RIM Q&A with Dr. Nick Bontis

RIM Q&A with Dr. Nick Bontis

Layoffs good or bad?

2,000 employee layoffs saves about $200 million in salary per year. Only a drop in the bucket compared to the market cap loss the stock has experienced. So, they are not doing it to save money! I am not a fan of layoffs. I think firms that layoff such large numbers of employees are committing intellectual capital suicide. The talent and expertise that will walk out the door is extremely difficult to replace.

Should they have cut more employees?

There should be no layoffs in my opinion. Instead, create a true meritocratic structure in which you either perform and exceed your targets, or you lose your job. A true Darwinian system of corporate survival.

Did RIM grow too fast?

No one in history has ever complained of growing too fast, and RIM should not complain either. Lots of companies would love to have the same problem. This is not a case of growing too fast, but a case of innovating too slow.

Some executives are now gone, what gives?

Don Morrison is retiring and he was a wonderful executive. I have very high respect for him as one of the originals who was responsible for much of the global expansion of RIM. Patrick Spence is an up-and-coming superstar at RIM! He will do awesome in his new role.

Should B/L step down?

It is extremely difficult for founders to let go of the reins of something they have built from scratch. I don’t envy their position or desire to see their vision through.

Does the Board need an independent Chair?

Absolutely yes! That’s the first rule of good corporate governance … and I volunteer myself as a long-time shareholder.

New products are coming, so?

RIM’s product roadmap is exciting but could eventually be “a little late to the wedding”. The innovation product cycle at RIM has to quicken significantly. New product versions and updates must be systematically launched in 6-9 month cycles at the latest. The smartphone consumer demands it and the smartphone market expects it.

PlayBook approved by Washington

Tablet certification by the US government is huge news! This will definitely bolster the PlayBook’s market position as the “go to” tablet for government clients. This was a similar position that the US government took on the BlackBerry smartphone several years ago which created a huge “artificial monopoly” for several years.

When will PlayBook be updated?

Yes, an updated PlayBook must hit shelves for the “back to school” rush. If not then, by November for the Christmas season.

You still a RIM shareholder?

Yes, the P/E ratio is still attractive.

… my two cents!

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CHML Radio interview with Scott Thompson

Listen to my radio interview with Scott Thompson on CHML radio. We discuss the launch of my new book Information Bombardment: Rising above the digital onslaught.


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Educational Justification

One of my favourite Greek philosophers Plato once wrote, “The direction in which education starts a man, will determine his future life.” The indisputable fact is that a strong education provides youth with more opportunities for success in the long-run. Of course, there are many cases of individuals who have thrived without any formal education at all, but these cases are few and far between. Nowadays, it seems that a tertiary (university or college) degree only gets you in the door.

You might be surprised to hear that according to the United Nations, the percentage of adults who have attained a tertiary education is 46% in Canada. This compares to 55% for Russia, 39% for the United States, 30% for the United Kingdom, 21% for Greece, and 10% for Italy. Canadians rank among the most educated individuals in the world.

By the time my three children (Charlie 7, Dino 6 and Tia Maria 4) reach 18 years old, I believe we will see a fundamental change in how university education will be offered. First, technological advancements will provide students with much easier access to distance education opportunities. Most households will have fibre optic internet connections. This will provide children with numerous e-learning opportunities so they can immerse themselves in virtual on-line courses from a variety of institutions such as the University of Phoenix or Open University in the U.K. In other words, their degrees may in fact be a customized concoction of courses from multiple universities as if they were selecting several meals from a global menu.

My responsibility as a parent, is to make sure that my children maintain an active interest in a variety of educational disciplines. Of course, my comments should not be construed as solely supporting virtual universities. On the contrary, nothing beats the physical benefits of a real university campus. Ivy covered buildings, theatre-style classrooms, residence life, cafeteria food and beer drinking can never be duplicated through a network connection into your child’s internet browser at home. My point here is that the traditional scope of a university education will be supplemented by options for choosing a globally-flavoured curriculum from the comfort of a student’s computer or smartphone.

The second significant change in university education will be the implementation of many more co-op programs. These are also referred to as internships, apprenticeships or placements. These programs were first developed at the University of Cincinnati in the early 1900s. Today, the University of Waterloo has the largest co-op program in the world with more than 14,000 students enrolled. The students that I teach at the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University are proud to be registered in Canada’s largest MBA co-op program. Furthermore, the undergraduate students at DeGroote are the beneficiaries of some of the best experiential programs in the country. Formally connecting academic curriculum with real-life world experience is an essential element for learning and professional development. I predict a significant increase in these types of programs at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. More and more students will attend classes for 4 months, then work for 4 months, then school for 4 months, and so on and so on. This structure embodies the philosophy of “learning by doing” and also gives students a chance to pad their résumés with much needed job experience before they graduate.

