via HarvardBusiness.org by Bill Taylor on 6/21/08
Boston is bathed in green now that the Celtics have secured their 17th World Championship banner after a 22-year drought. I had the great fortune to attend Game 6 and cheer on this likeable team, as three spectacular performers (Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen) coalesced to do together what none of them had ever been able to do on their own—win an NBA title. It was a memorable night, filled with respect for the players and their coach, with nostalgia for the great teams and players in Celtics history, and with anticipation that this banner might be the first of several to be hoisted in Boston in the next few years.
It’s always fun to try to apply lessons from sports to the world of business—even though usually, as I’ve written in a previous post, the lessons are pretty limited. In this case, though, the re-emergence of the NBA’s most storied franchise can teach important lessons about leadership and teamwork—and teach us why, even as so much of the competitive environment changes all around us, the rules of success remain largely the same.
Indeed, what struck me most about Game 6 was how the success of the 2007-2008 Celtics blended leadership wisdom from the past with a cultural sensibility rooted in the present. Or, to put it more simply, how the unlikely combination of Red Auerbach and Archbishop Desmond Tutu inspired the team on its championship run.
The influence of Red Auerbach is obvious. I was choked up and literally choking towards the end of Game 6, as fans around me lit up cigars in tribute to the legendary coach, general manager, and president of the Boston Celtics—the man most responsible for those first 16 championship banners.
The best way to understand the genius of Red Auerbach, and to appreciate how relevant his ideas were to the current Celtics, is to re-read an interview he did with HBR back in 1987, shortly after the Celtics won their 16th title. My friend and Fast Company co-founder Alan Webber conducted the interview, and it is filled with insights about how to create teamwork in an organization, how to evaluate performance in ways that go beyond statistics, and how one bozo at the top (in this case, John Y. Brown, who co-owned the Celtics briefly) could jeopardize in a year what it had took decades to build.
“How do you motivate the players?” Alan asked, expecting, I imagine, a complicated, multi-faceted answer. “Pride, that’s all,” Red answered. “Pride of excellence. Pride of winning. I tell our guys, ‘Isn’t it nice to go around all summer and say that you’re a member of the greatest basketball team in the world.’”
No wonder so many fans at Game 6 wore T-shirts emblazoned with messages about “Celtics pride”—a mystique that Red Auerbach invented, and this team finally restored, not because they won this game, but because of how they played all year.
But there was a second legendary leader whose values hovered over the court during Game 6. At the beginning of the season, searching for a way to inspire three great players to sacrifice on behalf of team goals, coach “Doc” Rivers read a collection of speeches by South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu. At the center of the speeches was the concept of “ubuntu”—a term from the Bantu languages of southern Africa that’s hard to translate into English but boils down to a simple but rich idea: “I am because of you.”
As Tutu explained, “A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished…”
The players took to the idea with real passion—they wore “ubuntu” on their wristbands, they chanted “ubuntu” as they broke the huddle, and, most important, they played selflessly, as if infused by the philosophy about which Archbishop Tutu spoke so eloquently.
Call it pride. Call it something more exotic. But it’s still what separates mediocre organizations from champions. And it’s why, the morning after Game 6, I ordered a different kind of T-shirt. It’s green, of course, featuring the Celtics shamrock, but it has only one word on it: Ubuntu.
How Great Companies Use Productivity as a Competitive Tool in Business
by Jason Jennings
from the back flap… Jason Jennings and his team of researchers traveled the globe, researching thousands of businesses, to find the world’s most productive companies. Then they went deep inside, uncovering the secrets that allow these companies to be dramatically more productive, often without reductions in head count. These productivity champions defy all the fixed rules and turn conventional wisdom upside down.
pg xv Here’s our list of criteria for selecting the companies included in this book:
- revenue per employee
- return on equity and return on assets
- operating income per employee (income from operations divided by the number of employees)
- has the company been overexposed?
- might this company pull an Enron?
(The companies selected: The Warehouse, Nucor, Yellow Freight, IKEA, Ryanair, SRC, World Savings and Lantech.)
pg 4 As I came to the end of my in-depth interviews with the CEOs of the companies covered in this book, I was struck by the fact that each shared this in common; the ownership of and fierce loyalty to a very simple big objective. The big objective was the strategy and it became the culture; everything else was tactics on how to achieve it.
pg 14 Stack made good on his promise to teach everyone business, with steps that include calling the whole company together weekly for a detailed update on the firm’s profit and loss statement and balance sheet. Today a visit to any SRC facility starts in the lunchroom where an entire wall details the company’s financial statement including how much money they have in the bank. As you walk the factory floor engaging people in conversation, you find workers who are as comfortable talking price-equity as pistons, cash flows as cylinders.
SRC Holding has become a widely diversified manufacturing holding company that grows 15 percent per year in good times and bad, whose twenty-two plants are involved in fifteen different manufacturing operations.
With revenues greater than $200 million annually, the company handily beats their competitors on all the productivity metrics – revenue per employee, operating income per employee and return on invested capital.
Stack’s simple BIG objective was to teach everyone the rules of business and then turn it into a game where everybody has a clear awareness of how his work impacts the numbers.
pg 39 I didn’t find any closed doors in the world’s most productive companies. (I even had trouble getting people to shut a door against intrusive noises when I wanted to tape an interview.) As a result of my research, I’ve concluded that the greater number of closed doors in a company, the less likely that truthfulness and openness will be found. (You want to wager there were more closed doors around Enron than you could count?)
pg 55 Imagine the giant strides in productivity that any department or business can achieve by doing nothing more than emulating the first two lessons we’ve covered in our study of highly productive enterprises: Install a BIG strategic objective that ultimately becomes the culture. And then create an open and truthful environment where everyone knows and understands the numbers and is compensated for specific contributions.
pg 65 Kamprad has institutionalized the destruction of complicated corporate hierarchies. Kent Nordin says, “We still have hats called “Anti-Bureaucracy Week,” a time when executives must leave the safe, secluded confines of their corporate offices and get down and dirty in an IKEA store for an entire week.
He continues, “For at least one week every year, everyone has to work in a store. And that can be anything from pushing carts to serving as a cashier, or in sales, whatever you can do.”
But there’s a caveat. Nordin adds, “All of the executives must be there on weekends, when the stores are busiest, teeming with shoppers of all kinds, crying babies and arguing couples. It’s not enough to check in on a Monday and out on a Thursday afternoon. You have to be there when the heat is on.” Their founder created the program, Nordin explains, “because he is dead scared of bureaucracy. He is very afraid about the people who make decisions becoming out of touch.”
