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What Should Not Be Done

What Should Not Be Done

If I have to conform, how can I create? How can I innovate, if I have to play it safe? How can I discover new ideas in what I am doing?

Many frustrated people are seeking more meaningful work. They are bright and motivated to high achievement. Executives must rescue these talented people by finding ways to amplify their intelligence and motivation. Many high performance rewards await executives wise enough to capitalize on the yearning to create and innovate.

Innovative ideas are often found in paths we have yet to explore, and these paths are often revealed to us by people who ask us questions or give us directions. Questions and directions can be given in the form of what should be done or what should not be done. The form can either catalyze or kill creativity and innovation in people.

Consider questions and directions framed with the intent of advocating what should be. They are markers to assure safety—usually financial or physical—conformity to protocols and rules, and pursuit of wants and desires. Directives or questions emanating from this intent come as “this is what should be done or be happening;” or “what is the correct procedure—what should be done here?”

While “safety” and “security” are crucial to organizational well-being, these words are bipolar to words like creativity and innovation. If you have to conform, how can you create? If you are preoccupied with safety, how can you set sail in uncharted waters to innovate? Many executives confound their people by demanding creativity and innovation through questions and directions aimed at what should be. Executives need not abandon the “should be” form of questioning or directing in order to pursue paths to innovation and creativity. Such an action would excise critical markers needed for survival. The advocacy of an executive should be how to balance safety and security with innovation and creativity. This balance is achieved by using an alternate form of giving directions and asking questions.

Now consider questions and directions originating from what should not be. These directives or questions usually assume the form: “This is what should not be done” or “This is what should not happen.” When executives ask me: “Are you suggesting that I use negative questioning or direction giving as a management style?” I respond: “What could be more positive than avoiding that which should not be, and how can you avoid that which should not be if you don’t know what to avoid?”

Making visible what should not be can demand calling into action our own talents for innovation and creativity. For example, suppose I discover that you have a background in natural science when you and I are in Queensland, Australia, on a walkabout. All of a sudden you say to me: “About 15 feet ahead on the side of our path is a Taipan. If you continue walking in your current direction, you will encounter something that should not be.”

By issuing this warning, you gain my deep appreciation, as I am not interested in sustaining the painful bite of a poisonous reptile. You may also see how fast I can run or how high I can jump. If I try to catch and sell it, you may see what kind of an entrepreneur I am. By telling me with truth and fact what should not be, you cause my creative talents to emerge.

By managing your situation with truth and fact in terms of what should not be as opposed to managing on the basis of what should you be, you catalyze the attributes of innovation and creativity. People are then free to find their own best wave, knowing that are guarded from consequences of operating on the basis of what should not be. They also become confident in your role as one who would forewarn them about things that should not be.

Why are many executive directives I (even commandments of Deity) given in the form of “thou shalt not?” I believe the wisdom of the ages is rooted in a preference for freedom of action and an incentive for innovation and creativity.

Foster creativity and innovation

As I have tested this belief in managing projects and people, it has strengthened my resolve to illuminate, with truth and fact, that which should not be as the way to unleash latent creativity and innovation in people.

Any parent of teenagers knows that making visible hazards, obstacles, and things that should not be, will produce an astonishing array of creative ways around these restrictions. The creativity catalyzed by fear of parental consequences, from traveling restricted roads, somehow adds to their “thrill of the chase” and fuels competitive drive. These reactions are what executives seek.

There are other benefits to this approach. We can more readily agree on what we are about. Specificity in what should be is rarely obvious. Most admonitions are closely akin to “motherhood” statements leaving too many “hard to interpret” generalizations or mysteries for implementation.

When the boss specifies what should not be, we will find it easier to correctly interpret the intent. Things that executives should not do are more specifically set than those things that should be.

You must state what should be in order to promote safety and conformity in your pursuits. But, hopefully, you will add admonitions for behaving on the basis of what should not be. If these are entrenched in truth and fact regarding what should not be, you will foster creativity and innovation in your people.

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Posted in Management and Leadership

Engage in a Constructive Leadership Dialogue

Conduct Soul-searching Interviews with Outsiders

Engage in a Constructive Leadership Dialogue If you are a leader, what is your most important job? As stated by John Kotter, leaders groom organizations for transformation and help them manage as they struggle through it. That is their foremost job. However, how do they go about doing it? Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, once said: “My main job was developing talent. I was a gardener providing water and other nourishment to our top 750 people. Of course, I had to pull out some weeds, too.”

Evidently, setting a direction for the future is an important aspect of leadership. Telling what the organization should become in the long term and how it should get there becomes the foremost duty. Soon after taking the helm of IBM, Lou Gerstner announced, “The last thing IBM needs right now is a vision.” Some people nailed his hide to the wall for that statement. He explains that reporters dropped the words “right now” from his statement. Gerstner felt that IBM was long on vision statements, but short on getting the job done. Fixing the company was all about execution.

Creating a Culture of Leadership

Execution is nothing but aligning people, motivating them, and creating a culture of leadership. Kotter contrasts execution with equally important but managerial duties such as planning, budgeting, organizing, staffing, controlling, and problem solving. The value of a wonderful strategy is only achieved when it is carried out. And it is the people who make the grand vision a reality. That’s why, as Jack Welch points out, leaders need to make it a priority to plant and nourish talented people at every level.

If you lead a big organization like General Electric, you might have assets at your disposal like the GE John F. Welch Leadership Center at Crotonville, the world’s first major corporate business school. Here everyone from important customers and partners to present and future GE leaders come together to identify opportunities and debate issues. But few organizations have the resources to invest like GE. They can’t operate a dedicated leadership center.

Creating a Culture of Leadership The constraint of a smaller budget is hardly an excuse to not operate key levers that drive superior performance in people. Going back to Welch’s garden analogy, some aspects of cultivation are free, such as sunshine. But how you choose to orient your garden in relationship to the sun makes all the difference. If you place your garden under a large shade tree, you cut it off from necessary nourishment.

While a leader needs to have a strong sense of the direction, cultivating new culture by changing people’s frame of mind and behaviors is the hardest part. In doing so, they can follow the profit-at-any-price model by relying on fear, pressure, and greed, or they can follow a more sensible leadership model based on inspiration, motivation, and enthusiasm.

Four Bad Leadership Models

Even leaders who articulate a convincing vision, inspire followers, and display passion and courage to take on challenges can have wasteful traits that limit them. These tend to manifest themselves in four ways:

  • Know-it-alls: They start believing that they know and do this better than anybody, and believe that they don’t need others as much as others need them. So they tend to treat others as dispensable and tune them out.
  • Micromanagers: They get mired in minutiae and sometimes miss the forest for the trees. By measuring too much, they measure nothing.
  • Perfectionists: They spend too much time doing things right rather than doing the right things, thereby losing focus. They take any constructive feedback as a direct hit and return what they see as not-so-friendly fire.
  • Detached: They become emotionally distant and lose the intimacy and connection to other people. To any push-back, they respond: “Tough! If I can do it, so can you.”

When these behaviors occur, the results follow quickly: Any constructive confrontation within the executive team ends almost immediately. Honest exchange of ideas on options and their pros and cons ceases. What is happening on the ground to the foot soldiers becomes irrelevant. The pressure people feel becomes unbearable. The “guilt trip” that nobody else is pulling their weight becomes harder to take. Any semblance of work-life balance is lost. Conversations become one-way streets, and people feel like glorified order-takers. It seems like they have ceded all authority to the boss.

