November 29, 2014

Principles of Innovation



The Eureka Factor - Creative Insights and the Brain

John Kounios, Mark Beeman
Random House, 09-Apr-2015 - Psychology - 288 pages

Where do great ideas come from?
What actually happens in your brain during a ‘Eureka’ moment?
How can we have more of them?


John Kounios and Mark Beeman, leading experts on the neural bases of insight and creative thinking, have conducted pioneering neuroimaging research examining brain activity at and before these moments of clarity. In The Eureka Factor they reveal exactly how sudden insights are formed in the brain, how we can increase our chances of generating them, and how they impact our thinking.

Helping to unlock the mechanisms behind intuitive flashes and inspiration, this ground-breaking account not only explains the science of insight, but also describes the keys to innovation and creativity.
https://books.google.co.in/books?id=K2F-BAAAQBAJ



From Permanent Innovation - Langdon Morris

Permanent Innovation

The Definitive Guide to the Principles, Strategies, and Methods of  Successful Innovators

Langdon Morris

Langdon Morris is a co-founder and principal of InnovationLabs LLC and Senior Practice Scholar at the Ackoff Center of the University of Pennsylvania and Senior Fellow of the Economic Opportunities Program of the Aspen Institute.
http://www.innovationlabs.com/publications/


1. Innovation is essential to survival, and all innovation is strategic.


Through innovation organizations create their own futures,  Hence, the development of a highly productive innovation capability is one of the most important strategic priorities for any organization. At the same time, all innovation that is commercialisation  must be guided by strategic priorities and
intentions.


2. There are four types of innovation: incremental, breakthrough products & technologies, new business models, and new ventures.


3. The longer you wait to begin innovating, the worse things will get.

The lack of innovation can significantly diminish their future prospects. The competition isn’t
waiting, and if you are late, you are up against bigger barriers.


4. Innovation is a social art; it happens when people interact with one another.

People drive creative ideas, inventions and  innovations.  Hence they are the core of any innovation process. Their insights, concerns, and desires shape the pursuit of new ideas and the countless decisions to be made in the process of transforming these ideas into value. Consequently, managing innovation involves  managing people, It also using the principles and practices according to which their work is organized.

5. Innovation without methodology is just luck.


You have to develop and apply right  methodologies, to make the shift from luck to
consistency, predictability, and sustainability. Without the right innovation methodology you’re risking far too much - you’re risking your future.

6. All four strategic innovation viewpoints are critical to
success.

 The  innovation methodology has to leverage all four viewpoints: Topdown, Bottom-up, Outside-in, and Peer-to-peer.

7. Great innovations begin with great ideas; to find them, identify unknown and unmet needs.

There are dozens of tools that you can apply to come up with new ideas.

8. Ready, Aim, Aim, Aim, Fire.
Effective innovation requires very careful targeting. Why? Because there are so
many possibilities to chase that you have to make sure you’re going after the right ones. Besides which, innovation is expensive both in terms of cash and time, and good aiming enables you to use your resources wisely.


9. Prototype rapidly to accelerate learning.

The goal of any innovation process is to come up with the best ideas and get them into market as quickly as possible. Innovation process has  learning component, and learning faster has enormous advantages. Prototyping effectively condenses the learning process. Rapid prototyping is therefore central to most forms of effective innovation methodology.

10. There is no innovation without leadership.

The organizational hierarchy has tremendous influence on the culture of any company, on its ways of working, and the results it achieves. Top managers can be powerful champions of innovation. It’s up to leaders to ensure that their words and their actions support and enhance innovation efforts and methods, and that at the same time they work diligently to eliminate the many obstacles that otherwise impede or even crush both creativity and innovation.



GOOGLE's  9 PRINCIPLES OF INNOVATION


CHIEF SOCIAL EVANGELIST GOPI KALLAYIL SPELLED OUT THE TECH GIANT'S SUCCESS RECIPE.

1. INNOVATION COMES FROM ANYWHERE
2. FOCUS ON THE USER.
3. AIM TO BE TEN TIMES BETTER
4. BET ON TECHNICAL INSIGHTS
5. SHIP AND ITERATE
6. GIVE EMPLOYEES 20 PERCENT TIME
7. DEFAULT TO OPEN PROCESSES
8. FAIL WELL
9. HAVE A MISSION THAT MATTERS
http://www.fastcompany.com/3021956/how-to-be-a-success-at-everything/googles-nine-principles-of-innovation

Marissa Mayer in 2008 with Google gave a similar but some different principles
http://www.innovationmanagement.se/imtool-articles/marissa-mayer-on-googles-nine-principles-of-innovation/


Principles of Innovation - National Association for Healthcare Quality


1. Make innovation a part of the culture.
• Innovation has to be part of our culture. Organizations must encourge and make  continuous improvement and innovation a part of the routine.

2. Take risks.
• 96% of innovations fail (Doblin Group).
Organizations must be willing  take this high  risk and be ready to fail many time in order to
learn and come out with an innovation which ultimately leads to great success.

3. Be our own critic.
 • Be honest about what research/data reveal about your organization's performance in various parameters.

4. Build the innovator group.
• Identify effective innovators in the organization and form groups with the freedom to do the thinking with special facilities.
• Encourage creativity and outside-the-box thinking. Acknowledge and encourage people who think
differently.

5. Limit constraints. Cultivate creativity.
• Ask “Why?” rather than ”Why not?” Accentuate the positive.
• Truly promote change and look for opportunities to change.
• Don’t establish too many constraints on innovation—allow and support wildly innovative ideas.

6. Awareness of future.
• Anticipate the future customer needs and quality issue that are likely to come up in delivering products and services.
• Learn from the past. Revisit what had value and why.

7. Diminish risk by allowing for adequate
time.
• Move fast-selecting/implementing innovations. Time spent researching and vetting every possible
outcome can help reduce significant risk.



Criteria for Innovation Evaluation


1. Lead the customer to a superior alternative.
• Give them what they don’t yet know they need by anticipating future needs.

2. Maintain focus.
• Aim for depth (execute a few ideas for programs/products expertly) rather than breadth (attempting to accomplish too much, leading to ineffectiveness).
• Align innovations with strengths.

3. Add measurable value
• Consider and implement ideas that have the potential to produce revenue.
• New programs and products should increase participation and membership (value-added outcomes).

4. Think differently. Execute differently.
• Make minor or major changes to fit current needs.
• Consider new constructs and models not previously implemented in healthcare organizations. It can be a product, process, or program.

5. Keep the customer in mind. • Design programs and products with the voice of the customer in mind, making sure to include testing.

6. Strive to create win-win situation.
• Develop new ways to collaborate and cooperate with states or other associations while improving national products/programs while including key stakeholders early in the process.
• Create a win-win situation for NAHQ and its customers.
http://www.nahq.org/uploads/2012_NAHQ_Principles_of_Innovation_August_22_2012Final.pdf

8 Pillars of Innovation - Article by Susan Wojcicki - VP Advertising of Google
July 2011
https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/articles/8-pillars-of-innovation.html


MBA Core Management Knowledge - One Year Revision Schedule






November 28, 2014

International Finance and Financial Management in Multinational Company

World trade has increased. Companies export a lot and import a lot. Apart from import and export, now multinational, or global, corporations are emerging which operates in an integrated fashion in a number of countries. Also, there are companies that are using number of factories in various countries which are supported by suppliers located in various countries and then different countries are served by different factories.

In managing finance in companies with international trade or multinational operations,  some additional factors need to be considered.  Five of these factors are listed and described here:

1. Different currency denominations. Cash flows occur in  various currencies.  Hence,
exchange rates must be included in all financial analyses.

2. Political risk. Nations are free to place constraints on the transfer or use of corporate resources, and they can change regulations and tax rules at any time. They can even expropriate assets within their boundaries. Therefore, political risks occur in many forms  and they must be addressed explicitly in any financial analysis.

3. Economic and legal ramifications. Each country has its own unique economic and legal systems, and these differences can cause significant problems in operations.  For example, differences in tax laws among countries can cause a given economic transaction to have strikingly different after-tax consequences depending on the country where the transaction occurs. Legal differences
make procedures that are required in one part of the company illegal in others. These differences also make it difficult for executives trained in one country to move easily to another.

