In This Issue: Re-Thinking the Decision Factory Page 9
Tradeline: Lean Models for Information Exchange Page 17
How to Motivate Your Problem People Page 21
Strategic Leadership: The Essential Skills Page 34
The of the the Laboratory LaboratoryAnimal AnimalManagement Management Association, 2014 The Journal Journal of Asso ciation, 2009
The Lama Review - Page 1 Volume 26 â€ş 1Issue 1 Volume 22 â€ş Issue
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T H E
2013-2014 Executive Committe Officers
L A M A
PRESIDENT Pam Straeter, MS, RLATG Princeton, New Jersey VICE PRESIDENT Wayne DeSantis West Chester, PA VICE PRESIDENT ELECT Roxanne Fox Sarasota, FL
Volume 26, No.1
PAST-PRESIDENT Tracy Lewis Andover, MA
In This Issue:
Re-Thinking the Decision Factory
Tradeline - Lean Models for Information Exchange
How to Motivate Problem People
31 39 42 44
SECRETARY/TREASURER Howard Mosher Killingworth, CT Directors at Large Dorothy Loud - Mt. Vernon, IN Leah Curtin - Framingham, MA Jenniver Volkmann - Houston, TX Gina Ward - Waterford, WI ATA Rep Teresa Woodger - Montreal, QE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Jim Manke, CAE Eden Prairie, MN
2012 LAMA Review Editorial Staff EDITOR IN CHIEF Ted Plemons Bethesda, MD
Strategic Leadership: The Essential Skills
MANAGING EDITOR Evelyn Hilt Lafayette, IN
Leadership Self Test
EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Steve Baker Framingham, MA Gail Thompson Wheatland, WY
Leadership Self Test Answers
Staff Contacts Jim Manke, CAE Executive Director (763)235-6482 Kathi Schlieff Meeting Manager (763) 235-6483
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Did you know? In the Laboratory Animal community, publishing a professional journal is an essential part of advancing your career. Submitting an article to the LAMA Review provides an opportunity to be published in a professional journal. This is a great opportunity to share your research knowledge and accomplishments. Imagine your journal impacting and influencing the laboratory animal management practices! The LAMA Review provides important information on industry’s advancements and developments to those involved in the Laboratory Animal field with emphasis in management. The LAMA Review is published electronically each quarter and combines short columns with longer feature articles. Each issue focuses on significant topics and relevant interest to ensure a well-rounded coverage on laboratory management matters.
Submitting an article Choose an interesting topic that has the potential to benefit the Laboratory Animal Management community. Write the article that you would like to see published in the journal. Be sure to include multiple sources to support your research and accurately cite references. Submit your article to Review via email firstname.lastname@example.org
Benefits of publishing The LAMA Review is the official journal of the Laboratory Animal Management Association, which is committed to publishing high quality, independently peer-reviewed research and review material. The LAMA Review publishes ideas and concepts in an innovative format to provide premium information for laboratory Animal Management in the public and private sectors which include government agencies. A key strength of the LAMA Review is its relationship with the Laboratory Animal management community. By working closely with our members, listening to what they say, and always placing emphasis on quality. The Review is finding innovative solutions to management’s needs, by providing the necessary resources and tools for managers to succeed.
Submissions of articles are accepted from LAMA members, professional managers, and administrators of laboratory animal care and use. Submissions should generally range between 2,000 and 5,000. All submissions are subject to Submissions are accepted for the following features of the LAMA Review: o o o o o
Original Articles Review Articles Job Tips Manager’s Forum Problem Solving
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- Pam Straeter
“Instead of waiting for a leader you can believe in, try this: Become a leader you can believe in.” Stan Slap I can’t believe I am writing my last President’s Message for the LAMA Review! What a quick year this has been for me as the organization’s President. One thing is for sure, I am extremely proud of the hard work and effort that has been invested in planning our first ever LAMA Bootcamp, and I am hoping to see this initiative grow in the coming years. After all, not all of us are born with leadership traits – I know this is an age-old debate; however, often times it takes training and mentorship from the great leaders around us to bring those characteristics to the surface. The LAMA Bootcamp will provide a wealth of learning and exchange of knowledge not to mention tools to take back to your work place. If you haven’t registered yet, do so as there are only a few slots left in this session. I am equally excited and looking forward to the 30th Annual LAMA Meeting which will kick off on April 9th in Scottsdale, Arizona at the Fire-Sky Resort. Our Program Committee Chairs have a really special program planned for the meeting. Make sure you register quickly and book your room at the Fire-Sky as the rooms sell out quick! It’s such a beautiful setting which allows not only for productive sessions during the day but also a great venue for networking in the evening. I can’t think of a better place to be with some of the most influential leaders in our industry! Finally, I would like to leave you with a challenge to get involved with LAMA. Start out on a committee, there are several to choose from, just check our website http://www.lama-online.org/membership/committees/ . Reach out to one of the Committee Chairs or even our incoming President Wayne DeSantis to discuss a role suited for you! After you have experienced the committee opportunities, you will most definitely want to get elected to the Board of Directors to help forge the organization you would like to see in the future. That’s the beauty of the LAMA organization, it continues to evolve with our industry’s advancements. To Jim Manke and Kathi Schlieff, I can’t thank you enough for your gentle guidance and encouragement this year. I also want to recognize the LAMA Board of Directors, Dorothy Loud, Jennifer Volkmann, Leah Curtin, and Gina Ward, as well as Tracy Lewis, Past President; Howard Mosher, Treasurer; Roxanne Fox, Vice President Elect and Wayne DeSantis, President Elect – not only industry leaders themselves but each of who are the backbone of our organization. And a special shout out to Ted Plemons our LAMA Review editor, thanks for all your efforts! I look forward to seeing you in April! In your service, Pam The Lama Review - Page 7
From The Editor’s Cube.....
-Ted Plemons- Editor
“Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Muriel Strode As you are aware, there are many paths to leadership success but certain tools are vital for the journey. The Path-Goal Theory of Leadership developed by Robert House describes how leaders encourage and support their employees in achieving the goals by ensuring that the path is clear and the goals are obtainable. Basically, the performance of employees is very much dependent on the leadership they have. In terms of leadership styles, different tools are needed to clearly set the goal and to motivate employees to become successful. When was the last time you focused on yourself as a leader? Sit back and take a minute to do a quick inventory,—who you are, your leadership ‘fitness’ and what your staff notices or thinks about you? It’s been a while hasn’t it? And it’s not really your fault—Work has all of us incredibly busy and most of the time, between work and home, we’re all burning the wick at both ends! Have you ever wished for an easy, effective way to strengthen the leadership abilities of yourself and your employees in a highly compressed period of time? If so, the LAMA upcoming “Boot Camp” can help. What an opportunity to train with leaders and managers from all levels of our professional field. With ample opportunity for networking and information sharing, you will discover how your peers at other facilities have successfully solved many of the challenges you are facing right now. As Pam’s message stated, we have only a few slots still available and registration is on a first come first serve basis. In this edition of the LAMA Review, you will find the “boot camp” theme weaved through the many articles concentrating on leadership abilities such as decision making and accountability, coaching and feedback, and courageous conversations. Our hope is that the articles will provide you with useful tools to add to your tool bag of skills. Hope to see everyone at the 30th Annual LAMA Meeting in Scottsdale! Ted
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Re-Thinking The Decision Factory By Roger L. Martin KNOWLEDGE WORKERS SHOULDNâ€™T BE MANAGED AS IF THEY WERE MANUAL WORKERS. A NEW APPROACH CAN BOOST EFFICIENCY AND PRODUCTIVITY. Companies everywhere struggle with the management of knowledge workers. They compete fiercely to find and retain the best talent, often accumulating thousands of managers in the process. For a while this is fine, but inevitably, usually when economic conditions turn less favorable, they realize that these expensive workers are not as productive as hoped, and in an effort to manage costs they lay off a large swath of them. Soon after, though, they’re out recruiting again. This cycle is highly destructive. Aside from the human and social costs involved, it is extremely inefficient for a company to manage any resource this way, let alone one that is widely recognized as the engine of growth in the modern age. What’s especially puzzling is that the companies that engage in this cycle include some of America’s most revered role models. General Electric, for example, conducted extensive management layoffs in the 1980s and early 1990s. After a gradual regrowth in its ranks, the company announced another round of layoffs in 2001. By 2007 the numbers were back up again-until the recession forced cuts once more. Colgate-Palmolive, MetLife, Hewlett-Packard, and PepsiCo, among others, have all recently gone through the same process. The Lama Review - Page 9
Why do these companies struggle so much with what ought to be their most productive assets? The answer, I think, is rooted in a profound misunderstanding-despite decades of research and debate about the knowledge economy-of how knowledge work does and does not differ from the manual work we have come to understand so well. In particular, most companies make two big mistakes in managing knowledge workers. The first is to think that they should structure this workforce as they do a manual workforce-with each employee doing the same tasks day in and day out. The second (which derives in part from the first) is to assume that knowledge is necessarily bundled with the workers and, unlike manual labor, can’t readily be codified and transferred to others. In the following pages I’ll demonstrate how destructive, if understandable, these two beliefs are and describe an emerging paradigm for the management of knowledge workers that is being developed at Procter & Gamble. The initial results from this approach are extremely encouraging; if it is applied more widely, we may finally be able to bid farewell to the current, perverse management cycle.
The Rise of the Decision Factory What do knowledge workers actually do? Clearly they don’t manufacture products or perform basic services. But they do produce something, and it is perfectly reasonable to characterize their work as the production of decisions: decisions about what to sell, at what price, to whom, with what advertising strategy, through what logistics system, in what location, and with what staffing levels. At desks and in meeting rooms, every day of their working lives, knowledge workers hammer away in decision factories. Their raw materials are data, either from their own information systems or from outside providers. They Page 10 - The Lama Review
produce lots of memos and presentations full of analyses and recommendations. They engage in production processes-called meetings-that convert this work to finished goods in the form of decisions. Or they generate rework: another meeting to reach the decision that wasn’t made in the first meeting. And they participate in postproduction services: following up on decisions. Decision factories have arguably become corporate America’s largest cost, even at big manufacturers like P&G, because the salaries of these factory workers far exceed those of workers in physical factories. In pursuit of the twin goals of efficiency and growth, companies in the latter half of the 20th century spent ever-greater amounts on R&D, branding, information technology systems, and automation-all investments that necessitated hiring an army of knowledge workers. I vividly remember working with the CEO of one of North America’s largest bread manufacturers in 1990-1991. He had just replaced a labor-intensive and antiquated plant with the most advanced bread bakery on the continent. He proudly told me that the new computerized ovens and packaging machinery had reduced direct labor costs by 60%. But meanwhile, a throng of new and expensive knowledge workers had been added at both the head office and the plant-engineers, computer technicians, and managers-to take care of the sophisticated computer systems and state-of-the-art equipment. The new plant wasn’t quite the unalloyed good that it appeared at first sight. Variable costs of manual labor fell, but the fixed cost of knowledge workers rose, making it critical to keep capacity utilization high-which was possible in some years but not in others. The bread company was representative of many businesses. They swapped direct costs for indirect costs, which meant fewer but more productive manual workers and greater num-
IDEA IN BRIEF The problem
Why it happens
Companies compete fiercely to find and retain knowledge workers, often accumulating thousands of them. Then they realize that these expensive employees are not as productive as hoped, so they lay off a large swath of them, perhaps losing valuable knowledge in the process. Soon after, they’re out recruiting again.
The key to breaking the binge-and-purge staffing cycle is to organize workers around projects rather than jobs. Full-time employees should be seen as nimble experts who can flow to projects where their capabilities are needed. At the same time, companies can do more to push the boundaries of knowledge codification.
Most companies mistakenly structure a knowledge workforce like a manual workforce, assigning employees to the same work every day. And they assume that these workers’ knowledge can’t be codified or transferred. As a result, knowledge workers make work to look busy and hoard knowledge to protect their positions.
Productivity in the Decision Factory
Work structure in the decision factory. The basic unit of labor in the decision factory is the job. In this respect, decision factories follow the product factory model, whereby managers typically identify a specific activity that makes up an individual’s job and needs to be repeated more or less daily. If you know how much output you want, you can estimate how many of these ”jobs” you need and hire accordingly. Of course, output is always somewhat variable, and to the extent that this is predictable, you can build it into job contracts. Some employees work fewer or shorter shifts than others. But on the whole, the assumption implicit in this structure is that the output of product factory work is steady.
