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Posts Tagged ‘Business Leadership’

If you stand up and be counted, from time to time you may get yourself knocked down.  But remember this: A man flattened by an opponent can get up again.  A man flattened by conformity stays down for good.
  —  Thomas J. Watson
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On This Day In:
2019 Advice From #1 To #45
2018 How Much I Will Miss The Trump Administration
2017 We Need To Continue Experimenting
2016 Consistently
2015 We Must Dissent
2014 Now What?
2013 Judgement
2012 Stuck In My Mind
Life’s Hope
2011 Just Getting Up
Directions Please

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Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.
  —  Peter Drucker
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On This Day In:
2017 Some Good
2016 Edges
Sums
2015 I Hope Not
2014 Study The Means Of Expressing Yourself
2013 That Stubborn Thing
2012 Like Mike
2011 Flawless Or Candid
2010 Browning…

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A manager develops people.  Through the way he manages he makes it easy or difficult for them to develop themselves.  He directs people or misdirects them.  He brings out what is in them or he stifles them.  He strengthens their integrity or he corrupts them  He trains them to stand upright and strong, or he deforms them, whether he knows it or not.
   —  Peter Drucker
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On This Day In:
2016 Or Blog
2015 Stretched Today?
2014 Outta Here
2013 Getting Words Right
2012 There’s A New Dog In Town
Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is
2011 A Conservative Is…

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He isn’t a real boss until he has trained subordinates to shoulder most of his responsibilities.
   —  William Feather
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On This Day In:
2016 You Just Have To Care
Day 4 – Blending
2015 My Slow Education
2014 Great Service
2013 You Really Should Wear More Sweaters
Here I Am God
2012 The Serenity Prayer
2011 The Victory Of Life

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You either believe people are fundamentally good or you don’t.  If you do believe they’re good, then as an entrepreneur, a team member, a team leader, a manager, or a CEO — or a government leader — you should act in a way consistent with your beliefs.  If people are good, then they should be free.  Too many organizations and managers operate as if, absent some enlightened diktat, people are too benighted to make sound decisions and innovate.
   —  Laszlo Bock
Google’s head of human resources, (senior vice president, people operations)
from his book: “Work Rules!
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On This Day In:
2014 If You Ever Fall…
2013 Glory Days (part 2)
2012 They Follow A Pattern – If You Know What I Mean
What I Live For (Precis)
2011 Giving

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The Japanese are among the most competitive people in the world; otherwise they could not have achieved their recent economic successes.  Consensus was established to keep the society cohesive and to control excessive competition, which would cause friction and make tireless rivals of the people in the isolated areas.  So the comment that Japan is a society of consensus is only one side of the story.
   —  Mitsuyuki Masatsugu
From his book: “The Modern Samurai Society
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On This Day In:
2013 Not Ought
2012 If You Want To, If You Have Something To Offer
2011 I See Lots Of Fools
2010 Orange Inside!!
And The Band Played On…
Happy New Year!!

