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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Leadership Survival Guide Part 4 (FINAL)

This is part of a long series in a number of postings based on the Spring 2009 Issue of OnPoint (from the Harvard Business Press) dedicated to Risk Management.

Specifically, this particular post is the 4th and FINAL relating to my review of the article: A Survival Guide for Leaders by Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky (both professors at the Kennedy School at Harvard and authors of Leadership on the Line).

Offense: Internal help:

1. Avoid having to be right and always “in control” …just to be in control. Organizations need room to change and it’s not always a neat process. It’s a bit like making sausage…you might enjoy eating the final product, but probably would not enjoy watching it made!

2. Avoid over-dependence on yourself. If people get dependent on you, you’ll end up tired (making all the tough decisions) and with a flawed, single point of decision making. You need others to point out the shortcoming. Over-dependence is like over-delegation. At first if feels good, but can be a trap you set for yourself.

3. Take care of yourself. Leadership; and making substantive change is not for sissies. It’s tough work and requires you stay in psychological shape.

a. Develop safe havens: a place (your car on the way home or a favorite chair) for you to reflect on the day; working out, talking to friend or family member.

b. Develop a confidant. Someone you can be completely open with about your hopes, fears about “being judged and betrayed.” Venting and input are two values of this process.

c. Avoid using a work colleague as confidant. They’ll support you until it no longer supports their agenda.

d. True confidants support you always. They pull you up when your down and deflate you when you get too big for your britches.

4. ***Opposition and pushback by others to your leadership—if truly adaptive leadership—is almost always about the issue and your role…not usually about you—the person. \

a. Don’t take things personally (easier said than done). If you blow up, then YOU become the issue and that eventually does you in.

b. Staying in control under what feel like personal attacks is difficult. But in the end keeping the focus on the role and issue keeps you above the fray.

c. The authors offer an interesting proof about how it’s more about the change than you. They discuss how quickly people forget to call you when you’re gone…a sign that it’s the role you serve that people respond to. Think about how many former vice presidents or secretary of state names you can list quickly!

My Advice: Read this article in its entirety and give it to a new leader who’s getting slammed for making changes. Then when you’ve finished, read Heifetz and Linsky’s book: Leadership on the Line. *Note: I’ll be reviewing their latest book Adaptive Leadership (2009) on this blog soon.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Leadership Survival Guide Part 3

This is part of a long series in a number of postings based on the Spring 2009 Issue of OnPoint (from the Harvard Business Press) dedicated to Risk Management.

Specifically, this particular post is the 3rd of several relating to my review of the article: A Survival Guide for Leaders by Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky (both professors at the Kennedy School at Harvard and authors of Leadership on the Line).

So, what to do in such Adaptive Leadership situations? The authors offer two sets of suggestions…what I would call defense and offense…how do you (as a transformational change agent) protect yourself from internal threats and how to keep yourself buoyed up in the face of opposition that is as inevitable, if you’re doing what’s best for the organization, as the sun coming up.


Defense—It’s not paranoia if they’re really out to get you!
1. Make no mistake. If you are changing people’s ways of doing things, they will feel a sense of loss and incompetence. It’s not change they fear but the loss they will experience as a result of the change. And they will NOT like that uncomfortable change or YOU, as the instigator or catalyst of change. And they will come at you with all the tools they have: whispers, slander, co-opting techniques…these tools are varied and many.

2. The balcony: The authors entreat leaders to get off the dance floor and going to the balcony, which means getting out of the daily grind and toil and becoming and observer-participant. Stepping back…and seeing what’s going on. In classroom settings we tell teachers to become researchers…when a student reacts a certain disruptive way, ask “Why is this happening?”

3. In this article, the authors suggest other defensive strategies worth reading and understanding: Court the Uncommitted, Cook the Conflict, Place the work where it Belongs.