The two critical drivers of productivity in any production process are the way the work is structured and the company’s ability to capture the lessons of experience. These drivers are of course interdependent: How you structure the work influences your ability to learn from it. In decision factories, a mismatch between the reality of work and the way it is structured leads directly to inefficiencies in allocating knowledge work. People being people, this mismatch weakens incentives for sharing knowledge. Let’s look at why.
Decision factory jobs are based on the same assumption. The vice president of marketing, for example, is implicitly assumed to produce the same amount of output every day. So job descriptions are written as a collection of ongoing tasks that add up to one full-time job. In the prototypical VP of marketing job, the incumbent is responsible for product branding, promotional activities, market research, and so forth-all described as if they needed to be done day after day, week after week, and month after month.
bers of more expensive knowledge workers. (See the exhibit “The Rising Share of Knowledge Work.”) In the half century since Peter Drucker coined the term “knowledge workers,” these employees have become not just an important part of the workforce but the dominant part. And as China and other low-cost jurisdictions bring more and more manual workers onstream, the developed economies will become ever more reliant on knowledge workers, whose productivity may therefore be the management challenge of our times.
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But here the analogy between decision and product factories breaks down. Knowledge work actually comes primarily in the form of projects, not routine daily tasks. Knowledge workers, therefore, experience big swings between peaks and valleys of decision- making intensity. That VP of marketing will be busy during the launch of an important product or when a competitive threat arises-and really, really busy if the two overlap. Between these spells, however, she will have few or even no decisions to make, and she may have little to do but catch up on e-mails. Yet no one suggests that she vacation during these periods, let alone that the company should stop paying her salary. Binge-and-purge cycles of hiring and firing knowledge workers are the unfortunate consequence of this approach to knowledge work. When entire workforces are organized around permanent, full-time jobs, it is difficult to redeploy resources to extremely busy areas to deal with peak demand. Typically, the HR department has to create a new position, write a job description, and then fill the position either by transferring someone from another full-time job or by running an external search. All managers in all areas tend to staff for what they perceive as the peak demand for knowledge work in their area of responsibility. This institutionalizes a significant level of excess capacity spread in small increments throughout decision factories. That is why decision factory productivity is a persistent modern challenge. Of course, it is most certainly not in the interest of knowledge workers to go to their bosses and declare that they have “spare capacity” At best, they might then be judged in performance reviews as having an easy job and being not very productive. At worst, the bosses might decide that these employees could be cut. Thus it is to every knowledge worker’s benefit to look busy all the time. There is alPage 12 - The Lama Review
ways a report to write, a memo to generate, a consultation to run, a new idea to explore. And it is in support of this perceived survival imperative that the second driver of productivityknowledge transfer-gets perverted. Knowledge in the decision factory. As I describe in my book The Design of Business, knowledge development goes through three stages. When a new manufacturing or service operation is created-for example, Intel’s first microprocessor chip fabrication facility, in 1983, or Disney’s first theme park, in Anaheim, California, in 1955-the task is a mystery. What is the optimal process flow through the fabrication plant? How should queues be structured at Disneyland? The pioneering experimental work tends to be inefficient and error-filled, as for any mystery. In due course, with lots of practice, a body of wisdom is created-what can be called a heuristic-that guides how the process is carried out. Intel’s next dozen fabrication plants were no longer hit-or-miss, because knowledgeable masters who had worked on the first one designed them. And as Disney opened its four theme parks at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, it was able to use the Anaheim heuristic. In product factories the advancement of knowledge doesn’t stop with a heuristic. The culture at large-scale manufacturing and service operations is to keep pushing until the knowledge becomes an algorithm-a formula for guaranteed success. An operating manual replaces the knowledgeable master. Less experienced managers can use the algorithm to get the job done. That culture lies behind the success of McDonald’s, Wells Fargo, and FedEx. And the work doesn’t stop with the existing algorithm: It is honed and refined in a continuous improvement process. In the decision factory, however, knowledge tends to remain stubbornly at the heuristic level, where experience and judgment are
the key requirements for competent decision making. A big part of the explanation, of course, is that the knowledge challenge is simply tougher in decision factories. Many decisions have to be made for the first time and are thus in the mystery category. For example, how should a company enter Nigeria, its first developing market? And what about the next country? The proper entry strategy will be different there. Even after making entry decisions for 10 countries, the company may not have a heuristic, let alone an algorithm. But the job-based work structure creates a significant hazard. If experienced knowledge workers turn a skill-based heuristic into an algorithm, they are inviting the company to replace them with lower-skilled, less expensive workers. That is why many organizations find it difficult to get master knowledge workers to spend time teaching apprentices even the heuristics: Something else always seems to be more pressing. Of course, this hazard exists in the blue-collar world as well. But there, knowledge is advanced through the observation of physical processes. From the time of Frederick Winslow Taylor and his infernal stopwatch, bluecollar workers have understood that their work can and will be observed and optimized. The jobs of knowledge workers, however, are hidden between their ears. Senior executives in modern corporations know that they have more knowledge workers than they need, but they don’t know where the excess lies. Thus when they face a dip in sales or some other tough patch, they reflexively chop knowledge workers, trusting that some portion of the excess will disappear without particularly negative consequences. There is a better way to run the world’s expensive decision factories. It has two central attributes: It adopts the method that successful professional services firms use to manage their human resources, and it embraces the
ethic of knowledge advancement found in the best blue-collar factories.
Redefining the Job Contract The key to breaking the binge-and-purge cycle in knowledge work is to use the project rather than the job as the organizing principle. In this model, full-time employees are seen not as tethered to certain specified functions but as flowing to projects where their capabilities are needed. Companies can cut the numbers of knowledge workers they have on the payroll because they can move the ones they have around. The result is a lot less downtime and make-work. Think of a freshly hired assistant brand manager for Olay at P&G. She may initially view her role as pretty standard: helping her boss guide the brand. However, she will quickly learn that the job is ever-changing. This month she may be working on the pricing and positioning of a brand extension. Two months later she may be totally absorbed in managing production glitches that are causing shipment delays on the biggest-selling item in the Olay lineup. Then all is quiet until the boss approaches her desk with yet another project. Within months she will figure out that her job is a series of projects that come and go, sometimes in convenient ways and sometimes not. This characterization of knowledge work is gaining traction among management thinkers. In “The Rise of the Supertemp” (HBR May 2012), Jody Greenstone Miller and Matt Miller describe an emerging class of managers who are focused on short-term, high-value-added, knowledge-based projects. Similarly, the Silicon Valley legend Reid Hoffman, with Ben Casnocha and Chris Yeh, suggests in “Tours of Duty: The New Employer-Employee Compact” (HBR June 2013) that organizing knowledge workers” employment into time-bound “tours of duty” can help companies retain these workers and keep them happy. And although actually organizing knowledge The Lama Review - Page 13
work around projects may seem a radical idea in mainstream business, it is very familiar to professional services firms, some of which have become as large as manufacturing corporations. In 25 years Accenture has grown from its inception as the “systems integration practice” of Arthur Andersen into an independent firm with revenue equivalent to 3M’s. The iconic consultancy McKinsey & Company has about as much revenue as a typical Fortune 500 company. These companies are made up almost exclusively of knowledge workers. When a project comes in, a team is assembled to carry it out. When the project is finished, the team is disassembled and its members are put on other projects. They don’t have permanent assignments; they have established skill levels that qualify them to work in certain capacities on certain projects. This ability to channel resources flexibly and seamlessly to projects as they arise enables these consulting firms to do something that their clients cannot-that is, to staff projects that the clients can’t handle themselves because the necessary personnel are lodged in permanent assignments. True, for some projects a professional services firm has unique expertise. But often its ability to flow bodies quickly to the task at hand is the reason it was hired. Indeed, professional services firms have grown so quickly in part because they are organized around projects, whereas their clients are organized around permanent jobs. This approach is not limited to professional services firms. Hollywood studios, for example, have always organized around film projects. A team comes together to plan, shoot, edit, market, and distribute a film. As individual team members finish their tasks, they are assigned to other projects. Mainstream companies are catching on as well. In 1998 P&G carried out a major operational reorganization. The centerpiece was a Page 14 - The Lama Review
shift from four integrated regional profit centers to seven global business units (GBUs)including baby care, fabric care, and beauty care-along with market development organizations that were responsible for distributing the products of all seven GBUs within their given regions. A feature of the reorganization was the creation of Global Business Services in order to share information technology and employee services. Shared service organizations had become popular, so the fact that P&G took this step was not in itself notable. But how GBS operated was. Under the leadership of Filippo Passerini, who is now the president of GBS, P&G in 2003 engaged in what was then the biggest outsourcing deal in corporate history: It sent approximately 3,300 jobs to IBM, HP, and Jones Lang LaSalle. Passerini transferred to those organizations the GBS employees who were performing the most-routine, least-project-oriented work. This allowed him to think more innovatively about the jobs that remained within GBS. The classic move would have been to structure them as flat jobs, assuming a consistent stream of similar work for each one. Instead Passerini decided to embrace the project nature inherent in the work still at GBS. He made the part of his enterprise that remained within P&G what he called a “flowto-the-work organization.” Of course, some of his employees were still working in flat, permanent jobs, but a large proportion were assigned to whatever projects had high urgency and high payoff. These knowledge workers didn’t expect to stay in one business unit in one region; they understood that they would be working in teams organized specifically to tackle pressing assignments in succession. The integration of Gillette was one such assignment. The 2005 acquisition of Gillette was by far the biggest P&G had ever made, adding 30,000 employees and costing $57 billion.
The most challenging aspect lay in the GBS area: integrating all the back-office functionsfinance, sales, logistics, manufacturing, marketing-and information technology systems. Thanks to GBSâ€™s flow-to-the-work structure, Passerini could quickly channel extensive resources to the integration. As a result, it was accomplished in a mere 15 months-less than half the time normally required for an acquisition of this size. With synergy savings from integration estimated at $4 million a day, this translated into a saving of close to $2 billion. The project-based approach to knowledge work is currently being rolled out across P&G. In 2012 the company announced an initiative to eliminate excess white-collar costs and manage the remaining costs more effectively. Each part of the P&G organization is defining what proportion of its knowledge workforce should be in permanent, flat jobs and what proportion should be in flow-to-the-work jobs. The flow proportion may vary by unit, but it is required to be greater than zero.
Toward the Knowledge Algorithm Switching to a flow-to-the-work structure will do much to improve the productivity of a company’s knowledge workers and to remove obstacles to codifying and transferring
knowledge. But it will not guarantee that the codification and transfer actually take place. For that to happen, knowledge workers must be persuaded to go the extra mile. P&G has become a leader in this respect as well, putting key executives in charge of codifying its knowledge. Since 1837 the company has been a model brand builder, but for a long time it left brand building as a heuristic to be developed in the heads of experienced and expensive executives. Learning the heuristic traditionally involved apprenticing with one or more of them to slowly absorb the unwritten rules. P&G eventually decided that this approach was no longer acceptable. In 1999 Deborah Henretta, then the general manager for fabric conditioners, sponsored a project to codify the companyâ€™s brand-building heuristic-and thereby move it in the direction of an algorithm. The brand-building framework (dubbed BBF 1.0) was intended to enable young marketers in the organization to learn the techniques for brand building more quickly, thus lowering the time and cost required for this task. BBF was found sufficiently valuable to be further refined, producing BBF 2.0 (2003), BBF 3.0 (2006), and BBF 4.0 (2012).