The leader is quickly surrounded by loyal sycophants in the inner circle who simply want to ride the coattails. Everyone else is in the outer circle-albeit with more self-esteem, yet fearful to say that the emperor has no clothes. Soon people start telling the leader what the leader wants to hear, lest their heads are chopped off. Collaboration comes to a grinding halt, and providing lip service becomes the politically correct thing to do. Everyone looks out for themselves, and any mutually shared goals, if they exist, take a back seat. Any sense of intimacy, camaraderie, and belonging on the team becomes non-existent.

Any concept of a team breaks down. Any sense of empowerment evaporates. The vision of the leader becomes a pipe dream. The strategic plan to get there suddenly has strong disbelievers. The short-term results, obtained through draconian measures, become harder to sustain. As Michael Maccoby notes: “Narcissistic leaders can self-destruct and lead their people astray.” So, there is plenty of leadership, but little followership.

Foster Competencies to Compete in the Future

Foster Competencies to Compete in the Future A key challenge for leaders competing for the future is to foster competencies that provide access to tomorrow’s opportunities. Further, as discussed by Gary Hamel and C. K. Prahalad in Competing for the Future, leaders need to find innovative applications of the current competencies. Leaders must objectively assess and proactively improve the caliber of the executive team and the organization as a whole.

However, before a leader can assess the caliber of the executive team, he must take stock of his own. Surveys—whether leadership or 360 degree—are popular and necessary, but rarely tell the leader the whole story. Objective, confidential, and focused interviews by an outsider with each individual on the executive team can deliver unvarnished truth-rich information about what’s really happening behind closed doors. Is there a true strategic alignment? How is the leadership style perceived? How much constructive confrontation occurs? Do people collaborate or simply provide lip service? Is everyone pulling in the same direction?

There are five prerequisites to getting the most from these interviews:

  1. Right reason. First, conduct the interviews for the right reason: improving leadership by eliminating unproductive behaviors. If the hidden agenda is to vilify non-performers or to find scapegoats, the approach backfires.
  2. Objectivity. You need an objective outsider to hold the mirror. This person must not be afraid to find out the truth and tell it like it is.
  3. Confidentiality. The interviews have to be treated as confidential, and the interviewer can’t make any direct attribution to a specific individual. Despite all the talk about openness, blackballing is still a common practice.
  4. Specificity. While recognizing that everyone’s reality is different, the interviews have to focus on direct observations, experiences, and involvement rather than hearsay.
  5. Commitment. There must be a commitment to develop an action plan at the individual and team level.

If these criteria are met, the insights gained from interviews can help create a high-performance culture. The honest feedback and recommendations can raise the candor and constructive dialogue.

Baseball manager Tommy Lasorda said leading people is like holding a dove in your hand. “If you hold it too tightly, you kill it; but if you hold it too loosely, you lose it.” Finding that delicate balance between providing nourishment and pulling weeds is the key to effective leadership. But it begins with looking in the mirror.

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Tap the Power of Your Viral Customers

Viral Customers are Your Brand Ambassadors

Viral Customers are Your Brand Ambassadors Whether you are aware of it or not, customers are talking about you this very minute. They are offering opinions, trading experiences, and influencing other customers about you—your company, products, services, and reputation.

Welcome to the world of the “viral customer,” the turbocharged version of the word-of-mouth customer. If you’re not aware of your company’s viral customers, you need to be. If you haven’t geared your company to their growing influence, you had better start now. These talkative, influential customers will play a critical role in the future of your marketing schemes, loyalty programs, customer service efforts, public relations outreach, brand management, privacy policies, and bottom line.

The Internet has created a generation of so-called “viral customers.” Viral customers can be champions or destroyers. They can talk trash about you or trumpet your worth. Which route they take depends on you.

  • If customers are happy with their encounters with you, they are likely to tell lots of their friends. In essence, they become viral ambassadors who will rave about your company to others to create a gush of goodwill. These ambassadors can be valuable, low-cost avenues for building existing relationships, recruiting new customers and keeping old customers happy for life.
  • But if customers are not satisfied, watch out. So-called “viral rebels” can destroy your products, brands, and reputation as they share negative experiences. Moreover, at the moment of negative feedback, they’re likely to be in a “switch mode,” ready to find someone else to satisfy them in ways that your company hasn’t or won’t.

Are you paying attention to what your own viral customers are saying and doing? We’ve found that some companies and industries are more “viral” than others. Customers are much more likely to pass along opinions to others about insurance firms, health maintenance companies, utilities, banks, long-distance and wireless telephone companies, mail delivery services, Internet service providers and auto manufacturers.

What’s at stake is more than the lifetime value of a single customer. Everyone in the viral rebel’s sphere of influence is also at stake, because even though the original customer may walk away from you, he or she is not necessarily finished. The bad-mouthing continues. Suddenly, one person’s negative encounter becomes everyone’s shared experience, and you’re left to pick up the pieces, re-establish ties, win confidence, and regain long-term loyalty.

Some Brands and Issues are More Viral Than Others

Some Brands and Issues are More Viral Than Others Certain brands elicit highly viral customer buzz. Billing issues typically fly off the virility chart. Other hot-button issues involve safety among automakers, baggage claim among airlines, customer service at e-commerce sites, hygiene at restaurants, and staff attitude at retail stores.

If you listen to your viral customers, you will know whether your marketing budget is based on the correct assumptions. You’ll be able to apply one-to-one marketing principles to customer feedback, making your customer insight even richer and more robust. You will know which brands are working. You’ll know your company customer service record, because you will have real-time feedback from the customers. You will identify trouble spots or opportunities well in advance, enabling you to take advantage of positive feedback or stop negative feedback before it explodes.

As you analyze the customer insight you receive, you become wiser and more adaptable, smarter and better able to react, respond, and retool. You start giving customers what they want—easy and convenient communication. They want to be heard. They want to help others, and they want a forum that fits their propensity to rant or rave.

In a world governed by customer insight, all feedback is gold and every complaint is a gift. Raw data guides us, but insight that has quality and meaning enlightens us. Anticipation beats perspiration, and the only way to know what is around the next bend is to pay attention to the curve as it develops.

Here’s five things you can do to tap the power of viral customers:

  • Identify them. Viral customers communicate with you frequently by e-mail, letter or phone. They send copies to others, are passionate or emotional about their experiences and are among the first to try new products or services.
  • Make communication easy. Offer as many ways as possible for customers to get in touch with you-a toll-free phone number, Web-site e-mail address, third-party feedback service, street address or special mailing address.
  • Respond quickly. Respond quickly and in the same fashion. Be empathetic.
  • Mine the negative comments. Respond decisively so that the customer decides to remain in your camp. Don’t give a reason to bolt to the competition.
  • Build the relationship. Add communicative customers to a preferred-customer list. Extend special offers, ask their input on new products and services, and ask how you can improve the relationship. The more you integrate the relationship, the stronger it will be.
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Use the Theory of Constraints to Create a Viable Vision

Any complex system is based on inherent simplicity

Strategic Vision is Viable

Viable vision is the opportunity of a company to have, within four years, annual net profit equal to its current total sales. Any complex system is based on intrinsic simplicity. Capitalizing on the inherent simplicity empowers incredible improvements within a short time. The more data needed to designate fully a system, the more complex it is. Enumerating reductions in total systems costs that are often heart to the customer company is also difficult. Most companies, even small ones, are complex and accordingly challenging to manage. The few elements commanding the performance of the system are the restrictions or advantage points —the Theory of Constraints.

