An Interview with Dov Seidman.
Seidman is the author of HOW: Why HOW We Do Anything Means Everything… in Business (and in Life) and the chief executive of LRN, a company that helps businesses develop ethical corporate cultures. He’ll speak in Los Angeles at the Steelcase Santa Monica Worklife Center on Dec. 3. Q: Let’s start with the basics: what is “HOW” all about? A: Universally accessible information has dramatically changed business. Results are not the only barometer of success when people can also judge how you achieve those results. So notions such as “survival of the fittest,” “by any means necessary” and “just do it” no longer apply; they encourage behaviors that, when discovered, threaten the very success they hope to achieve. It is no longer just what we do that makes a difference; it is HOW we do it that matters. I believe that how individuals and companies think, behave, and govern themselves can set them apart, facilitate stronger relationships, and enable greater successes. Q: How did you develop this idea? A: I wanted to share my belief that if you collaborate better with your co-workers, you can win. If you can inspire more people throughout your global network, your productivity skyrockets. When it comes to how you do what you do, there is immense variation, and where variation exists, opportunity exists to out-behave the competition. The people and companies that will rise to the top and stay on top, who will be rewarded, promoted and celebrated, are those that get their hows right.
Q: You say that “all companies are communities and teams.” Does that have implications for the physical workplace?
Q: How do you maintain a culture of “out-behaving the competition” in your own company?
A: Absolutely. I believe the physical workplace influences cultures and cultures are the key to organizational success. Companies need to consider how
A: LRN’s Leadership Framework guides everything we do. It’s a guideline of the leadership attributes that we believe any ethical leader must embody, yet it also reflects an aspirational journey. The Framework is an interconnected, mutually-reinforcing set of principles and values. No one can hope to fulfill an individual attribute without simultaneously aspiring to all of the others. We use the Framework as the galvanizing force of our culture and in everything we do, we integrate it into our reward system, and use it as a framework for how we do business at the company.
“If a company values transparency and collaboration, they need to consider how their physical workspaces encourage or discourage employees from acting transparently and connecting with one another.” their environment aligns with their values, mission and goals. If a company’s core values are transparency and collaboration, for example, they need to consider how their physical workspaces encourage or discourage their employees from acting transparently and connecting with one another. They have to consider the depths of connections that are possible in their spaces and if those connections can be made openly.
Q: What’s the office environment like at LRN in Los Angeles? A: We are a global organization and each LRN location reflects local cultures and traditions. At LRN headquarters, the environment reflects who we are as an
organization. We literally live in a glass house. None of our offices or conference rooms have walls. We have a lot of glass, partial walls, exposed workstations, offices and ceilings. We also have lots of room to collaborate with one another and exchange ideas. Q: What will you talk about in L.A. on Dec. 3? A: How companies and individuals can find greater rewards by turning the conditions of the 21st century to their advantage. We have a choice: hunker down and avoid exposure, or go from defense to offense. I’ll address how finding success is reliant upon making interpersonal relationships and ensuring you are authentic in those engagements. In years past, we talked about brand reputation and reputation management; today it’s all about brand promise and earning a reputation, keeping our promises, developing deep and meaningful relationships with our stakeholders. Instead of customer service, today we talk about customer experience, interacting and connecting with customers in a way that delights them. Q: When you started your career, what was your first job? A: Before founding LRN in 1994, I studied philosophy, and then went to law school. After I graduated, I spent time working in a private law firm. Q: If you could have any job in the world, what would it be? A: My academic background is philosophy and law. For the past 14 years, I have run a company that has allowed me to apply both of these passions. I’m also a capitalist, an ethical capitalist. I am privileged to be allowed everyday to enlist others in my vision of ethical capitalism. I wouldn’t change a thing. Q: Dov is a unique name. Where does it come from? A: Dov is a Hebrew name, meaning bear.
Dov Seidman Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of LRN Author of HOW: Why HOW We Do Anything Means Everything…in Business (and in Life)
Dov Seidman has built a career, and pioneered an industry, around the idea that the most principled businesses are the most profitable over the long-term.
features Dov’s philosophies as Rule #7 (proper use of outsourcing) and Rule #8 (“Hows Matter”) in Friedman’s nine rules for companies to embrace in a flat world.
Fourteen years ago, long before Enron, he founded LRN with a powerful vision that the world would be a better place if more people did the right thing. From that basic notion, he has grown a successful company that has helped to shape the ways millions of employees, managers and leaders behave and interact all over the world.
Dov is frequently invited to speak at leading industry events and to senior management and Boards of Directors. His views have been quoted in hundreds of print and broadcast media. Recent presentations include The National Press Club, The Milken Institute Forum, The Outstanding Directors Exchange and The Defense Industry Initiative’s Best Practices Forum. Recent media appearances include ABC’s Good Morning America, BusinessWeek, Charlie Rose, Condé Nast Portfolio and The New York Times. He has also been a keynote speaker at UCLA’s annual commencement.
Dov is recognized as a thought leader on a range of topics–from achieving significance in our new 21st century world, to the importance of trust in personal and business dealings to succeeding with both principles and profits in mind. In 2004, he testified before the U.S. Sentencing Commission about the need for companies to develop ethical cultures instead of check-the-box, compliance-only approaches, and his views helped shape the amendments to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. In 2007, his book, HOW: Why HOW We Do Anything Means Everything in Business (and in Life), was published by John Wiley & Sons, detailing years of thought about business cultures, philosophy and success. In the acclaimed book, Dov argues, out-behaving our competitors has become critical to out-performing them. In our hyperconnected and hypertransparent world, it is no longer what we do that sets us apart from others, but how we do what we do that matters. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Thomas L. Friedman prominently featured this thinking and excerpts from his interviews with Dov in the best-selling book, The World is Flat. The updated edition, The World Is Flat 3.0, prominently
Dov earned simultaneous bachelor’s and master’s degrees, summa cum laude, in philosophy from UCLA. He later earned a B.A. with honors in philosophy, politics and economics from Oxford University, where he was a NewtonTatum scholar and captain of the Balliol College crew team. He graduated with honors from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor for the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. He and his wife Maria live in Los Angeles, where LRN is headquartered.
About LRN LRN is dedicated to assisting its clients with developing ethical, sustainable and profitable cultures through a combination of robust education and management solutions, in-depth research and analysis and best practice advice and knowledge sharing. Founded in 1993, the company has reached more than 10 million employees, operating in more than 120 countries around the world. Headquartered in Los Angeles, LRN also maintains offices in New York, London and Mumbai. More information is available at www.lrn.com. About HOW: Why HOW We Do Anything Means Everything…in Business (and in Life) In HOW: Why HOW We Do Anything Means Everything…in Business (and in Life), author and CEO of LRN Dov Seidman offers a radically different perspective on achieving success and significance in a more wired, fast-paced, transparent 21st century world. Published by John Wiley & Sons in June 2007, HOW argues why sustainable advantage now lies in the realm of how we do what we do. More information is available at www.HowsMatter.com.