Friday, November 18, 2005

2 Books on Strategic Execution

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

JUDO STRATEGY: Turning your competitor’s strength to your advantage
By David B. Yoffie and Mary Kwak
Harvard Business School Press (2001)

By Richard Boyatzis and Annie Mckee
Harvard Business School Press (2005)

One article I read strongly suggests that being strategic is quite simple: it's about being future-looking; it's about having an inclination to look to the future as much as to the present; it's about being able to read the future (or a range of alternative futures), feel the future, live the future and describe the future in a way which enables others to share and "see" the future with you.

One way of being strategic, authors Boyatzis and Mckee write, is choosing resonance over dissonance. “Resonant leaders are in tune with those around them. This results in people working in sync with each other, in tune with each others’ thoughts (what to do) and emotions (why to do it). Leaders who can create resonance are people who either intuitively understand or have worked hard to develop emotional intelligence—namely the competencies of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. They act with clarity, not simply following a whim or an impulse.”

Additionally emotional leaders manage others’ emotions and build strong, trusting relationships. “They know that emotions are contagious, and their own emotions are powerful drivers of their peoples’ moods and, ultimately, performance. They understand that while fear and anger may mobilize people in the short term, these emotions backfire quickly, leaving people distracted, anxious and ineffective. They read people, groups and organizational cultures accurately and they build lasting relationships. They cause those around them to want to move, in concert, toward an exciting future.” They give us courage and hope and help us to become the best that we can be.

In Resonant Leadership, the authors show the dynamic relationship among mindfulness, hope and compassion to spark the kind of positive emotions that enable us to remain resilient in the face of challenges, even in the unprecedented climate that leaders face today. Boyatzis introduced his own cyclical process of Intentional Change Theory to help leaders journey to renewal.

In 1994-95, Netscape was the hottest company and its flagship product, Navigator, is the dominant browser in the high technology world. Until December 2005 when Microsoft unleashed a declaration of war, driving Netscape’s share price to the ground. By the end of the decade, Microsoft was king of the browser business, and Netscape survived only as a division of AOL.

By the end of 1996, Palm Computing’s Pilot, a handheld electronic organizer, has dominated its market. Eight years after its birth, Palm was not only alive and kicking, to borrow from the Apply lexicon, it was “insanely great” despite Microsoft’s repeated efforts to take over the market.

Why did Palm succeed where Netscape failed? What distinguishes challengers who build successful businesses from those who fall by the wayside despite an auspicious start? Which strategies hold the most promise for companies facing powerful opponents and which are most likely to lead to defeat? What strategy is most likely to succeed when size or strength is not on your side?

Authors Yoffie and Kwak suggest that the lesson here is at the heart of judo strategy. Netscape opposed strength to strength, while Palm studied the competition carefully, avoided head-to-head battles and turned their opponents’ strengths to their advantage.

Judo strategy is a multilayered concept. “At the most basic level, it functions as a metaphor that evokes powerful images about how to compete and win. If you keep the image of judo competition firmly in mind, it will be easy to visualize the moves that make it possible to beat a stronger opponent.”

Judo Strategy explores three principles that should inform one’s thinking: movement, balance and leverage. Each principle provides a different piece of the strategy puzzle. Movement throws competition off balance and neutralizes their initial advantages. Balance helps engage with the competition and survive an attack. And leverage enables to bring the opponents down. When used together, these three principles will help defeat rives of any size.

“In addition to downplaying the role of brute strength, judo strategy puts premium on qualities such as speed, flexibility and innovation. The authors continue to describe the movement at Palm: follow through fast:

The Challenge: You’ve built a healthy lead over the competition, what’s next?
The Solution: Use this window of opportunity to build the strongest position you can: streamline internal processes in order to continue upgrading your products or services at a rapid pace; and don’t be greedy, especially in industries where network effects play an important role, then price aggressively in order to win market share and build a large installed base.

How to beat a judo master? Use the sumo strategy.

By Lance Kurke, Ph.D.
AMACOM (2004)

HOW TO GROW A BACKBONE: 10 strategies for gaining power and influence at work
By Susan Marshall
Contemporary Books (2000)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

2 Books on Culture and Leadership

Favorite Books
By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

TEAM BUSH: Leadership lessons from the Bush White House
By Donald F. Kettl

By Donald N. Sull
(Harvard Business School Press)

I am not an admirer of George W. Bush, the first MBA (Harvard) president of the USA, but here’s an interesting insight into his leadership style and the culture of goal orientation, discipline and teamwork he installed at the White House. According to the author, Bush did run the Oval Office by the Harvard casebook. Kettl wrote: “He got busy running the country by crafting a business plan for the transition (as Governor of Texas) and his initial months in the Whitehouse even while the outcome of the election was still in doubt. In less than three weeks he completed the task of naming his cabinet. He then made ten-year tax cut his top policy priority. Following the tax vote, which won with a large and quick margin, he focused on his education agenda. He was promoting this phase of his strategy, in fact, when he visited a Florida classroom on the morning of September 1. Finally, Bush envisioned a foreign policy initiative, especially to deal with Iraq and his belief that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

“Beyond the business plan was a set of basic rules to guide how the White House staff worked and behaved.” He stuck to these rules consistently: Attire—suit and tie required, brevity is a must, be punctual, treat everyone with respect and develop healthy work habits.

Bush quickly worked his way through the basic options and made his strategic decisions. He preferred oral briefings, short background memos, and quick decisions.” Bush is a strong “people person” as he likes people and connects easily and informally with them.