When I scrutinize a company, I am rather fulfilled only when I clearly see how it is possible to bring the company to have, within four years, annual net profit equal to its current total sales. That is what I mean by a “viable vision.” In emergent markets such as China and India, clients want decent quality products that are simple to install, use, and maintain.

I am careful when sharing this anticipation with the top management; I expose the reasons why I believe this vision is viable. I share my analysis of what is obstructive performance. Using logic, I deduce the steps that will eradicate that block. Then I detail the steps to take to capitalize on that breakthrough. In this way, the reaction of top managers is, “This is common sense. Why aren’t we doing it?”

Capitalizing on Strategic Simplicity

Any complex system is based on inherent simplicity. Capitalizing on the inherent simplicity enables implausible improvements within a short time.

The more data needed to describe fully a system, the more complex it is. These infringements come at a significant cost to the organization, since too much time spent on day-to-day details can endanger future growth.

How complex is the system you manage? How many pages are needed to describe every process and the relationships with each client? Most companies, even small ones, are complex and thus tough to manage.

We manage a complex system by dissecting it into subsystems that are less complex. However, this can lead to miss-synchronization, harmful local optima, and the silo mentality. Since our systems are compound, we might think that all we can do is to improve synchronization and nurture collaboration between the subsystems. Public corporations are required to maximize their return to shareholders—not to customers. If this is the only option we contemplate, we will believe that achieving a major jump in profit within a short time is a rarity. We will think that creating net profit equal to current total sales in less than four years is unrealistic.

Leaders of successful innovation exertions are gifted visionaries. To see the potential of a company, we need to realize that the thing that makes our system difficult to manage is that what is done in one place has complications in other places; the cause-and-effect relationships turn our system into a maze. Strategically central issues and opportunities can occur at any time, and they cannot always wait for the next planning cycle or off-site to roll around. However, that fact also provides the key to the solution. This model had served them well. However, they began conjecturing about their organization in the future. They began to wonder if the model would work when the commodity that was being passed around was information, not metal.

Examine a system and ask, what is the minimum number of points we must impact to impact the whole system? If the answer is “10 points,” this is a challenging system to manage because it has too many degrees of freedom. However, if the answer is “one point,” this system is easy to manage.

Theory of Strategic Constraints - Strategic Wisdom

Now, the more interdependence between the components of the system, the fewer degrees of freedom the system has. However, the realities and the consequences of how they actually use their time are often quite different. Bearing in mind the complexity of your system, only a few elements govern the entire system. The more composite the system, the more profound is its essential simplicity.

To capitalize on the inherent simplicity, we must identify those few elements that govern the system. In addition, if we clarify the cause-and-effect relationships among all elements of the system, we can manage the system to achieve higher performance.

Companies turn out to be too focused on executing today’s business model and stop thinking about the fact that business models are perishable. Because companies’ decision-making systems are designed to push investments to initiatives that offer the most perceptible and immediate returns, companies shortchange investments in initiatives that are imperative to their long-term strategies.

Theory of Strategic Constraints

The few elements dictating the performance of the system are the constraints or advantage points-the Theory of Constraints (TOC).

In this school of management, we are qualified never to bring forward problems without a recommended solution. The marketing and strategy of companies is in it’s not luck. They have to be streetwise but not necessarily wise in other ways. They need to be fledgling and without much need for sleep. If you read these books, you will agree that the conclusions are horse sense, even though they fly in the face of common practice. Moreover, if you put it into practice, you experience remarkable improvements in a short time.

Is a viable vision possible for your company? Is it feasible to have, within four years, yearly net profit equal to its current yearly sales? The complications are discouraging. For example, such profitability is impossible without a huge increase in sales, and this is doable only if you have a remarkable new offer accepted by your markets. Can such an offer exist? Can you produce on such an offer? What investments will be needed? In addition, is your team capable of implementing such a change?

You do not have to coin your own phrase, but if you can find a simple, clear concept at the core of your policy, and if you can get others to appreciate it, then you are on your way to forming nuggets of you of strategic wisdom. A winning, stupendous concept will keep a team positively focused and sustain it during the inescapable disappointments and trying times.

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Employees Must Have a Vested Interest in the Success of the Business

Robert Frost once said, “Isn’t it a shame that when we get up in the morning our minds work furiously—until we come to work.”

In the new economy, we need to equip people to think and act like owners. Everyone must come to work fully engaged and ready to make difference. A global revolution is under way, and it calls for gutsy leaders—people who can inspire knowledge workers idea merchants, and business innovator to exercise their own brand of leadership. The future belongs to those who use the power of culture to feed the entrepreneurial spirit.

Here are eight ways you can create a culture where people have a stake in the success of your business.

  • Employees Must Have a Vested Interest in the Success of the Business Recognize that ownership is more than a stock certificate. Ownership is a state of mind, a way of looking at the world and approaching work. Owners are people who step out from behind titles and job descriptions to act on behalf of the customer and the company. Non-owners hide behind position descriptions (“It’s not my job.”) and throw problems over functional walls (“Let me transfer you to…”) as an excuse for inaction. Owners cater to the purpose of the organization—its mission, vision, values, and strategy. Non-owners cater to the boss. Owners focus on the business results of their actions regardless of who is watching. Non-owners focus on the chain of command Owners ask the tough question: “How can we make it better?” Preoccupied with safety, non-owners gravitate toward the comfort of the status quo where things are more predictable and less disruptive.
  • Develop leaders who know how to liberate talent. Ownership is about giving people the freedom to act and removing the fears that cause lack of initiative. Unforgiving, zero-defect cultures foster cautious inactivity that kills the ownership mentality. People who don’t feel safe live under an umbrella of fear that makes them reluctant to make decisions, own problems, admit mistakes, take on projects, and act in ways that grow the business. When people cling to safety, they have no commitment to ownership; accountability vanishes, and self-preservation arises. Ownership is trusting that employees will operate with the company’s best interests in mind. Putting our trust in these people tells them that we think they are trustworthy. It suggests that we have faith in their character and competence. It boosts their self-confidence. Strengthen a person’s self-confidence and you strengthen his or her ability to think and act like an owner of the business. Herb Kelleher, Southwest’s chairman, says, “You build self-confidence when you give people the room to take risks and fail. You don’t condemn them when they fail. You just say, “We’ve just spent a good bit on your education; we hope to see you apply it in the future.”
  • Build a corporate culture of employee ownership Lay out the guiding principles. As a leader, you have to be confident that when the decisive moment comes, those who have assumed ownership will exercise common sense and good judgment. As the one assuming ownership, you have to be confident that what you are doing is the right thing because, after all, with ownership comes responsibility and accountability. Exercising good judgment and doing the right thing result from a clear understanding of the company’s guiding principles. Your firm’s business purpose and strategies, its mission, vision, values, and philosophy all define those principles. In essence, they create a set of helpful boundaries. When the boundaries are clear, employees have more freedom to step up, take action, and assume ownership for getting things done. When the boundaries are fuzzy, people get nervous and cautious. The result is a culture characterized by compliance instead of commitment.
  • Help people become business literate. When people understand how revenues and costs translate into profits, they become business literate. How many people on the front lines of your organization understand how the company makes money? How many of them are capable of reading a financial statement? If you asked them how much it costs to run their part of the business, could they tell you? How can we expect them to cut costs if they don’t know what those costs are to begin with? When people start asking cost questions, they are starting to think and act like owners of the business. The true experts are people at the point of action. Smart leaders open the books and equip these people with the financial information they need. When employees become business literate, they look for ways to drive costs down.
  • Make information relevant, fun, and interesting. The key to creating business literacy is getting people to internalize the information. If busy people do not see the information you put out as relevant, fun, and interesting, they are less likely to use it or be impacted by it. Information is relevant only when it is useful. If the salespeople at Sears knew that only three cents out of every dollar shows up as profit at the end of the day, they might be more passionate about watching costs and serving customers. Southwest Airlines’ annual profit-and-loss statement is written simply and illustrated with icons and cartoons, making it compelling to read and easy to understand.
  • 'The Truth About Employee Engagement' by Patrick Lencioni (ISBN 111923798X) Eliminate the “class” mentality. Leaders who are serious about leveraging the knowledge of every person must also eliminate the “class” mentality-socially prescribed or stereotypic boxes. This mentality undermines work in three ways. First, it strips the individual worker of his or her dignity and lowers morale. It essentially says, “We don’t believe in you enough to trust you with this information. It ensures that power resides at the top and widens the gap of inequality. Second, it doesn’t capitalize on people’s knowledge. The company pays for insight it never receives. Third, it crushes the entrepreneurial spirit. People stop caring, learning, and growing. When a financial statement is written so that only a CFO can understand it, forget about getting the frontline involved in a dialogue about cost containment. You breed compliance versus commitment. If your frontline people aren’t interested in reading a profit-and-loss statement, assess whether your information is too complicated or too mundane to capture their interest.
  • Show people how the business affects them personally. Most of the 18-year-old ramp agents at Southwest are business literate. They know that when they push a plane just 30 seconds late, that delay could translate into one hour and 45 minutes at the end of 11 flights in a day. Southwest would have to add 35 more planes at $30 million each to maintain its schedule. That could mean wage concessions, profit sharing, and lowered job security. They know how their job performance creates results, and how those results affect their lives. Southwest has made information relevant and interesting to its employees.
  • Give people a stake. Stock options and profit sharing can be powerful incentives to think and act like owners. However, just because people have stock options, they won’t necessarily think and act like owners. When you offer stock options and profit sharing without the culture to support these motivational tools it’s like putting new tires on a car that needs an alignment. When you add stock options and profit sharing to the rest of this list, you reward and reinforce people for behaving in ways that are consistent with an established culture. In doing so, you leverage the power of the incentive!