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Today I am home ill with what seems to be an ear infection.  Every few years, I get this swollen sensation on the right side of my head.  It feels like my head has a weighted balloon attached to the right side.  When I turn my head, stand or look quickly in any direction, I get a light-headedness and it feels like my vision/brain is continuing to move after my head (or eyeballs) have stopped.  Several years ago I had to go to the ER to get seen by a doctor about this condition.  Then, I also had an associated fever, which I fortunately don’t have this time.  In any case, I take some decongestants and my vertigo pill and I kind of spend the day in a half-stupor of fatigue and dizziness.
This morning I completed a book I’ve been reading off and on for several years now.  Our local library system has an annual shelf clearing book give-away each August and they have about 800 to 1,000 boxes of books which are set out for anyone to take what they want – as much as you can carry, and come back tomorrow.  Today’s book was one of these and I picked it up about three years ago.  It has mostly sat in my car waiting to be read.  I would grab it whenever I had a doctor / dentist visit to have something to read in the waiting room.  Unfortunately, if you don’t wait much, you don’t read much, so this has taken quite a while to get through.
The book is titled: “The Modern Samurai Society: Duty and Dependence in Contemporary Japan“, (1982©) and was written by Mitsuyuki Masatsugu.  The book attempts to explain contemporary (circa 1982) corporate Japan in terms of the historical legacy of the Samurai (“samurai” means “one who serves”) society which held sway in Japan for several centuries.  The samurai tradition fell out of favor with the coming of the industrial revolution in the last half of the 19th century.  (As an aside, part of this transition was portrayed in the Tom Cruise movie: “The Last Samurai“.)  In essence, it attempts to explain Japanese business management techniques to non-Japanese.
To Masatsugu, successful Japanese management stems from eight factors which incorporate two features from Japanese culture.  The eight factors (guiding principles) to success are:
1) Paternalism;
2) Guaranteed lifetime employment;
3) Seniority-based promotion;
4) In-company unions;
5) Periodic transfers;
6) Overtime work as a safety valve;
7) Enriched welfare program; and,
8) A selective retirement system.
The two features which Masatsugu believes to be uniquely emphasized in Japanese society are:
1) Diligence – the duty each individual has towards their country in general and towards their company in particular.  And,
2) Dependence – a recognition that even though the employees are individuals, they must work together to surpass non-Japanese companies.
Like any “valid” theoretical explanation, management theories must meet a minimum of two criteria: does it accurately describe what is currently happening, and two, does it have predictive value either for when external conditions change or when internal structures are abandoned (or both).  In this book’s case, we now have the benefit of thirty-two years history to see that Masatsugu’s proposal was pretty spot on.
Since the book’s release Japan has suffered both a housing boom collapse and an economic drought now approaching the middle of its third decade.  The housing collapse happened in the 1980’s and the start of Japan’s economic drought (I hesitate to call it a collapse as Japan has only recently been surpassed by China as THE economic power in Asia) occurred in the 1990’s.  In fact, the 1990’s is sometimes referred to in Japan as “the lost decade” because there was so little economic growth.
Specifically, Masatsugu suggests the structure of Japan’s economic strength is based on these principles and if any one (or combination) fails, the entire structure will waver and ultimately collapse.  Masatsugu predicts the gradual incorporation of western management will bring about an economic failure.  He leans towards the abandonment of guaranteed lifetime employment and seniority-based promotion when “times get hard”.  Masatsugu says that in past times, management held to principle and the economy eventually turned around.  He cautions that future management might not have the fortitude to withstand to pressure to abandon principle in an effort to meet “western style” quarterly objectives.  We now know Japanese management has moved away from guaranteed lifetime employment, seniority-based promotion and selective retirement.  All of these actions have had a detrimental effect on business (and societal) productivity in the U.S. over the last 40 years.  It will be interesting to see if the same happens in Japan and how long it will take to happen (if it does).
I doubt very much that this book could be written in today’s “politically correct” world as it has several racist and sexist comments which, in context, seem common sense, but are actually inculcated cultural biases.  For example, women are generally considered unequal to men in the business world, because…  Wait for it…  Because they are!  (Well, except when they aren’t.)  In the author’s view, a woman can be one of the main reasons a man succeeds in business.  But, a female can never succeed in Japanese business on her own.  In all, though, these are trivial reasons to be critical of a book which I believe is overwhelmingly a valuable (if dated) insight into Japanese business culture.  Highly recommended!
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On This Day In:
2013 Doin’
2012 A Lover
2011 What Have We Found Here
Words

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Wisdom means acting with knowledge while doubting what you know.  It entails striking a balance between arrogance (assuming you know more than you do) and insecurity (believing that you know too little to act).  It requires asking for help and asking questions, as well as giving help and answering questions.  With an attitude of wisdom, managers can do things now, but still keep learning along the way.
  —  Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton
[Quoted from the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Spring 2006
The article is titled: “Act On Facts, Not Faith” and can be found online at:  http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/act_on_facts_not_faith/
  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2013 Three Thoughts
2012 Gentle Reader
2011 Leave The Light On For Me Anyway

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Great institutions are not managed; they are led.  They are not administered; they are driven to ever-increasing levels of accomplishment by individuals who are passionate about winning.
  —  Louis V. Gerstner, Jr.
From his book: “Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance
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On This Day In:
2012 Cannibal, n.
2011 Moments Of Truth

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Execution —  getting the task done, making it happen — is the most unappreciated skill of an effective business leader.
   —   Louis V. Gerstner, Jr.
From his book:  “Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance
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On This Day In:
2012 Living Courage
2011 What’s Happening To Us?
2010 Toothbrush, Carbon and Monoxide
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!

 