Kettle continues: “Bush builds his approach to the president on teamwork, especially his West Wing staff. He builds a clear strategy and a business plan for implementing it. He insists on tough discipline among his staffers, with a tightly controlled flow of information in and out. He relished the MBWA (management by walking around) approach. He focuses on the big decisions and delegates to subordinates the job of carrying them out.

On dealing with the press, Kettl wrote: “One sign of how successful the Bush administration has been in managing the message is its skill in creating news events. The disciplined message starts with Bush himself. He defines a message, repeats it and relentlessly hammers it home.”

Finally, from W himself: “Governments should be results-oriented. Where we find success, we should repeat it, share it, and make it the standard. And where we find failure, we must call it by its name. Government action that fails in its purpose must be transformed or ended.” Paging Madame Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo!

I still don’t have a hint of admiration for W, but author Kettl wrote a compelling case for Dubya’s winning leadership style.

Along the same theme, author Donald Sull asserts that despite differences in personal attributes, great managers all excel in the making, honoring and remaking of commitments. “Managerial commitments take many forms, from capital investments to personnel decisions to public statements, but each exerts both immediate and enduring influence on a company. A leader’s commitments shape a business’s identity, define its strengths and weaknesses, establishes its opportunities and limitations, and set its direction.

“Defining commitments determine an organization’s course and identity well into the future—but hamper later change efforts. To make the right commitment, ask, ‘Is this a decision we can live with in the long run?’ Don’t define commitments hastily if you don’t have to.

“Reinforcing commitments include daily actions such as customer contract renewals, and occasional big bets like a major acquisition. This build efficiency, sharpen focus, temper risk and attract employees, customers and partners who fit the company’s identity.

“Finally, when disruptive changes strikes, pressure to make even more reinforcing commitments mounts. Instead, force your firm out of the status quo—with new, transforming commitments such as selecting new strategic frames or revamped process; make clear credible courageous commitments that leave no room for retreat; and reconfigure remaining frames, processes, resources and relationships to support your new direction.”

Shull refers to commitment as any action taken in the present that binds an organization to a future course of action. Commitments are essential to management. They secure the resources necessary for the company’s survival, induce potential partners and investors to play ball, provide employees with a clear sense of focus and help them prioritize and coordinate their actions. Commitments come at a cost—it limits a company’s flexibility.

W, like many successful leaders, thrives on managing by commitments. It is a truism that the leadership defines the culture of the organization and signs up everybody for the long haul. What really makes a great manager great?


TEMPERED RADICALS: How people use difference to inspire change at work
By Debra E. Meyerson
(Harvard Business School Press)

TIME MASTERY: How temporal intelligence will make you a stronger, more effective leader.
By John K. Clemens and Scott Dalrymple

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Blue Ocean Strategy and Niche Marketing

Favorite Books
By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

BLUE OCEAN STRATEGY: how to create uncontested market space and make the competition irrelevant
By W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne
Harvard Business School Press (2005)

MARKETING (4th Edition): Real People, Real Choices
By Michael Solomon, Greg Marshall and Elnora Stuart
Pearson Education International (2006)

I am reviewing some corporate vision/mission statements and I notice that a number of companies want to be “the employer of choice.” How do you make that happen?

Authors Kim and Mauborgne suggest creating value innovation, i.e., instead on focusing on beating competition, you focus on making the competition irrelevant by creating a leap in value for buyers and your company, thereby opening up new and uncontested market space.

“Value innovation places equal emphasis on value and innovation. Value without innovation tends to focus on value creation on an incremental scale, something that improves value but is not sufficient to make you stand out in the marketplace. Innovation without value tends to be technology-driven, market pioneering, or futuristic, often shooting beyond what buyers are ready to accept and pay for.

“Take Cirque de Soleil as an example. It did not win by taking customers from the already shrinking circus industry, which historically catered to children. Cirque did not compete with Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey. Instead it created uncontested new market space that made the competition irrelevant. It appealed to a whole new group of customers—adults and corporate clients prepared to pay a price several times as great as traditional circuses for an unprecedented entertainment experience. Significantly, one of the first Cirque productions was titled, ‘We reinvent the circus.’ They created a new market space and generated strong profitable growth in a declining industry.”

As a result of this Blue Ocean Strategy, Cirque attracted and kept star circus performers and many aspiring and highly talented artists.

Kim and Maugborgne suggest that while it is important to attract new talents, it is equally important to keep current productive ones. This is done by building people’s trust and commitment deep in the ranks and inspire voluntary cooperation through the use of Fair Process: engagement, explanation and clarity of expectations.

To help us do this, let us borrow some strategies from marketing. Authors Solomon, Marshall & Stuart writes about Sharpening the Focus: target marketing strategies and customer relationship management.

“Reebok started off as a British brand that became known in the 1980’s primarily for its aerobics shoes. However, while women were snapping these up, the company was not enticing many men tot buy its products. At around the same time, Nike began to stake its claim as the brand for “Winners” by signing world-class athletes in virtually every sport to endorse its shoes. Reebok was slow to react to this challenge and saw its overall market share quickly decline. The company eventually tried a “follow the leader” approach by signing its own athletes, such as Shaquille O’Neill and Emmit Smith, but it was too late—Nike already “owned” its position in the market as being the shoe for champions. In particular, Michael Jordan cemented Nike’s reputation as the brand to wear on the court, especially among teenage males.

