How to Reduce Conflict at Work

Fierce battles over decisions, finances, resources, power, and authority are fought daily, and combatants often inflict lasting damage, when the personal interests of ambitious managers take precedence over organizational goals.

Competition can cause managers to backstab one another, hoard information, focus on personal needs, and ignore facts that don’t support their views.

Functions that operate as silos create turf wars. And the costs are high. Creativity is lost, reputations damaged. Frustrated, some executives leave for more collegial settings. Here are ways to reduce conflict:

  • Hold retreats to build camaraderie. Put people through a process to build conflict resolution and interpersonal skills co-operationely to achieve goals.
  • Reward cooperative behavior. If you talk about collaboration yet reward individual achievement, you get the behavior you positively reinforce.
  • Encourage innovation. Process routine may minimize errors and cut costs, but it can close people’s eyes and ears to better ways to do things. Innovation can increase efficiencies.
  • Create a culture of collaboration. Open communications in person, on paper, and online can lead to shared information, trust across disciplines, and reduced turf battles.
  • Clarify responsibilities. Help your people know their roles and the roles of others. Everyone’s key task is to delight customers and gain market share.
  • Seek cross-functional initiatives. Encourage teams from different areas to work together in cross functional initiatives. Invite managers from other areas to visit your team meetings when working together.
  • Enter white spaces cautiously. Certain open areas represent opportunities for revenue generation, but rather than enter them without notifying others, meet with them to gain their buy-in or agree to leverage the space together.

The Socratic Method

A 19th Century painting by Gustav Adolph Spangenberg, depicting Socrates and his disciples.

The Socratic Method is a teaching method that relies on continually asking questions.

The Socratic Method is a pedagogical style named after its well-known exemplar. Unlike the great sophist orators of his time and the later Aristotelian and Scholastic teachers, who disseminated information through carefully planned lectures, Socrates (c. 470-399 BCE) engaged his audience individually and personally with a series of questions. These questions were designed to elicit a reflective and mostly skeptical perspective on various philosophical, political, and religious ideas.

In a well-known case, depicted in Plato’s dialogue Meno (c. 380 BCE), Socrates used his method to “teach” an uneducated slave-boy a set of Euclidean propositions, including the Pythagorean theorem. The central assumption underlying Socrates’s approach is that knowledge is innate—we do not acquire new information, instead education reminds us of what we already know.

'Socratic Logic' by Peter Kreeft (ISBN 1587318083) Socrates’s Method was overshadowed in the Middle Ages by the popularity of classical orators such as Aristotle and Cicero, leading to an increase of lecture-centered pedagogy known as the Scholastic Model (also called the “banking model” because it assumes knowledge can be “deposited” in a student as money in a bank.) A further setback came in the seventeenth century with the rise in prominence of empiricism, the view that we come to the world as “blank slates” and must obtain knowledge through experience. Empiricism implies that innatism is mistaken, and thus challenges the pedagogy based on it.

The question of the effectiveness of the Socratic Method still receives attention from education researchers. Some contend that it constrains learning and fosters aggression. Others respond that, as with all teaching styles, the Socratic Method can be abused, but when used well it can be effective. It is still frequently applied in law schools, as memorably portrayed in the movie The Paper Chase (1973).

“I Must Be Myself” from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance”

'Self-Reliance and Other Essays' by Ralph Waldo Emerson (ISBN 0486277909) 

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803—1882) was an American essayist and poet. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Emerson was the fourth child of a Unitarian minister. Throughout his writings, Emerson is keenly concerned with the growth of the individual—the development of the individual’s powers, potentials, and capacities—an emphasis demonstrating that his thought is thoroughly centered on educational concerns.

Emerson was one of his era’s leading liberals. His prime meaning in any case is self-reliance intellectually and in everyday life. He urges us to trust ourselves, to recognize human divinity and avoid imitation. It is a simple message but all-important – and far easier said than done.

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self-Reliance may be a short essay, but it is packed with advice which is probably more relevant today than it has ever been. At only 30 pages, Self-Reliance has the qualities of a concentrate, perhaps the very essence of personal development. Self-Reliance was one of the key pieces of writing which helped carve the ethic of American individualism, and forms part of the intellectual bedrock of today’s self-help writers. Relish what really matters in your life; the simple things like your friends and family, your hobbies and perhaps your work. Enjoy the freedoms you have and recognise the value of living a normal life outside of the public eye.

