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Decision making: is it as simple as it seems?

By: Morgan International Staff Writers

Decision, decisions; every day we make hundreds of decisions, many of them totally subconsciously but some being more demanding and requiring more concentration and attention. But how do people make these decisions and what factors come into play?
Whether we are involved ourselves in the decision making process or we are subjected to this in our line of business, it is an unavoidable part of life. If we are involved in sales of any type then working with the client to reach the right decision can be complex and taxing. As financial professionals we also find ourselves involved in this process when customers make use of our services and by understanding how decisions are reached we are better able to advise our clients.
How are decisions made?
Whether people are making financial decisions or those related to something else such as career or family, judgments have to be made. If the choices are complex then using a multi-step process to break down the path towards the conclusion can be very helpful. Here we are going to look at some of the factors that can impact upon decision making.
• Past experiences
Events that have occurred in the past can impact greatly upon decisions made going forward. Much depends on whether the results in the past were negative or positive as those involved are more likely to use the same methods if the outcome a good one. The problem here is that decisions made now based upon past experiences do not always result in the best result.
• Cognitive biases
These are patterns of thinking based upon generalizations that can result in judgments that are faulty and inaccurate. Things such as prior knowledge, omission and hindsight may kick in with people being so affected by the influx of this information that the decision reached is not the right one.
• Escalation of commitment and sunk outcomes
People may make a decision based upon how much money, effort and time they have sunk into it. This can play out by people ending up making a risky decision purely because they have invested so much they do not want to go back i.e. they are now so far down the line, it seems like the only way to go is forward – right or wrong.
• Individual differences
Particular differences such as age, cognitive ability and even status socioeconomically can all impact upon the way in which decisions are made. As we get older, our ability to make a decision can become harder as cognitive ability diminishes whilst younger people may be over-confident with the arrogance that comes from youth. It is definitely worth noting that the older we are, the fewer decisions we like to make.
• Belief in personal relevance
When people feel that what they decide really matters, they are much more likely to come to a decision. For example, constituents are far more likely to vote if they think that their support will change things.
• Decision Making Heuristics
Heuristics are strategies used based to make a decision based upon a small amount of precise information. Think of it as a mental short cut; a judgment can be made by focusing upon just one or two aspects of a very complex problem, ignoring others.

As financial professionals we can see that decision making is a very important area to understand and by having knowledge of the process, we are able to develop a greater comprehension of not only our own decisions but those of others.

Check out some of our training programs now and get yourself fully equipped with a thorough and detailed understanding of decision making, enabling you to interact far more effectively with clients, professionally and competently.

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4 Tips to Personalize the Employee Experience

 

By Morgan International Staff Writers

The importance of personalizing the employee experience is often overlooked and underrated by employers with severe and often unacknowledged consequences. Providing a personalized experience to an employee plays a vital role in their overall engagement with the company and ultimately influences whether they choose to remain working for them. When you consider the financial implications of recruiting new employees, putting more effort into retaining employees makes huge commercial sense.

 

  1. Utilize recognition schemes

 

Recognition takes many forms and even a small gesture can go a long way in personalizing an employee’s experience. Even if you don’t have a large budget to work with, improvise with alternatives to financial rewards. A popular way to do this is to use intranets or similar digital platforms to enable colleagues to provide peer-to-peer recognition as well as management acknowledgements.

 

  1. Develop a talent management program

 

Professional development is a major motivational factor for employees. An employee who feels that there is no career pathway or way for them to further develop their skillset will become disengaged and demotivated. Developing an effective talent program will not only boost engagement levels of existing employees, it will also help to attract high calibre job applicants.

 

  1. Conduct regular evaluations/appraisals

 

Dedicating time to review and feed back on employee performance is hugely beneficial for both enhancing the personalized experience and to help reach business targets. Constructive feedback from management on a regular basis will help to boost performance and make the employee feel valued and more motivated.

 

  1. Build strong relationships

 

Whilst all of the first three tips are highly effective, for some employees they will still feel it is part of a corporate process. To really personalize the employee experience, putting in genuine effort to know and understand an employee can make a huge impact.

 

In summary, providing a personalized experience for employees is a critical aspect of a successful business and should never be taken for granted. The business benefits that can be gained are huge and although the overall results can be difficult to measure, the costs of employee retention vs. recruitment will ensure that it is a very worthwhile exercise.

Battling Climate Change with Lean Six Sigma

Battling Climate Change with Lean Six Sigma

By Morgan International Staff Writers

Six sigma methodologies are widely used in business to improve processes, reduce waste, and increase efficiency. The techniques employed are also transferable to other areas, and one issue currently benefiting from their application is climate change.