Build a corporate culture of employee ownership.

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Best Practices for Onboarding New Employees: Maximizing Success

Benefits of Employee Retention Strategies

Guide to Employee Onboarding Best Practices

Often new hires leave too early for an organization to enjoy a return on its recruiting investment. The relationship between manager and new hire is critical to retention and performance. Managers can unleash the energy of their new hires by engaging them in a series of structured, powerful conversations over the first few weeks. By focusing these conversations on six sources of power, managers can connect early and cultivate more productive, motivated, and committed workers. These are: power from relationships, passion, challenges, focus, balance, and intention.

New hires often come fully charged, excited about their new adventure, and filled with energy and potential. By tapping into that energy, knowledge and wisdom right from the start, you can maximize the new hire’s potential, extend the handshake, and fuel that energy well past the beginning of the employment cycle.

While recruitment continues to be one of the most costly human resource processes, its longer-term effectiveness is being eroded by high attrition. Hiring doesn’t stop with the job offer. Today re-recruiting your best people is as critical as hiring them in the first place.

Often new hires leave too early for an organization to enjoy a return on its recruiting investment. And if they stay, are they productive, engaged, loyal, and committed? Have they simply “checked in” or are they “tuned in” and “turned on” as well?

The relationship between manager and new hire is critical to retention and performance. To increase retention and build loyalty during that critical first year, start by building the relationship between new hires and their managers.

Unleashing the Energy: New Employee Onboarding

Unleashing the Energy: New Employee Onboarding Improving first-year retention, decreasing time-to-productivity, and building loyalty and commitment are directly related to how quickly managers develop quality relationships with new hires.

Managers can unleash the energy of their new hires by engaging them in a series of structured, powerful conversations over the first few weeks. By focusing these conversations on six sources of power, managers can connect early and cultivate more productive, motivated, and committed workers.

  • Power from Relationship. There is no greater predictor of retention and engagement than the quality of the relationship between new hires and their managers and colleagues. The closer these bonds, the more new hires trust management, the more they feel cared for and valued, and the greater their focus, productivity, and satisfaction.
  • Power from Passion. People are more passionate about their work when they use their talents and skills to work on tasks and projects that interest them in environments that are consistent with the ways they prefer to work. Managers need to recognize their new hires’ skills, honor their interests, and leverage their strengths.
  • Power from Challenge. People get excited about their jobs (and stay excited) when they learn and grow in ways that have meaning for them. Managers need to become better talent scouts, and recognize potential when they see it. They need to provide for continued development and challenge.
  • Power from Focus. People are more committed when they know what the organization is trying to achieve, and how they can contribute to those outcomes. Managers must help new hires learn to navigate; understand the purpose, mission, and objectives; and appreciate how their efforts serve those goals.
  • Power from Balance. People’s lives extend well beyond the workplace. They have families, friends, lovers, and children to care for. They have finances to manage and households to maintain. They want to stay vibrant and healthy. They want to play and have time for themselves. Managers must make room for new hires and their whole lives.
  • Power from Intention. Managers and their new hires must follow through to earn the commitment and loyalty they both want: What new skills will they develop the first year, and how? What new areas will they explore, and how? What relationships are important to establish? How will the manager or new hire flex to make the relationship work best? What results will new hires be responsible for? How will they be rewarded? What support will the manager provide? It takes more than talk-new hires need to see tangible progress.

Benefits of Employee Retention Strategies

Best Practices for Onboarding New Employees: Maximizing Success What does the organization get in return? Here are a few bottom-line results:

  • Improved first-year retention rates. Engaging new employees early in shaping their jobs, designing their development, and building relationships can decrease first-year attrition.
  • Decreased time-to-productivity. Encouraging managers to be clear about what exactly is expected, and discuss how well new employees are learning their responsibilities can decrease the time required for new hires to get “up to speed.” They will contribute more, and do so more rapidly.
  • Reduced recruiting costs. Convincing new hires that they made the right choice can result in an increase in recruits referred by recent hires. Some organizations attract 70 percent of their new hires from recent hire referrals, reducing recruiting costs significantly.
  • Increased productivity. Making it possible for people to do what they do best, allowing them to pursue their interests, and building meaningful relationships can lead to higher productivity, increased customer satisfaction, and enhanced profitability.
  • Brand development. The more your become known as a great place to work, as an organization that cares about its employees, the more easily you attract the best and the brightest.
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Leadership Lessons from President Dwight Eisenhower

Leadership Lessons from President Dwight Eisenhower

President Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower, a graduate of the US Military Academy Class of 1915, set the benchmark for “Supreme Command” in coalition operations; the standards he articulated and personified in the 1940s continue to pilot senior military commanders. Even more profound than Eisenhower’s intelligence as a coalition commander was his impression in shaping state-of-the-art leadership principles for officers in militaries of a democracy.