Eight Steps for Driving a Stake Through the Heart of Bureaucracy
1. Change everything as fast as you can (which is always faster than you think you can).
2. Get the right people on the bus.
3. Blow up functional silos and construct cross functional teams.
4. Decentralize to create entrepreneurship.
5. Flatten the organization to increase responsiveness to customers and others within the company.
6. Create passion in the ranks: lead by visible example, show the troops you care – a lot!
7. Create and reinforce a high-performance culture.
8. View all decisions from the perspective of ‘Does it help the customer?’ and ‘Does it make us money?’ If it doesn’t, it’s bureaucracy. Shoot it!
pg 81 One trait shared by all these productive companies is that they are essentially businesses with a simple business proposition working tirelessly to whittle away the unnecessary costs and edges, constantly becoming better and more efficient. And in the process each has created a workforce that doesn’t spin its wheels on unnecessary projects, nonstrategic initiatives or flavour-of-the-month management philosophies. And none of them uses layoffs as a way to manage head count.
pg 93 When the workers in a business are cross-trained a company can often avoid layoffs through the use of attrition. Cross-training delivers another palpable advantage as well: a company with versatile employees and executives require fewer layers of bureaucracy because everyone knows the nuts and bolts of the place.
… Now, I might say, ‘Hey, you know a lot about sales marketing systems but I’m going to have you work in operations for a while.’ The net result is that we’re able to leverage our investment in people and use that knowledge to come up with better solutions for our customers.”
pg 96 Most people in the workforce are able to understand the need for a one-time major reorganization. But nobody worth their salt wants to work in an unenlightened environment where each time the top dog confronts a problem, the only response offered is “Let’s reduce head count.”
Highly productive companies prove the proposition that Less is More by hiring carefully and having a policy of no layoffs, which creates a workforce that feels safe and secure and committed to achieving the goals and ambitions of the enterprise.
pg 99 World Savings is a case study in productivity. The Sandlers run the company with little more than half the employees of their closest competitor. The average World Savings employee generates an astounding $752,000 in revenue each year. That is 40 percent more than industry average. Each employee contributes $145,000 in profit annually, which represents nearly double the industry average.
pg 102 “At one point,” he says, “Marion called the person in charge of marketing with a question about something and I promptly got a call from the CEO telling me that’s not the way things work. He told me that Marion should have called him and he would have relayed the request to the head of marketing, who would talk to the right employee, who would get back to the supervisor, who’d get back to the head of marketing, who’d relay the information to the CEO, who would then call me.”
Herb Sandler’s blunt observation: “That type of bureaucracy is common in many companies. We won’t have that crap around here. It reminds me,” he says, “of the old story about Merrill Lynch. You go into a Merrill Lynch office and ask, ‘Who’s in charge here?’ and all fifteen hands going up in the air. Then you ask, ‘Who’s responsible? And all fifteen hands come down.”
pg 105 “Marion has a question that we ask all the time whenever we’re required to make any decision” He warns that it’s an astute question and therefore sometimes very complicated to answer… “The question,” she says, “the one we ask before we make any decision is, ‘What’s the good business reason for doing this?”
pg 108 Today most of the World portfolio comprises loans on single family homes up to four-unit buildings, though it does occasionally write multiple residential mortgages, and 95 percent of its mortgages are at adjustable rates – mortgages with interest rates that go up and down with the market.
pg 122 A highly productive company doesn’t use a financial statement as a basis for leading and managing the business. It uses carefully selected Drivers to keep it moving forward and constantly becoming more productive.
Notwithstanding their size, the companies we studied almost exclusively focus on a small number of important tasks and then work relentlessly to improve them, knowing that if they’re successful the financial statement will ultimately reflect their success.
pg 124 The big Drivers and Lantech include new orders, shipments and variable margin. “Our mantra around here,” says Cunningham, “is if you don’t ship it, you don’t have income and you don’t make a profit. All our shipments show gross profitability and you just can’t do that with regular accounting.” … Fiume follows up with some advice that seems hard to beat: “What you need are real numbers and lower levels of the organization that are actionable by people who have real jobs and do the real work.”
The Drivers companies share in common are each quantity-based and delivered on either a real time, daily or weekly basis. None of the companies we studied relied on month-old data, interpreted by accountants who make decisions about the business proposition. When a company finally creates a process where the things that truly drive a business, generate revenues and improve productivity are regularly measured, the financial statements become secondary. It is secondary in the sense that the other measurements being used give control of the business; the financial statements just confirm what you already know. When that happens, productivity will flourish.
pg 129 “A system”, Brent (Hendrix) says, “is work in which the sequence of job elements has been efficiently organized and is repeatedly followed by a team member. The work sequence that is followed represents the ‘best practices’ involved in completing the job. The aim of a system is to reduce the variation introduced, thus eliminating waste and achieving high productivity. It’s also the baseline of the continuous improvement philosophy in which the involvement of the team member is vital.” …Highly productive companies turn virtually all aspects of their business into systems.
pg 147 All highly productive companies employ the same principles for continuous improvement… To the certain protest of many kaizen practitioners who would have you believe there’s either something complex or magical about kaizen, our study and research led us to conclude there are seven readily identifiable steps involved in continuous improvement. Here is the way all the companies we studied continually improve what they do – even if they’ve never heard of kaizen.
• Leadership must be involved in continuous improvement. (Go, see, be involved.)
• There’s agreement on the objectives. (set specific productivity objectives)
• You need to know what the real product or service is. (Ask the question ‘What’s our real product or service?’ completely from the perspective of the customer.)
• Start by mapping the current process.
• The people performing the work must be involved in the (creation of the) new process.
• The improved process is implemented immediately.• Continuous improvement becomes the ethos of the company.
pg 157 Dr. Jeffery Pfeffer, author of many business books and currently the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behaviour at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, says, “It’s easier for people to tinker with compensation than it is to address the real issues, the need to build a culture based on respect and trust.”
pg 191 When the research team finally connected the dots, we realized that highly productive enterprises don’t rely on traditional motivational methods to become and stay productive. … If highly productive companies don’t employ the same motivational tactics and programs as most companies, how do they motivate their workers? The simple answer is, “They don’t have to.”
pg 192 To cut to the chase in explaining the big difference between highly productive and humdrum companies, you may want to read these next words over a few times. We think the following idea from Dr. Quick is among the most important concepts in this book: “The challenge is to spend less time trying to design motivational programs and more time figuring how to get out of the way of people trying to do good things.”
pg 199 (Frederick Taylor, in testimony before the U.S. Congress in 1912)… “The danger is when the financial objectives of an organization are placed in front of its mission or purpose.” Taylor’s conclusion was that financial performance is the consequence of business and must never become the driving force.
pg 200 Alfie Kohn, author of Punished by Rewards, advises that people must be able to see a connection between what they’re doing and the overall goals of the organization. “If you’re giving people deadly, dull, pointless tasks to do, then don’t be surprised if there may be a few members of our species who would not be intrinsically motivated to do what you’re asking them to do.”