THE RISING SHARE OF KNOWLEDGE WORK One way to get a sense of the magnitude of knowledge workers; rise in the modern workforce is to look at changes in cost of goods sold (COGS) and selling, general, and administrative expenses (SG&A) at large companies. COGS and SG&A spending-by far the largest cost items in any company-serve as a reasonably good proxy for blue-collar and white-collar workers respectively, because the costs of the former are embedded in COGS and those of the latter make up the majority of SG&A. The Dow Jones 30 (DJ30) has always exemplified American big business: In 2012 its members had revenue of more than $3 trillion and approximately 8.5 million employees. In 1972, as this graph shows, the DJ30 aggregate spending on COGS was 72% of revenue and on SG&A was 13%. In the late 1970s SG&A began to grow as a proportion of revenue. In the following decade COGS began to fall. By 2012 their relative proportion had shifted dramatically, with COGS down to 51% and SG&A up to 24%. The Lama Review - Page 15
GBS has actively moved in the same direction. An example of its efforts involves the labor- intensive preparatory work that finance and accounting managers in each of 20-plus categories across P&G carried out in advance of the annual strategic-planning exercise. Traditionally, a manager would rely on experience to determine what sorts of information would be helpful to the category team in preparing for the strategy work, would collect that information from a variety of sources, and would organize it in some form. GBS, whose information systems were tapped to provide much of the data, noticed a pattern of requests for certain kinds of data at a certain time of year by certain kinds of managers. In due course it ascertained that the preparatory materials of all these F&A managers were very similar in content and could easily be assembled by GBS from an algorithm; in fact, most of them could be assembled and spit out by a piece of software that GBS had built. Rather than spend hundreds of hours putting together a data package, each manager could simply e-mail GBS and ask for a preparatory deck for the upcoming strategy process. Obviously, not all knowledge work can be reduced to algorithms. But itâ€™s possible to go further than most corporations realize. Philip Parker, a marketing professor at Insead, has strikingly demonstrated how much the envelope can be pushed. He developed and patented an algorithm that enables a computer to write a research report on almost any topic, drawing on databases and automatic internet searches. Parker reports sales of more than 200,000 copies of the books his programs have authored. (More recently he has been trying out algorithms for poetry and fiction.) No organization the size of P&G can become project- based overnight or reduce every heuristic to an algorithm. Nor should it; that would be overkill and very disruptive. But a company with 100% flat jobs is almost certainly obsoPage 16 - The Lama Review
lete. Likewise, knowledge in the modern corporation can be advanced only so fast, and a large share of employees will continue to be invested in running current heuristics. But some people are clearly needed to solve the next new mystery. The key is to invest significant knowledge worker resources in projects that move knowledge forward. Only then can organizations avoid cycles of binge and purge while improving the productivity of their knowledge workers. (Roger L. Martin is the dean of the University of Torontoâ€™s Rotman School of Management and a coauthor, with A.G. Lafley, of Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works (Harvard Business Review Press, 2013).) To purchase this article, please visit www.nytsyn. com/contact and contact your local New York Times Syndicate sales representative. For customer support, please call 1-800-972-3550 or 1-212-556-5117.]]>
Tradeline Lean Models for Information Exchange Deliver a More Effective “Big Room” True IPD Emerges When the Noise of Information Overload is Quieted Utilizing the “big room”—collocating all project team members onsite in a single environment—to achieve true integrated project delivery (IPD) can be the best way to drive efficiency, reduce waste, and improve project outcomes through a shared pain/shared gain contract structure for all stakeholders. But it also can create a lot of noise in the form of information overload. Only by managing information as a Lean commodity can the IPD team realize the full potential of the process.
“Our goal was to discover, reveal, and measure information flows so that we could improve collaboration,” says Reid Senescu, a Stanford University researcher looking into the flow of digital information in the big room environment. “In this case, we are essentially treating information like Lean manufacturing would treat a part in an assembly line. We want just-in-time delivery of information that speeds through the project team as quickly as possible.”
The Integrated Center for Design and Construction occupying the trailers in the foreground is one of the largest big rooms ever created. The 12,000-sf command center located at 16th and 4th Streets in San Francisco houses more than 300 architects, engineers, contractors and subcontractors, all working together to build the UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay. Scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2015, it is the first major medical center to be built from the ground up in San Francisco in decades. (Courtesy of DPR) The Lama Review - Page 17
Matching room layout and seating with organizational structure, instead of having everyone sit with his or her respective organizations, has been proven to streamline communication in the big room environment. Large conference rooms and other meeting spaces form the perimeter of the room, with individual workstations in the interior. The spaces are color-coded on the diagram by company (e.g. dark blue for UCSF and red for DPR.) (Courtesy of DPR)
One of the largest big rooms ever assembled combines stakeholders for the $1.5 billion UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay in San Francisco into one collocated organization called the Integrated Center for Design and Construction (ICDC). Begun in 2009 with about 80 people in the ICDC, the 12,000-sf command center now houses more than 300 architects, engineers, contractors, and subcontractors rotating through while the project is under construction. Collectively, they generate an enormous amount of information, but only a small fraction of it is critical to the mission of each individual. The key is to cut through the noise and funnel the right information to the right people at the right time.
Lean Information Flow Senescu and his team of researchers used a largescale Northern California hospital project as a case study in Lean information flow. “Lean is about creating value,” says Senescu. “But the question is: Who are you creating value for? The answer is that the stakeholders decide the value—not necessarily the current customer, but the future stakeholders. If the project is a hospital, you’re creating value for the patients, doctors, nurses, and so on.” Page 18 - The Lama Review
Senescu leveraged this research to start CloudLeaps. CloudLeaps software maps the way documents are exchanged between team members using their existing tools (e.g. ProjectWise, Window Servers, Box, SharePoint etc.) and current processes. It tracks how and when files get viewed, edited, and exchanged, then automatically applies algorithms to these behaviors to map the relationships between dependent documents, eliminating the need for process mapping. “If you are working on the structural cost estimate, and somebody changes a dependent file like the structural analysis spreadsheet, instead of hundreds of email updates sent out to the entire team every time something on the project is changed, you get a customized notification that information specifically relevant to you has changed,” says Senescu. CloudLeaps features a shared project dashboard to keep the project team informed on information activity that is relevant to them. This added level of workflow transparency also helps identify critical roles, such as who is at the center of information exchange at any given time.
“We graphed who most of the information flowed through on a month-to-month basis to determine who was at the center of the exchange,” says Senescu. “For example, early in the design phase we found a lot of the information was flowing through the general contractor.” The app can also identify potential bottlenecks and communication gaps based on who has viewed which documents. “If a subcontractor is about to start installing something in the next couple of weeks, but they are behind in reading information created by all the other disciplines, this gives you a red flag,” says Senescu. “When you have this kind of information up front, you can respond proactively.”
The Up Side of the Big Room The big room approach—which is supported by technologies like SmartBoards, highspeed internet, and online document sharing—is part of the IPD model. Properly managing the flow of information can make for a much more successful big room. “The big room is a collaboration space where a multi-disciplinary team consisting of the owner, architects, general contractors, designers, and subcontractors work together to accelerate decisionmaking, improve communication, and avoid project delays through all stages of design, preconstruction, and construction,” says Atul Khanzode, director of construction technologies at DPR Construction, general contractor on the project. “IPD is based on a relational contracting model that is different from a traditional designbid-build method of delivery,” says Khanzode. “It usually involves a best-value selection process for team participants who operate under a negotiated contract with mutual pain share/gain share where the team succeeds together rather than as individual players.” “With the ICDC (at UCSF), the designers, general contractor, subcontractors, and owner representatives all started collocation at the schematic design phase,” says Khanzode. To better understand the pros and cons of big room dynamics, researchers from Stanford and Finland’s Aalto University analyzed information flows and other metrics, and interviewed more than 80 ICDC team members.
One of the most significant benefits they found was a dramatic reduction in latency—the amount of time between when a request for information (RFI) is filed and when it is resolved. In fact, the ICDC team has achieved an almost 99 percent success rate under an incentive program designed to drive rapid turnaround of all RFIs and to get RFIs answered without needing resubmission. “Average turnaround time for RFIs at the Mission Bay project is around three to four days,” says Khanzode. “Since everyone is together, the team can address things quickly, document it, and move on to the next issue.” Another advantage to the big room is an increased level of transparency that gives individual team members a deeper understanding of everyone else’s work. This heightened level of situational awareness reduces waste and helps everyone adapt more rapidly to changes. “If something is going to change on the architectural side, you don’t want the subs to start modeling it for their MEP,” says Khanzode. “In a big room it’s easy to communicate these things so the subs can do something else in the meantime and still be very productive.”
Big Room Downsides Not surprisingly, the biggest challenge cited in the large open environment is distraction. This has been especially true for team members who had completed significant work before joining a big room—such as the fire protection subcontractors, structural designers, and medical equipment personnel. “A lot of people like to work in a more traditional type of office,” says Khanzode. “They feel like anybody can come up and interrupt their work in an open environment.” Another drawback cited was time wasted in too many inefficient meetings. “In some situations, a subcontractor or structural designer would get called upon to answer a fiveminute question, but they still had to sit through the whole six hours,” says Khanzode. “So teams wanted to find more efficient ways of incorporating those individuals without wasting their time. One approach was to have them participate only for the period of time they needed to be there and structurThe Lama Review - Page 19
ing discussion on those topics so that they can be present or dial in at the right moment.”
Lessons Learned According to Khanzode, the key to a successful big room is designating a dedicated facilitator who can focus the group at critical points and help resolve any conflicts as they arise. “This person can be a designer or somebody on the contractor side who is good at facilitation,” says Khanzode. “The typical trend is that there is a sense of euphoria when you first get in a big room and people are really excited, but you have to be able to maintain that or it fades. Keeping this momentum going requires someone who is respected and talks to all the team members regularly.” Structuring schedules to allow for both meeting time and working time is also important. Now meetings are scheduled every other week to give everyone involved more time to prepare. Multidisciplinary teams can maximize small breakout sessions by quickly using modeling tools to produce detailed concepts for group consideration. “When you have the designers, architect, and BIM staff all together, why not just have them produce something very quickly that they can show to the rest of the team to give everyone an immediate understanding of what is being considered?” says Khanzode. “We’ve seen a lot of benefit in doing this because of the amount of group clarity it provides in decision making.” Other best practices include matching room layout with organizational structure. “When we started in UCSF Medical Center’s ICDC, for example, everyone sat together with their own companies,” says Khanzode. “To speed up the flow, the team arranged the room into clusters that matched the organizational layout of the project. So the hospital group sits together, the outpatient building group sits together, the energy center group sits together and so on. This streamlined the process quite a bit.” It is also important to improve processes and assess team progress on a regular basis. “To get the most out of a big room, you need to revisit these things as a group, maybe once a month or more, and really look at what is working and what isn’t; then adjust accordingly,” says Khanzode. Page 20 - The Lama Review
By Johnathon Allen This report is based on a presentation by Khanzode and Senescu at the Tradeline 2013 Lean Facility Lifecycle Conference. © Copyright Tradeline, Inc. 2013. Reprinted with permission, all rights reserved. TradelineInc.com is a registered product of Tradeline, Inc., a provider of leading-edge resources to facilities planning and management through conferences, publications, and the Internet community. Visit www.TradelineInc.com for more information. Atul Khanzode is director of construction technologies at DPR Construction, where he is responsible for virtual building, operations, preconstruction technologies, and strategic technology initiatives. He also works with project teams across the country to implement virtual building methods and Lean construction processes. Reid Senescu is co-founder and CEO of CloudLeaps, Inc. With a Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from Stanford University’s Sustainable Design and Construction program, he specializes in helping teams collaborate efficiently around their information. Currently, CloudLeaps is working with Skanska and AECOM to improve their multi-disciplinary collaboration, integrated workflows, and knowledge sharing. Atul Khanzode Director of Construction Technologies DPR Construction 1450 Veterans Blvd. Redwood City, Calif., 94063 (650) 474-1450 email@example.com Reid Senescu Founder and CEO CloudLeaps, Inc. 419 Lagunita Drive, #40 Stanford, Calif., 94305 firstname.lastname@example.org
How to Motivate Your Problem People By Nigel Nicholson
Everyone knows that good managers motivate with the power of their vision, the passion of their delivery, and the compelling logic of their reasoning. Add in the proper incentives, and people will enthusiastically march off in the right direction. It’s a great image, promoted in stacks of idealistic leadership books. But something is seriously wrong with it: Such a strategy works with only a fraction of employees and a smaller fraction of managers. Why? For one thing, few executives are particularly gifted at rallying the troops. Exhorting most managers to become Nelson Mandelas or Winston Churchills imbues them with little more than a sense of guilt and inadequacy. For another, all available evidence suggests that external incentives—be they pep talks, wads of cash, or even the threat of unpleasant consequences—have limited impact. The people who might respond to such inducements are already up and
running. It’s the other folks who are the problem. And, as all managers know from painful experience, when it comes to managing people, the 80–20 rule applies: The most intractable employees take up a disproportionate amount of one’s time and energy. So how do you get these people to follow your lead? How do you get them energized and committed in such a way that they not only support your initiatives but carry them out? After 30 years of studying business organizations and advising executives, I have concluded that these are precisely the wrong questions to ask. That’s because, as it turns out, you can’t motivate these problem people: Only they themselves can. Your job is to create the circumstances in which their inherent motivation— the natural commitment and drive that most people have—is freed and channeled toward achievable goals. That approach requires an entirely different managerial mind-set. Achieving this shift in perspecThe Lama Review - Page 21
tive is anything but easy. But it’s your best hope for getting the most out of your difficult employees. And if you succeed, your task won’t be prodding or coaxing these people; it will be removing barriers—including, quite possibly, your own demotivating management style.
signs of improvement. In fact, George has yet to sell a single parcel of land. In his dealings with potential partners, the garrulous George acts as though his bonhomie is all he needs to cut a deal. And the deals he does manage to make turn out to be ill considered and costly.
