Volume 8, Issue 6
2006 Hopkins and Company, LLC
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For many executives, it can be hard to
become exposed to new things and new ideas. Many of us achieved our current
roles because of the experience we’ve accumulated. Often, the most important
decisions we have to make involve taking a leap into the unknown, and
whatever our past experience has been, the future has new things that we’ll
face. We’ve gained wisdom from those hard-earned past lessons, and it can be
hard to acknowledge points of view that don’t harmonize with our experience.
In this issue, we examine novelty from several perspectives, and offer some
opportunity for readers to think about receptivity to the new. For many of us
Fifteen new books are rated in this issue, beginning on page 5. Two books are highly recommended with four-star ratings; ten books received three-star ratings, and two books are mildly recommended with two-star ratings. Visit our 2006 bookshelf at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/2006books.html and see the rating table explained as well as explore links to all 319 books read or those being considered this year, including 27 that were added to the list in May. 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. As an added benefit to Executive Times readers, we’ve put all the books we’ve ever listed on one web page at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/All Books.html.
great article in the current issue of McKinsey
Quarterly (2006 Number 2) (http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/article_abstract.aspx?ar=1757&L2=18&L3=30)
titled, “The Adaptive Corporation.” Eric
D. Beinhocker, a
How rigid are your mental models? Can you recognize the difference between what’s new and what seems like a rerun of you past experiences? How big a shock do you need to revise your mental models? Who and what will shock you?
Many executives subscribe to evidence-based management: making decisions based on empirical facts. There’s likely to be a correlation of these executives with those who have been trained in and believe in the scientific method. Other executives, while preaching fact-based decision making may be observed to act based on what others are doing. In an executive’s search for new evidence, the question “What’s new?” is rarely rhetorical, and in some organizations, the answer better be supported by factual evidence. In the current issue of Strategy + Business (Spring 2006) (http://www.strategy-business.com/press/article/06114?pg=0) titled, “Why Managing by Facts Works,” Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton note, “From our research, we are convinced that when companies base decisions on evidence, they enjoy a competitive advantage. And even when little or no data is available, there are things executives can do that allow them to rely more on evidence and logic and less on guesswork, fear, faith, or hope. For example, qualitative data, such as that gathered on field trips to retail sites for the purpose of testing existing assumptions, can be an extremely powerful form of useful evidence for quick analysis. By emphasizing the importance of evidence and knowledge, we do not mean to dismiss the value of intuition and innovation. But even hunches, fresh ideas, and inventions should be measured against logical and empirical benchmarks to determine whether they are efficacious ideas or just momentarily exciting thoughts better off abandoned. … Executives who use evidence-based management best encourage their employees to learn even as they act on what they already know. They regard their companies as a work in progress — one that constantly needs to be tested, probed, and experimented with, to be certain that it is evolving in the right direction. … The most striking thing about evidence-based management is that it forces executives to be curious, not passive, and to be receptive, not closed, to new information. The difference between an executive who embraces evidence-based management and one who can’t see the value in it is invoked in the joke about the two economists walking down the street who spot a $20 bill on the sidewalk. The first says, ‘Look, a $20 bill. Let’s pick it up.’ The second replies, ‘It can’t possibly be a $20 bill. If a $20 bill were lying on the sidewalk, someone would have picked it up by now.’” Natural and cultivated curiosity can be an effective way for all executives to gather quantitative and qualitative data to make better decisions.
What have you done recently to expand and improve the factual data that supports key decisions for your organization? Are you clear about the evidence you want to see from your direct reports? How do you cultivate your curiosity, and keep an open mind? Do you come across as if you already know the answer to all questions?
interview with Jim Clifton, CEO of
The Gallup Organization in the Gallup Management Journal (5/11/06) (http://gmj.gallup.com/content/default.asp?ci=22693)
titled, “Is Your Organization Creative Enough?” According to
Where do your ideas come from? How much a part of your job involves creativity? What was the last idea that you brought to someone else? What was the last idea someone brought to you? For each person who reports to you, how big a part of their jobs involves creativity, and how do you find out their ideas?
Here are selected updates on stories covered in prior issues of Executive Times:
Ř We last paid attention to the scandals
at Sotheby’s and Christie’s in the March 2003
issue of Executive Times. The
May 15 issue of Fortune profiles
Sotheby’s CEO Bill Ruprecht (http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2006/05/15/8376897/index.htm)
history chooses to remember Bill Ruprecht, he'll go
down for this: saving Sotheby's. Six years ago he took on one of the worst
jobs in corporate
Ř We may have been premature in the March 2006 issue of Executive Times when we referred to Carly Fiorina’s tenure at Hewlett-Packard saying, “Fiorina’s super-star image exceeded her actual results and she was fired after she failed to move the company forward.” Alan Murray ponders the question, “Was Carly right after all” in his Wall Street Journal column of May 24 (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114843553791861429.html): “Carly's version of her ouster has yet to be told. She has a book coming out in October that her publisher promises will be ‘brutally honest about her triumphs and failures.’ Somewhere in there, she undoubtedly will give voice to her feeling that the H-P board overstepped its bounds in pushing her out and that H-P's current success is a vindication of her strategy. On the second point, at least, she may be right.” We await the book.
Partisan politics seem to have been led over the past decade or so by loud-mouthed, closed-minded ideologues who often alienate the vase middle of the electorate. It wasn’t always that way. One slow talking, emotionally restrained, thoughtful participant characterized an era of cooperation. Lloyd Bentsen may be best remembered for his measured response to Dan Quayle during the Vice Presidential debates of 1988 when Bentsen said to Quayle, “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.” The Dukakis-Bentsen ticket was trounced by Bush and Quayle. Less well known or remembered was the pivotal role that Bentsen played in 1980. According to The Wall Street Journal (5/25/06) (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114852203215562621.html), “Bentsen … was the Democratic Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee in 1980, amid stagflation and the intellectual collapse of the reigning Keynesian economic orthodoxy. To his credit, Bentsen was willing to consider new ideas, even some offered by non-establishment thinkers. He became, at a crucial moment, a convert to the supply-side policy mix of tighter money to re-establish price stability and tax cuts to lift incentives to work and invest. The JEC's annual report in 1980 was entitled ‘Plugging in the Supply Side.’ Bentsen himself described the report as ‘the start of a new era of economic thinking.’ The past had been ‘dominated by economists who focused almost exclusively on the demand side of the economy.’ The urgent need at the time, he added, was policies ‘designed to enhance the productive side, the supply side of the economy.’ His unanimous committee report lent a bipartisan legitimacy to what would soon become the Reagan economic agenda and usher in a generation of prosperity.” Bentsen died in late May at age 85. All in public life can look to him as a role model for open-mindedness, cooperation and the willingness to consider new ideas.
(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 2006 bookshelf at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/2006books.html).
2006 Hopkins and Company, LLC. Executive
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