Business Strategy – The art of corporate war

From the title of this blog, I am sure some of you might be wondering why I am channelling Sun Tzu.

Statue of Sun Tzu in Yurihama, Tottori, in Japan

Let’s start with the origins of the word ‘strategy’. ‘Strategy’ is originally derived from the Greek word ‘strategos’, which means the art of the general. In other words, the origin of strategy comes from the art of war, and specifically the role of the General in war. In the 2nd century B.C., when Sun Tzu wrote the ‘Art of War’, his writing’s message was plain – to win. 

Despite ‘strategy’ becoming an often-used buzz word in management, there still seems to be a lot of confusion between ‘goals’ and ‘strategy’. To explain this and in keeping with the war theme, let us consider Alexander the Great, King of Macedonia. Imagine a time long ago, Alexander has decided to strive for immortality by creating a true world empire. He calls his generals together and states that his strategy is to build this empire. 

Statue of Alexander the Great in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, Greece

I am not saying that he said that in those exact words because there is no way of knowing what he thought or who he consulted. Hypothetically, if he said that this was his strategy, then that is the wrong use of the term strategy. That was his ‘goal’ – to conquer the world. How he went about conquering the world was the strategy he used.

Now that we have established that ‘strategy’ directly correlates to a general’s role, let us understand what the role of a general is?

A general’s role is not to fight the war but to tell others how to fight the war. It is the general’s vision of how the battles are to take place that is to be carried out, and his orchestration of all the different pieces that will result in the failure or success of his vision. His role is to see the big picture, see what the unit commanders cannot, see the whole, and orchestrate all the units’ positioning to achieve his vision.

Business is also a kind of war, and the casualty of this war is the shareholder’s investment. The Chief Executives’ challenges are similar to that of the generals – to develop strategies that will lead to victory. 

So, how do executives develop strategies that will lead to victory?

In my opinion, four key questions need to be answered by your strategy to be classified as a good strategy.

Where is our market?

You must identify the battlefield that will provide you with the best advantage, like Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, recognised a field near Waterloo in Belgium to defeat the might of Napoléon Bonaparte. It is essential that an executive correctly identifies the markets that will maximise the profits or reduce costs for his goods and services. 

Field Marshal His Grace The Duke of Wellington

What is our unique selling proposition (USP)? 

During the Napoleonic Wars, Napoléon Bonaparte, for the most part, was the undisputed ruler of Europe. Logically, he should have strangled and run England into the ground. But England had correctly identified two of its biggest strengths – trade and the Royal Navy and used them to not only stay afloat but to ultimately win the war. So, identify the unique value(s) your product or service offers and how it will best benefit the identified market.

The Emperor Napoleon in His Study at the Tuileries, by Jacques-Louis David, 1812

What are our resources and capabilities?

Resources refer to the things we have in our toolbox that can be brought to bear for our benefit. It may be capital – either human or monetary, superior technology, something intangible like brand equity, or tangible, like a diamond mine. How well you utilise what is in your toolbox for maximum benefit depends on your capability. During the Napoleonic Wars, England had a mighty naval fleet (resources), but that by itself is of no benefit as France also had a mighty fleet. What England had were great sailors and leaders like Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronté, among others, capable of wielding the resource (Royal Navy) more effectively.

Vice-Admiral The Right Honourable The Viscount Nelson

Sustainability

Once you have identified your USP and identified your capabilities and resources, how can you sustain in the markets you have identified – to continue to win over time. Even after Admiral Nelson’s death during the Battle of Trafalgar, England did not fall apart; they continued to martial their resources and continued to develop their capabilities to hold France across the Channel.

While the above points give us an idea of what strategy we should employ, they also indicate what we should not be doing. We should not operate in markets where we add no value or do not have the resources or capabilities to maintain sustainable growth. 

A good strategy, while letting us know what we should be doing and why, should also inform us where our boundaries are and what we should not be doing.

I am sure I don’t have to tell you all that this blog is in no way comprehensive and barely scratches the surface on business strategy or strategy in general. Please feel free to add value to it by sharing your thoughts and experiences on developing ‘strategy’. Happy to hear from you!

Please watch this space for similar posts. Strategy forms an integral part of most of our online master’s degree programmes. You can chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on all the programmes we offer, the application process, and for details on discounts we might be offering at this time.

Is your company competitive? Here are 4 strategies to make it one! 

“No competition, no progress”

Bela Karolyi 

I could not agree more with the world-renowned Hungarian-born Romanian American gymnastics coach, who transformed gymnastics coaching in the US and was responsible for bringing home numerous international laurels. His words are not only applicable in sports but are equally fitting in the business world as well.  

Businesses do not operate in isolation. Gone are the days of monopoly where companies could dominate a market or industry. Today, in the fast-moving-digital-world, every business, big or small, faces stiff competition to hold a fair share of the market.  

