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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Link Between Management and Productivity

It's official: a company's economic success rests on the quality of its managers.

In this new McKinsey report, they've confirmed the link between good management and superior performance. Companies that successfully apply a critical mass of proven management techniques—setting goals, tracking performance, energizing the shop floor, and nurturing talent—perform better, on average, than competitors that use such tools sporadically.

"Our research has shown that companies with a strong foundation of management best practices are also robust financial performers. The challenge for managers is to imitate or create good practices and then apply them diligently—and with sufficient breadth—across all functions. Concretely, that means using lean techniques, setting intelligent goals and targets for employees, and developing and retaining talent."

(Who researches this obvious stuff anyway??)

Six Disciplines Leadership Centers Expand into North Carolina

A new Six Disciplines Leadership Center franchise is being launched in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina.

Principals in the new Leadership Center are Bruce Fawcett (, Craig Landwehr ( and Mark Granville (

This new Six Disciplines Leadership Center will be operational in March 2006.

If you are in the area, and have an interest in Six Disciplines, contact Bruce, Craig or Mark!

Monday, February 27, 2006

How Companies Use Innovation to Build Value

Every company worth its balance sheet swears it believes in innovation.

The Wharton School recently asked a number of experts about their perspectives on innovation at the Ben Franklin Forum on Innovation held recently in Philadelphia.

Some great perspectives here:

  • "When we think about innovation, we should take a broad view. Innovation does not relate just to a new product that would come into the marketplace. Innovation can occur in processes and approaches to the marketplace, and in [decisions about] which markets the company chooses to serve."
  • "For Procter & Gamble, innovation is our life blood. Our senior management says it, repeats it, and our organization lives it. Our consumers vote a billion times a day whether or not to buy our products. You have to have things that meet their needs and that they are willing to buy. We see value in finding new ways of telling consumers what we are about, and it's all about innovation."
  • "Innovation is the primary source of value in companies. If you can drive innovation in a company, you can, at a relatively low cost, get a lot of growth and increase the profitability. If you don't innovate, you are actually destroying value because your competition will catch up to you in different ways."

BOTTOMLINE: Discipline V. Innovate Purposefully, (which is described in detail in the top-rated book Six Disciplines for Excellence) is the embodiment of innovation.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Companies Look to Make CEOs Accountable

A growing number of companies are attaching conditions to chief executives' pay, requiring CEOs to meet specific performance targets.

Listen to NPR's "Companies Look to Make CEOs Accountable" (Wow! Imagine that!)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Exercise and Leadership

Recent research from the international think-tank Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) shows that regular exercise and effective leadership go hand-in-hand.

In fact, study author and former U.S. Olympic Committee researcher Sharon McDowell-Larsen, Ph.D, says: “executives who exercise are rated significantly higher on their leadership effectiveness than non-exercisers.”

The drawback?

  • In a recent CCL poll of 427 executive, upper and middle managers, 78 percent cited competing priorities and 59 percent not enough time as their greatest challenges to exercise.

BOTTOMLINE: Like anything that takes discipline (diets, personal fitness) - it's not knowing what to do, it's doing it that's the challenge.

The Fast Company Interview: Jeff Immelt

The Fast Company Interview: Jeff Immelt offers some interesting insights into GE's Jack Welch and Jeff Immelt.

Some gems include:

  • One of the things Jack said early on that I think is totally right is: It's a marathon. It's not a sprint. His advice was right. It's the sustained ability to change that really counts.
  • If you can get up every day, stay optimistic, and believe the future is better than the past, those few things get you through a lot of tough times.
  • I say my job isn't to manage 300,000 people. It's to manage you. If you have the values, the ambition, if you're able to create excellence, this is going to be a great company.
  • One of the things I learned from Jack is that when you're running GE, it's your job to pick ideas, pick people, and spread those ideas across the company. It's not as much a question of confidence as much as it is a combination of confidence and actually seeing the pathway you want to follow -- not just for a year or two but for a long period of time.
  • In some next life, I want to do something where I could give back. Teaching is one way. I would probably teach business, somewhere, someplace, somehow.

Friday, February 17, 2006

CEOs and Creativity

Management-Issues reveals results from a new study that reveals the work style behavior that most distinguishes today's presidents and CEOs is....(surprise....) CREATIVITY.

PsyMax Solutions, a human capital assessment firm based in Cleveland, suggests that high creativity - which includes innovativeness and risk-taking is the work style behavior that most distinguishes today's business leaders.

Other interesting findings:

  • CEOs also tend to score well above average in their ability to advocate and sell ideas and in tough-mindedness, their resilience in the face of criticism
  • CEOs are attracted to the job by the opportunity for complex problem-solving, the ability to have a personal impact on the business and satisfaction of seeing their ideas implemented

Meanwhile, in at least one respect, the PsyMax study found that CEOs lag considerably behind the norm. According to their findings, company heads are decidedly less organized than their subordinates. While CEOs may excel at addressing issues in an innovative, resourceful and imaginative way, they probably need a lot of support from others on their team to execute what needs to be done.

Best Management Ideas

Lisa Haneberg, over at Management Craft, shares the results of her "Best Management Ideas" contest, where she offered prizes for the best ideas from bloggers and readers outthere.

There are some real gems out there - showing once again, that people can still be innovative in their approaches to people performance management.

Spend some time, and take a look here.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Thought Leadership From MIT and Harvard

Jonathan Byrnes is a senior lecturer at MIT and President of Jonathan Byrnes & Co., a focused consulting company. He earned a doctorate from Harvard Business School in 1980.

Jonathan publishes "The Bottom Line" column, from Harvard Business School Working Knowledge.

