Read more about the article Leadership | The 7 Attributes of World Class Organizations
7 Attributes to Tell if Your Organization is Getting Clobbered

Leadership | The 7 Attributes of World Class Organizations


What can you accomplish in a flash of time?

It lasts about 300 to 400 milliseconds. It occurs about 10 to 20 times per minute.

Over the course of a day, excluding about 8 hours of sleep, it amounts to about an hour and 20 minutes on average, a fair chunk of time in our waking day.

If you consider that the universe is about 14 billion years old, about 54,000 years would pass by during any given span of those milliseconds. 

Some might argue that we can’t see anything during that period.

Yes, all that happens in the blink of an eye … about 1/3 of a second.

It ain’t much but in those small fractions, a lot can occur.


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Leadership Styles: The Smartest Guys in the Room can kill you!

When a fellow says it hain’t the money but the principle o’ the thing, it’s th’ money.” — Frank McKinney

‘Always ask why.  Dig deeper.  Get the facts.’ Avoid the crowd mentality

“Ask Why” was their motto.

“Wheel Out,” “Fat Boy” “Death Star” and “Get Shorty” were some of the nicknames applied to their strategies.

Confirmation letters of successful trades were addressed to names like “Mr. M. Yass and “Mr. M. Smart” … and I think you can parse the underlying contempt.

“Rank & Yank” described their people performance system, “Pump and Dump” their trading strategy.

About $70 billion of market value was destroyed, more than 20,000 employees lost their jobs and pension funds worth $3.2 billion were destroyed, more than two thirds of which belonged to retirees with little chance to rebuild.

I had always intended to watch “The Smartest Guys in the Room,” the 2005 movie based on a book by the same name from co-authors Peter Elking and Bethany McLean, but it got lost in the shuffle until last week.

It chronicles the Enron cataclysm, whose meteoric ascent was violently terminated with its bankruptcy on Dec. 3, 2001.

“Be like Enron” is still an ignominious curse

It’s hard to believe this happened almost 10 years ago since to be “like Enron” still reverberates as an ignominious curse. It’s really more like a viral infection, though, because so many of the forces that drove its destruction have cleaved similar fissures in scandals from (more…)

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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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Vol. 54: The road to cost control


The North Bay Business Journal, a publication of the New York Times, is a weekly business newspaper which covers the North Bay area of San Francisco – from the Golden Gate bridge north, including the Wine Country of Sonoma and Napa counties.

This page provides the Print-Friendly Version of the article, as published.

Any related materials or articles referenced in the column, or otherwise applicable, will also be referenced below:

The electronic version of the article, as published, may be found here.


Article published -November 30 2009larykirchenbauerhdr

Is fear or kindness the road to cost control? You decide

Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”

– Albert Einstein

Last time I presented the dichotomy of two opposing cultures and posed the question: If measured by financial performance, how can dramatically different organizations be equally successful? In this continuing series, we’ll explore some of the combinations and permutations of sound business principles and cultural patterns that often collide within an organization’s walls.

In many ways, it doesn’t seem fair that both charitable and churlish cultures can thrive. It’s easy to embrace the benevolent culture created by Sid Rich (we’ll call it Company South, “S” for Sid) as profiled in my last column.

That company deserves to be successful. Wouldn’t it be great if that was the company I worked for? Contrarily, when you look across the aisle at the rough and tumble world of Company North (“N” for Nasty), highlighted by temper tantrums, public floggings and a petulant devotion to spending a dime on anything, we’re either glad we’re not working there … or wishing we didn’t.

Some powerful lessons are evident as we compare and contrast these companies, their styles and culture, although some lessons are not very inviting. (more…)

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