Blog Archives | Hpierson

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A recession as we all know, is defined as the decline over two or more consecutive quarters, in the market value of the goods and services produced within the country in a given period of time, this being the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

Recessions often pose serious challenges to corporate leadership, as by the definition, they are known to be characterized by tough economic and market conditions which result in operational and financial difficulties to the institution. This could be attributable to factors such as the decline in demand and therefore threats to production orders, sales and resulting profits.

With the Covid-19 pandemic-driven recession, the leadership of companies across Africa, would likely try several solutions to keeping earnings and profits from nose-diving. In some cases, the leadership challenge is even tougher and would include keeping the company from collapse.

The key issue for leaders of companies therefore, would be how to keep their organizations afloat during these challenging periods, and possibly how to  perform well as the economy emerges into more positive territory.

One of the key strategies will include managing what could be called the Cost Minimization Temptation. Here the natural inclination for leaders is to cut costs to minimal levels, especially through aggressive lay-offs, as well as investment and assets down-sizing. While there may be some logic to this line of thought, the reality is that companies may need to consider doing this more sensibly. This means focusing more on cutting costs that create operational efficiencies while maintaining costs that give them a competitive advantage and the capacity to exploit unique opportunities that emerge as the economy climbs out of the recession. Action points here will involve scrutinizing the entire business model for areas that require efficiency enhancements and provide significant cost-savings, including organization, structure, etc. Also included here are areas of duplicated activities and processes that in the past were key, but currently have little relevance or value. The message therefore is to be careful of extreme cost cutting that kills capacity.

Also, recessions create new dynamics in the market place, such as shifts in customer needs and buying behaviour. The ability of the leadership to quickly scope these changes in customer needs and position the institution to exploit such emerging needs through new products and new markets, is fundamental. This calls for intelligent investment in innovation, research and development, as well as digital sales and marketing. These are very key in providing the needed visibility and capacity needed as the tides turn.

Against this background of changing customer needs and opportunities, there would be need for the organization to carefully identify and implement requirements for strategic staff hirings as well as training and staff development. Interestingly, these tend to be the first doors that get shut, in the aggressive cost cutting reaction that comes with the onslaught of a recession.

Finally, in implementing the above, leaders of African companies may be running their strategies around the economic forecasts that indicate that their economies will begin to see significant economic turnaround from this year 2021.

World Economic Situation

Source: World Economic Situation and Prospects 2021: Africa

While this is a positive perspective to work with, with the global nature of the recession and the global linkage of world economies and Africa’s peculiar debt and  policy challenges, one will advise that leaders also work with a parallel scenario of  a slow 2021-2022  recovery.

 

ShaiyenExecutive Vice Chairman, H. Pierson Associates Hpierson.com


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AI and Risk Enterprise-wide Risk Management (ERM) is the holistic approach to managing an organization’s upside and downside risks towards meeting its objectives. Its primary aim is to maximize risk-adjusted returns by giving consideration to the organization’s risks and their dependencies. Some of the traditional approaches used in risk management have been impeded by challenges such as dealing with unstructured data which limits risk management capabilities. In a bid to advance the goal of ERM, therefore, Artificial Intelligence (AI) based solutions have been increasingly deployed such as for risk identification, risk assessment and risk management. Using AI, current unstructured data is used to identify patterns and behaviours that then provide indications of future actions such as through advanced predictive analytics. The increasing trend in the deployment of AI in risk management can be found in areas such as Credit Risk where the use of machine learning algorithms are used to conduct better assessments of customers’ credit histories and identify other vulnerabilities or patterns that may not have been captured. This capability through AI aids more reliable credit scoring and the achievement of better default rates for lending institutions. Also for Market Risk, the deployment of AI has aided the reduction of the risks in trading while increasing returns. Also, for Fraud Risk, AI models are able to analyze large data volumes, observe patterns across channels and catch potentially fraudulent activity across numerous clients all at the same time. Major benefits accruing to organizations from deploying AI in risk management include:
  • Increased focus on analytics and more proactive mitigation of losses as against the normal tendency to expend time managing the risks in operational processes
  • Better identification of new and hidden risks
  • Faster and more accurate risk assessments using financial and non-financial data
  • New risk management approaches
  • Better model risk management including back-testing and model validation
  • Better risk oversight and monitoring
  • Quicker and more cost-effective predictive analytics-based fraud detection across multiple channels
AI could however come with potential consequences. This could include Stakeholder Risk whereby its output could portend redundancies for certain categories of staff or with customers resistance such as in dealing with chatbots. AI could also pose Model Risk with its ability to re-calibrate after roll-out, following the initial calibration. It could also impact the overall Risk Profile of the organization. This potential collateral or consequential risks posed by AI can be mitigated through close monitoring initiatives. They do not, therefore, diminish the strong transformation that AI is driving in risk management. In general, with the deployment of AI tools in risk management, organizations achieve higher levels of risk management efficiency. Overall benefits to the organization include speed and time savings, lower operational costs, lower regulatory and compliance costs and then, revenue optimization. Shaiyen – Executive Vice Chairman, H. Pierson Associates

