People are still – and will always be #1.

Many of you are familiar with my interest in the Corner Office articles appearing in the New York Times on a regular basis. These articles, by Adam Bryant, focus on varying approaches taken by CEOs to lead their organizations.

A recent interview with Fuse founder, Bill Carter, reminds me of two critical variables that are easily lost in our haste to always move to the next issue. First, above all, having the best people is the only antidote to business mediocrity. I’ve said it time and again, and virtually everyone knows this deep down (but very few put it into practice) …  that the organization that excels identifies the best people, makes certain they are properly rewarded, and never stops looking for top talent. (more…)

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Goldman Sachs -Not so fast!

Will Rogers was fond of saying, “Buy low, sell high … and if it doesn’t go up, don’t buy it!”

That’s a whimsical sentiment, but I wonder what’s in the air when I read about the alleged fraud by Goldman Sachs described in the civil complaint filed by the SEC, referenced in the recent article here. I wouldn’t jump to conclusions too quickly. In too many ways, this episode is reminiscent of earlier 1980s  battles with Michael Milken. Notwithstanding Milken’s misdeeds, my vivid memory is that there were accredited investors and savvy buyers on both sides of those transactions perfectly capable of making independent decisions. Some of them were wrong and they lost money, but in virtually every case, they were well-equipped to make sound decisions … if they did their homework.

These challenges typically arise when people lose money … and there’s no question a lot has been lost. But, to assume that people who lose on one side of a transaction, are incapable of making prudent independent decisions and were sold a bill of goods , is the flawed argument that often pervade these matters. (more…)

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Vol. 60: Creating a Responsible Culture

Build a Responsible CultureLast time, we discussed how to create a responsible culture where each individual accepts accountability for their actions and decisions.

In our discussion of this subject, we’ve ranged from the baseline of personal accountability to a broader organizational culture, to the battle-tested power of after action reviews.

So, if the power of an accountable organization is so obvious, why aren’t we all doing it?

Victimization has a stranglehold on American business

In “The Oz Principle,” a book by Craig Hickman (recently reissued in a revised and updated edition 10 years after its original publication), the overgrown roots of a victimization mentality is chronicled as one of the most corrosive forces in American business.

[pullquote]The man who complains about the way the ball bounces is likely to be the one who dropped it.~ Lou Holtz[/pullquote]

Mr. Hickman pulls no punches in deriding the plight of victimization that he believes has a stranglehold on American industry.

How many of these lines have you heard during your business career?

* “That’s the way we’ve always done it.”
* “That’s not my department.”
* “Someone should have told me not to do that.”
* “Why didn’t you ask me?”
* “Nobody’s followed up on this. It can’t be that important.”

[pullquote]Victimization is a corrosive force in American business[/pullquote]

It’s fodder for a Saturday Night Live skit, isn’t it? (more…)

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Accountability | What Does It Really Mean?

When does Accountability begin?

“When is it no longer my responsibility to get people to complete their assignments … and where does their responsibility to perform begin?” a North Bay CEO asked me recently.

“Your responsibility never ends … and neither does theirs,” I said.

“Your job is to work tirelessly to build accountability into the organization so that your team understands that being held accountable is the cornerstone of a strong, successful organization. It is not punitive.”

In this column recently, we’ve discussed personal accountability as the “singular touchstone of professional success over which we have the greatest control.”

We’ve also discussed the After Action Report, a valuable teaching tool that reinforces accountability and inspires a culture of continuous improvement.

An organization focused on accountability might be seen as the thread that connects our personal accountability – walking the talk – and the After Action Report – talking the walk. But what is it, really?

What is Accountability … Really?

In simple terms, accountability is a willingness to accept responsibility for our actions.

It’s being reliable and making certain that the commitments we make, from the perspective of others, have been kept. For a responsible culture to prevail, each of us must make certain that those commitments are honest – and honored. (more…)

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The Value of Checklists

Checklists? Those lists I prepare each day and don’t help me get everything done – don’t really need to know more about them … or do you mean those checklists that airline pilots use to keep me from getting killed? Now, those I like.

Some of you will remember an earlier post in the GTD context about the value of checklists. Now comes the book, The Checklist Manifesto, inspired by issues found in operating rooms but expanded to the many areas where simple checklists are invaluable.

Checklists couldn’t be simpler. (more…)

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