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The problem arises, however, of what one is to do with those workers who are replaced by the robots.
It is not that there will be an overall diminution of jobs.  If the past is to be a guide, technological advances create more jobs than they destroy.  Thus, the automobile industry employs far more people than the buggy industry ever did.  Nevertheless, there is a change in the kind of jobs that will be available.  The repetitive jobs of the assembly line will tend to disappear.  The dull jobs of paper-shuffling and button-pressing will disappear.  In their place will be such jobs as computer-programming and robot maintenance.
On the whole, the jobs that will come into existence will be far more creative and will take far more education and training than will those that have disappeared.
It will therefore be part of the responsibility of the corporation of the future to see to the re-education of the workforce.  This could be done out of pure feelings of humanity and philanthropy, but it is more practical to suppose that it would be done out of a very natural desire to preserve the stability of society.  It might save money, in the short run, simply to cast out the displaced, but it would not be good business to have hordes of hungry and angry people ready to change, by force, the economic system that reduced them to misery.
   —  Isaac Asimov
From his book:  “The Roving Mind
[Asimov is referring to the responsibility of the corporation replacing the worker with automation.  In today’s political climate, it is the unemployed who must retrain themselves (at their own expense).  It is nice when the government can assist, but there is no “legal” responsibility.  And, of course, the corporation has no responsibility to their workers.  It will be interesting to see if this remains a tenable relationship between worker, government and corporation.  I believe it will not be tenable and we will end up with a voter imposed (via government) “New Deal” for workers which will shift some of the costs of retraining / re-education back onto the businesses / corporations of our economy.  —  KMAB]
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I’ve never been certain that I can abstract from my experiences a handful of lessons that others can apply to their own situations.
  —  Louis V. Gerstner, Jr.
From his book:  “Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance
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The truth is that no large enterprise can work without bureaucracy.  Bureaucrats, or staff people, provide coordination among disparate line organizations; establish and enforce corporate-wide strategies that allow the enterprise to avoid duplication, confusion, and conflict; and provide highly specialized skills that cannot be duplicated because of cost or simply the shortage of available resources.
  —  Louis V. Gerstner, Jr.
From his book:  “Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance
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It’s okay to make mistakes, as long as you make them in good conscience and you’re doing the best you can at that moment.  …I’m not afraid to make a mistake, and I’m not afraid to say afterward, ‘Boy, that was a mistake.  Let’s try something else.’  I think that wins people over.  Now, I don’t make mistakes purposely to win people over, but when I make one, I admit it.  I can also say, ‘You have a better idea than I have.  Let’s do your idea.’  I don’t second-guess people.  If I hire you to do something, I let you do it.
  —  Barbara Corday
American television executive, writer and producer with CBS Television mainly known for co-creating the television series “Cagney & Lacey
As quoted in his book: “On Becoming A Leader” by Warren Bennis
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This week I completed two books – one very good and one not very good.
The very good book is titled: “On Becoming A Leader” (2003©) and was written by Warren Bennis  – updated version from the original published in 1989.  Bennis is considered to be the “father” of the developed leader school.  His mantra is that leaders are not born, they are made.  Some are made by history, but Bennis goes farther in that he believes many (if not most) make themselves.  They (leaders in process) have various ways of “making” themselves, but ultimately they follow similar paths to becoming a leader.  The book is meant to lend framework to the path – partly to define the framework, but mostly to lay out the map for readers (leaders in process).
Shakespeare states: “Be not afraid of greatness; some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.”  This is a quote often seen when discussing how great leaders come to be.  I believe all three are true for “historic” leaders and am not convinced that any one is more prevalent than the other two.  I do feel that history and luck play the biggest role in “greatness”, though.
Bennis is firmly in the “achieving” camp.  It should be pointed out there is a difference between “greatness” and “leadership” and Bennis is concerned with the latter and not the former.  This book is his version of “how” to become a leader – the personal traits you need to develop, how you should lead, and how you must form your organization or how it will form you.  There is a statement that great leaders understand themselves and “express” their nature fully.  This is the part where I start to fall away from Bennis.  While I can understand “warm-fuzzy psycho-babble”, it’s not my cup of tea.  It simply doesn’t “resonate” with me.  This may simply be because I’m not a “great” leader and I’m therefore not  able to feel the “expressive” nature of great leadership hidden away in me.  (But, I doubt it…)
Anyway, as negative as the preceding paragraphs sound, this is actually a VERY good book and I highly recommend it – not because I believe everything Bennis says, but rather because I love his use of language.  I probably hope that being “fully expressive” is all it takes to be a great leader, because this implies I may still develop into a great leader myself.  (But, I doubt it…)
By the way, this was another $2 clearance book at Half-Price Books (and worth ten times as much), and you’ll be seeing frequent quotes from the book in future posts.
The second book is titled: “Marathoning A-Z” and was written by Hal Higdon (2002©).  The book is sub-titled: “500 Ways to Run Better, Faster,and Smarter“.  The book is a series of alphabetically sorted snippets from his question and answer columns and emails about running.  The book is a very fast read.  This is partly because each offering truly is a snippet and partly because there is almost nothing stated which makes one pause to think.  As such, I could not recommend this book to any but the most rank beginner of a runner.  Even then I’d qualify the book to them by stating at least 20 to 30 of the items are repeated in a different alphabet letter.  I’m not sure if this was meant to introduce humor or simply filler because you’ve promised the publisher 500 items.  (I have a feeling it’s the latter…)  Sadly, this was NOT a $2 book for me.  It was $4.95 and I was over-charged about $4 in value vs cost.  Save your money and check this out of a library.  Better yet, just go out and start jogging.  You’ll get more from jogging yourself than you will ever get from this book.
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