4. Role of governments.  Frequently, in many countries, the terms under which companies compete, the actions that must be taken or avoided, and the terms of trade on various transactions are determined not in the marketplace, but by direct negotiation between host governments and multinational enterprises. This is essentially a political process, and it must be treated as such. Thus,
traditional financial models have to be recast to include political and other noneconomic aspects of the decision.

5. Language and cultural differences. Different countries have unique cultural heritages that shape values and influence the conduct of business. Multinational corporations find that matters such as defining the appropriate goals of the firm, attitudes toward risk, performance evaluation and compensation systems, interactions with employees, and the ability to curtail unprofitable
operations vary dramatically from one country to the next.


Those five factors complicate financial management and increase the risks that multinational firms face. However, the prospects for high expected returns make it worthwhile for firms to accept these risks and learn how to manage them.


International Monetary Terminology



1. An exchange rate is the price of one country’s currency in terms of another country’s currency. One U.S. dollar would buy 0.5046 British pound, 0.6340 euro, or 0.9919 Canadian dollar.

2. A spot exchange rate is the quoted price for a unit of foreign currency to be delivered “on the spot” or within a very short period of time.

3. A forward exchange rate is the quoted price for a unit of foreign currency to be
delivered at a specified date in the future say 3 months or 6 months.

4. A fixed exchange rate for a currency is set by the government and is allowed to
fluctuate only slightly (if at all) around the desired rate, which is called the par
value.

5. A floating or flexible exchange rate is not regulated by the government, so
supply and demand in the market determine the currency’s value. The U.S.
dollar and the euro are examples of free-floating currencies.

6. Devaluation or revaluation of a currency is the technical term referring to the
decrease or increase in the stated par value of a currency whose value is
fixed.

7. Depreciation or appreciation of a currency refers to a decrease or increase,
respectively, in the foreign exchange value of a floating currency. These
changes are caused by market forces rather than by governments.

Monetary Arrangements of Countries with respect to Exchange Rates


At the most basic level, currency regimes can be divided into two broad groups:
floating rates and fixed rates.  In the floating-rate category, two main subgroups are there.


1. Freely floating. Here the exchange rate is determined by the supply and demand
for the currency.

2. Managed floating. Here there is significant government intervention to manage
the exchange rate by manipulating the currency’s supply and demand.  Governments rarely reveal their target exchange rate levels when they use a managed-float regime because doing so would
make it too easy for currency speculators to profit.


Types of fixed-exchange-rate regimes include the following:

1. No local currency. The most extreme position is for the country to have no local
currency of its own, using another country’s currency as its legal tender (such
as the U.S. dollar in the Panama Canal Zone).

2. Currency board arrangement. Under a variation of the first subregime, a country
technically has its own currency but commits to exchange it for a specified
foreign money unit at a fixed exchange rate.

3. Fixed-peg arrangement. In a fixed-peg arrangement, the country locks, or
“pegs,” its currency to another currency or basket of currencies at a fixed
exchange rate. This allows the currency to vary only slightly from its desired
rate; and if it moves outside the specified limits (often set at 1% of the target
rate), its central bank intervenes to force the currency back within the limits.

Other variations have been used, and new ones are developed from time to time.


MBA Core Management Knowledge - One Year Revision Schedule

Long Term Finance for Companies - USA





The corporate lending world can, in its simplest form, be divided into two different
approaches: the asset-based credit market and the cash flow-based credit market.
In ABL transactions, the lender’s interest is secured by the borrower’s assets, which then
forms the basis for determining how much credit the borrower can access. In contrast, the
cash flow method of determining credit capacity is principally based on an analysis of
the borrower’s enterprise value.


Asset-based lenders have generally found that, over time, the valuation of a borrower’s
assets is remarkably stable over a variety of business and economic cycles. This makes
calculating a borrower’s credit capacity based on asset values a highly predictable way
of providing capital to clients.


Cash flow-based loans, while also usually a secured form of financing, often use EBITDA
(or a company’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) along with
a multiplier to determine credit capacity, rather than the value of the underlying collateral
assets. The level of EBITDA can change and the multiplier applied can change significantly during business and economic cycles. During an economic downturn, most companies will see their EBITDA decline, both on a relative and absolute basis. Often, the multiplier being used by lenders will shrink at the same time; this combination of declining EBITDA and a shrinking multiplier can result in a significant decline in available credit capacity at what could be the exact time a company most needs access to capital.

Typical uses

Frequent uses of ABLs

For higher quality, large-corporate borrowers, ABLs are often used simply for financing working capital. These companies will often access the public or private capital markets for long-term forms of financing for the majority of their overall capitalization. They will then use ABLs to fund seasonal changes in working capital, for shareholder value-creating actions such as share repurchase programs, dividends or distributions, and for opportunistic acquisitions.


For midsized companies, in addition to providing working capital financing, ABLs often incorporate
term loans, which are secured by longer-term assets such as machinery and real estate, to provide incremental credit capacity.

ABLs also tend to play a key role in the financing of companies facing cyclical or operating
performance headwinds that have caused their credit profile to deteriorate. They need
patient capital to attempt to execute on their business turnaround or restructuring
plans, or just to weather the current environment, including the possibility of bankruptcy
reorganization. Often, an ABL is “transitional” capital for these companies; for a time it
provides incremental liquidity and structural flexibility characteristics that help owners
and managers reposition the company. Once that is completed, these companies often
refinance again in the cash flow credit market.

There are also times when companies use an ABL as transitional capital only to later
realize that many of the characteristics of ABLs fit their business well. They may see that
both the discipline and freedom associated with these loans can enhance the way they
execute their plans. These companies often never go back to the cash flow loan market.
In fact, there are several Fortune 500 companies that have opted to used ABLs.

Qualifying companies


Manufacturers, wholesale distributors, retailers, and some forms of service companies
are prime candidates for ABLs. Solid ABL candidates will usually have tangible asset-rich
balance sheets, often with at least half of their total assets in working capital assets,
such as accounts receivable and inventory.

Like all lenders, asset-based loan providers look for companies with solid management
teams and a history of being able to effectively manage their businesses, even when
facing difficult circumstances. They also look for companies with excellent financial
accounting information systems that can provide reliable data about both operating and
asset performance.

Does company size matter in qualifying for an ABL?

No. Companies of all sizes can qualify for an ABL as long as their business is a good match
for the characteristics that asset-based lenders look for. For midsized companies, annual
revenues between $35 million and $250 million are typical of today’s borrowers. But ABLs
are also delivered just as easily to multibillion-dollar revenue companies.

What about credit ratings?
Since asset-based lending is always secured, its target market is non-investment grade
companies (companies with an actual or equivalent S&P rating of BB+ and below, or a
Moody’s rating of Ba1 and below). External credit ratings are not required to issue an ABL.

Which assets qualify as collateral under ABL structures?
Accounts receivable and inventory—assets that have a high degree of market liquidity
and can be easily valued and monitored—head the list of qualifying assets. Long-term
assets such as equipment and real estate are often used as additional collateral when
the ABL is structured as a term loan with a fixed amortization schedule.
Some proportion of even the most liquid of asset classes are typically ineligible in ABLs.
Examples include substantially past due accounts receivable, some types of work-inprocess
inventory or assets held for sale not in the ordinary course of business.

http://corp.bankofamerica.com/documents/10157/67594/Frequently_Asked_Questions_about_Asset_Based_Lending.pdf





Project Finance
Project Finance can be characterised in a variety of ways and there is no universally adopted definition
but as a financing technique, the author’s definition is:
 “the raising of finance on a Limited Recourse basis, for the purposes of developing a large capitalintensive
infrastructure project, where the borrower is a special purpose vehicle and repayment of the
financing by the borrower will be dependent on the internally generated cashflows of the project”
The terms ‘Project Finance’ and ‘Limited Recourse Finance’ are typically used interchangeably and
should be viewed as one in the same. Indeed, it is debatable the extent to which a financing where the
Lenders have significant collateral with (or other form of contractual remedy against) the project
shareholders of the borrower can be truly regarded as a project financing. The ‘limited’ recourse that
financiers have to a project’s shareholders in a true project financing is a major motivation for
corporates adopting this approach to infrastructure investment.
Project financing is largely an exercise in the equitable allocation of a project’s risks between the
various stakeholders of the project.
https://www.hsbcnet.com/gbm/attachments/products-services/financing/project-finance.pdf


MBA Core Management Knowledge - One Year Revision Schedule

November 27, 2014

Role of Finance Managers in Enterprise Risk Management




Companies should be managed so that they do not go into financial distress. Benjamin Graham tells conservative investors not to invest in a company that made a loss in the last ten years.