Carefully analyze company’s competitive environment when formulating a business plan

When formulating a business plan, it is essential to analyse the company’s competitive environment. The competitive environment is the intricate external system in which the business operates and comprises of several factors or elements that affect and shape the industry. These elements include, and are not limited to:  

1. Competitors – Direct and Indirect  

2. Government regulations and laws  

3. Suppliers  

4.  Substitutes  

5. Technological trends  

6. Demographic Composition  

7. Network of Distribution  

8. Corporate culture  

Industrialists, innovators, and entrepreneurs need to think critically about these factors that affect the company’s profitability and success. (Also, check out our blog on 7 ways to improve critical thinking). It is imperative to understand the competition landscape and scope. This is necessary to prepare the kind of resources, investment, and technology required to build a sustainable and profitable business. In the good ol’ days, companies could thrive with little or no competition. In comparison, companies now must adopt new and innovative means to compete with other firms in the business environment and to have a competitive advantage over them. Strategic forecasting, planning, and implementation can lead to success in competition. Various strategies can help businesses build undefeatable and sustainable products and services.  

Caption – PESTEL model (reference)

Here are 4 strategies that can help build competitive advantages for your business:  

1. Cost Leadership  

Businesses run for profit. By definition, profit is a financial gain realised due to the difference between the amount earned and the amount spent on buying, operating, or producing a product or a service. It is one of the oldest tricks in the (business) book to be a cost-leader. When a business decides to pursue the cost-leadership strategy, it vows to provide the goods or services at a competitively lower price than any of its rivals can ever offer.

Such firms operate on the lowest cost structure, have reasonable control over the entire supply chain, suppliers, and raw materials, and have tight controls on the whole value chain activities. Walmart, IKEA, McDonald’s, Primark, and RyanAir are a few examples of firms that attribute their business success to a cost-leadership strategy.  

2.  Differentiation  

“You can’t look at the competition and say you’re going to do it better. You have to look at the competition and say you’re going to do it  differently”.

Steve Jobs  
Why HERMES?

Offering a low-cost product is not always an option in a competitive environment. Different consumers have different demands. Companies, by providing high-end quality products, also influence many customers’ buying decisions, who would otherwise choose the cheaper alternative. Even though companies always intend to keep their costs low, they are willing to spend on research and development costs, marketing, customer service, or innovation to develop a niche product or service, for which consumers are willing to pay a premium price. Apple, Starbucks, Tesla, Tiffany & Co., Emirates, and Hermes are examples of companies whose thoughtful approach to differentiation and compelling storytelling strategy makes millions of consumers spend premium prices for their products and services.  

3. Focus  

This strategy is quite different from the above two strategies. Business here focuses its primary strategy, i.e., operating at a lower cost or adding value but on a limited market, much narrower in scope than the broader cost leader or differentiator. The company intends to make concentrated efforts based on either a particular buyer group, geographic uniqueness, a unique product line, or a special attribute appealing to a niche customer class to cater to the specific demand of a limited number of customers. Gucci, Rolls Royce, Diet Coke, NetJets, and DC Design are a few examples of companies that have successfully adopted the focus strategy.  

4. Strategic group  

“Anytime you find someone more successful than you, especially when you’re both in the same business, you know they are doing something that you aren’t”. 

Malcom X  
The Cosmetics Industry has close knit competition and companies follow similar strategies to build competitive advantage

Groups of businesses of comparable size and range that operate in the same industry and follow the same strategies to build competitive advantages are termed strategic groups. The competition is so closely knit in such environments that even a small movement by the competitor affects the others’ market position. It helps build a strategic group map to identify businesses’ closest competitors and evaluate how your company is positioned in the industry. Common examples of strategic groups are the restaurants, retailers, cosmetic brands, and the aviation industry.  

These are four strategies, more commonly known as Michael Porter’s ‘generic’ business-level strategies as these can be applied to any business, by any firm in any industry.  

Which strategy do you think is the most powerful in building a competitive business advantage in your own context? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.  

Can entrepreneurship and innovation be taught? 

Can you think ‘out of the box’?

When I was in school, let’s just say a decade ago.. okay two decades ago, I remember being taught the principles of economics – theory of demand and supply, demand and supply curve, market equilibrium, price ceilings and floors, so on and so forth. Later as a business student at university, I learned about economic models and even more complex financial terms about running a business, such as behavioural economics, macro and microeconomic policies, government policies, international trade and its impact. I have no recollection of ever being asked to or being taught to ‘think out of the box’ (the economics book in this case).  

The businesses, usually large traditional corporations, family-owned companies big and small, ran on the business theories and principles established many years ago.  

Fast forward to the 21st century; I see a new world around me. The businesses are no longer just large corporations run on an old-school of thought. There has been a paradigm shift in the way the companies are run and how they are conceptualized in the first place. I am sure everyone remembers the time of late 90s and early 00s – ‘the infamous dot com/bubble era’ that vowed to change the world and as a matter of fact, it did change the world! 

