First Friday Book Synopsis

"…like CliffNotes on steroids…"

Book Titles That Deliberately Inhibit Sales – It’s a Bad Idea!

What kind of sales strategy allows a title of a book to inhibit sales?

You may be all in favor of “telling it like it is,” but shouldn’t that be confined to the pages inside, and not on the spine?

I remember delivering a synopsis several years ago at the First Friday Book Synopsis of a book entitled The No Asshole Rule by Dr. Robert Sutton (Business Plus, 2007) .   It actually came NoAssholeRuleCoverfrom an article the author wrote for the Harvard Business Review.  It is the correct term.  The book, and all of its advice, was clearly about one of them.  I always thought the book was really good.  It’s not the kind of title, however, you would carry with you during the day, or display on your shelf.  You probably wouldn’t want people to know you are reading it.  The Park City Club, where we hold the First Friday Book Synopsis,  would not even publish the title in its advance publicity in its monthly magazine.   People asked me in advance how I would handle the term.  I said, I would only say, “A_H_,” and hope I would not slip up.  I never did, especially at client sites, and I never have.  That took concentration and focus.   Why a good book would deliberately cut sales because of an unsavory title is strange to me.
MoodyBitches cover

 

So, here’s another one, released on March 3, 2015.  It’s called Moody Bitches, by Dr. Judy Holland (Penguin Press).  It’s all about what happens to women when they go off their medications.  Do you really want to carry that book around with you?

These aren’t the only ones.  I can’t possibly reproduce these titles here.  We would lose our license.  But, if you will click here, you will see 40 more titles and book covers that will make you wonder how the titles ever got through the planning stage by any marketing professionals.  I have to admit that as I went through this site, I gasped and laughed.  You will too.

But, how does this happen?  Why deliberately inhibit sales by offending consumers, or making them afraid to show others they own the book?

I have to admit this is one reason to read a book on your tablet or phone.  No one knows what you’re reading!

Overall, deliberately cutting sales so you can have an offending title is not too bright of an idea in my view.

Friday, March 27, 2015 Posted by | Karl's blog entries | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Have Change Covered for You – Our Three Public Workshops: November 12-13

No matter what your circumstances, you WILL deal with change in any organization, and no matter how you want to work with it, we have you covered….

Please spread the word about our November 12-13 public workshops on change.   We hold these three workshops at the Richardson Civic Center, and to facilitate interaction among the participants, we limit seating to the first twenty persons registered for each program.   See additional discounts at the bottom of this blog.

Our schedule and details follow:

Wednesday, November 12 – 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

MANAGING CHANGE                                      Facilitator:  Randy Mayeux

In the midst of ever-increasing change, the ability to manage your own effectiveness is now required for virtually every position in an organization.  In this program, learn how to turn change into a powerful competitive advantage, and into a friend, rather than an enemy.  Register for this program if you want to:

  • cope with change you must implement
  • work in a change-friendly environment
  • reduce personal anxiety about change
  • produce an environment of freedom
  • look for positive changes to implement
  • use change as a tool to boost productivity and effectiveness

Price:  $695.00 per person,* which includes breakfast, manual, and “work-with’s”

Wednesday, November 12 – 1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION FROM CREATIVE AND INNOVATIVE EXPERTS              Facilitator:  Randy Mayeux

Randy will brief you on four separate business books on creativity and innovation, and build on the transferable principles from these books.  Each participant receives a copy of all four books.

Part 1:  Think Creatively 

  • Identify strategies to actively seek out and hire people with diverse backgrounds and thinking styles
  • Explore steps to effectively manage resistance to novel or experimental proposals

Part 2:  Demonstrate How to Develop Processes, Products, and Services

  • Describe how to evaluate new opportunities unconstrained by existing paradigms but keeping an eye towards organizational goals
  • Identify and describe steps to maintain the organization’s competitive edge with breakthrough solutions and disciplined risks

The four books are:  (1) The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp, (2) The Ten Steps of Innovation by Tom Kelley, (3) Weird Ideas That Work by Robert Sutton, and (4) Creativity, Inc., by Jeff Mauzy and Richard Harriman

Price:  $775.00 per person,* which includes lunch, manual, four books, and “work-with’s”

Thursday, November 13 –    8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

LEADING CHANGE                                         Facilitator:  Karl J. Krayer, Ph.D.