Dr. Nick Bontis is a professional speaker, management consultant, and award-winning business professor at McMaster University (www.NickBontis.com).

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Top 30 Management Gurus World-wide

Wow … huge news!

I was just named #22 on the World’s Top 30 Management Gurus for 2010.  The top 30 list includes such luminaries as Jack Welch, Tom Peters, Michael Porter and Jim Collins.

See list here:


The Top 30 Most Influential Management Gurus

In judging the contenders we focused on two groups, which excluded political, military and business leaders and focused on those practitioners who develop and instil better management in others. Those in the Top 30 Gurus are the “Cream of the Crop”, the World’s Top 30 most influential Management Professionals and received more than 1000 votes each. All not only apply their own management principals to achieve superior results in their organizations, but develop and influence managers and management throughout the globe.

Our research came from e-mails sent to 22,000 business people, consultants, academics and MBA’s around the world for nominations and our public opinion poll.

We shortlist 60 names then did a Google search for ranking.

The criteria for judging the TOP 30 focused on: Originality of ideas, practicality of ideas, presentation style, international outlook, impact of ideas, quality of publications and writings, dispersion of publications and writings, public opinion, guru factor.


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Email productivity

The statistics related to email are startling. Over 90% of the world’s email traffic is useless SPAM. It takes less than 5 minutes for a brand new, never-before-used email address, to receive its first SPAM message. Viagra anyone? The average office worker receives approximately 75 emails per day – that’s after filtering tools have done their dirty work.

Email has also had a major influence on socialization in the workplace. In the past, employees would typically come to visit a manager’s office and talk in person. Nowadays, individuals have no problem at all in rifling off emails to their colleagues in the next cubicle! I offer you the following 6 ways to make email work smarter for you:

1) It is very important that your tone reflect your message. I HATE IT WHEN PEOPLE YELL AT ME! Do not capitalize letters to denote emphasis because most people don’t respond well to aggressive communication. Furthermore, be sure to use a spell-checker. You don’t want someone to characterize your intellect by evaluating your spelling.

2) Use the prioritization function effectively with your work team. If you expect a response in hours, send a message with high priority. Assign normal priority to a 48 hour response and low priority to an email you just want someone to skim.

3) Setup “rule wizards” so that when messages arrive they turn a certain colour, or make a special sound, or are filed in a custom folder. You can even setup a rule wizard to have messages from that certain person go straight into the trash!

4) You should also use descriptive subject lines. For example, if you are working on a new marketing plan, every email that is sent related to that project can have the letters “MKTPLAN” in the subject line. That way you can setup your rule wizard to seek out those particular emails and file them in a specific folder that you create.

5) You can also cheat to type faster. This time-saving trick uses the “autocorrect” function typically found within your email program’s spell checker. If you tend to send a lot of standard replies or use standard phrases, you can program this function to use small code words to replace much longer paragraphs. For example, type “weekend” as a substitute for “I am planning to leave town for the weekend and will not have access to my computer.”

6) The final recommendation is to make sure that you and your colleagues embrace “receiver analysis”. This means that you should send information in a customized way so that the receiver has an easier time of absorbing it. For example, when sending a very large document, it’s best not to send it as an attachment. A better alternative is to send the location of the file instead. You can save the file on a shared drive or on the intranet and provide your recipient with the location or URL. That way, they can go and open the document if they wish. I would also take this one step further and provide a content summary or better yet, the actual page number you want the recipient to review. This way, you don’t have to waste time opening up a very large document to review hundreds of pages when there is really only you need to focus on.

Dr. Nick Bontis is a professional speaker, management consultant, and award-winning business professor at McMaster University (www.NickBontis.com).

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Are you sick of highly paid teachers?

Are you sick of highly paid teachers?

Teachers’ hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or 10 months a year! It’s time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do – babysit!

We can get that for less than minimum wage.

That’s right. Let’s give them $3.00 an hour and only the hours they worked; not any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after school. That would be $19.50 a day (7:45 to 3:00 PM with 45 min. off for lunch and plan – that equals 6 1/2 hours).

Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children. Now how many students do they teach in a day…maybe 30? So that’s $19.50 x 30 = $585.00 a day.

However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!! I am not going to pay them for any vacations.


That’s $585 X 180= $105,300 per year. (Hold on! My calculator needs new batteries).

What about those special education teachers and the ones with Master’s degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage ($7.75), and just to be fair, round it off to $8.00 an hour. That would be $8 X 6 1/2 hours X 30 children X 180 days = $280,800 per year.

Wait a minute – there’s something wrong here! There sure is!

The average teacher’s salary (nation wide) is $50,000. $50,000/180 days = $277.77/per day/30 students = $9.25/6.5 hours = $1.42 per hour per student – a very inexpensive baby-sitter and they even EDUCATE your kids!)


Make a teacher smile; send this URL to them and show appreciation for all educators.

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