Archive for the ‘Management’ Category

Are you a “producer” or a performer?

June 9, 2016

Prior posts have channeled some work by PwC identifying traits that mark self-made billionaires.

Broadly speaking, the PwC study sorts business folks as “producers” or “performers”.

Producers are skilled at conceiving new ideas and bringing them to market.

Performers: They know how to optimize the known systems and products of an organization, and how to make the most of existing practices.

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Which are you, a producer or a performer?

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Here’s a 9-question categorization quiz from Strategy + Business:

Click to take the producer-performer quiz
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S+B observes:

You might have to fill both roles at different times.

“After all, anyone who can launch a new product must have some ability as a performer. Similarly, most skilled performers also have some producer talent.”

But it’s rare for one person to excel as both a producer and a performer.

So if you’re aware of what you do best, you can more easily establish yourself in the most suitable environment, with the right complementary people, and map out your ideal role.

You’ll also know when to ask for help.

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Quip of the Week: Did Yahoo make Marissa the Mayer of Detroit ?

July 24, 2012

A couple of articles re: Yahoo’s new CEO – Marissa Mayer — caught my eye.

The first, in Business Week, included the quip of the week:

Jordan Rohan, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus characterizes Mayer’s move from wealthy, tech-savvy Google to browbeaten Yahoo as “a little bit like the mayor of Palo Alto being asked to run the city of Detroit.”

A 2nd article titled “Marissa Mayer Stares Down ‘Glass Cliff’ at Yahoo” got my attention

Glass cliff ?

What’s that?

It’s a phrase coined by a couple of Brit researchers who noticed the tendency of troubled organizations to choose female leaders in times of acute crisis.

And, when women are recruited at times of crisis, the deck is stacked against them, and often the companies continue to slide.

“The data are pretty incontrovertible. These are often impossible situations where it’s hard to imagine anyone can succeed.”

So, why do foundering companies tend to bring in women when the going gets rough — and why do women accept such treacherous assignments?

According to the clinical psychologists, in times of crisis, people choose women leaders because they believe that such stereotypically male characteristics as intransigence and competitiveness won’t help in a turnaround.

OK, but why do women accept these impossible assignments?

Opportunity.

Mayer might have waited for a CEO spot in a less troubled company than Yahoo, but that could have taken years or never happened at all.

Some Silicon Valley observers have speculated that it made sense for her to take the job because she may have topped out at Google.

The CEO job at Yahoo may not be a great job or a doable job, but it’s the C-suite.”

Ken’s Take: A tough challenge taken on by a well qualified exec.  Unlimited upside and virtually no downside. Why not give it a rip?

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Government gone wild?

April 16, 2012

The past week has been like a bad reality show: “Government gone wild“.

We’ve had — in chronological order —  the GSA scandal mocking government controls on spending, Demster Hilary Rosen whacking away at Ann Romney,  and the Secret Service “incident”.

Though I’m a b-school prof and I worked in the real world for a couple of decades, I don’t claim particular expertise in  management leadership or ororganizational behavior. 

That’s ok, because this one is so obvious …

Organizations observe their leaders – what they do, not what they say – and act accordingly.  Consider …

  • If the President wastes billions on shovel ready projects (“ha ha”), why should the GSA squeeze every dime?
  • If the President shovels billions to his bundlers (think Solyndra), why shouldn’t the GSA buy a couple of iPads for each other?
  • If the President takes day trips on Air Force One to campaign, why shouldn’t GSA folks take day trips to Hawaii for ribbon cuttings?
  • If the first lady parties with the girls inVegas,why shouldn’t the GSA party in Vegas? 
  • If the President mocks folks for their “guns and bibles”, why shouldn’t Hilary Rosen mock Ann Romney for “never working a day in her life”?
  • If the President has a constant stream of rock stars to the White House for private parties, why shouldn’t his Secret Service entourage have some party girls over every now and then?
  • If the President openly disrespects our higher institutions (think Supreme Court), why shouldn’t the Secret Service disrespect our higher institutions (think, the Presidency)?

Obama should take the last point most seriously.  He’s the role model and sets the tone for government employees.

Maybe, his “people” are just acting  the way he’s acting

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Mr. Sculley, what makes a good manager?

October 27, 2011

An interviewer asked John Sculley, former Pepsi exec and Apple CEO;

Mr. Sculley, you’ve said you aren’t a great manager. What makes a great manager?

Sculley’s answer:

Really good managers want to turn one-off projects into as much of a routine process as they can.

I am a project-centric leader.

I like to work on projects and solve tough problems.

Whereas a really good manager will say, “How do we replicate the processes so that when a problem comes up like this again we can routinely solve it?”

That is a very different skill set.

It takes both to run a successful company.

I always tried to complement my creative problem-solving skills with people on my team who had more process and management skills, so as a team we were very successful.

It’s important to understand what you are really good at and weak at so you can fill out the leadership team with all the needed talent to be successful.

So, are you project-centric or process-oriented?

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