“Reebok needed a new strategy to effectively target the youth market, but how could it gain credibility and respect among young men? Enter Allen Iverson, a barely 6-foot, 160-pound bundle of energy, movement and coolness. Iverson was a modern-day David among the Goliaths of the NBA, a player with whom kids could identify rather than idolize. Reebok thought he could become the face of urban youth—young, rebellious, talented, loyal to firneds and family, with an “I don’t give a #$%@” attitude. The more adults hated Iverson and said he was bad news, the more youth around the world embraced him and accepted him as their own. He was the perfect counterpart to Michael Jordan. While “Air” Jordan brought the game above the rim with his style and grace, Iverson brought hoops back down to earth with his unique “crossover” dribble. If the 1980s were about dunking and playing in the air, the late 1990s were about beating your man off the dribble. Over a period of six years, Reebok used Iverson to connect with youth and did a good job of changing its image from a brand worn by moms to their aerobics classes.

“Still, Reebok languished in the #2 position without a clear identity other than being the shoe that Iverson wears. Their star endorser was a key asset but not strong enough to single-handedly win the hearts, minds, and dollars of youth culture.”

Now, if you were Que Gaskin, vice president of global marketing, what options do you have and what would you do? If you are having a hard time keeping your highly productive, highly motivated talents and attracting needed talents, what would you do? Why would I want to work with your company? What is your niche, uniqueness, weirdness, competitive advantage that people could identify with proudly?


Human Resource Management
By Gary Dessler
Pearson Education International (2005)

Jack Welch and the 4E’s of Leadership
By Jeffrey Krames
McGraw-Hill (2005)

Super Networking
By Michael Salmon
Career Press (2004)

Coaching at Work
By Perry Zeus & Suzanne Skiffington
McGraw-Hill (2000)

Monday, August 22, 2005

3 Books on Competitive Advantage

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Paradigms & Paradoxes Corporation

EARLY WARNING: Using competitive intelligence to anticipate market shifts, control risks, and create powerful strategies
By Ben Gilad
(American Management Association)

WORLD OUT OF BALANCE: Navigating global risks to seize competitive advantage
By Paula A. Laudicina

THE ANSWER TO HOW IS YES: Acting on what matters
By Peter Block
(Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc)

Two ways to define our strategy: deterministic (based on what happened in the past and what is happening now and what might happen in the very near future and based on what competition is doing best right now) and exploitative (based on what the near and far future have to offer and based on what competitor might do next).

Obviously, you can’t have much competitive advantage if you are near sighted and internally focused. Look at what’s happening to Levi’s now. Maybe they are still doing a SWOT analysis. Mikhail Gorbachev once said, “If what you have done yesterday still looks big to you, you have not done much today.”

Author Ben Gilad recommends uncovering competitors’ blinders, instead. “First, it requires a serious intelligence capability. This is not equivalent to having a large information center or one of those “knowledge sharing” projects, the new pet toys of the large Knowledge Management “practices.” It is neither tantamount to nor derived from market research capability; the two disciplines, market research and competitive intelligence, differ widely. For a company to be able to get into its competitors’ blindspots, it needs real intelligence expertise.

“It is not always possible, however, to gain a direct window into competing executives’ mindsets. Sometimes, when the competitors are private companies or small upstarts or just secretive, no published information is available. In these cases, an indirect approach is still available. This approach infers assumptions from observed behavior. The indirect inference method calls for asking a simple question in regard to competitors’ strategic moves: “Why are they doing this?” This question is a gate to a wealth of possible explanations.

“Identifying competitors’ blindspots is a powerful weapon. It allows a company to execute actions with a significantly reduced risk of retaliation. It is especially compelling in identifying opportunities for first-move advantage, before competitors’ can see them. The story of how the famous Xerox’s Park laboratory invented some of the most popular technologies—the mouse, the graphic interface used in Apple’s and later Microsoft’s operating systems, and the desktop home printers—and never realized their potential is a classic example of how blindspots can yield powerful benefits to those who uncover them.”

Gilad further writes, “There are few surprises in life, but there are many blind executives who confuse their own grand visions with reality and then make others pay for their confusion.”

Author Laudicina observes that a vast majority of companies today lack the means to identify and manage external risks and find themselves without bearings in this increasingly complex world. He adds that instead of risking a devastating shipwreck, many captains of industry keep their corporate ships stubbornly docked at shore.

“Executives and companies can—and should—undertake expansion strategies even when external uncertainties and shocks can have as much impact as traditional industry dynamics. With the most promising opportunities located outside home markets and far from familiar territory, hiding from risks is simply not an option. Instead companies must use that telescope, scan distant horizons, and try to make sense of the complicated world. They must bring insights about the external environment into the planning process in order to spot and act on new opportunities and avoid emerging threats—to understand the external world in order to engage it.”

Some of these drivers of change in the external environments are: globalization, demographics, the new customer, natural resources and the environment, regulation and activism. “These drivers sketch a picture of an increasingly complex world in which change is endemic. But they also serve as a framework for understanding and making sense of the changes that matter most.”

Finally, author Peter Block reflects, “Citizenship means that I act as if this larger place were mine to create, while the conventional wisdom is that I cannot have responsibility without authority. That is a tired idea. Let it die in peace. I am responsible for the health of the institution and the community even though I do not control it. I can participate in creating something I do not control.”

“We begin with the costs of asking How? too quickly or too eagerly. When we ask how to do something, it expresses our bias for what is practical, concrete, and immediately useful, often at the expense of our values and idealism. It assumes we don’t know, and this in itself becomes a defense against action. Getting the question right may be the most important thing we can do. We define our dialogue and, in a sense, our future through the questions we choose to address. Asking the wrong question puts us in the philosopher’s dilemma: We became the blind man in a dark room for a black cat that is not there.”