Financial distress is associated with having operating cash flows fall below minimum required levels. Risk management can reduce the likelihood of low cash flows and hence of financial distress.



Risk management meant buying insurance against fire, theft, and liability losses sometime back. Now finance managers have more alternatives.

 In an article in CFO, Scott Lange, who was head of Microsoft Risk at the time the article appeared, identified these 12 major sources of risk:


1. Business partners (interdependency, confidentiality, cultural conflict, contractual risks).
2. Competition (market share, price wars, industrial espionage, antitrust allegations).
3. Customers (product liability, credit risk, poor market timing, inadequate customer support).
4. Distribution systems (transportation, service availability, cost, dependence on distributors).
5. Financial (foreign exchange, portfolio, cash, interest rate, stock market).
6. Operations (facilities, contractual risks, natural hazards, internal processes and control).
7. People (employees, independent contractors, training, staffing inadequacy).
8. Political (civil unrest, war, terrorism, enforcement of intellectual property rights, change in leadership,
revised economic policies).
9. Regulatory and legislative (antitrust, export licensing, jurisdiction, reporting and compliance, environmental).
10. Reputations (corporate image, brands, reputations of key employees).
11. Strategic (mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and alliances, resource allocation and planning, organizational agility).
12. Technological (complexity, obsolescence, workforce skill sets).

 Lange defined the role of finance in risk management: The role of finance is to put on paper all of
the risks that can be identified and to try to quantify them. When possible, use a number—one number perhaps or a probability distribution. For example, what is the probability of losing $1 million on a product? $10 million?


MBA Core Management Knowledge - One Year Revision Schedule





Market Development for New Products, Processes and System


Market development is the last mile of  any innovation.  The authors proposed  two very
different kinds of market development. Accelerating adoption applies to individual products, services, and business models, while creating new markets is a more fundamental process that supports the success of revolutionary business ideas.

Accelerating Adoption

For introducing a single innovation to the marketplace, firms often rely on proven techniques such as
advertising, public relations, and trade shows to persuade potential customers that the new products or services are worth paying attention to. One of the reasons for the increased sophistication required for breakthrough innovations is that their users make fundamental change to how they function or how they behave, changes that involve switching costs incurred by the end user to make use of the new product or service. This cost is the most significant factor in new product adoption and may inhibit the adoption.



The development of principles in this area  has been significantly influenced by Everett Rogers, a Stanford professor whose book "Diffusion of Innovations" pioneered the study of the critical relationship between innovations and the customers who adopt them. Rogers showed that the rate
of new product adadoption commonly follows a bell curve, and defined different groups within a total population according to how quickly or slowly they tended to adopt innovations. He also explored issues such as opinion leadership, diffusion networks, change agents, and innovation in
organizations, all of which are significant factors in market development. Consultant Geoffrey Moore subsequently applied Rogers’ ideas in a model that has become widely used in high tech industries. Moore’s book, "Crossing the Chasm", explains how the adoption curve can be applied to
understand how and why new high tech products succeed or fail in the market. It also examines how differing psychological factors affect different groups of buyers, and therefore how marketing, advertising, and sales have to be adapted at each different phase of the adoption curve.
Moore identifies four groups of adopters: early adopters who in the technology world tend to be technology enthusiasts, and then visionaries, pragmatists, and conservatives. The mass market that is your goal begins with the pragmatists,  The important principle is that marketing communications have to be different for different groups. Hence the organization has to identify when the product is moving into the hands of the next group and change its marketing communications to create awareness first and then attract the persons in the target group to sample the product and then become advocates of the product.


Malcolm Gladwell’s concept of the “tipping point,” described in his book of the same name, also explores the factors underlying the adoption of new ideas and new products.   The book
shows how contagious behavior—like a fashion trend or the sudden emergence of a bestselling book—starts in an organic fashion and then suddenly takes off exponentially, much like a virus, without any central control or master plan. The idea from which the book takes its title is that moment in a
system’s development when a small change leads to a huge effect in a very rapid time frame, and spreads contagiously. For those who want to instigate rapid change, the principles of the
tipping point model are important.

The rapid growth is usually started by a handful of people who exhibit some kind of exceptional behavior. In the propagation of infectious diseases, some people, who by the nature of what they do or the lifestyle they lead, allow the growth of the disease to tip so that it becomes an epidemic.
The same can be said for many other trends—a small number of people (like skateboarders) have the ability to infect a large number of other people with a new idea (like a style of clothing or shoes). Gladwell suggests that there are three types of exceptional people whose disproportional influence can make a change tip and become a trend. They’re Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen.


Connectors are people who seem to know everyone. As information travels through networks it’s highly likely to come in contact with a connector, and if the information engages the connector’s interest, he or she will distribute it to a huge number of other individuals in a short period of time, creating a tipping point. Only a small number of connectors are needed in any system to propagate a new trend.

Mavens are information specialists. They’re the people who seem to know everything there is to know about a certain topic, and they have one additional characteristic that makes them different from ordinary experts: they love to share what they know with others. If somebody asks them, they ar willing to explain and share.  Mavens are important as tipping points because they’re on the leading edge of acquiring new information.


Salesmen are the quintessential persuaders who can get people to make decisions and take actions that they ordinarily wouldn’t take if left to themselves. They’re individuals who have the ability to persuade in part because they can get another person to root for them in the same way that an audience roots for a performer on stage. Their ability to persuade makes them strong carriers of infectious ideas, concepts, trends and changes.


Creating New Markets

When new markets or industries emerge, it’s often because someone has been able to catalyze the connectors, mavens, and salesmen in a community, although this doesn’t necessarily happen quickly.



If you look down the list of breakthrough technologies, you’ll notice that just about every breakthrough, and many of the new business models, was supported by focused market development efforts that articulated existing needs and defined new possibilities for meeting them.

Autos: Minivans
Computer: Personal Computers
Banking: ATMs
Food: Genetic Engineering (still an ongoing development process)
Airlines: Online reservations
Telecommunications: Cell phones
Health Care: MRI / CAT Scan
Retail: Bar codes
Office Supply: Post-it Notes
Media: BLOGs


Early adopters bought the first versions of nearly all these products, and gradually the value was proven as more and more users were satisfied. Mainstream buyers eventually became interested, leading to the development of a large customer base. All this was supported by advertising, and constant effort to gain favorable (and free) media publicity.


From Permanent Innovation - Langdon Morris

Permanent Innovation
The Definitive Guide to the Principles, Strategies, and Methods of
Successful Innovators
Langdon Morris

Langdon Morris is a co-founder and principal of InnovationLabs LLC and Senior Practice Scholar at the Ackoff Center of the University of Pennsylvania and Senior Fellow of the Economic Opportunities Program of the Aspen Institute.


MBA Core Management Knowledge - One Year Revision Schedule







Idea Generation in Organizations

What Is an Idea?
What’s the definition of a useful idea for innovation?  The idea may  lead to the highest
impact in the market; it may inspire a hundred other great ideas;


A great example of a very useful idea is super market in factory from Taiichi Ohno, the man credited with  developing the revolutionary Toyota production system, which is today being implemented throughout the world. Ohno wrote that kanban is the tool used to operate the order based system using kanban and it is based on the idea of using refilling strategy of American supermarkets. Ma ny people before Ohno knew the strategy of supermarket refilling, but could not notice the connection between it and the rational factory.

But Ohno was prepared to see that connection because he already had the question of how to improve the factory firmly lodged in is mind. It was his preoccupation with the problem that made him see the solution in the supermarket. Creative people bring ideas that others do not see from the outside, and
understand how they can be applied inside.


You cannot identify a great idea when it was presented to you by somebody in your organization unless you first define what constitutes greatness. And once you define what is a great idea, then you have to put in a process to evaluate ideas submitted to you.  Naturally, they come about in
many different ways, and not as a result of a single activity or a single process. Sometimes they arrive spontaneously, but as we learned in making the distinction between preparation and luck, it’s not enough to sit and wait for them to arrive on their own. It’s far better to proactively and aggressively
create them.

