Blended branding

Branding is important for many companies. It can be a very important economical asset for the company. Today is also personal branding a known term; branding of myself. 

Sometimes a company leader; e.g. owner or CEO also is part of the branding of the company or somehow plays an important role in the view of the company; more important than in some other cases. I use the term Blended branding to reflect some of these thoughts.

One example is Virgin and Richard Branson. Virgin uses Richard a lot to promote the company; or you can say Richard uses his own personal brand to promote the company. He is very active on social media. 

Another example is IKEA and Ingvar Kamprad. "Everybody" knows Ingvar was founder of the company. Ingvar recently passed away, now his sons have taken over, and we have to see how they and the IKEA culture will cope with the future.

Both these examples are fully or to large extent privately held companies. 

Gerteric Lindquist has been CEO at the Swedish company NIBE for almost 30 years. NIBE actually comes from same local area as IKEA. For people in the stock market, it is well known he has been there for many years, and in a very successful way. Trust in him give trust in the company. And surely it gives a trust also to employees and business contacts. I read in Aktiespararen (June/July 2018) that he enjoys meetings with shareholders, and that he travels a lot. I do not really know that they actively work with blended branding, but it is a good example of long term relation between company and upper manager. 

A few decades ago Volvo and its CEO Pehr G Gyllenhammar were very closely related. He left the company 1993 after a disagreement about a merger with Renault. Volvo has been robust to stay in business also after this "divorce" (they have had problems, but I would say for other reasons). Gyllenhammar has also been very active after this divorce, although I think mainly in other business segments. 

In USA we have several relatively recent examples of Blended branding; like Microsoft, Apple, Facebook and Tesla.

Microsoft and Bill Gates is interesting as Bill actually has stepped down from an active role in the company and spend much of his time into more philantropic engagements. 

Elon Musk is tightly connected to Tesla, and some other companies and projects. 

Blended branding is a risk for a company, when the connection for one or another reason is lost. A risk that surely can be taken into consideration and be prepared for, and the trust for the company can continue.

It also can lock the person to the company. It is hard, as example, to imagine Elon Musk to leave Tesla and instead become CEO of Fiat. Hard both for the branding of Tesla and Musk. 

Blended branding can indeed be a very useful asset for a company. I believe it also helps a company to have a long term strategy, to consider its financial goals over long term instead of quarter by quarter. 

What do you think? 

#branding #blendedbranding #personalbranding #Virgin #IKEA #NIBE #Volvo #Microsoft #Apple #Facebook #Tesla #Aktiespararen

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Often, when we interact with other persons, we categorize other persons in relation to ourself. For example: Swedish - Foreigner, Black - White, Male - Female, and all kind of other ways to decide if the other person is Us or Them.

National Geographic Magazine, April 2018, International edition, has an interesting and hopeful article about this. The article is ”The things that divide us”, by David Berreby. He writes:

”People everywhere are ”identity crazed”, as the evolutionary psychologist John Tooby has put it. We can´t help it: We're wired from birth to tell Us from Them. And we inevitable (and sometimes unconsciously) favor Us - especially when we feel threatened.”

Further into the article, David Berreby writes:

”As the Robbers Cave experiment illustrated, human beings can shift their group perceptions in both directions. Sometimes we turn Us into Them. But we can also turn Them into Us.”

This is hopeful! Also strong division between different group of persons can be changed into friendship.

Henrik Hemrin

16 April 2018

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Aktieinvest is an internetbased Swedish broker for stocks and funds. As an Aktieinvest customer and interested in sustainability, I became curious in this tool. As every broker, you can search for stocks by name, and parameters like P/E. Very recently Aktieinvest added a new block of search and filtering criteria – Sustainability! This is great!

I search in Aktieinvest for Ericsson, a company I love. And yes, Ericsson and myself, we have been in a long relationship, they have paid my potatoes and jeans for a long time. The summary for Ericsson looks as below:

Ericsson S Ray

 

  • Preferenser – is about the company involvement in certain areas, for example defense.
  • GC – stands for UN Global Compact and is an evaluation of GC core elements.
  • ESG – is sector specific comparison in environment, social and governance.

All above data comes from Arabesque S-Ray tool.

The basic version of the tool is free. I can make a similar search for Ericsson on the free and open S-Ray tool and it looks as below:

Ericsson S-Ray

 

Ericsson performs pretty well in the score. But they are far from max 100.

Why don't they have 100? What is Ericsson not doing? Or what have Ericsson done wrong?

Well, I don't know. And I have no method to find out. S-Ray is based on ”machine learning and big data” they collect and digest somehow. All this is proprietary. So, I have no chance to know the details.

Arabesque writes the S-Ray is a ”transparency lens that can empower all stakeholders to make better decisions for a more sustainable future”. But there is no transparency how they come up with their result!