A Familiar Problem
Because of these issues, Paolo meets with George several times to try to get him to change his ways. George responds with encouraging smiles, plausible excuses, and a commitment to Paolo that things will change, but nothing does. In the final analysis, Paolo decides, George is slippery and lazy. Despite his promises, George refuses to adopt a different negotiating style, and he obviously isn’t prepared to do the detailed research necessary to appraise a deal. Exasperated, Paolo decides to issue George an ultimatum: Improve your game or get out. But firing George would be an expensive option; people with his background and skills are difficult to find in this part of the world.
Let’s look at a couple of situations that will surely resonate with most managers. First, consider the problem facing Annette. (Though the cases in this article are real, the names and identifying details have been changed.) She is a senior designer at a large publishing and graphic design business, with dottedline responsibility for Colin, a project team member. Always something of a maverick, Colin nonetheless has a good work history. But the team is feeling the heat because the company restructured it to reduce costs and speed turnaround times. And Colin’s behavior is becoming increasingly problematic, or so Annette and Dave, the project manager and Colin’s other boss, see it. Colin seems to be shirking work, and when he does complete assignments, he doesn’t report back to his bosses. To Annette, Colin’s behavior doesn’t just reflect his inherent disregard for rules and procedures; it also signifies a reluctance to take on further assignments. After discussing the situation with Dave, Annette decides that she will be the one to talk to Colin because she has the better relationship with him. Annette’s strategy is to motivate Colin by appealing to his sense of responsibility to the project team. When she meets with him and tries to get him to accept this line of reasoning, Colin agrees to do what Annette wants. But she doesn’t get the feeling that her argument has made any impact. In her opinion, Colin is in his comfort zone: He supports the other team members, even helps them to solve their problems, but he does so at the expense of fulfilling his own responsibilities. Annette wonders whether Colin has become a misfit in the new structure and will have to leave. Perhaps she should give him a formal warning at his annual appraisal. Or maybe she should transfer him to a less demanding job, in effect demoting him. Here’s another case. Paolo works in Eastern Europe as a country manager for an international property developer. George, a chartered accountant with an MBA, is a direct report whose job is to sell plots of land and develop strategic alliances with local companies. George is fairly new to this position, having previously worked in a back-office role overseeing customer accounts. Although George is pleasant and enthusiastic, his performance is subpar and shows no Page 22 - The Lama Review
Poor Paolo. He can almost smell the failure likely to result from a confrontation. He’ll continue to get reassurances from George, but will he ever get George to change his ways and be accountable for his performance? Poor Annette. If only she could convince Colin to improve his attitude, she could hold on to a potentially valuable team member. But no matter how reasonable Annette’s argument is, will she be able to get Colin to behave differently?
The Mistakes Managers Make These two cases share some qualities that often bedevil executives in their attempts to motivate problem people. For instance, Annette and Paolo believe that they just need the right sales pitch to turn around Colin and George. Each boss thinks, “If I can only get this person to listen, he’ll see the logic of my position.” This approach, something I call “tell and sell,” is based on a profound fallacy many of us buy into: Other people have the same thought processes we do, and, consequently, they have to accept the good sense of what we’re saying. But each of us has a unique profile of motivational drivers, values, and biases, and we have different ideas about what is reasonable. This frequent mismatch of perceptions leads to another common problem with managerial attempts at motivation: the futile and prolonged game of tag, with a manager repeatedly trying to slap some motivation onto the problem employee. The employee either evades the boss’s attempts or, if tagged, quickly wriggles free. Think
of Colin avoiding his bosses. Think of George and his elusive promises. Every manager is familiar with the “Sure, boss” meetings that end with an apparent resolution but ultimately result in more of the same old problem and the person not changing one jot. In fact, such unsatisfactory outcomes shouldn’t surprise managers like Annette and Paolo. In trying to convert Colin and George into different kinds of people, they—like most managers dealing with problem employees—have set themselves an impossible goal. A fundamental rule of management is that you can’t change people’s character; you can’t even control their actions most of the time. Change comes from within or not at all.
A New Approach to Motivation So if Annette and Paolo have approached their problems in the wrong way, what is the right way? I propose a relatively simple method I have seen work time and again. It involves shifting the responsibility for motivation from subject to object, from boss to subordinate. Crucially, it also involves a shift in perspective: The manager needs to look at the employee not as a problem to be solved but as a person to be understood. (For a discussion of this change in perspective, see the sidebar “Decentering: The Art at the Heart of Motivation.”) My method is based on a handful of principles:
Decentering : The Art at the Heart of Motivation The conceptual foundation of the motivational method presented here is the notion of “decentering.” Swiss child psychologist Jean Piaget coined the term to describe the phenomenon of infants moving beyond a state of locked-in, self-centered perception. This change enables them to understand that spatial perspectives different from their own are possible, that the person on the other side of the table doesn’t see the table the same way. A similar shift in children’s social perceptions—understanding that people’s values and motives may also differ—comes later, especially when a child feels some sympathy for the other person. Adults aren’t much different. With people we like, we try to understand how they feel. But a lot of the time we act in a kind of road rage: We’re in the right, and others—abstract, disembodied, and barely real to us—are in the wrong. Ask executives to talk about difficult subordinates—or even their own bosses— and you’ll get adjectives such as “lazy,” “boring,” and “dishonest,” terms that the employees or managers would never apply to themselves. Such blinkered
perceptions, common in everyday life, are particularly prevalent in the hierarchical setting of business. There’s a certain comfort in keeping difficult people at arm’s length. By treating them as problems to be solved, as objects to be manipulated with rewards and punishments, we don’t have to know what they think and feel. That knowledge would only unsettle us. For example, what if, in seeing things from their perspective, we saw that our worldview wasn’t necessarily the right one? As a powerful aid to decentering, you should ask yourself: “What must it be like for someone like that— that is, with that character and perspectives—to have someone like me, with my biases and drives, as a boss, client, subordinate?” The answer can guide your strategy for future encounters. Because of the effort it takes to decenter, particularly with difficult employees, the method I propose is demanding. But it is no more difficult, and certainly it is more effective, than motivational techniques based on inspirational leadership. After all, can you really inspire people you don’t care for—and who aren’t very fond of you?
Everyone has motivational energy. Although many problem employees display a marked lack of drive and commitment in their jobs, these qualities are usually alive and well in other areas of their lives. Certainly, not all people are going to feel the same passion for their work that they do for their hobbies or other outside interests. But it’s a mistake to write off a problem employee as simply unmotivated. Most workers have the potential to engage with their work in a way that furthers managerial goals. This energy is often blocked in the workplace. A variety of factors can block people’s natural motivation. For example, impediments may appear suddenly because of new stresses at home or may accumulate incrementally over years, the product of frustrated dreams or broken promises at work. The effect is to transform a person’s positive energy into negative attitudes and behavior—or simply to divert it into nonwork activities. One of the most common blockages occurs when employees feel that their bosses don’t really care about them. For this or other reasons, problem employees usually don’t much like their managers. And chances are that the sentiments are mutual—which makes conventional pep talks about improving performance come across as insincere, at best. The Lama Review - Page 23
Removing blockages requires employee participation. To motivate an employee to work toward your goals, you need to take a judolike approach: Find the person’s locus of energy and leverage it to achieve your ends. Instead of pushing solutions on people with the force of your argument, pull solutions out of them. Turning the tables gets employees’ attention at the very least; ideally, it prompts them to clear the obstacles impeding their motivation. To accomplish this, you may have to rethink what your problem employees can reasonably be motivated to do. But the approach will help you get the best from them, whatever their abilities and skills. Let’s look at potential objections to the method I’m proposing. “This all sounds too soft and squishy to me,” you might say. Or, “I’ve got a business to run and have neither the inclination nor the time to serve as the sympathetic shrink to a bunch of ‘blocked’ employees who refuse to get with the program.” First, while this method is based on empathy, it is anything but soft. It demands that a manager take charge of a difficult situation and resolve it. In fact, the truly spongy method is what you are probably using now: either ignoring your problem employees or repeatedly and unsuccessfully trying to convince them that they should improve their performance. Although in exasperation you may end up sacking them, that’s a sign of failure, not firmness. Second, my method does require an investment of time, but it is an investment that should get you to a resolution of the problem sooner than other means would. That’s because it requires you to move beyond the point of “stuckness” that characterizes so many relationships with problem people. Keep in mind that this approach is designed to create a resolution—not necessarily a solution—to the problem you face. While the method should help you avoid some common pitfalls in trying to motivate difficult employees (see the sidebar “Seven Hazards in Handling Problem People”), you won’t be able to transform every unmotivated employee. And even if an employee’s behavior does change, you may not get exactly what you originally wanted. But the three-step method I propose will put an end to the evasions, repetitions, and broken promises. And it will likely yield options that you hadn’t even considered. At the very least, it will drive you to a moment of truth, a point at which you and the employee together can see a path to the goal you have set—or agree that no solution is possible.
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Seven Hazards in Handling Problem People The Mulberry Bush Chase Have you been going round and round with someone, having the same fruitless conversations over and over? That’s a sure sign of the need for a new approach. Discard your assumptions about the person and start afresh.
The Huckster Hazard Have you been trying to “tell and sell”—that is, convince the person of the reasonableness of your position? Don’t be an evangelist. Be a psychologist. The most successful salespeople discover and fulfill people’s needs rather than try to change them.
The Ignorance-Is-Bliss Syndrome Have you been contentedly clueless, neither knowing nor caring much about what makes an employee tick? You have to dig deeper to find out what drives that person—and what may be blocking those drivers.
The Self-Centeredness Trap Do the words that spring to mind when you think about this person’s behavior reflect a blinkered point of view? Ask yourself what words this individual would use to describe those same behaviors. It may give you a fresh insight into the nature of the problem.
The Hanging Judge Tendency Have you been proudly occupying a moral high ground in your perspective on this person? It won’t help to think of your employee as in the wrong while you act out the role of judge or high priest. Decide now whether you really want to solve the problem or sit in judgment.
The Monochrome Vision Have you failed to search for any redeeming features in this person? Think hard. Because discovering even one positive characteristic in someone can color your relationship in entirely new ways and create a starting point for you to connect.
The Denial Danger Have you been dismissing out of hand how someone perceives you? Remember the dictum, “If something is perceived as real, it is real in its consequences.” It is the other person’s reality you are going to have to work with, not just your own.