His web site here. Definitely worth checking out!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Carnival of Entrepreneurship

Scott Allen, over at About Entrepreneurs, has launched the "Carnival of Entrepreneurship," a traveling weekly blog carnival (hosted at a different blog each week) featuring the best of the entrepreneurial blogosphere.

The first "issue" of the Carnival is here.

Here's all the details about the weekly roadshow. Check out the Carnival for great ideas and content each week.

(BTW...Be Excellent will host the Carnival of Entrepreneurship on April 20).

What Makes A Top CEO?

For the past nine years, Spencer Stuart has conducted research on the developmental background and professional experience of the CEOs of leading companies in the US.

This year their research was conducted among CEOs of S&P 500 companies.

Their top findings:

  • The percentage of new CEOs over age 50 has increased from 64% to 69% over the past year.
  • 62% of all S&P 500 CEOs have earned an advanced degree beyond their undergraduate degree (this includes M.B.A.s, other master degrees, PhDs, etc.).
  • Since 2000, the percentage of top 100 CEOs who followed one functional path (general management) throughout their career has decreased from 25% to 8%
Check out all the detailed demographics here.

(Tip of the Hat to Rob May, over at BusinessPundit for this one!)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

How Great Companies Innovate

Influential business guru Geoffrey Moore, well known for his previous books on disruptive technologies and high tech markets, is back on the bookshelf exploring the topic of perpetual innovation.

Here's a Harvard Review of his latest tome: "Dealing with Darwin: How Great Companies Innovate at Every Phase of Their Evolution"

The essence?

"How can we innovate forever? Because that is precisely what natural selection forces us to do."

BOTTOMLINE: Moore argues that innovation comes in fourteen innovation “types” ranging from simple line extensions to total market disrupters. It's the job of management to figure out which innovation type is the best fit given the maturity of the category.

Reading for Personal Development

George Ambler, over at The Practice of Leadership, offers his advice on How to Select What to Read for Personal Development .

His assertions:
  • Books significantly influence our thinking.
  • If we're not careful, we allow the media to decide for us what we to pay attention to, and what to ignore.

BOTTOMLINE: do you select books to read for personal development purposes?

"Read only the best books first, lest there not be time enough to read them all" - Walden Pond

Read George's advice here.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Making A Difference, Values and Managing Change

More and more managers are motivated by "making a difference", enjoyment of their job and personal achievement, according to the study by leadership and development centre Roffey Park.

Other key findings:
  • 87% will "go the extra mile" to get things done and 83% feel committed or very committed to their organization.
  • 70% said they refuse a promotion if it affected their work-life balance and 57% felt they had a satisfactory work-life balance.
  • Nearly half said their organisation had become more values driven over recent years, 60% believed that its espoused and practiced values did not match.
  • Managing change remained the biggest issue for organizations, despite some stating the biggest challenges they were facing related to succession planning, retention, recruitment and skills shortages.
  • 78% of managers thought senior managers do not "walk the talk."
  • Performance management was still problematic, with only 11% believing it was managed very well, compared with 9% in 2005.
  • Just 36% trusted their top leadership to a great extent.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Competing On Analytics

A new breed of organization has upped the stakes by using all their firepower on the one area that promises to create the greatest competitive advantage: Amazon, Harrah's, Capital One, and the Boston Red Sox have all dominated their fields by deploying industrial-strength analytics across a wide variety of activities.

Companies must undergo very substantial changes to compete on quantitative turf. As one would expect, the transformation requires a significant investment in technology, the accumulation of massive stores of data, and the formulation of companywide strategies for managing the data.

But, at least as important, it also requires executives' vocal, unswerving commitment and willingness to change the way employees think, work, and are treated.

Tom Davenport, over at, offers "You Know You Compete on Analytics When...."

Friday, February 03, 2006

Examples of Excellence: Roethlisberger in Football

Findlay, Ohio - home to Six Disciplines Corporation -is getting lots of press these days, and for good reason.

Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers, was born and raised in Findlay, Ohio.

This is a tribute to Ben Roethlisberger from the hometown he has made so proud.

Before Big Ben was a Super Bowl starting quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, he was Findlay, Ohio's Ben Roethlisberger, a starting quarterback, point guard and shortstop for the Findlay High School Trojans.

BOTTOMLINE: From all of us in Findlay OH - Good Luck Big Ben, - Dreams Really Do Come True! (and....let's get "One For The Thumb!)

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Time for Some Levity

OK folks....time for some levity....

If you haven't ever checked out the folks at Despair - wait till you see their podcasts!

For the better part of a decade, Despair, Inc. has been engaged in a fierce battle in the marketplace of ideas with the multi-billion dollar motivation industry. In 1998, Despair introduced the world to a darkly insightful line of motivational poster parodies known simply as Demotivators®. In April 2005, company co-founder Dr. E.L. Kersten unveiled his landmark management book, "The Art of Demotivation"- a work quickly praised by Financial Times Management Columnist Lucy Kellaway as "the most daring, funny and subversive management book ever written".

With the introduction of Despair Video podcasts, the company opens a new front in the war on motivation- while simultaneously offering a tantalizing glimpse at life inside the company itself.

Man, ya just gotta have some fun sometimes!

(Tip of the hat to our friend Lisa Haneberg at Management Craft)

Vision Monthly

Vision Monthly is a new magazine intended for anyone who is committed to professional development, continuous improvement, and lifelong learning.

Some of the top bloggers have contributed to this project - and it is a winner.

Their first issue -- which is outstanding -- can be downloaded here.

Download and distribute as many copies as you like. Please take a moment to provide a donation.

(Tip of the hat to Ethan Johnson at The Vision Thing)