. BPO can often be one size fits all, and if you have requirements that are specific and processes that aren’t bog standard, then a shared services model may be the best choice.

However, the implementation of a shared services function within a business can be slow and painful. More often than not this is due to lack of experience internally to deliver this and if systems, processes and data are not clean and efficient, the service will fail.

If the service fails, it can be hugely damaging to employee engagement and if people aren’t engaged to use the service, then they will revert to old habits, rendering the service useless.

Is there a place for both?

People seem to believe that in the long term, only one of these will survive. My opinion is that there is a place for both. If you have high volume of standard processes which need carrying out without knowledge of internal factors or processes, then BPO is probably for you.

However, if you have unique processes and you have the time, money and resources to do this properly, then shared services is the best option.

Before you decide whether to implement a BPO or Shared Services model, you need to do a thorough diagnostic on your business and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What the end goal is for your organisation in changing to a new service delivery model? If it is purely to save money, then shared services isn’t for you.
  • Do you have management engagement and support?
  • Are your systems, processes and data fit for purpose?

Once you have the answers to all of these questions, you should be able to make an informed decision.

So, what do you think? Do you think shared services or BPO will become extinct in the long term?

For all things HR Shared Services, change and transformation get in touch with us via the info form below, and if you would like to feature in our ‘Insiders Story’ blog, email me on kate@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about Kate Wass our HR Shared Services specialist here.

Why won’t top performing shared service professionals join your business? And what to do about it. Download our free eBook here.  

Supply chain management: An opportunity for transformation?

The world of retail has always been competitive and fast moving. In the current climate, where few are making sustained headway on sales and margin, agility and demand responsiveness are at an even greater premium. For me, this is about supply chain performance where failure can threaten survival, and excellence can transform a company’s market position and financial performance. 

The term supply chain is now as ubiquitous in both the press and government pronouncements. However, the interpretation and scope of supply chain management by people and organisations is varied. Recent research by Cranfield, led by Professor Richard Wilding, found that the senior supply chain manager in around 70% of companies had a place on the divisional or operating board. This is a position that has emerged from nothing in only the last ten years. However, the same research showed that the scope of responsibility varied greatly across the 238 manufacturing companies surveyed.  

What is supply chain management?

The essence of supply chain thinking is about improving the end-to-end processes within a business and with its suppliers and customers, to maximise sales and margin potential.  So the reported fragmentation of responsibility is interesting. For me, supply chain management is about the integration of planning with sourcing, making and delivering.  While the research was carried out mainly with manufacturers, the parallels with retail are strong, with supply chain now having a place on the board, but directors’ responsibilities are not consistently framed across the retail sector. 

Should supply chain calls the shots?

No, this doesn’t mean that supply chain people should call the shots across the business; that would drive a left brain and relatively uncreative retail world and spell potential disaster. From my experience, boards generally see supply chain as a source of risk and disruption. The well-catalogued failures over the years have taken their toll and supply chain operations are perceived as having a negative potential. Suppliers, warehouse operations and systems, parcel operators and others are all seen as potential pitfalls and points of cost with no upside at all. 

For most retailers the planning, buying and merchandising functions (right brained and creative) are not perceived as organised as ‘supply chain’ functions. The paradox is that the financial and reputational risk from lost sales, markdowns and disposals from the planning of flow control processes are worth typically more than double the entire cost of the physical distribution operations. 

How do retailers get it right?

So retailers are damned if they don’t get the operations right, but they are doubly damned if their planning of buying and distribution is lacking. Buying and merchandising is central to retail supply chain management and the real challenge is to manage the tensions between left and right brain thinking, to drive real customer value. By doing this well retailers could see a 5% improvement in like-for-likes and 2% to 3% in net margin. Most CEO’s would kill for that right now and they need to think about their organisational dynamics to get a new balance. 

