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Look Who’s Talking too…

When I first entered the corporate world five years ago after nearly twenty years of running my own business, I was definitely a fish out of water. As a direct report to the CEO, I participated in many of the most important conversations taking place in the company. Being a designer, I often had points of view rather different from the other executives sitting around the table. Sometimes, after offering such a point, I would find them looking at me like I was insane.The last two days I’ve posted blogs based on articles in recent editions of MITSloan Management Review and the Harvard Business Review. I thought I would share a sample of the best quotes from these magazines— today I’ll focus on HBR (JULY/AUG 2009); tomorrow I’ll look at the MITSloan. While these thoughts and research-based ideas may be new to the business world, they are not to the design world.

The Big Shift— Measuring the Forces of Change

“One of the easiest but most powerful ways firms can achieve the performance improvements promised by technology is to jettison management’s distinction between “creative talent” and the rest of the organization. All workers can continually improve the performance by engaging in creative problems solving, often by connecting with peers inside and outside the firm.”

from HBR; July/Aug 2009; “Leadership in the New World”

“An executive team on its own can’t find the best solutions. But leadership can generate more leadership deep in the organization.”

“Embrace disequilibrium— keeping people in a state that creates enough discomfort to induce change, but not so much that they fight, flee, or freeze.”

from HBR; July/Aug 2009; “Strategy in the New World: The 10 Trends You Have to Watch”

“Corporate leaders need to demonstrate to civil society that they understand popular and political concerns related to executive compensation, risk management, board oversight, and the treatment of employees facing layoffs.”

Management models “need to incorporate more-realistic version of human behavior— most likely by drawing on behavior economics, becoming more dynamic, and integrating real-world feedback— and… business leaders need to get better at using them.”

Regulation in the New World: Government in Your Business

“The changes afoot have been on the horizon for some time, thanks to long-term trends such as deepening public distrust of business.”

Shareholders First? Not So Fast…

“Why should past labor (capital) receive so much preference over current labor (employees)?”

“Consider that there are literally scores of recent studies showing the gains in profitability and productivity that companies have made— not by putting investors’ interests first but by implementing high-commitment work practices. These include investing in training, decentralizing decision making, and having pay contingent on organizational, not just individual, performance. Other sources show the benefits companies reap from customer loyalty and high levels of customer satisfaction.”

[DB NOTE: I was struck by the use of “high-commitment” rather that “accountability” in the paragraph above. Machine parts need to be “accountable” but innovative organizations thrive via deep personal commitment. Fodder for a future blog]

Restoring America’s Competitiveness

“Corporate management must overhaul its practices and governance structures so the no longer exaggerate the payoffs and discount the dangers of outsourcing production and cutting investments in R&D.”

“Stop blaming Wall Street for short-term behavior… When companies promise to increase returns quarter after quarter, that’s what Wall Street expects. But when they articulate a credible long-term strategy and demonstrate a capacity to execute that strategy, the capital markets have given them the necessary room to achieve it.”

“Managers would serve their companies more wisely by recognizing that informed judgment is a better guide to making such decisions than an analytical model loaded with arbitrary assumptions. There is no way to take the guesswork out of the process.

“Only be rejuvenating its innovative capabilities can America return to a path of sustainable growth.”

Sane or insane? You decide. More tomorrow…

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