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How Alexander Sysoev tamed Goliath (part 2)

The creation of the team
Real business requires a stop-loss involvement. Only if you immerse yourself in your business with all your strength and all your time — the project begins to blossom. Of course, it is possible and necessary to delegate authority. But for this you yourself, personally have to find those people to whom you will delegate them.

Jim Collins in the book “From good to great” has this thesis: “First of all, all the right people should be on Board.” Collins, of course, is right — first you need to assemble a team, and then cut the mooring and go sailing, but again — I do not know how. In practice, I get like this: I first start to do something, and only then around my activities the team gathers.

At the start, we did not exactly represent the portraits of those who we need. We, for example, knew that it is necessary to form a sales Department. Who should lead it? We invited different people, but either they left, or we parted with them. Finally, we created such a Department, relying on our own managers – the people we raised within the company.

But since we learned from the advertising industry, and the motivation of the sales staff built the appropriate — a small salary, a high percentage of sales. What is 15 percent in a fast-growing market? Your salesman starts making enough money in a year. He has nothing to strive for and becomes a rentier of his client base. The guys who grew up in this team, good, creative, we are still in a great relationship — they just rested on the ceiling of competence. I say, “No, friends, that’s not how we work.” I was like, “what else can you do? Don’t like? Well, we went then.”

The next team consisted of people with good experience in building a branch network. But after a year it became clear again that these were not the same people, they fell ill with the same disease. A person sits down on a percentage, begins to earn well and then you have nothing to move it. And there seems to be nothing to show. The market is growing, the performance is excellent and any claim meets a legitimate objection: “More than 100 percent growth per year is not enough?!”Yes, little! But there is nothing to argue. There are no similar products, we are alone in the market, there is no benchmark.

The only way to stimulate managers in such a situation is to cut interest. And this is an absolutely unpopular measure. You cause negativity. Well, well — cut. Then the market grows, the Manager catches up with him and again he is doing well.You cut again. And this is a constant game of Barmaleya. And in this game you are on obviously losing positions, because all customers — they are not yours, and the Manager. This is a very dangerous situation. You become dependent on your sales Department, the owner of your customer base is not a company, but a sales Manager who is completely out of control.

Since 1999, we have completely changed two management teams. The first left itself in 2006, with the second team we ran into the crisis of 2008 and changed 90 percent of the management staff. This happened every time when the next team ran into a crisis of their own incompetence, and the company faced new challenges. We had to actually create the company again, rebuild everything from scratch.

Finally, in 2007, we saw that there is a sales force management model in the world that would suit us. This is the FMCG market — fast moving consumer goods, quickly wrapped consumer goods. Beer, cigarettes, all sorts of Snickers — here, as a rule, Western sales management technology works, in which the main emphasis is not only on the planned monthly result, but also on the daily management of activities. That is, today you have to spend so many calls, so many meetings and as a result it should lead to such a result. We tried it and it worked. But it took several years of mistakes and experiments for us to see and implement this technology.

The art of being weak and stupid
I had to go through my own crisis of competence. Once I realized that I can not be the main expert on everything. As long as I wanted to be competent in all areas, I always felt that something was going wrong. I kept trying to reach myself to each specialist to talk to my subordinates on the same level. And then I realized it wasn’t necessary. From the point of view of rationality, it is much more reasonable to clearly build a team that you trust and give it the opportunity to act. If the Manager does not trust his team, he is forced to pass a huge layer of information through himself, and his brain just explodes.

What choice is there? Either you know the subject so well and your subordinate is so much weaker than you that you are always able to point out the error to him, but what kind of Superman should you be? Or you need to recruit people who are smarter and stronger than you.

But there is no universal answer how to form such a pool of wonderful people. I have personally conducted hundreds of interviews over the years and one time in 15 seconds with a high probability could determine whether it is our person or not. This skill is difficult to rationalize. We must learn to perceive weak signals and make decisions based on them.

How to love crisis
If you who will tell, that without competitors work easier — not believe him.

Errors due to the lack of competition we nasovershal a huge amount. But this state of the market supported us. We were the first, and around the empty glade. It is now we are friends with competitors, communicate, look at each other. And so easy to operate! Look at Yandex.Maps. They learn from us. Why do you think Google made offline maps? Google and I started talking back in 2008, and in 2010 we went to their headquarters in mountain view. There we discussed in some detail our cartographic Affairs: what are offline maps — the past or the future? We started off-line, with a desktop computer, when there was even no Internet. Offline we had historically. And we very sensitively understood it, saw our niche not only now, but also in the future. And gagloity us mind: Why offline? The Internet same?????? as evolves, that for is nonsense at all?”What happened? Both have to do offline and Yandex, and Google!

We had no luck with competition, so we developed through the crisis. I had to learn to love crises. You have no idea how difficult this is. When you run into a crisis, the previous scheme collapses. But I never had the desire to say that everything is closed for nafig. The crisis, if you endure it, it is always the fuel for a new breakthrough. The internal understanding that something needs to be changed arises long before the crisis. But you can’t sell that idea to your team because policy management almost never works, especially in an emerging market. All think: “Yes why, Yes and so all well!”And when there is a gap between your understanding and the understanding of the team, it is very dangerous – all fall into a stupor. That’s when a life-saving crisis is needed. It creates the inevitability of change.

I now tell my guys that there is such a legend. Remember the fastest sailing ships — the tea clippers? The biggest records for the speed of delivery of tea and spices from India to England were obtained when the ship caught a passing hurricane. At the same time for steering is officer of the deck with a loaded gun and steering wheel under pain of death forbidden to turn around. Because he will turn around — and there is such a shaft! This is the case.

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