And now I believe I understand their business model for this free tool: The tool with summary data is free for anyone. But for Ericsson, or any other company, to dig into details of their score, there are services for a more detailed data – and those services are far from free. Investors is another target group for paid service, and I assume Aktieinvest is one of them.

I search (in S-Ray own tool) for another big Swedish company: IKEA. They are not in the report. I suppose it is because they are a privately held company, not on the stock market.

Next search: Fagerhult, medium sized Swedish company, on the stockmarket. Nope, they are not listed.

I read, S-Ray currently holds data of 7000 companies from 70 countries. That's of course impressive. But it also means a lot lot of companies, traded and not, are not listed.

The Board of Arabesque holds two for me very well known names in human rights and social responsibility: Georg Kell and John Ruggie. Those names I believe gives the S-Ray tool a higher credibility.

Arabesque is not only the S-Ray tool. They are also an investment company themselves. Their fund Arabesque Systematic is available in the Aktieinvest portfolio for investment. Arabesque started as a buyout from Barclays Bank.

My conclusion:

It's great with this possibility to select stocks for investmest, or which company I should buy a product from or work for, based on their sustainability score. But I must still keep a sceptical mind on the data; it is data where I have no insight in how they came up to the result.

Henrik Hemrin

30 March 2018

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My cheap laptop. Photo: Henrik Hemrin.

 

 

I bought this laptop on the photo above two years ago. To me, that is a very new laptop.

I bought it mainly for a specific purpose where I need very little space on hard drive as well as memory size and processor. Windows 10 was needed.

Therefore I selected this one, with performance good enough for my need. But I was not aware of one thing: how much additional space on hard drive that was needed for the major Windows updates.

Already at the beginning, I had problem with a major software update, but I managed that one and other so far. Now in March 2018 I need to do another major upgrade: My version of Windows 10 will not be supported after 10 April. I have spent many hours already to update, including trying to upgrade with support of an external drive during upgrade. So far I have failed. I am not computer expert, but pretty good at computers. I have not given up fully yet, I will try more. In best case, it will only take me many hours to update. But not unlikely, this computer will within two years of purchase be too old to be updated in a way so it is use supported software. Only because the hard drive has too little capacity.

IC circuits and everything else to make a computer requires many chemicals to manufacture them. And a lot of energy to make the part. Even if computer will be recycled, it will be a lot of wasted resources including energy. Not at least the production is a big contributor to the environmental impact when a LCA (Life cycle assessment) is done.

I am not an expert of LCAs of computers, but for all I know from general electronics knowledge and what I read in LCA reports, I am confident there is indeed an environmental impact. For example, those reports can be read as reference:

It is pity that computers are manufactured and sold with so short product life time.

Dandelion. Photo: Henrik Hemrin.

Henrik Hemrin

27 March 2018

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Process fundamentals

 

A couple of days ago the Swedish newspaper Smålandsposten wrote about Tage, 93. Tage had fallen in his home and couldn't raise from the kitchen floor for a couple of days.

He had a service from home-help service for elderly that they call him daily by phone. They had indeed called him, but he couldn't answer as he was on the floor. The phone service didn't follow up when he didn't answer. Those who found him on the kitchen floor after some days later were there for another care reason, a visit planned earlier. They called for an ambulance and after a period at hospital he is now at home again.

Thankfully a happy end for that accident.

A manager from home-help service was interviewed how it could happen than nothing happened when call wasn't answered. Some of response was related to: Lack of knowledge about the routine, follow the known routine, knowledge about the purpose of the routine, thinking one step further by routine user what to do - written in the routine or not.

I have been into process management for several years. Based on my process experience, and with inspiration from this newspaper story, I write this list of some Process fundamentals:

  • Purpose

Why is the process needed? What is the purpose? The purpose of the total process, but also each step. In the home-help phone service above, the main purpose is to check if everything is well. A secondary purpose may be that the caretaker get a social contact. The purpose must be clearly understood by the process user.

  • Understood

The process must be written in such a way it is understood by the user. Not just understand what to do, but also why. When understood why, it is far easier to remember the process and do it right. Proper eduction in the process for the user.

  • Logical

The order of activities in the process must be logical and content must be in accordance with the process purpose. If connection between purpose and the activity is not obvious, the process will not be understood.

  • Common sense

In many processes, not at least the kind of engineering processes, the process cannot give all details. The user of the process must have competence in the specific area. The process is often at a general level and do not cover all activities, or some activities can be irrelevant for a specific case. Common sense is needed in addition to the written process.

Process fundamentals summary

Henrik Hemrin

13 November 2017

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Agile by Henrik Hemrin

Agile methods has many aspects and of course comes in many flavors.

I have been thinking about my understanding of agile and its core. If I, with my background as electronics engineer, should explain Agile in one simple drawing I may do it as below:

Agile

What do you think?