Step 1: Create a Rich Picture Tom has been struggling to help Jack improve his performance. But with each warning, Jack, who is naturally shy, just seems to get quieter. In the end, without fuss or ceremony, Tom tells Jack that things aren’t working out and he’ll have to leave the company. In the days that follow, Jack’s former colleagues are abuzz with talk about his sudden dismissal—and what they’ve just learned about his situation. It turns out that both of Jack’s parents had recently died after lingering and debilitating illnesses. Until now, no one, including Tom, knew what he had been going through. Jack’s case is extreme, but it illustrates a phenomenon distressingly common in business. A problem employee is taken through the usual appraisal routines and management discussions and then is dismissed—sometimes after years of unproductive performance. Shortly thereafter, the line manager learns from the person’s former peers about something that may have been behind the poor performance. The manager never knew about it because of the employee’s pride or natural reserve—or because the individual disliked or mistrusted the manager. The first step thus requires that a manager work to understand where a problem employee is coming from: What drives that person? What blocks those drives? What might happen if the impediments are removed? But that isn’t all. Two other factors also figure in the equation: you, as the boss, and the context within which the problem is occurring. Let’s start with the employee. How can Tom know so little about what is affecting Jack’s work? How well does Annette understand Colin? What does Paolo really know about George? Clearly, these managers need more information. It can come from peers, subordinates, or previous bosses. Much of the data will come, however, from problem employees themselves. You need to have a series of informal conversations— at the water cooler, over lunch, at social events— that will give you insight into what your employees are really about. What does the world look like from where the employee sits? How have his expectations and desires been molded by key past experiences? What passions govern his choices? What stifles these passions in the workplace? This may sound difficult, but in executive classes I teach, I find that people can learn these things about one another in a ten-minute interview, if they ask the right questions. After all, we often have these conversations at dinner parties; we just rarely have them at work. What you discover will
likely surprise you. A test of this would be asking problem employees to describe themselves. It’s almost a certainty that they would use different words from the ones you might use. These informal conversations are the starting point in effectively motivating problem people. For example, Annette learns through some asking around that Colin, outside work, is building a house. No motivation problem there! Next, you need to look at your own role in the problem you’ve been trying to solve, especially because direct bosses are the most potent source of employee dissatisfaction and the chief reason people quit their jobs. In fact, you may be the main, if inadvertent, cause of your employee’s lack of motivation; for one reason or another, you are bringing out the worst rather than the best in the person you’re trying to help. You will have to do some honest soul-searching. And you’ll need to do the same sort of asking around that helped you fill out your picture of the employee. Your problem employee may be uncomfortable talking about his or her perception of you, but over time you may even be able to piece together a picture— probably unflattering—of how you are viewed. Even if that picture seems unfair and inaccurate, remember: If something is perceived as real, it is real in its consequences. Others can provide additional information. Paolo, in discussing George with another manager, complains: “He acts like I’m persecuting him, if you can believe that.” Imagine Paolo’s surprise when the colleague, who is a friend, responds, “Well, Paolo, I’m sure he’s wrong about persecution, but you do come across as a bit of a bully sometimes.” What you learn may convince you that your relationship with the problem employee is dysfunctional beyond repair, at which point you should abandon the method and hand over the motivation task to someone else. More likely, though, the way you interact with a problem employee—for example, something as basic as the way you talk to that person—is simply a turn-off. What works fine with your other reports is hopelessly wrong for this individual. Needless to say, that can be a chastening realization, and many managers find it hard to face. Finally, you need to analyze the context. Is something about the current situation bringing out the worst in the employee—and maybe in you? Annette thinks Colin’s performance has deteriorated because of the increased demands the restructuring has placed on The Lama Review - Page 25
the project team. But Annette’s under pressure, too. Are Colin’s actions bothering Annette more than they would otherwise because of the stress she faces? Do her reactions to him, paradoxically, add to Colin’s stress, creating a vicious cycle? Once you embark on this kind of fact-finding mission, you’ll see that you didn’t have sufficient data to solve your problem. Quite possibly, your dislike has gotten in the way of getting to know the problem employee. Furthermore, you probably didn’t think your own behavior could be partly to blame. And you probably haven’t gone out of your way to look for situational factors that might in some sense excuse the employee’s shortcomings. It’s much easier simply to label people as difficult than to figure out how they got that way or implicate yourself in the mess. But if you can break out of this narrow mind-set, you’re more likely to get the employee to perform better. And you’ll probably rethink what you wanted to achieve with this problem employee in the first place.
Step 2: Reframe Your Goals Hans runs a division of a Swiss brokerage business. Luca is a member of a 12-person back-office team there that, although it processes customer accounts, has little customer contact. Luca’s team is split into two factions, the result of his rumormongering and abysmal relations with the group’s secretary—or so Hans believes. Hans doesn’t particularly like Luca, who is very different from Hans: Luca is physically imposing, working class, a big spender who loves flashy cars and always seems to have money problems. Luca seems to feel similar antipathy toward Hans. Although Luca’s performance on the job isn’t bad, Hans believes that Luca could achieve more, and improve overall group performance, if he spent less time gossiping and cultivated a better relationship with the secretary. He has casually mentioned this to Luca several times, to no avail, and Hans is ready to get rid of him. But from an informal poll of Luca’s coworkers, Hans learns that most don’t want him to go, despite the trouble he seems to cause. So Hans decides to confront Luca and demand that he get along with the secretary and stop playing office politics. You may know firsthand the frustration that Hans feels: “I’m a reasonable person, trying to do a good job, facing an unreasonable person who refuses to acknowledge what is clearly the right and sensible way to solve this problem. I’ve told him what needs to be done. Why can’t he just do it?” If you are faced Page 26 - The Lama Review
with this situation, you’re likely to simply give up, either by letting things drift or by firing the employee involved. Unfortunately, your moralizing stance and failure to realize that not everyone sees things the way you do will limit both your chances of successfully motivating the employee and the options you consider for solving the problem. You’ll be better served if you let go of your desire to bring a bad employee to justice—and instead determine what can be gained by rehabilitating a wayward one. You will be more effective if you are willing to switch from your predetermined solution to an array of possible outcomes. In the case here, Hans believes the solution is to change Luca’s behavior, which he sees as the source of the team’s turmoil and Luca’s poor performance. But if Luca is to blame for the team’s problems, why aren’t his coworkers eager for him to go? Hans decides to gather more information to enrich his picture of the situation. He learns that the team’s lack of customer contact may be depriving Luca of the stimulus he needs for job satisfaction. Just as important, it may be engendering a “rats in a cage” atmosphere for the entire back-office team—an environment of infighting further poisoned by a recently introduced financial incentive scheme and Hans’s neglect of team-building initiatives. Viewed this way, Luca’s behavior may be the effect rather than the cause of the problem. Once Hans begins to think about what makes Luca tick, he wonders whether Luca’s natural proclivity toward gossip and office politics might be channeled into a positive social endeavor such as team building. Sure, Luca needs to rebuild bridges with the secretary—not to mention with Hans—but the true motivational challenge may be to co-opt Luca as an ally to improve the entire office’s climate. Let’s be clear: Reframing your goals in this way doesn’t represent capitulation. Yes, you sometimes may settle on more modest and achievable goals for your problem employee, ones that the individual will get behind and is capable of meeting. But a willingness to be flexible in your aims can also yield novel and ambitious alternatives you may not have considered. In the end, you may not get exactly what you wanted from the employee, but you’ll certainly get more than you did before. Putting together a menu of possible outcomes is a crucial prerequisite to scheduling a formal encounter with the employee that is designed to solve or resolve the situation. Keep in mind that this menu may be augmented with a solution from that unlikeliest of
sources: the employee. At the same time, this is not an “anything goes” agenda: You should be clear about bottom-line sticking points: those issues that, if you don’t arrive at a solution to the problem, will shape a resolution—possibly the employee’s termination.
Step 3: Stage the Encounter Jerry has recently been appointed a department head at a pharmaceuticals company. As he settles in, he discovers he has inherited one very troublesome subordinate. Bernard—like Jerry, in his mid-30s—is an extremely competent scientist and very independent minded. Bernard performs well enough when given a defined and highly complex piece of work that puts his technical expertise to the test. But he fails to discuss his results until it is too late for Jerry to provide his own input. And Bernard resists doing anything that departs from his accustomed routines. Jerry suspects that Bernard could do his work more quickly without sacrificing quality. But when Jerry raises the issue, Bernard snows him with technical explanations that Jerry doesn’t fully understand. Jerry learns that Bernard was once passed over for promotion and has had a bad attitude ever since. In fact, Bernard has made it plain to everyone that he resents having to report to someone he regards as his inferior in technical knowledge. Although Jerry thinks that Bernard should have been reined in long ago, he has attempted on numerous occasions to win over Bernard with friendly approaches. “What are you up to?” Jerry will ask. “You always seem to have such a creative approach to problems.” But Bernard rebuffs him: “You’ll never understand my work.” Jerry is frustrated because he knows Bernard’s considerable skills are not being fully used to benefit the business. And the growing animosity between the two men doesn’t bode well for improving the situation. Hoping to help Bernard improve his performance, Jerry has gone through the first step of the method presented here: piecing together a layered picture of the man and how his past experiences and current situation (not to mention Jerry’s arrival) may have contributed to the problem. Jerry decides that Bernard feels a need to preserve his dignity, which was diminished when he was passed over for promotion. This trait is getting in the way of Bernard making an energetic commitment to working for Jerry. With this more nuanced understanding, Jerry takes the method’s second step: reevaluating what he hopes to get out of Bernard. Jerry’s own boss has advised him, as many bosses would, to assert his authority and tell The Lama Review - Page 27
Bernard to shape up or ship out. But Jerry knows that approach probably won’t do much good. Instead, he hopes to motivate Bernard by leveraging his inherent desire for dignity, respect, and recognition. He would like Bernard to see that he is taking a self-defeating stance and that big personal rewards can be had from bringing these drives to bear on new challenges. At the same time, Jerry knows he needs to be tougher than he has been. So he decides to undertake a focused, face-to-face encounter with Bernard. One positive by-product of Jerry’s analysis of the situation is a certain detachment about Bernard: Jerry recognizes his own negative feelings—which have become increasingly intense in the face of Bernard’s rudeness— but has put them aside before the encounter takes place. In fact, Jerry has even come to realize that he is part of the problem and that any positive outcome will almost assuredly require him to modify how he manages Bernard. If all goes well, Bernard, too, will begin to transform the way he views the situation. This formal conversation with a problem employee, unlike the informal interactions you use to piece together a rich picture of the situation, is my method’s third step. It should be a carefully staged event that underscores its importance. Hold the meeting on neutral ground—say, a conference room—and block out at least an hour for it. (In fact, it may take more than a single meeting, depending on how far you get in the first encounter.) You should tell the employee about it a day or so in advance, but emphasize that no materials or preparation are needed; this will not be a formal appraisal meeting but a chance to review and revise your working relationship. In fact, the only physical props you will need are a table and two chairs, set at a right angle. The meeting opens with what I call an affirmative assertion, a brief “soft-hard” introduction. You affirm the employee’s past and future value to the organization and express your desire for a mutually beneficial outcome to the meeting. But you also honestly describe the current problem as it looks to you and assert that things cannot and will not continue as they are now. For example, Jerry might say to Bernard: “Thanks for meeting with me. I’ve been thinking about how we work together, and I have to tell you I’m not happy. My sense is that you aren’t, either. I’m not exactly sure what the problem is. That’s why I want us to talk now. I admire your talents and what you offer the company, but our previous conversations have shown me that we see our roles quite differently. I don’t like Page 28 - The Lama Review
the way you’ve responded to me on a number of occasions, but I realize you may feel the same way. I think you can help me to help us get on a different footing and identify new ways to work together. Certainly things can’t go on the way they are—I won’t let them.” You then need to engage in what I call leverage questioning. This is an intense and extended inquiry that tests hypotheses you have formulated in the course of developing your picture of the situation. Jerry’s questions probe Bernard’s need for recognition and ways in which it might be co-opted for productive ends. While one aim of such questions is to find unknown and potentially fruitful areas of agreement, they are also meant to bring differences into the open. In fact, one sign of a failed encounter—yet another “Sure, boss” meeting—is the employee managing to get out of the room without expressing a contrary view. Care is needed here: It is very easy to slip back into telling and selling, shoveling facts and arguments onto the employee in order to bury that individual under the weight of the evidence. Even if you avoid this pitfall, the employee may still be evasive, defensive, hostile, or uncommunicative. Your goal is to discern in the haze of discontent the fleeting conversational windows that open up new views of the situation or offer opportunities to leverage your employee’s driving passions. For example, Jerry confronts Bernard on a sensitive issue: “Okay, I know you are technically superior to me. That’s fine. So what do you think my role should be, then? What can I do to help you?” Bernard doesn’t hesitate in his response: “Nothing. Nobody around here with any technical smarts gets any respect anyway.” Jerry sees an opening: “Gee! Is that how you feel? Well, I guess I can see how that might have been a problem in the past. In fact, I understand why you were upset when you didn’t get that promotion. But I value technical expertise. I think we could figure out how to put yours to better use—and in a way that would give you some credit for it.” The stage is set for the moment of truth. Jerry and Bernard have reached some agreement on at least part of the problem. And Jerry has brought Bernard to the point where he can help find a solution—one that plays to the qualities that motivate him. To return to the judo metaphor, Jerry has blocked Bernard by insisting that things will not continue as they are. Now Jerry will try to execute a throw, using Bernard’s own
energy as the impetus for movement toward Jerry’s goals: “Bernard. Thanks for being so open with me. I have a much better understanding of the issues as you see them. What you are saying suggests that your job might be restructured so you can do things that take fuller advantage of your exceptional talents. I’m thinking, for example, of high-profile advisory and coaching work for teams within our unit. I’d like you to come up with some concrete proposals about what form this work might take. I’ll do the same, and we’ll meet again in a week. Listen, we’d rather keep you than lose you. But continuing in your present position, at least as you have defined it, is not viable. What do you think?”
