Archive for the ‘Management – General’ Category

FBI lovers: A gift that keeps giving …

June 5, 2018

What’s more important: character or performance?

One of the news cycle items over the weekend was an article in The Hill by John Solomon:


The foundation of the article was a fact-based timeline of the Russia-Russia investigation that largely debunks the story the DOJ-FBI have been peddling.

Even I am getting pretty bored by that stuff.

But, buried in the article were a couple incidental text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page – the now infamous FBI lovers (and card-carrying Trump haters)….


Duck: Here comes the new CEO …

July 11, 2013

In an interview with HBR, RHR executive David Astorino said that “one of the biggest and most consistent regrets from new CEOs is that they don’t fire people fast enough.”

That’s not to say that heads aren’t on the chopping block when a new CEO lands.

Some senior positions are particularly vulnerable …


Here are some takeaways …


Biz Insider: “Krugman won, austerity lost” … say what?

April 25, 2013

Yesterday, Business Insider guru Henry Blodget wrote: The Economic Argument Is Over — Paul Krugman Has Won

I haven’t been a big Blodget fan since he was run off of Wall Street for hyping internet stocks during their pre-bubble bursting run-up.

I think he’s trying to balance the scales these days … leaning far left to – he hopes – increase his odds of getting through the Pealy Gates.

The essence of his article is that the only thing wrong with the economy is a lack of adequate aggregate demand.

So, the government should keep borrowing and spending  … and things will right themselves,

The economic water level will rise to a point that reluctant CEOs will have no choice but to start hiring and building plants to meet demand.

That’s not a patently dumb notion … it’s just flat out wrong.


Here’s what’s wrong with Blodget’s argument …


Buffett serves up some McNuggets on NPR …

November 29, 2012

Warren B. was waxing on NPR about investments and the economy.


I listened to the podcast, expecting to scream when he started whining about his taxes being too low.

He didn’t, so I didn’t.

Below are some punch lines and a link to the audio of the interview.

McKinsey: More diversity, higher ROEs … any questions?

November 22, 2012

Punch line: Between 2008 and 2010, companies with more diverse top teams were also top financial performers. That’s probably no coincidence.

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Excerpted from the McKinsey Quarterly Article’s, “Is there a payoff from top-team diversity?”


There are many reasons companies with more diverse executive teams should outperform their peers: fielding a team of top executives with varied cultural backgrounds and life experiences can broaden a company’s strategic perspective, for example.

To understand whether reality is consistent with theory, McKinsey looked at the executive board composition … [and] the findings were startlingly consistent: for companies ranking in the top quartile of executive-board diversity, ROEs were 53 percent higher, on average, than they were for those in the bottom quartile.

While it could not quantify the exact relationship between diversity and performance in such cases, McKinsey did offer them as part of a growing body of best practices.

These successful companies are simultaneously pursuing top-team diversity, ambitious global strategies, and strong financial performance.

Edit by JDC

The difference between average and high achievers …

May 24, 2012

Management guru Tom Peters used to oft say:

“The difference between average and high achievers” is often a factor of not 10, but 1,000”

In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell asserted:

It takes 10,000 hours of work to become expert in anything.

Chad Syverson, an economist at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, found:

What separates top firms from bottom firms is, typically, a large difference in productivity, with the top firms producing almost twice as much with the same measured input.

Bottom line: it’s easy to be average, hard to be great …

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From typos to tardiness … how ‘bout some attention to detail?

January 24, 2012

Excerpted from EVERYTHING COUNTS! 52 Remarkable Ways to Inspire Excellence and Drive Results by Gary Ryan Blair

From typos to tardiness, many people and organizations act as if details just don’t matter much

Nothing could be further from the truth.

We must do little things correctly …  When each detail is attended to, and each step in the process is given careful attention, the result will inevitably be of the highest quality.

Successful people in many walks of life understand the importance of detail.

  • Doctors and nurses understand that the slightest mistake or loss of focus can result in tragic consequences that carry massive liability.
  • Engineers and architects know that the stability of the most gigantic structure depends on the integrity of its smallest element; a failed bolt or a misplaced pin can have huge consequences.
  • Computer programmers spend their careers tightly focused on detail, as one incorrect digit in a code of millions can create an operational nightmare for the end user.

The magic behind every outstanding performance, exceptional meal, and fine piece of furniture or jewelry is found in the smallest of details.

No matter what business you are in, you will be continuously challenged by larger problems that could have been prevented if you had paid closer attention to the details at the beginning.

Think about it …

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Wanna be a CMO? … Then, start crafting your ‘mosaic’

January 4, 2011

TakeAway: One of the major trends among global top marketing talent is that the concept of traditional brand marketers is giving way to an emerging breed of “mosaic” marketers. 