Henrik Hemrin

6 November 2017

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A process

 

When I started to handle a process some years ago, my first thought was it will be an easy work - the process was existing, ready and would only require some small adjustments. However, my first thought was not fully correct. Also this existing process required continuous improvement as well as a never ending need to change as the environment changed.

When PLM, Product Lifecycle Management, is discussed, it is often in my opinion focused on the tools to do the PLM job.

For me, as as working with both process and the IT tools (in this article especially PLM system) to handle the process, I like to share a few thoughts about the relation between the process and the IT tools.

The PLM system must support the process. I think that is obvious. But also the opposite direction must be considered. The PLM system can have features never thought of when making the process, but found to improve the process (or actually the product coming out of the process). The PLM system can also have limitations to meet the process, hence it can be efficient to adjust the process to meet the process.

The PLM system can, generally speaking, be fully customized, fully standard (doubtful), partially customized and finally more or less configurable. Without having facts, I believe it is normally considered to be most cost efficient to have a standard PLM system using configuration but as little customization as possible.

The PLM system can consist of many tools, modules and so on. Two of them can be to store data, directly in data base or as document, and the second is supporting the process flow.

Coming back to the "trouble" that the process is never in its final revision. To change the process in a text document or flow chart can be done over a cup of coffee. But to change the PLM system to meet the process can be far more difficult with far longer time line, and it can involve many persons from different disciplines to make it work in the PLM system.

It is a never ending challenge to make the process and the PLM system to go hand in hand in a never ending world of changes.

Henrik Hemrin

8 October 2017

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Before a component (or module, board etc) can be released, it needs to undergo testing. Some tests can be required by regulations or customers, some are done to verify the performance or yield level. And more. Some tests are "characterization" and some are simulating aging and other aspects that can be expected over desired life time.

As example: for optical components is Telcordia standards (formerly Bellcore) more or less the de facto standard to use in telecommunication. The most known is GR-468-CORE, for optoelectronic devices such as optical transceivers.

The standard gives a list of tests to be done in the qualification work. This is a kind of minimum tests to be considered. But other tests may be needed: the technology may be different and need other tests, the use case/condition can be different etc. It must always be a reviewed if the standard tests are relevant case by case.

Testing consumes time and money. Therefore all tests, the minimum list as well as additional tests, may not be needed to be done on the specific component. Because it has already been tested on a component built on same platform, with same technology etcetera.

A test can be omitted and seen as approved based on similarity. The expert, the person who takes this decision, must in the test report give the arguments why similarity apply.

Welcome to share your thoughts on my article!

Henrik Hemrin

1 October 2017

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Dial on a telephone. Photo: Henrik Hemrin

 

I had a summer job at Televerket, the Swedish PTT. Summer 1982. At that time a telephone typically had a dial like the one on the photo. And owned by Televerket, you could not own one yourself.

It happened that customer claimed the phone bill was too high; "I have absolutely not made so many phone calls!"

Televerket had a machine, I recall it was a wooden box approx. 30x40x10 cm including a printer typing e.g. phone number and time. I haven't find a photo of the machine, happy if you can find one.

The machine was connected to the subscriber who claimed for a period, maybe a few weeks. The machine logged all calls. Then they could compare how much calls were made now and compare with the calls on the bills.

By that, Televerket had facts if the bill was reasonable or not. Not facts of the actual period, but the current facts helped to make a reasonable assumption of bills were correct or not. The result could be presented for the subscriber.

As I recall (I do not have facts on this), my more experienced colleagues at Televerket said the bill was normally correct. They said that one scenario was that other person in family had made calls the bill payer was not aware of. And this could lead to unpleasant disputes in the family.

Back at this time, there was no Caller ID for a subscriber available. The subscriber didn't have access to the facts.

Facts is not the only base for decisions. But indeed facts can help and be essential for the right decision, or to avoid the wrong decision.

Henrik Hemrin

24 September 2017

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An old FM radio represents the engineering processes discussed in this article. Photo: Henrik Hemrin.

”The process must be updated”, is a common action requirement in a Root Cause Analysis (RCA).

And yes, it is relevant to review and possibly also update the process.

But it is also easy to unjustly blame the process for the problem.

It must always be considered what and to which extent the details should be stated in the process.

Some processes can and must be very detailed and precise, let say the manufacturing steps of an electronic IC circuit.

Other processes, like a process to develop an electronic equipment, cannot be detailed as as much as the manufacturing process above.

An engineering process requires a person with engineering knowledge to execute it. The process must be written so general it can be reused for next similar but not identical cases. The process has to balance between a general and detailed level.

In addition to what is written in the process, Common sense must be used to make the process working. The Common sense is based on reflection and thinking each time the process is used, on education, experience, collaboration and so on.

Common sense – an important addition to the written process

 

Henrik Hemrin

11 September 2017

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