Six sigma uses hard data as the basis for managing a problem and improving outcomes. So what specific techniques and methodologies are helping climate change scientists tackle the issue on a day-to-day basis?

·        Root Cause Analysis

Root Cause Analysis exposes problems within a system, allowing scientists to find the cause of a certain aspect of climate change. This aspect could be the reason we’re experiencing warmer summers in the UK, or why high levels of smog are lingering in certain cities around the globe.

The methodology involves asking multiple questions to find an explanation for an issue, and reveal its basic cause. In conjunction with the following six sigma methodologies, it covers the groundwork needed to expose issues at their roots.

·        DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control)

DMAIC allows scientists to focus on a specific problem, for instance the release of methane and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Having identified where these gases originate - landfill sites or cattle, for example – they determine how to measure the problem scientifically.

Results are then analysed with a view to improving and controlling the situation more effectively. In the case of landfills this might involve having stricter control over the number of landfill sites and levels of toxicity, or incentivising the public to change the way they dispose of waste.

·        DFSS (Design for Six Sigma)

This process has no defined steps as with DMAIC, but uses a technique called Critical Parameter Management (CPM) to predict the likely success of a project. DFSS also concentrates on the ideal outcomes for everyone involved, including those companies whose activities add to the climate-change issue.

Learn more about how six sigma methodologies can help your business. We offer a number of courses and certifications for you and your staff - take a look at our website for the full range of training opportunities.

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Email Marketing: Where are you going wrong?

 

By Morgan International Staff Writers

Email marketing campaigns can be a highly effective way to engage your audience, generate leads, and drive results. However, in order to deliver the best possible results, it’s important that your email marketing strategy is carefully planned and finely tuned.

Here are just some of the ways you’re going wrong with your email marketing activities:

Your emails don’t engage with your target audience

Like any marketing activity, it’s important that your email marketing campaigns are interesting and engaging in the eyes of your target audience.

Before you even start planning your campaign, you need to carefully consider the demographic of your target audience, as well as their needs and interests. Segment your audience based on parameters such as geographical location, cultural preferences, time spent on your website, and the devices they most commonly use to open emails. This process will help you to truly understand your audience and how you can best target them.

Your emails are unresponsive

It’s all very well designing a great looking marketing email on your desktop but, if it isn’t responsive then it won’t be anywhere near as effective when it’s opened on a mobile phone or tablet.

And, with up to 70% of all emails now being opened on mobile devices, it’s more important than ever that your marketing emails are fully responsive with design elements that are not only eye catching, but also adjust to the recipient’s screen size.

You haven’t tested your approach

When it comes to implementing your email marketing strategy, you shouldn’t expect to get it exactly right first time.

Email testing should include aspects such as the readability and actionability of your emails, helping you to understand factors such as why the bounce rate was so high, where you went wrong in your messaging, how your CTA can improve your response rates, etc.

Even the smallest changes to your approach can make a significant difference to your results so it’s well worth taking the time to test.

You’re not measuring results

As well as creating an effective email marketing campaign, it’s also important that you measure their performance and analyse your results.

Look at factors such as what percentage of recipients click on a link or a specific Call To Action and conversion rates. It’s only by looking at these results that you’ll be able to adapt and update your plan to optimise results.

Want to know more?

To find out more about email marketing, get in touch. Our digital marketing courses are designed help you further your marketing career and equip you with the necessary skills and experience to optimise your performance in the modern marketing environment.

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FM Stepping Up to Deliver Strategically

There has been a lot written about facilities management finally having centre stage to offer organizational strategic advantage. But is this really true or just rhetoric?

The first thing to recognize is that Facilities Management has had negative press in the past, and has been seen as a stuffy and archaic profession that only really focussed on getting the office carpets cleaned, and making sure there were supplies of tea and coffee.

Yet the strategic positioning of FM is far from rhetoric and there are a number of key areas of opportunity that can be exploited.

  • Catering to attract clients

Michelin star chefs, private dining rooms, and exquisite ingredients offered in office environments can attract new clients, or at least sway them to be keener to have meetings and appointments in your office space.

  • Video conferencing v travel

Many organizations are operating more globally than ever before. This naturally results in requirements for individuals to travel which can become incredibly expensive, and time consuming for employees as they wait around in airports and so on. There are now a number of more cost effective options such as video conferencing which has become so advanced that participants can almost feel that they are in the same room.