Some consider Kohn a radical thinker but he does make a sharp point. Who wants to show up every day to do a job where you don’t feel as if you’re contributing to some greater good? It’s up to the supervisor, leader or manager to help workers make that connection every single day.
pg 230 Each of these leaders used essentially the same steps in creating a highly successful organization. As we’ve seen, each in his or her own way –
- Began with a BIG objective
- Got everyone onboard and then proceeded to streamline everything by ruthlessly fighting to keep the business proposition simple
- Communicated truthfully with everyone
- Cleaned out the management ranks of those unable, unprepared or unwilling to go where the enterprise was headed
- Demonstrated the way they value people by policies of no layoffs
- Institutionalized What’s the good business reason for doing this?
- Measured and shared the real Drivers with everyone
- Turned every business process into a best-practices system designed to eliminate waste
- Committed to a program of continual improvement
- Paid people for productivity in ways that drive the culture, and
- Employed the right technology to gain a productive edge.
pg 234 Twelve Rules for Doing More with Less
- Start with a simple proposition.
Don’t let anyone – even you – muck it up by making it too complicated. If it’s already complicated, simplify it.
- Spend your time building a culture, not a business model – one based on truth, honesty and respect. Be authentic and live the values.
- Make certain that every manger and executive believes and practices everything on this list or get rid of him or her immediately. He isn’t necessarily a bad person, but he is the wrong person.
- Ask WTGBRFDT – “What’s the good business reason for doing this? – of every decision you’re called on to make. Don’t delude yourself.
- Get rid of special perks for executives. They earn enough to pay for their own indulgences. Class distinctions make people jealous.
- Enter into a covenant that layoffs and head-count reduction won’t be used as a tool to cover up management’s bad decisions, poor judgement calls and mistakes.
- Teach everyone business and have everyone understand the direct relationship between their work and the financial well-being of the enterprise. If a direct connection can’t be made, keep the worker but eliminate the position.
- Put everyone on a team and pay the teams for what they create, produce, sell or service. Let peer pressure drive out the dead-beats.
- Turn every function into a system and map it out. Then constantly ask the people who do the work how to eliminate waste and make the system better.
- Implement your new process quickly and perform them over and over again, working each time to eliminate waste.
- Be competitive and keep score. It keeps things fun.
- Embrace technology, but don’t count on it for a competitive advantage. Everyone else can have the same technology.
…Finally, you’re invited to visit Jennings-solutions.com, where you’ll find an entire section devoted to the subject of Less is More and the opportunity to take part in one of our weekly live interactive sessions on the subject.
How STARBUCKS Built a Company One Cup at a Time
by Howard Schultz, Chairman and CEO of STARBUCKS
and Dori Jones Yang
from the back cover… In Pour Your Heart Into It, CEO Howard Schultz illustrates the principles that have shaped the Starbucks phenomenon, sharing the wisdom he has gained from his quest to make great coffee part of the American experience. Marketers, managers, and aspiring entrepreneurs will discover how to turn passion into profit in this definitive chronicle of the company that “has changed everything…from our tastes to the language to the face of Main Street.” (Fortune)
I didn’t have millions of flags, not because the book wasn’t worthy, but much of the tidbits were already in my awareness thanks to a colleague, who placed this in her top five books of 2007. Even though it was published in 1997, over ten years later it is still on many ‘must read’ lists.
pg 54 Branch Rickey, the Brooklyn Dodgers general manager who broke the color barrier by signing on Jackie Robinson, often remarked: “Luck is the residue of design.” ...Whenever a company, or a person, emerges from the crowd and shines, others are quick to attribute that prominence to good fortune. The achiever, of course, counters that it’s the product of talent and hard work. I agree with Branch Rickey. While bad luck, it’s true, may come out of the blue, good luck, it seems, comes to those who plan for it.
pg 58 Finally, Jerry agreed to test an espresso bar when Starbucks opened its sixth store, at the corner of Fourth and Spring in downtown Seattle, in April of 1984. This was the first Starbucks location designed to sell coffee as a beverage as well as coffee beans by the heart of Seattle’s business district. I was certain Seattle’s office workers would fall in love with espresso bars the same way I had in Milan in 1983.
I asked for half the 1,500 square-foot space to set up a full Italian-style espresso bar, but I got only 300 square feet. … From the minute we opened, this much was clear to me: Starbucks had entered a different business. There could be no turning back. By closing time, about 400 customers had passed through the door – a much higher tally than the average customer count of 250 at Starbucks’ best performing bean stores. More important, I could feel the first ripples of that same warm social interaction and engaging artistry that had captivated me in Italy. I went home that day as high as I’ve ever been. … Within two months, the store was serving 800 customers a day.
pg 103 This realization was a great lesson to me. A business plan is only a piece of paper, and even the greatest business plan of all will prove worthless unless the people of a company buy into it. It can not be sustainable, or even implemented properly, unless the people are committed to it with the same heartfelt urgency as their leader. And they will not accept it unless they both trust the leader’s judgement and understand that their efforts will be recognized and valued.
I had seen, with the small Il Giornale team, how much a few people can accomplish if they believe in what they’re doing, with fervor. Starbucks could be so much more, I knew, if its people were motivated with the same zeal. The only way to win the confidence of Starbucks’ employees was to be honest with them, to share my plans and excitement with them, and then to follow through and keep my word, delivering exactly what I promised – if not more. No one would follow me unless I showed them with my own actions that my promises were not empty. It would take time. (Amanda’s note: this is important for me in my new design world.)
pg 110 Whatever you can do, or dream you can, … begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. – Goethe
pg 120 Oldenburg’s thesis is that people need informal public places where they can gather, put aside the concerns of work and home, relax, and talk. Germany’s beer gardens, England’s pubs, and French and Viennese cafes created this outlet in people’s lives, providing a neutral ground where all are created equal and conversation is the main activity. America once had such spots, in its taverns, barber shops, and beauty parlors. But with suburbanization, they are vanishing, replace by the self-containment of suburban homes. As Oldenburg observes:
Without such places, the urban area fails to nourish the kinds of relationships and the diversity of human contact that are the essence of the city. Deprived of these settings, people remain lonely within their crowds.
(Amanda’s note: how can we learn from this at the U? How can we create our third place?)
pg 124 I finally came to terms with my bitterness and learned to respect the memory of what my dad was, instead of regretting what he was not. He did the best he could. He passed away before I was able to tell him I understood that. That’s one of the great losses of my life. It was wrong of me to blame him for failing to overcome circumstances beyond his control. But it was also wrong that in America, land of dreams, a hard-working man like him couldn’t find a niche where he would be treated with dignity.
pg 170 As long as we remain respectful of our core product, as long as our customers can come into any Starbucks and buy the greatest coffee in the world, as long as we bring the same pursuit of quality to our new products, then we can feel comfortable offering customers different ways of enjoying our coffee. Options like these help introduce a far wider range of people to Starbucks coffee. And that, after all, is our abiding mission.
