Volume 8, Issue 8
2006 Hopkins and Company, LLC
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The multiple images of death and
destruction following the exchange of missiles and bombs between the state of
Fifteen new books are rated in this issue, beginning on page 5. One book is highly recommended with a four-star rating; eight books are recommended with three-star ratings; five books received two-star ratings, and one book eked out a one-star review. Visit our 2006 bookshelf at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/2006books.html and see the rating table explained as well as explore links to all 385 books read or those being considered this year, including 26 that were added to the list in July. 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 email@example.com. 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.
executives feel caught in the doldrums when everything that used to work to
generate superior results now leads to average or even mediocre performance. When
a setback arrives, something different needs to be done, and it isn’t often
clear what will need to change. One lesson came recently from the remarkable
performance of Floyd Landis and
team in Le Tour de France. After
weeks of top performance, he had a miserable day in the mountainous 16th
stage and fell eleven minutes behind the lead, and many considered him out of
contention for winning the race. For stage 17, the normally even-tempered
Landis arrived to the starting line full of anger. He dominated that stage
over 85 miles in the
Does your team expect or deserve better from you? What kind of refueling do you need to do to lead your organization toward outstanding results? Do others feel that it’s worth working for you? Have you shown them your strength, and your willingness never to give up? What will it take to provoke you to do something different to shake away the doldrums? Have you channeled your anger in some positive way to improve performance?
executives practice restraint. Many feelings remain bottled up inside, lest
emotional volatility be viewed as a sign of erratic leadership. In some form
or another, those bottled up feelings have to come out somewhere, and every
executive needs to find a healthy way to allow for some natural release of
stress, anger, grief, or other strong feelings. Two leading sports stars
erupted in unusual ways in recent weeks, one as he faced a loss, and the
other following a win. Both situations may lead to lessons for executives.
With just ten minutes left in his stellar career, France’s Zinedine Zidane was ejected from the
final game of the World Cup after he head-butted Marco Materazzi of Italy. Many reports claimed that it was
comments that Materazzi made about Zidane’s mother and sister that provoked
the attack. Both players ended up receiving penalties for their behavior. We
read one report that made us think about executives. According to the founder
of a Zidane fan website, Ahmed Rehab,
as reported in The Chicago Tribune
Zidane the man had come to feel contempt for Zidane the hero. That the boy
from the tough La Castellane housing projects in Marseille wanted, finally,
to slough off his status as a sports idol and cultural icon. It was as if he
chose to disappoint us while he still was in the spotlight. ‘You can take the
man out of the rough neighborhood, but you can't take the rough neighborhood
out of the man,’ teammate Thierry Henry told reporters following
Are you adding to the normal stresses from your work by keeping your feelings bottled up inside you? As you reflect on your identity as an executive, are you compromising any aspects of who you are? What outlets do you find to manage stress and to release some of your strong emotions? When you work intensely every day, what do you do to counterbalance that intensity? Do you ever let go? What will provoke you to release whatever’s bottled up?
The prolific author Edward de Bono popularized a technique called lateral thinking, and executives can learn more about that and parallel thinking at http://www.debonogroup.com/index.html. Several organizations promote using what de Bono labeled “provocation” as a mind tool to spur creativity and lead to breakthroughs. We don’t endorse these organizations, but provide them as a reference for executives who want to explore this issue more completely. According to Mind Tools Ltd at http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newCT_08.htm, “Provocation is an important lateral thinking technique. … we think by recognizing patterns and reacting to them. These reactions come from our past experiences and logical extensions to those experiences. Often we do not think outside these patterns. While we may know the answer as part of a different type of problem, the structure of our brains makes it difficult for us to link this in. Provocation is one of the tools we use to make links between these patterns. We use it by making deliberately stupid statements (Provocations), in which something we take for granted about the situation is not true. Statements need to be stupid to shock our minds out of existing ways of thinking. Once we have made a provocative statement, we then suspend judgment and use that statement to generate ideas. Provocations give us original starting points for creative thinking.” Some direct reports may opine that certain executives don’t need any special mind tools to make stupid statements. For others, this approach might be a gentle way to inject something provocative into the workplace without leading to spontaneous combustion. The folks of CreatingMinds at http://creatingminds.org/tools/provocation.htm suggest, “The trick with provocation is to get them out of their rut rather than drive them further in. If they are too confused by you, they will mentally run away. Thus you may need to come right back to rational words after a provocative statement. It all depends on the people you are with.”
What can you do differently to provoke those with whom you work in ways that will lead to increased success? How comfortable are you with making or encouraging “stupid statements?” What will break the patterns that limit your success? Are any of your direct reports confused by you, and mentally running away?
update on a story covered in a prior issue of Executive
Ø Attention must be paid to Jack Welch. We’ve referred to him, positively and negatively, in seventeen issues of Executive Times. Other followers of Welch will want to read the provocative cover story in the July 24 issue of Fortune, titled “Sorry, Jack” in which Betsy Morris claims that his rules for winning don’t work anymore, but offers seven others that do. You can find the article online at http://money.cnn.com/2006/07/10/magazines/fortune/rules.fortune/index.htm.
One executive promoted
a provocative business for more than twenty years, and that business now
serves over 60 million customers every year. According to The New York Times (7/18) (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/18/business/18brooks.html),
Robert Brooks “got involved in Hooters only after the friend he had
lent money to invest in Hooters franchises could not pay him back. His first action
as operator was to change from a bar concept that sold little food to a
full-service restaurant and bar. He proceeded to open Hooters franchises from
Latest Books Read and Reviewed:
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2006 Hopkins and Company, LLC. Executive
Times is published monthly by Hopkins and Company, LLC at the
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