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self-reliance is one of the major writing that helped carve the ethnic American individualism and form the intellectual basis of today’s writers. The thought of self-reliance inspires people not to conform to social conventions but to rely on themselves. When you are working on your next task, give it your full concentration and really put the effort in to produce the best possible end result. Even if it doesn’t lead to glittering success, you should be proud of yourself for doing your very best.

Emerson’s essay begins by reconstructing volving theory of recognition and the central role it played for his concept of ‘self-reliance.’ Initially having adopted the theorizations of recognition developed by Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, Emerson came to articulate the idea of self-reliance by way of developing an alternative approach to recognition, in which the source allocating recognition is neither society nor an inborn moral sense, but rather the transcendentally conceptualized self. Emerson’s shift towards self-recognition poses questions seldom asked in the contemporary debate on recognition.

“… Live no longer to the expectation of these deceived and deceiving people with whom we converse. Say to them, O father, O mother, O wife, O brother, O friend, I have lived with you after appearances hitherto. Henceforward I am the truth’s. Be it known unto you that henceforward I obey no law less than the eternal law. I will have no covenants but proximities. I shall endeavour to nourish my parents, to support my family, to be chaste husband of one wife,—but these relations I must fill after a new and unprecedented way. I appeal from your customs.

I must be myself.

I cannot break myself any longer for you, or you. If you can love me for what I am, we shall be happier. If you cannot, I will still seek to deserve that you should. I will not hide my tastes or aversions. I will so trust that what is deep is holy, that I will do strongly before the sun and moon whatever inly rejoices me, and the heart appoints. If you are noble, I will love you; if you are not, I will not hurt you and myself by hypocritical attentions. If you are true, but not in the same truth with me, cleave to your companions; I will seek my own. I do this not selfishly, but humbly and truly. It is alike your interest, and mine, and all men’s, however long we have dwelt in lies, to live in truth. Does this sound harsh to-day? You will soon love what is dictated by your nature as well as mine, and, if we follow the truth, it will bring us out safe at last.”

Full essay is here. Emerson wrote Self-Reliance in 1841—well over 160 years ago—and I believe it provides both a delightful antidote for the times in which we live and also holds up an ideal with which to guide us. Self-reliance—the ability to stand on our own two feet and live a life which is our own and not borrowed from someone else, or one which is meaningful and not superficial—is indispensable in instituting our own exclusive identity. So if, like me, you think self-reliance is important, read on.

“A man,” Emerson writes, “should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the luster of the firmament of bards and sages.” There is a certain ambiguity in this statement concerning the question of whether social approbation is categorically distinct from the “grace with the loftier deities” or linked to it by inversion. One also notices Emerson’s rhetorically combining Roman polytheism with Protestant grace, the distinction between lesser and loftier deities amounting to a kind of Protestant doctrine of two kingdoms in which two different economies of recognition are at work. Find somewhere you can think and reflect. It might be the public library or the bottom of your garden. It doesn’t matter where, as long as you spend some time thinking and don’t forget to take a notebook to jot down your thoughts. Everything we do depends for its quality on the thinking we do first.

The great philosopher of affirmation is concurrently the great teacher of dissatisfaction, even disappointment. In each of us, the energies of hope should make room for the emotion of philosophical acceptance of the world, as it must be. If you want to feel at peace go for a walk in the countryside and learn to appreciate your surroundings. Better still, do some sport as this releases serotonin which is so critical to the feeling of well-being. You don’t need to spend lots of money on a new car to make yourself feel happy; just go for a run.

Having established these fundamental dimensions of Emerson’s theory of inspiration, it is crucial to see that Emerson’s praxis of eloquence was geared at putting inspiration into effect. This he attempted to achieve by activating the reader’s imagination.

