Paul van Essche has thirty years of experience in fields such as technology, engineering, finance, and economics. He is currently the founder of Paul van Essche & Associates, an independent consultancy specializing in transformational business administration.
Change management skills are based in reasoning, analysis, and adaptation, but "people skills" are also important to success. This not only means being charismatic and well-spoken, but it also means being a courteous and observant listener.
Business skills are vital to successful change management as well. This means understanding the inner workings of the business at hand in considerable detail, as well as appreciating the business context and external factors. It is important to be analytically minded, and attentive to detail, but also to be able to stand back and appreciate the bigger picture.
Change management deals with dynamic issues in business, and being able to effectively analyze a fast-moving situation separates a good change management professional from a great one. A strong grasp on systematic analysis allows change management consultants to leverage technology, which has become an integral part of the field. Mastering this diverse array of skills makes for a highly effective change management professional.
As workers strive to create balance between challenging careers and a satisfying home life, employers who engender a culture of workplace flexibility continue to realize the benefit of improved talent retention. Additionally, research has established that employees who are provided with flexible work options are not only more productive, but more loyal.
In recent years, employers have begun to realize that policies and procedures that lack flexibility often lead workers to choose between family obligations and practicing outright defiance, which often results in mutually detrimental outcomes.
Increasingly, corporate leadership is invested in promoting a culture of workplace flexibility so that workers and their families can experience improved well-being. In the recent Corporate Voices for the Workplace blog “Walking the Talk: Creating a Culture of Flexibility”, author Dina Bakst cites the results conveyed by one employer. The CEO of Menlo Innovations in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Richard Sheridan, attributes policies such as allowing mothers to bring their children to work among those that helped the firm achieve a 4 percent turnover rate and a mere 1 percent rate of absenteeism. While some employees remain reluctant to avail themselves of flexible benefits, progressive managers continue to adopt and support such policies to the benefit of all concerned.
About the Author:
For more than two decades, Paul Van Essche has served as a management consultant to private- and public-sector enterprises, including the World Health Organization, Dupont de Nemours, and Citibank. He is the founder and CEO of van Essche & Associates, a firm specializing in consulting on business effectiveness and efficiency. See www.vanessche.com for more information about Mr. Van Essche.
In the current economy, many business owners and managers abide by the “do more with less” dictum. Unfortunately, most find that they continue to reap lackluster outcomes even after paring every extraneous expense from their budgets and eliminating capital investments. While making do with existing technology seems to be a fiscally responsible decision, lack of innovation in this area often impedes productivity and may actually increase overall costs.
Companies that develop expandable, scalable modernization strategies for the technology investments usually realize the best results over time. Regular, planned updates of effective systems promote increased efficiency and output, while replacement of outdated equipment, either by newer equipment or "rented" solutions including cloud technology, prevents ongoing outages and business interruptions as well as expenditures for repairs, and long-term uncertainty. Research indicates most companies spent 80 percent of their technology budgets maintaining existing systems; identification of solutions that lower costs while driving productivity, such as leased equipment and cloud services, fosters optimal modernization results.
About the Author: With considerable experience in promoting efficiency and effectiveness in global operations, Paul Van Essche serves as a trusted advisor to clients in finance, banking, energy, and consumer goods. The owner of Van Essche and Associates, he oversees mergers and acquisitions, technology evaluation, and project start-ups. To contact Paul Van Essche, call 917-975-7947, and see his website www.vanessche.com.
Paul van Essche has provided oversight on strategic projects for several clients in the private and public sectors. One of these projects was the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) endeavor to cope with the growing problem of paper ticket management, an effort which led to some of the first discussions and prototyping of e-ticketing ideas in the industry. Paul van Essche supervised this revolutionary project, which helped galvanize e-ticketing as a popular option for airline companies.
IATA continues to help its members find original and cost-effective solutions to the many challenges of running a successful airline. It defined eight areas of concentration for airlines that wish to remain prosperous and efficient in today’s travel market: focus, growth, agility, frugality, worthiness, balance, responsibility, and protection. These themes are designed to keep the executive teams of airline businesses inquisitive. The association proposes that these organizations continually ask themselves questions such as: How can we reduce costs? How can we boost revenue? How can we sharpen strategic direction?
An interactive Path to Prosperity map can be found on the official IATA website.
Top-level managers and executives who wish to improve their company’s profitability and efficiency can achieve both by implementing basic performance management strategies. An effective business leader employs performance management techniques that include the following:
-- Plans and goals: Employees perform better when they know what is expected of them and of their team, department, and business because they understand the larger context of their responsibilities, which imparts greater meaning to their work.
-- Regular reviews: Checking in regularly to offer evaluations of employee performance (and correct course if necessary) keeps everyone on the same page and prevents unpleasant surprises at annual review time.
-- Educational opportunities: In order to continue growing and improving, employees must have opportunities to expand their skill sets.
-- Rewards: Demonstrating that positive performances are rewarded (and that negative ones are not) motivates workers.
-- Employee engagement at all levels: Consulting employees about plans, goals, and growth opportunities empowers them and keeps them engaged in their role and the larger company culture.
About Paul van Essche
In his work coaching senior-level business executives in leadership and decision making, Paul van Essche offers strategies for managing individual performance as well as big-picture change. Van Essche has worked with the United Nations and currently leads his own business consulting firm. Check out his Web site: www.vanessche.com.
During several tenures as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) with employers and sometimes with clients as “Interim CTO/CIO”, Paul van Essche has developed and implemented a number of technology strategies and software systems, including ERP, MRP, and custom solutions.
Question: Is there a generally accepted definition for what a CTO does?
Paul van Essche: Not in my experience. The definition is both variable and continuously evolving. For example, the CTO may be primarily responsible for upgrades to the company’s computer equipment and applications, and generally keeping the IT lights on. In a more recent context, the role might be very different, and highly connected to the business front-line, while the day-to-day IT work and infrastructure is outsourced. In the latter case, the CTO is said to be “client-connected,” and plays an active role in translating customer requirements into solution design and implementation, while his or her back-end responsibilities are more about managing contracts with service providers.
Question: What traits must a CTO have?
van Essche: A CTO has to be able to make decisions about how to either develop or implement information technology in such a way as to improve the company’s bottom line. That means that the CTO must have a grasp of what is happening in the market, what the company’s long- and short-term goals are, what customer needs are, and how those factors are likely to shift in coming months and years. These abilities clearly favor the front-facing role we just discussed, so the CTO must also be able to operate and think along with other C-level executives, rather than being just the resident techie. These days a CTO needs creative vision and strategic nous as much as the CEO or CFO does.
Question: When did CTOs first come on the scene?
van Essche: If you think about it, since the beginning of humanity! Fire, wheels and the shaduf were all the emerging technologies of their day, and somebody was no doubt in charge. But as technology has come to signify information technology more predominantly, and we sometimes use CIO and CTO interchangeably, I guess we had CTOs as early as the 1970s and 1980s, though they likely reached ubiquitous status during the dot-com boom of the late 1990s.