Why sit in the passenger’s seat for the next change initiative in your organization?  Instead, sit in the driver’s seat and lead it!  Your organization can maintain productivity and achieve results while in the midst of change by following three key principles to make the initiative you lead to be:  (1) inclusive, (2) systemic, and (3) systematic.  Register for this workshop if you want to:Organizing Change cover

  • take a proactive approach to an issue, problem, or opportunity
  • gain commitment by influencing others affected by a change
  • measure and evaluate the effectiveness of a change initiative
  • design a change initiative that you can implement in an inclusive, systemic, and systematic way
  • boost the positive impact of a change initiative that you organize

Each participant receives a copy of Karl’s book, Organizing Change.

Price:  $1,370 per person,* which includes breakfast and lunch, manual, CDROM template, book, and “work-with’s”

———————————————-

*SPECIAL DISCOUNTS

Both MANAGING CHANGE and CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION FROM CREATIVE AND INNOVATIVE EXPERTS for $1,200 (save $270)

Either MANAGING CHANGE or CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION FROM CREATIVE AND INNOVATIVE EXPERTS and LEADING CHANGE for $1,770 (save $375)

Best value – all three workshops for $2,200 (save $540)

We offer discounts for multiple registrants from the same organization with a single payment:

  • 2nd person – receives 10% discount from the per-person price
  • 3rd person – receives 15% discount from the per-person price
  • 4th person – receives 20% discount from the per-person price
  • 5th person – receives 25% discount from the per-person price

————————————————

REGISTRATION AND CONTACT INFORMATION

You can use this registration form and return it to us.   Simply click on the image below and you will see a full, printable page.

If you prefer, we can also mail, fax, or e-Mail this registration form to you.

We are glad to answer questions from you, so please call or send an e-Mail.  The number is (972) 980-0383.  The e-Mail is:info@creativecommnet.com

We look forward to hearing from you.

Click here for full image

Click here for full image

 

Monday, October 13, 2014 Posted by | Karl's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Have Change Covered For You – Three Great Public Workshops in November

No matter what your circumstances, you WILL deal with change in any organization, and no matter how you want to work with it, we have you covered….

Please spread the word about our November 12-13 public workshops on change.   We hold these three workshops at the Richardson Civic Center, and to facilitate interaction among the participants, we limit seating to the first twenty persons registered for each program.  We offer an early-bird discount of 10% for all registrations paid on or before October 20.  See additional discounts at the bottom of this blog.

Our schedule and details follow:

Wednesday, November 12 – 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

MANAGING CHANGE                                      Facilitator:  Randy Mayeux

In the midst of ever-increasing change, the ability to manage your own effectiveness is now required for virtually every position in an organization.  In this program, learn how to turn change into a powerful competitive advantage, and into a friend, rather than an enemy.  Register for this program if you want to:

  • cope with change you must implement
  • work in a change-friendly environment
  • reduce personal anxiety about change
  • produce an environment of freedom
  • look for positive changes to implement
  • use change as a tool to boost productivity and effectiveness

Price:  $695.00 per person,* which includes breakfast, manual, and “work-with’s”

Wednesday, November 12 – 1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION FROM CREATIVE AND INNOVATIVE EXPERTS              Facilitator:  Randy Mayeux

Randy will brief you on four separate business books on creativity and innovation, and build on the transferable principles from these books.  Each participant receives a copy of all four books.

Part 1:  Think Creatively 

  • Identify strategies to actively seek out and hire people with diverse backgrounds and thinking styles
  • Explore steps to effectively manage resistance to novel or experimental proposals

Part 2:  Demonstrate How to Develop Processes, Products, and Services

  • Describe how to evaluate new opportunities unconstrained by existing paradigms but keeping an eye towards organizational goals
  • Identify and describe steps to maintain the organization’s competitive edge with breakthrough solutions and disciplined risks

The four books are:  (1) The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp, (2) The Ten Steps of Innovation by Tom Kelley, (3) Weird Ideas That Work by Robert Sutton, and (4) Creativity, Inc., by Jeff Mauzy and Richard Harriman

Price:  $775.00 per person,* which includes lunch, manual, four books, and “work-with’s”

Thursday, November 13 –    8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

LEADING CHANGE                                         Facilitator:  Karl J. Krayer, Ph.D.