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H. Pierson Associates Limited and XPLANE Consulting are delighted to announce that they have entered into a partnership, combining H. Pierson’s industry-leading management consulting services with XPLANE’s world-class design-led approach to Strategy Development & Activation. The partnership is focused on supporting companies in Africa and select emerging market institutions.

With uncertainty, technology, and innovation playing an increasingly critical role in every aspect of business especially with the COVID pandemic, organizations across the continent are recognizing that they need to more than ever before, anticipate disruptions, and respond quicker to market dynamics in articulating and executing their strategies.

The H. Pierson-XPLANE partnership is a powerful combination. XPLANE’s diverse global team based out of Portland Oregon, USA, combines its strategy expertise as a Fortune-500-focused management consulting firm, with the creative power of a design studio. This derives from its renowned trademark as a “Visual Thinking Company”. Its unique approach combines hands-on visual thinking, engaging workshops, and collaborative co-creation with stakeholders.

This is complementary to the H. Pierson team’s agile approach to focused strategy execution monitoring and evaluation, which bridges the gaps between strategy development and execution, and uniquely assures fast strategy adoption, institutionalization, and impact optimization.  

Speaking on the partnership, the Executive Vice Chairman/Founder Mrs. Eileen Shaiyen had this to say: “we are delighted with the XPLANE/H. Pierson partnership, and are certain that it will deliver very superior solutions to our clients across Africa and select emerging markets.” 

While speaking on the partnership, the CEO of XPLANE Aric Wood said that both firms were very aligned in the type of work they do “we are thrilled to partner with one of the continent’s leading firms, H. Pierson, to support their clients’ efforts to accelerate positive change”.


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The Nigeria Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) recently lent support to the global strive for the achievement of the sustainability principles, particularly gender parity.
This came to the fore at its recent workshop on gender mainstreaming, which was facilitated by the Emerging Businesses & Sustainability Unit of H. Pierson Associates, a leading management consulting firm.

The workshop was in furtherance of the declaration made by the Executive Secretary of the Board Engineer Simbi Wabote, at their 2018 Practical Nigerian Content Workshop, to promote affirmative action in the oil and gas industry and engender the participation of more women.

The aim of the workshop was to provide a platform for women in the oil and gas industry to deliberate on issues affecting their entry into the sector as employees or entrepreneurs, their career advancement to top positions, their peculiar challenges, as well as showcase role models and share their success stories.

The Executive Vice Chairman, H. Pierson Associates, Mrs. Eileen Shaiyen, outlined key success factors for female corporate executives and entrepreneurs in the oil and gas sector.

She stated during a panel session that the reasons why most women crashed out along the way was their inability to effectively balance their desires for a career, with the demands of motherhood, building a family and responding to adverse societal stereotypes about the role of women.

To get to the top, she encouraged women to set clear career targets for themselves, build a strong support system and stay very focused. She also emphasized the need for them to abhor mediocrity and strive for excellence always.

On his part, Wabote stated in his welcome address that the NCDMB would use its platform to drive subtle policy decisions that could give women some edge in their activities in the oil and gas sector. Also in his closing remarks he emphasised that the NCDMB would put together a robust implementation strategy, which would address the outcomes of the workshop in the short, medium and long term.

Speaking also at the event during a panel session was a sustainability expert, Dr. Natalie Beinisch, which focused on “Overcoming barriers to career progression and mentoring the next generation”. She shed great insight on how women can overcome barriers as they progress in their careers.

Beinisch, highlighted that women should be more aggressive in taking advantage of opportunities. They should erase the thought that top positions in the oil and gas industry are for men alone. Women should be more authentic, show capacity and interest each time they are called upon, and very importantly women should possess the virtue of integrity in their careers and business progression.
The event also witnessed the presence of some important dignitaries, which included Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, Head of Civil Service of the Federation, who presented a keynote address. Goodwill messages were also received from Mrs. Hadiza Bala-Usman Managing Director, Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) and Engr. Mrs. Joana Olutunmbi Maduka, Rep. Women in Energy Board of Trustees.

