Volume 9, Issue 1
2007 Hopkins and Company, LLC
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As the pages on the calendar turn to a new year, many executives shift from the abstract stage of planning to the real world stage of implementation. For many, a new year entails the continuation of a direction that has been underway for some time. For others, it’s a chance to embark on a new direction. The best executives shed quickly those vestiges of the past that don’t apply in the new plan year, and lead teams to new behavior that best fits the current plan. Clarity about what’s no longer important becomes a key to success when starting a new plan year. As you read the stories we’ve selected for this issue, think about what no longer fits your plan, and find a way to see if those who report to you are aligned with your vision. Check in to see if your team has joined you on the new path to success, and seek out any stragglers who may be proceeding happily down the path toward achieving last year’s plan. Pay particular attention to those who have spent less time thinking about the new plan than you have; chances are they haven’t seen the new direction with the same clarity as you have.
Fifteen new books are rated in this issue, beginning on page 5. One book is highly recommended with a four-star rating; eleven books are recommended with three-star ratings; and three books received a two-star rating. Visit our 2007 bookshelf at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/2007books.html and see the rating table explained as well as explore links to all 192 books read or those being considered this year, including 31 that were added to the list in December. If there’s something missing from the bookshelf that you think we should be considering or if there’s a book lingering on the Shelf of Possibility that you think we should read and review sooner rather than later, let us know by sending a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out all the books we’ve ever listed at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/All Books.html.
How much autonomy is too much within your organization? What constitutes excess? Will any of your star performers dispute your assessment that they may be going too far in the pursuit of success?
battle in the war for talent usually focuses on the individual, but some
executives find talent through the wholesale importing of effective teams, a practice
that executive recruiters call “lift-outs.” An article titled, “I Can't
Believe They Took The Whole Team,” (http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_51/b4014075.htm)
in the 12/18 issue of Business Week,
says, in part, “Some
managers recruit talent one person at a time. Mark Metz hires en masse. In 2001,
Are there teams within your organization that might be ripe for a lift-out? Would you be sad to see them go? How can you inoculate your organization from this risk? If you’re trying to do something new in 2007, is there a team ready, willing and able to be lifted out of someplace else, and could they fit your organization?
process for most organizations resolves conflicts about the allocation of
limited resources. Some projects and initiatives were approved to be
implemented in 2007; others didn’t make the cut. Not every organization
controls the implementation of improvements centrally. We read in the current
issue of Fast Company (http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/111/open_no-satisfaction.html)
an article titled, “No Satisfaction at
What process do you use to implement improvements? What changes can your knowledge workers make on their own? Is your workplace a “big brain?” Who cares about making things better? How does it show?
An article by law professor Richard Epstein in the December issue of CEO Magazine (http://www.chiefexecutive.net) offers a suggested New Year’s Resolution: stop doing special deals to get special concessions for individual companies. “In this regulatory arena, the first duty of the CEO is to place the interests of the firm above those of the marketplace writ large. Yet that approach, if left unchecked, can do serious damage to the overall economic vitality of the nation. … Ever since Adam Smith, economists have warned against the twin dangers of mercantilism and protectionism. Their constant message has been that market competition can thrive only in a regime that meets these simple but vital minimum conditions: strong protection for property rights; faithful enforcement of contracts in accordance with their terms; low taxation over a broad base; and a steadfast resistance to legal barriers to entry by new firms, foreign or domestic, into established markets. Most CEOs champion these principles in the abstract. Too many, however, quickly jettison them to advance the short-term interests of their own firms. … The competitive marketplace takes a horrific beating every time CEOs lead the charge to get special immunities from the antitrust law for their overt and antisocial schemes of market division. … Those special ad hoc exceptions are always for the birds.” Ouch.
Is there a divergence between your company’s interests and those of the market at large? At the same time you say you want to compete in an open marketplace, are you taking actions to create special protections for yourself?
update on stories covered in prior issues of Executive
covered Enron in many past issues
of Executive Times, and we expect that most readers are aware
that Jeff Skilling has started his 24-year
prison term, and Andy Fastow received a
reduced sentence for his government cooperation. After traveling to Minnesota
to watch Skilling report to prison, Houston Chronicle business columnist Loren
Steffy commented on 12/14 (http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/business/steffy/4403666.html),
“For Enron's victims, the employees and investors
who lost so much in the company's downfall, seeing Skilling
standing inside the doorway of the federal prison here no doubt brings some
satisfaction, perhaps even relief. Enron, though, wasn't just Jeff Skilling. Nor, for that matter, was it just Ken Lay or
Andrew Fastow or any of the others whose names are
now so notoriously tainted by the scandal. It wasn't even just the hundred or
so unindicted co-conspirators who drew
prosecutorial scrutiny but were never charged with crimes. All of them were
simply key ingredients in a far larger stew of ethical and moral failure.
Enron was a laboratory of temptation, deception and hubris that illuminates
not just the failings of a few men and women, but a far broader human frailty
that resides in us all. Enron is our story. It's a tale of greed and glamour
and highflying business only on its surface. Underneath, it's the story of
incredibly ordinary people who became ensnared in an extraordinary web of
lies and treachery that Enron nurtured. … the
underlying cause of Enron, the human capacity for deceit, for manipulation,
for betrayal, will never go away. It lingers in the halls of corporate
said in the September
2005 issue of Executive Times that
despite having called John Bolton
a bully in the May 2005
issue and giving space to Stanley Bing
calling him a lousy boss in our June 2005
issue, we were prepared for his performance in his role as ambassador to the United Nations to exceed our
expectations. They did, but he still resigned in December, having faced the
reality that a Democratic congress would not approve his appointment. In
accepting his resignation President
Bush said, (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/12/20061204.html)
in part, “I am deeply disappointed that a handful of
One of the
most tangible forms of leadership appears when one has followers. Sometimes
it takes the action of a single person to shift a large group of individuals.
One figure who epitomized such a shift was former United Nations Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, who died in
mid-December. A life-long Democrat, she wrote an article for Commentary in 1980 titled,
“Dictatorships and Double Standards,” that caught the attention of
presidential candidate Ronald Reagan.
They met, liked each other, and forged an alliance that led to the collapse
Latest Books Read and Reviewed:
(Note: readers of the web version of Executive Times can click on the book covers to order copies directly from amazon.com. When you order through these links, Hopkins & Company receives a small payment from amazon.com. Click on the title to read the review or visit our 2007 bookshelf at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/2007books.html).
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