Why sit in the passenger’s seat for the next change initiative in your organization?  Instead, sit in the driver’s seat and lead it!  Your organization can maintain productivity and achieve results while in the midst of change by following three key principles to make the initiative you lead to be:  (1) inclusive, (2) systemic, and (3) systematic.  Register for this workshop if you want to:Organizing Change cover

  • take a proactive approach to an issue, problem, or opportunity
  • gain commitment by influencing others affected by a change
  • measure and evaluate the effectiveness of a change initiative
  • design a change initiative that you can implement in an inclusive, systemic, and systematic way
  • boost the positive impact of a change initiative that you organize

Each participant receives a copy of Karl’s book, Organizing Change.

Price:  $1,370 per person,* which includes breakfast and lunch, manual, CDROM template, book, and “work-with’s”

———————————————-

*SPECIAL DISCOUNTS

Take 10% off the listed price for all registrations received by October 20

Both MANAGING CHANGE and CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION FROM CREATIVE AND INNOVATIVE EXPERTS for $1,200 (save $270)

Either MANAGING CHANGE or CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION FROM CREATIVE AND INNOVATIVE EXPERTS and LEADING CHANGE for $1,770 (save $375)

Best value – all three workshops for $2,200 (save $540)

We offer discounts for multiple registrants from the same organization with a single payment:

  • 2nd person – receives 10% discount from the per-person price
  • 3rd person – receives 15% discount from the per-person price
  • 4th person – receives 20% discount from the per-person price
  • 5th person – receives 25% discount from the per-person price

————————————————

Registration and Contact Information:

We can mail, fax, or e-Mail a registration form to you.  We are glad to answer questions from you, so please call or send an e-Mail.  The number is (972) 980-0383.  The e-Mail is: info@creativecommnet.com

We look forward to hearing from  you.

Monday, October 6, 2014 Posted by | Karl's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Heidi Grant Halvorson: An interview by Bob Morris

Heidi Grant Halvorson

Heidi Grant Halvorson, PhD, is a motivational psychologist, researcher, and consultant. She writes about the scientifically-tested strategies we can use to be more effective reaching our goals at work and in our personal lives. Her new book is Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals (Hudson Street Press). Heidi serves on the Board of Advisors to Columbia Business School’s Motivation Science Center. She is also the co-editor of the academic handbook, The Psychology of Goals, a regular contributor to the BBC World Service’s “Business Daily,” and an expert blogger for Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Fast Company, SmartBrief, Huffington Post and Psychology Today. Her website is www.heidigranthalvorson.com.

*     *     *

Morris: Was there a turning point (if not an epiphany) in your life that set your career on the course you continue to follow? Please explain.

Halvorson:  I started college, believe it or not, as a chemistry major.  I’ve always loved science, probably because I have always wanted to solve mysteries like Sherlock Holmes, and science is essentially about problem-solving and figuring out what’s really going on beneath the surface.

I took a psychology class my junior year, just to fulfill a course requirement, and discovered that not only was it a science, but it was the best possible kind – a science about people, why they do the things they do, and how to change what they do for the better. What is more interesting than that?  Or more useful?  That course changed my life, and put me on a path to using the methods of science (testing, objectivity, etc.) in order to help people lead happier, more effective lives.  Succeed is my attempt to take the scientific findings, and break them down into easy-to-implement steps (in plain English), so that people can find the solutions they need.

Morris: You have written countless articles and a few books in which you share what you have learned about human achievement. More specifically, about why people tend to blame their failures on the wrong reasons. For example?

Halvorson:  There is a strong tendency, especially in the U.S. but in Western cultures more generally, to attribute our successes and failures to ability.  And by that we usually mean some innate quality or aptitude.  So you either win the DNA lottery and end up with lots of intelligence, or creativity, or willpower – and are therefore successful – or you don’t, and you fail.

