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Improve Your Sustainable Business With SWOTs

June 8th, 2011 Comments off

We often talk about things in class and fail to relate them to what happens in reality.  Here is a great post about the usefulness of SWOT analysis that highlights the fact that people learn about these things in school and even remember them in great detail, but they often fail to put them in to practice.

When was the last time you did a SWOT analysis for your business? “Uhm, I’m not really sure.

So how did you learn what SWOT analysis is about? “Oh that’s easy, we covered it when I was getting my MBA.”

I have conducted this informal survey on a regular basis, the results are always the same and yet it still surprises me.  If SWOT analysis was important enough to teach in b-school, and important enough for you to remember, why isn’t it important enough for you to implement???  Staying ahead of the curve can be as simple as using the SWOT’s technique.

This particular site focuses on the Triple Bottom Line that I’ve mentioned elsewhere (people, planet, profits) but the lesson is pertinent for areas outside sustainability.

Check it out at the link below:

Improve Your Sustainable Business With SWOTs.

Categories: Blocher Ch 01, Blogs Tags:

General Mills’ Supply Chain Scorecard

June 6th, 2011 Comments off

It seems that sustainability is the hot buzzword these days in marketing and accounting circles.  Locally-based giant, General Mills, is taking the sustainability push beyond its legal borders and using a scorecard to track its suppliers:

General Mills has been pushing on green issues since about 2005, Lynch explained, and is steadily seeking to expand its reach on sustainability. The company began its sustainability initiatives with a focus on its manufacturing plants, simply because that was the area where the company has the most control over its operations.But in tracking its internal and supply-chain emissions, Lynch said that GM has come to a few realizations about where its impacts come from.

“The vast majority of our inputs come in through suppliers who provide value to us here in sorting or milling or roasting or adding flavor and it’s in very few situations that we’re buying directly from farmers,” Lynch said.

Read more at:

 

Target Costing

April 6th, 2011 Comments off

Ron Baker at VeraSage has a great book review of a Target Costing text.  Despite our minor coverage in class of target costing, it is not a widely used concept in the United States, but we should be prepared for that to change.  As I’ve said before, I think that students in the future will take a separate course that focuses on pricing and includes more in-depth target costing coverage than we see today.

Read more at: Book Review: Target Cost Management at Verasage Institute.

Categories: Blocher Ch 13, Blogs Tags:

Communication Nation: The connected company

February 21st, 2011 Comments off

Here is an interesting blog post that looks at how companies behave and argues that they work more like living organisms than machines.  Few companies survive long-term, so understanding why they collapse is important if one wants to advance companies as going concerns.  Check it out at the link below:

Communication Nation: The connected company.

Categories: Blogs Tags:

How College Students Should Use Linkedin « The Summa

December 6th, 2010 Comments off

Professor David Albrecht has done a nice job highlighting why you, as a college student, should be using LinkedIn.  In the last year, I’ve had several colleagues find new jobs using LinkedIn after being displaced…not having a robust presence there could be costing you opportunities.

Read the complete post here: How College Students Should Use Linkedin « The Summa.

Groupon’s Success Disaster

September 19th, 2010 Comments off

There are some interesting strategic lessons in this blog post about a coffee shop’s brush with bankruptcy following a “successful” Groupon promotional campaign.  A couple that I’ll point out:

  1. Fixed costs are very real and need to be taken into account. High “revenues” are not a measure of success when the costs are even higher than the money coming in.
  2. Being a cost leader (or viewed as one — which is essentially the same thing) can be dangerous because all of the people that want a deal will buy — but only as long as they get a deal.
  3. In a related area, customers that search for “deals” will move on to the next deal when it comes along rather than becoming a long-term customers.

Read more at this link: Groupon’s Success Disaster | Redfin Corporate Blog.

Why is labor ignored in Theory of Constraints?