One simple solution for surpassing limiting beliefs and making headway toward significant goals in our lives. Eisenhower knew what it took to lead soldiers and build cohesive units at the tactical level; he was passionate about leadership and leader development. Unity of Command was his simple establishing principle, but he knew that placing a single person in charge was insufficient to ensure unity. Today, leader advancement is the core mission component of the Academy.

Goals are about growing. A good goal causes us to grow and mature. That’s because every goal is about the journey as much as—even more than—the destination. And that’s exactly why setting goals outside the comfort zone is so imperative.

We gathered frequently in the dining room of Quarters 100—the elegant residence for 200 years of the Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point—for spirited conversation on history, politics, and leadership. As the Academy Superintendent in the late 90s, we relished this give-and-take. We brought to the Academy some of the best thinkers on leadership; the supper conversation reflected the energy of the participants. A recurrent question was this: “Whom do you regard as West Point’s most distinguished graduate?”

Dwight Eisenhower: History, Politics, and Leadership

The menu of alumni was a rich one: Grant, Lee, MacArthur, Goethals, Groves, Pershing, Bradley, Patton, and Eisenhower, among others. The agreement seemed always to focus on one graduate: Dwight D. Eisenhower, USMA Class of 1915, for his intense command of allied forces in the European theater during WWII. Eisenhower set the standard for “Supreme Command” in coalition campaigns; the principles he expressed and personified in the 1940s continue to channel senior military commanders.

Dwight D Eisenhower: History, Politics, and Leadership Lessons Even more profound than Eisenhower’s brilliance as a coalition commander was his influence in shaping modern leadership principles for officers in armies of a democracy. The strength of a memory is also determined by the emotional state that accompanied the original event. Without question, Eisenhower had no equal in stroking, cajoling, and managing prickly alliance personalities like Churchill, Montgomery, de Gaulle, Admiral Darlan, and Italian Marshall Badoglio—to say nothing of his challenges with George Patton. He was the consummate Supreme Commander.

The eloquent text above is simply for your benefit. It’s not actually part of the template. These beings are kenned by the adepts to be magnetized toward certain quarters of the heavens by something of the same abstruse property which makes the magnetic needle turn toward the north, and convinced plants to comply with the same magnetization. In such a way there is impermanent meaning and true meaning.

Fear usually plays a part in the decisions we make. Probably the biggest fear that you will have to face when making a decision is that of failure. Obviously, the bigger the decision, the greater the downside if it doesn’t pan out. Eisenhower also knew what it took to lead soldiers and build cohesive units at the tactical level; he was passionate about leadership and leader development. As a result of his submissions to Army leaders, Eisenhower influenced not only the formal leadership program of the U.S. Military Academy, but also the leadership ethic for young officers commissioned after 1945. Likewise, feelings, recognitions, volitions and consciousness are empty.

Dwight D Eisenhower: Situational Leadership

Dwight D Eisenhower Situational Leadership

Dwight Eisenhower’s leadership was is often a value judgment that varies from person to person and for one person from situation to situation. We call it situational leadership:

  1. Be mellow in manner, tough in deed: Eisenhower had a paperweight conspicuously exhibited on his desk with a Latin engraving meaning “gently in manner, strong in deed.” These are known as secret or insight activities. This reflected his philosophy and style. He was not full of bluster. He never threatened. This is the way of insight.
  2. Be a guide, not an initiator: Eisenhower once expressed leadership as “the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” This is the field of merit of beings. By vigilant organization and a premeditated crafting of words to hit the right note. When practicing, it is sufficient to just keep your mind on the method. He knew the importance of words— specifically those spoken by the person in charge—to motivate and persuade. There is another problem with the first cause argument. He believed in planning. He thought it was dangerous for a leader to shoot from the hip. We should take this to heart.
  3. Don’t talk too much: Even with no infirmities, the life of beings is passing. Some people just can’t help themselves and simply start prattling (luckily this didn’t happen to me). Either they’re nervous about figuring out the right thing to say, or they’re panicky about saying the wrong thing. And this full clarity is beyond inner and outer. But, when you talk too much the anguished person will sometimes begin to feel that they must take care of you.
  4. Know what you don’t know: Eisenhower cherished that his completest resource was not his own brilliance but the talent of his team. It frees a tremendous energy. He once wrote this piece of advice: “Always try to associate yourself with and learn as much as you can from those who know more than you do, who do better than you, who see more clearly than you.” And he understood that autonomy can be defined as the ability to make choices according to one’s own free will. He was a collaborator; and if no such challenge developed in that time, he would presume to be there by right, even though he might not have any life story.
  5. Don’t let success go to your head: Eisenhower never considered himself to be a hero when compared with the men who landed at Normandy and met the enemy on the bloodstained fields of battle. Soon after the war, he called on General Douglas MacArthur, his old boss, in Japan. MacArthur, impelled up about their success, crowed that as vanquishers either one of them could surely be elected president. It was reported that Eisenhower left that meeting red-faced and angry. He loathed the hero label. When years later he did become president, he was repeatedly disapproved for not being personally dynamic or out in front. He was lavish about letting those around him take the recognition for his ideas. This approach paid off in allegiance and execution. And many made great sacrifices to attend, frequently working his way through military.

In both arenas—supreme command and officer leadership—Eisenhower was a revolutionary. Before him, no U.S. commander had been entrusted with coalition command. General Pershing fought to maintain the integrity of U.S. forces as commander of the American Expeditionary Force in WWI, but he was subordinate to the French Commander-in-Chief; Eisenhower led allied forces from fall 1942, and by war’s end, had over four million men from five nations under his command. His approach to combined command complemented a sophisticated coalition leadership model—a model employed to this day.

Dwight Eisenhower: Unity of Command

Unity of Command was his simple organizing principle, but he knew that placing a single person in charge was disappointing to ensure unity. This had to be exercised through “earnest cooperation,” earned through “patience, tolerance, frankness, and honesty.”

Unity of Command: Leadership Lessons from Dwight Eisenhower Commanders in the 1990s, General George Joulwan in Bosnia and General Wesley Clark in Kosovo, achieved coalition success despite intra-alliance arguments by sticking to Eisenhower’s maxims. Similarly, two Central Command combatant commanders, Generals Norman Schwarzkopf and John Abizaid, profited from the trailblazing experiences of Eisenhower. Schwarzkopf exhibited a knowledge of alliance understandings and alliance politics by deftly managing more than 30 combination partners in Desert Storm. He clearly personified unity of command. But he knew this could never be effectively exercised unless he had consent of those he led, particularly his Arab partners, and most visibly, the Saudis. Again, Eisenhower’s coalition leadership principles proved decisive—and enduring. And they are reflected in the leadership exercised in 2005 by the Coalition Commander in Iraq, General John Abizaid, a student of the leadership of Eisenhower. After his discussion, his wish got him thinking about which of the three ways we die is actually best.

That these practices are connected with the proper kinds of beings and times is important. Besides transfiguring the doctrine of collective command at senior levels, Eisenhower was zealous about leadership development for junior officers. What he observed in the behavior of many U.S. officers in the European theater disturbed him greatly. Too many officers never identified with their soldiers; they were too eradicated from the needs of their troops. Further, Eisenhower was appalled by the behavior of officers who substituted screaming, even physical abuse of subordinates, for positive leadership. Eisenhower said, “You don’t lead by hitting people over the head; that’s assault, not leadership.” Life cannot be real if relationships are not real.