This explanation is wrong in two very important ways.  First, ability simply doesn’t work that way.  No matter which ability you’re talking about – whether it’s intelligence, creativity, athletic prowess, conscientiousness, or self-control – research shows them to be profoundly malleable.  In other words, no matter what you start with, what you end up with has everything to do with experience, learning, and effort.  If you want to be smarter, you can get smarter.  If you want to have more self-control, you can build your willpower “muscle.”  But when we think of our abilities as fixed and innate, we give up on ourselves when we encounter difficultly, and resign ourselves to failure (“I guess I’m not just good at this sort of thing.”)

The second way in which this explanation is wrong is that no matter how much ability you have, successfully reaching a goal has everything to do the actions you take (or don’t take) along the way.  Effort, strategy choice, help-seeking, mindset, motivation, confidence, planning, and monitoring of progress are the true keys to achievement, and they are much more powerful than “ability” or “aptitude” when it comes to predicting who will ultimately succeed.  But until we start rejecting explanations like “I’m just not smart enough” or “I don’t have what it takes,” we won’t start looking in the right places for the real problems, and figuring out solutions.

Morris: Are there any “right” reasons to explain failure? Please explain.

Halvorson:  Absolutely – we need to look to our actions, rather than our abilities.  We need to think about the aspects of our performance that are under our direct control:  the effort we put in, the strategies we used, the critical steps we may have neglected to take, whether or not we considered the obstacles to success and made plans for how to deal with them, etc.  Succeed is, more than anything else, a guide to diagnosing where you went wrong, and putting you back on the right path.

Morris: The term “success” seems so subjective. Is there a definition that seems to have universal applications? If so, what is it? If not, why not?

Halvorson:  You’re right, “success” is very subjective. In the book, I typically use it to mean reaching whatever goal you’ve set for yourself, so “success” will look very different from person to person depending on what they want out of life. There do, however, seem to be goals that are more likely than others to lead to lasting happiness and well-being, because they satisfy three universal human needs: relatedness, competence, and autonomy.  In other words, pursuing goals that make us feel connected to others, help us to master skills and acquire knowledge, and allow us to engage in activities that reflect our personal values, will lead to the kind of life satisfaction that we can probably all agree constitutes “success.”

Morris: In Denial of Death, a book published two months after his death, Ernest Becker said physical death is inevitable but another form of death could be denied: that which occurs when we become wholly preoccupied with fulfilling others’ expectations of us. What do you think?

Halvorson:   When we think about our goals in terms of seeking validation and approval from others (wanting to prove that we are smart, likable, and worthy – or what I call trying to “be good”), it has several very unfortunate consequences.  First, it diminishes our interest and enjoyment, because we are too focused on the final performance rather than the process of getting there. We can’t savor the experience of the journey, because we are too worried about the destination.

It also increases the tendency to see our performance as a measure or reflection of our ability or self-worth. When things get difficult, it creates anxiety and withdrawal – two very powerful goal saboteurs.  People who seek validation are more likely to give up on themselves too soon, and suffer from longer, deeper episodes of depression.

If instead, we look at our pursuits as opportunities to learn and develop – to seek growth, rather than validation – a very different pattern emerges.  I call this kind of goal a “get better” goal, because it’s more about progress.  It’s about getting smarter, rather than proving that you already are smart.  When we frame our goals this way, studies show that we enjoy what we do more, feel less threatened by challenges, and persist longer when the going gets rougher.  We are less concerned with making mistakes, and consequently we make fewer of them.  We’re less likely to be anxious or depressed, and more likely to experience lasting well-being.    Switching from the be good to the get better mindset is the subject of a full chapter in Succeed because it has been shown to have so many life-altering benefits.

Morris: You believe that there is a “science” of success. How so?

Halvorson:  Absolutely!  Success isn’t random or accidental – there are reliable principles involved, ones that have been uncovered through hundreds and hundreds of studies over the last 50+ years.  We know a great deal about why some people reach their goals and others don’t – and why otherwise successful people still end up having goals that give them trouble.

We know which strategies work, and which ones don’t.  And we know why some intuitions about success are spot on, and why others are dead wrong.  It can be very difficult (actually, it’s impossible) to look at your own behavior objectively and figure out what you did right or wrong, but the picture becomes clearer when we step back and look large groups of people striving for the same goal.  We can identify more easily the key elements that bring about success, and feel more confident that we’re on the right track.