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Future of Competition

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

THE FUTURE OF COMPETITION: Co-creating unique value with customers
By C. K. Prahalad & Venkat Ramaswamy
(Harvard Business School Press)

Coffee, tea or chocolate?
Brewed or instant?
Regular or decaf?
Black or with milk?
Sugar, no sugar?

Tea na lang.
Hot or iced?
Black or green?
Ceylon, Chinese or Japanese?
Sugar or honey?
Calamansi or milk?

Chocolate na lang nga!
Tsokolate eh or tsokolate oh
Milk or no milk?
Nuts or no nuts?

Plain tap water, please, with plenty of ice.

Authors Pahalad and Ramaswamy writes: A profound, but silent, transformation of our society is afoot. Our industrial system us geerating more goods and services than at any point in history, delivered through an ever-growing number of channels. Superstores, boutiques, online retailers, and discount stores proliferate, offering thousands of distinct products and services. This product variety is overwhelming to consumers. Am I buying the right digital camera? Am I getting the best treatment for my chronic ulcer? Am I signing up for the right service? Simultaneously, thanks to the propagation of cell phones, Web sites, and media channels, consumers have increased access to more information, at greater speed and lower cost, than ever before. But who has the leisure and the proficiency needed to sort through and evaluate all these products and services? The burgeoning complexity of offerings, as well as the associated risks and rewards, confounds and frustrates most time-starved consumers.

Product variety has not necessarily resulted in better consumer experiences. (end of quote)

All you need is a refreshing drink to perk you up on a lazy morning. Why do you need to make so many decisions very early and the day has just started? By the time you get to your office, you must have already made a hundred and one decisions, big and small.

Thus the paradox of the twenty-first-century economy: Consumers have more choices that yield les satisfaction. Top management has more strategic options that yield less value. Are we on the cusp of industrial system with characteristics different from those we now take for granted? These question lies at the heart of the book, The Future of Competition.

The authors theorizes that the most basic change has been a shift in the role of the consumer—from isolated to connected, from unaware to informed, from passive to active. They explained how the impact of the connected, informed, and active consumer is manifest in many ways. They outlined a progression from the co-creation experience to the innovation of experience environments to a personalized co-creation experience.

The same is true in our own company. You, as the HROD professional is confronted with so many human resource and organization development (HROD) programs for benefits, training and development, business excellence, etc. It is becoming difficult to make choices and so we go back to our connected, informed and active consumers—our employees.

There is a need to co-create value with our employees. Before, whatever management or HR says goes resulting in dissatisfaction, low productivity, labor relations problems, etc..

Though this book talks about business in general, a little imagination will help you distill the ideas and apply them to your situation in HROD. Don’t just read pure HROD literature, read this book and see how top management think and intend to do things.

The authors gave the example of eBay: Pierre Omidyar wanted “to give the power of the market back to individuals, not just large corporations.” So he founded e-Bay to alter the exchange process—buying and selling—by creating an open auction. In 2001, eBay intermediated over 170 million exchanges for $9.3 billion worth of goods in more than 18,000 categories, with revenues of over $749 million. In 2002, it generated revenues of $1.5 billion, on commissions up to 5.25 percent on transactions. Clearly, eBay has succeeded in creating a platform on which to build global economic democracy. Unlike traditional exchanges, eBay does not distinguish between buyers and sellers, only between roles of the moment. I can sell my antique chair and buy a digital camera simultaneously.

In the initial stage, the eBay process focused primarily on three elements of the exchange: choice of products and services, a clear price-performance advantage because of the auction process, and ease of transactions through easy-to-use tools and clear rules. However, as people started participating, a community with its own rules gradually evolved. People acting as merchants would with thank-you notes to those acting as consumers. Buyers and sellers started grading each transaction in a “Feedback Forum.” The evolving rules of engagement enabled a unique customer experience.

As HROD practitioners, how could you help your organization compete head on by giving your employees a satisfactorily unique experience transacting with your office?


CAREER BOUNCE-BACK: The professionals in transisiton
By J. Damian Birkel & Stacey J, Miller

OUTSOURCING FOR RADICAL CHANGE: A bold approach to enterprise transformation
Foreword by Thomas H. Davenport

Friday, June 24, 2005

3 Books on Innovation

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Paradigms & Paradoxes Corporation

EXPERIMENTATION MATTERS: Unlocking the potential of new technologies for innovation
By Stephan H. Thomke
Harvard Business School Press

THE MEDICI EFFECT: Breakthrough insights at the intersection of ideas, concepts & cultures
By Frans Johansson
Harvard Business School Press

THE SEEDS OF INNOVATION: Cultivating the synergy that fosters new ideas
By Elaine Dundon
American Management Association

Edited by Carolyn Barker
Australian Institute of Management

THE POWER OF STRATEGY INNOVATION: a new way of linking creativity and strategic planning to discover great business opportunities
By Robert E. Johnston, Jr. & J. Douglas Bate
American Management association

My friend Ben Liboro of First Philippine Holdings Corporation just came back from a tour of Europe and the USA and was excited to announce that graduate schools of arts and cultures in both continents are filled to capacity with a long queue for the next terms. The enrollees are all coming from the business sector. Companies are sending their top people to these schools rather than to MBAs. Why combine arts and business?