Quotations from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance”

  • “Discontent is the want of self-reliance: it is infirmity of will.”
  • “It is easy to see that a greater self-reliance must work a revolution in all the offices and relations of men; in their religion; in their education; in their pursuits; their modes of living; their association; in their property; in their speculative views.”
  • “I must be myself. I cannot break myself any longer for you, or you. If you can love me for what I am, we shall be the happier. If you cannot, I will still seek to deserve that you should. I will not hide my tastes or aversions.”
  • “You take the way from man, not to man. All persons that ever existed are its forgotten ministers.”
  • “In this pleasing contrite wood-life which God allows me, let me record day by day my honest thought without prospect or retrospect, and, I cannot doubt it, it will be found symmetrical, though I mean it not and see it not. My book should smell of pines and resound with the hum of insects.”
  • “Society is a wave. The wave moves onward, but the water of which it is composed does not.”
  • 'The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson' by Ralph Waldo Emerson (ISBN 0679783229) “We fancy it rhetoric, when we speak of eminent virtue. We do not yet see that virtue is Height, and that a man or a company of men, plastic and permeable to principles, by the law of nature must overpower and ride all cities, nations, kings, rich men, poets, who are not.”
  • “And so the reliance on Property, including the reliance on governments which protect it, is the want of self-reliance.”
  • “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.”
  • “Inasmuch as the soul is present, there will be power not confident but agent.”
  • “Society never advances. It recedes as fast on one side as it gains on the other.”
  • “In the Will work and acquire, and thou hast chained the wheel of Chance, and shalt sit hereafter out of fear from her rotations.”
  • “The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet.”
  • “Life only avails, not the having lived.”
  • “Be it how it will, do right now. Always scorn appearances, and you always may. The force of character is cumulative.”
  • “We but half express ourselves, and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents.”
  • “I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching.”
  • “Insist on yourself; never imitate.”
  • “What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think.”
  • “Truth is handsomer than the affectation of love. Your goodness must have some edge to it,—else it is none”
  • “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do.”
  • “Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing.”
  • “There will be an agreement in whatever variety of actions, so they be each honest and natural in their hour. For of one will, the actions will be harmonious, however unlike they seem.”
  • “I do this not selfishly, but humbly and truly. It is alike your interest, and mine, and all men’s, however long we have dwelt in lies, to live in truth.”
  • “If you are noble, I will love you; if you are not, I will not hurt you and myself by hypocritical attentions.”
  • “Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.”
  • “Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.”
  • “Travelling is a fool’s paradise. Our first journeys discover to us the indifference of places.”
  • “The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs.”3/29/2016
  • “Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members.”
  • “Character teaches above our wills.”

Fatalism v/s Determinism

Sourced in Ancient Greece, Fatalism is the belief that events are predestined and nothing can alter their course. Kazuo lshiguro wrote in Never Let Me Go, “Your life must now run the course that’s been set for it.”

Fatalism, the belief that some events are destined to occur regardless of whatever else might occur, originated with thinkers in ancient Greece. A wellknown example is the story of Oedipus from Sophocles’s ancient play Oedipus Rex (c. 429 BCE). In the play, Oedipus seeks revenge for the murder of his former king and his wife’s former husband, Laius, only to discover that Laius and his wife abandoned Oedipus as a child to escape an oracle that their son would kill his father and sleep with his mother. Yet, despite all their machinations, the prophecy had come true: Oedipus had killed his father and married his mother.

Fatalism is distinct from determinism. The latter is the view that every event is fully determined by prior events, that is, if some prior events had been different, later events would be different. Fatalism neither implies, nor is implied by, determinism.

The ancient Greek Stoic philosophy is often linked with fatalism, though it is unclear whether it is fatalistic or deterministic. Some Stoics suggested that the universe is organized according to a single divine purpose that will be realized irrespective of what humans intend. Others argued that perfect virtue is found through learning to be guided by nature and becoming free from passions. This emphasis on learning and becoming free suggests that some events are left to individual agents. Scholars debate whether this constitutes a conceptual problem for Stoicism or fatalism. Fatalism, especially in regard to moral attitudes and happiness, remains influential in contemporary thought, notably in military training.

Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary at the Paris Air Show 2013

Ryanair orders 175 New Boeing Aircraft

Michael O’Leary, the chief executive of Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair, participated in his first air show at the Paris Air Show 2013 to sign a deal with Boeing for 175 new 737-800 aircraft.