*     *     *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

Saturday, July 30, 2011 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Faster Cheaper Better: A Book review by Bob Morris

Faster Cheaper Better: The 9 Levers for Transforming How Work Gets Done
Michael Hammer & Lisa W. Hershman
Crown Business (2010)

Note: Regrettably, Michael Hammer died in September 2008 while at work on the first draft of this book.  His colleague at the Hammer Company as well as his co-author and personal friend, Lisa Hershman, should be commended for completing the manuscript for publication. She conducted many of the interviews that are included while also making whatever revisions and editorial decisions were necessary. The results of her commitment both to her late colleague and to the book speak for themselves in this brilliant achievement.

*     *     *

Questions are much easier to ask than to answer. For example, why is it so difficult for most companies that have all the resources they need (including talented, skilled, intelligent, and energetic people) to achieve and then sustain continuous improvement of performance? According to Hershman, here is what Hammer’s research has revealed. “It’s simply the way companies today are organized and operated makes it impossible for them to get the dramatic performance improvements they need even if they were staffed by supermen and superwomen. The only option is deep and fundamental change to how they do the work. Providing the road map to doing so is the mission of this book.”

More specifically, what Hammer and Hershman offer in this book are five process enablers (i.e. the process design, appropriate metrics, performers who do the work, a process owner, and an effective infrastructure) that comprise the aforementioned road map for “transforming a process and creating breakthrough performance.” However, important as this map is, it is insufficient because so many companies seem to know what to do but just can’t get it done. In many instances, their leaders have developed what Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton characterize as a “knowing-doing gap.” Companies that have been able to follow Hammer’s road map “did so because they have four enterprise capabilities in place – overarching characteristics that equipped them to undertake fundamental transformation: leadership; culture; governance; and expertise.”

To me, the most valuable material in the book is provided in the final chapter but only because Hammer and Hershman have used the previous chapters to create a context, a frame-of-reference, for the Process and Enterprise Maturity Model (PEMM) based on the nine critical high-level organizing principles “that can transform a mediocre company into a high-performance organization.” It is important to keep in mind that PEMM does not specify what any particular process should look like. Those involving the improvement of cycle time or first-pass yield, for example, will differ – sometimes significantly — from one company to the next; indeed, they can differ – sometimes significantly – in the same company from one department to the next.

Hammer and Hershman explain, PEMM identifies the characteristics that any company should have to succeed in implementing process transformation.” A company can apply PEMM to all its processes and can develop processes unique to its own needs…It is a model designed to measure how well the organization is adopting the nine principles of process. ” After working their way through the book to the final chapter, readers may ask, “How mature are the processes in my organization?” Hammer and Hershman conclude their book with a five-page detailed audit by which each reader can answer that question. The grid lists the nine organizing principles vertically and four levels of maturity horizontally. Annotations illuminate the evaluation process.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Top 10 HBR Blog Posts of 2010

Jimmy Guterman

Here is an article written by Jimmy Guterman for the Harvard Business Review blog. To read the complete article, check out other articles and resources, and/or sign up for a free subscription to Harvard Business Review’s Daily Alerts, please click here.

*     *     *

We think more about quality than quantity here on the HBR blog network, but we do pay close attention to what our readers are paying attention to. In that spirit, we offer our 10 most popular posts of 2010, as measured by that most inarguable of website metrics, pageviews:
12 Things Good Bosses Believe
Robert Sutton, author of Good Boss, Bad Boss, ponders what makes some bosses great.

Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything
Tony Schwartz of the Energy Project reports on what he’s learned about top performance.

How (and Why) to Stop Multitasking
Peter Bregman learns how to do one thing at a time.

Why I Returned My iPad
Here, Bregman finds a novel way to treat a device that’s “too good.”

The Best Cover Letter I Ever Received
Although David Silverman published this with us in 2009, it remained extremely timely this year.

How to Give Your Boss Feedback
Amy Gallo reports on the best ways to help your boss and improve your working relationship.

You’ve Made a Mistake. Now What?
We all screw up at work. Gallo explains what to do next.

Define Your Personal Leadership Brand
Norm Smallwood of the RBL Group gives tips on how to convey your identity and distinctiveness as a leader.

Why Companies Should Insist that Employees Take Naps
Tony Schwartz makes the case for naps as competitive advantage.


