Sunday, June 29, 2008

Ever wonder why managers don't think deeply? It turns out, it's not their fault

Donna Nebenzahl, The Gazette

Published: 8 hours ago

"The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones."

- John Maynard Keynes

One of the most fascinating developments in Harvard University's online business magazine, Working Knowledge, is the kind of responses that come in when the magazine posts a topic for online debate.

This was the case recently, when the question of why managers don't think deeply was raised by Harvard Business School emeritus professor James Heskett. He referred specifically to Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric, who had made news after saying publicly he would foster "imagination breakthroughs" by encouraging managers to think deeply about innovations.

Why was this such big news, Heskett asked?

He proposed that a new book, Marketing Metaphoria by Gerald and Lindsay Zaltman, held some answers to the difficulty in promoting deep thinking in the workplace, among them the reluctance to take risks, fear of disrupting the status quo and the cost of changing paths. All amount to fear of failure, basically, and concern that if mistakes are made, the manager who tried to affect change would shoulder the blame.

Plus, of course, the difficulty of thinking deeply when there's no one around with whom to share and develop insights.

But we've got to move into deeper thinking, argue the Zaltmans, because all individuals, whether they're on the receiving end of marketing strategies or workplace ideas, identify with deep notions like balance, transformation, the journey of life, connection and so on.

All of these can be used for understanding a market segment or for resolving a conflict because they focus on what we have in common rather than how we differ.

What, asked Heskett to the online community, "is your organization doing to combat the absence of deep thinking in decision-making?"

"Isn't it obvious?" responded the principal in a consulting firm.

"To rise through middle management to executive positions usually requires that managers display the ability and willingness to deploy the ideas and directives of those in positions of greater authority.

"Those who demonstrate independent thinking are usually perceived as threats. Those who generate thought and use deep or reflective thought in their work world are often discouraged when exposed to requirements of being a middle manager.

"They tend to either be moved around laterally or self select away from hierarchical systems. Hence, what rises to the top levels are very productive and very diligent individuals who tend not to think or reflect and are extremely efficient at deploying other people's ideas."

One project manager put it this way: "Being in this kind of environment for a long period of time is stifling and results in all types of dysfunctionality."

Another response, from a senior business analyst: "In most organizations, management and leadership are task oriented ,rather than business oriented. They are reactive rather, than proactive. Can you blame it on managers alone? Leadership is more responsible for such culture prevailing in the organization.

"To promote creativity you have to create a culture by giving the right incentives to your resources to encourage them to think creatively and with every achievement gain further confidence to think out of the box."

The problem of short-term thinking was often raised among the 134 respondents.

"Companies are always trying to make the next quarter better than the previous," wrote a businessman from Pakistan.

"The action-oriented, transaction-driven corporate world gives very little acceptance to executives being self-reflective," argued a company owner from Australia. "Too swamped by operational tasks, they tend to manage in the moment - it is the doing-trap."

It is these in-the-moment actions that end up blocking change, he wrote.

"So what appears to be resistance or inertia is really a personal assumption that keeps people acting in a certain way."

But there is a new reality in business today, which often makes it impossible for an executive to be in control of a situation.

"In essence, they need the capacity to patiently work with uncertainty, half-knowledge, ambiguity and paradox."

(The Gazette, Canada)

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

'Just in Time' people management

Kanishka Ghosh

Managing talent in a global organisation is getting more complex and demanding than in their domestic counterparts. This is partly due to the fact that multinationals need to share resources and knowledge across a number of business units and countries.

However, organisations that have the courage to step forward and take talent seriously can deliver greater shareholder value and start to realise the promise of competitive advantage through better talent.

Findings in a research study by the global consultancy McKinsey support the contention that there exists a very strong correlation between a company's financial performance, as measured by profit per employee, and global talent management practices, which can be defined in terms of the following 10 dimensions:

1. ensuring global consistency in management processes;

2. achieving cultural diversity in global setting;

3. developing and managing global leaders;

4. translating human-resources information into action;

5. relocating work to locations with good supply of talent;

6. shaping the corporate HR agenda for managing global talent;

7. creating internal talent pools;

8. managing overseas assignments;

9. sourcing and recruiting global talent;

10. responding to changes in global talent market.

