Volume 4, Issue 8
ã 2002 Hopkins and Company, LLC
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Ready, Camera, Action!
Talk is cheap; action matters. We follow readily those executives whose behavior seems aligned with our values. We don’t respect leaders who behave in ways that we believe are wrong. For executives looking to succeed, everything depends on perceptions about action. Executive behavior eventually reaches a spotlight where judgments are made about whether the actions seem right or wrong. Some executives are puzzled in the current business climate because actions that were commonplace and acceptable yesterday are questioned today as being shady or inappropriate. In this month’s Executive Times, we explore some recent images of executives in the news, especially some negative role models, and reflect on what these images mean for those executives who are looking to succeed in this rapidly changing business environment. As you reflect with us on the behavior of other executives, think about your approach to leading within your organization. How well aligned are your actions with your values? How do employees perceive what’s important to you and to your organization? Are the judgments of others about your behavior the same as your own?
Fifteen new books are rated in this issue, beginning on page 5, most of which contain three-star recommended ratings. If you’ve forgotten what the stars stand for, you can visit our 2002 bookshelf at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/bookshelf.html and see the rating table explained as well as explore links to all 2002 book reviews.
How do images of executives under criminal indictment change the perceptions of you as a reputable business leader? Do you feel lumped together with executives who behave wrongly? Does this visible arrest show that lawbreakers are being punished and trust may begin to be restored?
Connect the Dots
Raise Those Banners High
When you tell people what behavior you expect, do they understand what it means to them? How specifically do you reinforce your words with personal action? How do you call attention to behavior (by you and others) that’s consistent with the values you’re trying to reinforce? How are stories communicated within your organization? Are the right behaviors rewarded and punished?
Who Are Your Allies?
Burned Out Shells?
Bill Robinson, whose global firm Relentless Marketing should know, claims in an article in Forbes (7/1 http://www.forbes.com/home/2002/07/01/0701alliances.html) that, given the current corporate scandals, we shouldn’t expect to see many new strategic alliances among corporations. He doesn’t think that the alliances that have been around for the past decade have worked, and many haven’t produced any results at all. “The corporate highway is littered with the burnt-out shells of thousands of strategic alliances, which are supposed to be very close business relationships between two companies for their mutual benefit.” A few weeks later Forbes (7/18 http://www.forbes.com/home/2002/07/18/0719alliance.html) published “5 Keys to Creating Successful Strategic Alliances” by Larraine Segil, a partner of Lared Group, a strategic alliance consultancy. Here are the keys Segil proposes:
Ø Select The Proper Partners For The Intended Goals
Ø Share The Right Information
Ø Negotiate A Deal That Includes Risk And Benefit Analysis (Not Necessarily Equal) For All Sides.
Ø Come To A Realistic Agreement On The Time To Market And Corporate Expectations
Ø Mutual, Flexible Commitment On What's Appropriate To Change, Measure And Share Within Each Partner's Culture
Many executives are now making decisions about which partners to trust, and which ones to avoid. Another resource, should you choose to strengthen alliances, is the current cover story from McKinsey Quarterly (2002 Number 3 http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/current_issue.asp) titled, “Managing An Alliance Portfolio.” The authors agree with Robinson that many companies have no idea how dozens of alliances are performing. McKinsey proposes specific performance measures to examine the areas of success and failure for all alliances.
Do you know how each strategic alliance your organization has entered into is performing? Are you meeting the expectations of your alliance partners? Are your partners meeting your expectations? Has your level of trust in your partners changed as a result of recent events?
Only a Test
What Did You Learn in School?
In case you missed the story from any of the papers you read, reporters at the Yale Daily News (7/25 http://www.yaledailynews.com/article.asp?AID=19454) broke the story that admissions officials at Princeton gained unauthorized access to the Yale online admission notification system multiple times last April. “Stephen LeMenager, a dean of admissions at Princeton, characterized Princeton's use of Yale's Web site as an innocent way to check whether the site was secure by using a random sampling of students whose social security numbers were listed on their applications to Princeton. … LeMenager said he and his colleagues meant no harm in accessing the information, and instead were attempting to assuage their own concerns about Web site security.” The FBI is investigating to determine if Princeton violated any Federal laws.
What are the rules your organization follows in gathering information from competitors? What boundaries can’t be crossed? What lessons do you teach by what you do at work?
Here are selected updates on stories covered in prior issues of Executive Times:
Ø We’ve provided links to Warren Buffet’s fascinating annual shareholder letters in issues of Executive Times, including April 1999, April 2000, April 2001, and April 2002. His plain talk appeared in an op-ed in The New York Times (7/24 http://www.nytimes.com/2002/07/24/opinion/24BUFF.html) titled “Who Really Cooks the Books.” He presents a case that we’re not seeing the behavior a few bad apples, but changes need to be made at many companies. Read the article and give your organization a check-up against the opinions of the sage of Omaha. He says CEOs will be respected and believed when they deserve to be.
Ø One executive on Buffet’s “good guy list” has been Jamie Dimon, CEO of Bank One. We mentioned Dimon most recently in the April 2002 issue of Executive Times. Fortune published a profile of Dimon and his success at Bank One in the 7/24 issue (http://www.fortune.com/indexw.jhtml?channel=artcol.jhtml&doc_id=208632), titled “The Jamie Dimon Show.” According to Fortune, “He's tough. He's loud. He's irrepressible. He's above reproach. And he's just what Bank One needed.”
Ø We’ve bought into the “War on Talent” momentum over the past few years, as seen in our lead story from the February 2000 issue of Executive Times titled “Waging Talent Wars.” We’ve been rethinking the whole mess of attracting and retaining smart superstars now that we’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s long article in the 7/22 issue of The New Yorker (http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?020722fa_fact) titled “The Talent Myth: Are Smart People Overrated?” Gladwell opines that companies that attracted “out of the box” thinkers have ended up on the ropes, and might have done better had they fixed the box and hired people who fit into an enterprise that’s organized right and works well.
Loyal and Consistent
When Bill Hambrecht asked faculty friends at Princeton in 1979 for the name of the smartest student at the school, he was given the name of Daniel H. Case III. Case went to San Francisco and worked for Hambrecht & Quist from then until his death this summer at the age of 44. As investment banker to the stars of the Silicon Valley, Case’s clients included Apple Computer, Genentech, Adobe Software and Netscape. After being diagnosed with brain cancer, Case created a foundation called Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure. We read in The New York Times (6/29 http://www.nytimes.com/2002/06/29/obituaries/29CASE.html) that his brother, AOL Time Warner Chairman Steve Case said of Dan, “Like everything else he did in his life, Dan gave this battle against brain cancer everything he had. He fought with courage and with grace; he fought not only for himself, but for the thousands of people who suffer from this terrible disease.” A competitor, Kleiner Perkins partner Brook Byers, said of Dan, “He was a smart guy who found a way to get things done and made everybody feel like they got their way. He was loyal and consistent, one of the leaders of a younger generation that said, ‘I am staking my career on technology.’” Thanks to Dan Case, entrepreneurs in technology found the capital they needed to build businesses and change the business landscape. He will be missed.
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 2002 bookshelf at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/bookshelf.html).
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