What information should we assemble when we’re searching for a great idea? What experiences should we pursue? Experiences about our customers, our competitors, our own company, our
suppliers, and about the external factors such as technology and globalization that will have an impact on our business. Information about them?

• Where would we find those experiences, and that information? We’d get it from a variety of public and private sources, many of which we would examine carefully and frequently.
• Or if it wasn’t information we could find, but had to create, then what would we do? We’d learn about the process of creativity and then we’d do what creative people do when they’re looking for
great ideas.
• And what would we do to turn ideas into something that we will use in our business? If we had a lot of ideas, we’d choose the best ones and develop them.

When we’ve done all those things we will know that there are lots of ways to come up with ideas, and in the pages that follow I’ll mention more than 40 of them.


Use Multiple Viewpoints


There’s an important principle underlying the search for insights and ideas, which is that to succeed at it you have to come at it from multiple points of view. You’ll certainly fail to come up with any great ideas if you look at your problems or your markets with the same perspectives that you use in the dayto-day course of normal work.


Hence, the goal here is to see differently by setting time aside to peer into the future, and adopting multiple differing perspectives about the future. So in addition to your deep immersion in “internal " point of view, the team must explore other viewpoints.

For example, ask:

• “How do our customers view things? What’s really bothering them?”

• Or you could examine what your competitors think, or your key suppliers.

• You should also ask, “What does the evolution of technology tell us about these issues? And what about changing demographics, and globalization?”

• You could also consider what the problem would look like if you were an Asian company, or a European one.


Edward de Bono is famous for the numerous methods he’s developed to help people to be more creative, among which the process called “lateral thinking” is quite well known. The premise behind lateral thinking is as simple as it is effective: when you look at the same thing in a different way
you are likely to be more creative, and if you can change perspectives at will
then your creativity can be expanded enormously.

The point is clear: you have to adopt multiple different viewpoints to grasp the full scope of the issues you’re facing today, and those you’ll face tomorrow. The means of doing so are equally clear: you have to help people to change their own perspectives, and at the same time bring multiple
individuals with different viewpoints together and ask them to interact with one another.


Who’s Doing It?

The goal of ideation is to come up with lots of great ideas, the more the better. But quantity is not enough. Ideas also have to be different from one another so that they’ll be applicable in many possible different worlds (i.e., markets) that may exist today and in the future.
Differences are therefore sought along three different dimensions.

First, by engaging in a variety of different types of activities - here presented in six different categories - and second by involving very diverse groups of participants in the activities you undertake.  A key reason for this is that diverse individuals tend to see things differently
than one another, and from their different points of view they can conceptualize a much wider variety of possible solutions.

To further enhance this process you should also engage outsiders, including customers, experts, consultants, and suppliers to participate along side the insiders.

The third dimension that you’ll use to broaden your pool of ideas is to get a lot of people involved. In fact, you’ll want the maximum possible number of people for the broadest possible input and participation. In various formats of participation there may be hundreds or thousands of people eventually involved, whether for ten minutes, ten days, or ten months at a time.


As you engage people in ideation, you’ll quickly find interesting differences among individuals. Some, for example, are natural trend trackers, and they know a tremendous amount about what’s going on because they like to think broadly. They regularly follow events and find the links
which connect them. Others are highly focused on their own projects and think deeply on fewer issues, so they hardly pay any attention at all to outside trends. Some people are natural problem identifiers and can tell you what’s wrong with just about anything that’s going on inside or outside of their organization, while others hardly take note of the problems but often come up with good solutions effortlessly.


How to Create Ideas: The Six Ideation Processes

1. The universal search methods, three approaches whose applicability to the practice of innovation are exceptionally useful in nearly every conceivable situation.

2. Trend gathering, monitoring the external environment and thinking about the key patterns that are most important to your organization.

3. Idea hunting, proactively seeking out and creating new ideas.

4. Problem and solution finding, searching for previously unidentified weaknesses in current methods and processes using fresh eyes, searching for solutions to specific problems that have already been identified as important, or reexamining the way we do it now to find the hidden defects.

5. Outside-in and peer-to-peer innovation, processes that engage the broader world outside the organization in the search for insights and ideas.

6. Future dreaming, the process of exploring possible futures to imagine opportunities that do not exist, and to provoke insight into what could be, or what could be created.


Overall, the key differences between these approaches is that they involve different styles of thinking, and each therefore addresses the processes of insight and ideation with different types of questions, but all with the ultimate goal of maximizing the number of great ideas in your stock of useful possibilities.

It’s worth noting that trend gathering and idea hunting are complementary, one oriented to recognizing change as it is happening, and the other to creating change. Problem finding and solution finding are also complements, as they consider existing realities from two very different points of view.


Fun, Joy and Creativity

One of the most important principles of creativity is that it’s really hard to be creative unless you’re having fun.

Drudgery, boredom, conformance, and compliance are all creativity killers in the worst way, which means that all of the ideation processes listed below have to be pursued with some degree of whimsy and light-heartedness even as fundamental principles of business judgment will ultimately underlie all decisions.

Convergent thinking is the focus that is required to organize and complete a task, narrowing options
and moving forward toward decisions, actions, and implementation. Organizations have to use convergent thinking after required rounds of divergent thinking.

Divergent thinking is the thought process that leads to new ideas, because it is based on looking for a different  (i.e., novel) way of solving a problem as opposed to a similar way as that of current solution. Creativity is all about recognizing a different way of solving a problem and if it make a difference to the future of the organization it becomes a great idea - different products, different services, different business models.


From Permanent Innovation - Langdon Morris

Permanent Innovation
The Definitive Guide to the Principles, Strategies, and Methods of
Successful Innovators
Langdon Morris

Langdon Morris is a co-founder and principal of InnovationLabs LLC and Senior Practice Scholar at the Ackoff Center of the University of Pennsylvania and Senior Fellow of the Economic Opportunities Program of the Aspen Institute.





Opportunities or Areas for Innovation

Every activity done by an organization provides an opportunity for innovation. Porter brought out this idea strongly in his value chain model of an organization. Every activity can become a differentiator and a differentiation in multiple activities becomes difficult for competitors to imitate because they will take time to understand.

Business structure


alliances & partnerships
capital formation



Administration

information flow
automation
insourcing / outsourcing services


Organization

structure type
facilities infrastructure
 IT infrastructure
employee / contractor mix
employee experience
decision making processes
facilities effectiveness
process to improve processes
 education & training


Customer experience

communication process
CRM
brand / image
 advertising
 feedback

Customer service

service process
communication

Supply chain

distribution system
manufacturing
communication
automation

Product

product offering
product availability
technology (hidden)
technology (evident)
manufacturing
R&D
user interface
packaging
functionality
life cycle model
sales model
sustainability
after-sale service
distribution
 style

Production Processes and Technology

Maintenance Processes

Inspection and Quality Control Processes

Pollution Control Process

Industrial Engineering


From Permanent Innovation - Langdon Morris

Permanent Innovation
The Definitive Guide to the Principles, Strategies, and Methods of
Successful Innovators
Langdon Morris

Langdon Morris is a co-founder and principal of InnovationLabs LLC and Senior Practice Scholar at the Ackoff Center of the University of Pennsylvania and Senior Fellow of the Economic Opportunities Program of the Aspen Institute.

MBA Core Management Knowledge - One Year Revision Schedule

Financial Management Aspects of Mergers and Acquisitions


An acquisition of a company or substantial portion of its shares is an investment. Financial managers have to appraise it to see whether return on such investment is higher than the cost of the capital for the company.

Financial managers and theorists have proposed many reasons for acquisitions and merger activity. The primary economic motives mentioned are:


Synergy

Synergistic effects can arise from four sources: (1) operating economies, which result from economies of scale in management, marketing, production, or distribution due to combining operations; (2) financial economies, including lower transactions costs and better coverage by security analysts; (3) differential efficiency, which implies that the management of one firm is more
efficient and  will increase the return from that the weaker firm’s assets after the acquisition or  merger; and (4) increased market power due to reduced competition.





Tax Considerations
Tax considerations have stimulated a number of mergers. For example, a profitable firm in the highest tax bracket could acquire a firm with large accumulated tax losses. These losses could then be turned into immediate tax savings rather than carried forward and used in the future. Thus excess cash can be used  as a way of minimizing taxes.