This explains why the war for management talent is intensifying dramatically. And improving the strength of the talent pool has increasingly become a priority of senior leaders. But, quite paradoxically, most senior leaders haven't been quite as successful in aligning the talent management strategies with their organisations business strategies.

As a panacea to the problem of finding and retaining the right amount of talent at the right time as envisaged by the business needs, Prof Peter Cappelli of Pennsylvania's Wharton School offers a fresh perspective by looking at talent issues through a supply-chain lens.

According to Prof Cappelli, "Managing supply chains is about managing uncertainty and variability. This same uncertainty exists inside companies with regard to talent development.

"Companies rarely know what they will be building five years out and what skills they will need to make that happen; they also don't know if the people they have in their pipelines are going to be around."

In his recent book, Talent on Demand: Managing Talent in an Age of Uncertainty, Prof Cappelli has defined the term "talent management" which simply means "trying to forecast what we are going to need, and then planning to meet that need", and according to the author, the definition of supply chain management is essentially the same: "We think that demand for our products next year is going to be 'X'. How do we organise internally to meet that demand?" Organisations have made phenomenal progress in supply chain management over the past couple of decades. Using IT, companies including Dell, WalMart and UPS have streamlined their supply chains. But for some reason talent management has not received the same level of attention by any organisation.

According to the author, part of the problem is that many companies are locked into an older paradigm based on the assumption that they can accurately meet their talent needs through static forecasting and planning models, even though the global marketplace is increasingly unpredictable. Thus, companies can now exploit their understanding of supply chain management and apply it to its talent management.

One of the supply chain practices that Prof Cappelli relates to talent development is shortening the forecasting cycle. It is a well documented fact in supply chain planning that a shorter forecasting cycle leads to a diminished "bullwhip effect" - a major problem organisations encounter with inventory management. Shorter and more frequent dynamic forecasting will lead to "just in time" need for talent. Thus the propensity to mismatch supply and demand for talent can be mitigated.

In conclusion, today's hypercompetitive global environment calls for a fundamentally different paradigm for thinking about talent, which in supply chain terms may be referred to as "just in time" talent management, using the following framework:

A) "Make" and "buy" to manage risk:

- Undershoot your estimates of the talent you need to develop.

- Make up the shortfall with outside hiring.

B) Adapt to the uncertainty in demand for talent:

- Break development programmes into shorter units for more flexibility.

- Create an organisation wide talent pool to be allocated as needed.

C) Improve Return on Investment (ROI) in development:

- Ask employees to invest their own time in stretch assignments.

- Maintain relationships with former employees who may return someday.

D) Protect your investment by balancing employee/employer interests:

- Have employees share in advancement decisions.

Kanishka Ghosh is joint ventures operations manager with Thai Summit Group.

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Innovation - the key to success

Winston Adams

Innovation is the cornerstone of opportunity for corporations. With technological advances and a global economy, companies must be more innovative and flexible than ever if they are to thrive.

Fear of change within the corporate culture is the greatest obstacle to innovation and growth in corporations. Change is never easy or painless, but companies that do not innovate stagnate.

Companies that stagnate become tempting targets for current and potential competitors and eventually fail.

A company that avoids stagnation is playing to win. Playing to win requires trust and reward risk-taking and courage. Innovative companies encourage and expect creative thinking and problem solving.

The need for leadership and management of both innovation and people has never been greater.

Companies must be led by developing creative management teams. The first task of the innovative processes is to transform the way organisations operate. They must embrace a more flexible and organic model for organising business operations in order to foster innovation.

There are several methodologies that a company can adapt.


Open-book management is an innovative approach to corporate management. This means that every employee has to focus on helping the company they are working in to make money.


Historically, companies needed employees who would show up for work every morning and do exactly what they were told.

There has been a paradigm shift since then. Many companies now realise they would be better off if they were to encourage employees to think.

Employers now see the benefits of hiring employees who are concerned about the company's long-term success; not just their own personal financial situation.

Workers are asked to accept additional responsibilities including prioritising and scheduling, problem-solving, in-process quality control and cost containment.