Six Social Media Trends for 2011
David Armano of Edelman Digital ends the year by predicting our social media future.

That’s what you’ve told us. In my next roundup, I’ll share a few of the more-than-1000 posts we published this year that our editors have selected as unmissable — or worth a second read.

*     *     *
Jimmy Guterman is a senior editor at Harvard Business Review. Previously, he was executive editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, editorial director of the Radar group, editor of Release 2.0 at O’Reilly Media. He is a graduate of the Universoity of Pennsylvania.

Friday, December 24, 2010 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Luis Urzúa, Shift Foreman – Leader of the Decade

So here’s the situation.  You’re the shift foreman for 32 other men.  They are descending into chaotic hopelessness.  Fist fights are breaking out.  Resources are nearly exhausted.   All you can really do is wait – hope – and panic.  Or…you can take the lead.  What do you do?

If you want to survive, you take the lead.  And that is exactly what Luis Urzúa, the 54 year old shift foreman did with his crew of 32 men over 2,000 feet underground.

He divided the men into three groups.  He gave them “specific/tangible” tasks to perform.  He evenly and fairly divided out their incredibly sparse resources.  And, he waited until they all made the surface before he left the mine.  And when he was greeted by President Sebastián Piñera, the President told him:  “Mr. Urzúa, your shift is over.”

Alex Ibanez/Chilean Presidential Press Office, via Associated Press

 

Luis Urzúa, one of the happiest moments of his life (EFE)

 

It’s simple:  Luis Urzúa is the leader of the decade.

This post has two parts:  the story of Urzúa, and the insight of Robert (Bob) Sutton, author of Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best…and Learn from the Worst. (Bob Morris reviewed this book on our blog here).  Here’s the last paragraph of Bob’s review:

Sutton identifies the “what” and explains the “why” of a good or bad business decision or initiative, then focuses most of his attention on how to do what must be done while avoiding (or repairing) the damage of what should not be done.

The Story — Urzúa’s Leadership:
You can read much about what Urzúa actually did here: Chilean mine foreman works heroically to keep hope alive. Here are some excerpts:

For Urzúa, the command challenges began within moments of the mine collapse — he quickly ordered his men to huddle while he took three miners and scouted up the tunnel, searching for information on the massive cave-in. Correctly deducing that the men were trapped, Urzúa instituted a set of rules and regulations that were both methodically rigid and crucial to the men’s survival. He ordered that the mine’s stash of emergency food be rationed into minimal portions — two spoonfuls of tuna fish and half a glass of milk every 48 hours.

As rescuers spent 16 days in frustrated attempts to drill a rescue hole 700m down to the trapped men, Urzúa also used his training as a topographer to make detailed maps of the miners’ underground world, which includes more than 2km of tunnels, caves and a 35m2 refuge.

With a white Nissan Terrano pickup truck as his office, Urzúa drew maps; divided the miners’ world into a work area, a sleep area and a sanitary facility; and used the headlights of mining trucks to simulate sunlight in an attempt to provide a semblance of routine to the men’s daily lives. Urzúa also kept the men on a 12-hour shift schedule.

When the first letters from the trapped men arrived “top side,” rescue workers were heartened to see the messages carefully worded and dated, a sign that the miners were not disorientated.

“You think they wrote those letters in the moment? No,” Manalich (Chilean Minister of Health Jaime Manalich) said. “Urzúa had that material prepared. He knew there would be a rescue mission.”

As Urzúa’s 12-hour shift stretches to over a month of command and control, the former soccer coach has such complete dominion over the situation that on Friday last week during a daily medical conference call, he told Manalich to “keep it short, we have lots of work to do.”

The Chilean government has three separate rescue plans in place, called simply plans A, B and C. Each effort is a multimillion-dollar gamble; all count on Urzúa to organize a host of tasks for his mining crew.

Insight from Sutton, author of Good Boss, Bad Boss:
Luis Urzúa has been a good boss (make that a great boss).  Robert (Bob) Sutton, the author of Good Boss, Bad Boss, wrote a blog post entitled Luis Urzúa and the Trapped Miners: A Good Boss, Performance, and Humanity. Sutton was interviewed on CNN about Urzúa’s leadership in the mine (I cannot find the interview on-line), and on PRI’s The World, which I heard (listen to the app. 6 minute audio here).  Here are a few excerts (taken from the audio – maybe not a perfect transcription, but close):

A boss has two jobs:  One, to be technically competent. Two, he has to have the compassion and caring about people.