The bubble burst vowed to change the world

The bubble era engendered a trend of entrepreneurship of a scope like never before. The entrepreneurs – the new gurus of the business world – worked on very different business principles and business plans. Business plans were mainly driven by the strategy of growing big fast, being ubiquitous, insanely high stock market valuations, and focusing on branding and marketing to gain market share. And to establish a new trend, the essential ingredient was innovation.  

Hence, the birth and rise of entrepreneurship and innovation.  

In today’s evolving business environment, entrepreneurship and innovation have become increasingly popular. There has been a notable rise in the entrepreneurial activities around the globe in the last decade. Even the corporations are paying heed to the increasing value of innovation and the entrepreneurial mindset in the workplace. It is now believed to correlate to organisation’s profitability and growth directly.  

There are several forms of entrepreneurship, such as Innovative entrepreneurship, social, scalable start-up business entrepreneurship, big and small entrepreneurship. To give some real-life examples, Tesla aimed to innovate the automobile industry by introducing luxurious yet affordable and efficient electric cars. On the hand, Uber, a scalable start-up business entrepreneurship, started with an idea to disrupt the taxi industry and attracted various capitalists’ interest and bagged millions of dollars in investment, scaling the business to an otherwise inconceivable level, growing the company worldwide.  

All entrepreneurs have one thing in common – Innovation

And all the entrepreneurs (and their companies) like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Jack Ma, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Walt Disney, J.K Rowling, Jeff Bezos (the list cannot be exhaustive), have one thing in common – Innovation. Microsoft, Apple, Alibaba, Tesla, Facebook, and Amazon witnessed tremendous business success through innovation by triggering a paradigm shift or evolving an old product with new technology.  

The benefits and increasing importance of innovation and entrepreneurship are manifold. As mentioned earlier, corporations are also realising their impact on their success. A study by Microsoft and McKinsey states that organisations show a direct correlation between employee retention and innovation, and innovative firms are more likely to retain employees. The study also reveals that companies that were assessed as having ‘innovative cultures’ were twice as likely to expect double-digit growth.  

So, the question remains if someone is a born Entrepreneur, is naturally innovative, or such attributes can be learnt, and whether individuals can be  adequately trained to be innovative entrepreneurs.  

The question remains if someone is a born Entrepreneur

“Profound growth requires innovation and, to foster innovation, you need people to feel trusted and supported to experiment and learn. There can be real returns for leaders who learn to let go and coach teams to constantly improve.”

Dr. Parke.  

To answer the question, yes, entrepreneurship and innovation can be taught, and with proper education, these skills can be mastered. By studying entrepreneurship and innovation, you can learn the underlying principles of starting a business, how to avoid common pitfalls, pitch ideas effectively, validate your product, develop a solid business model, and how to set yourself up for success in a field where failure is common. A good entrepreneurship and innovation programme will expose you to the challenges, contexts, and implications of entrepreneurship and provide you with a sense of the difficulties inherent in starting up and running a new enterprise. You will develop a critical understanding of contemporary discourses surrounding entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship as they are found in a range of national cultures and organisational contexts. The programme brings together relevant contemporary academic theory and research with a practical understanding of activities.  

We offer an online MBA Entrepreneurship and Innovation programme specifically designed to foster entrepreneurial and innovation skills to enable you to have a career managing innovation in existing firms and found new ventures. You will learn how organisations build value by applying entrepreneurial practices, the challenges and opportunities typically facing new and existing businesses, and the ability to design and implement creative strategies. Talk to one of advisors to find out more about the programme. 

#DILO (A day in the life of) a master’s student – Andy W

Continuing with our blog series bringing you answers to some of the questions we at Robert Kennedy College (RKC) get frequently from students who are looking to join one of our online programmes. We asked some of our past and current students to share their thoughts and opinions, to give their feedback on how they handled online learning challenges. Hopefully, this will in turn help you make an informed decision.

Blog series on ‘a day in the life of an online master’s degree student

Let us learn from those who came before and see if what worked for them will also help you become a better student! 

Andy is from the United Kingdom and has completed our 100% Online Master of Business Administration that we offer through an exclusive partnership with the University of Cumbria, U.K., and this is what he had to say about what worked for him. 

An Introduction

Who are you, really? 

Andy W

Which Uni are you studying with? 

University of Cumbria

Which programme did you choose and why? 

Master of Business Administration (MBA)

The Study Plan

Plan the best way to study

How did you plan to study each module, and what was the reality? How many hours did/do you have to put in each day/or in a week?