Studies show a statistically significant correlation between employee empowerment, gain sharing, and participation in decision-making and corporate performance.

Open-book management and employee empowerment work well together because they make companies more competitive by getting every employee to think and act like a business owner, rather than simply a hired gun.

These innovative approaches to management help employees to act differently and to think differently. These programmes fundamentally change the link between the employee and the company.


Another innovative approach to corporate management involves process re-engineering.

No one would argue that re-engineering helps companies control costs, but for many workers re-engineering is thought of as synonymous with downsizing and layoffs.

Thus, an announcement that the company is planning to re-engineer a position is often met with concern among current employees which will have an affect on both morale and productivity.

An innovative approach would be to use process engineering as a tool to drive down costs and improve productivity. In order to encourage the active participation of current employees, management could commit to no forced layoffs as a result of the re-engineering process meaning that anyone displaced would be transferred if possible and retrained if necessary.

Such a programme would focus on eliminating inefficiencies and waste, not cutting head count.


To encourage workers to think like owners, they should be rewarded like owners. The more certain the link between performance and reward, the more likely it will be that company employees will strive to achieve specific performance goals.


Risks are an unavoidable aspect of being in business. Another innovative approach to corporate management involves accepting the implications of the axiom: The greater the opportunity, the greater the risk.

An innovative company will evaluate and accept some, but certainly not all of the avoidable risks.


Robert Miles in Leading Corporate Transformation suggests that one innovative approach to corporate management involves a more holistic approach by senior management to the way in which their company is organised.

Miles suggests a total system framework for examining the organisation for weaknesses using this approach:

The process starts by understanding or articulating the vision for the organisation.

The vision must be supported by business strategies.

Strategies in turn are supported by the formal structural elements which define levels of authority.

Infrastructure supports the structural elements. In this context, infrastructure includes control planning, resource allocation systems, communications systems and channels, and the planning function.

The workforce is measured in terms of its ability to support the four elements listed above.

The workforce and everything above it is supported by the firm's core competencies.

The culture of the organisation, including the values and the beliefs shared by most employees should support the decisions made by senior management and the actions taken to accomplish the goals described above.

Miles explains that the purpose of this analysis is to find and fix gaps. The further up the list the gaps are found, the more serious the situation becomes. Once the total system is examined, the task is to see how quickly and how effectively these gaps can be plugged.

These businesses encourage employee growth, and in return, they expect out-of-the-box thinking, creative problem-solving in addition to excellent performance every day from their employee-partners.

(Jamaica Gleaner)

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8 Things We Want from Work

By David R. Butcher

Pay and perks remain important to workers, of course. Yet when it comes to what employees want most from their employer today, certain intangible priorities are center stage.

In this rapidly changing work environment, the best jobs are not necessarily those that pay the most. There are a number of other, intangible factors today's top talent looks for in an employer.

Here are some of those factors as we see them, in no particular order. . .

Work/Life Balance
A global survey from the Association of Executive Search Consultants recently found more than 85 percent of the 138 recruiters surveyed have had candidates reject a plum job offer because of work-life balance considerations, as we discussed a year ago.

Although people today feel pressured to work longer and produce more to protect their jobs, the biggest changes in the workplace over the last decade have come in employers' attitudes toward work, family and flexibility.

The good news is that eight out of 10 employees at Fortune magazine's 100 Best Companies to Work For last year said that management encouraged them to balance their work lives and their personal lives — an increase of 11 percentage points from 10 years ago.

Sense of Purpose
People want to be enthused by what they do, to feel connected to their work and to be able to relate to what they do and what they produce.

To do that, people need to feel that their job has worth and purpose.

If a work environment is to encourage employee achievement, there must be a true connection between employees' work and their values. This gives workers the opportunity to have pride in what they do.

Personal Growth
Employees want the opportunity to develop, grow and build a career. To that end, good workers want to be challenged, to be trained and to continue learning on the job.

Personal growth opportunities enable employees to achieve their goals through their own skill, ability, talent and perseverance. As with a sense of purpose, individuals need to feel they are achieving something.

This only occurs when companies foster employees' ability to set goals, meet challenges and get feedback.

