Thoughts, travels and inspiration

Month: April 2019

Micromobility, evolution or revolution?

“It is cold outside…” ; “This train will never arrive…” and “What time is the next bus?” These are usual thoughts of many people when it comes to commuting. Indeed, as modern transportation started at the end of the 1800s’ in London before flowing all over the continents, we always had to adapt to the transportation modes more than they were adapted to us.

A few years ago, though, people started to hail electronically chauffeur companies like Uber instead of picking-up a taxi. Cars and bikes sharing options appeared in major cities. Then, two years ago, scooters appeared in California: the transportation options were adapting to us and people say it’s a revolution!

The Context

Over the last 10 years, I have travelled to many cities, some of them huge and extremely populated like San Francisco, London or Paris, others a bit smaller like Dublin, Lisbon or Lyon.

Everywhere, I have been able to notice the same pattern: traffic congestion.

McKinsey, through their mobility series offers precious statistics confirming this. From 2010 to 2016, congestion in major capitals has raised over 10% with a peak over 30% for Los Angeles and New York.

Ireland has not escaped from this phenomenon and Dublin has become in a few years, the third most congested city in the world with an average of 246 hours lost per driver, which would account for more than 1 hour per day according to the Irish Times.

The Challenge

With more and more crowded towns due to the concentration of jobs and facilities in single places, cities concentrate wealth and also over-growing challenges for citizens to live together.

Users, with ever changing needs, lack flexible options to go from point A to point B quickly and easily. Their total cost of ownership of a car, including its insurance, fuel and parking, has become higher than ever (you can check this EU calculator to understand the cost of ownership of your vehicle)

Public transport offer a good alternative to driving a car but sometimes lack accessibility and convenience. They have also a certain schedule and only run through a predicted journey. Late at night or early in the morning, they are often infrequent and insecure in some areas.

Taxis or their private alternative like Uber, Addison Lee or Kapten (ex Chaffeur-Privé) can be pricey for some and also struggle with traffic. What is the point of paying for a ride when you can walk faster than the cab stuck in traffic?

Most of the journeys in towns are no longer that a few minutes or a few kilometres.

Logically, people have started to seek solutions to facilitate their mobility and electronic scooters appeared in 2018 as the perfect mode of transportation to cut the traffic and offer a renewed sense of freedom to their users.

A struggle for the legislator

Being able to commute faster, cheaper and greener should make most of us, users, happy. However, the apparition of new technologies in our roads is not without consequences.

Not every country is starting equally in the mobility space.

Nordic countries have been leaders for decades and have in principle a substantial architecture to support “new kids on the block” like the electronic scooters. In other countries, they have just started to appear in the middle of vehicles and sometimes on sidewalks bringing chaos.

Legislators have just started to understand the size of the challenge. The Economist in their article by Arthur House, describes the chaos existing in Los Angeles right now among pedestrians, car users, vans and scooters. A nightmare overlooked by the authorities despite the ban imposed by the Major of Los Angeles.

However for as cheap as $2.20, the author was able to ride his 1.6 kilometres journey in 7 minutes, a performance in one of the most congested city in the planet.

But, users are not always disciplined enough to have a 100% safe mode of transport bringing a form of conflict among vehicles, bikes and pedestrians.

So some towns like London or Dublin have completely banned micromobility for now. Indeed, the Irish Times explains that the Minister for Transports in Ireland, Shane Ross, has asked the Road Safety Authority (RSA) to research what is currently being done in other European countries to see how this could be replicated in Ireland.

An opportunity to think about the future

According to Le Point magazine, up to 40,000 scooters could be on Parisians’ streets before the end of 2019. A law already approved by the French Sénat will be discussed and voted during the summer by l’Assemblée Nationale, the French Parliament.

Indeed, some cities have started to create legislation to allow scooters to enter safely in their market. In Paris, the operators will have to pay a €50 to €60 tax for every scooter introduced to the market in order for the authorities to manage better the risk involved with the presence of those 15,000 scooters.

A fine of €135 has also been proposed for anybody spotted using sidewalks with an electronic scooter. At a speed up to 30km/h, this is certainly a danger for pedestrians that could generate a lot of issues if left unregulated.

A win-win situation for everybody

Congestion, lack of parking, security and pollution are never-ending problems to cities. They need to be overcomed so city dwellers can have a better quality of life. Indeed, towns need to offer more options to reduce congestion and offer a sustainable future to their citizens.

Users, more and more driven by on-demand solutions are keen on new technologies and pushing for more mobility solutions. Encouraged by the availability of new modes of transportations, they have started to change their habits and use more and more diversified mobility options.

