Article Resources

California Proposition 30 – Sales and Income Tax Increase

We would like to take a moment to inform you of the effects of the newly passed California Proposition 30 – Sales and Income Tax Increase. Effective retroactive to January 1, 2012, California income tax rates will increase for taxpayers with taxable income of more than $250,000. This change creates three new upper income tax brackets for California as shown in the table below.

 

“Leadership That Gets Results”

This paper, written by Daniel Goleman and published by HBR, is a summary of Goleman’s leadership research and is also the subject of his book, “Primal Leadership.”  His book is outstanding and so is this paper.  For Goleman, there are six leadership styles: Coercive, Authoritative, Affiliative, Democratic, Pacesetting, and Coaching.    His research regarding which leadership style has the strongest impact on business results is very insightful.   The coercive and pacesetting styles actually have a negative impact on business results.  The authoritative style has the highest impact but not by much.  His research concludes that a good leader actually uses most of these styles, on an as needed basis.  He uses the metaphor of a golfer picking a club depending on the nature of the shot.  In order to effectively use these styles, a leader has to master the four Emotional Intelligence (EI) skills of: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, and Social Skills.  These four skills build one upon another.  We highly recommend both the article and the book for anyone who is interested in building stronger leadership capabilities. Read More...

 

Having trouble with your strategy? Then map it.

This HBR paper about how to map out a strategic plan is very insightful. Mapping a strategy is a great way to visually help every team member understand the plan, and their roll in executing it. This paper explains how to map strategy from four aspects: 1) financial perspective; 2) customer perspective; 3) internal process perspective; and learning & growth perspective. Each of these perspectives contributes to increasing company value in different ways. The best strategies blend these perspectives in a complimentary way to simultaneously produce increasing revenue and increasing productivity. This paper explains these concepts while using Mobil Oil Company as an example. We think you will find it very useful. Read More...

 

Winning Through Talent in Uncertain Times

This is a presentation in bullet point format and provides some great suggestions about upgrading your talent acquisition, retention & development strategies in difficult economic times…like now! The four strategies SuccessFactors Research suggests are: 1) Establish clarity of goals and align your workforce to execute a new strategy; 2) Make workforce cuts with a scalpel, not a machete; 3) Focus on your core talent and invest in your talent where it will have the most leverage; 4) Create greater trust by being more transparent. We think there is some wisdom in what they teach. This is worth taking a few minutes to read and see if you think your company should make some talent management changes. Read More...

 

Multiplying Talent for High Performance

How do Google, UPS, GE, Marriott and others leverage their internal talent? Great companies figure out ways to transfer their knowledge base throughout their organizations that create synergies—new ideas, products, processes, efficiencies, etc., that add significant value. Learn how they do it and at the same time come up with ideas that will work in your unique organization. Cross pollinating skill sets, knowledge, competencies, experience and unique expertise can generate singular value for any company if it is mined properly. Read More...

 

Building the Civilized Workplace

Nasty people don’t just make others feel miserable; they create economic problems for their employers. Jerks and bullies in the workplace not only hinder recruiting and retention, but also raise levels of customer churn and damage reputations. Employees join a company, but leave a manager. Find out what steps to take to root out jerks and bullies. Read More...

 

When Your Product (or Service) Becomes a Commodity

This brief one page article discusses four ways to counter the commoditization of your product or service. The primary weapon in this arsenal is innovation. The longer you can keep your product out of commodity status by differentiating it from the competition, the stronger you can keep your pricing structure. This article has a few other valuable tips on maintaining profitable pricing. Read More...

  

What is Strategy?

This HBR paper, written by Michael Porter of "Porter's Five Forces" strategic model fame, does a tremendous job of clearly separating strategy from operational excellence. Porter explains why it is important to perform your chosen processes or functions efficiently; which is known as operational excellence. However, it is strategy that determines exactly which process or functions you will-and maybe more importantly-won't perform. Using examples such as IKEA, Neutrogena and Southwest Air, Porter demonstrates that strategic planning really consists of determining how to piece together and carefully link chosen processes, activities or functions into a seamless "fit" that creates a strategic advantage. This paper is 21 pages long, but well worth your time. Read More...