Purchase of Assets below Their Replacement Cost
Sometimes a firm acquires a company because the cost of replacing its assets is considerably higher than its market value. If the new management uses the assets appropriately, the market value will increase in the future.

Diversification
Managers contend that diversification helps stabilize a firm’s earnings and thus benefits its owners as risk premium of the company's comes down. Stabilization of earnings is certainly beneficial to employees, suppliers, and customers; but its value is less certain from the standpoint of stockholders. Stockholders also can buy the stock of both firms? Many studies find that diversified firms are worth significantly less than the sum of their individual parts as top managements cannot provide adequate managerial expertise to diversified businesses.

Breakup Value
 Recently, takeover specialists have identified breakup value as  a basis for
valuation. A company’s breakup value, is the value of the individual parts of the firm if they are sold off separately. If this value is higher than the firm’s current market value, a takeover specialist could acquire the firm at or even above its current market value, sell it off in pieces, and earn a substantial profit. Such a breakup value is mainly appearing in diversified companies.

Types of Mergers


Mergers are classified into four types:
(1) horizontal,
(2) vertical,
(3) congeneric, and
(4) conglomerate.


A horizontal merger occurs when one firm combines with another in its same line of business.
An example of a vertical merger is a steel producer’s acquisition of one of its own suppliers, such
as an iron or coal mining firm. Congeneric means “allied in nature or action”; There is a relationship but not producers of the same product (horizontal) or firms in a producer-supplier relationship (vertical). A clothing retailer may acquire a food retailer.  A conglomerate merger occurs when unrelated enterprises combine.

Vertical and horizontal mergers generally provide the greatest synergistic operating benefits

Financial Analysis

The acquiring firm performs an analysis to value the target company based on its expected cash flows and cost of capital applicable and then determines whether the target can be bought at that value or, preferably, for less than the estimated value.

The target company also makes an analysis of its cash flows and makes a valuation of them and will accept the offer if the price exceeds either its value if it continued to operate independently or the price it could receive from some other bidder.


MBA Core Management Knowledge - One Year Revision Schedule

Management of Cash and Marketable Securities





Sophistication is increasing  in cash management by corporations. The trend has been toward reducing cash—the firm’s most liquid asset—to a minimum.  and the funds are invested in interest earning securities or in earning assets. This trend can be attributed to rising interest rates on securities, which make the opportunity cost of holding cash more expensive, to innovations in cash management, and to economies of scale in cash management as corporations grow larger.

A number of methods have come into existence in recent years to speed up this collection process and maximize available cash. These methods helps cash management in the following ways:
(1) speed the mailing time of payments from customers to the firm;
(2 ) reduce the time during which payments received by the firm remain uncollected funds; and
(3) speed the movement of funds to disbursement banks.


Multiple Collection Centers

 Instead of a single collection center located at the company headquarters, multiple collec-
tion centers are established. The purpose is to shorten the period between the time a customer mails in his payment and the time when the company has the use of the funds. Customers in a particular geographic area are instructed to remit their payments to a collection center in that area.  When
payments are received, they are deposited in the collection center’s local bank. Surplus funds are then transferred from these local bank accounts to a concentration bank or banks. A bank of concentration is one with which the company has a major account—usually a disbursement account.


Bank Collection of Checks from Post Offices


Another means of accelerating the flow of funds is a lock-box arrangement. The purpose
of a lock-box arrangement is to eliminate the time between the receipt of remittances by the company and their deposit in the bank. The company rents a local post office box and authorizes its bank in
each of these cities to pick up remittances in the box. Customers are billed with instructions to mail their remittance to the lock box. The bank picks up the mail several times a day and deposits the checks in the company’s account. This procedure frees the company from handling and depositing the checks. The main advantage of a lock-box system is that checks are deposited at banks sooner and become collected balances sooner than if they were processed by the company prior to deposit. No doubt, the bank will take an extra fee for the service. But the service is utilized only when it is profitable for the company to employ it.


Frequently, firms give special attention to the handling of large remittances so that they may be deposited in a bank as quickly as possible. This special handling may involve personal pickup of these checks or the use of airmail or special delivery.. The firm should exercise tight control over interbank transfers of cash and transfers between various units of the company, such as divisions or subsidiaries. Excessive funds may be tied up in various divisions of the firm.

Some companies maintain too many bank accounts, thereby creating unnecessary pockets of idle funds. With less number of accounts also similar service can be provided at a lesser cost to the company.


MBA Core Management Knowledge - One Year Revision Schedule

Management of Investment in Accounts Receivable

Management of Accounts Receivable


Accounts receivable is a current asset that appears due to the extension of open-account credit
by one firm to other firms and to individuals. Credit has to be extended to generate sales.
Therefore, accounts receivable are necessary investment, but require careful analysis. Receivables can be managed efficiently so that the level of investment in them is optimal.

Credit policy involves a tradeoff between the profits on sales that give rise to receivables on one hand and the cost of carrying these receivables plus bad-debt losses on the other. Credit policy determines
the amount of credit risk  accepted. In turn, the risk accepted or taken affects the slowness of receivables as well as the amount of bad-debt losses. Collection procedures also affect these factors. Thus, proper the credit granting and collection procedures of the firm determine the success of the firm’s overall credit management and collection policies.

CREDIT AND COLLECTION POLICIES


The policy variables include the quality of the trade accounts accepted, the length of the credit period, the cash discount given, any special terms given, such as seasonal datings, and the collection program of the firm. Together, these elements largely determine the average collection period and the proportion of bad-debt losses.

Credit Standards

Credit policy can have a significant influence upon sales. If competitors extend credit liberally and if a firm does not, the policy may have a dampening effect upon the marketing effort. Trade credit is one of many factors that influence the demand for a firm’s product.  In theory, the firm can lower its quality standard for accounts accepted as long as the expected profitability of sales generated exceeds the added costs of the receivables. What are the costs of relaxing credit standards? The incremental cost comes from the increased probability of bad-debt losses. Also a slower average collection
period will occur.

To determine the profitability of a more liberal extension of credit, we must know the profitability of additional sales; the added demand for products arising from the relaxed credit standards; the increased slowness of the average collection period; and the required return on investment.


Suppose a firm’s product sells for $ 10 a unit, of which $7 represents variable costs before taxes, including credit department costs. Current annual sales are $2.4 million, represented entirely by credit sales, and the average total cost per unit at that volume is $9 before taxes. The firm is considering a more liberal extension of credit, which will result in a slowing in the average collection period from one to two months. This relaxation in credit standards is expected to produce a 25 per cent increase in sales, to $3 million annually.  With this percentage increase, the unit sales and total costs of the firm become:


Cost of Present sales  =  240,000 units X $9 = $2,160,000
Marginal cost of Additional sales =  60,000 units X $7 = 420,000
Total cost =  $2,580,000
The average cost per unit of sale at the new level of sales is
$2,580,000/300,000

Assume that the firm’s required return on investment is 20 per cent before taxes.

Inasmuch as the profitability on additional sales, $180,000 (60,000 * $3), exceeds the required return on the additional investment in accounts receivable, $50,000, the firm is advised to relax its credit standards. An optimal credit policy would involve extending trade credit more liberally until the marginal profitability on additional sales equals the required return on the additional investment in receivables necessary to generate those sales.


MBA Core Management Knowledge - One Year Revision Schedule





Financial Management of Inventory

INVENTORY CONTROL AND THE FINANCIAL MANAGER



Inventory management usually is not the direct operating responsibility of the financial manager. But  the investment of funds in inventory is a very important aspect of financial management. The finance manager has to appraise the proposed investment in inventory like the appraisal he does for fixed capital assets. Consequently, the financial manager must be familiar with methods proposed in the theory to plan and control inventories. Planning of the inventory is based on minimising the costs associated with keeping inventory.

The inventory control or management methods described give  a means for determining an optimal level of inventory, and also to decide when to ordered and in what quantity. . These tools are necessary for
managing inventory efficiently and balancing the advantages of additional inventory against the cost of carrying this inventory. With the use of computers, great improvements in inventory control have been made
and are continuing to be made. Also there are manyu applications of operations research to inventory management.

New ideas to reduce inventory required normally occur with in the inventory management theory. But even finance theory sometimes may come out with principles related to optimizing inventory. When the innovation occurs in the finance field, finance managers have to take the responsibility of implementing it within their activity or within inventory management activity.