These aircraft are to be delivered over the five years from 2014 to 2018 to enable Europe’s largest airline to increase in size for twenty five percent over the five years and bring more low cost fares for Europe’s consumers. O’Leary confirmed that Boeing has been delivering great aircraft for many years, and they’ve never missed a delivery date. He also said that he chose the Boeing 737-800 over the competing Airbus model, the A320, because the operating economics of the 189-seat B737-800 are superior to that of the 180 seats on the A320. The nine extra seats make a big difference. In addition, the B737-800 is a great aircraft with superior technically reliability is among the best in the. Airbus, although makes good aircrafts, doen’st have enough seats on the A320 for Ryanair. If Ryanair would fly transatlantic, O’Leary hopes that there would be a very competitive bidding process between Airbus and Boeing and he will take the aircraft that offers the lowest operating cost per seat to enable Ryanair to offer $10 fares across the Atlantic.

Ryanair's Michael O'Leary at the Paris Air Show 2013

Answering a question on whether he’ll be at another air show to sign up for more aircraft, O’Leary responded, “I bloody hope not. I’d rather be signing in Seattle or New York or somewhere exciting rather than a wet and windy place like the Paris Air Show. … We’ve been in dialog with Boeing for the last four years, the major change has been a change in senior management in the last twelve months, and they’ve put more sales guys in charge. And there’s a real commitment within Boeing to do business and to recognize the need to compete aggressively with Airbus. “

I haven’t alienated myself from Airbus … they make great aircraft … The NEO has been a very successful product … it’s been too successful. You look at the EasyJet order yesterday and they can only get three aircraft in 2017 to be fair. The key thing about the Boeing order is that we get the three first deliveries in 2014 and then big chunky numbers in 2015, 2016, and 2017.

Ryanair's Michael O'Leary with Boeing's Ray Conner after announcing $15 billion purchase of 175 737-8 jets.

So it’s easier for us at this point to do another deal with Boeing because they have the aircraft and the willingness to continue to work with us. I think it’s harder for Airbus to do a deal with us because frankly they don’t need our business because they signed up huge numbers of the aircraft with Lion Air, Air Asia, the NEO with Pegasus, and more yesterday with EasyJet. Frankly, I’d never rule out to deal with the Airbus, if Airbus could deliver us the numbers have aircraft we need and at the right pricing, we’d do a deal.

I don’t see any prospect John Leahy leaving Airbus … he has done a terrific job over the last twenty years and he’s been one of the outstanding sales guys in the aircraft market and I hope there’s not much prospect of me leaving Ryanair for the next couple of years because I have four kids under the age of seven and I sure as hell don’t spend any more time at home. One of the opportunities that will arise if we had been allowed to acquire Air Lingus, we’ve had discussions with John Leahy, we would have placed an Airbus order very quickly if we owned Air Lingus.

Air Lingus would have continued to be an Airbus operator. You know things change and opportunities. I think it would be disingenuous to do anything other than to applaud the success of Airbus’s NEO product. It certainly has put pressure on Boeing to develop and bring forward the MAX product and that kind of competition can only be good for airlines and passengers.

Daylight Saving Time (DST)

Daylight Saving Time (DST)

A proposal to create more hours of daylight by altering clocks was first introduced by George Vernon Hudson.

English-born New Zealand entomologist and astronomer George Vernon Hudson (1867–1946) began collecting insects at the age of nine. In Wellington, New Zealand, he found employment as a shift worker, which left him just enough daylight hours to continue building his insect collection. There was, however, only one problem: in Hudson’s opinion, there were not quite enough daylight hours available for the proper and measured pursuit of his beloved insects. Something had to be done, so in October 1895 he presented a paper to the Wellington Philosophical Society suggesting that it might be prudent to consider a seasonal adjustment in time.

William Willett wrote in The Waste of Daylight (1907,) “Everyone appreciates the long light evenings [and] laments their shrinkage.”

Hudson proposed changing clocks at the equinox, two hours forward in October, and two hours back in March. Although his idea had already been anticipated by the U.S. inventor Benjamin Franklin (1706-90), who proposed the concept in his essay “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light” (1784).

Franklin’s paper was really more a lighthearted satire than any concrete proposal, and it is generally thought that Hudson’s idea represented the first real attempt to make Daylight Saving Time (DST) a reality. Hudson’s paper, unfortunately, was greeted with disdain. “Wholly unscientific and impractical,” said some; “completely out of the question,” said others, to be considering altering a system that had been working perfectly. DST was eventually adopted in Germany during World War I (1914–18) to save fuel expended in the powering of artificial lighting. It is now in use in more than seventy countries throughout the world.