West Point Curriculum: Practical and Applied Psychology

Eisenhower felt that the West Point curriculum should include coursework in practical and applied psychology to “awaken the cadets to the necessity of handling human problems on a human basis,” and thereby improve leadership in the Army.

Eisenhower’s suggestion was soon followed by the establishment at the Academy of the Department of Behavioral Psychology and Leadership. For more than 50 years, it has instilled in cadets the principles of small unit leadership.

Instead of ignoring parts of the orchestra, a symphonic life of Dwight Eisenhower consists of five habits that ensure harmony:

  1. Anyone who has the self-control to steep his noetic conceptions in them may be sure that in a shorter or longer time they will lead him to personal vision.
  2. If your culture supports open dialogue and learning from mistakes, public commitments and public results can fire up morale.
  3. Contrary to the popular exhortation, people do judge books by their covers. That’s why it’s important we select the right one for this book.
  4. The moments of break-through where real change happens aren’t typically instant and extraordinary. They usually happen gradually in the ordinary course of our lives.
  5. One of the most obvious things about the future is that we are not there yet. The question for us as we start a small unit leadership is whether to drift or direct our lives where we want them to go.

U.S. Military Academy at West Point Today, leadership development is the core mission component of the Academy. The emphasis is on values, inspiration, and imagination. Eisenhower knew these could not be created in the cerebral equivalent of a strait jacket, with rote, mechanical instruction disconnected from the human problems of the individual soldier. In other words, we need to think about what we want to be true of us when it’s all said and done. Once that picture is in mind, we review the steps that journey requires and live them forward. Then comes the hard part.

The Supreme Commander who associated with his troops shaped the leadership ethic of my generation. Eisenhower took the time to write to parents of his soldiers, to talk to 101st Airborne Division paratroopers prior to their DDay jump, to prescribe leadership doctrine while he commanded millions. He was, in short, encouraging. And he personified the essential bond—trust. His soldiers trusted him because he exuded the values of integrity and respect—values that remain the core of our Army’s leadership principle.

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FedEx’s ZapMail Service: Failure to Foresee

Innovation is Not Without Risk

How Federal Express's Zapmail System Works

One of the defining characteristics of great leaders is their knack for seeing into the future.

Innovation is not without risk. There are plenty examples of failures at companies. However, on the other side of the coin, if you’re too cautious and too late—all you have is a dinosaur business. Navigating that fine line between risk and innovation is very important.

FedEx's Zapmail System Case in Point: ZapMail Service was a system that used fax machines at FedEx offices to transmit documents for clients in different cities. After being introduced in 1983, when FedEx was known as Federal Express, the service was soon eclipsed by the rise of fax machines priced cheaply enough that most offices could purchase their own. In addition, ZapMail was based on satellite technology, which needed the space shuttle to work effectively. However, the space shuttle blew up, dealing a body blow to FedEx’s plans. FedEx folded ZapMail in 1986, taking a costly write-off.

No Innovation Without Experimentation

Commenting about FedEx’s ability to integrating new acquisitions into its fold after its purchase of Paul Orfalea’s Kinko’s franchise, journalist Michael Copeland commented in the Autumn-2006 issue of Booz & Company’s Strategy & Leadership magazine:

As with other acquisitions, Fred Smith saw something in Flying Tigers and American Freightways that others didn’t because his point of focus lay far beyond theirs. Mr. Smith doesn’t always get it right when he looks into the future. His expensive and ultimately failed experiment in ZapMail, a dedicated fax network that couldn’t compete in the early 1980s with the new, inexpensive consumer fax machines, is proof. “A guy like Fred Smith doesn’t build a company like FedEx without taking some risks and making some mistakes,” says Mr. Hatfield, the Morgan Keegan analyst, “but clearly the successes far outweigh the failures.”

Federal Express's Zapmail System There can be no innovation without experimentation, and there can be no experimentation without the risk failure. In addition, taking risk goes against the grain of many companies’ cultures. In the corporate world, there are powerful incentives for people to play it safe. However, leaders must work particularly hard to offset these forces and give their teams the consent to fail and the assurance to make their case and go out on a limb. Leaders must not only promote experimentation, but also encourage people to terminate faster on projects that are not working without fear of reprisal. That is to repeat the cliche “fail, but fail as fast as possible” and take the lessons learned to the next experiment.

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Review of N.R. Narayana Murthy’s Visionary Book, ‘A Better India: A Better World’

A Better India- A Better World is a stimulating book by an important business leader. When an Indian assistant first lent it to me, I wasn’t excited to read it but felt necessitated. I was very much completely astounded. N.R. Narayana Murthy, the founder and chairperson of Infosys organizes a rather comprehensible and positive vision to the world according to himself. If only many more business leaders thought like him, one might even feel tempted by this thing called “compassionate capitalism.” Narayana Murthy has thought much about India, his homeland, and its contradictions.

'Better India: A Better World' by N.R. Narayana Murthy (ISBN 0143068571)

If the eyes of all men were naturally jaundiced, all white objects would appear uniformly yellow. In the introduction to A Better India- A Better World, Narayana Murthy outlines,

The enigma of India is that our progress in higher education and in science and technology has not been sufficient to take 350 million Indians out of illiteracy. It is difficult to imagine that 318 million people in the country do not have access to safe drinking water and 250 million people do not have access to basic medical care. Why should 630 million people not have access to acceptable sanitation facilities even in 2009? When you see world-class supermarkets and food chains in our towns, and when our urban youngsters gloat over the choice of toppings on their pizzas, why should 51 per cent of the children in the country be undernourished? When India is among the largest producers of engineers and scientists in the world, why should 52 per cent of the primary schools have only one teacher for every two classes? When our politicians and bureaucrats live in huge houses in Lutyens’ Delhi and the state capitals, our corporate leaders splurge money on mansions, yachts and planes, and our urban youth revel in their latest sport shoes, why should 300 million Indians live on hardly Rs 545 per month (US$10 at current exchange rate), barely sufficient to manage two meals a day, with little or no money left for schooling, clothes, shelter and medicine?

His starting point is Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “four freedoms”—freedom of speech and expression, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. He later elaborates on what a “civilized society” entails: “a society where everybody has equal opportunity to better his or her life; where every child has food, shelter, healthcare, and education; a society where duties come before rights; where each generation makes sacrifices to make life better for the next generation.” Obviously, many of these tenets are increasingly not present in today’s USA and, worse; many Americans on the right would dispute these principles as smacking of socialism. In this case, an effect has been given for a cause.

Could we be certain that the admeasurements of these two different meridians were made without error, this would, undoubtedly, be a demonstrative proof of the irregularity of the earth’s figure. Narayana Murthy is a well read and well-travelled, learned man who clearly thinks a lot about societal issues. In the introduction, his acknowledged three books that have influenced him deeply: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism by Max Weber; My Experiments with Truth by Mahatma Gandhi; and Peau Noire, Masques Blancs by Franz Fanon. This rather eclectic selection shows the breadth of his reading and attests to an open mind. He builds his own philosophy on these disparate strains of thought, emphasizing the importance of values and leadership. He sets out early in the book that, “I do not know of any community—a company, an institution or a nation—that has achieved success without a long journey of aspiration, hard work, commitment, focus, hope, confidence, humility and sacrifice”. This question cannot be resolved exactly, without the author’s help. The first time he was restored, he thought he actually touched whatever he saw; but by degrees his experience corrected his numberless mistakes.