(Amanda’s note: there is a learning design application here, and perhaps insight into a mission: of introducing to learning to a wider range of people both within and connected to the organization.)
pg Blue Note Records loved the idea of allowing Starbucks to compile a selection of its jazz greats and offer them on an exclusive compact disk. For them a Starbucks CD was a way of reviving interest in some old Blue Notes titles. The entire record industry was looking for alternative venues to showcase music, since the old sales formula, radio stations and record stores, was failing to reach a lot of listeners. (Amanda’s note: parallels here to the idea of how to distribute learning, as the old formula - ‘in class’ and people’s mental models of learning - isn’t working anymore.)
pg 250 Romancing the customer. Dave Olsen has a saying: “Coffee without people is a theoretical construct. People without coffee are somewhat diminished as well.” And Howard Behar has another: “We’re not in the coffee business serving people. We’re in the people business serving coffee.”
… Because we entrust the Starbucks brand to the hands of the baristas, it’s vitally important that we hire great people and imbue them with our passion for coffee. We do that through a training program whose sophistication and depth are rare in retail.
For years, Starbucks spend more on training our people than on advertising our product. We’ve continually refined the twenty-four hours of training we offer to each hire. Every new barista has to take some basic courses in Coffee Knowledge (four hours), Brewing the Perfect Cup (four hours), and Customer Service (four hours), as well as classes in basic orientation and retail skills. From their first day, we try to immerse them in our values-centered culture, showing them the importance of treating customers and one another with respect and dignity. Our trainers are all store managers or district managers themselves, with on-site experience. … Eight to ten weeks before opening, we place ads to hire baristas and start their training. We send a Star Team of experienced managers and baristas from existing stores and use a buddy system for one-on-one training.
pg 323 When the chips are down, it’s wrong to give a rah-rah Knute Rockne speech. People want guidance, not rhetoric. They need to know what the plan of action is, and how it will be implemented. They want to be given responsibility to help solve the problem and the authority to act on it.
the Way to profit from life’s everyday lessons
by Stan Adler
pg 37 “How much do you want to spend?” That is absolutely the worst thing you can say to a customer, and yet salespeople do it all the time with no sense of how grave an error it is. No matter what the product, from personal computers to personal retirement plans, this is the wrong question. … The only thing you have achieved is to create a negative atmosphere. People invariably feel intimidated and defensive. … Introducing the issue of price achieves only one thing: It calls customers’ attention to the price. And make no bones about it, they can find your product somewhere else at the same price, even a better price, in a snap. … Your focus instead should be on the qualities of the product itself, and on you as the representative. Your goal is to use the product as a way to show your value to customers so that they will want to buy from you rather than from someone else. If you do your job properly, customers will come to think of you as indispensable.
pg 72 “You call every customer personally within forty-eight hours of the sale,” he began. “Call to find out how much they are enjoying their system or component. ‘Enjoy’ is the key word here, and no purchase is too small for a call. Small sales create big ones, and big ones mean a lot more small ones. … Most salespeople don’t follow-up for two reasons: first, because it means more work and they probably got a sales job in the first place because they didn’t like hard work and, second, they don’t have confidence in what or how they sold the customer initially, so why should they call the customer and risk confronting a problem? That’s the working premise of a non-seller.
pg 95 When you talk, you repeat what you already know; when you listen, you often learn something. – Gared Sparks
pg 104 As Bryan developed his skills and discovered his special talent, he never let stereotypes or preferences of age, sex, or status limit his effectiveness. He prejudged no one. He was motivated by the presence of a customer, pure and simple.
pg 116 If you follow all the rules, you miss all the fun. – Katharine Hepburn
pg 170 As a salesperson, it is your job to inspire people to do things that they have only thought about. You work hard to turn fantasies into realities. You often have to assure pople that they will be satisfied because you will make it right. It is your business and your responsibility to give people a sense of fun and fulfillment. You initiate lifelong relationships with your customers and influence their lifestyles much like a teacher giving guidance to pupils.
How a “Last Minute Manager” Conquered Procrastination
by Ken Blanchard and Steve Gottry
pg 24 Please mark the following personal and business priorities in order by placing numbers from 1 to 7 in front of them (1 being the most important).
Health and Fitness
Spouse and/or Family
Please rank these events according to their priority in your life today. In other words, which one of these responsibilities would rise to the top of your “to do” list, assuming they were all on your list at the same time?
Before returning this questionnaire, please look up the word “Priority” in your dictionary.
(1) being earlier or more important, precedence in rank or order, the right to be first; (2) something that is more important than other items or considerations.
pg 32 “We’re going to expect everyone at Algalon to ‘triage’ every activity. That way, they’ll always handle the important things – the priorities – first, instead of dealing with things on a first-come, first-served basis. People who know what’s most important are seldom late when dealing with these high priorities.”
Yes: Want to do and have to do; have to do but don’t want to do
Maybe: Want to do but don’t have to do
No: Don’t want to do and don’t have to do
“The worst of the last minute managers actually perform some of the tasks in the ‘No’ column. That’s a tragedy!”
pg 48 PROPRIETY: THE BILL OF RIGHTS
- Do the right thing.
- Do it for the right reasons.
- Do it with the right people.
- Do it at the right time.
- Do it in the right order.
- Do it with intensity.
- Do it for the right results.
pg 86 The graduates of a small high school returned to their hometown for their ten-year reunion. One of the classmates asked the others to answer a simple question: “Who was the person who most influenced your life while you were in school?”
She expected to receive a wide range of answers – the principal, a coach, a favourite teacher – but when the answers were turned in, there was one clear choice.
Every day, after everyone had gone home, the janitor cleaned the rooms and washed the whiteboards. Then, this man who had only completed fourth grade wrote three simple misspelled words on the upper corner of the whiteboard: “YA GOTTA WANNA.”
This man had inspired many generations of students to “wanna”. But his simple statement raises a couple of questions. “What do you gotta wanna do?” And “Why do you wanna do it?”
(insight from the book… this ‘ya gotta wanna’ relates to your commitment to the right priorities; to the things that really matter)
pg 97 The Three P’s of the On-Time, On-Target Person:
PRIORITY. Triage everything.
PROPRIETY. Remember the Bill of Rights.
COMMITMENT. “I gotta wanna.”