In the next post see what to do for offense.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Leadership Survival Guide Part 2

This is part of a long series in a number of postings based on the Spring 2009 Issue of OnPoint (from the Harvard Business Press) dedicated to Risk Management.

Specifically, this particular post is the 2nd of several relating to my review of the article: A Survival Guide for Leaders by Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky (both professors at the Kennedy School at Harvard and authors of Leadership on the Line).

An example of treating the symptom vs. adaptive change (mine example, not the authors): Employees at a company over time have been allowed to come to meetings late. As a result, almost every meeting starts 15 to 25 minutes after the actual time it’s supposed to. This had become part of the culture.

1. A new manager takes over and spots the problem and comes up with a new solution: Give everyone time management classes. Problem solved. People love the classes…which they show up late for! The new manager quickly gets co-opted and allows late-creep back into the organization. Everyone likes him and gives him smiley-face reviews when 360 time comes around.

2.Another new manager comes in. She sees the problem and announces that all meetings will start on time. No excuses. People arrive late and find themselves locked out. And after the second occurrence reprimanded. After the third time, suspended with no pay for two days. One wag tested this new leader a fourth time and was fired. Everyone shows up on time now. But the internal pressure on this young manager mounts. She’s shunned by management peers, who don’t hold their teams to the same exacting standard. She’s whispered about, maligned…even the senior execs see her as strident. She loses confidence and support and eventually lets up—thus losing a most useful attempt to change the culture of the organization for the better.

So, how do you handle it and keep from getting torpedoed? See the next few posts.

Leadership Survival Guide Part 1

This is part of a long series in a number of postings based on the Spring 2009 Issue of OnPoint (from the Harvard Business Press) dedicated to Risk Management.

Specifically, this particular post is the 1st of several relating to my review of the article: A Survival Guide for Leaders by Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky (both professors at the Kennedy School at Harvard and authors of Leadership on the Line).

This piece will be on my list of top 100 all-time leadership articles. Heifetz and Linsky have taught leadership for years at the Kennedy School. Their key focus of research, teaching and consulting has centered around Adaptive Change: high-stakes, transformational, uncomfortable organizational change that forces people to give up something personal (attitudes, habits, territory, power, etc.) for the good of the organization. Often this kind of change is met with a technical solution—a simplistic approach to solving a complex deeply rooted cultural or personal problem

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Managing Risk and Reward in an Innovation Portfolio (Part 2)

This is part of a long series in a number of postings based on the Spring 2009 Issue of OnPoint (from the Harvard Business Press) dedicated to Risk Management.

Specifically, this particular post is the 2nd and final of my review of the article: Is it Real? Can We Win? Is it Worth Doing? Managing risk and Reward in an Innovation Portfolio by George S. Day

The authors offer a two step process to help filter big potential and larger risk projects to ensure success and impact. The Risk Matrix: This tool subjects an innovation to a two-step process so that the use gets a clear vision of how all projects fall within a “probability of failure” matrix.

1. First Step, projects are subjected to a inquiry on the intended market (customer behavior, bran promise, competition, ect.) and product/technology (technology competency, manufacturing and delivery systems, quality standards, etc.).

2.From this analysis a score is derived and subjected to a graph. The score of the Intended Market becomes the X-axis score on the matrix. And the Product/Technology score provides the Y-axis plot point on the matrix.

Finally, each score for all innovative products gets plotted to provide the company with a meta-analysis to assess its overall portfolio risk.

R-W-W: Is it Real? Can we win? Is it worth doing? This test is a series of triage kind of questions based on the original three designated by its code R-W-W. the next step in the inquire is breaks each of these three down into six deeper questions (two for each element in R-W-W).
For example, under "Is it Real," the authors pose two clarifying questions:

Is the market real? And Is the product real?

Then those questions are further subdivided. For example, under Is the market real, follow several defining questions like: Is there a need or desire for the product? Is the size of the potential market adequate? And, Will the customer buy it?

