Archive for March, 2008

Execution by Larry Bossidy & Ram Charan


In the year 2000, 40 CEOs of the Top 200 Fortune 500 companies were let go. This is because sometimes even smart, highly regarded people fail to produce critical results. Results they promised to deliver. Bossidy and Charan believe this is fast becoming an epidemic due not to the volatility or unpredictability of the business environment, but to the direct consequence of the lack of execution. The thesis here is that execution – the real job of business leaders and the key discipline for success today – bridges the gap between what leader want to achieve and the ability of their organizations to deliver it.

Part I: Execution – The Fundamentals

There are three critical points to understand:

1. Integral to strategy, execution is a discipline that prosecutes the three core processes of people, strategy, and operations with rigor, intensity, and depth.

2. It is the major responsibility of the business leader, who gets things done by taking responsibility of the business leader, who gets things done by taking charge of running the three core processes (no delegation).

3. Execution must be a core element of the organization’s culture, embedded in the reward systems and in the norms of behavior.

These points are built on seven essential behaviors of leadership, an effective framework for cultural change, and having the right people in the right place.


  • must know their business
  • have acquired a lot of knowledge, experience, and wisdom which they must pass on to the next generation of leaders
  • directly influence the behavior of the organization and behaviors deliver results
  • must change the beliefs that influence people’s behavior
  • have the most important job of selecting and evaluating people

Though the judgment, experiences, and capabilities of people make the difference between success and failure, many leaders do not pay enough attention to the quality of this resource – the one thing under their control. Instead they pay more attention to budgeting, strategic planning, and financial monitoring, when they need to commit as much as 40 percent of their time and emotional energy to selecting, appraising and developing talent.

Critical Point: Boards, CEOs, and senior executives place too much emphasis on education and intellectual qualities and neglect to determine how good a person is at getting things done.

Part II: Execution – The How

If leaders model the right behavior, create a culture that rewards execution, and have a consistent system for getting the right people in the right jobs, the foundation is in place for operating and managing the people, strategy, and operations processes effectively. Bossidy and Charan stipulate that the people process is the most important, for people create strategy and translate strategy into operations.

A robust process:

  • accurately/exhaustively evaluates individuals
  • provides a framework for identifying and developing all levels and kinds of leadership
  • is the basis of a strong succession plan

Most companies evaluate the jobs people do today instead of focusing on whether individuals can handle the responsibilities of tomorrow.

This kind of framework must be built on:

  • linkage to the strategic plan/milestones (near, medium, and long terms) and operating target
  • including specific financial targets
  • development of the leadership pipeline through continuous improvement
  • decisions on what to do about non performers

Most companies have three major flaws in their budgeting/operations process:

  1. The process does not provide for robust dialogue on the plan’s assumptions
  2. The budget is built on desired results, but does not specify the actions that ensure those results
  3. The process does not provide coaching opportunities for people to learn the whole business, nor does it develop the social structure for working together for a common cause

Thus, an operating plan must include the programs the business is going to complete within one year:

  • product launches
  • marketing plan
  • sales plan
  • manufacturing plan that stipulates production outputs
  • production plan that improves efficiency to reach specified earnings, sales, margin, and cash flows

Note: An open debate on assumptions is a critical component. Debating the assumptions and making trade-offs build the business leadership capacities of all involved.


March 30, 2008 at 7:12 pm 1 comment

The Leadership Challenge by James M. Kouzen and Barry Z. Posner

the leadership challenge

The Leadership Challenge is your “personal coach in a book”.

Part I: The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership

People who guide others follow common patterns of actions. These patterns are not about actions, but about standard practices that the authors have forged into a dynamic model, the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership:

  1. Model the Way
  2. Inspire a Shared Vision
  3. Challenge the Process
  4. Enable Others to Act
  5. Encourage the Heart

These practices lead to credibility and because it makes such a difference, leaders must take it personally. Not only do employee loyalty, commitment, energy, and productivity depend on it, credibility also influences customer and investor attitudes. For this reason the authors advise: DWYSYWD – Do What You Say You Will Do.
Part II: The Ten Commitments – Building your Competence to Lead

The authors note that a leader’s value is not only determined by a set of guiding beliefs, but also by his or her ability to act on these beliefs. Embedded in each of the Five Practices are behaviors, what the authors call “The Ten Commitments of Leadership.” They are:

