Posts tagged ‘business’
I’ve been blogging here and at CEO2CEO.wordpress.com for quite a while. This was my first blog, and it soon became my place to speak out on matters from technology to economics to politics to just about anything that touched on human potential and its achievement. Then I needed a place just to speak out on matters that were interesting to CEOs but not necessarily other readers, so CEO2CEO was born.
It’s time for a merger, but not the usual kind where at least one of the merged organizations loses its identity. (I never understood why anyone called those mergers, other than in the very rare case where both entities bring equal assets to the table.) They are acquisitions.
This merger will be different. Each entity – the two blogs involved – will continue to stand on its own, and I will even be back at some point to add some commentary. But time being limited, I need to focus on one entity only. Hence, the acquisition.
The new blog focuses on leadership, but leadership in a way that is counter to what most of us learned in school. It is leadership that is based in understanding what motivates people to come together to do more as a team than they ever could accomplish on their own. It is leadership of a Coherent Human Infrastructure.
Welcome to Leadership is a Team Sport!
For the start up, every person and every advisor you need to hire represents a critical commitment of your company’s available time and cash. In essence, you trade those resources for the knowledge and skill (intellectual assets), contacts (social capital), and the pure energy, ideas, and actions you expect that person to bring to your budding organization.
But what if you could get some of same resources without having to give up any of your precious start-up funds?
You can – if you put your customers – and those who you’d like to have as customers – on your team! Here are three ways to start:
1. Stop thinking of customers as ‘them’. Customers are stakeholders who can help you move and shape your vision. Try posing a provocative question that will trigger thoughtful responses. For instance, my company created a completely new way to predict how people perform in teams–but we were struggling to find a way to properly present it. So I started asking, ‘Why do people say they want team players, and then hire people who aren’t?’ Instant reaction! We not only got some great feedback, but some of our customers even went out and recruited other customers for us!
When a company is in the early stages of development, input from vision-oriented people can be especially valuable, and ‘Vision’ people are intrigued by big-picture questions. They’ll probably give you good advice, so make sure you let them know how you’ve used it.
2. Add some customers to the marketing R&D team. Find a low-risk way–if you can–to get them engaged in using your product in a way that will deliver real business value. If you know they have a problem that your product can solve, let them apply your solution (at least once) at no charge. We learned pretty quickly that if we gave people enough product to use for one solution, they would experience the value of a pre-hire positive I.D. on real team-players, and it would bring them back for more.
3. Give someone a reason to feel good! It was Benjamin Franklin who said “If you want to make a friend, ask a favor.” Good team players actually LIKE to help others out. Whether you need a source of information, a second opinion, a pep talk, or some help getting something done but no resources to pay for it, there’s probably someone who will take on that job and be happy to share with you what they’ve found. But not until you ask! Just be sure to let them know how valuable their input is and be very clear in letting them know that when they need your help for something, you will give it gladly. You’ll end up just a little bit closer to someone who now feels they have a stake in your success. Remember, people who are good at finding things you need are also good at finding people who need exactly what you are selling.
So how’s business? How’s your team? Are you working with them…or without them?
(This post originally appeared in Innovation DAILY, May 17, 2010)
The realization is dawning that as July ends, the interns will be starting to leave. Crystal, who’s going to Hong Kong and Macau to visit family, and Lindsay, who’s heading back to Texas, will be the first to go. And I’m wondering how the others will experience their leaving.
It will be good practice for them, given that they are likely to see their colleagues come and go in their future jobs. At least this isn’t a downsizing! Speaking of which, there’s talk of an increase in distressing reactions to being downsized – sabotage, mostly of the technology sort. Just the sort of behaviors that the non-coherent, short term thinking person is more likely to actually do.
But for our coherent, self aware bunch, I expect their future work life to be more productive and positive. They understand that temporary setbacks shouldn’t be turned into permanent ones by letting stress overwhelm and alter behavior in a negative direction. And they act on it. Even in a down economy, coherent people are naturally attractive to employers.
And now I know that internship has long reaching effects on careers. Lauren, our Spring intern, just wrote me. I was concerned that with the job market so poor, she would be locked out, but no, it sounds like she got a job that not only fits her, but which will allow her to help others get a good school fit!
It is a sales/client services position. First part is I have to call potential students and give them information about Ashford and evaluate them to see if they are a good fit for the school. Once that process is over, I help them enroll and will be their guide through their first course. It should be a challenging but fun position. I just finished my 2 week training course and will start officially on Monday.
Congrats and good luck, Lauren! They are lucky to have you! And psssst, just between us, we are about to launch the Role-Based Assessment for careers!
Around the fourth day after Mr. Sperm meets Miss Egg, differentiation begins. (If you slept through high school biology, differentiation is when cells start to get specialized.)
Ok, biology lesson is over. I was just mulling over how week four of the Interns could be subtitled, The Week of Differentiation. It isn’t that they weren’t fully formed individuals when they arrived. It’s how we see them and assign work to them that’s undergone some subtle changes.