The Broader Benefits Remember that the method I have described guarantees a resolution, not a solution, to a problem of the kind Jerry faces. To see the difference between these two outcomes, let’s return to Annette and Paolo. In her encounter with Colin, Annette engages in a new kind of conversation, hoping to figure out what his drivers are and where they are being blocked. She concludes that he is highly motivated in other areas of his life but doesn’t respond well to pressure. She sees that such pressure will only be heightened if she tries to make him feel guilty about letting down his team when it needs him most. He needs different, not greater, responsibility. When Annette probes to find out what really engages Colin, the key turns out to be helping others. How can this insight be used to motivate him? During their meeting, Colin raises the possibility of assuming a training role—one that he successfully migrates into during the subsequent months. Paolo’s case is trickier and doesn’t have such a happy ending. The problem is resolved but not solved. Paolo’s original goal was to get George to admit that he needed to be more accountable for his work. But after some thinking, Paolo decides he simply wants George to see that moving beyond the current situation is going to require making some difficult choices. They sit down together and Paolo offers specific data about George’s performance. These hard facts help George realize that he’s having a problem in his new position and admit that he isn’t motivated to solve it. The two agree that the next step is for Paolo to help George move into a role with less customer contact. This does indeed happen—but without Paolo’s help. Two weeks after their meeting, George accepts a job with another company. While Annette got a clear win, Paolo had to console himself that the outcome was
better than the collision he had expected: George being fired and taking his rage and resentment with him to another employer. In fact, George ultimately was probably grateful for the new beginning that sprang from his moment of truth with Paolo. Whether a problem is solved or simply resolved, the payoffs to be gained by using this method extend beyond the present situation and the individuals involved. Besides increasing your chances of motivating problem individuals, the method can help you motivate your entire work group. Turning around a problem person boosts everyone’s morale. One of the most common workplace complaints is that bosses don’t deal with poor performers. Typically, successive bosses leave a problem person alone, shying away from the mixture of cost and futility they anticipate would come from any attempt to improve matters. So when the employee perks up and starts acting more reasonably, the outward ripples are palpable. But it’s not just that people now find it easier working with someone who once was a problem. Your efforts also send a strong message. When people want a boss to “deal with” a poor performer, that doesn’t always mean outright dismissal. Recall Luca’s coworkers, who resisted Hans’s efforts to sack the troublemaker. In your efforts to turn someone around—even if you ultimately fail and the person quits—people will see the mark of a manager and a culture that prefer problem solving to waste disposal. Summarily getting rid of someone, on the other hand, signals that the organization discards rather than deals with difficult people—and who knows who might be next? The benefits across your organization can themselves justify the demands of this method. Yes, it can be time-consuming, difficult, and fraught with risks and setbacks: Although some employees may respond quickly to your approach, others might require time to rebuild positive relationships with you and their work. But at least they will be heading in the right direction, under their own steam. And in the end, you ideally will have not only a rehabilitated employee but also a healthier, more productive organization. Nigel Nicholson is a professor of organizational behavior and the director of the Center for Organizational Research at London Business School. He is the author of “How Hardwired Is Human Behavior?” (HBR, July–August 1998).
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Leadership How do you retain and prepare your best talent to lead? Leadership mentoring programs are one of the most effective tools in achieving business results. The authors of the book, War on Talent reported, “Of those who have had a highly helpful mentoring experience, 95 percent indicated it motivated them to do their very best, 88 percent said it made them less likely to leave their company, and 97 percent said it contributed to their success at the company.” Many organizations have discovered providing a mentor for high performing employees not only helps them settle into their job and company environment, but also contributes to a lower employee turnover rate and greater job satisfaction. A mentor, basically, is someone who serves as a counselor or guide. Being asked to serve as a mentor is an honor. It indicates the company has faith in the person’s abilities and trusts him or her to have a positive impact on the situation. The use of a mentor may be an informal, short-term situation or a more formal, long-term assignment.
ager with extensive knowledge and experience to serve as a mentor to a professional the company feels has excellent potential for growth. The mentor’s role usually lasts for an extended period of time. Effective mentoring programs must have senior level support from the beginning, otherwise it will fail to get the attention and support it needs to become part of the organization’s culture. Experience shows the most effective mentoring programs are run by senior level executives, not just the human resources department. Whether informal or formal, both parties need to understand the parameters. These may be more important in a long-term, formal mentoring situation, but can also influence the success of short-term, informal mentoring. * Select the right mentor. Not everyone makes a good mentor. A mentor is someone who is respected, successful and understands the culture of the organization. They must be willing to make a commitment of their time and knowledge.
In an informal mentoring program, the mentor usually helps the mentee for a limited period of time. Advice from the mentor may include the most basic of information about everyday routines including tips about “do’s and don’ts” not found in the employee manual to helping the employee learn job responsibilities and prepare them for future roles in the organization. A mentor who is available to answer questions and provide leadership development also saves time for the supervisor or manager. In addition, mentees often feel more comfortable asking questions of their mentor than their supervisor.
* Ensure proper pairing and create an emotional bond. It is helpful to conduct a behavioral assessment on both the mentee and mentor. This insures proper matching and helps both parties understand each other’s communication styles, strengths and limitations.
In a program of this type, mentors often are volunteers. Forcing someone who does not want to serve as a mentor to do so can quickly create problems. Obviously, someone with a negative attitude, who might encourage a new employee to gripe and complain, should not serve as a mentor.
* The mentor’s role is to coach and advise the mentee. The mentor does not interfere with the supervisor or manager’s decisions. The new employee, while expected to seek the mentor’s advice particularly on critical issues, is not bound to accept that advice.
A more formal version corporate mentoring program occurs when an organization appoints a senior man-
* Establish goals and a purpose. The mentor needs to outline these areas at the beginning. The goals should be in alignment with the strategic plan. Just as important, the protégé should outline their objectives as well.
* Confidentiality is important. Both parties need to feel confident that discussions remain between them– not immediately relayed to a supervisor or manager.
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* Decide in advance how you will communicate. Will you have regularly scheduled meetings? Will discussion be face-to-face, over the telephone or even via e-mail? Both parties need to make their preferences known at the beginning and reach an acceptable compromise if they are different. * Discuss time limits. If the mentoring period has a time limit the mentor should state that at the beginning. * Discuss time commitments. Again, this may be more critical for long-term, formal mentoring. The mentor must expect to give the employee adequate time, but the newcomer should not expect excessive amounts. Setting a schedule at the beginning (example: meet once a week the first month, then once a month after that) avoids irritating misunderstandings later. * Build openness and respect. Both the mentor and the person being mentored need to be open and honest, yet respect the other. A mentor who withholds important information or comments does not contribute to the other person’s success. However, such feedback should be delivered with tact and courtesy– and (even if somewhat hurtful) received with an open mind. * Establish a professional relationship. The relationship between the mentor and his or her protégé is a professional one, not a personal one. This is particularly important for the mentee to understand. “Greg Smith’s cutting-edge keynotes, consulting, and training programs have helped businesses reduce turnover, increase sales, hire better people and deliver better customer service. As President of Chart Your Course International he has implemented professional development programs for hundreds of organizations globally. He has authored nine informative books including Fired Up! Leading Your Organizational to Achieve Exceptional Results. For more information, visit ChartCourse.com or call (770) 860-9464.”
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Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership. Colin Powell
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Strategic Leadership: The Essential Skills PAUL J.H. SCHOEMAKER, STEVE KRUPP and SAMANTHA HOWLAND Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate The storied British banker and financier Nathan Rothschild noted that great fortunes are made when cannonballs fall in the harbor, not when violins play in the ballroom. Rothschild understood that the more unpredictable the environment, the greater the opportunity – if you have the leadership skills to capitalize on it. Through research at the Wharton School and at our consulting firm involving more than 20,000 executives to date, we have identified six skills that, when mastered and used in concert, allow leaders to think strategically and navigate the unknown effectively: the abilities to anticipate, challenge, interpret, decide, align, and learn. Each has received attention in the leadership literature, but usually in isolation and seldom in the special context of high stakes and deep uncertainty that can make or break both companies and careers. This article describes the six skills in detail. An adaptive strategic leader – someone who is both resolute and flexible, persistent in the face of setbacks but also able to react strategically to environmental shifts - has learned to apply all six at once. Do you have the right networks to help you see opportunities before competitors do? Are you comfortable challenging your own and others&’ assumptions? Can you get a diverse group to buy in to a common vision? Do you learn from mistakes? By answering questions like these, you’ll get a clear view of your abilities in each area. The self-test at this article’s end Page 34 - The Lama Review
(and the more detailed test available online) will help you gauge your strengths and weaknesses, address deficits, and optimize your full portfolio of leadership skills. Let’s look at each skill in turn.
ANTICIPATE Most organizations and leaders are poor at detecting ambiguous threats and opportunities on the periphery of their business. Coors executives, famously, were
late seeing the trend toward lowcarb beers. Lego management missed the electronic revolution in toys and gaming. Strategic leaders, in contrast, are constantly vigilant, honing their ability to anticipate by scanning the environment for signals of change. We worked with a CEO named Mike who had built his reputation as a turnaround wizard in heavy manufacturing businesses. He was terrific at reacting to crises and fixing them. After he’;d worked his magic in one particular crisis, Mike’s company enjoyed a bump in growth, fueled in part by an up cycle. But after the cycle had peaked, demand abruptly softened, catching Mike off guard. More of the same in a down market wasn’t going to work. Mike needed to consider various scenarios and gather better information from diverse sources in order to anticipate where his industry was headed. We showed Mike and his team members how to pick up weak signals from both inside and outside the organization. They worked to develop broader networks and to take the perspective of customers, competitors, and partners. More alert to opportunities outside the core business, Mike and the team diversified their product portfolio and acquired a company in an adjacent market where demand was higher and less susceptible to boom-and-bust cycles. To improve your ability to anticipate: + Talk to your customers, suppliers, and other partners to understand their challenges. + Conduct market research and business simulations to understand competitors’ perspectives, gauge their likely reactions to new
initiatives or products, and predict potential disruptive offerings. + Use scenario planning to imagine various futures and prepare for the unexpected. + Look at a fast-growing rival and examine actions it has taken that puzzle you. + List customers you have lost recently and try to figure out why. + Attend conferences and events in other industries or functions.