Inventories, like receivables, represent a significant portion of most firms’ assets, and, accordingly, require substantial investments. Inventories must be managed efficiently.

Inventories provide a very important link in the production and sale of a product. For a company engaged in manufacturing, a certain amount of inventory is absolutely necessary in the production distribution system. Toyota Production System came out of the efforts of managers identify and eliminate excess inventory which was thought at that time as essential.

 The obvious disadvantages of inventory are the total cost of holding the inventory, including storage and handling costs, and the required return on capital tied up in the investment in inventory. Inventories, like accounts receivable, should be increased as long as the resulting savings exceed the total cost of holding the added inventory. The balance finally reached depends upon the estimates of actual savings, the cost of carrying additional inventory, and the efficiency of inventory control.

INVENTORY CONTROL

Without inventory between production stages, each stage of production would be dependent upon the preceding stage’s finishing its operation on a unit of production. As a result, there probably would be delays and considerable idle time in certain stages of production.

According to traditional inventory theory,  the advantages of increased inventories, then, are several. The firm can effect economies of production and purchasing and can fill customer orders more quickly. In short, the firm is more flexible.

For a given level of inventory, the efficiency of inventory control affects the flexibility of the firm. Two essentially identical firms with the same amount of inventory may have significantly different degrees of
flexibility in operations due to differences in inventory control. Inefficient procedures may result in an unbalanced inventory —the firm may frequently be out of certain types of inventory, and overstock other
types, necessitating excessive investment. These inefficiencies ultimately have an adverse effect upon profits. Turning the situation around, differences in the efficiency of inventory control for a given level of flexibility
affect the level of investment required in inventories. The less efficient the inventory control, the greater the investment required. Similarly, excessive investment in inventories affects profits adversely.

.

ECONOMIC ORDER QUANTITY


The economic order quantity (EOQ) is an important concept in inventory management.

The optimal order quantity for a particular item of inventory, given its forecasted usage, ordering cost, and carrying cost is determined using mathematics. Ordering can mean either the purchase of the item or its production. Assume for the moment that the usage of a particular item of inventory is known with certainty. Moreover, assume that ordering costs per order, O, are constant regardless of the size of the order. In the purchase of raw materials or other items, these costs represent the clerical costs involved in placing an order as well as certain costs of receiving and checking the goods once they arrive.


For finished-goods inventories, ordering costs involve scheduling a production run. For in-transit inventories, ordering costs are likely to involve nothing more than record keeping. The total ordering cost for
a period is simply the number of orders for that period, times the cost per order. It is important to state at this point that Toyota reduced its ordering cost or set up cost and thereby reduced its economic order quantities.


Carrying costs per period, C, represent the cost of inventory storage, handling, and insurance, together with the required rate of return on the investment in inventory. These costs are assumed to be constant per unit
of inventory, per unit of time. Thus, the total carrying cost for a period is the average number of units of inventory for the period, times the carrying cost per unit. In addition, it is  assumed  that inventory orders are filled immediately, without delay.

If the usage of an inventory item is perfectly steady over a period of
time and there is no safety stock, average inventory (in units) can be expressed
as:  EOQ/2

The EOQ formula is  SQRT(2AS/I)

A = annual demand
S = ordering cost
I = inventory carrying cost per unit

UNCERTAINTY AND SAFETY STOCKS

In practice, the demand or usage of inventory generally is not known with certainty; usually it fluctuates during a given period of time. Typically, the demand for finished-goods inventory is subject to the fluctuation. . In addition to demand or usage, the lead time required to receive delivery of inventory once an order is placed is usually subject to some variation. Owing to these fluctuations, it is not feasible in most cases to allow expected inventory to fall to zero before a new order is expected to be received, as could be done when usage and lead time were known with certainty.


Most firms maintain some margin of safety, or safety stock; otherwise, they may at times be unable to satisfy the demand for an item of inventory. There are opportunity costs to being out of stock. In the case of
finished-goods inventory, the customer is likely to become irritated and may take his business elsewhere. In the case of raw-materials and intransit inventories, the cost of being out of stock is a delay in production.
While this opportunity cost is measured more easily than that associated with finished-goods inventory, a stockout of the latter has a cost; and the firm must recognize it.


. If we know the cost per unit of stockout, we can calculate the expected cost of stockouts and then compare this cost with the cost of carrying additional inventory.

Uncertainty o f Lead Time. Suppose that the lead time required for procurement, like demand or usage, is subject to a probability distribution. Based on this probability distribution can determine the optimal level of safety stock for the period.

ORDER POINT FORMULA

At order point which is a stock level, an order is placed.

Order Point* = S(L) +  Safety Stock


where S is the usage, L is the lead time required to obtain additional inventory




Suggestions for Inventory Efficiency



When demand or usage of inventory is uncertain, the financial manager may try to effect policies that will reduce the average lead time required to receive inventory once an order is placed. The lower the
average lead time, the lower the safety stock needed and the lower the total investment in inventory, all other things held constant. The greater the opportunity cost of funds invested in inventory, the greater the
incentive to reduce this lead time. In the case of purchases, the purchasing department may try to find new vendors that promise quicker delivery or place pressure on existing vendors for faster delivery. In the
case of finished goods, the production department may be able to schedule production runs for faster delivery by producing a smaller run. In either case, there is a tradeoff between the added cost involved in reducing the lead time and the opportunity cost of funds tied up in inventory. This discussion serves to point out the importance of inventory management to the financial manager. The greater the efficiency with which
the firm manages its inventory, the lower the required investment in inventory, all other things held constant.


The modern inventory system is zero inventory system. It is also being called lean system (non stock system). To know how nonstock highly efficient systems were developed in Toyota read
Toyota Production System Industrial Engineering.


MBA Core Management Knowledge - One Year Revision Schedule









Working Capital Finance - USA

This article  introduces the five major forms of debt used to finance working capital. The purpose of this information is to provide insight into the different ways in which debt for working capital can be structured and prepare finance professonals  to choose and structure  debt best suited to a firm’s financial situation and needs.


Line of Credit

A line of credit is an open-ended loan with a borrowing limit that the business can draw against or repay at any time during the loan period. This arrangement allows a company flexibility to borrow funds when the need arises for the exact amount required. Interest is paid only on the amount borrowed, typically on a monthly basis. A line of credit can be either unsecured, if no specific collateral is pledged for repayment, or secured by specific assets such as accounts receivable or inventory.

The standard term for a line of credit is 1 year with renewal subject to the lender’s annual review and approval. Lenders usually require full repayment of the line of credit during the annual loan period
and prior to its renewal. This repayment is sometimes referred to as the annual cleanup.

Lenders require a fee for providing the line of credit, based on the line’s credit limit, which is paid whether or not the firm uses the line. This fee, usually in the range of 25 to 100 basis points, covers the bank’s costs for underwriting and setting up the loan account in the event that a firm does not use the line and the bank earns no interest income. A second cost is the requirement for a borrower to maintain a compensating balance account with the bank. Under this arrangement, a borrower must have a deposit account with a minimum balance equal to a percentage of the line of credit, perhaps 10% to 20%. If a firm normally maintains this
balance in its cash accounts, then no additional costs are imposed by this requirement. However, when a firm must increase its bank deposits to meet the compensating balance requirement, then it is incurring an additional cost. In effect, the compensating balance reduces the business’s net loan proceeds and increases its effective interest rate.

 Like most loans, the lending terms for a line of credit include financial covenants or minimal financial standards that the borrower must meet. Typical financial covenants include a minimum current ratio, a minimum net worth, and a maximum debt-to-equity ratio. The advantages of a line of credit is that it allows a company to minimize the principal borrowed and the resulting interest payments.

With full repayment required each year and annual extensions subject to lender approval, a line of credit cannot finance medium-term or long-term working capital investments.


Accounts Receivable Financing

Loans secured by accounts receivable are a common form of debt used to finance working capital.
Under accounts receivable debt, the maximum loan amount is tied to a percentage of the borrower’s accounts receivable.  The firm must use customer payments on these receivables to reduce the loan balance. The borrowing ratio depends on the credit quality of the firm’s customers and the age of the accounts receivable. A firm with financially strong customers should be able to obtain a loan equal to 80% of its accounts receivable. With weaker credit customers, the loan may be limited to 50% to 60% of accounts
receivable. Lenders may exclude receivables beyond a certain age (e.g., 60 or 90 days) in the base used to calculate the loan limit.

