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July 28, 2008

July 28th Submission

Had a good week last week although it was tiring. We had visitors from our Netherlands group in the twin cities on Monday and Tuesday. Sorry about missing the class. I reviewed the powerpoint briefly and tried to retain as much as I could. It is difficult to stay on track when you miss class.

For Wednesday through Friday we spent time in strategic planning at the IBM Learning Center in Armonk, NY. That was a really nice setting for a strategic planning session. We are going through a lot change as we look to better integrate together and work towards being a "true" global company.

One of the larger issues that we are facing is that our styles and cultures are different. The way that we are

strucured from an operational perspective is different as well. However, our committment to being a leading provider of environmental, health & safety solutions is common so we are starting from a good base.

As far are our supporting systems and back-office procedures, we have a ways to go before I think we can be a seamless company. I can imagine that as company continues to grow and acquire assets, the amount of time and effort that is expended in integration must be very time consuming. Do you have any comments on the best way to integrate completely different accounting and IT systems together in a way that makes sense for each of us. Is it best to just select one of the systems?

Look forward to class tonight. Will bring along my laptop.

Thanks, Dan

July 20, 2008

July 17th Submission

Been distracted this week with a combination of work and personal issues, so not able to add a lot in the area of insights this week. However, I did have a good conversation with our CEO this week as we prepare for a set of meetings with our Netherlands partners on how to build a better global business. While we have been fairly progressive in the area of international growth, we are both concerned that our international partners have many individuals who are not fully on-board with the concept of global integration.

Part of their issue is that they have built such a strong presence with local companies and government agencies that the purchase of of US based company could be more of a distraction from their core business. It is strange from the sense that we were the acquired company but have been pushing integration and change more so than they are necessarily willing to go. Part of it is culture, the Belgium/Netherlands/Luxemborg style regarding change

is through collaboration and discussion. I have found that Americans are much more willing to meet and "hammer the issues out" so that some clear direction and purpose is found. Ultimately, I don't think either way is better or worse, just different.

In thinking of applying this experience to our class, I can see that as the global continues to integrate together, we are going to have to get much more open minded to other ways that cultures and people interact. No longer is just enough to worry about your domestic competitors are doing, you need to consider what global influences now exist. In developed products and services, it will be equally important to not only understand your customer in the markets you currently serve, but emerging markets where your product and service are in demand. Based upon the rate of change, this is not a process that is moving slowly either. Thus, I envision that more time for successful managers will be spend in simply managing and preparing for change.

As always, I an enjoying the class because it is making me think outside of my normal day to day concerns. Thanks, Dan

July 13, 2008

General Mills Feedback

Very interesting class. Thanks for the opportunity to see Gen Mills use technology in action.

I think the class went very well. I can see how the use the technology to test and do lots of R&D that would be effective in real life. I see this as a competitive advantage for them in the future, especially in relation to how they work with their retailers. As presented, this tool would be invaluable to a retailer as they look to optimize their store space. I knew that retailers and manufacturers were very particular in their SKU settings, but I can better appreciate the amount of detail time and thought that needs to go into this exercise. We didn't discuss in class, but I can see how the marketing department could use this to optimize new product roll-outs and figure out how to supplement the major "Icon" brands with something new to innovate.

Once a tool like this can be scaled into the workplace, I could see a shift in customers needs from going to the grocery store to more of an internet shopping experience. I have not used Simon's Delivers in several years but I go back to the fact that a tool like this could be a tremendous time saver for families that need to grocery shop. While it may decrease the "impulse buy" that a retailer is looking for, I think it would allow consumers to make more educated and healthier food selections than they normally would choose.

Plus, as all parents know, bringing along two small children to grocery shop is about equivalent to having your teeth cleaned. It's not my idea of a good time.

As far as the class goes, I think the presenters did very well. I took this class to be a part technology / part business strategy type of discussion. I certainly can see how Gen Mills looks at the consumer market better.

One recommedation would be a little more discussion of how they came to the decision to build this technology. Was this something that they were being pushed to innovate from the retailers or was it an internal decision in order to more effectively utilize its R&D? Also, how did they come to the execution and development of it (red dot?). It would be good for a group like ours to understand how to undertake a large project like this? Such as, taking a vision, selling it to upper management and then getting it executed.

Extend my thanks to the Gen Mills group, I enjoyed the experience.

July 6, 2008

july 6th submission

Enjoyed the class on the 30th. Obviously helpful to my own situation as I try to link the concepts in the class to my real life issues that i am doing in my workplace.

After going through the exercise, the answer reiterated what I was already thinking. That in the case of performing non-core services in the organization such as accounts payable, it is much better to oursource the technology and process to those who have expertise in the area. Without the distraction of these non-core services, the organization (such as ours with environmental consulting) will be better to concentrate on how it creates value.

I am slightly concerned with the thought of outsourcing non-core functions such as IT and accounting, since these are the primary areas in which I envision the majority of my career to be concentrated. However, I am also intrigued

by the thought that our administrative tasks do not need to be limited to our internal resources (which are hard to find and retain). As technology continues to streamline business processes, I envision a day where repetitive daily tasks will be replaced with individuals that control the system to manage this work automatically.

Although I am still early in my career, I reflect on how far we have come over the past 15 years since I graduated from college. At that point, the internet was starting to take hold and communication was drastically changed. I look forward to the next 30 years and what business will look like when I retire. Hopefully I will be able to keep up by keeping an open mind and always looking for a better solution.

Looking forward to the meeting at General Mills. Not sure what to expect but it does appear interesting.