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Posts Tagged ‘books

How to Look Really Brilliant with Little Effort

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Here is a story from Jack Canfield

Virginia Satir, the author of the classic parenting book Peoplemaking, was probably the most successful and famous family therapist that ever lived.

During her long and illustrious career, she was hired by the Michigan State Department of Social Services to provide a proposal on how to revamp and restructure the department of social services so what would serve the client population better.  Sixty days later, she provided the department with a 150 page report, which they said was the most amazing piece of work they had ever seen.

She replied, “Oh, I just went out to all the social workers in your system and I asked them what it would take for the system to work better.”

One of my favorite quotes from Henry Ford is this

Why is it that whenever I ask for a pair of hands, a brain comes attached?
— Henry Ford

What amazes me is that there are still so many “industrial age” corporations out there that think like Henry Ford.  That is, that the executive team has all the answers and the workers are just the “hands” that do the work and offer little else.

Brilliance?

So, was it “brilliance” that allowed Virginia Satir to go ask the social workers how to make the system work better – or simply lack of common sense on the part of the executive team at the Michigan State Department of Social Services?

An old joke from consulting is… “a consultant is someone who borrows your watch to tell you what time it is and then hands you a bill.”  This is exactly what Virginia Satir did.  She borrowed the states own employees to tell her how to do things better, compiled, analyzed, and delivered the information, then she handed the Michigan State Department of Social Services a bill. 

The approach of asking employees for input on improvement must have eluded the Departments executives.

The Toyota Way

Toyota is famous for The Toyota Production System (TPS) – which is not only a manufacturing system but also a corporate culture and philosophy.  A large part of TPS is employee empowerment.  Here are some recent statistics

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Written by frrl

June 13, 2010 at 5:22 am

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Fast Path to a Golden Parachute – Eleven Accelerators

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Mapping the Path

David Dotlich and Peter Cairo are a couple of executive coaches with experience coaching top executives.  Along with psychologist Robert Hogan these guys put together a sort of laundry list of why executives fail.  Or, in our terms, execute a fast path to a Golden Parachute.

Of note is that the list that these folks put together centers on behavior and psychological attributes of people.  The list of career derailers does not include things like lack of domain knowledge, industry expertise, or other sorts of “knowledge-based factors” or “vision/strategy factors”.  This is not to say that CEO’s do not lose their jobs based on performance unrelated to behavioral factors.

Behavioral and Psychological Factors that can Speed Your Exit

The focus of their list is behavioral and psychological attributes that cause people to undermine and/or sabotage their careers.

According to David Dotlich and Peter Cairo

The third thing that we know for a fact about leaders is that perhaps two-thirds of the people currently in leadership positions in the Western world will fail; they will then be fired, demoted, or kicked upstairs

… leadership failure is a behavioral phenomenon.

… leaders fail because of who they are and how they act in certain situations. Especially under stress, they respond with a pattern of behavior that can sabotage their jobs and careers. They rely on a specific way of thinking, speaking, and acting that ultimately causes them to fail. Many times, they’re not even aware that their behaviors have become reflexive.

A central focus – The inability to build a team

From Dotlich and Cairo

The most common reason for their failure will be their inability to build or maintain a team.

Their inability to build a team will be a function of certain dysfunctional dispositions, interpersonal tendencies that are usually invisible during job interviews or assessment center exercises.

These tendencies usually become apparent when people are under pressure or when they let down their guard. Moreover, there is considerable consensus regarding the nature of these dysfunctional dispositions. They reliably fall into eleven categories, and they can be assessed with considerable fidelity.

What’s so bad about failure?  It could be very lucrative

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Written by frrl

June 11, 2010 at 4:35 am

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Who owns culture? Culture as a corporate differentiator

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Who Owns Culture?

Over the past few days we posted a few articles on culture.  To the question, “Who owns culture?” applied to society or to a nation, in a free society like the United States, one might say that “no one” (no person and no group) owns Culture. 