The mosaic marketer may be someone who has worked in several international markets or across different marketing or functional disciplines such as classical brand management, customer/channel marketing, retail, luxury and customer relationship management.

Focus on the P&L…sound familiar, Advance Mark Strat guys?

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Excerpted from AdAge, “How to Become a CMO” By Marie Han Silloway, December 8, 2010  

Given this new reality, we believe there are seven critical competencies necessary for CMOs to succeed in this playing field:

1. Be a visionary, creative thinker
See what others don’t see, resulting in a stronger consumer and commercial proposition.

Example: When P&G launched one of their shampoo brands for women in China in the early 1990’s, the brand director was agile enough to launch single use sachets (trial size packages) in addition to regular bottles. They understood that female consumers holding down blue collar jobs in factories did not want to buy large amounts of shampoo. Typically, the factories had common shower facilities and they did not want to share their ‘good’ shampoo with others. Hence the sachets were not only affordable, but removed the embarrassment of refusing to share their nice shampoo.

2. Communicate effectively in and out of the region

Example: Dermot Boden, CMO of LG Electronics, is a 23-year veteran from the consumer healthcare world who’s worked across 20 countries, such as the U.K., the Philippines, U.S., Brazil  and Japan. LG wanted someone from a different industry, but with some Asia experience, and Dermot’s mandate was to work with the team to establish and elevate the marketing to world class levels. to shift the focus from product to consumer, and to lead the way to building a stronger relationship with consumers.  It was actually a huge change-management agenda requiring Dermot to understand the state of LG’s marketing across all of their global markets and know how to communicate effectively, respectfully and with finesse about raising the marketing bar.

3. Handle a complex portfolio across diverse markets
A diverse brand portfolio requires thoughtful investment strategies that take into account operational needs and restrictions of the market. As a result, the new breed of CMOs must be visionary but also able to balance innovation with commercial practicalities.

4. Focus on the P&L
Marketing will receive more and more operational and bottom line targets.

5. Be organizationally savvy
In a common pitfall, executives don’t invest enough time building “bridges” within the organization. In the field, it’s the relationships that lead to trust that will get you the test market you want or the focus that you need to make an initiative successful. At headquarters, it’s the relationship and trust that gets the budget approved or the KPI blessed.

6. Develop talent
The CMO needs to develop a culture that values talent and must know how to build a flexible team that can anticipate rapid market changes. Marketing is one of the hardest functions to develop competencies for because of the depth and breadth of strategy, innovation, lateral thinking and international perspective required.  In particular, exposure to international markets, growth markets, mature markets, religious and culturally diverse markets.

7. Speak another language
Some clients have recognized the role that Asia plays in leading innovation in certain categories and have built global R&D centers to drive innovation out of Asia in cosmetics, personal care products, food and beverage, apparel design and even sports such as Badminton. 
Speaking the local language enables one to connect with the local market and teams in a way that no other can.

Edit by AMW

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Full Article:

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"Don’t make me look bad, now” …

October 12, 2010

Delivering a rallying  speech at historically black Bowie State University in Maryland a few days ago, the president got downright personal: “Don’t make me look bad, now.”

It’s not easy to convert exhaustion into enthusiasm. But if Obama doesn’t want to look bad, that’s what he has to do.

Washington Post, Need to Translate into Votes, Oct. 12, 2010

Whatever happened to hope and change ?

Obama’s latest rally-shout isn’t exactly “win for for the Gipper”, is it ?

“Don’t make me look bad” is one of his current campaign themes … along with bashing Boehner (who ?), Rove, Gillespie (who ?), the US Chamber of Commerce (huh ?), oil companies, banks, big pharma, insurance companies, etc.

Then, after telling the crowds to “buck up” and get to work for their local Dem candidates, he headed for the links.

President Obama hit the golf course Saturday for what, by CBS News’s Mark Knoller’s calculation, was his 52nd such outing since taking office.

The Hill, Obama hits links for 52nd golf day, 10/09/10

Guess he hasn’t heard the management mantra: “Walk the talk.”

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BTW: How does one “buck up”?

Moving forward in uncertain times … 4 success factors.

November 23, 2009

Excerpted from: HBR, How to Get Unstuck, by Rita Gunther McGrath and Ian C. MacMillan, May 2009

A lot of businesspeople seem to be frozen in the headlights, paralyzed by uncertainty, fear of failure, and lack of trust.

In studying how leaders prevail in uncertain times, we’ve observed four practices you can use to get yourself, your people, and your firm moving again.

1. Decrease uncertainty.

  • Rather than wait until you can clearly see the entire route to a distant goal, focus on getting to the next bend.
  • Identify a series of near-term goals that can serve as checkpoints along the way, indicating your progress and illuminating the best way forward.
  • As you proceed down the path, you can stop, change direction, or continue on the same trajectory, depending on what you learn en route to each checkpoint.