Excellent business leaders nowadays are looking into the Medici Effect. Author Frans Johansson writes: When you step into an intersection of fields, disciplines, or cultures, you combine existing concepts into a large number of extraordinary new ideas. This is the Medici Effect, a remarkable burst of creativity in fifteenth-century Italy.

The Medicis were a banking family in Florence who funded creators from a wide range of disciplines. Thanks to this family and a few others like it, sculptors, poets, philosophers, financiers, painters, and architects converged upon the city of Florence. There they found each other, learned from one another, and broke down barriers between disciplines and cultures. They forged a new world based on new ideas—what became known as the Renaissance. As a result, the city became the epicenter of aa creative explosion, one of the most innovative eras in history. The effects of the Medici family can be felt even to this day.

Johansson details how to create the Medici Effect: break down the barriers between fields, randomly combine concepts, ignite and capture the explosion of ideas, execute past your failures and take risks and overcome fear.

Author Elaine Dundon drives home the point and wrote about managing innovation. She emphasizes that innovation is a combination of four key components: creativity (the discovery of new ideas), strategy (determining whether it is a new and useful idea), implementation (putting useful idea into action, and profitability (maximizing the added value from the implementation of this new and useful idea).

Dundon cautions that innovation is not just “new technology;” not sector-specific, not just for the research and development department, special teams or “skunkworks;” not a creative playroom or just a creative training; not a one-off event; and not just applicable to new products.

And, if I may, innovation is definitely for HR leaders, professionals, practioners and enthusiasts.

Similarly, author Stefan Thomke asserts the need for experimentation. Louis Pasteur’s discovery of artificial vaccines is one example. 3M chemist Spencer Silver started a series of experiments aimed at developing polymer-based adhesives. His idea was found hopeless because 3M was focused on finding a stronger glue that formed an unbreakable bond, not a weaker glue that supported only apiece of paper. Until he met choir director and chemist Arthur Fry. Silver recalled: The key to the Post-it adhesive was doing the experiment. If I had sat down and factored it out beforehand, and thought about it, I wouldn’t have done the experiment. If I had limited my thinking only to what the literature said, I would have stopped. The literature was full of examples that said that you can’t do this.

As Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

Authors Johnston and Bate relate the story of Moen, makers of faucets: To see things differently, Moen enlisted the assistance of someone whose profession was seeing human behavior in a deeper, more insightful way—a cultural anthropologist. He visited homes and business across the country to observe how people use water and what role it played in their lives. He watched people use water and tracked their moods, happiness levels, and feelings of satisfaction while carrying out such activities. He wrote down how long each action took, and documented how people moved and adjuster their faucet for the needs of particular activities. He rated the importance people placed on water safety, flow and efficiency, as well as the effectiveness and aesthetics of each feature. The fun factor of each activity was rated too. He observed the differences between the habits of men and women in their handling of fixtures.

Director of marketing services Maureen Wenmoth noted:: The results of this insight safari was that people wanted more than just functioning faucets. We thought we knew all about water and faucet needs, and why not? Moen had been in the water business for many decades. But, by never before conducting observational research, we really were missing out on a lot. We were also limiting ourselves by working in self-created boundaries. We were working under the pretense that water is a commodity element—something people want and need. But the reality is that it’s not so cut-and-dried. Water is many different things to different people. Yes, it is something people need. But it’s also something they want to enjoy using and receiving. The information confirmed that we needed to be consumer-driven and think not just about faucets, but how they related to a room, use, or surrounding space. Our future demanded it.

What about you, my HR colleagues? What are ways you can do things differently? Another favorite Einstein wit goes: Insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

3 Books about Goals, Objectives, Strategy, Results

Favorite Books
By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

HARDBALL: Are you playing to play or playing to win?
By George Stalk and Rob Lachenauer
(Harvard Business School Press)

MILLION DOLLAR HABITS: Proven power practices to double and triple your income
By Brian Tracy
(Entrepreneur Press)

THE WORKFORCE SCORECARD: managing human capital to execute strategy
By Mark A. Huselid, Brian E. becker and Richard W. bEatty
(Harvard Business School Press)

So your organization has determined what you want to be (visioning) against which you assessed your internal capability and external opportunities. Now is the time to determine your strategy. You have to set your goals and the corresponding objectives to achieve them.

Authors Stalk and Lachenauer explains how winners in business have always played hardball: They engage in the virtual cycle of using every legitimate resource and strategy available to them to gain advantage over their competitors. With this competitive advantage attract more customers, gain market share, boost profits, reward their employees, and weaken their competitor’s position. Then they reinvest their gains in their businesses to improve product quality, expand their offerings and improve their processes, to further strengthen their competitive advantage. After a prolonged period of time, they achieve decisive advantage which gives them the decisive advantage to bring fundamental change to an entire industry, put their competitors in a reactive position, cause their partners and suppliers to make adjustments, and deliver so much value to their customers that their market share grows larger still.

If you want to play hardball and gain decisive advantage, your goals and objectives should focus on some strategies the authors suggest: unleash massive and overwhelming force, exploit anomalies, threaten your competitor’s sanctuaries, take it and make it your own, entice your competitor to retreat and break compromises.

As a strategic partner, how does HR enable your company to play hardball? The book Hardball gives you a glimpse of how people at the top play the business game to win.

Author Brian Tracy recommends that you think like an entrepreneur, i.e. with speed and flexibility. And he recommends this seven step formula for goal and objective setting and taking action. Step one is to decide exactly what you want in a specific area and write it down clearly in detail. Step two, set a deadline for the achievement of the goal. If it is a large goal, break it down into smaller parts and set sub-deadlines.