My Advice: A worthy article to read. And worth tracking your innovations to move ahead, while understanding the necessary risk involved.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Managing Risk and Reward in an Innovation Portfolio

This is the 1st in a number of postings based on the Spring 2009 Issue of OnPoint (from the Harvard Business Press) dedicated to Risk Management. Specifically, this particular post is the first of several on my review of the article:

Is it Real? Can We Win? Is it Worth Doing? Managing risk and Reward in an Innovation Portfolio by George S. Day

In a changing economy, it makes sense, even more, to innovate. However most innovation is small, risk averse and largely not impactful. This article notes that from 1990 to 2004 the percentage of major (impactful) innovations in portfolios dropped from 20.4 to 11.5. However, only 14% of new-product innovations are large and substantial, but resulted 61% of all innovation profits in companies studied. In short, most people avoid risk, go for the low-hanging innovation fruit, and deny themselves real impact.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Risk Management: An Introduction


Introduction to this series: Harvard Business Review OnPoint Spring 2009 issue.

This quarter, the editors of the Harvard Business Review have created an issue devoted to Risk Management: A Survival Guide for Leaders. Great timing, I’d say.

The articles range from how to assess risk associated with: innovation, leadership, deal making, reputation management and much more. Over the next several weeks, I will be reviewing the highlights.

My Advice to CEOs: Get copies of this issue in the hands of your senior leaders and schedule an off-site immediately to discuss how this HBR quarterly issue could apply to their respective areas directly!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Leading in an Uncertain Economy...final post


Below is the 6th and FINAL post of my review of Ram Charan’s important new book: Leadership in the Era of Economic Uncertainty,McGraw Hill, 2009. ~Please pass it along to colleagues who could benefit from this information.

1. Operations: Charan argues: “Operations is the heart of any company….where the work gets done. Some important areas he hits in this chapter are as follows: Achieving the Lowest Cash Breakeven Point, Rethink Capital Expenditures, Simplify Your Product Lines, Outsource Where Possible, Manage Inventories, and Special Needs for Service Companies.

2. Research Development: Charan says this about R&D (and refocusing innovation), “ Research and Development holds the key to the future for many companies….” Some important areas he covers in this section: Rethink the R&D Budget, Rebalance Research Priorities, Make the Best Use of Resources, Confront Obsolescence, and Tighten Links to Sales and Marketing.

3. Staff Functions: Charan discusses how the new uncertain economic environment is faced by other important staff functions, such as, human resources (focus on head count, compensation, succession and threat planning, training and morale); public relations (focus on internal, external and investor relations—sending clear, accurate, transparent messages); general counsel (focus on contracts, investor relations, and workforce reduction without backlash); Information Technology (reprioritization, utility-based projects, support CEO and CFO).

4. The Board: Last is the governing body of the company—the Board of Directors. Boards are responsible to shareholders for ensuring the financial stability of the company. Boards hire and fire the CEO, make sure the company is on track, and in the end govern, not manage. Charan ends his book form what he calls “The View form the Top.” In this section, he addresses the following: Approving the Targets, Watching Risk, Guarding Shareholder Interests, Adjusting Compensation, Gauging Management’s Psychology, Ensuring the Right Leadership, Sharing What You Know, and Planning CEO Succession.

This book is well worth reading and buying copies for every senior level executive and board member….then having a discussion after everyone has read it.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The CFO: Leading in Uncertain Times

Below is the 5th of a number of posts over this week based on my review of Ram Charan’s important new book: Leadership in the Era of Economic Uncertainty,McGraw Hill, 2009. ~Please pass it along to colleagues who could benefit from this information.

--Now it’s ALL about the money—cash, that is.