Ryanair’s Exclusive Corporate Jet with Boeing 737-700 Charter Service

Ryanair's Exclusive Corporate Jet with Boeing 737-700 Charter Service

Ireland’s ultra low cost carrier Ryanair has converted its only B737-700 aircraft (registration EI-SEV) to a corporate jet with 60 seats in the cabin. The aircraft is now is a 2 x 2 configuration. The specifications are:

  • 60 passengers, all business class,
  • Seats: 2 x 2 seating with 48″ seat pitch, leather reclining seats
  • Crew: Ryanair’s pilot and cabin crew
  • Range: 3000 nm range, 6 hours at 500 mph cruise speed
  • Catering: available

Previously, this aircraft already in complete Ryanair livery, was used for training, and may have it has covered a couple of scheduled services. Perhaps the aircraft will be in demand when soccer teams have to play in far-flung eastern European destinations. Ryanair also aims it at sports teams, travel groups as well as business customers. Ryanair will price the services of this aircraft on a cost-per-hour basis, and depending on the departure and arrival airports, the rates could be the most competitive in Europe.

Ryanair’s corporate jet charter is akin to similar services offered by Korean Air (16 or 28-seat 737 Business Jet), Emirates (19-seat A319 Executive Jet) and Qatar Airways (40-seat A319.)

Ryanair exclusively flies Boeing 737-800 aircraft, of which 320 are in service and 153 in orders, as on 10-Mar-2016. Ryanair is also the launch for the 197-seater Boeing 737 MAX 200 aircraft with options for an additional 100 aircraft of this subtype—all to be delivered between 2019 and 2023. The MAX 200 aircrafts hold eight more passengers than the popular Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. This subtype includes a mid-exit door to increase the exit limit. With eight additional seats than the standard 179-seater MAX 8, Boeing claims that the MAX 200 airplane offers 20% superior operating cost efficiency in comparison to the Ryanair’s staple, the 737-800. The front and rear galley spaces are removed and the lavatory space is repositioned to the rear of the aircraft. Surprisingly, Ryanair claims that the seat pitch will stretch to a tad over than 30 inches.

Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s CEO, had been pushing for a maximum-density 737-800 aircraft for ten years. Beyond 200 seats, Ryanair will need a fourth flight attendant on its aircraft. Although Boeing claims that 35% of the worldwide market demand for single-aisle aircraft will in due course lie with low cost carriers (LCCs,) for which the MAX 200 is intended, Ryanair is the sole customer thus far for the Boeing 737 MAX 200. News emerged in March 2015 that Boeing was presenting some airlines with concept of 737-8ERX, a longer-range version of the 737-8 MAX.

Ryanair owns three Learjet 45 aircrafts, which are based at its prominent bases in London Stansted (STN) Airport and Italy’s Bergamo Airport (BGY, 45 km northeast of Milan.) These aircrafts carry Isle of Man registrations M-ABEU, M-ABGV, and M-ABJA. They are primarily used to rapidly transport aircraft parts and maintenance personnel around Ryanair’s ever-expanding network. The number of aircrafts in order is testimony to the ambition of Ryanair to accelerate its traffic growth modestly. Ever since transforming in the LCC paradigm in the mid 1990s, Ryanair has mostly operated a single aircraft type, thereby providing economies of scale and flexibility in terms of aircraft deployment, maintenance, crew scheduling, and training.

Ryanair has unit costs that are lowest of any European airline and one of the lowest of any airline on the planet. Ryanair has a level of unit cost that is unlikely to be equaled by competitors in Europe and so other airlines are doubtful to be able to contend with it on price.

Innovate Around Your Brand

Innovation

The world is filled with brands and products competing for our attention and our dollars. It can be mind-boggling. That makes breaking through the clutter a never-ending battle. So, how can we stand out and own a share of the consumer’s mind?

The answer is through innovation the constant challenge to the status quo, the relentless, restless search for something new and better. Companies grab market share and reinforce positions with fresh ideas that create fresh profits.

Innovation is the life-blood of any industry. And yet, as the economy cooled off, so did funding for innovation. The focus turned from the “next new thing” to the quarter’s earnings. But we have not turned our back on innovation. In fact, innovation is happening at a fast and furious pace.