  • Optimising office space

Organisations can produce a lucrative revenue stream from leasing floors and space from within office buildings. This might be a lease or sub lease depending on the ownership status, but by strategically evaluating the space, there could be money to be made.

Summary

Organizations are looking for strategic advantage in places they have never looked before. The great thing about Facilities Management is that it has been previously fairly untapped, so there is a wealth of opportunity. It is such an interesting time to work within a Facilities Management role and a perfect time to consider the FMP qualification.

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2017 Digital Marketing Trends to Watch

By Luci M Iley

A lot has changed in the digital marketing world throughout 2016, and 2017 is set to capitalize on those changes and take digital marketing innovation even further. Here are the top 4 digital marketing trends to implement into your business strategy to stay ahead of the competition over the next 12 months.

 

  1. Virtual Reality (VR)

VR has blown up in 2016, from a pipe dream of hardcore gamers, the market has boomed with affordable smartphone adapters, turning video and game content into interactive, real-time, virtual reality seemingly overnight. This is a trend that businesses need to capitalise on as soon as possible, ahead of the inevitable over-saturation of marketing on the platform.

 

  1. Interactive Content

From quizzes to interactive data charts, people are becoming more and more attracted to content they can feel involved with. It is best utilised in short bursts to accommodate the short times most consumers spend using their mobile devices or browsing social media, however.

 

  1. Video and Live Streaming

Continuing the trend of the past 3 years, video has seen even more growth in the online and social media content marketplace. With many platforms offering the opportunity to ‘go live’ or otherwise live stream events and content, this is another trend which developing companies will need to embrace in order to get ahead in 2017.

 

  1. Personalisation

Users are bombarded with so much content, whether for marketing or entertainment purposes, that only truly special pieces are guaranteed to grab their attention. By using data such as cookies to personalise the user’s experience, your business is guaranteed those extra click-throughs and conversions.

 

  1. Mobile, mobile, mobile

Pushed from every angle, but never more important than now. Google have announced mobile-first web search algorithms, putting mobile-friendly sites ahead of unoptimized content in search results, and mobile browsing has finally overtaken desktop browsing as the main way in which users are accessing content online. Businesses still behind with mobile optimisation really need to act fast to get ahead in 2017.

 

With so many emerging digital marketing trends, it can be hard to keep up. Why not take an online digital marketing course to help stay up-to-date and give your business the edge in 2017?

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What is the Difference Between Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting?

 

By Aimee Mhaolcraoibhe

The difference between planning, budgeting and forecasting may not sound like much at a glance, but in terms of accounting there is every difference between them.

Planning

Planning is always the first step of any business. Figuring out how a company’s finances lay in the short term and in the long term is essential to setting up a viable business and maximizing the available assets to the best effect of the company. In the beginning a business does not have their own set of knowledge to draw from in relation to how much it will cost to operate, so it is often the case that businesses project their needs based on the needs of comparable businesses that they have been able to glean information from. Adapting the plans ongoing to incorporate new information will create a solid workable plan based on a business’s actual needs in the long run.

Budgeting

Budgeting is simply making sure that there is enough money to cover all of the outgoings that it will take the business to operate. This must take all financial factors into consideration and has to be accurate. This step is mounted after the planning stage to facilitate operations.

Forecasting

Forecasting is only commenced after the planning and budgeting has been effected. Once the business is operating and paying for all outgoings they begin to earn a profit. With this profit the business is then able to project future profits and to consider how they might reinvest those future gains into expansion. Planning forecasts that are timely in nature are key – making goals in the short term and long term separately to have a path that can be tracked. This will ensure that the business continues expanding and progressing as planned at the outset, thereby acting as an outline of future business paths.

If you want to learn more about the subject, why not consider a professional qualification such as the FP&A program, which will enable you to become an expert in the field.

 

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Running Effective Meetings – For PMs

By Rebecca Langdon

Project Managers chair a lot of meetings. That is a fact. I have met a few PM’s in my time that have laid down rules at the very beginning of the meeting, which done badly can come across as slightly dictatorial, and turn the group off before the meeting has even started. However, establishing rules is important if you are going to make most effective use of time. These are our top 4 tips:

  • Agenda

An agenda is important because it lets everyone know what will be covered, and who will be contributing so that they can prepare in advance. The agenda also indicates who should attend, and also provides a way to circulate the actions from the last meeting.

  • Respect peoples’ time

Have you ever been sat in a meeting that is overrunning and you have switched off as your head is already in the canteen? Or perhaps you have another meeting you have to attend. A good Project Manager will chair the meeting so that it runs to time, and respects peoples’ time.