Charan puts a lot on the shoulders of the CFO. Again, it’s all about cash in hard times. Cash feeds the bulldog. In traditionally good times, CFOs focus on the broad issues of financial systems and overall financial health of the company including risk evaluation and compliance. It’s more of a monitoring role. In uncertain and even “toxic” times like this, operationally oriented CFOs act more like CEOs in that they become more hands on and head in. Strictly managing cash resources will quell any damaging rumors that can spread like wildfire and destroy corporate credibility overnight. Here are a few of many suggestions Charan has for leaders in uncertain times.

1. Know the Numbers: This might sound ridiculous but in this section Charan means that CFOs, in uncertain times, must stay focused on cash metrics such as: cash flow, cash generation, cash collection, cash usage, credit lines, repayment of debt, pricing policy, and cash burn rate. In essence, the CFO should monitor the corporate finance dashboard like a hawk.

2. Train Management about the Balance Sheet: Most leaders get profit and loss, but in uncertain times it’s more about the balance sheet such as accounts receivables, inventories, capital expenditures, as well as how leases, debt payments and refinancing affect the balance sheet and overall financial stability.

3. Keep the Board Informed: Though by far the shortest section in this chapter, I think it’s one of the real keys. As one who has sits on boards with financial responsibility, I can attest to this being very important. Charan advocates that the board be informed on a “real time basis” and that reporting should increase in such uncertain times, particularly between board meetings.

4. Other important areas that Charan comments on in this section are as follows: Set the Tone, Advise the CEO, Guide the Budget Process, Advise about Compensation, and Guard Against Customer and Supplier Defaults.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sales and Marketing in Uncertain Times: On the Front Lines

Sales and Marketing has always been on the front lines—touching the customer directly, regularly. So, during tough times that contact needs to be maintained with increased attention. Sales used to be about making numbers; it’s now about making profit--margin. They’re different. How much money will the sale bring to the bottom line and how much will it cost to service the client both have new meaning when CASH and not growth is king. Here are a few of many suggestions Charan has for leaders in uncertain times.

1. Evaluate Your Organizational Structure: Perhaps reorganize on functions, not regions, for added efficiency. Convert your sales people from “order takers” to “problem solvers.”

2. Create Intelligence Agents: Make sure that sales people become the eyes and ears of the company in the field. This could take on a war room mentality. They can then report back on customer viability for the future, issues at play, and how to help customers succeed.

3. Set and Reward Realistic Sales Goals: In concert with the hands on, head in philosophy that Charan recommends for CEOs, this advice he applies to sales. Sales goals should not be compared to last year but should likely be set month to month to stay realistic. On the other hand, Charan warns not to be too quick to reduce targets, lest they become self-fulfilling prophecies.

4. Other important areas that Charan comments on in this section are as follows: Help Determine Which Customers to Drop, Know What Your Customers Want, Be Sure You Have Input into Product Decisions, Craft Better Value Propositions, Do Not Sacrifice the Brand, Target Advertising and Promotions, Adjust Pricing Fairly, Cut Costs Wisely, Link Sales People to Operations and R&D, and Link Sales People to Senior Management.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

CEO Leadership in Uncertain Times

Below is the 3rd of a number of posts over this week based on my review of Ram Charan’s important new book: Leadership in the Era of Economic Uncertainty,McGraw Hill, 2009. ~Please pass it along to colleagues who could benefit from this information.

CEO: From Chief of Strategy and Visionary to Commandant in the War Room

CEOs must step up and lead. It’s more about rolling up their sleeves than rolling out the red carpet. The best example (mine, not Charan’s) was the time the big three automaker CEOs all flew to Washington DC to ask for a cash bailout. But, they flew in private jets! JUST PLAIN NUTS…are the only words that come to mind. The game has clearly changed. So what should they be doing, according to Charan? Here a few of the many he suggests:

1. Recognize Reality: Things are tough, but fear is a killer because it freezes people in their tracks. Inaction becomes a disease that undermines the economy. On the other hand, CEOs have to acknowledge that we’re in for a ride that will last at least a few years.

2. Protect the Core: CEOs have to identify core elements, assets, customers, and leaders who must be protected as the storm is weathered and the new day emerges.