 

Encouraging Dissent in Decision Making

Often executives themselves are responsible for suppressing dissent: They are not fully listening, they’re cutting people off, or they have a preconceived notion of where they’re going. In fact, many times leaders prefer an orderly shop and aren’t actually looking for dissent. In the corporate world, Detroit’s V-8 car culture was long unable to entertain the notion that a large segment of consumers might prefer automobiles that were safe and fuel-efficient. Coca-Cola ignored evidence that “New Coke” would fizzle and launched it anyway. Companies in the mechanical-watch and analog-photography industries refused to heed the messengers and the message that adaptation and change were necessary if they were going to continue to exist. Read More...

 

Blue Ocean Strategy

You may have heard about BlueOceanStrategy (BOS) already. BOS is currently one of the hot strategy development models. Its name comes from a contrast with red oceans where the sharks merely compete, eat each other (usually with pricing), and the water is filled with their blood. Blue oceans by contrast lack competition and the profits are high. Examples include Cirque du Soleil, Southwest Air, Dell Computers, Novo Nordisk, and NetJets, among many others. The authors of this Harvard Business Review paper, Kim & Mauborgne, argue that hallmarks of a good strategy are: 1) Divergence; 2) Focus; and 3) Compelling tagline. Divergence is identification and creation of those unique, value-creating factors that separate your company from the competition. Focus is a single minded emphasis on executing those value factor(s). The tagline is a concise, accurate and memorable encapsulation of your unique value offering. And lots more. Eleven pages, but worth the time. Read More...

 

“Strategy in Action”

Another excellent Accenture paper. This time focusing on the impact of culture in strategy execution. Knowing that companies don’t execute strategy, but that people do, the authors Ana Dutra and Richard Hagberg discuss a business culture model which their studies have shown to be effective in strategy execution. Its five pillars are 1) Leadership; 2) People; 3) Organization Architecture & Infrastructure; 4) Processes & Technology; and 5) Business Success Metrics (our personal favorite). The roll that your company’s culture plays in its strategy execution is usually underestimated—significantly! Knowing what your culture is capable of impacts directly the plan and its execution. You’ll get some good ideas about the dynamic interplay of strategy, culture and execution. These insights will help in your quest for value.” Read More...

 

Leadership: How to Create a Culture of High Performance

Article lead author, Robert J. Thomas, has co-authored the acclaimed leadership book “Geeks & Geezers” with leadership guru Warren Bennis. This article discusses a five point business leadership model. The model includes: 1) Maintaining the right balance between market-making and disciplined execution; 2) Obsessively identifying and multiplying talent; 3) Using a scorecard to measure business performance; 4) Recognizing technology as a strategic asset; and 5) Emphasizing continuous renewal. We thought it was worth our time. Read More...

 

Engage Employees and Boost Performance

Published in 2001, this paper discusses the why’s and how’s of employee engagement. It discusses the value "engaged" employees bring to the workplace, and steps you can take to increase engagement at your company; including such things as constructing compensation systems. It talks about the differences between "engagement" and "disengagement." On page 9 is a diagram of the Hay Group Engagement Model. Some of you have had a glimpse of that model in our presentations. The downside is that this paper is a little long, but we think it’s worth it and will produce many ideas regarding your labor force. Read More...

 

The Halo Effect, and other Managerial Delusions

"This is an outstanding paper from McKinsey Consulting regarding the importance of critical thinking when strategic planning. They emphasize that there is no one single pat formula or method that works for businesses. It’s important to do your own critical and robust thinking based on the uniqueness of your company, industry and analysis. That means that leaders must avoid "group think" by surrounding themselves with people that have differing opinions and are willing to voice them. We highly recommend this paper." Read More...

 

Harnessing the Power of an Engaged Workforce

“The stakes are considerable.  A fully engaged workforce can pay big dividends.  In fact, research has shown that the more engaged the workforce, the more innovative, productive and profitable the company.”  “Highly engaged employees have a good understanding of their own organization’s strategic objectives.  They are also clear how their individual work contributes directly to the execution of that strategy and to the company’s success.”  Read More…  

 

Strategic Planning for the Time-Challenged

Duncan estimates that senior leaders who get the best results devote at least 10 percent of their time to strategizing and overseeing an action plan, roughly two days a month. The [three] basic questions to be covered are simple: 1)What will we… “What you really get out of this thing is tremendous alignment,” Davis says. “It creates a lot of energy and activity. Suddenly you don’t have to manage because people understand where you’re going without someone having to dictate it to them.” Read More...