How Great Leaders and Produce Insane Results Without Driving People Crazy
by Steve Chandler and Scott Richardson
a few good insights… here are my flags…
pg 14 The mastery of a few key paradoxes is vital. They are paradoxes that have allowed our coaching and consulting to break through the mediocrity and inspire success where there was no success before. Paradoxes such as:
1. To get more done, slow down.
2. To get your point across, stop talking.
3. To hit your numbers faster, take them less seriously and make a game of it.
4. To really lead people, go ahead of them.
pg 29 Your own people are no different. If you cut off the feedback, their minds will manufacture their own feedback, quite often based on their worst fears. It’s no accident that “trust and communication” are the two organizational problems most cited by employee surveys.
pg 79 Your people limit themselves all the time. They put up false barriers and struggle with imaginary problems. One of your skills as a leader is to show your people that they can accomplish more than they think they can. In fact, they may someday be leaders like you are. And one of the reasons your people wind up admiring you is that you always see their potential. You always see the best side of them, and you tell them about it.
pg 91 So in the businesses that we coach, there are never any changes. However, our clients’ businesses are constantly experimenting to find what works better for the employees, the business, and the customer. The executives simply tell their teams, “This is an experiment to see if it works better for you and our customers. If it does, great, we are going to continue doing it. If it doesn’t, then we will modify it or get rid of it.” And as long as you monitor it and get feedback, you’ll find that the old-fashioned resistance to change melts away because your employees really do enjoy a good experiment.
pg 152 People look to their leaders for reassurance. Period. Truth is, they don’t get that reassurance most of the time. They get the opposite. They get the impression that the team is racing and behind the gun. Their manager’s demeanour and language cries out, “We’ve got to go, go, go. I’m late, I’m sorry I’m late for my meeting with you.” “I’m on the phone and it’s rush, rush, and we’re behind the eight ball, and it’s crazy around here.” The problem with that message is that you are not reassured. When you do the chaos act and convey a crisis mentality, it’s not reassuring. The concept that counters all of that and cures it forever is the concept of reassurance. Put that concept on the top of your list.
pg 157 To help your people get what they want, be mindful of them and listen to them until you find out what they really want. Then, make their goals fit inside the team objectives. Show them the link. That’s how long-lasting motivation finally happens.
pg 160 “When I’m getting ready to persuade another person, I spend one-third of the time thinking about myself, what I’m going to say, and two-thirds of the time about him and what he is going to say.” – Abraham Lincoln
pg 193 Every communication from a manager to an employee is an opportunity to instil optimism. Don’t waste that opportunity. A true leader never does. Look at your email before sending it. Is it uplifting? Does it contain an acknowledgment or an appreciation of the recipient? Does it inspire? Is it going to make someone happy? If not, take the extra minute to go back over it. Change the negative tone to a positive one. Brighten it up. Ask yourself: Would you be happy to get this email? Would you feel honoured and appreciated if you received it? Behavioural studies continue to show that positive reinforcement works more than seven times better than negative criticism to change behaviour.
pg 201 Every change is made for a reason. Every change was decided upon because the positives of the change outweigh the negatives. So, if you wish to be a highly motivational leader, you simply learn the positives, through and through. You find out everything there is to know about the upside of the change, because that’s what leadership is. Leadership is communication. … You are a leader, and so you will always reconnect the team to the mission of the company. Change will not be apologized for. Why apologize for something that will improve the strength of the organization? Every change is made (every last one of them) for the sole purpose of strengthening the ultimate viability of the organization. That’s why you advocate the change. That’s why you sell it to your team.
pg 211 Obtain a copy of Bob Nelson’s excellent study of how companies reward their people, 1001 Ways to Reward Employees, and read it with a yellow highlighter or a red pen in hand.
pg 212 The most important element of slowing down is to know that you’re always working on the right thing to be working on at any given time. Business consultant Chet Holmes says that he and his clients accomplish that by making sure each day has only six things on the Must Do list. That list lets them slow down.
Book Summary: Rapid Transformation by Behnam Tabrizi
Harvard Business School Press 2007
Read May 2008, Logged June 2008 by CM
pg 2 Although incremental change should be a routine part of any good manager’s or leader’s job, it promotes a parochial outlook and attitude in the rank and file if it becomes too routine. After a while, people show up at work to play rather than to win. Through incremental change, the thirst for outside-the-box thinking is lost.
…the organization may consider taking large steps to improve the organization’s performance by leaps and bounds. These drastic moves are often better understood as revolution, or transformations.
pg 4 The interplay between the information revolution, the rapid pace of globalization, and the fierce competition requires a new model for change. (link to The World if Flat)
pg 6 The 90 Days Transformation Model
30-90 days – Pre-transformation
30 days – Phase 1 Diagnosis
30 days – Phase 2 Envisioning the future
30 days – Phase 3 Paving the Road
6-12 myths – Transformation implementation
Successful transformation efforts are: all encompassing, integrative, and fast and had full, passionate commitment and buy-in, especially at the top layers of the organization.
pg 13 Case study of model: Hewlett Packard (Fiorina) vs HP (Hurd)
Hurd had all the critical success factors above, while Fiorina was missing passionate commitment, buy-in and fast as factors. Fiorina’s had a silo structure which resulted in customer dissatisfaction, slow responses and brand diffusion. Lack of accountability was also problematic…and they failed to capitalize on the Internet revolution. She never took the time to develop rapport with individual employees…and failed to execute.
pg 18 By the end of the 90 days, the org should have identified the root causes of the problems and developed a detailed blueprint for the actual implementation, which will take an additional 6-12 months.
pg 19 By working is parallel, cross-functional teams save time, involve employees, and provide a more holistic and thorough perspective on the organization’s situation.
pg 21 Without changing holistically, an organization may overlook key synergies that could bring significant value to it.
pg 29 Pre-transformation – Planting the Seeds
“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird; it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.
C. S. Lewis
pg 34 A.G. Lafley, former CEO of Procter & Gamble, “You can get used to be being a player without being a winner. There’s a big difference between the two. So I became interested in transforming players into winners”.
pg 46 Although numbers by themselves should not be taken at face value (there’s usually a story behind the numbers), they can, in conjunction with the company’s reality, add value and clarify some key issues that need to be addressed.
pg 52 road shows…are effective mediums for using a variety of means to communicate a sense of urgency.
pg 59 Motivational vision vs Strategic vision i.e. heart vs head; factors that drive and excite employees vs both internal and external influences on the company.
pg 60 ..first few weeks of a job, it is important to find a cadre of advisors who have no axes to grind.
pg 63 Every tree has it’s low-hanging fruit. If you leave this fruit on the tree too long before picking it, it will over ripen and rot, eventually falling off the tree. If the transformation leader waits too long before capitalizing on the potential of these early wins, they become ineffective and the transformation effort may lose momentum.
pg 66 Things to Consider when Choosing Your Early Wins:
Can it be implemented immediately and swiftly?
Can the results be seen immediately?
How risky is it? What is the likelihood of success?
Does it align with the developed vision? Is it a first step in the direction we want to head?
Can the early win be communicated effectively to motivate employees and maintain or increase momentum?