3. Be Transparent: The time for clear and plain communication is now. In fact, Charan argues that the two big responsibilities of CEOs in such uncertain times is information flow and motivation.

4. Other important areas that Charan comments on in this section are as follows: Be Bold, Change Your Company’s Psychology, Reallocate Your Time, Reassess Your Top Team, Be Visible, Know the Daily Numbers, Manage Cash, Reduce the Break-even Point, Par Your Customer and Supplier Base, Know When to Change Your Strategy, and Set Shorter-Term Milestones.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Six Essential leadership Traits for Uncertain Times

Below is the 2nd of a number of posts over this week based on my review of Ram Charan’s important new book: Leadership in the Era of Economic Uncertainty,McGraw Hill, 2009. ~Please pass it along to colleagues who could benefit from this information.

Charam offers what he believes are 6 behaviors leaders must have during hard times:

1. Honesty and Credibility—straight talk in the fog of war builds far more confidence and credibility than looking through rose colored glasses that are unrealistic.

2.The Ability to Inspire: In uncertain times, people need hope in the unseen. Leaders have to shape a new vision and get incremental wins to build confidence.

3. Real-time Connection with Reality: Reality for Charam is “a moving target” that changes from day to day. Leaders need to keep their heads in the game and react to accurate ground-level intelligence.

4. Realism Tempered with Optimism: More of the same. Practical but hopeful. Charan’s quote “Unadulterated pessimism is no more realistic the unbridled optimism.”

5. Managing with Intensity: Mentioned before…Head in, Hands on. With an ear to the ground for ground-level intelligence.

6. Boldness in Building for the Future: Keep a close eye on the present but don’t forget to look at the horizon…which will be here faster than we all think! And you have to b e prepared to thrive again.

The book breaks down in to several sections focused on key players in the company: The CEO, CFO, Sales and Marketing, Operations—as well as function areas, such as HR, R&D, Supply Chain, Staff Functions, and the Board of Directors. See the next few posts.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Introduction to Leading in an Era of Economic Uncertainty


Leading in Uncertain Times

In his latest book, Leadership in the Era of Economic Uncertainty: The New Rules for Getting the Right Things Done in Difficult Times, Ram Charan (business guru and advisor to Fortune 500 companies) lays out a kind of a corporate crisis or war plan for the uncertain economic conditions, which he thinks lie ahead for the next few years. For any leader—especially a CEO—who’s navigating the company through these rough waters, having Charan along as a navigator is smart business. An internationally known expert in business strategy, Charan has written such bestsellers as Execution and Confronting Reality and coached companies like GE, Verizon and Bank of America.

Below is the first of a number of posts over the next week based on my review of Ram Charan’s important new book: Leadership in the Era of Economic Uncertainty,McGraw Hill, 2009. Please pass it along to colleagues who could benefit from this information.

In the introduction, Charan frames the economic issue facing CEOs as a corporate crisis. In this section,he uses DuPont CEO Chad Holliday as his shining example of a CEO who read the tea leaves early and correctly and who took action immediately when he began to see the Wall Street meltdown. Holliday carefully observed the auto industry tsunami hit, which affected his company directly because they supplied the paint for all those cars that had started not to sell. Holliday’s response followed the two basic rules set out in this book, especially for key leaders like CEOs in such uncertain times:

1. Management Intensity: “Hands on, Head in.” This means that CEOs have to not only be strategic but tactical as well. During such crisis they have to have a strategic view but a tactical hand on the reins of the company. CEOs need what Charan calls “ground level intelligence” about customers and the market. This comes from being engaged and tapping sales people and others who are on the front lines for detailed on-the-ground customer intelligence.