Our consumers have always wanted choices, and we have always responded. Today, as consumers’ tastes change and their desire for variety, wellness and convenience grows, we continue to respond. Just look at some of the great examples of innovation in our industry. Whether you’re taking about Red Fusion, Mr. Green, Pepsi Blue, Simply Orange, or Vanilla Coke, we’re giving consumers a rainbow of new choices in colas, flavors, juices, nutritional beverages, waters and sports drinks.

When you add 25,000 other product introductions a year from other industries, you know how many consumers feel bombarded.

This brings me to the question we must ask about innovation, about any new product, package, or service we introduce: What is its value? And is it meaningful? To me, that’s an easy litmus test. Meaningful innovation is sustaining. It stands the test of time because it continues to add value.

The problem with the dot-com companies wasn’t a lack of good ideas. Webvan and pets.com were great ideas. But they didn’t have the right business models to support the innovation and sustain long-term value.

Innovation isn’t all about flash and sizzle. Innovation is very much about substance. And that’s the foundation for our vision for innovation: Innovation must be a “difference engine.” It must make a real difference and drive real growth. And for innovation to be worthy of our investment, it must add value to our brands and create long-term value for everyone touched by our business. When there isn’t meaningful innovation, we lose momentum. When we innovate around trademark Coca-Cola, our growth accelerates.

Through our emphasis on innovation, we’ve learned five key lessons:

Innovation comes from listening and from understanding consumers.

Consumer relevance drives everything. To be relevant, we must be observant and understand what’s important in our consumers’ lives.

That’s how Red Bull did it, starting in the early ’80s, when its founder noticed the popularity of a new beverage while on business in Asia. He brought a few samples back to Austria and created not only a brand, but also a new beverage category—energy drinks.

At Coca-Cola, we used to think about painting the world red. Now, we think about painting the world relevant. Vanilla Coke is turning out to be very relevant. It reminds older consumers of simpler times, when they stopped by the soda fountain after school for a soft drink and some fries. And for younger consumers, it’s giving them a distinctive new taste and new look with its Coca-Cola trademark packaging.

Connection with consumers in relevant ways got us off to a great start with Vanilla Coke. We attracted more than 7 million new drinkers and sold more than 60 million cases; and when we learned that many consumers wanted a diet version, we created Diet Vanilla Coke. If you’re listening, your consumers will tell you where to look for innovation.

Brands, not products, create sustaining value.

And innovation builds brands. Brands are made in hearts and minds because brands provide two things that products can’t—time and trust. Brands deliver both by making choices easier and more reassuring. Great companies create and sustaining great brands through innovation.

  • Harley-Davidson, one of America’s great brands, stirs passion in it riders, dealers, and employees. And it translates that passion into profits. Since going public in 1986, its shares have risen 15,000 percent. Forbes named Harley-Davidson “Company of the Year” last year because in its 100th year of industry leadership, Harley Davidson flexed its innovative muscle—a motorcycle with a liquid-cooled engine that revs the bike higher and hotter in each gear and makes you go faster. It was a giant step for a company that made only air-cooled engines for 100 years. It also helped Harley appeal to the audience it was after—young, urban, hip Americans and Europeans.
  • Another innovation-driving brand is PowerAde. After living in the shadow of a formidable competitor, we gave it a complete makeover—new formula, graphics, advertising, and flavors. Now, it’s a serious contender, driven by an innovative consumer proposition—real power.

You really aren’t committed to innovation unless you’re willing to fail.

Thomas Watson, IBM’s legendary chairman, once said, “The fastest way to succeed is to double your failure rate.” Inventors know that failure is a prerequisite to “eureka” moments, but in business we have a hard time with that.

Does anyone remember New Coke? We sure do. New Coke was a lesson. When consumers turned their backs on New Coke, we were reminded of the deep emotional relationship consumers have with great brands. Brands should cherish those relationships. It’s a lesson we value, and one we’ll never forget.

Our former CEO, Roberto Goizueta, used to say: “You can only stumble if you’re moving.” Innovation is about moving, hopefully forward, but occasionally, a few steps to the rear. Often innovation takes us into uncharted territory, where risk goes up. And that’s good. The key is to keep moving.

Innovation is more than products and packaging

Innovation is more than products and packaging—it’s everything and everyone.