July 28th, 2010 1 comment

One question I get a lot from students is “why do we ignore variable labor costs when we are looking at Throughput Contribution?”  I’ve bumbled through lots of answers but will leave it to someone else to explain this better than I’ve been able to so far:

In many companies direct labor is not really a variable cost. Even though direct labor may not be paid on an hourly basis, many companies have a commitment–sometimes enforced in labor contracts or by law–to guarantee workers a minimum number of paid hours. In TOC companies, there are two additional reasons to consider direct labor to be a fixed cost.

First, direct labor is not usually a constraint. In simplest case constraint is a machine. In more complex cases, the constraint is a policy (such as a poorly designed compensation scheme for sales persons) that prevents the company from using its resources more effectively. If direct labor is not the constraint, there is no reason to increase it. Hiring more direct labor would increase costs without increasing the output of salable products and services.

Second, TOC emphasizes continuous improvement to maintain competitiveness. Without committed and enthusiastic employees, sustained continuous improvement virtually impossible. Since layoffs often have devastating effects on employee morale, managers involved in TOC are extremely reluctant to lay off employees.

Read more at this useful site:

Five Ways Pixar Makes Better Decisions

July 16th, 2010 Comments off

Here is a short read previewing an upcoming book about companies that make great decisions.  Having an advantage at decision making over competitors can make for a huge advantage in the marketplace as products reach c0nsumers more quickly, quality is higher, and employees are happier in these kinds of organizations.

We think that organizations with good judgment have a number of typical attributes. One is that they involve a number of different people in making important decisions. Their senior executives keep in mind that they don’t have a monopoly on knowledge and judgment and therefore involve multiple people in decision processes.

The short blog post linked below highlights how some things work at Pixar that are part of their “high-quality decision making culture.”  Furthermore, it is easy to pick out some things like Pixar University and manager autonomy that relate to things like the Learning & Growth perspective of the balanced scorecard that we have discussed in class.

Read more at: Five Ways Pixar Makes Better Decisions – Tom Davenport – Harvard Business Review.

Study Habits for the Average Accounting Student | The Student CPA

April 22nd, 2010 Comments off

Strong study habits are not one-size-fits-all for every single student.  But there is a “core” of what constitutes the basics for most students…and some of the best advice comes from students that have struggled and found success.

I’ve been reading a blog called The Student CPA for several months now and a new item was posted today that gives advice from a student perspective on what works for accounting students in terms of being successful learners.  Similar to a post I made a few months ago that gave tips from the perspective of an accounting professor, I think this blog post (and, actually, the two posts in combination) is probably a great way for students to kickstart their studies in this or any accounting class.

Read more at The Student CPA:

Study Habits for the Average Accounting Student | The Student CPA.

The Emergence of the Triple Bottom Line

March 13th, 2010 Comments off

We will be looking at a framework in a couple weeks that explores the idea that accounting systems need to change to measure environmental impacts/costs.  I happened to come across an article that predicts that the movement in this direction will expand and will take on an increasingly external-focus as opposed to Corporate Social Responsibility efforts that have been more internally focused.

The days of purely measuring business performance by financial result may well be numbered. In its place, I believe that discerning investors will look for something broader to measure an entity’s real contribution and performance.

That something could be in the shape of the “triple bottom line”; an amalgam of financial results and an assessment of the social and environmental impacts of a business. Or, put another way: People, Planet and Profits.

As we discuss in class, one of the biggest hurdles companies need to overcome is that their existing accounting systems are built to report numbers according to financial rules and pulling data out of the accounts to track environmental costs can we quite difficult.

Regardless of whether or not you agree with the direction this takes us in, you do then have to ask the question of just how many businesses are in a position to report on such non-financial performance aspects. Bearing in mind that recent research2 has highlighted businesses’ and their finance functions’ shortcomings when it came to dealing with the financial result alone (and not forgetting that they’ve just endured two years of being battered by recession-busting cost reduction initiatives), it’s hard to imagine how many could easily transition into this new mindset.


Read more at: The Emergence of the Triple Bottom Line.