Individual acceptance and appreciation are essential to feeling the camaraderie and worth of the workplace community. We're not talking about employees getting a ribbon each time they do their job successfully; it's what they were hired to do, after all.

Yet little signs of appreciation for a job particularly well done — a pat on the back, an "atta boy" — can make a world of difference in terms of workers' job satisfaction.

Most employees today seem to react favorably to empowerment, or being enabled to think, behave, act and control work and decision making in autonomous ways.

Empowerment is not an implementation, and it is only partly a strategy. Rather, it is a philosophy. It is the state of feeling self-empowered to take control of one's own future.

For an organization to practice and foster a culture wherein this state can thrive, company management must communicate honestly with employees.

Employees want to be heard — not just listened to, but really heard — by their employers as well as their colleagues. Trust between workers helps build camaraderie. And employers should be going out of their way to get feedback and ideas from their employees, both good and bad.

As we noted in October's 24 Questions to Ask Employees, "The truth may hurt, but not asking could cause even more pain."

Communication is perhaps one of the strongest signs of employee empowerment — from constant, honest communication regarding the strategic plan and financial requirements and performance, down to daily decision making.

"The importance of building a strong ethical corporate culture is integral to the reputation, growth and finances of any organization," Rania A. Azmi of Alexandria University's Faculty of Commerce wrote in a 2006 study. "It builds a brand that attracts the best talent and creates trust among the stakeholders.

In many ways, this relates to employees' sense of purpose. As today's marketplace becomes increasingly conscience-focused, employees too are demanding more ethical business processes and performance from their employers to meet the "big picture," whether that means impeccable customer service or offsetting the company's carbon footprint.

A Hill & Knowlton report released in January, entitled Corporate Reputation Watch, found that almost three-quarters of the 530 MBA candidates surveyed worldwide claim reputation plays "an extremely important" or "a very important" role when considering employers upon entering the working world. Factors that drive reputation include quality of management, quality of products and services, social responsibility and use of corporate assets.

Fairness and Respect
People want to work for and with other people who will treat them fairly, with trust and respect.

In a nationwide survey of 500 workers conducted by talent management expert and author of What People Want Terry R. Bacon, when asked what matters most in their relationships with a manager, 90 percent of workers rank honesty, fairness and trust as the top three. (Source: American Management Association)

Honesty: "When there's bad news, for instance, employees should learn about it from their bosses before they see or hear it [elsewhere]," MarketWatch once said.

Fairness: Employees who feel they are treated fairly are far more likely to be happy on the job than those who sense an organization or its management team is being unfair — whether through racism, sexism, ageism, nepotism or favoritism.

Trust: Trust can come in many ways: employees being able to make decisions they can call their own, or doing their jobs without shoulder-hovering managers or comfortably depending on a fellow coworker to meet his or her part of the project's deadline.

A survey from Florida State University in December 2006 concluded that many people work for employers who don't keep their word (39 percent), don't give credit where credit's due (37 percent), talk poorly about them behind their backs (27 percent) and invade their privacy (24 percent). In other words, these people work for employers who do not respect their employees.

Yet fairness and respect should be mutual. For instance, employees should be able to work with a manager they can respect and learn from. You have to work for people and with people you trust.

Clearly, many of these qualities are interrelated. A lot of it simply comes down to employees feeling valued and respected, by their employers and by their colleagues.

Let us know the top qualities you look for in an employer.

(Thomas Net)

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Learn to innovate the CK Prahalad way!

Professor CK Prahalad has redefine innovation in his book, The New Age Of Innovation, co-authored by MS Krishnan. He distills innovation down to a simple business process and evolution, not a revolution.

Professor CK Prahalad said to innovate companies need to fold the future, not extrapolate the past. “We are not suggesting a revolution, we are taking about a planned, directionally consistent evolution. Therefore, we conserve resources and speed up the process of transformation.”

Excerpts from CNBC-TV18 Menaka Doshi’s interview with Professor CK Prahalad:

Q: When, where, and how, if there is at all such a specification in the life of a business, can this whole process of innovation be inculcated? Does it have to be right from the beginning, or somewhere in the middle? How does one decide whether you are ready to be able to inculcate this and what does it take to inculcate this transformation?