Step three, set your objectives or make a list of everything that you will have to do to achieve this goal. Four, Prioritize your objectives. Use the 80/20 Rule. Five, identify obstacles and limitations that is holding you back from achieving your goals. Six, take action. Do something immediately to start the process of goal attainment moving forward. Finally, seven, execute your objects and do something everyday that moves you toward your most important goals.

Million Dollar Habits gives you an idea how an entrepreneur thinks which you can very well apply to running your HR business and aligning to your corporate business.

For each goal and objective, you need to determine metrics to show HR’s contribution to the achievement of corporate goals. You can not use the traditional measures e.g. number of training programs conducted, number of new employees hired, number of people with 5, 10, 15, etc, years of service. Huselid, Becker and Beatty advocates for critical measures that really matter or that show the maximization of workforce potential. Examples for Right HR Practices: percent of non-entry-level jobs that have been filled from within in recent and over the last five years; percent regrettable turnover; proportion of absenteeism; retention rate of “A” players in key and non-core positions; percent of employees making suggestions; performance of newly hired applicants; and so forth.

They identified the link between the workforce and HR scorecards and how to collect and interpret workforce scorecard data. They suggest hundreds of measures that tie up to the achievement of the corporate vision. The Workforce Scorecard is a very useful tabletop reference for HR people.

WHY CAN’T WE GET ANYTHING DONE AROUND HERE?: the smart manager’s guide to executing the work that delivers results.
By Robert E. Lefton and Jerome T. Loeb

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Books on Complexity, Performance, Competition

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

By Michael L. George and Stephen A. Wilson
(McGraw-Hill Companies)

By Paul C. Light

By Michael E. Porter
(Harvard Business School Press)

It is not enough that we know where we want to go (vision, mission, values and strategic goals) to get there. The ever changing world of business forces us to analyze our circumstances and take stock of our resources and processes to get a more focused picture of our business environment and project them into the future—the place where we would implement our strategies.

Authors George and Wilson wrote: Somewhere in your business, there is too much complexity. It erodes profitability, impedes productivity, confuses customers, and adds non-recoverable costs that can kill you in the marketplace. But that’s only half the equation. You may also be losing out by having too little of the complexity where it counts—in the products, services and options you offer to customers. Customers call this value-added complexity “variety,” “options,” or “customization.”

Either way, as you will discover in Conquering Complexity in Your Business, the impact of complexity is enormous in terms of lost profit, and missed growth opportunities. George and Wilson identify two kinds of complexity and conclude that conquering these complexities will give your business the competitive edge.

Deliberate complexity. To respond to growing competition, companies make deliberate decisions to increase complexity, to expand their products and service lines, to constantly modify and redesign existing products/services. The net impact is more and more product/services variations chasing limited resources, which are growing more slowly than the rate of proliferation. Many companies are now choked by the complexity they offer to customers.

Unmanaged proliferation. Much of the complexity in business is unintentional. New products or services are often designed without consideration for what already exists, new activities are added to processes without thought to whether existing activities could be used or adapted; acquisitions are integrated with no thought to the resulting cost of complexity. These happen simply because no one has understood how incremental decisions made in isolation can result in very high complexity-related costs over time.

Therefore, George and Wilson recommend steps to diagnose and prioritize the complexity in your business before developing your strategies. 1) Identify which complexity creates value and which destroy value; 2) Quantify the costs this complexity imposes on your business; 3) Expose the underlying cause of the complexity and; 4. Evaluate whether potential new products/services will be worth the complexity they introduce into the systems.

This holds true for our human resources management. Most times our customer, our employees, feel weighed down by the complexity of HR policies, systems, programs and procedures we implement without a second look at the cost (time, money, space, etc) , results and impact of such programs. Time to analyze our capabilities and to adjust our HR initiatives within the sight of our corporate vision/mission/values and goals.

Other than the social, political and regulatory, economic, and technological factors in our external environment, it is the industry and competition factors that shape our strategy, guide us allocate our limited resources, and impact our business the most. Speaking of which brings to mind Michael Porter’s five forces governing competition in an industry. For the past two decades, Porter’s work has defined our fundamental understanding of competition and competitive strategy.

In the book On Competition, Porter, writing alone or in collaboration with other writers, discussed more in-depth the concepts of competition and strategy, competitiveness of locations and competitive solutions to societal problems.

The five contending forces are:

 The Industry: jockeying for position among current competitors
 Threat of new entrants
 Bargaining power of suppliers
 Bargaining power of customers
 Threat of substitute products or services

Porter writes: The strongest competitive force or forces determine the profitability of an industry and so are of greatest importance in strategy formulation. For example, even a company with a strong position in an industry unthreatened by potential entrants will earn low returns if it faces a superior or a lower cost substitute products. In such a situation, coping with the substitute product becomes the number one strategic priority. Knowledge of these underlying sources of competitive pressure provides the groundwork for a strategic agenda of action.

Porter stresses the need to look beyond product to function in defining a business, beyond national boundaries to potential international competition, and beyond the ranks of one’s competitors today to those that may become competitors tomorrow.

And I say that HR departments face varied competition at every aspect of the HR function. Internally we compete in terms of budget (our training budget is the first to be cut at crunch time), heart and time of our employees and management. Externally, we compete with other companies who offer more satisfying jobs and better opportunities, salaries and perks. It is time to take a close look at the environment, internal and external, where HR operates to determine and manage complexity.