Innovation permeates everything—operating strategies, tactics, systems, supply chains, information technology, distribution, and marketing.

When it comes to marketing, there’s always room for innovation. We found a new opportunity with the series “American Idol.” The innovation was in how we integrated the consumer messaging. In addition to customized advertising, Coca-Cola played a role within the framework of the show—in the Red Room, with the Red Couch, and with product placement. The show became a blockbuster hit, leading to an innovative marketing strategy.

If innovation is all-encompassing, it should be done systematically. In other words, define the problem and solve it. What are the objectives? Who will do the work? How will we measure success? Innovation is everyone’s business. At Delta Air Lines, a menu planner noticed that most people never touched the lettuce leaf under their salads. Her suggestion to eliminate the lettuce leaf saved Delta $1 million. A good idea is a good idea—no matter how small it seems.

In Coca-Cola North America, we’re trying to build a culture that encourages innovation through the same sort of observation and curiosity. Our goal is that every employee starts to think about ways they can do their job better—more efficiently, more productively with greater innovation. In such a culture, companies leverage their people and assets to their fullest. One example is our “good answer” program, created to help our Fountain customers handle their customer calls. Our “good answer” team now receives phone calls, emails and regular mail from consumers on behalf of a growing number of our restaurant customers. In addition to responding to the consumer’s issue, they also provide an analysis of the calls to help the operator make better decisions about their menus, facilities and service.

Coca Cola Brand

We must apply innovation to our social contract with communities.

This lesson is bigger than brands, packages, and marketing campaigns. It’s about our reputation and our image. We’re all under constant scrutiny these days regarding the ways we affect our communities. And the focus is intense in two places—the environment and obesity.

Soft drink packages are already the most environmentally friendly recycled consumer packages. We find creative ways to increase the recycled content we use in packages. During the Salt Lake Olympics, for example, our people created a recyclable, biodegradable cold drink cup from renewable resources.

The obesity issue is complex because it’s not just about what you consume—it includes a healthy and active lifestyle. We recently launched an innovative program called “Step with It” in cooperation with the National Association for Sport and Physical Education to increase physical activity in schools.

Pepsi formed an alliance with respected health, nutrition and exercise experts to educate and encourage Americans to reduce health risks through informed choices and an active lifestyle.

Conclusions

We need to be just as innovative in the ways we protect and sustain our business as we are in the way we market and sell our products. These five lessons are our guiding principles—an imperative to continue to delight our consumers with innovative brands, packages, and business systems that create value. When we’re creating the next great innovations, we’re creating sustainable value, and we’re leaving our businesses, communities, and industry a little better.

Confucius’ Indifference Toward Women

Confucius indifference toward women

Confucius is said to have an indifference toward women. Possibly because the atmosphere around him was distinctly masculine.

Confucius had nothing to say of conduct in matrimony, spoke disparagingly of women, had only contempt for a pair of lovers who committed suicide together, and frequently remarked that nothing is so hard to handle as a woman.

When Crisis Hits Corporate Culture

When Crisis Hits Corporate Culture

Corporate culture, defined as “how we do things around here,” powerfully influences people.

There are four core cultures: control, collaboration, competence, and cultivation. The “competence” culture creates a perception of distinction by offering one-of-a-kind products and services. They pursue excellence and capitalize on high capability. Filled with high achievers, they are highly competitive, and intensely focused on winning.

The power of culture derives from implementation and identity. With success (perceived or real), “how we do things” becomes the equivalent of “who we are” (identity). Now the motivation to keep doing things the same way subtly shifts to a motivation to preserve identity. Culture grows so powerful precisely because it becomes the identity of the firm and its leaders.

Strengths taken to extremes turn into liabilities. When leaders fail to keep behavior in balance, problems emerge. These loom large because they are, in fact, identity problems. Out-of-balance behaviors unique to competence cultures include: mistrust, secrecy, arrogance, fear of making or revealing mistakes, excessive financial incentives, emphasis on winning, refusing to consider odds of losing, selfishness, and ethics that take a back seat to cashing in quickly.

Leaders must monitor their cultures, the strengths and potential liabilities, keeping both in balance and preventing strengths from running to the extreme. Indeed, when an extreme is allowed to “mature,” the company will have a serious problem borne of its strengths but characterized by great weakness.