I planned to allocate a certain number of hours per week on fixed evenings and the occasional weekend, but it didn’t work out that way. I’m definitely a “deadlines” person, so the regular modular structure of the course helped keep things ticking along nicely, with draft essays and other assignments keeping me focused on making good progress. It became more of a challenge with the dissertation as there was a) a hiatus after finishing the last essay and then being allowed to start the dissertation, so I completely lost momentum and, b) there were no intermediate milestones/deadlines to keep me ticking along. As a result, I had to be much more disciplined and ended up taking blocks of time off work to complete the dissertation. I clearly needed to get up a head of steam and tackle sections in a block rather than do a little often with stop-start not working for me.

What part of the day did/do you find most suitable to study? (e.g. early mornings, lunch break, evenings, weekends?)

As above, longer blocks of time suited me best, rather than a particular time of day. That said, because I was also doing a full-time job and other activities, I was mostly restricted to evenings and weekends.

How much time did you devote to each assignment? 

Unknown, sorry – I didn’t keep a log. 

Travelling and Communication 

Travel and staying connected

How did travelling impact your ability to study? 

Work travel tends to be occasional long-haul flights for me, which helped as I could download relevant readings and could then take notes, etc. on the flight. Most of my study time, however, was spent at home. Travelling was not applicable in my case.

How were you able to interact with peers and/or professors given the time differences? 

The forums were okay, but this is the biggest issue with remote courses in my experience. You simply don’t get the same level of interaction, shared learning, and general camaraderie/shared experience as you do with face-to-face learning. This was particularly noticeable with the excellent week-long sustainability residential in Cumbria, especially when juxtaposed against the comparative isolation (even loneliness) of the dissertation. The benefits of remote learning definitely outweigh the restrictions, however. 

A typical day as a master’s student 

What does a typical day as an Online Masters’ student look like for you? 

Lots of evening reading during the modules, getting the interim assignments complete and then a bigger burst of effort in two or three day block for the final assessment submissions. The dissertation was a whole new ball game with longer blocks of time needed to really focus on getting the job done. 

Any advice? 

Listen to advice, but figure out what works for you
Any advice you have for students to better plan their studies. 

I can only suggest people find their own rhythm – if you’re very disciplined, then a little often may work for you, but I’m not like that so had to adapt to fit my own way of working within the wider context of work and MBA deadlines. 


I hope this blog has answered some of your questions, and please watch this space for similar posts. You can also chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on all the programmes we offer, the application process, and for details on discounts we might be offering at this time.

7 ways to improve your Critical Thinking

One of the things that I dislike about corporate culture is the many different terms that get thrown around to describe a logical and an otherwise common-sense action. Many managers and companies like to create new terms and abbreviations for actions and rules they have incorporated. However, the thing is, the more popular terms like ‘critical thinking’ are still around for a reason – they work.

The word ‘critical’ might have a negative connotation, and you might wonder – “What is the point of thinking negatively?” But where ‘critical thinking’ actually helps is in understanding all the flaws in an argument or a decision, counter or correct the process, and finally arrive at the stated objective. 

Critical Thinking is: Independent Thinking + Information Analysis = Arriving at a Judgement

What do critical thinkers do?

They think, they question, they do not accept everything at face value, using their ability to reason and to solve problems through logical reasoning. This is why most employers would be keen to employ critical thinkers because they are the catalyst that will propel the company forward. 

So, what can you do to become a more critical thinker? 

Ask questions
  1. Asking questions – Don’t be afraid to question everything, don’t take anything at face value. Ask:
    1. What are you trying to achieve?
    2. How have you arrived at this conclusion or decision?
    3. How would I know what you have told me is accurate? Show me the proof and explain it to me.
    4. What might you have missed out or overlooked?
  2. Assumption is the mother of all screw-ups – One of my majors during graduation was physics, and one of the things I disliked was the proof of every theory started with “Assume…..”, which is why we used the headline of this point as our motto during physics class. But leaving our childish assumptions aside (because who are we to question some of the greatest scientific minds ever), in our mundane lives assuming things will just make an ass out of you and me (ass-u-me). So, question all assumptions. 
  3. Self-reflecting – Critical thinkers must be able to reflect on themselves. Ask yourself if your beliefs are based on logic or emotions. Don’t be afraid to take a step back and analyse your decisions or belief, recognising if you have any bias and if it played a role in your decision-making process.
  4. Listening – When you discuss something with someone, don’t get ahead of yourself and start thinking, but listen to their point of view. Only once you hear and understand their point of view can you have enough data to analyse and evaluate, and offer alternatives if required. 
  5. Understanding the motive – Understanding the motives behind the source of the data you are basing your decisions on is essential because the data will always be skewed towards the source’s beliefs. For example, in the US media, the same story on President Donald Trump or President Joseph Biden will be covered in a completely different way by Fox News and CNN. That is why you have to question what you are being told. 
  6. Researching – Today, we are blessed with endless sources of information, and all of them easily accessible. Do your research taking advantage of all these sources of information and use your critical thinking to arrive at the best decision possible. 
  7. Keep an opened mind – So, you looked at data from multiple sources, applied critical thinking, and arrived at a conclusion. But still, going into a discussion with the assumption that you are right is wrong. As mentioned in point number four, if you assume you are right and are not listening, you will fall into point number two.