Cities and their citizens including micromobility users and operators need to work all together to solve this challenge. They need to find an adequate balance between the benefits proposed by new technological solutions and the necessary risk management approach that cities must have over time.

Recommendations

Taking a holistic view of the situation

Cities need to prioritise solutions that offer a safer and cleaner way to commute for their busy citizens. They need to fight bad behaviours and look after the health and safety of their citizens.

Riders want solutions that are close to them and available immediately. They want total reliability on the machines they ride, the highest level of autonomy and be protected during their journeys.

Technology providers such as Lime, Bird, Uber (Jump), Scoot, Lyft or Ford (Spin) and others have a critical need to manage better their assets to scale in an easiest way.

McKinsey notices in their latest micromobility check-up from January 2019 that if a scooter is economical after 4 months, it may not even last this amount of time depending on how riders care for them.

Using the future of technology to improve management platforms

A clear and predictable management platform of the scooters, including at 100% visibility level of their use with their location and profitability rate per day is essential to ensure technology companies continue to offer an increased level of mobility options to their users.

Machine Learning and AI could definitely help prevent accidents and avoid collision with objects and pedestrians. Centimetre-level accuracy technologies would also dramatically improve the behaviour of riders.

Those technologies have started to appear in the market and their development is key to the development of more secure and optimised mobility solutions.

A vision for seamless mobility

From users, technologists and urbanists, everybody wants to participate in the debate and discuss what their vision is of this evolution of mobility.

McKinsey in his “Integrated perspective on the future of mobility” has identified the five key indicators of success for seamless mobility below.

Availability, Affordability, Efficiency, Convenience and Sustainability.

Their simultaneous improvement will bring benefits to every actor and will define a better vision for the future of our cities. Numerous technology improvements need to be made in order to reach this ambitious goal.

McKinsey article insists on the improvement needs for the four trends below: better connectivity through IoT devices, more autonomy for vehicles with autonomous driving, more sharing options like car-sharing and a stronger electrification of road transport.

For now, this is the time to take each step at a time with specific questions to be addressed. The main one is how to allow new mobility options to integrate into preexisting infrastructures or how to develop necessary ones to allow a co-existence between users?

Only together, as a group, we will manage to change the face of our cities, and make them more human, greener and more accessible to everyone. This is an exciting challenge, one that defines a generation, one that can transform an evolution into a revolution. Are you ready to take off?

Extreme leadership, an invite to be a better version of yourself

Last week, the Dublin Tech Summit invited one of the most prestigious Tech Leaders in the world to speak about the future of Technology.

From consulting businesses to blockchains specialists and digital banking, one guest was specially exciting, as he represents the dreams of many school boys, including myself at that age. Chris Hadfield was the first Canadian astronaut to walk in Space and stayed in the International Space Station (ISS) 166 days of his life. Yes, you read it right almost 6 months of his life in space!

Over the course of one hour, Chris made us dream about what seems impossible for most humans: going to the moon or another planet and living there. Chris came to Dublin with a precise idea in mind, talking to us about “Extreme Leadership”. But above everything, he demonstrated to us that everything is possible, even for a boy raised on a farm in Southern Ontario. How?

Chris Hadfield at DTS 2019

Chris knew from very young age what he wanted and applied to himself what he described as “Extreme Leadership”. This strongly impacted the way he envisioned himself and the world around him.

“Decide in your heart of hearts what really excites and challenges you, and start moving your life in that direction. Every decision you make, from what you eat to what you do with your time tonight, turns you into who you are tomorrow, and the day after that. Look at who you want to be, and start sculpting yourself into that person. You may not get exactly where you thought you’d be, but you will be doing things that suit you in a profession you believe in. Don’t let life randomly kick you into the adult you don’t want to become.” 
― 
Chris Hadfield

I would like to present my interpretation of his vision in 6 ways that leaders can easily apply to their businesses and cause impact onto them as well.

1* BELIEVE impossible things happen, every single day.

I know this sound like an overstatement, but this can be easily proven. Most of us have in our pockets, a smartphone that didn’t exist 10 years ago and we bring it everywhere with us, to take pictures, write to our friends, connect with our followers on social medias, etc. Impossible you said?

Just go back in time and think about it… Look at memories, photos, objects of your childhood. How many impossible things have happened in your life? You will be surprised how far you have gone with the time.

2* PLAN for success, don’t wait for success to come to you.

Success comes from the repetition of small things every day until you master them. Look at what you know and what you are going to do next. Know what it really matters to you. If the step is too big, divide it in smaller steps that are achievable.