How does this early win complement other early wins?
pg 73 By limiting the number of (external) consultants and restricting their role to that of a coach, the accelerated transformation effort uses the expertise of the seasoned consultants while giving the employees the steering wheel of the transformation.
pg 78-79 Overcoming the typical employee’s microscopic view of the organization that is limited to his particular function or domain, rapid response teams provide members with a macroscopic view that integrates perspectives from the various functions and divisions.
pg 81 Morale in a company often plummets when change is imposed on employees without their input, because it sends the message that the leaders of the company and the transformation have little faith that its own employees can devise a solution to turn the situation around.
pg 94 While senior executives may be observing the company from space, and lower-ranked employees may be observing the company from the ground, middle-employees are viewing the company from a plane.
pg 112 A landmark meeting in transformation should cover: Establishing a shared vision, presenting the methodology, starting with a clean slate, developing a set of key values, conducting a high-level analysis of current issues…then…establishing clear roles/responsibilities, working as a team, and developing an effective phase 1 plan.
pg 123 In addition to gathering data that will help diagnose the ailments troubling the company, the teams should also begin gathering data about the mega trends of the industry and the market…this will help teams when they are asked to develop “big ideas” based on their analysis.
pg 131 Dave House of Bay Networks “Culture is what people fall back on when there are no instructions. It gives you rules for when there are no rules. It provides a common language for moving forward.” Cultures are live entities.
When looking at your own culture, consider two of the goals toward which most companies strive: a united culture of unity and a culture of accountability.
pg 136 Talent development may be an effective way to address some underlying issues of the company.
pg 146 Teams need to distinguish the symptoms from the root causes of the problems because the company ultimately wants to address the root causes, not simply the symptoms.
pg 149 After creating the process flowchart, the tea is ready to analyze it and identify the key problem areas. Employees should start by searching for areas where the process breaks down. i.e. bottlenecks, weak links, poorly defined events, non-value-adding steps, duplication, unclear roles, cycle time, sources of delay, error prevention vs error correction.
pg 161 Resource allocation after rationalization: Expand, Maintain, Withdraw, Cut
pg 176 Gap Analysis: What is the difference between the current state and the desired state? What steps can the team take to decrease this difference or eliminate this gap altogether?
pg 189 Phase 3: Paving the road...represents the tipping point between past and future, beginning and end.
pg 202 Business plans: What is the problem, why is this plan necessary, when will this solution be implemented, who is the target of our project, how will we achieve our objective and implement the solution?
pg 208 A list of non-goals is a “not-do” list. These non-goals keep teams focused and on track by preventing alternate distracting options from being discussed again after they have already been dismissed.
pg 233 The three most important tools for maintaining momentum are: 1) addressing resistance 2) celebrating often and 3) using a reward system.
pg 237 A culture of Accountability
By creating a culture of accountability, you are weaving one of the key principles of excellent execution into the DNA of your organization. By creating an execution-oriented culture, a culture of accountability is also very effective in maintaining momentum and increasing morale and confidence, both internally and externally.
by David A. Vise and Mark Malseed
pg 11 ... Brin and Page, in just five years, had taken a graduate school research project and turned it into a multibillion-dollar enterprise with global reach.
pg 42 While Larry and Sergey saw the search engine as special and the most important part of the Internet experience for computer users hunting for information, others saw it as a sideline, merely one of a number of items to be included in a smorgasbord of services. But the pair didn’t give up. “They have a somewhat sceptical view of authority,” Winograd said. “If they see the world going one way and they believe it should be going the other way, they are more likely to say, ‘The rest of the world is wrong,’ rather than, ‘Maybe we should reconsider.’ They were confident in their approach and would tell you they thought everyone else was wrong.”
pg 50 “They are really driven by a vision of how things ought to be, and not to make money,” Allison said. “The idea of digitizing the entirety of the universe and making it work is something nobody was willing to tackle but lots of people knew needed to be done. They managed to get that together and bulldozed through the limitations. And with some luck, it is actually going to work.”
pg 65 Moritz said he also recognized that Brin and Page, together, had the right stuff. He had seen over and over again how start-up companies founded by pairs of entrepreneurs who shared a common vision had a greater chance for success than lone individuals. It had happened at Microsoft with Bill Gates and Paul Allen. It had happened at Apple with Steve Jobs and Steve Wozkiak. It had happened at Yahoo. And maybe, just maybe, it could happen at Google.
pg 71 Before Larry and Sergey departed for Burning Man, they created some experimental art on the search engine’s home page. Seeing an opportunity to infuse new life into the logo, they incorporated a rendering of the Man in the second o of Google. To an outsider, the stickman logo looked crude, hastily assembled. But to those in the know, it signalled where the Google crew would be that week. The impulse to tinker with the design triggered an organic change. Heading out the door to a festival celebrating ingenuity, they had unknowingly given birth to the Google doodle.
pg 77 In December, Mayer rolled out one of her first big changes to Google’s design: a new font. Following orders to gather data, not opinions, she had researched different fonts for their legibility on a computer screen, and decided on Verdana, a sans serif font. At the time, Google was using a serif font, but Mayer found that fonts without serifs (the tiny curlycues on certain letters) made skimming search results easier. Thinking nothing more, Mayer left the office for a half-day outing with Google’s other female engineers to have tea at a fancy hotel in
pg 79 Dean and other Googlers from this era love to tell the story of how they cobbled together a virtual supercomputer from cheap, commodity PCs. Rather than spending $800,000 on a high-end system from IBM, he said, they went to RackSaver.com, where for just $250,000 they found a rack of 88 computers that provided comparable processing power and several times more disk storage. They also used the free operating system Linux rather than buying software from Microsoft. Those savings gave Google a significant edge over competitors, even those able to match them dollar for dollar in capital spending. For every dollar spent, Google had three times more computing power than its competitors.
pg 131 But Google had something else special about it that Bharat relished: a rule that software engineers spend at least 20 percent of their time , or one day a week, working on whatever projects interested them. … At Google, the 20 percent approach sent the opposite message – spend one day a week on something you, not your boss, are passionate about, and don’t worry about such pedestrian matters as whether the idea could be a moneymaker or something that could be turned into a successful product. In other words, please yourself. …. “At Google, if something is worth doing, it gets funded,” Bharat said, noting that no one ever asked how the product would make money.
pg 145 Michael Chabon, author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, said, “Writers of the past had absinthe, whiskey or heroin. I have Google. I go there intending to stay five minutes and next thing I know, I’ve written 43 words, and all I have to show for it is that I know the titles of every episode of ‘Nanny and the Professor’.
pg 147 To the delight of cybersleuths and the chagrin of the hunted, old Web pages are granted a life after death by Google’s practice of storing, or caching, a copy of every page it downloads. Thus, even after a page has been taken down by its author, a Google searcher can find and retrieve it.