Learning to develop your critical thinking skills will go a long way in helping you analyse data and arrive at the best decision possible more often than not. Comment below if you know any other way in which we can develop critical thinking skills, we would love to hear from you!

Analyse data to arrive at decisions

Our online master’s degree management programmes help you become a better leader, and master’s degrees, in general, will help you in developing your critical thinking skill. Chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our education advisors for more information on all the programmes we offer, the application process, and information on discounts we might offer.

Can Corporate Social Responsibility help in developing society?

Star Trek is the best tv series ever made! That is, at least in my opinion. I have watched almost every single series of Star Trek several times. It makes me happy. You might be wondering why I have started off talking about a tv series, and the answer is that it shows us what humanity can achieve—our unlimited potential as a species.  

Commander Spock and Captain James T. Kirk, played by Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner, pictured here in Star Trek: The Original Series

But the reality is we are lightyears away from achieving even a fraction of this potential. And I am not just talking about the challenges we faced in 2020 (which doesn’t seem to be improving in 2021). Even before the pandemic, our global society was struggling and teetering on self-destruction. Poverty, global warming, population, crime, natural disasters, fake news, illiteracy, unemployment and untrained labour, and healthcare are just some of the challenges we faced even before COVID-19.   

Society has been struggling with questions such as – how can we ensure healthcare for all? How can we ensure economic development and technological progress that benefits humanity?  

Typically, we would just bump this responsibility onto the government, the United Nations, or to some NGO. And while the lion’s share of the responsibility does rest on them, the fact is, if we need to achieve anything, we all need to work together – citizens, government, companies, NGO’s, everyone.  

United Nations

To simplify things, let’s say our goal is to ensure economic progress and social justice for all while preserving our environment. What is the responsibility of a company in this? Well, companies’ success depends on people – employees and customers. If employees have job security and job satisfaction, they will work hard, be loyal to the company, and invest in its success. Likewise, if people have the money and an understanding of the company and its products and services, they will invest in the company. Therefore for a company to truly succeed, it must contribute towards the development of society as a whole. 

Typically, a company would view corporate social responsibility (CSR) as something they have to do to keep the government happy and maintain a positive brand image. These are just some of the side benefits of an acceptable CSR policy. If properly executed, CSR could be an excellent tool to develop society, benefit all company stakeholders, and contribute to the company’s growth while minimising the impact on the planet.  

How a company implements CSR will depend on several factors such as location, government, industry, etc. The COVID-19 vaccine has just hit the markets worldwide and was developed in record time by several pharmaceutical companies. Consider the pharmaceutical industry as an example to highlight what companies in this sector could consider when developing an effective CSR doctrine.  

Pharmaceutical industry is big business
  • Offering safe and quality medication to as many people as possible. 
  • An effective pricing strategy that can benefit all players involved.  
  • Ongoing support to patients. If the company can show that they are not just interested in the sales of their medication but is also committed to the patients’ recovery and wellbeing, they would have earned the customers trust and loyalty.  
  • Having effective human resources, training, and safety policies that ensure all employees are taken care off. 
  • Compliance to all laws and regulations of the land (both local and global). 
  • Defining ethical business practices (read our previous blog on Business Ethics).  
  • Reducing environmental impact and carbon footprint.  

Hence, for a company to have an effective CSR doctrine, they should contribute to being an economically efficient, socially equitable, and environmentally sustainable development. While ensuring growth and profits by encouraging innovation, reduce costs, fostering a sense of ownership among all involved in a project.  

An effective and well thought out Corporate Social Responsibility doctrine can spark innovation that will drive your company onto new heights.  

Do you consider CSR to be a driver for positive change in society, a spark of innovation for the company, or do you think CSR is just another thing a company has to do not to be shown in a negative light by its competitors? Comment below, we would love to hear your views! 

Our online master’s degree management programmes help you become a better leader, and CSR is an integral part of it. Chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our education advisors for more information on all the programmes we offer, the application process, and for information on discounts we might be offering in these particularly challenging times. 

How to declutter your life and get more organized

It has been on my to-do list since as far as I can remember - to declutter my life and get more organized. While I do get organized occasionally, it does not usually last for long. It is more of an effort than being a habit or a blessing to be born with.  I believe one wins half of their battles, personal or professional, if they are organized. Other attributes, such as better time management, efficiency, etc., are correlated and codependent. 

Better time management and efficiency are co-related

Moreover, this is one of the most common advice our current students and alumni give to the prospective students: to be organized right from the beginning of the master’s programme (please follow our #DILO series for more alumni experience and advice).  