A: The starting point of the transformation is for senior leadership to ask a simple question, not what the world is today but where will our competitive landscape be 10-15 years from now? 10 years from now, 15 years old will be our primary customers. What will be their expectations? How will we fulfill those expectations?

The first principal for me is that you cannot go there from here. We have to start from there. In other words, you have to imagine and must have a point of view. If you have a point of view, then the translation is lot easier. So, they say folding the future is what is required, not extrapolating the past.

Second, you must have a point of view, only then can you say that okay, if this is my point of view, I can audit both the managerial and IT capabilities inside my company. Then, I can start by saying I am going to put one building block at a time and establish a milestone. So, I don’t take a big risk, I build one step at a time, but like a marathoner with speed and directionally correct.

We are not suggesting a revolution, we are taking about a planned, directionally consistent evolution. Therefore, we conserve resources and speed up the process of transformation.

Q: The companies that you cite as examples are companies that were able to recognize the change in the competitive landscape 5-10 years ago. The Googles, and Apples realised that technology is not going to be inaccessible to the poor but it is going to become a commonly accessible resource. The digitization of products, convergence, and social networking were things they were able to understand 5-10 years ago.

A: Everybody can recognize it now. But very few companies are figuring out how it will change their business.

Q: But will it still give you the advantage now? Don’t you have to be ahead of the curve?

A: Absolutely. It will give a tremendous advantage. For instance, I sell tyres and have lots of information about you and you have a lot of information about me. Now, when I come to sell the next round, I don’t have to sell you unique tyres. I can now give you a special deal. I know your drivers are very safe, and you only have long hauls. Therefore, I can give you a special deal. In other words, the switching costs for you has gone up, I can retain you much better. If you are selling only tyres on prices like old ware that was a transaction, now this is a relationship.

Q: But weren’t customer relationship managers doing this anyways for 10-20 years?

A: No, there is no way they could have done it. Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, is fundamentally a company’s view of the consumer and not the consumer’s collaborative dialogue. CRM has never been co-creation. That means you are a joint problem solver. Your involvement is as important to me and we jointly create value. We jointly partnership value. So, there is collaboration between the consumer and the company and there is also competition for value appropriation.

Q: You have mentioned the instance of ITC’s e-choupal network in a big way. You have recognised the gap of information and what it can do to the economic lifestyle of a human being and found a product to deliver to them in this space.

A: Suddenly, you find the so-called illiterate farmers checking the Chicago Board of Trade. That is fascinating for me. It is so empowering.

I also want to think about what co-creation does. If I co-create with you as a consumer, I reduce the risk of product development because you are helping me to define it. Since a lot of people are involved in helping me to figure out what it is, it reduces time and investment. Think about risk, time, and investment reduction. That is how you create value.

Q: Three points -- legacy issues, IT infrastructure and managerial talent -- to make in the Enablers of Transformation as you put it in your book and you have quoted a whole host of examples for each one of these. On legacy issues, you spoke of General Motors in the book. Would you like to take us through some of the work that they have probably done to fit your definition of innovation now?

A: Actually GM is a very interesting case. Look at the sheer size of the company; it is a country by itself and global, through acquisitions, wide variety of independence given to the subsidiaries, European subsidiaries versus US versus the far flung operations. If you look at any one time, there are probably 7,000 applications running on different systems. How they consolidate all that is a fascinating problem by itself.

General Motors is the world’s largest auto-maker with nearly 3,00,000 employees. It has launched a company wide drive to redefine its organizational structure. Roles and responsibilities are being shuffled to assure stronger control and management of critical business processes, breaking stereotypes and managers are being shifted from functional and geographic spans of control to global process-oriented roles to drive standardization. It is a step that has helped GM strike up balance between flexibility and efficiency.

When you have had a huge history under a large company like GM, you have to clean up this legacy before you can do many of the things that they are talking about. There is a big lesson for Indian companies. We are now globalizing and acquiring a large number of companies. We are not only going to get mini-cultures and sub-cultures in terms of managerial work, we are also going to get a large number of legacy systems.

