IIBMS MMS CASE STUDY ANSWER SHEETS – When Neil Franklin began offering round-the-clock telephone customer service in 1998, customers loved it. The offering fit the strategic direction Franklin

IIBMS MMS CASE STUDY ANSWER SHEETS – When Neil Franklin began offering round-the-clock telephone customer service in 1998, customers loved it. The offering fit the strategic direction Franklin

 

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Case IV -Provide advice to an entrepreneur about being more innovative
When Neil Franklin began offering round-the-clock telephone customer service in 1998, customers loved it. The offering fit the strategic direction Franklin had in mind for Dataworkforce, his Dallas-based telecommunications – engineer staffing agency, so he invested in a phone system to route after hours calls to his 10 employees’ home and mobile phones. Today, Franklin, 38, has nearly 50 employees and continues to explore ways to improve Dataworkforce’s service. Twenty-four-hour phone service has stayed, but other trials have not. One failure was developing individual Web sites for each customer. “We took it too far and spent $30,000 then abandoned it,” Franklin recalls. A try at globally extending the brand by advertising in major world cities was also dropped. “It worked pretty well,” Franklin says, “until you added up the cost.”
Franklin’s efforts are similar to an approach called “portfolios of initiatives” strategy. The idea, according to Lowell Bryan, a principal in McKinney & Co., the NYC consulting firm that developed it, is to always have a number of efforts underway to offer new products and services, attack new markets or otherwise implement strategies, and to actively manage these experiments so you don’t miss an opportunity or over commit to an unproven idea.
The portfolio of initiatives approach addresses a weakness of conventional business plans-that they make assumptions about uncertain future developments, such as market and technological trends, customer responses, sales and competitor reactions. Bryan compares the portfolio of initiatives strategy to the ship convoys used in World War II to get supplies across oceans. By assembling groups of military and transport vessels and sending them in a mutually supportive group, planners could rely on at least some reaching their destination. In the same way, entrepreneurs with a portfolio of initiatives can expect some of them to pan out.

When Neil Franklin began offering round-the-clock telephone customer service

Making a Plan
Three steps define the portfolio of initiatives approach. First, you search for initiatives in which you have or can readily acquire a familiarity advantage – meaning you know more than competitors about a business. You can gain familiarity advantage using low-cost pilot programs and experiments, or by partnering with more knowledgeable allies. Avoid business in which you can’t acquire a familiarity advantage, Bryan says.
After you identify familiarity-advantaged initiatives, began investing in them using a disciplined, dynamic management approach. Pay attention to how initiatives relate to each other. They should be diverse enough that the failure of one wont endanger the others, but should also all fit into your overall strategic direction. Investments, represented by product development efforts, pilot programs, market tests and the like, should start small and increase only as they prove themselves. Avoid over investing before initiatives have proved themselves. The third step is to pull the plug on initiatives that aren’t working out, and step up investment in others. A portfolio of initiatives will work in any size company. Franklin pursues 20 to 30 at any time, knowing 90 percent wont pan out, “The main idea is to keep those initiatives running,” he says. “If you don’t, you’re slowing down.”

When Neil Franklin began offering round-the-clock telephone customer service

 IIBMS MMS CASE STUDY ANSWER SHEETS – When Neil Franklin began offering round-the-clock telephone customer service in 1998, customers loved it. The offering fit the strategic direction Franklin
IIBMS MMS CASE STUDY ANSWER SHEETS – When Neil Franklin began offering round-the-clock telephone customer service in 1998, customers loved it. The offering fit the strategic direction Franklin

When Neil Franklin began offering round-the-clock telephone customer service

Advice to an entrepreneur
An entrepreneur, who wants his firm to be more innovative, has read the above article and come to you for advice:
  1. This whole idea of experimentation seems to make sense, but all those little failures can add up, and if there enough of them, then this could lead to one big failure-the business going down the drain. How can I best get the advantages of experimentation in terms of innovation while also reduction the costs so that I don’t run the risk of losing my business?
  2. My employees, buyers, and suppliers like working for my company because we have a lot of wins. I am not sure how they will take it when our company begins to have a lot more failures (even if those failures are small)- it is a psychological thing. How can I handle this trade-off?
  3. Even if everyone else accepts it, I am not sure how I will cope. When projects fail it hits me pretty hard emotionally. Is it just that I am not cut out for this type of approach?
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