“Clutter is the physical manifestation of unmade decisions fueled by procrastination.”  

Christina Scalise  

We usually see clutter as a tangible physical item around us. However, clutter exposes a much deeper issue than what you can see with naked eyes. It stems from a mind full of unmade decisions. It may be seemingly small initially: clutter permeates every aspect of your life, affecting your personal and professional lives. One may feel overwhelmed, anxious and defeated even with simple things in life.   

Though it is not an overnight process, and the inherent procrastination will make it even more challenging to achieve, decluttering brings with it a plethora of benefits. It may require a great deal of motivation and inspiration.   

Here are some benefits of decluttering:  

  1. Less is more: Minimalism as a way of life. The fewer things you have, the fewer things you have to worry about.   
  1. Improves focus: With fewer things to manage, you will have improved focus on things that matter the most.   
  1. Save time and energy: While earlier you could be struggling to find time to finish even basic tasks, you will be surprised to have adequate resources to start the book you always wanted to read or hobbies and passions you wanted to pursue.   
Decluttering helps save time and energy
  1. Builds confidence: You will feel more confident when you are in-charge and in-control of your life.   
  1. Better decision making: Once you master the art of decluttering, you will become better with your decisions.   

Now, it is easier to preach than to practice. But I found some easy and effective ways to declutter life and become more organized overall. Here are five ways how:  

You’ll never get organized if you don’t have a vision for your life.

Linda L. Eubanks
  1. Have a vision: It is challenging to plan a journey if you do not know your destination. So, it is essential to set the ground right with an unobstructed vision for your personal and professional goal.   
Have a vision for a personal and professional goal
  1. Start small: Living in a cluttered environment brings a lot of stress and anxiety. Even after gathering all courage and motivation to declutter your life, it might be overwhelming to bring in the new change. Start by taking small steps and get accustomed to the changes.   

“Tidying is the act of confronting yourself.”  

Marie Kondo
  1. Be true to yourself: Everyone has some idea (and if not, they should!) of their strengths and weaknesses. Make a concerted effort to win over your weaknesses (and play to your strengths) and make sure weaknesses do not hinder the achievement of your goal.   
  1. Make a schedule/calendar: Create a daily schedule for yourself and note down your priorities. Cluster similar tasks and optimize them. When you are set in the routine, make weekly and monthly tasks’ schedules and write down everything. The calendar will help you stay focused and enables you to stick to your priorities.   
Create a schedule and set your priorities
  1. Be positive: It is essential to remain positive during the entire process of decluttering. As it is a gradual and ongoing process, do not lose your calm or give up. Stay focused on the benefits you would receive from decluttering.   

How do you declutter your life and become more organized? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

#DILO (A day in the life of) a master’s student – Nicole

Through the #DILO series of blog posts we have been bringing you insights into the life of our master’s students, sharing their thoughts and opinions, ups and downs, and key learning points during their online studies. The whole idea behind this series is to make you aware of the realities of online studies, and aide you in decision making.  

This week we take a look at a day in the life of our MBA student, Nicole. Here are a few insights and some words of wisdom that Nicole had to share from her experience: 

An Introduction 

“I am still learning about who I really am” – Nicole

Who are you, really? 

Nicole Weiner, a lifetime learner with a family and a job, but I am still learning about who I really am 

Which Uni are you studying with? 

University of Cumbria 

Which programme did you choose and why? 

The MBA in Public Health Management program. Being a nurse, I am interested in helping people live better, healthier lives through prevention. 

Being a nurse, Nicole is dedicated towards helping people live better and healthier lives

The Study Plan 

How did you plan to study each module, and what was the reality? How many hours did/do you have to put in each day/or in a week? 

When I do something, I do not think about “the how” so much. I decide and I do. Thankfully my responsibilities at home are minimal and I was able to carve out some time from my work agenda, since I am an occupational health nurse, I took about 2.5 hours from my work schedule each week since the two are related. Plus, I worked at home as well, especially the weekends.

But it was not difficult to participate in the forums on a regular basis. In one sitting: sometimes an hour, sometimes 6 hours. In my opinion, your work agenda should allow some time for master’s, if the two are related.

What part of the day did/do you find most suitable to study? (e.g. early mornings, lunch break, evenings, weekends?) 

Anytime. If I have to do something, I can do it just about any time of the day, but after 7 pm I do like to just relax, so usually not in the evenings. During my thesis this will change because I have changed jobs and in this new job, I will not be able to carve out time to write or study during work hours.

Relating to my above answer, my next job will be as a research nurse, therefore I cannot study during work hours because I am not caring for a whole population group and there will be more technical duties to do. As an OHN, I was one nurse to 650 people. That’s significant, but the company was great and gave me space for balance. 

How much time did you devote for each assignment? 