  • Blackberry ban

Some people are addicted to their mobile devices, and others think it is imperative that they check it constantly throughout the meeting. This behaviour makes it really hard for the person speaking at that particular moment to feel like they are being listened to. The best thing to do is politely ask that device use is done outside of the room. Do this at the beginning of the meeting and gently remind anybody who ignores the request.

  • Note keeper

As a PM you will either be responsible for minute taking, or you will be responsible for delegating the task. If you are the facilitator and the minute taker, it is really important to try and master taking short hand notes which you can type up more comprehensively later. That way you are making eye contact and engaging in the meeting, as opposed to be head down scribbling away.

Summary

Meetings are well known for encouraging bad work behaviours. However with some simple pointers implemented as suggested above, I am sure your meetings will be productive and run more smoothly. For more information about a Project Management certification, take a look here.

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 4 Quality Decision Making Six Sigma Tools

By Rebecca Langdon

Six Sigma has tools which allow organizations to make quality decisions. We all know that an organizations ability to make good decisions quickly is imperative to their success in the modern day economy.

Multi-Voting

The facilitator helps the team devise a list of potential decisions or improvements. Then a specific number of votes is given to each participant which they can then allocate to the options. The decisions or improvements with the most ideas may then go through another round of multi voting depending on the original number of options, and the desired number to implement.

Failure Modes and Effects Analysis

This is essentially a risk assessment whereby the team are asked to consider all possible problems which could arise in each particular improvement if it were to be implemented. They then rate the likelihood of it happening, the impact if it did, and the likelihood of early detection before the impact. That then produces a rating which allows the team to determine a solution.

Pugh Matrix

Team members compare improvements using a simple rating system whereby a list of criteria are established and a weight is agreed for each criterion. The weight itself relates to the importance of the improvement for reaching organizational or project goals. The criteria are compared against a standard which is usually the current situation. For each of the criterion the team member will decide if the improvement would be better or worse than the current situation. The total for each improvement based upon the weightings and ratings will guide the final choice.

Summary

Six sigma itself is a set of tools and techniques to improve processes. Of importance is making sure that the improvements to be implemented are going to contribute maximum organizational benefit, recognising that there will be resource constraints for any changes made. In all cases, Six Sigma encourages team based approaches to decide upon which changes will be implemented. To become accredited in Six Sigma, you could undertake a Certificates in Quality.

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Do You Know Your DMAIC From Your DMADV?

 

By Kate Rawdon

 

Lean Six Sigma – and its alternative program Six Sigma - has a number of tools and methodologies that are unique to the program, and can be applied to almost any business to assess and improve the way it works.

 

There are two main methodologies involved in Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma, these are known as ‘DMADV’ and ‘DMAIC’.

 

Each of these is a five-part plan which sees an improvement to your business or design through from end to end. ‘DMAIC’ is what we teach through our Lean Six Sigma courses, and ‘DMADV’ is for more design-focused Six Sigma training.

About DMAIC

DMAIC is a five-part system for improving processes within a business. It can cut down waste, costs and time, as well as increasing profitability.

It stands for:

  • Define - work out what the processes are
  • Measure - accurately measure their available data
  • Analyze - assess the data collected
  • Improve - make improvements to the process wherever possible
  • Control - put measures in place to make these improvements permanent

The program explains how to go through each of these steps, and the end result will be a measurable reduction in costs and waste, and an increase in profits, wherever there’s the potential to achieve it.


About DMADV

DMADV is another five-part process, but this time specifically for design. It aims to create better designs with minimal room for error, cutting down on time and costs, and creating more market opportunities.
It stands for:

  • Define - find the specific aims for your design
  • Measure - work out the vital characteristics your design must have
  • Analyze - assess and develop your design
  • Design - create a new design
  • Verify - finalize the design and start production

Universal rules and tools

Whatever business you find yourself in, and whatever problem you need to identify and address, these rules and tools taught by Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma can help.

 

They’re tried and tested, proven over and over again all over the world and across many different industries.

 

We don’t teach DMADV, and instead we concentrate on the process-focused DMAIC. Learning this key principle of Lean Six Sigma is not only incredibly valuable to the business you’re with right now, but also significantly increases your own value in the job market in the future.

 

This is because businesses are aware of how valuable Lean Six Sigma training can be, and the positive effect it can have on their bottom line, so consider enrolling with us an investment in your career potential.

 

Morgan International offers the Lean Six Sigma Certification Courses in partnership with BlueSkye Track and the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College. Explore our online workshop offerings in more details here.