  1. Find your voice by clarifying your personal values
  2. Set the example by aligning actions with shared values
  3. Envision the Future by Imagining Exciting and Ennobling Possibilities
  4. Enlist Others in a Common Vision by Appealing to Shared Aspirations
  5. Search for Opportunities by Seeking Innovative Ways to Change, Grow, and Improve
  6. Experiment and Take Risks by Constantly Generating Small Wins and Learning from Mistakes
  7. Foster Collaboration by Promoting Cooperative Goals and Building Trust
  8. Strengthen Others by Sharing Power and Discretion
  9. Recognize Contributions by Showing Appreciation for Individual Excellence
  10. Celebrate the Values and Victories

Leadership is about “[giving] courage, [spreading] joy, and [caring] about people, product and process all along the way.”

March 24, 2008 at 1:54 am Leave a comment

Designing the Customer-Centric Organization by Jay R. Galbraith

Designing the Customer-Centric Organization

“Studies show that sales to existing customers are more profitable than sales to new customers.” With three years of research with McKinsey Organization Design Practice under his belt, Galbraith is the authority on organizational design. The book is a comprehensive customer-centric model for any organization designed to show business leaders an effective means of creating the right infrastructure for truly organizing around the customer.

Part I: The Customer-Centric Imperative

Galbraith starts by showing the differentiators between product-centric and customer-centric organizations.

Product-Centric won’t succeed in the long run because stand-alones commoditize rapidly and destroy profits. The drawbacks to this type of organization are examined from the perspectives of strategy, decision making, and sales.


  • Stand-alones commoditize rapidly and destroy profits
  • Customer must be highly advanced
  • Enterprise must stay on the cutting edge
  • Develop new (and improved) products
  • Price is determined on the basis of the market and competition

Decision making:

  • Revolves around setting priorities for a portfolio of products
  • Facilitated by an organizational structure based on product-line profit centers.
  • Planning/budgeting, and business review focus on products – those of the company and competition
  • Product-development process is paramount


  • Salespeople rewarded with commissions/managers are rewarded with bonuses based on market share
  • Technical employees are rewarded with assignments to create the next product
  • Innovative types with in-depth products knowledge are the ones selected and nurtured
  • Transaction oriented

On the other hand, customer-centric organizations are the new foundation for profitability, and this means that companies must organize around the customer so as to manage these relationships effectively and profitably. Galbraith also examines this type of organization with the same criteria:


  • Strives to provide the best solution for the customer’s needs
  • Solution may, or may not, include the best products
  • Solution will involved a customized/personalized package of reliable products, services, support, education, and consulting, so as to make the customer more effective

Decision making:

  • Leaders manage customer or customer-segment profit centers
  • Plans, information systems, and business reviews are geared toward a portfolio of customers around which the company sets priorities
  • Most important processes are CRM and solutions development
  • Success is measured by the share of customer spending in the market segment and customer satisfaction and retention


  • Commissions and bonuses are tied to customer satisfaction, retention, and asset growth
  • Relationship managers, serving the most important customers, are the most powerful people
  • Focus is on developing general managers for accounts rather than salespeople for products
  • Relationship oriented

In the new world of business, global, knowledgeable, and powerful customers are saying, “Give us what we’d like, with a side of customization.” While this means forming long-term relationships with the most valuable customers, this can only happen if organizations become customer-centric, assigning strategic priority to this dimension of the business in order to find and integrate as many products and services as possible for their existing customers. But the people in an organization have to be incentivized around the customer-centric goals if they are to be successful.

Part II: Determining how much customer centricity is enough

Many customers want relationships with their key suppliers and this allows astute suppliers to discover unmet customer needs/requirements and expand their offerings to include more products/service packages that make the customer more effective. the more effective the customer, the more the customer will use the supplier and engage in even more dialogue.

Companies that follow a relationship strategy, leading to this kind of solutiosn package, create more value for the customers than customers can create for themselves when they buy stand-alone offerings.