The multichannel challenge

Multichannel is coming up on the rails so fast it will soon be the outright winner; the problem is that multichannel risks are driving in cost and margin erosion faster than the growth. Right now this is still ‘land grab’ time. Right brains have control and are rushing headlong – and while pursuit of growth is not wrong, it should be challenged if it comes at too great a cost. The fulfilment cost options need to be clearly understood and Boards will need a tighter grasp of the new operating system in order to make balanced long term choices.  Again a consistent offer, well presented and executed by a trusted brand, at a cost that does not erode margin too fast, will be the future. Successful multichannel retailers will be judged by how little they have eroded value, as they have embraced the new normal of e-retailing. 

So what about the future?

Going forward, Boards will need to recognise these twin realities and put in place processes to bring both the left and right brain tensions to their table, well informed by real cost and net margin data. Only then will they make decisions that can protect the business from major surprises. It is both essential for survival and the opportunity for transformation. 

Click here to read the original article from Retail Week. 

To discuss this article further, you can email me on danny@refind.co.uk

re:find help businesses find the talent they need to deliver transformational change.  Clients call us when they need change to happen quickly and effectively. We are Executive Search and Interim Search specialists. 

Click here to read about what we do specifically in the retail sector. 

Simplifying the ‘Change Journey’ – can a Change Advisory Board help?

Simplifying he change journey

A change-advisory board (CAB) delivers support to a change-management team by approving requested changes, assisting in the assessment and prioritisation of changes.   A CAB is an integral part of a defined change-management process designed to balance the need for change with the need to minimise inherent risks. 

The CAB members should selectively be chosen to ensure that the requested changes are thoroughly checked and assessed from both a technical and business perspective. The considered change will dictate the required personnel to convene in a CAB meeting.  

A CAB offers multiple perspectives necessary to ensure proper decision-making. For example, a decision made solely by IT may fail to recognise the concerns of accounting. The CAB is tasked with reviewing and prioritising requested changes, monitoring the change process and providing managerial feedback. 

How do you manage a CAB effectively? 

Here are four good tips to running a CAB: 

1. Get the agenda out early and encourage discussions before the CAB. 
Don’t wait until the last minute to publish the upcoming CAB schedule. One of the frustrating things about attending CABs is that attendees often don’t really know much about the changes until they get to the meeting. Publish the list early so attendees have a chance to get up to speed on the proposed changes. This way, they can get with change requestors and sponsors before the meeting to get a clear understanding of what is proposed. If you don’t, then your CAB will be overtaken with efforts to solve any personal issues people have with proposed changes. 

2. DECISION MAKERS attend the CAB. 
The CAB members should be selected based on their knowledge and meaningful input to the meeting. What happens when CAB invitees can’t make it and send their designated hitters? Simple: ensure that then people attending have the authority to speak on the behalf of the person they are sitting in for. There’s nothing more frustrating than discussing a change and a key role says “I don’t think I can speak on that, I’ll have to get approval from my boss.” If they can’t speak on behalf of their boss, then they don’t need to be there. You can either clarify this need with the attendees before the meeting, or reschedule the discussion to a later CAB when the key personnel can attend. 

3. Know your decision thresholds. 
Do not attempt to approve a change that is bigger than you. Follow your organisation’s governance guidelines and determine the rules to decision making. This means that you should know exactly what thresholds (pound amount, risk level, impact, urgency, etc.) you are capable of approving. 

4. Careful not to get into “rubber stamping.” 

Many CABs get overwhelmed with complex and numerous changes. The pressures of getting through these changes during a meeting are enormous. This often results in sloppy approvals that may not receive proper assessment – and can cause incidents once deployed. Ensure that every change request receives the proper attention by scheduling enough time to discuss them. Also, be careful not to blindly approve a request simply based on who is requesting it. I remember a situation where a CAB approved a change simply based on who was requesting it. This “rubber stamp” approval resulted in a poorly managed deployment that caused several hours of downtime. The lesson learned here is that it doesn’t matter who is asking, every change must have the proper amount of analysis and scrutiny. 