 

Basic Leadership Moves

Cast this way, leadership becomes something that one can learn or improve through practice.  The key to mastering a leadership move is practice—not lengthy off-site executive retreats or boxed audio cassettes.  Special events and tools have their uses, but since most leaders see themselves as engaged in continuous performance, it is generally not possible to schedule practice “after hours.”  Practice, therefore, has to be woven into performance.  Here’s how to practice the five essential leadership skills while performing.  Read More...

 

Communication: The Foundation for Successful HR Program Implementation

“Information must cascade appropriately.  For instance, problems usually occur when managers and their direct reports get the same information at the same time.  Managers feel “out of the loop” from the start and may very well not buy into the intent of the program if their questions and concerns are not addressed.  This alienation is exacerbated when they cannot answer employee questions… Continual communication in the third act is usually essential to put a new program over the top—and integrate it into the corporate culture, rather than a loose-leaf binder, gathering dust…" Read More...

 

Sharpening Your Business Acumen

“No single aspect of managerial skill is more important.  If the company’s assessment of the external landscape is inaccurate, the company’s strategic positioning will likely be wrong.  But the ability to perceive trends quickly, or even to make sense of them, will not automatically guarantee success.  Rather the success depends on the rigor and discipline applied to the entire process of envisioning the changes, deducing specific actions, and implementing the plan.  Business acumen demands intense mental activity...” Read More...

 

Balance, Alignment and Renewal: Understanding Competitive Essence By Tim Breene and Paul F. Nunes

Strategy & Implementation - Common to every great company is the ability to create and maintain a unique combination of business attributes that enable it to outperform its rivals. This competitive essence comprises both a company's ability to succeed in today's markets and its positioning for the future. Read More...

 

Year-end tax planning amid legislative uncertainty

As 2013 draws closer, news reports about “taxmageddon” and “taxpocalypse,” describing expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts, are proliferating. Many taxpayers are asking what they can do to prepare. The answer is to prepare early. September may seem too early to be discussing year-end tax planning, but the uncertainty over the Bush-era tax cuts, incentives for businesses, and much more, requires proactive strategizing. Ultimately, the fate of these tax incentives will be resolved; until then, taxpayers need to be flexible in their year-end tax planning Read More..

 

First Medical Loss Ratio rebates received by 12.8 million Americans

Is your Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) rebate check taxable? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimates that nearly 12.8 million Americans received more than $1.1 billion in MLR rebates during August 2012 based on insurance company shortfalls in cutting overhead during 2011. If you received a rebate, either as an individual policyholder or as an employer or employee, is it taxable? Read More...

 

New “repair” regulations continue to demand action

More than six months after the IRS issued temporary "repair" regulations (T.D. 9564), many complex questions remain about their interpretation and application. These regulations are sweeping in their impact. They have been called game-changers for good reason, affecting all businesses in one way or another and carrying with them both mandatory and optional requirements. Many of these requirements also carry fairly short deadlines. Read More...

 

How do I? Claim a casualty loss deduction for storm or drought damage

When disaster strikes, a casualty tax loss may provide some comfort. A casualty is the damage or destruction of property resulting from an identifiable event that is sudden, unexpected, or unusual. Damage resulting from the progressive deterioration of property through a steadily operating cause would not be a casualty loss. A deductible loss can result from a number of events, such as fire, flood, storm (including hurricanes and tornadoes), or earthquake. Storm losses can involve damage from flooding or wind, for example. Other “sudden and unexpected events,” such as an automobile accident, also qualify as a casualty for tax purposes. Read More...

 

FAQ: How does IRS’ automated system for college financial aid work?

The IRS has unveiled the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DTR), a time-saving tool designed to minimize the time required for college-bound students and their parents to complete the Department of Education’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The new IRS DTR is available through the website www.fafsa.govRead More...

 

September 2012 tax compliance calendar

As an individual or business, it is your responsibility to be aware of and to meet your tax filing/reporting deadlines. This calendar summarizes important tax reporting and filing data for individuals, businesses and other taxpayers for the month of September 2012. Read More...

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