Think SMART for each goal and break down your activities in a Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic and Time-oriented way.

3* THINK BIG, think strategically and think as a team

Vision, team empowerment and problem solving are key to success. Use creativity and technology like Chris in the ISS to achieve things in an ingenious way. No need to reinvent the wheel.

Go back to the V2MOM discussed in a previous post. People of all ages like to understand why they do things. They will teach you things too. You could be even surprised and learn to do something you know faster and better.

4* Share knowledge around you

Knowledge is a treasure free to share with people you meet every day. Start with a smile and engage conversation. Be keen on people and remember the chance you have to be able to learn every day. Teach something to somebody every day and listen from people what they think of it. You know what? I bet you will love it!

5* Improve yourself

Never settle, always try to be a better version of yourself. Join an association, register for a conference, read books, learn a language. A word a day is nice, simple and can stimulate your brain for more. What about ordering your coffee next summer in a French brasserie like a local with a nice “‘s’il vous plaît”?

6* Play an instrument (or communicate with music)

Music is a universal language. Families, companies and teams are often composed of people with a lot of different sensibilities. Be the one uniting them. Don’t wait for it to happen by itself…

You can bring people closer by sharing a moment around a nice song. Why not doing it? Everybody will enjoy and you will have a good chance of offering them a good moment. Check Chris’ video below, that was how he built team spirit at the ISS with colleagues from all over the world!

Chris Hadfield original recording of Space Oddity onboard on the ISS

So, after all, what is “Extreme Leadership”? Is it something new? Something difficult? Something impossible? Not really. More than anything it is a good reminder that everything is possible if we dearly want it.

More than ever 2019 is the time not only to dream your life but also to live your dreams.

So what is your plan? Which items do you prefer most? Do you need help? Let me know, I’ll be happy to help, as always!

Bring purpose to employee engagement to get performance!

My recent studies around Leadership and Employee Retention gave interesting insights on the topic of purpose to improve employee engagement and improve performance.

Most of the leaders like to discuss in details the “Employee Performance” topic. The consensus is clear that getting results is not just a game number and repeating systematically the same action overtime. Performance comes from “Employee Engagement” and more specifically the willingness for an employee to be mentally engaged in his company where job options are many. 

Engagement can be triggered by different mechanisms, sometimes driven by rewards or sanctions for underperforming staff, following the principle of “the carrot and the stick.” However, most leaders recognise that it does not bring results after a shorter period while becoming expensive, the reward becoming the new norm.

Leaders should never aim for simple performance but for  peak-performance.  

However, this does not come from reward but from a deeper reason driven within human values called “purpose.” The willingness to do the extra-mile for a leader and his business comes from a reason that is very personal and often linked to the individual’s upbringing, something that has moved them and given them the strength to fight for. 

Leaders need to help their talents to understand those forces and build an employee success plan from the hiring to the reward process. The employee understands his contribution will have a monetary impact on the organisation but in a candidate driven-market, this is not enough.

Companies must set onboard their employees from executives to interns on a journey of  mutual success through their corporate values.  

The concept reads well and works for some business interviewed whatever their size. One can argue money is key to achieve this because before everything, a company is a profit centre designed to create value for its shareholders. This is true and businesses having a clear mission, a definite purpose, and a well-defined vision on how to achieve their goals are the ones making the biggest returns for their shareholders.

They also have the lowest turnover rate and the highest desire from people to join them. It is recommended for every business leader to deeply understand why the company has been created, what the values of the founders are, how those are still present or not and align roles and procedures through them. 

This is by creating, living, and embracing purpose that companies live and thrive.  

The V2MOM framework from Marc Benioff is one of the best tool I have seen to map out Vision, Values, Methods, Obstacles and Measurement to be used from a companywide to an individual. Every decision should be run by this framework and every V2MOM accessible directly by any employee (Benioff & Adler, 2009).

The V2MOM framework is available on the Salesforce.com website

Now, I invite you to sit down for a few minutes and have a deeper look into what your V2MOM would look like. I encourage you to do one per employee in your organisation starting from the CEO down to your interns or junior members of staff. The exercice must be fully transparent and anybody should be able to access it. 

Are you currently using it, thinking about it, or are not too sure what it is but would like to know more? If you need help, I’d be delighted to support you and share my experience changing organisations through a strong V2MOM. Just drop me a line below or contact me at ghernoux@gmail.com and let’s chat! 

Employee retention problem? Leaders can make a difference…

In good and challenging times, company leaders are always the ones who need to give the purpose and the direction. My MBA Thesis from Henley Business School offered some recommendations based on academic and field studies, on how leaders can increase employee retention and make a difference.