That is, in a free society, people are free to read the culture, and re/write the culture for this and the next generation.  For all we know, this is nothing more than a random walk into an uncertain future.  For people that take the long-view, this scares them.  (Read a related article.)

To the question, “Who owns culture?” applied to a corporation, the answer is easy.  The culture is owned by the CEO and the Board of Directors. 

Just about every major corporation has a page on their web site dedicated to “espousing” the corporate vision and core values of the corporate culture.  I say “espousing” the corporate values insofar as sometimes much of this is Public Relations for consumption by investors and customers. 

The real test of corporate values is behavior.  You only need to look at the behavior of Enron, WorldCom and other poster children of corporate corruptionto to see what can go wrong despite exemplary stagecraft of corporate value systems.

Zappos.com

Zappos.com is a real success story.  Started by Tony Hsieh in his early 20’s, Tony is smarter than the average CEO about corporate culture.  In fact, Zappos is built around living the corporate culture that it espouses.

Perhaps Tony’s emphasis on corporate culture was based on the previous company he founded, LinkExchange.  In one interview, Tony said that they hired people with the right skill sets and experience but were not culture fits – then the whole company went down from there.  Asked what he would do over when he started Zappos, Hsieh replied that he would “hire more slowly and fire more quickly”.

Paying new employees $2,000 to quit

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Written by frrl

June 7, 2010 at 3:24 am

Why Nations Decline

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A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government.  It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse [gifts] from the public treasury.  From that moment on, the majority only votes for candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship — Alexandar Fraser Tytler (1747-1913)”

Quoted by Mitt Romney in No Apology: The Case for American Greatness

Written by frrl

April 26, 2010 at 4:02 pm

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When to Quit and When to Stick

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Complements of the mind of Seth Godin…

“If you are not going to put in the effort to be the best possible choice, why bother?  Is, “Well, no one better showed up” a valid strategy for success?  Are you hoping to become a success because you’re the only one being considered?

The reason big companies almost always fail when they try to enter new markets is their willingness to compromise.  The figure that because they are big and powerful, they can settle, do less, stop improving something before it is truly remarkable.

They compromise to avoid offending other divisions or to minimize their exposure.  So, they fail.  They fail because they don’t know when to quit and when to refuse to settle.

What Jack Knew

When Jack Welch remade GE,  the most fabled decision he made was this: If we can’t be #1 or #2 in an industry, we must get out.

Why sell a billion dollar division that’s making a profit quite happily while ranking #4 in market share?  Easy.  Because it distracts management attention.  It sucks resources and capital and focus and energy.  And most of all, it teaches people in the organization that it’s Okay not to be the best in the world.”

Written by frrl

April 6, 2010 at 4:55 pm

On Reading and the Power of Ideas

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On political questions therefore I still continued to read and study a great deal. But reading had probably a different significance for me from that which it has for the average run of our so-called ‘intellectuals’.

I know people who read interminably, book after book, from page to page, and yet I should not call them ‘well-read people’. Of course they ‘know’ an immense amount; but their brain seems incapable of assorting and classifying the material which they have gathered from books. They have not the faculty of distinguishing between what is useful and useless in a book; so that they may retain the former in their minds and if possible skip over the latter while reading it, if that be not possible, then–when once read–throw it overboard as useless ballast.

Reading is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. Its chief purpose is to help towards filling in the framework which is made up of the talents and capabilities that each individual possesses. Thus each one procures for himself the implements and materials necessary for the fulfilment of his calling in life, no matter whether this be the elementary task of earning one’s daily bread or a calling that responds to higher human aspirations.

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Written by frrl

April 1, 2010 at 6:32 am

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A Savage Factory

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An Eyewitness to the Auto Industry’s Self Destruction

We (yes, I have a mouse in my pocket), wrote a review of this book a few months ago (here)

The author, Robert J. Dewar, has a WordPress blog.
For some insights into the auto industry, check out his blog – http://asavagefactory.wordpress.com/

I think Dewars book is an important contribution to the history of the automotive industry.

Written by frrl

March 13, 2010 at 5:11 am

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