Since accounts receivable are pledged as collateral, when a firm does not repay the loan, the lender will collect the receivables directly from the customer and apply it to loan payments. The bank receives
a copy of all invoices along with an assignment that gives it the legal right to collect payment and apply it to the loan. In some accounts receivable loans, customers make payments directly to a bank-controlled account (a lock box).


Firms gain several benefits with accounts receivable financing arrangements. Borrowing capacity grows automatically as sales grow. This automatic matching of credit increases to sales growth provides a ready means to finance expanded sales, which is especially valuable to fast-growing firms. Accounts receivable financing allows small businesses with creditworthy customers to use the stronger credit of their customers to
help borrow funds.

Factoring

Factoring entails the sale of accounts receivable to another firm, called the factor, who then collects payment from the customer. Through factoring, a business can shift the effort and costs of collection and the risk of nonpayment to a third party. In a factoring arrangement, a company and the factor work out a credit limit and average collection period for each customer. As the company makes new sales to a customer, it provides an invoice to the factor. The customer pays the factor directly, and the factor then pays the company based on the agreed upon average collection period, less a slight discount
that covers the factor’s collection costs and credit risk.

A factor may advance payment for a large share of the invoice, typically 70% to 80%, providing the
company with immediate cash flow from sales. In this case, the factor charges an interest rate on this advance and then deducts the advance amount from its final payment to the firm when an invoice is collected

Factoring saves the cost of establishing and administering its own collection system. Second, a factor can often collect accounts receivable at a lower cost than a small business, due to economies of scale, and transfer some of these savings to the company. Third, factoring is a form of collection insurance that provides an enterprise with more predictable cash flow from sales. On the other hand, factoring costs may be higher than a direct loan,.The business loses control over the collection  part of the customer relationship, which may affect overall customer relations, especially when the factor’s collection practices differ from those of the company.

Inventory Financing

Inventory financing is a secured loan with inventory as collateral.  Firms with an inventory of standardized goods with predictable prices, such as automobiles or appliances, will be more successful at securing
inventory financing than businesses with a large amount of work in process or highly seasonal or perishable goods. Loan amounts also vary with the quality of the inventory pledged as collateral, usually ranging from 50% to 80%. For most businesses, inventory loans yield loan proceeds at a lower share of pledged assets than accounts receivable financing. When inventory is a large share of a firm’s current assets, however, inventory financing has to be sought to finance working capital.


Lenders need to control the inventory pledged as collateral to ensure that it is not sold before their loan is repaid. Two primary methods are used to obtain this control: (1) warehouse storage; and (2) direct assignment by product serial or identification numbers.  Under one warehouse arrangement, pledged inventory is stored in a public warehouse and controlled by an independent party (the warehouse operator). A warehouse receipt is issued when the inventory is stored, and the goods are released only upon
the instructions of the receipt-holder. When the inventory is pledged, the lender has control of the receipt and can prevent release of the goods until the loan is repaid. A field warehouse, can also be established. Here, an independent public warehouse company assumes control over the pledged inventory at the
firm’s site.  Direct assignment by serial number is a simpler method to control inventory used for manufactured goods that are tagged with a unique serial number. The lender receives an assignment or trust
receipt for the pledged inventory that lists all serial numbers for the collateral. The company houses and controls its inventory and can arrange for product sales. However, a release of the assignment or return of the trust receipt is required before the collateral is delivered and ownership transferred to the buyer. This release occurs with partial or full loan repayment.


While inventory financing involves higher transaction and administrative costs than other loan instruments, it is an important financing tool for companies with large inventory assets.


Term Loan

Term loans can finance medium-term noncyclical working capital. A term loan is a form of medium-term debt in which principal is repaid over several years, typically in 3 to 7 years. Since lenders prefer not to bear interest rate risk, term loans usually have a floating interest rate set between the prime rate and prime plus 300 basis points, depending on the borrower’s credit risk.
.
Term loans have a fixed repayment schedule that can take several forms. Level principal payments over the loan term are most common. In this case, the company pays the same principal amount each month plus interest on the outstanding loan balance. A second option is a level loan payment in which the total payment amount is the same every month but the share allocated to interest and principle varies with each payment. Finally, some term loans are partially amortizing and have a balloon payment at maturity. Term loans can be either unsecured or secured; a business with a strong balance sheet and a good profit and cash flow history might obtain an unsecured term loan, but many small firms will be required to pledge assets. Moreover,
since loan repayment extends over several years, lenders include financial covenants in their loan agreements to guard against deterioration in the firm’s financial position over the loan term. Typical financial covenants
include minimum net worth, minimum net working capital (or current ratio), and maximum debt-to-equity ratios. Finally, lenders often require the borrower to maintain a compensating balance account equal to 10% to 20% of the loan amount.

To be rewritten once again.

MBA Core Management Knowledge - One Year Revision Schedule




November 26, 2014

Chapter 15. Working Capital Management

Chapter 15 -- Working Capital Management



. Working capital, net working capital, and net operating working capital
. Current asset investment and financing policies
. Cash conversion cycle
. Cash and marketable securities
. Inventories
. A/R and A/P (trade credit)
. Bank loans






. Working capital, net working capital, and net operating working capital


 Working capital refers to current assets

Net working capital = currents assets - current liabilities

Net operating working capital = current assets - (current liabilities - notes payable)





. Current assets investment and financing policies


Current assets investment policy: how much current assets a firm should have

 Relaxed current asset policy: carry a relatively large amount of current assets

 along with a liberal credit policy with a high level of A/R

 Restricted current asset policy: carry constrained amount of current assets along
with restricted credit policy

Moderate current asset policy: in between the relaxed and restricted policies




 Current asset financing policy: the way current assets are financed







Permanent assets vs. temporary assets

 Permanent assets: to be held for more than one year

 Temporary assets: to be held for less than one year



 Maturity matching approach: a policy that matches asset and liability maturities
and it is a moderate policy



 Aggressive approach: uses more short-term, non-spontaneous debt financing

 Conservative approach: uses more long-term debt and equity financing



Permanent assets should be financed by intermediate and long-term debt,
preferred stock, and common stock.



Temporary assets should be financed by notes and short-term loans.





. Cash conversion cycle


 (1) The cash conversion cycle (CCC)

 The average length of time funds are tied up in working capital or the length of
time between paying for working capital and collecting cash from the sale of the
working capital

(2) Inventory conversion period (days of sales in inventory, DSI)

The average time required to convert materials into finished goods and then sell
them

(3) Average collection period (ACP)

The average length of time required to convert the firm’s receivables into cash

(4) Payables deferral period (days of payable outstanding, DPO)

The average length of time between the purchase of materials and labor and
the payment of cash for them






The relationship is: DPO + CCC = DSI + ACP, or CCC = DSI + ACP - DPO



Minimizing working capital: speeding cash collection (reducing ACP), increasing
inventory turnovers (reducing DSI), and slowing down cash disbursement
(increasing DPO)





. Cash and marketable securities


 Refer to currency and demand deposits in addition to very safe and highly liquid
marketable securities that can be sold quickly at a predictable price and thus be
converted to bank deposits





. Inventories


 Include supplies, raw materials, work-in-process, and finished goods





. A/R and A/P (trade credit)


 A/R: funds due from customers



 Credit policy: a set of rules that includes credit period, discounts, credit standards,
and collection policy



 Credit terms: for example, 2/10, net 30 means that the firm allows a 2% price
discount if payment is received within 10 days of the purchase; if the discount is
not taken, the full payment is due in 30 days



 Credit score: a numerical score from 1 to 10 that indicates the likelihood that a
person or business will pay on time



 A/P (trade credit): debt arising from credit sales and recorded as an account
receivable by the seller and as an account payable by the buyer



 Trade credit may be free or it may be costly. For example, the terms 2/10, net 30 are offered when a firm makes the purchase on its credit card. Assuming 365 days per year,

 discount % 365

Nominal annual cost of trade credit = --------------------*-------------------------------

 100-discount % credit days-discount days

 2 365

 = ------------- * ------------- = 37.24%

 100 - 2 30 - 10





. Bank loans


 Promissory note: a document specifying the terms and conditions of a loan



 Line of credit: an agreement in which a bank agrees to lend up to a specified

 maximum amount of funds during a designated period



 Cost of bank loans:

 interest 1

 Annual Percentage Rate (APR) = -------------*-------

 principal time





Accrued wages and taxes



Commercial papers: unsecured, short-term promissory notes issued by large firms


MBA Core Management Knowledge - One Year Revision Schedule





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Chapter 14. Dividend Policy

Chapter 14 -- Dividend Policy



. Dividend vs. retained earnings
. Dividend policy: three basic views
. The clientele effect
. The information content or signaling hypothesis
. Dividend policy in practice
. Dividend payment procedures
. Factors influencing dividend policy
. Stock repurchase, stock dividends and stock splits






. Dividend vs. retained earnings


 Dividend payout ratio vs. profit retention ratio: a review

 Higher dividends mean lower retained earnings, which means lower growth rate
and less capital gains





. Dividend policy: three basic views


 Dividend policy: to determine the optimal payout ratio to maximize the stock price



 View 1: dividend policy is irrelevant (Irrelevance Theory by MM 1961)



Assumptions: perfect capital markets with no taxes, no transaction costs, no
flotation costs, etc.