pg 195 “I could feel the energy. They had it,”Ayers (Google’s chef) recalled. “Everyone was so focused and into it, and they all had one goal: to make this company successful. It was ‘Look at what we did,’ not ‘Look at me’. It was a total team effort. Once they said, ‘We are going to have a wire party this weekend.’ I didn’t know what that was. I went to the data centre in
pg 197 On the other Fridays, Larry, Sergey or Eric typically spoke about how things were going at Google and answered questions. They also used the occasion to introduce new employees, known at the company as “Nooglers”.
pg 209 “Google is not anti-anybody,” said Jon Miller of AOL. “Most companies need a business enemy, and that is how they motivate themselves.” Brin and Page, on the other hand, “are motivated by their mission. Clearly, they think very differently and are driven by their vision and business goals.”
pg 212 Larry also played a leadership role in prioritizing near-term technical research. Using a system known as the Top 100, he stayed on top of the 100 most compelling new and unfolding projects that might need staffing and other resources. Through this process, he helped to identify the most promising 20 percent projects.
pg 262 Like so much about Google, it came down to sheer math. At the scale at which Google operated, serving results for hundreds of millions of searches each day, all it took was one out of every ten or fifteen searchers to click on an ad – at, say, an average price of 50 cents for the click – for the company to reach the sort of quarterly earnings it achieved in 2004.
pg 274 Lee himself outlined the reasons for his wanting to join Google on a Chinese web site read by thousands of engineering students. Formatting his statement as a math equation, he wrote: “youth + freedom + transparency + new model + the general public’s benefit + belief in trust = The Miracle of Google.
Google Search Tips
pg 294 Google can be your dictionary. Type define followed by any English word in the search box, and Google will give you a quick definition at the top of the search results.
pg 295 Browse the world’s bookshelves online. Search for a topic at print.google.com and you will see information from actual books that Google has scanned and indexed in its database. You can browse or read the entire text of works that are not copyrighted; for others, you can see snippets of pages where your search term appears and learn where to by a full copy.
pg 296 Google can be your weatherman. Type weather followed by a zip code or the name of a city, and Google will give the current conditions and a four-day forecast at the top of the results page.
Become a scholar. Serious searchers can tap into thousands of scientific and academic journals with Google Scholar. Enter a query into the search box at scholar.google.com to get abstracts of papers from published sources.
Take a magic ~ ride. The tilde character “`” in the corner of your keyboard is a handy tool in Google searches. Put it before a word, with no space between, to have Google look for pages with both that term and its synonyms. Example: A search for ~auto will turn up Web pages that use the terms cars, trucks, automobiles, and more.
Excerpt of the first paragraph:
If you are not using
podcasting to reinforce
and promote your
training to its target
audience, you should
be. As trainers, you do
not need to be techies
or audio experts to
produce a podcast,
but you should learn
to use the technology
to keep up with the
expectations of clients
and colleagues, and to
stay ahead of the curve.
Published in T+D (Training & Development) May 2008
Companies such as IBM are promoting "learning 401(k)s" as an innovative way to encourage employees to increase their knowledge. By Tom Starner
Until last July, the concept of a lifelong learning account was not only off the radar screen in the world of corporate training/learning, you could say its landing gear was still planted firmly on the terra firma.
Take the case of Philadelphia-based Tom Starr, who leads consultancy Booz & Co. Learning and Employee Development practice.
When Starr attended a conference of chief learning officers this spring and asked several attendees what they knew about lifelong learning accounts, they told him "not much."
When he delivered a few details, one being that lifelong learning accounts feature employer dollar matching, a couple of them scoffed at the idea, mainly because they had recently been asked to trim their budgets.
"At the conference, I asked some folks about the idea," Starr says. "And there wasn't a lot of energy around it. I'm also not hearing this as a big thing among the clients we serve."
If those CLOs had attended a different conference, one held in Washington last summer, they might have a more informed perspective. At that event, entitled "The Forum on Global Leadership: U.S. Competitiveness in a Globally Integrated Economy," Samuel Palmisano, IBM's chairman, president and chief executive officer, stepped up to the podium and announced that his company, as part of what it calls its "Global Citizen's Portfolio," would begin spending about $40 million on a lifelong learning program that offers a dollar match to qualified employees.
The Global Citizen's Portfolio is a suite of investments and programs created to help IBM employees enhance their skills and expertise in order to become global leaders, professionals and citizens, according to the company.
"We fully expect that the Global Citizen's Portfolio will make IBM a more competitive and successful business," Palmisano told his audience, adding that while the program does require a significant investment, IBM depends on having the best expertise and talent. "We believe that innovation ... will help us retain and attract the smartest, most creative workforce."
Of course, announcing a corporate learning program is hardly earth-shattering news. But in this case, IBM created its new learning initiative to give employees who have been with Big Blue more than five years a 50 percent match of up to $1,000 contributed -- to do whatever they want with the money, as long as it's used for learning. In the extreme, if an IBM employee wanted to use his or her matching dollars to take cooking lessons or learn to speak Chinese, that's perfectly fine under the program's guidelines.
A "Triple Benefit"
Under the surface, IBM's Individual Learning Account program pre-supposes that employees will make smart choices when using their learning funds (since much of it is their money), and also stay loyal to the company in the long run.
When it launches in the third quarter of 2008, IBM's ILA program will be piloted in the United States and expanded globally for the next three years.
"Our new program has a triple benefit: Individuals get to develop skills above and beyond typical career training; IBM and its partners benefit from those skills; and the community benefits as well," says Stanley Litow, IBM's vice president of corporate affairs and corporate citizenship.
Randy MacDonald, the company's senior vice president of human resources, says IBM feels the individual employee is in the best position to understand what kinds of skills he or she wants and needs in the new global economy.
"IBM believes it is the role of a responsible global organization to help our employees be competitive, and to help them meet their professional goals," MacDonald says.
While IBM's impending effort is expected to be the largest of its kind so far, the company isn't alone, nor is it even the first employer to offer this type of benefit. For example, companies such as BJC HealthCare, a 26,000-employee healthcare system in St. Louis, and CVS Caremark, the $80 billion global integrated pharmacy services provider headquartered in Woonsocket, R.I., offer similar plans.
All three programs are fashioned on so-called lifelong learning accounts, or "LiLAs." The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning , a Chicago-based organization that has been a driving force behind the adoption of tuition reimbursement accounts for employees, is the primary organization spearheading the LiLA concept. In fact, CAEL worked with IBM and the others on their programs.
According to Pam Tate, CAEL's president and CEO, a LiLA is simply an employer-matched, portable, worker-owned account used to finance career-related education and training for all levels of employees.
It is similar in concept to a 401(k), but as of right now, unlike a 401(k), there are no tax benefits to a LiLA (although bills are currently pending in both the House and Senate that would offer tax credits to employers and employees).
"LiLAs are all about learning things to make you employable for a lifetime, and making your company more competitive at the same time," Tate says. "America today has a skills shortage, even under the current economic downtown. People keep saying we have to do something to spur individuals to get training and improve their skills, and LiLAs are a great way to do it."