The research has outlined qualities that a leader needs to be successful and an ideal leadership style, the strategic leadership

However, the balance between looking at a company’s interest from inside and outside is often difficult to reach. Executives’ agendas are always busy with urgencies and the capacity to step back in a world ever changing is becoming the number one priority to chase. 

Believing in a clear mission and making decisions with the awareness of their outcomes on people, company reputation, and financial results is a daunting task for leaders. In an era of social medias and a heavily connected society, mistakes can be seen quicker, communication is scrutinised, and any misstep is outlined ten times more than successes. 

It is recommended for leaders to start their mission by  building an executive or a management team composed of people sharing their  values and having the ability to work with each other. 

Researchers have made comprehensive work on the topic and Belbin team roles in an example of framework that could be used to make sure the nine key behaviours are represented as per below in the management teams (Belbin, 2010). Leaders surrounded by their peers will be able to build better working organisations and hire the right talents to work more efficiently. 

No alt text provided for this image
The 9 Team Roles from Belbin as displayed on smarttstrategies.com/

Companies are often created with a project or an idea in mind that develops with a business overtime. When investments are raised, different shareholders have different ambitionsfrom an immediate return on investments to a more philanthropic vision. 

Hiring the right set of leaders and employees aligned with the founders’ values can take time, be difficult and costlier that quickly aggregating a set of competencies. However, overall, this is the only way to build a profitable and respected business where employees will stay and develop massively. 

It is recommended to all leaders to watch closely their company  vision, their  mission to the world and the  values of their stakeholders. 

By considering this, leaders will make sure to create or join a business where they feel respected, appreciated, and rewarded. Then, they will be able to build something sustainable with their teams based on the same principles. 

Are you using the Belbin model, would you like to understand it further? Let me know and I can help you further!

Is Employee development really a cost?

Leaders can reduce employee turnover through their roles in their organisations and the one of their leadership team. My MBA thesis gave me the opportunity to talk to more than 50 leaders in the IT Industry. The importance of leadership and how to be bring purpose to your employees was discuss at that time. But what else?

A major topic covered by industry leaders is Employee development. 

Some interviewees noticed an increasing demand for more responsibilities from their employees and wondered if this was due to the younger generations repeatedly called “millennials” coming into the workforce.

Others outlined this positive trend into growing as an individual or a leader inside their organisations.

In such a pressurised market as Dublin, employers have now little to no choice to discuss further education options as a key benefit for their employees.

Some see employee development as a cost and I would like to offer a strong alternative. 

Everybody needs to learn in a role and stay up to date with their industry, internal systems and procedures. This is undoubtedly a question of credibility for your business

From the onboarding process to the daily life, you certainly noticed some of your employees are willing to learn more and understand better how things around them are happening.

These employees should be prioritised for career growth plan and future leadership positions. But what about others? Is this fair? Should this be linked to performance?

It is time to sit down with your Management Team and ideally your HR Business Partner to remediate to this challenge.

Strategic leaders suggested to use the  9 Box of HR model to  align performance and potential.

This model has been recommended by key industry leaders coming from mid-large size organisations as an enabler for growth for start-ups and SMEs. Originally built by McKinsey, it compares in a matrix potential and performance of any employee in an organisation.

Categories like “Growth Employee” or “Star” and “High Impact Contributor” are considered as high-value for the business and should not be lost.

Other categories of employees especially when their performance is high, should be challenged to develop their potential. 

Employees categorised with high potential growth, but low performance should be also assessed in terms of potential change in the job role or intensive training. 

9-box Matrix adapted to HRM (Tunguz, 2015)

Then what about the cost? Indeed, the cost of training can be high despite various Universities and private schools running in Ireland.

This should be perceived, as an investment in your talents, motivated to learn, and a great occasion for them, to mingle with like-minded professionals. 

Solutions? Professional associations like the Sales Institute or the Institute of Directors offer corporate memberships that allow interesting discounts.

For smaller budgets, LinkedIn offers through an online learning module accessible 24/7 and 365 days a year, a comprehensive range of trainings and certifications for €1.00 or the price of a coffee per day.

Employees engaged in some learning programmes or academic degrees will stay longer in your company especially if you partly or totally fund it. They will be eager to do the extra mile for your business and ready for their next role quickly.

So, no, employee development is not a cost but an investment. 

Indeed, in Dublin’s candidate-driven market, your most talented employees will be leaving first. Feeling familiar? 

So are you using the 9-box of HR model? Would you like to know more about it? Contact me and I can go deeper about how you can use this model in the best way.