2. Cash is King: Woody Allen said it best: “Money is important if only for financial reasons!” Charam argues that while growth may have been the key metric for leaders in the past, cash will top the list for the next few years. Paying attention to margins, cash flow and liquidity will overshadow corporate acquisitions and leveraged expansion. Liquidity over growth—a new paradigm for so many of us raised on the growth model.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Toxic Employees--Downturn or Not


This is the 5th and final in a series of posts based on the April 2009 issue of the Harvard Business Review. This post is a review of the article entitled: How Toxic Colleagues Corrode Performance (by Christine Porath and Christine Pearson)

This article is more of a sidebar about the effect of uncivil and noxious employees on a business enterprise. The actions of such bad apples could be a bullying CEO, a bad-attitude employee or a mean spirited bad actor or conniving jerk. The effect on anyone who is a target of these bad actors, is the feeling of frustration, anger or even vengeance. Here are just a few of the 7 effects listed by the authors:

1. 66% said that their performance declined.

2. 48% decreased their work effort.

3. 78% said their commitment to the organization declined.

Heady wine. Read all the stats for a fuller picture of the impact of even one bad apple.

Also in the April Issue:

--A great interview of Doris Kearns Goodwin on the Leadership of Lincoln.
--Understanding your Google strategy.
--When internal collaboration can actually hurt you.
--Predicting you competitor’s response to your actions.
--And much more. Get your copy today…

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

HRB Case Study: Who Can Help the CEO?

This is the 4th in a series of posts based on the April 2009 issue of the Harvard Business Review on navigating in a downturn economy. This post is a review of the article entitled, Who Can Help the CEO? by Phil Terry P. 33)

As one who writes business fables, I have to confess a weakness for these fictionalized case studies in the HBR. This particular one is about a CEO who finds himself behind in his overly aggressive financial projections, his VP of sales has just resigned, and the CEO feels quite isolated and frozen. What to do, what to do? In the context of the story he gets well-wishing advice from his wife and squash partner. Then here’s what 3 outside professionals offer:

1. An IT entrepreneur CEO suggests a peer counseling group.

2. A dean of a Business School suggests the CEO share his weakness with his board and create a culture of valued input.

3. A venture capitalist suggests the CEO get active mentors and ask them for input.

I suggest any CEO looking to get out from under the feeling of being isolated, read this article closely.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Five Rules for Retailing in a Recession

This is the 3rd in a series of posts based on the April 2009 issue of the Harvard Business Review. This post is a review of the article entitled, Five Rules for Retailing in a Recession (Favaro, Romberger, and Meer--p.64).

Not that long ago, I can recall people bidding many thousands of dollars over the asking price to purchase a home in the Washington Metropolitan Area—then a red-hot real estate market. Those days are over for at least the near-term future. In fact, anyone in retail is feeling the pinch—more like a bite than a pinch. The authors offer their 5 suggestions:

1.Instead of focusing on your loyal consumers—though you certainly have to take good care of them to retain them—go after the uncommitted consumer. It’s a lot like politics—going after the middle-of-the-road voter.

2.Narrow the difference between what the consumer wants or needs and your offering. One suggestion was to have sales clerks ask instead of “Did you find what you need?” to “Is there something you want that we don’t carry?”

3.Reduce bad-cost products or services—those items that consumers won’t buy. For example, keeping your stores open longer hours when no or very few customers come in or using lots of space dedicated to low-purchase items.

4. Cluster stores according to consumer similarities and differences. Chain stores are particularly effected by this. For example, a retailer found that one cluster of stores in a high-income area needed more selection of laptops, whereas, those in lower income areas needed more desktops.

5. Retool Core Processes: During a downturn, retailers have to revisit customer research, strategic planning and other forward thinking strategies that will focus on the consumer-switching market, most likely to produce an uptick in sales.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Marketing in a Downturn Economy

This is the 2nd in a series of several posts this week from a review of the April issue of the Harvard Business Review, which focuses on navigating in a downturn economy.

Article Review: How to Market in a Downturn (by John Quelch and Katherine Jocz).