This approach is cost-effective and reduces risk because only relatively small investments are required to move from one milestone to the next and because it reveals false starts early.

2. Reduce the fear of failure.

  • People fear failing, particularly in a downturn, when they think any misstep might cost a job.
  • As a result,they tend to freeze because it appears that the easiest way to avoid failing is to do nothing.
  • To spur action, shift your emphasis from cutting the rate of failure to minimizing the cost of failure.
  • To reduce people’s anxiety, give them permission to be wrong but not to make expensive mistakes.

Silicon Valley’s famous discipline—fail fast, fail cheap, and move on—applies here.

3. Hedge your bets.

In some cases, the shortest route to the goal involves investing in simultaneous experiments whose outcomes are mutually exclusive: Try A, B, and C in tandem; whichever succeeds first necessarily negates the others.

4. Create momentum.

Once you’ve settled on a course, two further steps can give the final push needed to get moving:

First, remember that the more uncertain things are, the more people prefer to stick with comfortable and predictable routines. Leaders need to insist on substantial, coordinated changes that depart from obsolete practices and make business-as-usual impossible.

Second, they need to defang or otherwise neutralize the people who persist in resisting change.

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Are “great” companies great … or just lucky?

November 18, 2009

Excerpted from: HBR, Are “Great” Companies Just Lucky?, by Michael E. Raynor, Mumtaz Ahmed, and Andrew D. Henderson, April 2009

Studies that examine high-performing companies to uncover the reasons for their success are both popular and influential.

They’re the basis of the insights behind best sellers like In Search of Excellence and Good to Great.

But there’s a problem: The “great” companies from which these studies draw their conclusions are mostly just lucky.  Many of the “great” companies cited are, in fact, nothing special. 

A firm is remarkable only when its performance is so unlikely that systemic variation alone cannot account for its results. Most success studies don’t address this fact, relying instead on the “self-evident” nature of exceptional performance.

To understand how lucky some firms might get because of systemic variation alone, we ran simulations that gave us a picture of how firms might do if they differed only in their luck.  Then, we compared actual results with simulated results, which allowed us to determine which firms had delivered performance so
unlikely that it was probably due to something remarkable about them.

Using this method, we evaluated 287 allegedly high-performing companies in 13 major success studies.

We found that only about one in four of those firms was likely to be remarkable; the rest were indistinguishable from mediocre firms catching lucky

By our method, even in the study with the best hit rate, only slightly more than half the high performers had profiles
that were credibly attributable to something special about the firms. In short, what qualifies as remarkable performance is anything
but self-evident.

This doesn’t mean you should necessarily dismiss the advice offered in success studies. But, success studies should be treated not as how-to manuals but as sources of inspiration and fuel for introspection.

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Ten Fatal Flaws That Derail Leaders

October 8, 2009

HBR, Ten Fatal Flaws That Derail Leaders, by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman, June 2009

Poor leadership in good times can be hidden, but poor leadership in bad times is a recipe for disaster.

Based on research, here are the qualities of the worst leaders:

1. Lack energy and enthusiasm.
They see new initiatives as a burden, rarely volunteer, and fear being overwhelmed.
They  “suck all the energy out of any room.”

2. Accept their own mediocre performance.
They overstate the difficulty of reaching targets so that they look good when they achieve them.
They live by the mantra “Underpromise and overdeliver.”

3. Lack clear vision and direction.
They believe their only job is to execute. 
Like a hiker who sticks close to the trail, they’re fine until they come to a fork.

4. Have poor judgment.
They make decisions that colleagues and subordinates consider to be not in the organization’s best interests.

5. Don’t collaborate.
They avoid peers, act independently, and view other leaders as competitors. As a result, they are set adrift by the very people whose insights and support they need.

6. Don’t walk the talk.
They set standards of behavior or expectations of performance and then violate them.
They’re perceived as lacking integrity.

7. Resist new ideas.
They reject suggestions from subordinates and peers. Good ideas aren’t implemented, and the organization gets stuck.

8. Don’t learn from mistakes.
They may make no more mistakes than their peers, but they fail to use setbacks as opportunities for improvement, hiding their errors and brooding about
them instead.

9. Lack interpersonal skills.
They make sins of both commission (they’re abrasive and bullying) and omission (they’re aloof, unavailable, and reluctant to praise).

10. Fail to develop others.
They focus on themselves to the exclusion of developing subordinates, causing individuals and teams to disengage.

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Every big idea that works is marked by simplicity and clarity …

August 21, 2009

Ken’s Take: I admire the way Peggy Noonan writes – even when I disagree with her positions. In this article, regardless of your POV on ObamaCare, there’s a powerful, portable lesson on leadership and rhetoric …

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Excerpted from WSJ:  Pull the Plug on ObamaCare, Peggy Noonan, Aug 21, 2009 

Every big idea that works is marked by simplicity, by clarity.

