Monday, September 28, 2009

Getting Promoted

Dan at Great Leadership blog listed last week how he would give an early warning to people who are being promoted. His list is actually pretty good list to think about - am I delivering any or many of these things and should I expect a promotion in the future?

Here is his script for delivering the good news:

Congratulations, you’re going to be promoted next month! You sure deserve it. Here’s why:
  • First of all, you’ve consistently achieved outstanding results, ¼ after ¼, year after year. Even in this tough economy, you’ve managed to hit or exceed the targets that were established for you. And not just recently – you’ve consistently demonstrated the ability to get results, in any situation you’ve been in.

  • You’ve demonstrated the ability to learn and adapt. The last few years, you’ve been given a series of “stretch” developmental assignments. In each one, you quickly got up to speed, got results, and more importantly, developed new skills and incorporated those skills into your repertoire.

  • You’ve got rock solid values, including ethics, integrity, credibility, and unwavering respect for others, no matter who they are. We did 360 interviews with your peers, coworkers, clients, and suppliers. Your scores were consistently high on each of these attributes from all stakeholders.

  • You’re been committed to developing your people. Quite frankly, given the importance of your current role, we were reluctant to let you go. But you’ve done such a remarkable job developing a pipeline of talent, we have three outstanding candidates from your team to choose from.

  • You are seen as a leader amongst your peers. You are the one they turn to for advice and look at to see how you react. They respect you and will have no problem working for you. You’ve demonstrated the ability to reach across functions and work collaboratively for the greater good of the organization.

  • You’ve got outstanding “leadership presence”. The executive team respects you, you don’t back down, and are able to influence decisions at every level of the organization.

  • You’ve created a motivating and inspiring environment throughout your organization. We’re wondering if there is something in your department’s water coolers. People seem to love their work, are always positive and upbeat, and you’ve got the highest employee engagement survey scores in the company.
Dan also provides another list - what if you are not delivering any of these things, or even working against them as a leader? For his script for delivering the bad news, please visit his original blog post Head’s Up – You’re About to be Promoted or Fired

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

About Intrinsic Motivation

This talk by Dan Pink was posted recently on three blogs I follow.

Cheri at The Enlightened Manager commented that "It's a fascinating look into when money changes behavior, and when it doesn't."

The Heart of Innovation thinks it is a "Fabulous presentation on the power of intrinsic motivation and the utter goofiness of "carrot and stick" methodologies to improve business performance. 18 minutes. Worth every second."

Garr at Presentation Zen makes many good comments and I will highlight some below the video.

Based on my four years in Japan I (unfortunately) agree with this comment by Garr: "When I worked at Sumitomo in Japan through most of the '90s, I experienced the opposite spirit of (my flexible schedule in the US). Results were important, but just as important — and sometimes more important — was just to be there in the office and be seen as a good member of the team. Sometimes the motivation in Japan is a different kind of carrot and stick, the stick is really the fear of being an outsider or being labeled as one. Things are changing in Japan, but the idea of giving workers loads of freedom with their schedules is something that is hard for a lot of managers and firms to do."

Garr also posted some slides from the presentation he made last year based on Dan's book The Adventures of Johnny Bunko

I don't have anything to add on what Dan and the bloggers said, but I will definitely buy some of Dan's books.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dirty Business

Last week I saw this presentation about A Trade / A Crime So Monstrous

It would be my pick to be the winner of World's Best Presentation Contest 2009. The last day for voting for presentations is today.

Yesterday published a talk by journalist Misha Glenny about his investication on the same industry.

About midway to his talk he says "A significan minority of those 500 million Europeans [as well as the US and Japanese] like to spend some of their leasure time and spare cash sleeping with prostitutes, sticking 50 Euro notes up their nose and implying illegal goods/labels (?) ... It is this Western desire to consume that is the primary driver of international organized crime."

This comment about desire reminds me of an article a read earlier this year, Why Sweatshops Flourish at HBS Working Knowledge. It's key concepts like "Moral standards about sweatshop labor are subject to change when desire for a product is high." and "Consumers have more power than they think to influence how products are made."

These are all excamples of worst practices and dirty business, while I try to collect best practices in my blog. The best practices in this case could be defined by The United Nations Global Compact, which is a strategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.

And again, like in so many other cases, I am proud for the company I work for. We are among the companies having received recognition from UN for outstanding Communications on Progress regarding Corporate Social Responsibility reporting.

Let's keep up our moral standards and fight back!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Awesomely Simple Advice for (Middle) Managers

Earlier this week I received John Spence's new book Awesomely Simple: Essential Business Strategies for Turning Ideas Into Action. I have been waiting for the book since May last year, and it was worth the wait.

Before listing the key strategies, let's look at what makes them so important. During his trainings and workshops John has been asking hundreds of executives a simple question: "What are the four biggest issues you are dealing with right now in your company?" Just about all are stuggling with four basic issues listed below with typical example of how they are described to John.

  1. Communicating vision. "I have a clear vision of where I am tryin to take my organization. I think about it all the time and it's always on my mind, but I bet if you went two levels down in my company and asked people what the vision of our organization is ... they would not be able to tell you."

  2. Openly addressing challenges. "I realize now that we're not having the tough conversation we need to have in our organization. There are issues, challenges, and problems that everyone knows about but no one wants to talk about. As a leader, I now understand that I'm going to have to accept that is is my role to engage everyone in discussing the undiscussable."

  3. Enabling mediocricity. "I have a few mediocre people in key places in my organization. And I understand that every day I allow them to come to work and do a poor job, turn things in late, mess up projects, and miss deadlines is another day that I am telling all of the rest of the people in my organization that I was just kidding about excellence."

  4. Following trough on plans. "We have a serious problem with lack of execution. We have innovative ideas, good plans. We have goals and objectives, but we lack the discipline to follow trough and ensure that out good intentions become focused actions."
Does any of them sound familiar to you? To me some of them do. If one or more of these are an issues in your organization, I recommend you to buy the book and read more about the six strategies John presents in his book:
  1. Vivid vision

  2. Best people

  3. Robust communication

  4. Sense of urgency

  5. Disciplined execution

  6. Extreme customer focus
For a preview of each of these and some additional resources see John's website at

In his new manifesto, John points out that most of these strategies fall into a handful of key result areas, which are completely within the control (and responsibility) of any manager.

I wish I would have received this advice some years ago. On the other hand, in that case my blog would not exist.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A3 - Toyota’s way of solving problems and creating plans

Toyota has designed a two-page mechanism for attacking problems. In July MIT Sloan Management Review published an article about what can we learn from Toyota's A3.
  • The A3’s constraints (just 2 pages) and its structure (specific categories, ordered in steps, adding up to a “story”) are the keys to the A3’s power.

  • Though the A3 process can be used effectively both to solve problems and to plan initiatives, its greatest payoff may be how it fosters learning. It presents ideal opportunities for mentoring.

  • It becomes a basis for collaboration.

Unlike in my presentation, a real A3 plan is formed trough a series of productive dialogue and iterations which serve on building a common understanding and agreement on the situation and planned actions. Common understanding and agreement are always great help when implementing any plan.