Depends. Like I said earlier, forums usually half an hour to an hour. Assignments I dedicate a lot of time but I cannot put a number on it. But one thing I can say is that I try to start working on it very early, so that I am not rushed in the end. 

Travelling and Communication 

“As long as I had my computer I could study if I wanted to while travelling”- Nicole.

How did travelling impact your ability to study? 

No problem, as long as I had my computer I could study if I wanted to. 

How were you able to interact with peers and/or professors given the time differences? 

In my personal case, there is no time difference between the UK and Switzerland. 

A typical day as a master’s student 

What does a typical day as an Online Masters’ student look like for you? 

School is just an extension of my other activities. I can say that definitely, the program being online makes life a bit less complicated. 

Any advice? 

Do a little bit every day, with a day off every now and then, or vacation even. If you work on your assignments regularly, you can afford to take time off and not stress it. And please advise your professors of your absence. 

Well indeed, incredibly helpful advice from Nicole. A contingency plan not only saves you from an unpredictable situation but also helps you follow your study plan with confidence. To get you through the master’s studies we have great faculty who are subject-matter experts, who guide and encourage the students to achieve their potential.  

If you have been dreaming of joining master’s programme or have had this personal goal to gain higher education, now is the time! Take the valuable advice from our current students, gain from their experience, add your own unique study strategy, and make your own success story!

Chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on all the programmes we offer, the application process, and information on discounts we might be offering at this time. 

Getting ready for 2021

Phew! It is 2021! 2020 is finally over and behind us. After having an incredibly unique (and for many a traumatic) 2020, I am a little sceptical and at the same time joyous and hopeful of welcoming the new year.   

Well, let me first extend my warmest wishes to you, our readers, happy new year! One of the greatest joys of this season is the opportunity to say thank you and to wish you the very best for the New Year.   

‘Tis the season…  

So, what do you think 2021 will look like? Are you ready to embrace the new year as it still encapsulates certain uncertainties? Have you set any personal goals, professional goals, or academic goals for yourself? Because it is that time of the year when we sulk on unfinished resolutions or celebrate their achievement (I fall more in the former category than the latter 🙁) and look forward to new ones!   

In my opinion, it will be much more than just resolutions this year. People are frustrated with unfulfilled wish-lists, lockdowns, and fear of the pandemic. Emotions are running high; there will be no holding back, it could turn out to be a year where you tick off all the boxes (or most of).  

Here are the five trends you must watch out for in 2021:  

1. Shoppable TV and social media influencers   

Consumers will be able to buy anything they like, on the go and instantly!

With worldwide lockdowns, the retail industry saw a categorical change with the brick-and-mortar stores shutting down. Shoppers had to move online, and the businesses capitalised on every opportunity to grab consumer’s attention. Consumers will be able to buy anything they like, on the go, instantly, as they watch the advertisement on their favourite streaming channels, or a product recommended by their favourite social media influencer. I have personally experienced this; a tik-tok video made the CeraVe skincare products fly off the shelves within days. That is a powerful sales tool.   

2. Big data becomes bigger  

Big data is inexhaustible

As we rely more and more on online platforms for almost everything, from groceries to banking, to buying cars to education, the data is building up exponentially and is inexhaustible. There will be an increasing new need for data analysis and customer personalisation.  

3. Artificial Intelligence (AI)  

AI is predominantly the most significant trend to watch out for in 2021. With bigger data, better interpretations will be required to understand the world and the changing patterns of the consumers. In 2021, we are likely to see further sophistication in machine learning algorithms and tools.  

4. E-Sports  

Gaming is in line to become a multi-billion-dollar industry

Gaming is one of the sectors that was positively impacted by COVID-19. While other industries suffered losses, gaming has been trending and is in line to become a multi-billion-dollar industry by 2023. It is one of the top entertainment activities that people engage in, kids and adults alike.  

5. eLearning  

With the sudden closure of schools and universities owing to social distancing and self-isolation requirements in an attempt to flatten the COVID-19 curve, online learning became a necessity overnight and is here to stay. There are several benefits of online education, such as flexible learning and quality education offered at affordable prices.

Robert Kennedy College has been a pioneer in online education since 1998. When you decide to study with us, we promise you an excellent course curriculum, British education, Swiss quality, highly qualified faculty and a variety of Online master’s programmes to choose from. Start early and talk to our education advisors to find out how you can make the most of the new year 2021 though learning.

Business Ethics – 4 steps to ethical decision making

Cutting corners, that is what we as human beings do. Now, that by itself is not wrong, finding a more comfortable, simpler way to get a job done is smart. But the line that separates ethical behaviour from unethical behaviour is narrow, and if you are not careful in your search for the smartest way to work, you could just end up crossing that line!

Before proceeding with the blog, I would like to wish all our readers a very merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year 2021!

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year

What is ethics? 