The question is how do we put a price on the integrational legacy system, harmonizing these legacy systems and harmonizing the managerial culture.

Q: Implicit in your entire conversation has been the fact that you have to have world class IT infrastructure. It is something that we cannot get away from in today’s business environment. But that is something that you have stressed on again and again in all the logistics examples that you gave, including FedEx and UPS?

A: It has to be real time, event driven and not just transaction driven. That is where it is critical. It must be resilient and change-oriented. Therefore, the cost of the change must be low. It must be able to use the existing legacy system. You can’t throw away all the legacy assets and so how does it get into the legacy systems and bring an upgrade is an important point.

Q: You seem to see a serious lack of innovation in Indian IT. Are you saying they have lost the ability to innovate?

A: No. It is in the context of the ‘power of the dominant’ logic. IT companies have been extraordinarily successful. They have built a business model and changed their business. The underlying strength of innovation in IT has grown from cost arbitrage to quality arbitrage to quality technology arbitrage. Now, it is cost, quality, technology and in some cases innovation.

Q: Are there any instances in Indian IT where you can see efforts to change things?

A: There are some in HCL where you have embedded software building the entire integrated system. We talk about TCS doing the Ferrari deal. Those are very different value-added kind of activities. But still every large company does it. Infosys does it and so does Wipro. They all understand it. Just because everybody understands that the business model is going to be broken in the future, it does not mean all of them have the capability to change the business model ahead of time by design. It is happening slowly. Everybody is trying to get a little bit of consulting help in the front-end to change the business model. Everybody is trying to negotiate a different way of pricing.

But if you don’t change; the IBMs and Accentures are coming to India. They will get the same advantage. The idea is not to say IT companies in this country have lost their innovation advantage. That is not the message at all. The message is that just because you intellectually understand what needs to be done, does not mean it will automatically get operational. There is a gap between an intellectual understanding and an operational change. That is the gap that companies have to learn to bridge.

Q: In the course of the book, you have frequently mentioned three companies while giving instance of how this whole new age of innovation is going to play itself out. What do you think best exemplifies the innovation that you were talking about in companies like ING, ICICI, and Apple?

A: Apple has a unique way of developing software media solutions. It really understands that manufacturing is key, so is software. This is the stuff that makes Apple. The company is into software not hardware, but hardware is a carrier of the software, so people still need a device. The second thing that they have understood very clearly is that they can't do it themselves, so content has to come from a wide variety of people.

Q: Have you been able to distill a philosophy in the organization that allows them to develop?

A: The philosophy is co-creation.

Q: Have they been able to recognize that way ahead of the curve?

A: They use the term co-creation. The underlying philosophy is very clear. It is co-creation and a very user-friendly interface. If you use the i-pod, you will know how user friendly it is because ordinary people can use it and can download. So, in other words it is a very user-friendly interface.

Look at ICICI Bank and the transformation of the company through IT and business process understanding.

At the core of its business, is innovation and driving innovation is technology. The transformation of ICICI Bank from an institutional operation to a sophisticated, fast moving retail banking powerhouse is an outstanding example in capability building. ICICI Bank’s evolutionary business model is based on continuous innovation to offer world-class services at an affordable cost through technology mediated businesses and analytics. It has changed the face of banking in India. Today, with over 600 branches and 3,000 ATMs reaching over 10 million customers, ICICI’s assets are worth over USD 79 billion and is an example of transformation from within at its best.

They try something, if it works they scale like crazy; if it doesn’t work they kill it and that is very much the kind of thing that we are talking about. There is no one person doing it.

Q: Everyone in the company is responsible for doing this?

A: All the senior managers have to do it and all the middle level mangers have to do it. So, they have created a culture of aggressive, ‘we can do it’ macho approach. That is what people see outside. Internally, there is a method to how this happens.

They can make a mistake. The goal is not to say whether they will make a mistake. They have taken a very traditional institutional company in their vibrant innovative retail bank and they are moving globally very rapidly.

Q: While you were studying the strengths, were there any weaknesses that you thought could potentially be a risk to this entire innovating ability?

