Volume 9, Issue 2
2007 Hopkins and Company, LLC
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For some executives, navigating the workplace successfully can be an experience like gazing at the night sky without any knowledge of astronomy: things are observed, but meaning is obscured. We call to your attention in this issue some stories about executives who’ve been caught in black holes, and others who have found ways to achieve new orbits. As you reflect on the situations that you face, think about what you can learn from others who have found a path through the Milky Way.
Fifteen new books are rated in this issue, beginning on page 5. One book is highly recommended with a four-star rating and fourteen books are recommended with three-star ratings. Visit our 2007 bookshelf at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/2007books.html and see the rating table explained as well as explore links to all 223 books read or those being considered this year, including 32 that were added to the list in January. 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.
What makes you confident that the actions and decisions you and your subordinates make are aligned with the expectations of your bosses? Are your decisions to run your part of the organization supported by others? Are you sure? Are you operating in a way that allows for an orderly and successful orbit, or are you facing dangers in the asteroid belt of your organization?
The help of an experienced celestial navigator may be useful, especially when moving from one orbit, or one job, to another. Pilots usually listen to their navigators. We read in the 2/5 issue of Business Week (http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/07_06/b4020077.htm) about the success of a set of practices that many HR professionals call “onboarding.” There’s so little time for top executives to make an impact, it’s important to get off on the right foot. According to Business Week, ‘“Boards are more willing to toss people out and [are giving CEOs] a much shorter leash,’ says Michael Watkins, author of The First 90 Days and a former Harvard Business School and INSEAD professor. ‘Many senior executives feel they have a much shorter time frame to prove themselves.’ That may be wreaking havoc in some boardrooms, but it's creating opportunities in others. Executive search firms, leadership coaches, and consultants are building specialized ‘executive onboarding’ services to add to their client offerings. Onboarding, as the name implies, helps new managers get a running start through coaching that assists them with detecting cultural nuances, accelerating strategic plans, and navigating the personality mine fields of their new teams. The term is also now used to describe orienting new hires. Despite having a name only a consultant or HR professional could love—onboarding is also known as management integration or, worse, assimilation coaching—the practice is taking off. … If such coaching strikes you as either common sense or as the kind of skill you would expect top executives to have already developed, you wouldn't be alone. Tamara Minick-Scokalo, who hired PrimeGenesis managing director George Bradt three weeks into her last job as senior vice-president for Europe of Elizabeth Arden Inc., was skeptical at first, too. ‘I thought that a company hiring you in at that level would expect [that you'd have those skills],’ she says. But Minick-Scokalo, who had worked with Bradt at Coca-Cola Co. in the past, knew her new job would be a challenge. Not only was she switching industries, from wine (she had been European general manager of E. & J. Gallo Winery) to cosmetics, but her role would be a new one, designed to help accelerate the company's international growth. Bradt … helped Minick-Scokalo spot peculiarities in Elizabeth Arden's culture. He assisted her and her team in crafting a strategic plan in three months—about half the time, she says, it would have taken her on her own. And he helped alert her to potential clashes with new colleagues who would no longer have direct access to people who now reported to her. ‘He spotted things I would have tripped over,’ says Minick-Scokalo. In her newest post, as president for global commercial at Cadbury Schweppes PLC, she hired Bradt again, this time to work with her and her team, but also to help her prepare during the weeks preceding the new gig. By the time she started on Jan. 2, she had already had face-to-face meetings with all of her direct reports and had drafted an agenda for her first 100 days.”
Are you likely to get a jump start for your next move? How can you accelerate your progress? Would onboarding present you or your direct reports with help in moving your group to the next level of performance? As you pilot in your current role, what navigators are helping you?
How do you translate your knowledge and experience from one area to another? What has “long intrigued” you, that you can engage yourself in bringing light and wisdom to others? What brutal facts do you need to face, and once faced, what will you do next?