To discuss this article further, you can email me on danny@refind.co.uk

re:find help businesses find the talent they need to deliver transformational change.  Clients call us when they need change to happen quickly and effectively. We are Executive Search and Interim Search specialists. 

Click here to read about what we do specifically in the retail sector. 

Should recruiters only focus on money?

When I was at a large recruitment firm it was drilled into me…FOCUS ON THE MONEY! But is that really what we should be focusing on? I’m not so sure.

Now I am not saying money isn’t important (and I do know that recruiters are meant to be money hungry savages…) but is that what really motivates us!?

The fuel

Simon Sinek says “The purpose of a car is to go somewhere and fuel helps you get there. The purpose of a company is to accomplish something, to advance in a greater cause, to contribute to society. And money will help you get there.” You can see the full analogy on a video here.

His analogy makes a lot of sense to me – I don’t think most people are motivated by money, they are motivated by purpose.

Why do most recruiters get frustrated or leave the industry? Because they have nothing to aim for apart from the here and now. This gets boring after a while unless you have something else you are aiming for.

The purpose

HINT: Your businesses purpose isn’t that your firm wants to make X million pounds this year.

It might be your driver as the owner/shareholder – but guess what, your people couldn’t care less if you get a big bonus or an earn-out or not. Most people care about how things impact them (not you).

Deloitte’s Millennial survey said that 60% of millennials said that a sense of purpose was part of the reason they’d chose to work at a company.

In another survey by Gallup millennials said they would rather have a pay cut than work for a company that was not ethical. 

Money isn’t the be-all and end-all

This proves my point – money isn’t the be-all and end-all. For me, the goal is to become better at what you do and do better than what you did before (more refined? Or re:find!) Not only is this more enjoyable, it is more developmental for individuals and your clients benefit too.

Ultimately, it’s about the service you give to others – we are supposed to be in the business of helping people, aren’t we?

To discuss further, you can email me on James@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.

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How you’ll benefit from a shared service function

Benefit from a shared service function

Shared Service Centres have been around since the mid 80’s, and more and more frequently, large corporates are moving towards outsourcing and the shared service model.

Typically, a shared service organisation is a central hub, and is responsible for handling specific operational tasks. Finance tends the be the most popular function within a shared service, with HR following just behind.

Companies usually implement the shared service model for a number of reasons:

Cost reduction:

When back office functions are consolidated and the work is migrated into one department, this will inevitably reduce cost of transaction processing. In addition to labour savings, shared services contribute to reductions in infrastructure costs such as technology, facilities and services, and administrative overhead costs.

Making processes more efficient:

Replacing dispersed IT infrastructure with the latest technology can eliminate processing time. When standardisation and continuous improvement of processes and systems is being carried out, this leads to a reduction in processing time, less errors and an improved quality of service. This way, your teams time can be freed up so they can focus their time and efforts on more strategic and more ‘human’ tasks.

Improving the customer journey:

Not all organisations create a shared service model to reduce costs. Sometimes the strategy behind a centralised model is to improve the customer journey or service levels of an organisation. The most successful shared service centres, in my opinion, are the ones that focus on adding value as a centre of expertise. When metrics are implemented to a SSC (KPI’s/SLA’s) they help drive performance and service levels.

Upskilling existing staff:


With the rise of technology and automation within shared service functions, staff are being utilised in many other ways. Not only does it make staff more productive, it also improves their skillset and gives them a more rounded knowledge of a business, enabling them to really add value.

When you have motivated teams that have a clear message on what they are trying to deliver, then efficiency, cost reduction and economies of scale are usually improved naturally. It’s about the leadership team creating a clear message and vision on what you’re trying to achieve.

For more info on the role leadership plays within shared services then please see my blog here.

If you would like to discuss further, email me at sam@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about Sam Perry our Shared Services Executive Search expert here.

Why won’t top performing shared service professions join your business? And what to do about it. Download our free eBook here.