You can understand it when you hear it, and you can explain it to people.

Social Security: Retired workers receive a public pension to help them through old age.

Medicare: People over 65 can receive taxpayer-funded health care.

Welfare: If you have no money and cannot support yourself, we will help as you get back on your feet.

These things are clear. I understand them. You understand them.

The president’s health-care plan is not clear, and I mean that not only in the sense of “he hasn’t told us his plan.” I mean it in terms of the voodoo phrases, this gobbledygook, this secret language of government that no one understands—”single payer,” “public option,” “insurance marketplace exchange.”

No one understands what this stuff means, nobody normal.

And when normal people don’t know what the words mean, they don’t say to themselves, “I may not understand, but my trusty government surely does, and will treat me and mine with respect.”

They think, “I can’t get what these people are talking about. They must be trying to get one past me. So I’ll vote no.”

Full article:

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Ken’s Take II: Biz world examples from my B&D experience:

1) At one point, B&D power tools were being one-upped by Makita – a Japanese “encroacher”.  The prevailing internal strategic mantra became “Kill Makita”.  Very clear. Very emotive.  Very personal.  Compare that to trite, amorphous slogans like “Commitment to Excellence”

2) Best product name I was ever associated with was the “automatic shut-off iron”.  The name itself conveyed the product benefits in a very emotive way.

That’s what I mean by “portability” of a concept …

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Congressional oversight of the Detroit 3 … That’s a joke, right?

December 7, 2008

Ken’s Take: There is zero chance that the Detroit 3 will pay back any bailout loans.  Period.

Restoring competitiveness against the “foreign transplants” requires substantial restructuring than won’t be done under the ever watchful eyes of a business-ignorant Congress (how many Reps and Senators have ever run a ‘for-profit’ company — or for that matter — even held a real job?) or until the labor contract is seriously renegotiated (no company can afford to pay factory laborers $150,000 per year in wages & benefits).

Bankruptcy is inevitable,  Let’s bite the bullet and get it over with …

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Excerpted from IBD, “Prepackaged Failure”, December 05, 2008 

Sentiment running 62% against a bailout for the automakers.

But, Congressional Democrats are desperate to bail out the Big Three — but even more desperate to bail out the automakers’ unions. After all,the UAW spent more than $11 million in the last election cycle to elect Democrats.

Even a “prepackaged” bankruptcy  … doesn’t stand a chance because the unions reject it out of hand. As UAW President Ron Gettelfinger put it, prepackaged bankruptcy is “not a viable option.” Translation: Unions would have to make big, and permanent, concessions.

That leaves the latest bright idea:  Congress would in essence become the Big Three’s uber-manager, telling them how to become profitable again.

Excuse us, but are we supposed to believe that the same Congress responsible for next year’s estimated $1 trillion deficit can profitably run a market-sensitive company like a car manufacturer?

Or that the same Congress that sat on its hands as the financial meltdown unfolded and helped create the mess will know how to financially restructure America’s highly complex auto business?

Or that the people who just last year imposed $85 billion in new “efficiency” standards on a teetering industry will be savvy enough to run them anywhere but further into the ground?

Does Congress have the know-how to do this? Of the 11 Democrat members on the Senate Banking Committee who grilled Big Three CEOs last Thursday, and who will decide the outlines of any bailout plan, just one Senator — Montana’s Jon Tester, a farmer and former manager of a butcher shop — had any real business experience.

None of the rest, from committee chairman Chris Dodd on down, has any private-sector experience to speak of, apart from brief stints at law firms. Fact is, Congress isn’t equipped to run anything.

The Big Three are burning through $6 billion a month, so $34 billion won’t last long. Chapter 11 bankruptcy, or something like it, would at least let them get out from under costly union contracts.

Given union opposition, this is highly unlikely, even though about 77% of all billion-dollar companies survive bankruptcy. 

Those are better odds than congressional mismanagement would offer.

Full article:

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Getting Cozy With Customers …

November 21, 2008

Excerpted from HBS Discussion Leaders “How CEO’s Should Work with Customers” by John Quelch, September 22, 2008

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Customers are the source of all cash flow. Organic growth depends on developing relationships with new and existing customers. And future growth prospects are baked into stock market valuations of companies.

An increasingly high percentage of Fortune 500 CEOs have not come up the ranks through marketing or sales…actual customer expertise is typically a mile wide and an inch deep.

Marketing expertise depends on customer insights…To be customer-oriented, executives must get out and meet customers on their home turf – in their homes, on job sites, in their offices. in stores.   ..

Over time, the need for customer insights should mean a higher percentage of general managers coming up through the marketing ranks..

Edit by SAC

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