CHALLENGE Strategic thinkers question the status quo. They challenge their own and others’ assumptions and encourage divergent points of view. Only after careful reflection and examination of a problem through many lenses do they take decisive action. This requires patience, courage, and an open mind. Consider Bob, a division president in an energy company we worked with, who was set in his ways and avoided risky or messy situations. When faced with a tough problem -for example, how to consolidate business units to streamline costs – he would gather all available information and retreat alone into his office. His solutions, although well thought out, were predictable and rarely innovative. In the consolidation case he focused entirely on two similar and underperforming businesses rather than considering a bolder reorganization that would streamline activities across the entire division. When he needed outside advice, he turned to a few seasoned consultants in one trusted firm who suggested tried-and-true solutions instead of questioning basic industry assumptions. Through coaching, we helped Bob
learn how to invite different (even opposing) views to challenge his own thinking and that of his advisers. This was uncomfortable for him at first, but then he began to see that he could generate fresh solutions to stale problems and improve his strategic decision making. For the organizational streamlining he even assigned a colleague to play devil’s advocate - an approach that yielded a hybrid solution: Certain emerging market teams were allowed to keep their local HR and finance support for a transitional period while tapping the fully centralized model for IT and legal support. To improve your ability to challenge: + Focus on the root causes of a problem rather than the symptoms. Apply the “five whys” of Sakichi Toyoda, Toyota’s founder. (“Product returns increased 5 percent this month.””Why?” “Because the product intermittently malfunctions.”Why?” And so on.) + List long-standing assumptions about an aspect of your business (“High switching costs prevent our customers from defecting” and ask a diverse group if they hold true. + Encourage debate by holding “safe zone”meetings where open dialogue and conflict are expected and welcomed. + Create a rotating position for the express purpose of questioning the status quo. + Include naysayers in a decision process to surface challenges early. + Capture input from people not directly affected by a decision who may have a good perspective on the repercussions. The Lama Review - Page 35
INTERPRET Leaders who challenge in the right way invariably elicit complex and conflicting information. That’s why the best ones are also able to interpret. Instead of reflexively seeing or hearing what you expect, you should synthesize all the input you have. You’ll need to recognize patterns, push through ambiguity, and seek new insights. Finland’s former president J. K. Paasikivi was fond of saying that wisdom begins by recognizing the facts and then “re-cognizing,” or rethinking, them to expose their hidden implications. Some years ago Liz, a U.S. food company CMO, was developing a marketing plan for the company’s low-carb cake line. At the time, the Atkins diet was popular, and every food company had a low-carb strategy. But Liz noticed that none of the consumers she listened to were avoiding the company’s snacks because they were on a low-carb diet. Rather, a fast-growing segment - people with diabetes – shunned them because they contained sugar. Liz thought her company might achieve higher sales if it began to serve diabetics rather than fickle dieters. Her ability to connect the dots ultimately led to a profitable change in product mix from low-carb to sugar-free cakes.
your hypothesis. + Supplement observation with quantitative analysis. + Step away - go for a walk, look at art, put on nontraditional music, play Ping-Pong - to promote an open mind.
DECIDE In uncertain times, decision makers may have to make tough calls with incomplete information, and often they must do so quickly. But strategic thinkers insist on multiple options at the outset and don’t get prematurely locked into simplistic go/no-go choices. They don’t shoot from the hip but follow a disciplined process that balances rigor with speed, considers the trade-offs involved, and takes both short- and long-term goals into account. In the end, strategic leaders must have the courage of their convictions - informed by a robust decision process. Janet, an execution-oriented division president in a technology business, liked to make decisions quickly and keep the process simple. This worked well when the competitive landscape was familiar and the choices straightforward. Unfortunately for her, the industry was shifting rapidly as nontraditional competitors from Korea began seizing market share with lowerpriced products.
To improve your ability to interpret: + When analyzing ambiguous data, list at least three possible explanations for what you’re observing and invite perspectives from diverse stakeholders. + Force yourself to zoom in on the details and out to see the big picture. + Actively look for missing information and evidence that disconfirms Page 36 - The Lama Review
Janet’s instinct was to make a strategic acquisition in a low-cost geography - a yes-or-no proposition - to preserve the company’s competitive pricing position and market share. As the plan’s champion, she pushed for a rapid green light, but because capital was short, the CEO and the CFO resisted. Surprised by this, she gathered the principals involved in the decision and challenged them to come up with other options. The team
elected to take a methodical approach and explored the possibility of a joint venture or a strategic alliance. On the basis of that analysis, Janet ultimately pursued an acquisition- but of a different company in a more strategic market. To improve your ability to decide: + Reframe binary decisions by explicitly asking your team, “What other options do we have?” + Divide big decisions into pieces to understand component parts and better see unintended consequences. + Tailor your decision criteria to long-term versus short-term projects. + Let others know where you are in your decision process. Are you still seeking divergent ideas and debate, or are you moving toward closure and choice? + Determine who needs to be directly involved and who can influence the success of your decision. + Consider pilots or experiments instead of big bets, and make staged commitments.
ALIGN Strategic leaders must be adept at finding common ground and achieving buy-in among stakeholders who have disparate views and agendas. This requires active outreach. Success depends on proactive communication, trust building, and frequent engagement. One executive we worked with, a chemical company president in charge of the Chinese market, was tireless in trying to expand his business. But he had difficulty getting support from colleagues elsewhere in the world. Frustrated that they didn’t share his enthusiasm for
opportunities in China, he plowed forward alone, further alienating them. A survey revealed that his colleagues didn’t fully understand his strategy and thus hesitated to back him. With our help, the president turned the situation around. He began to have regular face-to-face meetings with his fellow leaders in which he detailed his growth plans and solicited feedback, participation, and differing points of view. Gradually they began to see the benefits for their own functions and lines of business. With greater collaboration, sales increased, and the president came to see his colleagues as strategic partners rather than obstacles. To improve your ability to align: + Communicate early and often to combat the two most common complaints in organizations: “No one ever asked me” and “No one ever told me.” + Identify key internal and external stakeholders, mapping their positions on your initiative and pinpointing any misalignment of interests. Look for hidden agendas and coalitions. + Use structured and facilitated conversations to expose areas of misunderstanding or resistance. + Reach out to resisters directly to understand their concerns and then address them.
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+ Be vigilant in monitoring stakeholdersâ€™ positions during the rollout of your initiative or strategy. + Recognize and otherwise reward colleagues who support team alignment.
LEARN Strategic leaders are the focal point for organizational learning. They promote a culture of inquiry, and they search for the lessons in both successful and unsuccessful outcomes. They study failures – their own and their teamsâ€™ - in an open, constructive way to find the hidden lessons. A team of 40 senior leaders from a pharmaceutical company, including the CEO, took our Strategic Aptitude Self-Assessment and discovered that learning was their weakest collective area of leadership. At all levels of the company, it emerged, the tendency was to punish rather than learn from mistakes, which meant that leaders often went to great lengths to cover up their own. The CEO realized that the culture had to change if the company was to become more innovative. Under his leadership, the team launched three initiatives: (1) a program to publicize stories about projects that initially failed but ultimately led to creative solutions; (2) a program to engage cross-divisional teams in novel experiments to solve customer problems -and then report the results regardless of outcome; (3) an innovation tournament to generate new ideas from across the organization. Meanwhile, the CEO himself became more open in acknowledging his missteps. For example, he described to a group of high potentials how his delay in selling a stalled legacy business unit had prevented the enterprise from acquiring a diagnostics company that would have expanded its market share. The lesson, he explained, was that he should more readily cut losses on underperforming investments. In time the company culture shifted toward more shared learning and bolder innovation. To improve your ability to learn: + Institute after-action reviews, document lessons learned from major decisions or mile-stones (including the termination of a failing project), and broadly communicate the resulting insights. + Reward managers who try something laudable but fail in terms of outcomes. + Conduct annual learning audits to see where deciPage 38 - The Lama Review
sions and team interactions may have fallen short. + Identify initiatives that are not producing as expected and examine the root causes. + Create a culture in which inquiry is valued and mistakes are viewed as learning opportunities. Becoming a strategic leader means identifying weaknesses in the six skills discussed above and correcting them. Our research shows that strength in one skill cannot easily compensate for a deficit in another, so it is important to methodically optimize all six abilities. The following test – a short version of our Strategic Aptitude Assessment, which is available online at hbrsurvey.decisionstrat.com – can help reveal which areas require attention. For clearer and more useful results, take the longer survey and ask colleagues - or at least your manager - to review and comment on your answers. (Paul J.H. Schoemaker is the founder and executive chairman of Decision Strategies International (DSI) and the research director of the Mack Center for Technological Innovation at the Wharton School. Steve Krupp is the CEO of DSI. Samantha Howland, a senior managing partner at DSI, leads its Executive and Leadership Development Practice.) To purchase this article, please visit www.nytsyn.com/contact and contact your local New York Times Syndicate sales representative. For customer support, please call 1-800-972-3550 or 1-212-556-5117.]]
Tips for Successful
Cross Cultural Communication by A. J. Schuler, Psy. D.
In today’s global business environment, more and more of us are required to understand people who come from countries and cultures different from our own. While there is no short and easy way to learn about a given culture in any depth, there are some general principles that lead to success in communicating and conducting business with people of backgrounds unlike our own.
our own cultures to interpret the behavior of those in the unfamiliar culture, we will draw mistaken conclusions. We all share 98% of the same DNA, and we are all far more alike than we are different, but that’s easy to forget in the beginning.
Here are some important points to understand:
Stereotyping due to overgeneralization is a common occurrence, especially among those who only interact with another culture infrequently. When we are faced with uncertainty, the human mind naturally seeks to create some order or system from what we observe. This is especially true when we may feel vulnerable due to uncertainty. So the mind creates its own set of rules or generalizations – which may be based on some surface realities and patterns – but which fail to account for real experience and individual variation. What’s more, since we may feel threatened, the human mind can presume negative motives or draw negative inferences from the generalizations we create, therby laying the foundations for the development of prejudice.
Getting Started with Cross Cultural Communication
Direct experience is the best way to begin to learn any culture. Just as the best way to learn a new language is to become immersed in that language, so too is it most helpful to learn another culture by jumping right in. This may not always be practical, but radio stations, music, trips to religious organizations or other clubs that cater to members of a specific group – all of these things can be helpful ways to begin.
2. Differences can feel like a threat at first. No enjoys feeling like a stranger Feeling unable to communicate, or to decipher aspects of behavior that don’t fit with our own habitual experiences, can make anyone feel like an outsider. This is human nature, but even so, it is important to keep these feelings in perspective, and remember that differences are less important than commonalities. That’s just human truth.
We tend to overlook similarities and notice just differences when we first begin to interact with members of another culture. And then, when we apply the standards of interpretation that we would use in
There is always more variation within groups than there is between them. What does that mean? That means that no matter how much we may perceive groups A and B as different, the amount of difference between those groups is dwarfed by the amount of variation within each group. In other words, both groups have shy people and daring people, honest and dishonest, pushy and accommodating types, etc. Each group is much more of mixed stew of types of people, and the patterns within each group are more alike than different. It’s just that culture and history shape the customs and rituals though which those various aspects of human nature are expressed. Think of it this way: both Apple and Microsoft operating systems allow you to accomplish work with a word processing system. The work is the same, but the language, the coding, though which that basic work is accomplished or expressed is different. This is why cross cultural communication takes work – we have to go back and examine aspects of our own “operating systems” and understand the “systems” of others to be able to communicate between the two “platforms.”
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For precisely the reason described above, our own cultural identities are not apparent to us until we begin to interact with others from different backgrounds.
Finally, cultures are always changing, especially as they interact with each other. Even from within, cultures move and flow and change through time, even when they think they don’t. But the pace of change is accelerated when cultures that reinforce different styles of communication, and which accent different binding customs and values, interact with each other. The result can be disorienting (to say the least!), but the result is inevitably that both cultures change through the interactive process. Individuals who begin to bridge these gaps are like pioneers, blazing paths and creating plausible options for hybrid identities, blazing a trail others may copy and test in the future.
on the context of the conversation, the audience, and the levels of personal knowledge/relationship between the two people interacting. For example, a Western couple or pair of executives may feel perfectly comfortable interacting in a give and take way in a public market, but if that public market is in a part of the world where such a public display of give and take is considered to be in bad taste, then they may be giving offense without ever realizing it.
3. Interrupting: The same dynamics arise over the issue of interrupting. In some cultures, interruption, vocal, emotional expression, etc. are considered to be the default conversational style, particularly among those considered to be equals, or among men. Many people of Northern European or American extract might mistake this kind of conversation for argument and hostility, but that would not be the case.
This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but when working with other people, or traveling abroad for work or pleasure, it may pay to ask some experts about the following communication styles of the area you plan to visit. A little research at the outset can stave off a host of misunderstandings:
Use of Silence: In some forms of communication, silence is to be expected before a response, as a sign of thoughtfulness and deference to the original speaker, yet at other times, silence may be experienced as a sign of hostility. In the West, twenty seconds of silence during a meeting is an extraordinarily long time, and people will feel uncomfortable with it. Someone invariably will break in to end the uncomfortable silence. But the same customs involving silence are not universal.
Potential Hot Spots in Cross Cultural Communication
Opening and Closing Conversations: Different cultures may have different customs around who addresses whom when and how, and who has the right, or even the duty, to speak first, and what is the proper way to conclude a conversation. Think about it: no matter where you are, some ways of commencing a conversation or concluding one will be considered as rude, even disrespectful. These are artificial customs, to a certain degree, and there is probably no universally right or wrong way to go about these things, short of behaviors that all cultures would likely consider to be vulgar or abusive. This topic includes modes of address, salutations, levels of deference to age or social position, acceptable ways to conclude gracefully and so on. This may also include different rules based on gender.