H. Pierson Associates, is a boutique-consulting firm with over 60 seasoned professionals with varied experiences in both the private and public sectors. The firm has been in operation for over 29 years, playing a leading role in providing consulting and capacity building solutions in various sectors of the economy (power, oil & gas, financial services, manufacturing, agriculture, etc) in Nigeria and the West Coast.
It provides uncommon value-adding solutions to its clients towards the achievement of their business objectives.


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In times of uncertain economics, organisations are forced into making or considering changes. Some opt for simple radical surgery and cut out unnecessary or redundant resources. Others try a more complex solution and restructure their operations. Both approaches are fraught with difficulty – and as we know from history, the majority of organisation changes fail to reach their objectives. Professor John Kotter at Harvard Business school identifies eight key causes, most of which pointed to a dis-connect between the leaders and employees in an organisation – the leaders had good ideas but failed to get them across effectively.

This research, along with other studies, confirms that organisations are not like machines, which can be

‘re-engineered’, but are complex social processes. Some of which are determined by structures and formal systems of the organisation, but most of which are ‘informal.

So with either approach, there are likely to be difficulties. Radical surgery leaves people feeling ‘survivor sickness’ and exhibiting lower productivity. People are displaced and disgruntled, worrying about their own future rather than focusing on the development of the new organisation. In more complex changes, people take time – often too long – to come to terms with the new realities and relationships and the main opportunity is lost.

We know from other studies that people are affected personally by change in different ways. To be successful, a change programme needs to take account of these effects and work to minimise the negative impact.

The key to success therefore lies in engaging with the informal processes, the interactions between everyone in the organisation which constitute the way the organisation actually works.


The questions

Strategies that will yield success are those that motivate and stimulate employees. We also know that the knowledge of what to do is not confined to the executive suite. More often than not, the solutions are already known, but lack the commitment to be implemented (as the GE WorkOut™ process has proven over many years). How can you involve employees in the creation of these change strategies?

Involvement of all stakeholders interests in the organisation, not just the financial shareholders’, is critical in creating a viable strategy. Pursuing an inclusive agenda that focuses on the needs of its customers, employees, suppliers and the wider community is one that has the greater chance of success. How do you create real dialogue with the stakeholders and reconcile differences that will generate that inclusive, successful strategy?

In times of difficulty we often forget that a lot of what we do actually does work. There is a danger of throwing the good out with the bad, especially when involved in surgical change. Again, research identifies that working with strengths and enhancing what works has greater success than trying to fix weaknesses and what doesn’t work. How can you identify the root of success rather than the root causes of failure?

There is always the difficult problem of engaging people and getting them committed to the future. How do you translate negative fear and apprehension into positive energy working to succeed through the troubled times?

And there is the problem of time and money – or lack of it! Many re-organisation and change processes are known to take months, if not years of concentrated effort, and a lot of resources. So, how do you manage to engage people, develop strategies and get commitment to implementation in a fast and cost effective manner?


The answers

The answers to these questions lie in engaging in whole system participation events.

The events – Appreciative Inquiry Summits, Future Search Conferences, Real Time Strategic Change, Open Space Conferences, World Café, etc – utilise systems thinking and allow everyone associated with the problem or organisation to be involved, employees and stakeholders alike. Simultaneous involvement of hundreds of people allows for exchange of ideas, gathering of strategic information, decision making and planning in a single event – or linked series – of events typically lasting 2-3 days.

By focusing on positive outcomes and best practice, participants in these events experience enjoyable ways of working that release creativity and breakthrough results. They replace the passive ‘tell and sell’ model with high levels of participation and co-creating, so generating commitment – there is no need to get ‘buy in’, the participants are the joint architects of the strategy, so they are highly committed and motivated to it. Implementation starts immediately.

For example, in one company, Appreciative Inquiry was used to conduct analysis of the total system which was completed in less than two weeks by the employees themselves. In another, a summit meeting brought together all 750 employees, the company’s leadership, and 100 customers to create a new business model – a year on, profits were up over 200 percent and absenteeism down 300 percent. In another application, IKEA simultaneously doubled sales, improved quality and cut the price 30% without cutting profit of it Ektorp range whilst making sofa shopping easier for customers, and cutting delivery times – all in a concentrated three day event involving 52 stakeholders including suppliers, executives and workers from Sweden, Canada, the U.S. and other countries, and several customers.

Fast – and cost effective – solutions. These events utilise internal experience and expertise with consultants providing the expert design and facilitation of the events themselves. Thus the consultancy cost is vastly less than traditional change consultancy where the consultants become integrated in the organisation to advise expert solutions. And the outcomes are achieved more quickly – and are more acceptable to the workforce.

Culled from hr.com


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