There are four major dimensions of solutions strategy (two major & two minor):

  1. Scale and scope of solutions (major)
  2. Degree of product/service integration (major)
  3. Types of solutions (minor)
  4. Percentage of total revenue deriving from solutions (minor)

There are five cumulative levels of complexity when determining how you will interface with a company:

  1. Informal networks and e-coordination
  2. Formal teams
  3. Integrator
  4. Matrix organization
  5. Separate customer line organization

The IBank example provides many key lessons and guidelines in the application of a solutions strategy:

  • Different customers want to do business differently
  • Managing complexity provides and advantage
  • Customization leads to growth
  • Managing customer interactions at all touch points is key
  • Customer-centric units are a major step toward creating a customer-centric capability
  • Link the customer units with products units


Firms hesitate to take the plunge into full customer-centricity for two reasons: First, many underestimate the transformations needed to implement this kind of solution. Second, many operate under the misapprehension that they are already customer-centric, simply because they have worked so hard over the past 10 or 15 years to become customer focused.

The role of leadership is critical to how an organization becomes customer-centric. Nokia, P&G, Citibank are examples of the competencies that enable leaders to think about the relationship of their companies to the customer in order to provide breakthrough strategies. There are modesl of competencies that show leaders how to take decisive action and energize teams ot execute their business strategies rapidly.

March 16, 2008 at 7:37 pm Leave a comment

The Speed of Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey

The One Thing That Changes Everything

From inspiring trust by beginning with yourself, to utilizing consistent behavior, to creating alignment (a tough one for any organization) this book gives you a 380-page roadmap on building and infusing trust in you and around you (personal relationships, colleagues, teams, families, society). Just like Social Styles allows you to evaluate the particular style of an individual, the Smart Trust(TM) Matrix allows you to determine to what degree one’s present tendencies add to, or reduce, one’s ability to extend trust

How the Results are Determined

Covey begins with how trust is critical to Results. The traditional business formal says that Strategy multiplied by Execution equals Results:

S * E = R.

However, the hidden variable (Trust) in this formula can either discount the output, or greatly increase it:

(S * E)T = R.

But this becomes clear because an organization can have a great Strategy and the ability to Execute, but lack of Trust will kill the Results. Another view is that an organization may be obtaining Results that are meeting benchmarks, but the lack of Trust may not allow their business to:

  • scale as they attempt to grow,
  • introduce new offerings to the marketplace,
  • obtain more business from existing customers,
  • or, reduce the speed at which you wish to grow.

Five Waves of Trust

Covey calls them the 5 Waves of Trust, but honestly the waves model just didn’t work for me and the fourth and fifth aren’t necessary. The fourth is the result of the first three being done properly and the fifth is simply a contribution. But here’s how they are broken down:

  1. Self Trust: It’s about building the 4 Cores of Credibility that make you believable, both to oneself and others.
  2. Relationship Trust: Imbuing the 13 Behaviors to develop consistent behavior.
  3. Organizational Trust: Utilizing the 4 Cores and 13 Behaviors to build alignment in an organization.
  4. Market Trust: It’s all about brand and the principle of reputation.
  5. Societal Trust: Is contribution.

Four Cores of Credibility

The first layer, or Wave is all about the four dimensions of credibility. These are the foundational elements that make people believable to themselves and to others and they are:

  1. Integrity: Being the sames individual inside and out (no gap between intent and behavior).
  2. Intent: Having a good plan, or purpose.
  3. Capabilities: Creating both personal and organizational credibility.
  4. Results: Classify an individual as a producer and performer

Thirteen Behaviors

The second layer is about behaving in thirteen different ways. Covey believe that these behaviors are common to high-trust leaders and individuals worldwide. These can all enhance one’s ability to establish trust in all relationships. One through five flow from character, the second five from competence, and the last three from a combination both. This is a list you will most probably have to come back to time and time again.

  1. Talking Straight
  2. Demonstrating Respect
  3. Creating Transparency
  4. Righting Wrongs
  5. Showing Loyalty
  6. Delivering Results
  7. Getting Better
  8. Confronting Reality
  9. Clarifying Expectations
  10. Practicing Accountability
  11. Listening First
  12. Keeping Commitments
  13. Extending Trust

Smart Trust

Finally, to inspire trust is to create the foundation on which truly successful organization/relationships stand. Now here’s the key part – this ability (the first job of a leader) is the prime differentiator between managing and leading. A vital component is to extend “Smart Trust”.

The grid below shows how to determine to what degree one’s present tendencies add to, or reduce one’s ability to extend Smart Trust. The ideal here is to be in Zone 2 where there is a high level of propensity to trust and a high analysis in order to manage risk wisely.

Smart Trust Matrix

March 9, 2008 at 9:52 pm 2 comments

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