In the middle of all the attention in recent weeks to Robert Nardelli’s compensation for his unsuccessful leadership of Home Depot, we ran across an article that made us realize that not all of the stardust sprinkled on departed leaders comes in the form of money. We read in the Moneybox column of Slate on January 15 (http://www.slate.com/id/2157289/) about the swag that appears in SEC filings. “When Sharper Image CEO Richard Thalheimer ‘departed’ the company in late September, he took the 7-foot-tall Superman statue that used to stand in his office. In his separation agreement, filed on Dec. 29, Thalheimer agreed to pay half-price for the $5,000 Man of Steel statue and for a $15,000 statue of Star Wars' robot C-3PO … In late July, Jacuzzi Brands CEO David Clarke stipulated in his retirement agreement that he would be able to take his ‘photographs of his personally owned sailboats’ when he left at the end of August. … A month earlier, Mannatech's former chief legal officer Bettina Simon requested her office furniture—a desk, executive chair, and two side chairs—as part of her separation agreement. Perhaps my favorite farewell perk—certainly one that many execs will covet for themselves—is provided to retiring Anheuser Busch Chairman August Busch III: ‘draught beer services and packaged products to your residence.’ There's no better way to while away retirement (or forced unemployment) than sucking down a cold, frosty one from your backyard keg.”
Some executives on planet Earth consider swag like this to be out of this world.
When you depart, what will stay behind, and what will you want to take with you? Will there be room for everything you want in your space capsule? What farewell gifts will you get, and what will you give?
update on stories covered in prior issues of Executive
Ř We’ve covered management issues at the Ford Motor Company in many past issues of Executive Times, and note that in recent weeks, the company mortgaged all its assets, recorded a $12.7 billion loss for 2006, and has decided to turn itself around by becoming smaller. There’s a profile of Ford CEO Alan R. Mulally and his challenges in the 1/26 issue of The New York Times that you can read at http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/26/automobiles/26ford.html. The Times notes, “Mr. Mulally is in a honeymoon period and has escaped any blame for Ford’s poor results last year, even though the worst performance came last quarter when he was in charge. Ford executives in the past have also made similar claims about breaking with tradition, installing new ways of working and accepting reality. In the end, Mr. Mulally will be judged as much by Ford’s success or failure in the marketplace as for his management techniques.”
been watching the wind and water controversy with State Farm on Hurricane Katrina claims, and last commented about
this in the November
2006 issue of Executive Times. The
company announced (http://www.statefarm.com/about/media/media_releases/scruggs_katrina.asp)
on 1/23 that, “State Farm will participate in a court supervised resolution
process to reconsider and fully resolve claims from Hurricane Katrina in
three Mississippi coastal counties.
The process is part of an agreement reached through the settlement of
a class action lawsuit against the insurer by families who believe their
damage claims were not adequately resolved. This agreement can affect some
What possible lesson could there be for executives in examining the legacy of a syndicated humor columnist? After listening to and reading many of the eulogies for Art Buchwald following his death in January, a common theme emerged that provides a great example for executives to emulate. He brought joy with him wherever he went. While he may have skewered others with his biting humor, causing some offense at times, he never made enemies because he jokes made people smile, and he never attacked personally. He made friends everywhere. He never disclosed his political orientation. He enjoyed life to the fullest. He smoked big cigars, and ate rich food most days. His longtime friend Mike Wallace commented to The New York Times, (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/18/washington/17cnd-buchwald.html) “No matter what went wrong in his life, he could make a job out of setbacks, out of things that had gone wrong.” When he was surprised that he didn’t die last year after he decided to forego kidney dialysis, he wrote a book about his hospice experience. Read our review of his final book, Too Soon to Say Goodbye, at http.www.hopkinsandcompany.com/Books/Too Soon to Say Goodbye.htm. All executives can learn a lot from how Art Buchwald lived and died.
Latest Books Read and Reviewed:
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