Tate adds that based on CAEL's surveys, 98 percent of employees with LiLAs pick skills training and education related to improving their careers. In other words, any fears an employer might have that workers will waste the opportunity are unfounded, she says.
"Tuition assistance is a great benefit, but it has limitations and restrictions," Tate says. "Today, if an employer is trying to be an employer of choice, it has to offer benefits that are better than the competition's."
Litow says the $40 million IBM has earmarked for LiLAs is in addition to the $600 million the company already spends annually on career training. Outside the company, he expects ILA-like programs will begin to receive more attention and flourish when (and if) federal tax credits become a reality. As for how many IBMers will participate, Litow says he expects that, based on estimates, 10 percent to 20 percent of eligible employees will initially sign on for ILAs.
Interestingly, Litow says, since IBM announced the program last July, about a dozen large companies have asked Big Blue for more information about the ILA.
"We shared with them our thinking and how this fits into our strategy, as well as why it's good to get employees thinking about expanding their skills outside of the normal career training process," he says.
Litow says the standard model for skills training -- a company wants a group of employees to improve their skill sets in a certain area, so it spends money on training geared to those skills -- may become obsolete. In today's global economy, IBM is discovering that skills are changing at a much faster rate than before, he says. Plus, he adds, it's not even clear which skills will still be needed in the future.
Then there's the added benefit of keeping talent within the fold, as well as enticing new talent to come to IBM. "We believe ILAs will be a very valuable talent retention and recruitment tool," Litow says.
Getting the Green Light
At BJC HealthCare, Chief Learning Officer JoAnn Shaw says that after seeing Amy Sherman, CAEL associate vice president, deliver a presentation about LiLAs back in 2004, it took Shaw all of 10 minutes to realize this was something her company could use, and in a hurry.
"I was fascinated by it," says Shaw, who is a CAEL board member. "As I sat in that meeting, listening to Amy talk about LiLAs, I knew this was something we needed to do." The reason?
The company sees lifelong learning for its employees as crucial, and LiLAs struck her as a way to eliminate any barriers that might stand in the way of learning opportunities.
Shaw, BJC's top HR executive at the time, went to Steve Lipstein, president and CEO, and discussed implementing LiLAs at the company. Within a year, BJC had a LiLA program. Today, there are 1,200 or so employees (compared to 50 in 2005) taking advantage of the dollar-matching program, which offers a match of up to $500 annually per employee. (Since then, Shaw became director of the Center for Lifelong Learning, BJC HealthCare's award-winning, in-house learning program. Lipstein offered her the job as an enticement to remain with the company.)
"[The LiLA] is set up to run alongside our tuition-reimbursement program, but people also use it for courses that are not eligible for tuition assistance," Shaw says. She adds that LiLAs are especially well-suited for healthcare organizations because employees in clinical care areas, for example, are expected to earn continuing education credits, not all of which are covered by tuition assistance.
In addition, BJC HealthCare's CLL , which ranks first in healthcare and 19th overall in the American Society for Training & Development's 2007 BEST awards program, is working out tuition discounts and partnerships with local universities. For example, St. Louis University offered discounts if BJC HealthCare could deliver a cohort group of 40 employees. It turned out to be more like 250.
Shaw credits Lipstein not only for giving her the green light, but doing it without asking for metrics or any other ROI indicators.
"We've been working together for 16 years, so I guess he trusts my judgment," she says. "Steve also knows firsthand how the power of adult learning can take an organization to the next level."
Into the Pool
On the talent-management front, Shaw has little doubt that BJC HealthCare's impressive 96-percent retention rate has remained high due, in part, to the LiLA benefit.
"It helps that I was chief HR officer when I first heard about LiLAs," she says. "This is simple. It's really fantastic."
If BJC HealthCare has been swimming in the LiLA pool for three years and IBM will jump in soon, you might say another employer, CVS Caremark, has just stuck its big toe in and, so far, the water feels just fine, according to Steve Wing, the company's director of workforce initiatives.
CVS Caremark recently launched a pilot savings program for entry-level employees in Massachusetts. Workers who save up to $500 to finance their education get another $500 each from CVS and the state, for a total of $1,500.
In this partnership, the nonprofit organization Jewish Vocational Service will educate workers about personal finances and help them pursue college. The three-year program, which is focused specifically on entry-level workers, launched with 50 participants. Wing says there are plans to add another 50 soon and grow the program from there.
"There are a number of reasons we like the LiLA concept, and recruiting and retention are two critical ones," says Wing. "We want to help our people get an education, and one of the ways to do that is to set up a lifelong- learning program."
Wing notes that it was very easy to get the first 50 candidates.
"We're just testing it right now, getting it all worked out," he says. "The more we can do it, the better it is for CVS Caremark. In fact, it's a relatively small investment with potentially big consequences."
Wing compares CVS Caremark's LiLA offering to a "flex" benefit program, called Snowbird, that allows older workers to transfer from store to store based on the seasons: Employees who work in a Massachusetts CVS store can transfer to one in Florida during the winter months, for example. It, too, started with about 50 employees, but today has more than 1,000 participants.
Perry Sofferman, founder and CEO of Palm Beach Strategy Group, a management-consulting firm in Boca Raton, Fla., hopes that, in the not-too-distant future, LiLAs will be as commonplace as 401(k) accounts.
"Companies that institute such programs will benefit from them in several ways, both directly and indirectly," he says.
First, Sofferman says, the learning accounts promote cross-training. An employee who's spent a good portion of her time in accounting, for example, might find that she has an interest in marketing. If she's a good employee, Sofferman says, why not seek to retain her in another capacity?
"After all, the employee already understands the organization, and any move she makes within it would, of course, help cross-pollinate various departmental perspectives -- bring the accounting perspective over to marketing, for example," he says.
In a more indirect way, Sofferman says, senior management will benefit from LiLAs by showing employees that they take a legitimate interest in their development as individuals.
"LiLAS tend to underscore the importance of education and skill development in a way that we have not seen," he says.
And despite contribution levels being "too low" right now, he hopes they will increase with the passage of federal legislation that further encourages companies to offer LiLAs.
Skeptics remain. Booz & Co.'s Starr says his reaction to the LiLA concept is that his current clients are looking to be more targeted when it comes to learning.
"The big question is, is it a long-term commitment or more of a one-off?," he says. "Is it the next great innovation? Or just an idea that will never really take off?"
Along with CAEL's Tate and BJC's Shaw, CVS Caremark's Wing believes he knows the answer.
"Lifelong learning offers huge potential," Wing says. "In the next few years, if the tax legislation becomes reality, I believe we will see it become a much bigger part of the HR and the learning landscape."
June 2, 2008
Copyright 2008© LRP Publications