His student years in France in the 1970s were very important in forming his thinking. In the first chapter, a lecture to students, he compares France to India for its civil-mindedness: “In France, everybody acted as if it was their job to discuss, debate and quickly act on improving public facilities. In India, we discuss debate and behave as if the improvement of any public facility is not our task, and consequently, do not act at all.” His deduction: being a developing country is a mindset. Here he breaks clear of the Left, placing the onus on the individual, as well as the society as a whole, to take responsibility for its own destiny. He tells a story of how he lost any compassion for the Left after having been imprisoned by Bulgarian authorities when traveling back from Paris to India in 1974.

The next event that left an indelible mark on me occurred in 1974. The location: Nis, a border town between former Yugoslavia, now Serbia, and Bulgaria. I was hitchhiking from Paris back to Mysore, India, my home town.

By the time a kind driver dropped me at Nis railway station at 9 p.m. on a Saturday night, the restaurant was closed. So was the bank the next morning, and I could not eat because I had no local money. I slept on the railway platform until 8.30 pm in the night when the Sofia Express pulled in.

The only passengers in my compartment were a girl and a boy. I struck a conversation in French with the young girl. She talked about the travails of living in an iron curtain country, until we were roughly interrupted by some policemen who, I later gathered, were summoned by the young man who thought we were criticising the communist government of Bulgaria.

The girl was led away; my backpack and sleeping bag were confiscated. I was dragged along the platform into a small 8×8 foot room with a cold stone floor and a hole in one corner by way of toilet facilities. I was held in that bitterly cold room without food or water for over 72 hours.

I had lost all hope of ever seeing the outside world again, when the door opened. I was again dragged out unceremoniously, locked up in the guard’s compartment on a departing freight train and told that I would be released 20 hours later upon reaching Istanbul. The guard’s final words still ring in my ears — “You are from a friendly country called India and that is why we are letting you go!”

The journey to Istanbul was lonely, and I was starving. This long, lonely, cold journey forced me to deeply rethink my convictions about Communism. Early on a dark Thursday morning, after being hungry for 108 hours, I was purged of any last vestiges of affinity for the Left.

I concluded that entrepreneurship, resulting in large-scale job creation, was the only viable mechanism for eradicating poverty in societies.

Deep in my heart, I always thank the Bulgarian guards for transforming me from a confused Leftist into a determined, compassionate capitalist! Inevitably, this sequence of events led to the eventual founding of Infosys in 1981.

Cofounder and executive chairman N.R. Narayana Murthy came out of retirement in 2013 to help right the Infosys ship. His return resulted in improved financial performance, although it has been marked by numerous high-profile executive resignations. Murthy again stepped down and re-entered retirement to make way for CEO Vishal Sikka in August 2014. Microsoft Founder Bill Gates said, “Narayana Murthy overcame many obstacles and demonstrated that is possible to create a world-class, values-driven company in India. Through his vision and leadership Murthy sparked a wave of innovation and entrepreneurship that changed the way we view ourselves and how the world views India.”

Review of N.R. Narayana Murthy's Visionary Book, 'A Better India- A Better World' This is a collection of 38 essays and speeches given at a variety of fora during the 2000s and selected for the book by the author himself. They are divided into sections:

  • Address to students;
  • Values;
  • Important national issues;
  • Education;
  • Leadership challenges;
  • Corporate and public governance;
  • Corporate social responsibility and philanthropy;
  • Entrepreneurship;
  • Globalization;
  • three short chapters on Infosys.

In such a collection, it is inevitable that there are overlaps between the chapters and many recurrent themes. I’ll pick a few themes that I found interesting here below.

He addresses students in a variety of schools, ranging from prestigious institutions like INSEAD, Indian Institute of Technology, IESE Business School in Barcelona and NYU, to various other universities in India. He exhorts his values: “You must believe in and act according to the principle that putting public interest ahead of private interest in the short term will be better for your private concerns in the long run.” … “Ego, vanity, and contempt for other people have clouded our minds for thousands of years and impeded our progress. Humility is scarce in this country.” … “No county that has shunned merit has succeeded in solving its problems.” … “The reason for the lack of progress in many developing nations is not the paucity of resources but the lack of management talent and professionalism.” The winds of the temperate zone are composed of the eddies of these two united.

Narayana Murthy is a fan of globalization and refers to the “global bazaar” and Thomas Friedman’s “flat world” in several places. In this context, he calls for “an environment of tolerance and respect for multi-culturalism.” He sees global warming and environmental degradation as major threats and sees that the answers must lie in global cooperation: “The solution is not to force developing nations to forgo what the developed world has enjoyed for over a century. It is to come together as one planet and use innovation in technology to produce alternate energy solutions and reduction of carbon emissions.” His thinking reflects the intergenerational equity perspective embedded in the original definition of sustainable development: “After all, this is the only planet we have. Conduct yourself as if you have borrowed it from the next generation. Remember that you will have to give it back to them in good shape.” The time of feeling the pulse is in a morning, some time after getting up, and before reduction of carbon emissions.

A Better India- A Better World is also very critical of laissez-faire capitalism, a theme that resonates throughout the book: “Unfortunately, the greed of several corporate leaders, the meltdown of Wall Street, the increasing differences between the salaries of CEOs and ordinary workers, and the unbelievable severance compensation paid to failed CEOs have called into question whether capitalism is indeed a solution for the benefit of all, or if it is an instrument for a few cunning people to hoodwink a large mass of gullible middle-class and poor people. Never before in the history of capitalism have so few people brought so much misery to so many.” His views of how to manage a company are in line with his broader beliefs: “The only way you can save capitalism and bring it back to its shining glory is by conducting yourselves as decent, honest, fair, diligent, and socially conscious business leaders. In every action of yours, you have to ask how it will make the lowest level worker in your corporation and the poorest person in your society better. You have to learn to put the interest of the community—your corporation, your society, your nation and this planet—before your own interest.” In light of these issues, Infosys has launched a number of initiatives to improve its performance. The company has some way to go before rectifying its position, but a number of signs are promising, with revenue growth, margins, client mining, and employee attrition improving. Again emphasizing the need for sacrifice, he states that, “(T) to succeed in these days of globalization, global warming and laissez-faire capitalism, every worker in your corporation will have to accept tremendous sacrifices in the short term and hope that goodness will, indeed, succeed in the long term and make life better for every one of them.” Certainly not the thinking en vogue on this continent!

Review of N.R. Narayana Murthy's Visionary Book, 'A Better India- A Better World' Narayana Murthy is also rather harsh on India. In a chapter entitled “What Can We Learn from the West,” he chastises his own nation for faulty values: “Indian society has, for over a thousand years, put loyalty to family ahead of loyalty to society.” … “Unfortunately, our attitude towards family life is not reflected in our attitude towards the community. From littering the streets to corruption to violating contractual obligations, we are apathetic to the community good.” … “Apathy in addressing community matters has held us back from making progress which is otherwise within our reach. We see serious problems around us but do not try to solve them. We behave as if the problems do not exist or as if they belong to someone else.” He continues, “Our intellectual arrogance has also not helped our society. I have travelled extensively and, in my experience, have not come across another society where people are as contemptuous of better societies as we are, with as little progress as we have achieved.” He identifies things that India should learn from the West, including accountability, dignity of labor (“everybody in India wants to be a thinker and not a doer”), and professionalism (punctuality, respect for other people’s time, respecting contractual obligations), concluding that “the most important attribute of a progressive society is respect for others who have accomplished more than they themselves have, and the willingness to learn from them.” The conduct of the appetite regulates the health; and this is not enough regarded.