Taking Turns During Conversations: In some cultures, it is more appropriate to take turns in an interactive way, and in others, it is more important to listen thoroughly and without comment, without immediate response, lest a response be taken as a challenge or a humiliation, particularly depending Page 40 - The Lama Review
Appropriate Topics of Conversation: A polite topic in one culture may be off limits in another. Here’s an example: in some places, it is considered vulgar to speak openly about money, let alone about the kinds of intimate family issues that commonly form the basis of afternoon television “talk” shows in the West. Travelers or business people should learn the customs that surround the making of deals, the transaction of commerce, and the degree to which details are specified in advance and enumerated in writing across cultures (not all places are as prone hire lawyers and create detailed contracts as we are in the West).
Use of Humor: In the West, we often try to build immediate rapport through humor, but of course, this is not universally seen to be appropriate in all contexts. The use of laughter can be experienced as a sign of disrespect by some, and so it is important to understand that this is another area where misunderstandings can be very likely to occur
Knowing How Much to Say: In some places, less is definitely more, whereas in other places, it is more valued to wrap a rather small point up in a longer preamble, followed by an extended wrapup. For Westerners, this can be maddening, as we tend to value speaking directly and to the point. Then again, there are clearly circumstances where Westerners say too much and lose their ability to communicate well, depending on the context. Of course, patterns around presumed areas of deference based on age and social standing can influence how much is appropriate to say, depending on the culture.
8. Sequencing elements during conversation: At what point during a conversation â€“ or an extended conversation or negotiation â€“ is it appropriate to touch upon more sensitive issues? Since all cultures develop customs through which sensitive issues can be addressed in a way that connotes respect to all involved, and since those systems all can differ, it is important to understand the influence
that sequencing has on effectiveness. For us in the West, think about the process of asking, or being asked out on a date (a very Western process and one whose customs can be very fluid indeed). The right question, asked in the right way, but asked too soon or too late, according to custom, can connote very different things to the listener, and highly influence subsequent behavior. Sequencing and timing do matter! Copyright (c) 2003 A. J. Schuler, Psy. D. Permission is granted to copy this article as long as the following information is included: Dr. A. J. Schuler is an expert in leadership and organizational change. To find out more about his programs and services, visit www.SchulerSolutions. com or call (703) 370-6545.
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Leadership Self Test Are you a Leader?
by A.J. Schler,PSy.D. As today’s organizations become more and more lean, people in business are gaining a greater appreciation for the differences between a manager’s style of thinking and a leader’s style of thinking. When people like Frederick Taylor first began to study management, he used a stopwatch to see how well people on a factory floor could improve their productivity. Back then, productivity in the American workforce was determined more by the performance mechanical tasks than by the ability to process information or build service relationships, the way it is today. The purpose of a manager, in Taylor’s day, was to be the one who knew the most about the work, and the one who took greater control to assure productivity and profit. Imagine being supervised by a manager with a stopwatch! Now we live in an information age, and no one can “know everything” about a job the way the managers of yesteryear (supposedly) did. In an information age, managers have had to shift toward becoming the ones who create the environment that helps empowered, knowledgeable people to succeed. What’s more, the transition to a service economy has placed less of an emphasis on controlling others and more of an emphasis on the human skills of building strong relationships. As a result, the role of management in the American workforce has shifted, and today’s managers, more and more, have to develop some leadership skills. Leadership talent is even more essential to success on an executive level. If you’re curious about how much you think like a leader versus thinking like a manager, answer the following fifteen Page 42 - The Lama Review
True or False questions. Then follow the link at the bottom of the page to see the answers and a brief discussion of each question.
Leadership Self Test 1. TRUE or FALSE: I think more about immediate results than I do about mentoring others.
2. TRUE or FALSE: People will be motivated if you pay them enough.
3. TRUE or FALSE: It’s nice to know about people’s longterm goals, but not necessary to get the job done.
4. TRUE or FALSE: If you have a consistent recognition system that rewards everyone in the same way, then that is enough.
5. TRUE or FALSE: The best way to build a team is to set a group goal that is highly challenging, maybe even “crazy.”
6. TRUE or FALSE: My greatest pleasure in my job comes from making the work process more effective.
7. TRUE or FALSE:
13. TRUE or FALSE:
I spend more of my time and attention on my weaker performers than I do on my top performers, who basically take care of themselves.
It’s my job to know everything that goes on in my area.
14. TRUE or FALSE: 8. TRUE or FALSE: It’s better not to know anything about the personal lives and interests of the people who report to me.
I pay close attention to how and where I spend my time, because the priorities I put into action are the ones that other people will observe and follow.
9. TRUE or FALSE:
15. TRUE or FALSE:
Sometimes, it’s almost as if I’m a “collector of people” because I’m always recruiting and getting to know new people.
I’ve worked hard to get along with or understand people who are very different from me.
10. TRUE or FALSE:
Copyright (c) 2003 by A. J. Schuler, Psy. D. Permission is granted to copy this article as long as the following information is included:
I like to surround myself with people who are better at what they do than I am.
11. TRUE or FALSE: I am a lifelong student of what makes other people tick.
Dr. A. J. Schuler is an expert in leadership and organizational change. To find out more about his programs and services, visit www.SchulerSolutions.com or call (703) 370-6545.
12. TRUE or FALSE: People talk about “mission” too much – it’s best just to let people do their work and not try to bring values into the conversation.
Okay, all done? See Answers on Page 44
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Leadership Self Test Answers! Are You A Leader? Part II: Leadership Self Test Answers and Discussion by A. J. Schuler, Psy. D. The little “Self Test” printed in Part I of this article is meant to provoke thought, and there are no standards here for how many “leader” responses would make you a “true leader.” The answers and ideas offered come from experience with assessments involving hundreds of leaders and managers over time, but this is not a standardized test. I hope you find the discussion below interesting and educational.
in place at an acceptable level, people are motivated by the nature of the work and challenges, opportunities to learn and grow, and based on whether or not they feel their bosses support or care about them. “True” is more of a manager’s answer, and “False” is more of a leader’s answer.
3.TRUE or FALSE:
It’s nice to know about people’s long-term goals, but not necessary to get the job done.
Self Test Answers and Discussion
Someone once said that managers get “work done through people,” but leaders get “people done through work.” Since leaders need to know what makes individual people tick, they want to know long-term goals and aspirations, so they can craft ways to combine personal goals with the work at hand, or even the organization’s goals. For a given project, it may be less important to know people’s long-term goals, but for organizational success and growth, it is necessary. “True” is more of a manager’s answer, and “False” is more of a leader’s answer.
1.TRUE or FALSE: I think more about immediate results than I do about mentoring others.
4.TRUE or FALSE: If you have a consistent recognition system that rewards everyone in the same way, then that is enough.
Managers focus on the process and immediate efficiency more than leaders do. Leaders think about how they invest their time to develop the strongest talent so that those people can grow and do more and more over time. Leaders figure if they do that, those people will do a better job of watching and improving processes than they themselves will. “True” is more of a manager’s response, and “False” is more of a leader’s response.
Leaders’ recognize that everyone is motivated a little differently, and so consistency is not an absolute virtue in recognizing people. Some people may like public praise, and others may emphasize more the opportunity to have flexible family time, for example. Since managers emphasize systems more than they do people or personalities, “True” is more of a manager’s response, and “False” is more of a leader’s response.
Remember, most managerial jobs require some leadership practice, and executives need both strong management and leadership skills. The idea that real people are either “leaders” or “managers” is false - different jobs require different balances of each.
5.TRUE or FALSE: 2.TRUE or FALSE:
People will be motivated if you pay them enough.
The best way to build a team is to set a group goal that is highly challenging, maybe even “crazy.”
Leaders understand that pay is a satisfier, not a true motivator. Once the satisfier is
Manager’s tend to think more in terms of what has been done before and try to make
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more incremental improvements, while leaders like to challenge people to bring out their best in ways they themselves may not have imagined possible. The best way to build team coherence is to take people through a shared, difficult challenge – something any military platoon leader can tell you. “True” is more of a leader’s response, and “False” is more of a manager’s response.
6. TRUE or FALSE:
My greatest pleasure in my job comes from making the work process more effective.
tend to be more cut-and-dried in their work relations. “True” is more of a manager’s response, while “False” is more of a leader’s response.
9. TRUE or FALSE: Sometimes, it’s almost as if I’m a “collector of people” because I’m always recruiting and getting to know new people.
This is a classic manager’s priority, deriving most pleasure from process and efficiency. Leaders enjoy that a lot too, but they tend to enjoy most when they can help people and organizations grow. “True” is more of a manager’s response, and “False” is more of a leader’s response.
Some of the best managers are very good at studying best practices – ways to “build a better mousetrap” to improve performance and efficiency. Leaders tend to look more for the “Einsteins” and star performers of the world who are more likely to invent those better mousetraps in the first place. Leaders think about people and their talents as if they were investment opportunities, and so “True” is more of a leader’s response, and “False” is more of a manager’s response
7. TRUE or FALSE:
10. TRUE or FALSE:
I spend more of my time and attention on my weaker performers than I do on my top performers, who basically take care of themselves. Leaders use their time as a reward, and seek to invest their attention where it can have the most upside impact. Generally speaking, people have the most opportunity to grow and become truly great where they already demonstrate strong performance, and so leaders tend to avoid remedial projects or the constant oversight of weaker performers. Instead, they spend more of their attention on the people who are the best at what they do, since those are the people who will bring invent the greatest process and performance improvements in the future. Managers tend to focus more on problems to solve than they do on opportunities to boost people toward previously unachieved levels of excellence. “True” is more of a manager’s response, and “False” is more of a leader’s response.
I like to surround myself with people who are better at what they do than I am. This is a classic leadership statement, since leaders are all about finding and cultivating talent, and are not threatened by it. Managers may tend to want to feel more in control of their surroundings – not least of all because highly talented people can be very independent and difficult to “manage!” Since leaders tend to have stronger social skills than managers do, and so are better prepared to deal with other strong egos, “True” is more of a leader’s response, and “False” is more of a manager’s response.
11.TRUE or FALSE:
I am a lifelong student of what makes other people tick. “True” is more of a leader’s response, and “False” is more of a manager’s response, for reasons already discussed.
8.TRUE or FALSE:
12.TRUE or FALSE:
Leaders try to learn what makes each person tick, so that means knowing getting to understand them in a more personal way, without being invasive or inappropriate. Managers
While it’s true that “mission” and “vision” are concepts that have become watered down
It’s better not to know anything about the personal lives and interests of the people who report to me.
People talk about “mission” too much – it’s best just to let people do their work and not try to bring values into the conversation.
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by careless misuse, leaders still understand that it is best to connect daily work and projects into a larger framework that gives work a sense of purpose and meaning. People would rather feel that their work has some purpose and meaning in order to do their work well and care about results. “True” is more of a manager’s response, and “False” is more a leader’s response.
13.TRUE or FALSE: It’s my job to know everything that goes on in my area. Since leaders focus more on knowing the people who know what is going on, rather than on the details of everything that is going on, “True” is more of a manager’s response, and “False” is more of a leader’s response.
14. TRUE or FALSE: I pay close attention to how and where I spend my time, because the priorities I put into action are the ones that other people will observe and follow. Leaders realize that the little things they do ripple out in wider and wider ways, and that their actual priorities will be mimicked throughout an organization. As a result, they make their choices wisely, knowing that people, and other managers or supervisors, do imitate the “boss,” who sets the ultimate tone. “True” is more of a leader’s response, and “false” is more of a manager’s response.
15.TRUE or FALSE: I’ve worked hard to get along with or understand people who are very different from me. As headstrong as many leaders can be, they know from experience that being so headstrong can be a liability, and they have learned to work hard at accepting and listening to other points of view. Managers may be more focused on what they believe to be the “right way” to do some job or work process, and may be less open to widely divergent views. Leaders may not always enjoy hearing other views, but they often have learned the critical importance of the saying, “Let the best idea win!” “True” is more of a leader’s response, and “False” is more of a manager’s response. Copyright (c) 2003 by A. J. Schuler, Psy. D. Permission is granted to copy this article as long as the following information is included: Dr. A. J. Schuler is an expert in leadership and organizational change. To find out more about his programs and services, visit www.SchulerSolutions.com or call (703) 370-6545.
Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it. Dwight D. Eisenhower
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