 Result: dividend policy doesn't matter; dividend policy does not affect a firm ‘s
value or its overall cost of capital



 View 2: high dividends increase stock price (Bird-in-the-hand theory 1979)



 Result: investors feel more secure to receive cash dividends than the income from
capital gains. Therefore, the higher the cash dividend, the better the stock



 View 3: low dividends increase stock price (Tax differential theory 1979)



 The tax rates on cash dividends were higher than the tax rates on long-term
capital gains before 2003. In addition, capital gains tax can be delayed until the
stocks are sold (time value of money) or can be avoid if stocks are passed to
beneficiaries provided the original owner passes away.



 Result: the lower the cash dividend, the better the stock




. The clientele effect


 Different dividend policies will attract different investors





. The information content or signaling hypothesis


 Information asymmetry: insiders and outsiders have different information


 Dividends reveal some inside information about firm's future profitability. By
increasing dividends, managers signal to the market that the firm will have enough
earnings to support future projects.



 Result: an increase in dividend is regarded as a good signal, which causes the stock

 price to go up.





. Dividend policy in practice


 Residual dividend model

 A model that states that the dividends to be paid should equal to the capital left over
after financing of profitable investments.








 Alternatives:

 Constant dividend payout ratio

 Stable dividend per share

 Low regular dividend plus extras when time is good


. Dividend payment procedure


 Declaration date

 Holder-of record date

 Ex-dividend date: two business days prior to the holder-of record date

 Payment date

 2 business   days



 Declaration Ex-div Record Payment



 Tax implications: if you buy the stock before Ex-dividend date, you will receive
dividend (but you pay a higher price); if you buy the stock after Ex-dividend date,
you will not receive dividend (but you pay a lower price).





. Factors influencing dividend policy


 Constraints:

 Bond indenture

 Preferred stock restrictions

 Impairment of capital structure: dividends cannot exceed the balance sheet item R/E

 Availability of cash

 Penalty tax on improperly accumulated earnings



 Investment opportunities:

 Profitable investment opportunities

 Possibility of accelerating or delaying projects



 Alternative sources of capital:

 Cost of selling new stock

 Ability to substitute debt for equity

 Control of the company



 Effects of dividend policy on cost of equity

(1) Stockholders’ desire for current vs. future income
(2) The perceived riskiness of dividends vs. capital gains
(3) The tax advantage of capital gains
(4) The information (signaling) content







. Stock repurchase, stock dividend and stock splits


 Stock repurchase: transactions in which a firm buys back shares of its own stock



 Effects:

 Internal investment opportunity

 Decreasing the number of shares outstanding

 Changing capital structure

 Increase in EPS

 Changing the ownership

 Taking tax advantage



Stock dividend: a distribution of new shares to current stock holders based on a
pro rata basis. For example, a 20% stock dividend will give a shareholder with
100 shares additional 20 shares (usually in small percentages)



Stock splits: an action taken by a firm to increase the number of shares
outstanding. For example, a 2-for-1 stock split will give a shareholder with 100
shares additional 100 shares (usually for large percentages)



 After stock dividend or stock split, the number of shares outstanding increases,

 earnings per share, dividend per share, and stock price all decline



 Why stock dividends and/or stock splits?

 Conserve cash

 Optimal stock price range

 Positive signals

Higher total value



 Examples: APPLE is using stock buyback program to increase its stock price


MBA Core Management Knowledge - One Year Revision Schedule





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Chapter 13. Capital Structure and Leverage




Chapter 13 -- Capital Structure and Leverage



. Capital structure
. Business risk vs. financial risk
. Break-even analysis
. Determining the optimal capital structure
. Capital structure theories


Firms can use equity and debt as sources of finance. Capital structure theory is concerned with the decision relating to their proportion.



. Capital structure


Capital: investor-supplied funds, such as long- and short-term loans, preferred
stock, common stock, and retained earnings



Capital structure: the mix of debt, preferred stock, and common equity that is used
by a firm to finance its assets



The optimal capital structure: the capital structure that maximizes the company’s
stock price (or minimizes the company’s overall cost of capital, WACC)



Capital structure changes over time





. Business risk vs. financial risk


 Business risk: the riskiness inherent in the firm’s operations if it uses no debt

It is measured by the variability of expected ROE (ROA)



Business risk depends on:

Competition

Demand variability

Sales price variability

Input cost variability

Ability to develop new products

Operating leverage

Foreign risk

 Regulations



 Operating leverage: the extent to which the fixed costs are used, the higher the

fixed costs, the higher the operating leverage, the higher the business risk



 Financial risk: the additional risk placed on stockholders as a result of the firm’s
decision to use debt



 Financial leverage: the extend to which fixed income securities are used

. Break-even analysis


 Variable costs: vary with the output

 Fixed costs: not vary with the output



 Notation: V: variable cost per unit

 Q: the number of units sold

 P: price

 F: fixed costs

 F

 Break-even level of sales: QBE = ---------

 P - V





. Determining the optimal capital structure


WACC and capital structure change



WACC = wd(rd)(1-T) + wc(rs), assuming no preferred stock

 = (D/A)*(rd)*(1-T) + (E/A)*(rs)



where D/A is the debt-to-asset ratio (also called debt ratio) and E/A is the equity-
to-asset ratio (also called equity ratio) and D/A + E/A = 1



You are going to choose D/A or E/A to minimize WACC



Cost of debt increases with debt; cost of equity increases with debt; beta increases
with debt (since higher debt increases the risk of bankruptcy)


We observe , T, D/E ratio, therefore we can figure out . We then vary D/E to figure out at different capital structure. We apply CAPM to find the required rates of return and stock prices at different capital structure to find the optimal capital structure that maximizes the stock price (or minimizes the WACC) 


Note: EPS maximization is not the goal of a firm and usually the maximum EPS doesn’t occur at the same capital structure where the stock price is maximized or the WACC is minimized. 





. Capital structure theories 


 Assumptions: perfect capital markets with no taxes, homogeneous information, 

EBIT is not affected by using debt, and investors can borrow at the same rate as 
corporations 


 Irrelevance theory (Modigliani and Miller 1958): capital structure doesn’t matter; the capital structure 

does not affect stock price or the overall cost of capital 


The effect of taxes (MM 1963): if corporate taxes are considered, stock price and overall cost of capital will be affected by the capital structure. The higher the debt, the lower the overall cost of capital, the higher the stock price. 


 The trade-off model: corporate taxes are considered and firms may fail.
Costs of financial distress include bankruptcy-related costs 

Benefits from tax shields 


The greater the use of debt, the larger the fixed interest charges, the greater the probability that a firm will go bankruptcy. At the same time, the greater the use of debt, the larger the tax shields. 


 VL = VU + PV(tax shields) - PV(financial distress and agency costs) 



 Implication of trade-off model: 

Higher-risk firms should borrow less 

Firms with tangible assets can borrow more 

Firms in higher tax bracket can borrow more 


 Signaling theory: asymmetric information means that investors and management 

have different information. Any change in capital structure reveals insider 

information. For example, a firm issues new stock to raise money is viewed as a 

negative signal which causes stock price to drop.



MBA Core Management Knowledge - One Year Revision Schedule