It is merely the belief of what is right or wrong based on the individuals’ morals/values, which in turn might be dependent on the society or culture to which the individual belongs to. So, what does this mean? Simply put, ethics is very individualistic; what I believe to be right or wrong might be antithetical to what you believe to be right or wrong.

Having said that, as a society of human beings living in the 21st century, we generally have a consensus on what humanity considers ethical and unethical behaviour, as a result of which, laws are created to uphold and protect what we believe is ethical behaviour. Now, some of these laws might differ from region to region; however on the whole, most laws are put in place to protect the innocent and to uphold what society considers ethical.

Laws

Formal laws typically represent a consensus on ethical standards.

For companies and organisations, the laws and standards that are used to judge the ethics of an individual can be extended on a much grander and more detailed scale thus incorporating the ethics of society on a corporate level. So, if a company is known to follow the law, by implication, it is an ethical company. But that need not always be the case.  

Yes, laws can be looked on as a standard for companies to follow; however, they are just a basis for an ethical discussion. Because at the end of the day, the legal ethics will depend on whose eyes they are viewed from. For example, while stealing is considered illegal everywhere and therefore unethical, it is unfortunate and criminal that in some countries child labour is still legal and therefore ethical (at least from their point of view), even though a majority of the nations will consider it unethical (and in my personal opinion, it is).   

Ethical decisions

There are several factors, such as values, morals, culture, etc., that can have an impact on ethical decision making. For example, if you ask a group of individuals a precise and narrow ethical question, you might get as many answers as there are individuals answering the question because each person is influenced by their upbringing and life experiences.

There are also some circumstances when an otherwise unethical behaviour may be looked upon in a favourable light. For example, a town devastated and cut off from aid by a natural disaster might force some desperate people to contemplate unethical actions like breaking in and entering an abandoned home or store to scavenge items and materials required for survival. Is this behaviour ethical or acceptable? Maybe not. But until we are put in a situation like that, who are we to judge?!

The point is when we make a decision, all we can do is to make the best decision we can at that moment.

Ethical decisions in organisations

Most organisations today have a diverse and multicultural workforce. While this is undoubtedly beneficial, there are also a number of challenges to be overcome, especially when aligning decisions with ethics.  Not everyone is going to agree with the ethicality of a decision! Also, you don’t want an organisation where everyone thinks the same – “groupthink”.

So, how do organisations work towards overcoming these challenges? 

  1. Code of conduct/ethics – Organisations need to start a ‘written code of ethics or conduct’. It has to be a written, physical document that is easily accessible, prominently displayed (on notice boards, company intranet, etc.) in the organisation, widely circulated among employees, made a part of induction for new employees, and made a condition for employment. What a code of ethics does is outline what the organisation considers acceptable behaviour, giving a baseline of what is ‘okay’ and what is ‘not okay’. 
  2. Ethics programme – Set up training programmes for employees that will educate them on what the organisation considers ethically acceptable decisions. The best way to learn is by example, so ensure that most of the training is situation-based.  Show examples of decisions made in the past, the challenges the decisions makers faced while deliberating, their logical reasoning, and finally why they arrived at the decision they did. Make it into a case study to get an understanding of what the new employees think and the decisions they would have arrived at in the current work environment.
  3. Ethics hotline – Most organisations do not want unethical behaviour to go undetected for a long period of time. The longer unethical behaviour takes to come to light the greater the damage to the organisation. Most people do not want to be labelled a ‘snitch’; it is a good way to lose the trust of co-workers and get isolated within your organisation. It could also have an effect on your reputation, which will, in turn, have an impact on your promotions and future employment. But for the benefit of the organisation, unethical behaviour needs to be brought to light, and the sooner, the better. Setting up a hotline that guarantees anonymity, and gives protection to the whistleblower against retaliation will encourage reporting against unethical behaviour. However, the organisation also has a responsibility to investigate comprehensively and arrive at an independent conclusion to not only protect against false reporting but to protect all the parties involved.
  4. Leadership by example – We throw the term ‘work culture’ around quite often.   Work culture is corporate behaviour which is set or determined at the top and trickles down to the rest of the organisation, and ethics forms an integral part of this behaviour. Most people in any position of authority usually set an example of ‘do as I say, not as I do’, which clearly send the wrong message to their underlings, and this is what usually ends up being the norm that is followed. There are very few leaders that are able to set the right, positive and ethical example because of the temptation to bend ethics in favour of greater profits. Actions speak louder than words and leaders have to set the example at the top for the organisation to follow.

These are just a few guidelines an organisation can follow to develop and encourage ethical decision making. What are the steps followed by your organisation to encourage ethical decisions? Any instances that you know of where companies have cut corners in their search for easy profit, and what were the consequences? Comment below.

Our online master’s degree management programmes help you become a better leader, and business ethics forms an important part of it. Chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our education advisors for more information on all the programmes we offer, the application process, and for information on discounts we might be offering at this time.