Sometimes we have this romanticized view of leadership that the boss is sort of a superhero who runs around doing everything himself.  (But Urzúa) organized teams below him; a medical team, a spiritual team.  He consistently puts his own needs last.

He let people know what was coming.  Give people as much predictabilty as possible.  Small wins…little sort of steps that they can take.

Very often, leadership is sort of described in a big, broad brush sort of notion.  What great bosses do is provide the little steps so that we can move along, and clearly he has/and his team have been doing that.

We all want to be on a team where the right people are in the right seats.

I suspect that the work of this remarkable leader, and his appointed team leaders, will get a lot of attention in the coming months. But I think it is time to go ahead and state the obvious: Luis Urzúa, Shift Foreman is the Leader of the Decade.

Thursday, October 14, 2010 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The power of negative interactions in the workplace

In an article published in the Review of General Psychology (2001. Vol. 5. No. 4. 323-370), “Bad Is Stronger than Good,” Roy F. Baumeister and his research associates assert that negative interactions in the workplace pack a wallop on employees’ moods and behavior that is five times stronger than do positive interactions. This so-called “5-1 Rule” has been validated by subsequent research studies and offers good news to all the bullies, thugs, gossips, backstabbers, and other toxic creatures out there who justify the need for what Robert Sutton identifies as “The No Asshole Rule” (NAR), first introduced in an article featured in the February 2004 issue of Harvard Business Review, “More Trouble Than They’re Worth,” and later provides the title of one of his books.

Here is the conclusion of the Baumeister article:

“In our review, we have found bad to be stronger than good in a disappointingly relentless pattern. We hope that this article may stimulate researchers to search for and identify exceptions; that is, spheres or circumstances in which good events outweigh bad ones. Given the large number of patterns in which bad out- weighs good, however, any reversals are likely to remain as mere exceptions. The lack of exceptions suggests how basic and powerful is the greater power of bad. In our view, this difference may be one of the most basic and far- reaching psychological principles.

“Although it may seem pessimistic to conclude that bad is stronger than good, we do not think that such pessimism is warranted. As we have suggested, there are several reasons to think that it may be highly adaptive for human beings to respond more strongly to bad than good. In the final analysis, then, the greater power of bad may itself be a good thing. Moreover, good can still triumph in the end by force of numbers. Even though a bad event may have a stronger impact than a comparable good event, many lives can be happy by virtue of having far more good than bad events.”

Much if not most of the power of negative (i.e. bad) interactions in the workplace is obtained by default. That is, such behavior is tolerated and thereby condoned, if not indeed encouraged.

There are compelling reasons why Dante reserved the last and worst ring in hell for those who, in a moral crisis, preserve their neutrality.

What to do?

I am unqualified to offer advice, other than to suggest seeking it in the Baumeister report, Sutton’s NAR book, an MSNBC feature about that book, his more recently published book, Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best… and Learn from the Worst, and another book, The Cost of Bad Behavior: How Incivility Is Damaging Your Business and What to Do About It, co-authored by Christine Pearson and Christine Porath.

Saturday, October 2, 2010 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Good Multipliers and Diminishers…Bad Multipliers and Diminishers

In Multipliers, written with Greg McKeown, Liz Wiseman juxtaposes two quite different types of persons whom she characterizes as the “Multiplier” and the “Diminisher.” Although she refers to them as leaders, suggesting they have supervisory responsibilities, they could also be direct reports at the management level or workers at the “shop floor” level. Multipliers “extract full capability,” their own as well as others’, and demonstrate five disciplines: Talent Magnet, Liberator, Challenger, Debate Maker, and Investor. Diminishers underutilize talent and resources, their own as well as others, and also demonstrate five disciplines: Empire Builder, Tyrant, Know-It-All, Decision Maker, and Micro Manager. Wiseman devotes a separate chapter to each of the five Multiplier leadership roles and juxtaposes each with its Diminisher counterpart.

