Volume 7, Issue 7
ã 2005 Hopkins and Company, LLC
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Stories in the press in recent weeks delivered a consistent sledgehammer message about something obvious and true: the most important decisions executives make are people decisions. As you read the stories we’ve selected on this topic, think about the people decisions that you’ll make this summer, or the ones that you should make. Is yours the best team to produce your planned results? Do all members of your team have the experience, talent and motivation to work together to achieve success? Think also about the decisions that others may make about you. Are you the best person to be performing your current role? What progress have you made so far this year on meeting the challenges you and your organization face?
Fifteen new books are rated in this issue, beginning on page 5. Two books are highly recommended with a four-star rating; nine books are recommended with three stars; and four are mildly recommended with two star ratings, a normal distribution. Visit our 2005 bookshelf at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/2005books.html and see the rating table explained as well as explore links to all books we’re reading or considering this year. Thirty one new books were added to the “shelf of possibility” during June, leading us to fall further behind in our triage effort to select the 15 books we read and review each month. For your summer reading, there’s plenty to choose from, but 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, let us know by sending a message to email@example.com.
The editors of Fortune continue to celebrate their 75th anniversary with special features, and we highly recommend reading the June 27 issue titled, “How To Make Great Decisions.” (http://www.fortune.com/fortune/fortune75/articles/0,15114,1071164,00.html) When asked what surprises he found when asked to reexamine his “best company” research through the lens of decision-making, author of Built to Last and Good to Great Jim Collins said, “We tend to think that decisions are very much about ‘what.’ But when I look at my research notes and I look at interview transcripts from the executives we’ve interviewed, one theme that comes through is that their greatest decisions were not ‘what’ but ‘who.’ They were people decisions. … Fundamentally, the world is uncertain. Decisions are about the future and your place in the future when that future is uncertain. So what is the key thing you can do to prepare for that uncertainty? You can have the right people with you.” Each executive needs to decide who is “right” for a particular organization. The process of thinking about placing the right people in the right roles will lead to improved results.
We read an
interesting perspective by Daniel H.
Pink (author of Free
Agent Nation recommended in the July 2001
issue of Executive
Times and of A Whole
New Mind on our current bookshelf) in the June 4 issue The New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/04/opinion/04pink.html)
relating to new graduates. “Commencement speakers have long offered
graduating seniors the same warm and gooey career advice: Do what you love.
And graduates have long responded the same way: They've listened carefully,
nodded earnestly, and gone out and become accountants. No surprise. On every
day except graduation day, young people are taught that their futures depend
not on following their bliss, but on mastering dutiful (and less lovable)
abilities like crunching numbers and following rules.” This year, according
to Pink the advice may be accurate, and may be followed. “In an overstocked
marketplace, businesses can no longer crank out pallets of identical widgets.
They must create customized, intriguing, even beautiful products, services
and experiences. How do you do this? You need employees who possess not only
technical ability but also a sense of curiosity, aesthetics and, yes,
joyfulness.” Pink concludes that the way for graduates to survive in today’s
market is by doing work they love. Executives with jobs that certain
graduates will love may tap into the opportunity to have a successful career
start off in the right direction. Organizations that don’t receive the
refreshing perspectives of newly minted graduates will forego the opportunity
to see work through fresh eyes.
What jobs in your organization provide particular attraction to new graduates? What contact have you made with the new graduates who have joined your organization this summer? What can you learn from them? How attractive have you made your organization to the right graduates? What’s the compelling reason for them to do what they love for you as compared to others?
Few executives would turn away from experienced, energized and motivated workers. Why is it, then, that we read in the cover story, “Old. Smart. Productive” in the June 27 issue of Business Week (http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_26/b3939001_mz001.htm) that, “The Society for Human Resource Management … says 59% of members surveyed don’t actively recruit older workers and 65% don’t do anything specific to retain older workers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found in 1995, the last time it looked, that workers aged 55 and up got only one-third as many hours of formal training as workers 45 to 54. …As Urban Institute senior fellow C. Eugene Steuerle told the House Ways and Means Committee in May: ‘People in their late 50s, 60s and 70s have now become the largest underutilized pool of human resources in the economy.’” Organizations who neglect this labor pool are likely to suffer. Those who think of older workers as tired or lacking in stamina should reflect on the story in this article of Emma Shulman, who, at age 92 works 50 hours a week at the NYU School of Medicine. “Her boss, Steven H. Ferris, dreads the day she decides to retire: ‘We’d definitely have to hire two or three people to replace her. … Complains Shulman: ‘One of my problems is excess energy, which drives me nuts.’” Wise executives will look to remove those obstacles that tell experienced older workers to get lost.
When you’re searching for the right people for your organization, how wide do you cast your recruiting net? How well-represented are older workers in your organization? Do your policies and programs create incentives to work or to retire? How effectively are you utilizing your experienced employees? Are you open to the possibility that energy to do a job can be present or absent at any age?
How effective is your infrastructure when it comes to the creation and maintenance of intellectual capital? Do the people who work in your organization receive all the tools they need to succeed? Does their collaboration lead to the creation of value? Is talent attracted to your organization because of your infrastructure?
To what extent does what others wear influence your judgments about them? How important is appearance in your decisions about people? Is what you wear at work appropriate? Are you ready to listen to the advice of an image consultant or a personal shopper? Are you a candidate for a makeover?
Here are selected updates on stories covered in prior issues of Executive Times:
Ø We called attention in the May 2005 issue of Executive Times to the interesting life of CEO Phil Purcell in leading Morgan Stanley during a time of corporate civil war and opined that whether he would be a casualty of that war was unclear, but what was clear involved removing distractions and improving performance. Purcell announced (http://www.morganstanley.com/cgi-bin/morganstanley.com/pressroom.cgi?action=load&uid=418) on June 13 that he plans to retire once a successor is named, saying, in part, “It has become clear that in light of the continuing personal attacks on me, and the unprecedented level of negative attention our Firm -- and each of you -- has had to endure, that this is the best thing I can do for you, our clients and our shareholders. You have all done an extraordinary job serving our clients despite the almost daily distractions. Your dedication and commitment to clients have been clear for all to see. I feel strongly that the attacks are unjustified, but unfortunately, they show no signs of abating. A simple reality check tells us that people are spending more time reading about the acrimony and not enough time reading about the outstanding work that is being accomplished by our firm. … let’s get back to work.”
2001 issue of Executive Times, we had a quote
from former Morgan Stanley executive John Mack reassuring employees
who were apprehensive about Dean Witter’s Phil Purcell becoming CEO to
be patient, that “cream always rises to
the top.” Mack and scores of other Morgan Stanley executives left the firm
while Purcell was leading it. In a stroke of irony, the Morgan Stanley board
is considering Mack as successor to Purcell, and that decision may be made as
we go to press with this issue. In 2001, we thought Mack got creamed. Looks
like he may have been right all along.
co-workers were on vacation in August, 1958, Jack S. Kilby, a new employee of Texas Instruments who had not yet
earned vacation leave, stayed in the lab and invented the microchip,
technically, the first monolithic integrated circuit, and in so doing, he
changed the world. His invention laid the conceptual and technical foundation
for the entire field of modern microelectronics. It would be hard to find a
place not impacted by the integrated circuit. In late June, Kilby died in
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 2005 bookshelf at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/2005books.html).
2005 Hopkins and Company, LLC. Executive
Times is published monthly by Hopkins and Company, LLC at the
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