Lindsay is continuing to work on social marketing optimization because she’s a star Communicator. Not surprising. This line from her Role-Based Assessment pretty well covers why I wanted her for this project:
She will quickly make contacts throughout the organization and get to know almost everyone. She is especially cooperative and will also try to do almost anything she is asked to do. Her focus is on interpersonal interaction and trying to get everyone to work together harmoniously. She won’t do this by direct means but by attempting to broker the arrangements that bring people together in a positive manner. As a result, she is likely to be respected by those she has contact with.
But we needed to get the database cleaned up so despite the fact that she also had this in her report: “She will not want to do organizational tasks…”, there she was in the conference room with some others, working on exactly that task, with music emanating from someone’s laptop, a pile of snacks, and the sunniest of good natures.
Meanwhile, Kartik, the Action Former, whose report included the following, managed to reorganize, clean up, and optimize my consultant certification files. Here’s Kartik in a nutshell:
This candidate is the type of employee who can be found in the front of the group with marker in hand, developing a list of things that need to be done or important points or assignments. He is the consummate organizer. The key is that he does not organize for the present but as a way of getting things ready for the future. His style is one of handling many things simultaneously. He believes that multi-tasking in a rapidly evolving environment is essential to keep on top of everything.
The others too have their unique qualities and it’s amazing how much more productive they are when we recognize them, give them work they enjoy, and celebrate the results.
It just makes good business sense.
Happy ending: Lindsay has a project beginning Monday that is totally about communicating with people, while Kartik will get a great new organization project!
My uncle Phil passed away late Monday night and today was his funeral. He was around 93 or 4 as far as I can calculate. As we gathered at the cemetery, it was eerily reminiscent of a virtual team team coming together for some face time. Some people see a lot of each other, some are only seen at the obligatory times of life transitions. And some stay in the shadows and are never seen. One is the subject of brief discussion. No one’s heard from him in years and no one seems to miss his presence. No, I think, it’s exactly like a team. You don’t get to choose your relatives and, most of the time, you don’t get to choose your team. You work with what you have, respect each for who they are, and try your best to do what needs to be done.
Phil went to work every day, selling fur coats in New York City, well past his 90th birthday. After Jeanette, my aunt and his life partner of over 50 years, died, age caught up with him. A leg infection finally stopped him from taking the subway from Forest Hills every day. It was at that point that I realized we had more in common than family. We were hidebound entrepreneurs that had no intention of ever hanging up our boots. But now he was resigned to moving in with his daughter and her husband. They took him to work with them – they run a small clothing shop – but there isn’t room on a team for two who want to do the same thing. Especially when one has no industry experience and flagging energy.
So I’d call him when I was on the street in Philadelphia, walking from home to office to appointments, whenever I had a few minutes. We talked about business – mostly his – since in both our minds he would soon return to it and market intelligence would be vital to his commercial success. My inputs were limited, but appreciated – the first day it was cold enough for people to wear fur, what the Walnut Street furrier was showing in his window, what the fur protesters were saying. It was a way of staying in the game – being on the team.
Today we celebrated his place on our family team, we of rapidly declining numbers. Among the mourners was a young man I didn’t remember. But I recognized his name: Phil’s employer of many years, Neustadter Furs.
A work team becomes family. It can be difficult to tell where one starts and one leaves off.
Last week was a nice one for women in business. Xerox named Ursula Burns the successor to Anne Mulcahy, effective keeping the magic number of women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies on an even keel. This is no small thing for my generation, the ones who gathered in ‘consciousness raising’ groups and thought about how our sons and daughters lives should give them the same freedoms and responsibilities. We were not as happy when eBay’s Meg Whitman was replaced by a man. Back then in the early seventies we’d hoped by the new millennium it wouldn’t matter. We thought things would even out more than they have.
But enough of this whining, Dr. Janice. You got recognized this week too. Jayson Saba, a top analyst in the human capital industry, cited your company’s product in a LinkedIn discussion of assessments and integrity.
When I read this, my first thought was, score one for women CEOs! Then I came to my senses. No one does any of this themselves. It’s the team that was recognized and the team has no gender.
Ursula, I hope your team, too, has no gender, no race, no age, no singular culture. And I hope you get to feel like it’s great to be a CEO when you have a great team that celebrates with you every moment of recognition.
If people are what make business work, why are they getting laid off while companies fail to cut back on other, presumably less important things?
As CEO, should you keep the corporate jet, continue to fly first class or bite the bullet and go coach?
What is the sound of one stock dropping?
Ah, modern day koans. There is no one right answer.
But apparently there is a “right size” for organizations, determined more, it seems, by the state of the economy than their – and their customers’ – needs.
I would venture that “right size” is not a very useful concept until you marry it to “right fit”.
One team of “right fit” people can do the work of an army of those who would rather be someplace else, even though they have the skills, abilities and resumes that get them hired.
What does a right fit team look like?
Come visit us.