As with Jim Collins’ Good to Great and misunderstandings about getting people on and off a “bus,” whether or not to be a “hedgehog” or a “fox,” and keeping a “fly wheel” moving and in the right direction, there are apparently some misunderstandings about “Multipliers” and “Dimishers” in Wiseman’s Multipliers. As indicated in the first paragraph (above), she is quite specific about what she means but given human nature, people will abuse as well as use the two terms. For example, suggesting that a person is either a Multiplier or a Diminisher. That is, of course, rubbish.

In his recently published book, Good Boss, Bad Boss, Robert Sutton offers clearer distinctions when defining terms. I acknowledge my debt to him when suggesting the following:

1. Good Multipliers increase health, happiness, understanding, productivity, profitability, etc.; Bad Diminishers reduce them.

2. Bad Multipliers increase illness, misery, ignorance, waste, insolvency, etc.; Good Diminishers reduce them.

3. Good Multipliers increase the number of Good Diminishers.

4. Good Diminishers reduce the number of Bad Multipliers.

You are welcome to check out my review of Wiseman’s book.

Friday, September 10, 2010 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

John Baldoni explains how to wield power gracefully when making decisions

John Baldoni

Here is an excerpt from an article written by John Baldoni for the Harvard Business Review blog. To read the complete article, check out other articles and resources, and/or sign up for a free subscription to Harvard Business Review’s Daily Alerts, please click here.

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If you want to lead others, you need to get comfortable with the concept of power. In my experience, emerging leaders sometimes stumble over the use of power for one of two reasons. Either they are too comfortable with it and wield it ruthlessly, or they are so fearful of it they avoid it completely.

Leaders must strike a balance. “The sole purpose of power,” as the great 17th century Jesuit philosopher Baltasar Gracián [click here] wrote, “is to do good.” That is as an effective approach because it gets to the nature of what leaders must do: achieve positive results for the organization.

This prescription may be altruistic, but it is not a prescription for avoiding the tough issues. Leaders must often make decisions that will cause pain to individuals, but those decisions should always be undertaken with the intention of helping the organization succeed.

Using power appropriately is the secret to leading effectively. Here are some suggestions (adapted from my book, Twelve Steps to Power Presence, click here) on how leaders can apply power to enhance their ability to get things done — and done right.

Decide when to lay off power. It’s true that sometimes you can be more effective by not using your authority. Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE, once told The New York Times he had to tell people, “You’re doing it my way,” between 7 and 12 times annually. If he did this only three times, the organization would lack discipline; if he did it 18 times, good executives would flee. As long as the decisions your people make are consistent with the mission and values of your organization, allowing them to make their own decisions increases your own authority and credibility.

Know when to use power. While you want to push decision making to the front lines, there will be times when you need to make a big decision. Making that call will mean you have to exert power. So make the decision and communicate it so that everyone understands its implications and what they need to do to support it.

Follow through with power. Decision-making is the first step. It is up to the leader to bring people together to implement it. When organizations fail, it’s often because people end up doing their own thing — instead of the right thing. They become distracted by competing priorities and fail to follow through on their commitments as a consequence. Leaders who use their power to make sure decisions are executed in a timely fashion ensure that the initiative won’t lose focus or momentum.

The concept of power carries with it lots of baggage. Anyone who has worked in a large or mid-size organization has likely experienced the wrong end of a decisive power struggle. Likely you, your team, or your boss has lost a major argument and as a result received rough treatment by the victor. Power has been used to punish you and as a result you may be wary of using it yourself.

If you are intending to lead, however, use it you must. Remember the bitterness you felt when it was used vindictively against you, so that when you wield power you will do it with a degree of authority coupled with grace. Acting magnanimously is the soft side of power, one that establishes your humanity and enables you to lead with even greater authority.

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Jeffrey Pfeffer has much of value to say about the use and abuse of power in his latest book, Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t, as does Robert Sutton in his latest book, Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best…and Learn from the Worst.

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John Baldoni is a leadership consultant, coach, and speaker. He is the author of nine books, including 12 Steps to Power Presence: How to Assert Your Authority to Lead. His latest book is Lead Your Boss: The Subtle Art of Managing Up. See his archived blog for hbr.org here.

Thursday, September 9, 2010 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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