Having explored our past, present and future; and recognized our potential, vulnerability and uncertainty; and crafted our strategy, let’s think of how to improve and maintain high performance to achieve business excellence.

Paul Light writes about The Four Pillars of High Performance, lessons from the Rand Corporation. Light says that a high performing organization is a “robust” organization. Robustness in organizations means the ability of an organization to protect itself against external turbulence, whether by hedging against vulnerabilities or by exploiting opportunities as they arise. It also means achieving extraordinary performance by adapting to changing circumstances. Being robust involves the effort to harden organizations against both environmental turbulence and their own vulnerabilities.

Light names and explains the four pillars of robustness or high performance as:
 Alertness. It is simply paying attention to what’s out there because you are under state-of-the-world uncertainty. You keep getting more and more data and finally you start to see. It resides in a basic commitment to rigorous monitoring of how the organization is doing at any given time.
 Agility. Assume that an organization actually sets a signpost and discovers that a loadbearing assumption is somehow failing and has the warning time to act. Although the knowledge might be interesting as a harbinger of turbulence ahead, it is useless unless the organization can react. Agility is also essential to effective teams. For example, in the Army, it is the ability to do multiple missions effectively and react in a very short period of time, even though they had not planned to do them all.
 Adaptability. It is the ability to rapidly adjust strategies and tactics to meet changes in the environment. Innovation is a form of adaptation, but not all adaptation is innovative. Adaptability requires the organizational capacity to react. It involves more than just preparing for surprise. It involves efforts to stay ahead of the traffic through both continuous and disruptive maneuvering. It is important to emphasize that all of this adaptability has been based on rigorous research and measurement. This leads to understanding how organizations allocate resources to any activity. Should they invest early or late? What are the short-term costs versus long-term costs?
 Alignment. It is one thing to change the planning process or initiate new strategies, introduce massive or targeted change, the organization as a whole must be aligned to vision, mission, values and goals. In a well-aligned system, linkages are clear and understood. It also involves cost control and careful measurement. It is a central consideration in building lean organizations and empowering employees.

Robustness entails investment in all corners of the organization, and potentially disruptive changes in how the organization operates. It requires more than a broad embrace of alertness, agility, adaptability and alignment. It is also necessary to accept the notion that there is no single future out there against which to plan and invest in contingencies that may never come to pass.

HR units and HR professionals can hedge against falling in love with and fiercely defensive of their programs and processes by developing robustness in order to respond more relevantly to the needs of the employees and the organization.

How Breakthroughs Happen
By Andrew Hargadon
(Harvard Business School Press)

Abolishing Performance Appraisals
By Tom Coens and Mary Jenkins
(Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc)

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Art of Winning Commitment, and, Manager's Guide to Strategy

book review for the personnel management association of the philippines (pmap) newsletter, march 2005 issue.

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Individual member (Paradigms & Paradoxes Corporation)

THE ART OF WINNING COMMITMENT: 10 ways leaders can engage minds, hearts and spirits
By Dick Richards

By Roger Formisano
(McGraw-Hill Companies)

Bloorview MacMillan Children’s Centre of Ontario, Canada, enables children with disabilities and special needs to achieve their best. The vision is a heart stopper, “Defy Disability.” Dick Richards writes: “That’s all of it: two words. It suggests a world in which disability is met head on and challenged with resolve and dignity. More importantly it suggests that the leaders at Bloorview MacMillan care about something other than themselves. And it implies that the rest of them ought to do the same. The leadership of Bloorview MacMillan has crafted a declaration that is both a vision and a call to action."

‘Defy disability!’ addresses the reasons that leaders at the children center do what they do, and why followers ought to do the same, beyond their self-interest. Heather Roseveare, director of family and community relations at Bloorview MacMillan, said, “Our vision captures the heart of what we do—defy disability—but also how we do it, and why we do it.”

Author Richards continues: “Visions can be placed on a continuum from those that are self-referent at one end to those that are noble at the other. Self-referent visions are about what the organization and its people wish to become. Noble visions are about the contribution the organization’s leaders wish to make to some group of people.”

A vision that is self-referent casts doubt on an organization’s commitment. “For example, if an organization’s leaders state that they are committed to customer service, yet their vision is entirely self-referent, an onlooker might legitimately conclude that the commitment to customer service is merely political. In other words, customer service is not valued in and of itself, but as a means to an end—the organization’s own achievement. This political commitment to service is the likely source of contradictory messages to customers, such as, ‘Your call is important to us. All our representatives are currently busy helping other customers. Your call will be answered in twenty-two minutes.’ If the call truly was important, if the organization’s commitment was truly to customer service rather than to its own achievement, then the call would be answered immediately.“

Richards quotes Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild and Bidwell Training Center CEO Bill Strickland saying that part of a leader’s job is to make sure that the stockholders are cool. “The other part is to improve the planet, make a contribution, raise some decent kids, support your fellow man, help struggling social institutions in your community. You have many jobs, one of which happens to be making money. Strickland says of a noble vision, ‘it opens up the conversation and introduces a much broader agenda of items that are considered as part of our work life. We are going to lose our planet if leadership doesn’t start opening up this conversation to consider more than ‘me first’.”

Along with insight, storytelling and mobilizing, coming up with an inspiring vision is one of ways to win intellectual commitment of human energy. Dick Richards says that leaders can not lead without the commitment of others and understanding commitments in its various forms is central to t heir purposes. The four forms of commitment are political (commitment to something in order to gain something else), intellectual (commitment of the mind to a good idea), emotional (commitment that arises out of strong feelings), and spiritual (commitment to a higher purpose).