Elaborating on individual responsibilities, he adds one more: discipline. “There are several ingredients for national development—natural resources, human resources, leadership, and finally, discipline.” … “The utter lack of discipline exhibited by our people is rendering these other three powerful factors ineffective for fast-paced economic growth. We see umpteen examples of undisciplined behavior around us every day. What is even sadder is that this behavior has become the norm even among the powerful and the elite.” … “Discipline is about complying with the agreed protocols, norms, desirable practices, regulations and the laws of the land designed to improve the performance of individuals and societies. Discipline is the bedrock of individual development, community development, and national development.” In this category, Narayana Murthy includes aspects, such as lack of discipline in thought, or intellectual dishonesty (objectivity to focus on outcomes and results, rather than politics or focus on caste and religion; corruption). To achieve discipline, India needs role models (honest, accountable, disciplined leaders committed to change), swift and harsh punishment of offenders, transparency, political reform, and an improved bureaucracy. Manmohan Singh, former Prime Minister of India, wrote, “Narayana Murthy is a role model for millions of Indians. An iconic figure in the country, he is widely respected and looked up not only for his business leadership but also for his ethics and personal conduct. He represents the face of the new, resurgent India to the world.”

Review of N.R. Narayana Murthy's Visionary Book, 'A Better India- A Better World' The part focusing on important national issues considers a wide range, including the role of population in economic development in India. Talking about population growth as a strain to development risks being attacked from both the Left and the Right these days, but Narayana Murthy barges right into the issues. He highlights the need for “good human capital” but also warns “a failure to stabilize India’s population will have significant implications for the future of India’s economy” and that “high population densities have also led to overloaded systems and infrastructure in urban areas.” He links the population debate to environment and resources, in particular energy demand, noting how the combined demands from India and China will put pressure on world resources: “The rapid growth in emerging economies cannot be sustained in the face of mounting environmental deterioration and resource depletion.” He sees a clear role for the government, which must “focus on conservation-friendly policies. For example, subsidies on conventional fuel make it difficult for renewable energy sources to compete and should be removed at least for rich and middle-class people.” … “The government can play a key role as a regulator in making Indian industry environmentally responsible.” Would someone please tell that to the politicians in Washington, DC?

The fourth theme is a cornerstone of the Indian spiritual tradition: self-knowledge. Indeed, the highest form of knowledge, it is said, is self-knowledge. I believe this greater awareness and knowledge of oneself is what ultimately helps develop a more grounded belief in oneself, courage, determination, and, above all, humility, all qualities which enable one to wear one’s success with dignity and grace.

So, how to deal with the issue of excessive population growth? Well, there is the need to meet unmet need of contraception and the issue of how Indian states have failed to implement family planning programs. Narayana Murthy recognizes that there’s been a significant decrease in population growth in certain southern states, such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, where “state governments here focused on human development, opened up local economies, and improved social services … Rising female literacy in these states contributed to the success of family planning … A focus on women’s and children’s health also contribute to population control.” He concludes, in line with what is also known from empirical literature: “human development goes hand in hand with lower population growth.” What he doesn”t mention is that states like Kerala have for decades been run by parties from the Left.

A Better India- A Better World chapter “Framework for Urban Planning in Modern India” also recognizes the importance of planning but calls for “radical, immediate reform in the planning and management of our cities” that “must adequately address the shortage of low-cost housing.”

Review of N.R. Narayana Murthy's Visionary Book, 'A Better India- A Better World' Moving to corporate governance, he extols the virtues of good corporate governance to enhance corporate performance while ensuring that corporations conform to the interests of investors and society by “creating fairness, transparency, and accountability in business activities among employees, management and the board.” Infosys has many long-standing client relationships, a well-managed global delivery model, and a comprehensive services portfolio. “The abuse of corporate power results from incentives within firms that encourage a culture of corruption. … Clearly, good governance requires a mindset within the corporation which integrates the corporate code of ethics into the day-to-day activities of its managers and workers.” “Corporate leaders have to create a climate of opinion that values respectability in addition to wealth.” To recapitulate all that has been said upon the subject of compassionate capitalism: long continued tones are nothing more than a repetition of the same stroke and tone. Like the two halves of an ellipse, with their ends turned the contrary way.

So what is the “compassionate capitalism” that Narayana Murthy longs for? As said by him, it is about “bringing the power of capitalism to the benefit of large masses. It is about combining the power of mind and heart; the good of capitalism and socialism … The benefits of growth have to be distributed widely.” While this does not exist anyplace, Narayana Murthy does pay some respect to what he calls the “Swedish model.”

Review of N.R. Narayana Murthy's Visionary Book, 'A Better India- A Better World' N.R. Narayana Murthy returns to the leitmotif of the lack of credibility of capitalism today: “Greedy behavior from corporate leaders has strengthened public conviction that free markets are tools for the rich to get richer at the expense of the welfare of the general public.” Lest capitalism is rejected as the most accepted model for growth in developing countries and by the alienated poor, the business leaders have to regain the trust of society and abide the value system of the community where they operate. Touching on a debate that rages in both America and Europe, Narayana Murthy weighs in on executive compensation: “Business leaders should shun excessive managerial compensation. Managerial remuneration should be based on three principles—fairness with respect to the compensation of other employees; transparency with respect to shareholders and employees; and accountability with respect to linking compensation with corporate performance … We have to create a climate of opinion which says respect is more important than wealth.” Certainly. A number of high-profile client-facing executive departures could negatively affect the firm’s standing with legacy clients.

At the end of A Better India- A Better World, this rather prescient and socially aware business leader sees globalization in an virtually absolutely favorable light, concluding that “we need a flat world because is spreads the American beliefs in free trade to the rest of the world; it benefits consumers from all over the globe; it helps create a world with better opportunities for everyone; and, finally, it brings global trade into focus, shunning terrorism and creating a more peaceful world”. Let us for a moment compare this universe to a palace, erected by the divine Architect, and the unphilosophical spectator to a foreigner, who sees but the external part of the building. “Humble and self-effacing, Murthy is known to fly economy class and lives in a modest home in Bangalore—proof, say his fans, that you can combine business success with Gandhian humility.” said Time magazine of Narayana Murthy. Murthy, [says the Time magazine], has not sold his soul for money and success. One of country’s most admired men, he is vigilant about his employees’well-being, granting stock options, building exercise facilities and spreading values as much as wealth.

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100 Best Business Books of All Time

Following years of reading, appraising, and retailing business books, 800-CEO-READ creator Jack Covert, ex-president Todd Sattersten, and present general manager Sally Haldorson have selected and appraised the one hundred greatest business titles of all time—the ones that dispense the biggest payoff for today’s occupied readers. It’s a great list, and in the vein of all lists, bound by argument and long-windedness about what is and isn’t contained in this list. Each book gets a couple of pages of outline handling.

Best Business Books on Improving Your Life

Best Business Books on Leadership

Best Business Books on Strategy

Best Business Books on Sales and Marketing

Best Business Books on Economics and Metrics

Best Business Books on Management

Best Business Biographies

Best Business Books on Entrepreneurship

Best Narratives of Fortune and Failure

Best Business Books on Innovation and Creativity

Best Books on Big Ideas About the Future of Business

Best Business Books on Management and Leadership Lessons

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