A: When you grow that rapidly, there are so many people who have to be trained. Somebody somewhere is not going to be compliant, is going to make mistakes, somewhere the business process is going to be broken. All these are risks. But the interesting question is do we slow down or do we keep going and put checks and balances to make sure that that doesn’t happen.

In other words, the risk is inherent in the rapidity of change and scale, incorporating so many new people into the system and building business processes very rapidly. All of them are potential risks.

Q: What is the message to the manager, to be able to inculcate this newly defined process of innovation in his or her team and across an organisation?

A: The best way to phrase is going back to Gandhi. You must be the change that you want to see. That is an important message there. In his own unique way, Gandhi probably captured the spirit of what this book is all about.

If you want to understand this new world, you must be a part of it. For people who are at senior levels of management, 45 year old and above and are not part of this generation, it is natural. Therefore, we have to reinvest in ourselves. To me, I had to do it myself. So, it is not as if I am asking people to do something that I don’t. You have to reinvest in yourself; you have to use these tools. You have to understand how people are evolving and changing and you must have a point of view.

People underestimate how critical this is. Don’t worry too much about everything that can go wrong. Think big and de-risk the change process. Take small steps, learn rapidly, scale fast and then move on. Taking a big risk is not smart, neither is it prudent and nor is it sustainable. Sometimes you can succeed but sometimes you will fail and you cannot compromise the organisation’s vitality. Lastly, engage all people. I have no interest in satisfied consumers or satisfied employees. I want excited consumers and excited employees. Create the excitement of making something bigger than ourselves.

(Money Control)

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Success Mantra: 'Take up challenges' call by De Bono

MANAMA: Lateral thinking inventor Edward de Bono yesterday urged a Gulf audience to challenge dominant ideas, boundaries and polarisation in order to improve themselves and their organisations. Mr De Bono was addressing a sell-out crowd of more than 300 delegates, VIPs and dignitaries from 10 countries during a highly-interactive one-day event in Bahrain, organised by Global Leaders.

"I ask you all to look at everything you do - even if it is satisfactory - and consider the alternatives," he said.

"If something is adequate, it blocks any further thinking on that subject forever.

"We are so used to dealing with problems, we ignore all the areas where we can improve - simply because they aren't causing us problems at the moment. But I want you to challenge it all."

The event at the Diplomat Radissan SAS Hotel, Residence and Spa, was opened by the Minister of the Prime Minister's Court, Shaikh Khalid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa.

"I am delighted to be back in a region that constantly breaks through the barriers of what is possible, a region whose leaders - both in government and in business - have facilitated an environment where nothing is impossible," said Mr De Bono.

Mr De Bono's latest project is to launch a Palace of Knowledge and this is something he has been talking about with the Maktoum Institute in Dubai.

"We need clearer thinking and that is not something we can expect from the United Nations because ultimately their people are representatives and not there to break through barriers," he told the GDN.

"Equally we cannot expect this from national governments because they will be seen as promoting their own interests. We need a neutral body and that is what I would like to set up."
"He added that the Islamic world could well be a place for such an institute as the Prophet Mohammed spent a lot more time writing about thinking than any other religious figure in history."

"Globalisation means we have access to better products, wider choice, and faster delivery times," said Global Leaders president Tina Schneidermann.

"But it also means that the very products and services we sell are becoming increasingly homogenised.

"The only way we can stand apart from our competition is the way in which our employees and our organisations thinks."

"Gulf firms have a duty to re-invest in the region, whether through ideas, innovation, or people," said event sponsors Addax bank chief executive officer Yousef Al Essa.

"They should look to add sustainable value to companies and projects."

The full-day conference was the latest in a series of thought leadership events to be held in Bahrain, organised by Global Leaders, following on from Ken Blanchard and Deepak Chopra.

(Gulf Daily News)

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Drucker's Take on Making Mistakes

In Peter Drucker's writing, he says a key strategy is to turn lapses into learning opportunities. And he followed his own philosophy

by Rick Wartzman

Lyndon Johnson occupied the White House when KeyCorp first began raising its dividend. The Beatles topped the pop charts. Martin Luther King Jr. led tens of thousands of civil rights marchers through Alabama.