How can leaders reduce employee turnover?

An immersion of the leadership challenges in the Irish Tech Industry in 2019…

Dublin, Summer 2018

Employee retention. Who has not discussed this topic before? What could be done? Can leaders have a better impact on the challenge? Or is it just the present context in the IT sector in Ireland, especially in Dublin, that generates this problem? After 12 years working for multinationals and Irish companies, both as a leader hiring talents and as an employee constantly approached by recruiters, I decided to try to understand what was going on.

*** Context ***

My MBA thesis explored how business leaders can decrease employee turnover in Dublin. After 300 hours of studies, including a literature review covering all types of leaderships, key insights on the Irish economy, more than 30 conversations with leaders from companies of all sizes and associations in the IT Sector, some key insights deserve to be shared.

A few interesting statements made me think a lot. “I don’t have a process to measure employee turnover and its costs but I am sure it’s not that much” or “I know when one of my sales guys is leaving, it will cost me up to €200,000 between the hiring and training costs and also the business I will miss during that time”. Another leader mentioned that, “People come and go, nothing can be done… Better focusing on the product and the best will stay and help you grow.”

The challenge is, you cannot grow a sustainable business if you ignore turnover.

With 9 out of the 10 top global software companies operating here, the ICT sector is thriving in Ireland with more than 105,000 people employed in 2016 — up 40% from 2010 — including another 12,000 people working for indigenous companies, producing more than €2 billion turnover per annum (Irish Software Association, 2017). This situation has created a candidate-driven market. Turnover is high for companies having to fight to retain their staff longer

*** 5 Recommendations that can change the game ***

Leaders and their executive teams can make a differenceBuild an executive or a management team composed of people sharing the company mission, vision and their values and having the ability to work with each other. Then, they will be able to build something sustainable with their teams based on the same principles. Key models can be used like Myers-Briggspersonality tests or Belbin team roles to build the perfect mix.

Bring purpose to employee engagement to get performanceHelp your talents to understand their strength and build an employee success plan from the hiring to the reward stages. Companies must onboard every employee on a journey of mutual success. The V2MOM framework from Marc Benioff is suggested as a tool to map out Vision, Values, Methods, Obstacles and Measurement from a companywide to an individual contributor. Every decision should be run through this framework and every V2MOM accessible directly by any employee.

Employee development is an investment into the present and the future.Discuss further education options as a key benefit for employees. It is advised to use the 9-box of HR model from McKinsey to display, in a simple way, performance and potential of the employees. This makes it easier then to invest in employees with high potential and investigate what is needed to make others strong performers.

A strong culture is a culture of employee success and retention. Run anonymous employee surveys quarterly to evaluate employee pride in working for the company, willingness to recommend it to their contacts, frequency of their thoughts to leave, willingness to work in the company in 2 years’ time and, finally, what motivates them to deliver more than they would in a similar role elsewhere. Solutions from companies likeQualtricsare very easy to implement for quick and efficient results.

Ignoring reality is not a choice. Get back to the origins of the company and the values that made leaders proud to create or join the business they are currently leading. This is the leaders’ responsibility to permanently think about re-recruiting their own employees to keep them and not to consider them “bought” forever. They should also never forget to ask for help, if needed, from their peers, alumni, mentors, or business associations like the IOD.

*** Further thoughts ***

Bear in mind that while those recommendations can be applicable in any candidate driven market, the one experienced in Dublin right now dramatically influences the need for companies to care for, and grow, their talents, to remain attractive and competitive.

Driven by the willingness of talents to be more mobile and embrace change, accelerated by the increase of head-hunters professionally recruiting through every conceivable way, and affected by the lack of housing to attract new professionals in Dublin, the current setup seems unlikely to change.

While this situation is very positive for talents to embrace new opportunities, it can be also challenging over the long term for smaller companies to be able to sustain this pressure. It can even impact employees’ work-life balance with the obligation to get a higher salary in the hope to cover the ever increasing cost to afford a proper house.

While those recommendations are just the beginning, I am hopeful they will allow more businesses to sharpen their focus back on their talents, whatever the external context may be.

Trusting and empowering employees is the best way to develop a business in a healthy way.

I also wish that every leader and talent would have a better understanding of the situation and realise the chance we have, to be able to choose our next challenges whereas other European countries cannot offer to their young and older graduates the same opportunity.

The future is ours, and it’s within our power to shape it.


This thesis was submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Business Administration of Henley Business School (University of Reading, 2019).

A version of this blog first appeared on the Institute of Directors in Ireland website on the 3rd April 2019


© 2021 Guillaume Hernoux

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