The authors suggest that marketers in any company consider four (4) psychological states that their markets might be segmented into:

1. Slam-on-the-Brakes: People most affected by the recession—lower income or anxious consumers. They halt all but the most necessary of purchases.

2. Pained-but-Patient: More stable and optimistic about the long term. Less certain about the future. Cautious about larger, less necessary purchases. Typically the largest segment of population, who are often unscathed by employment issues.

3. Comfortably Well-Off: These folks continue to purchase nearly at the same levels as pre-recession. They think they can ride out the bad time.

4, Live-for-Today: This group tends to be urban and younger consumers, unconcerned about savings, who yearn for experiences, less than possessions. They tend to buy today and are unlikely to change their habits.

I like the easy-to-comprehend matrix that describes each class of consumers and well worth studying and applying to your particular market segment.

The authors have also have created a second and equally useful matrix called “Tailoring Your Tactics” to the above 4 psychological market against types of products at risk described as follows:

--Essentials—basics products/services needed to sustain life (survival)
--Treats—indulgent products/services considered justifiable
--Postponables—needed products or wanted but can be put off
--Expendables—products/services that are both unnecessary and unjustifiable.

For example, the authors suggest when marketing Treats to the Pained-but-Patient consumer, offer frequent patron use items (buy 3 and get one free), advertise products as morale boosters, and advertise products as options to more expensive and frivolous luxuries.

The authors also offer a list of “7 Smart Ways to Economize on Advertising.”
For example: “#4 Advertise brands jointly with a marketer in a different product category that targets a similar consumer segment.

This article is well worth the read in its entirety for any business in the midst of trying to redefine a strategy for troubled waters.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Introduction to Navigating the Downturn Economy Series


Surviving and Thriving in a Downturn Economy

Americans are facing an economic challenge unlike any most of them have ever seen. Unemployment is at record levels, the stock market fluctuates with alarming volatility, and most people are hunkered down. Recognizing this situation, I thought it a good idea to look at what some business experts are saying about strategies to survive,even thrive in these turbulent waters. This week’s posts will focus on summaries of the April, 2009 issue of the Harvard Business Review (HBR) because several articles in this issue provide some practical, research-based solutions for navigating in these choppy waters. If you don’t subscribe, I strongly suggest at least buying this April issue and reading it closely.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Some Neat Leadership Quotes


This is the final of several posts on The 100 Best Business Books of All Time: What They Say, Why They Matter, and How They Can Help You by Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten (Penguin Group, 2009)

I liked the pull-quotes throughout the book. This might sound trivial, but if you just have 20 minutes and can only thumb through the book and absorb those highlighted quotes in the middle of stories, you’ll get something useful from the book.

1. “We want to help you…to capitalize on your strengths, whatever they might be, and manage around your weaknesses, whatever they might be.” (Now Discover Your Strengths by Buckingham and Clifton.)

2. “Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare.” (The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni)

3. “Always make the other person feel important.” (How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie)

4. “Leadership is at its best when the vision is strategic, the voice persuasive, the results tangible.” (The Leadership Moment by Michael Useem)

5. “And will you succeed? Yes! you will, indeed! (98 and ¾% guaranteed.) (”Oh the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Suess/Theodore Geisel)

This book is worthwhile for any busy executive—98 and ¾ % guaranteed!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

This is the second of several posts on The 100 Best Business Books of All Time: What They Say, Why They Matter, and How They Can Help You by Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten (Penguin Group, 2009)

I liked the author’s reading categories. Here are just a few:
--Leadership: Inspiration, Challenge, Courage, Change—On Becoming a Leader, The Leadership Moment, Leadership is an Art….

--Strategy: Eight organizational blueprints from which to draft your own—In Search of Excellence, Good to Great, The Innovator’s Dilemma, Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance….

--Sales and Marketing: Approaches and pitfalls in the ongoing process of creating customers—Influence, How to Become a Rainmaker, The Purple Cow, The Tipping Point….

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