Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Tribute to Theodore Levitt

I have known his concepts and teachings for years, but it wasn't until recently that I got to know his name. Theodore Levitt is, to me, a man who made of marketing a respected science. Known for his provocative style and practice-oriented thoughts; he transformed a theory-based subject into a business focal point.
From the product life cycle concept to his marketing myopia article, Levitt never ceased to amaze. Although not always accurate, he often created a rave of thoughts and lead others to analyze and look into things they tend to dismiss.
His numerous articles in the Harvard Business Review showcase his talents for, not only ingenuous thinking, but also conveying a message; a real marketer. He has been known to "market" marketing itself, as he strongly believed in its power and relevance in the business world. He has also been attributed the introduction of the term globalization into a futuristic market outlook...
A genius, in one word.

A Feminist Call

I used to think the only thing that stood in my way of climbing the corporate ladder was my age. I often thought I could do things better than many positioned above me. Ego? Maybe.

I was reassured when a teacher who now has her own firm complained that she was never taken seriously at a young age. She said things change when you become in your mid-30s and this comforted me, although I still had a lot to wait.

However, I was destroyed when I found myself in a multinational in France, at Siemens PTD, and saw that the higher positions were not only occupied by older people, but they were also, in their totality, dominated by males. "Dominated" does not even give the distribution justice. It leaves us to assume that there's a minority of feminine presence; which until today, I still have not detected. With less than 1% of its senior level workforce female, Siemens PTD Grenoble is far from believing in gender equality. What's more is that merely 18% of its total workforce is female...

Friday, September 19, 2008

PR in Action!

I must have been at the right place at the wrong time; but I got to live an important instance in a corporate giant's history. Siemens had announced earlier on this summer that they were planning to fire more than 16,000 employees.
While the story ravaged the business news and made top headlines in financial news; it did not move much the people concerned for it was perceived as a far-off fact that was not directly linked tgo them. It was only after the news had cooled down in the media, that the real action took place. The people in Grenoble were notified yesterday. They were only going to be affected by 17 jobs out of 800, given their good financial performance this year.
The communication strategy was to give the news directly from head down the organization structure, before it could move horizontally and create noise. We were called into a meeting and notified in the afternoon. The news was reassuring, they're doing their best to reintegrate the people concerned in other departments. No one was going to be laid off unwillingly. Right. I was surprised to see that the employees actually believed this, but they did! How gullible can they be, with all the fuss that went around... Having less "per employee profit" than their competitor GE was not reason enough; they truly believed in their good intentions.
Internal communication was perfect. One step down the ladder. One step closer to the truth.
The shock will not be NEWS anymore once the real action will take place. Thus it won't be of anyone's interest to talk about it or revolt against it.
Marrvellously done; and I am left to wonder whether this was spontaneous or planned...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Between Theories and Practice

I am more and more convinced that when it comes to business no one knows what he is doing. I thought it would be different in a multinational. Nonsense.
All the systems, the matrixes and the models seem to be drawn to dilute the idea into a broader sense of control over intangible results.
While I can easily stuff graphs and numbers into the simplest presentation to make it look scientifically correct, I remain the hardest person to fool.

Yet, the other day, I saw a ray of light.

The Product Life Cycle Model might be one of the tools I never resorted to. Despite the stress and importance it was given in my marketing program, somehow I thought they were out of things to teach and had extra hours to fill.
Until the day, I myself was out of matrixes and models to present, I thought I'd fill an extra page. As I graphed the demand of each product over the period of time, never had I imagined I would get this result: 5 perfect curves, as perfect as the theory... and I was not dreaming!
What's more is that the stages of the product life cycle corresponded amazingly well with the actual situation of the product. I was shocked, astonished, bedazzled... no, enchanted!
Out there somewhere, there's a marketer who knew his business and who created a theory out of it. Now, remind me, who was that genius again?

*goes searching for the author*

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