For 43 straight years, the company's annual payout climbed, "a record we were extremely proud of," in the words of KeyCorp (KEY) Chief Executive Henry Meyer. That is, until earlier this month. The Cleveland bank, slammed by the weak housing market and an adverse tax ruling, announced that it would halve its dividend to 75 cents in a bid to save $200 million a year. It also said it would seek to raise $1.5 billion in capital.

"We think hope is a bad management strategy," Meyer explained. "We're trying to admit where we made mistakes."

Mistakes are part of life; they're part of business. But far too many enterprises spend time hiding them and running from them, rather than owning up to them.

Capitalizing on Candor

Given that, KeyCorp deserves much credit. Whether the company can now capitalize on its candor will depend, in large measure, on how management deals with those responsible for its stumbles. The smartest organizations, according to Peter Drucker, are those that turn lapses into learning opportunities.

"Nobody learns except by making mistakes," Drucker wrote in his 1954 landmark book, The Practice of Management. "The better a man is, the more mistakes he will make—for the more new things he will try. I would never promote a man into a top-level job who has not made mistakes, and big ones at that. Otherwise, he is sure to be mediocre. Worse still, not having made mistakes he will not have learned how to spot them early and how to correct them."

Drucker's tolerance for mistakes shouldn't be confused with him cottoning to incompetence. There are plenty of occasions, he believed, when employees should be let go. "Management owes this to the enterprise," Drucker said. "It owes it to the spirit of the management group, especially to those who perform well. It owes it to the man himself, for he is likely to be the major victim of his own inadequacy."

But he cautioned against overreaching: "That a man who consistently renders poor or mediocre performance should be removed from his job also does not mean that a company should ruthlessly fire people right and left." And he made clear that those in charge can't just turn around and blame those who work for them. "Whenever a man's failure can be traced to management's mistakes," Drucker declared, "he has to be kept on the payroll."

Batting Average

Among management's most common errors is putting a good person into the wrong job. After all, Drucker noted, "there is no such thing as an infallible judge of people, at least not on this side of the Pearly Gates." Whenever such a slip-up is made, Drucker counseled, it's incumbent on the boss to say: "I have no business blaming that person, no business invoking the 'Peter Principle,' no business complaining. I have made a mistake."

In the end, Drucker defined success not as being right every time. Rather, he wrote in his 1973 classic Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices, performance must be evaluated on terms more akin to a batting average. (Slugging percentage might even be a more apt way to look at it: Sometimes you hit a single or a double, and occasionally a home run. But other times, you strike out. Maybe even with the bases loaded.)

In Drucker's view, not always getting a hit is not only acceptable; it's part of what it takes to be an organization of excellence. "A management which does not define performance as a batting average is a management that mistakes conformity for achievement, and absence of weaknesses for strengths," Drucker asserted.

Different Performances

A batting-average mentality, he added, allows for companies to accommodate different kinds of talent. "One man will consistently do well, rarely falling far below a respectable standard, but also rarely excel through brilliance or virtuosity," Drucker wrote. "Another man will perform only adequately under normal circumstances but will rise to the demands of a crisis or a major challenge and then perform like a true 'star.' Both are 'performers.' Both need to be recognized. But their performances will look quite different.

"The one man to distrust, however, is the one who never makes a mistake," Drucker continued, "never commits a blunder, never fails in what he tries to do. He is either a phony, or he stays with the safe, the tried, and the trivial."

Drucker not only penned these words; he lived them. By the 1950s, Drucker had concluded there was only one way to manage people correctly: by assuming that all of them will be responsible and self-directed as long as they find their work fulfilling. In 1960 a competing theory was articulated, which held that managers treat each and every employee as if they are inherently self-centered, lazy, and resistant to change.

But then along came psychologist Abraham Maslow, who in 1962 maintained that, either way, a single approach is silly. Drucker was quickly persuaded. "Maslow's evidence is overwhelming," he wrote, that "different people have to be managed differently."

The bottom line for Drucker was that he and others who'd shared his one-size-fits-all view of human motivation "were dead wrong." If only more people had the courage to say that—and then learn from it—a lot more things would go right.

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Rick Wartzman is director of the Drucker Institute at Claremont Graduate University.