In fact all four commitments must be explicit or implicit in your vision in order for it to inspire. As analytical psychology founder Carl Gustav Jung theorized, “Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your heart and soul.”

A vision serves as a statement about how a leader intends to create concrete reality out of her insight. Visions that have a noble rather than a self-referent quality are far more likely to win the commitment of others and to provide followers with a noble sense of who they are and who they are becoming.

To start you off on your strategic conversations, Richard suggests these questions.

ü Who, in your life experience, was practiced at vision?
ü To what degree are you practiced at vision?
ü What is it about vision that rings true for your current leadership role?
ü How important is vision to your further development as a leader?

According to leadership expert Burt Nanus, a vision is where tomorrow begins, for it expresses what you and others who share the vision will be working hard to create. Since most people don’t take the time to think systematically about the future, those who do—and who base strategies and actions on their vision—have inordinate power to shape the future.

Writer Elie Wiesel reminds us that “one must wager on the future. To save the life of a single child, no effort is superfluous. To make a tired old man smile is to perform an essential task. To defeat injustice and misfortune, if only for one instant, for a single victim, is to invent a new reason to hope.”

Roger Formisano says a powerful vision requires three things:

ü Goals: long-term objectives that will concentrate the efforts of every person in the company
ü Purpose or Mission statement: a compelling reason for the company to be in business
ü Values: principles that will guide the company as it fulfills its purpose and progresses toward its goals

Author Formisano says much of the negative perception about vision/mission statements revolves around the reality that for many organizations vision statements remain just that: statements, some words on a page. “But successful organizations make their concept of the future of the organization real, by testing every decision against the achievement of the vision goals and creating an environment in which strategy is more clearly understood and implemented throughout the organization.

“In recent studies, firms with formalized, articulated visions earned twice the return on equity as those firms without documented approaches. Such studies imply that there can be real shareholder value in creating structured vision.”

Formisano cited Starbucks’ lofty and bold goal and overriding objective--To establish Starbucks as the most recognized and respected brand in the world-- to explain why Starbucks stores are everywhere and reaping success. “Notice that the company wants to achieve both brand recognition and respect, globally. So Starbucks wants to be known, but more importantly, it wants to be known for a certain set of operating principles that leads to respect.”

“Starbucks vision does not end with its objective, however. The ‘picture’ of the Starbucks organization is clarified by its mission statement and guiding principles:

Mission: Establish Starbucks as the premier purveyor of the finest coffee in the world while maintaining our uncompromising principles while we grow.


1. Provide a great work environment and treat each other with respect and dignity.
2. Embrace diversity as an essential component in the way we do business.
3. Apply the highest standards of excellence to purchasing, roasting, and fresh delivery of our coffee.
4. Develop enthusiastically satisfied customers all of the time.
5. Contribute positively to our communities and our environment.
6. Recognize that profitability is essential to our future success.

Now, Formisano suggest that we look at Starbucks. “Write down the Starbucks vision and then visit a couple of Starbucks stores. Stay a little while and look around. Can you see the vision in action? Do you see a diversity, a commitment to customer satisfaction, and community development? Make notes on each of the components of the vision package and observe what elements of the strategy become apparent. For example, what happens if a customer’s order is prepared incorrectly or takes longer than it should? Is it consistent between stores?

“After your visits, ask yourself what Starbucks management might be doing to implement the strategy to achieve the corporate vision. Try to put yourself in their shoes: it will give you good ideas for implementing your own strategy.”

Do this for your own company. Check your vision/mission/values statement against what you see, hear, think, feel and do; against your policies and procedures; against your leadership styles. Check your postings in your bulleting boards. Check the reactions of your customers to your products and services. Is there congruence there?

The organization’s vision is the collective aspirations of everybody involved in the organization. It starts with individual personal visions. You don’t want to be seventy-year-old later thinking like a thirty-five year old asking, “What happened?” You want to make wonderful things happen, not only for yourself, but for all humanity.

Happy Easter!


DOES IT MATTER? Information Technology and the corrosion of competitive advantage
By Nicolas Carr
(Harvard Business School Press)

PRIMAL LEADERSHIP: Learning to lead with emotional intelligence
By Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee
(Harvard Business School Press)

Friday, February 18, 2005

3 Books about Teams

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Paradigms & Paradoxes Corporation

MAKING TEAMS WORK: 24 lessons for working together successfully
Michael Maginn

Harvard Business Review on TEAMS THAT SUCCEED
(Harvard Business School Press)

Eric Baron
(Prima Publishing)

In the article “Speeding up Team Learning,” authors Amy Edmonson, Richard Bohmer and Gary Pisano write: “Cardiac surgery is one of medicine’s modern miracles. In an operating room no larger than many household kitchens, a patient rendered functionally dead—the heart no longer beating, the lungs no longer breathing—while a surgical team repairs or replaces damaged arteries or valves. A week later, the patient walks out of the hospital.”

“A conventional cardiac operation, which typically lasts two to four hours, unites four professions, and a battery of specialized equipment in a carefully choreographed routine. The surgeon and the surgeon’s assistant are supported by scrub nurse, a cardiac anesthesiologist and a perfusionist—a technician who runs the bypass machine that takes over the functions of the heart and lungs. A team in a typical cardiac surgery department performs hundreds of open-heart operations a year. Consequently, the well-defined sequence of individual tasks that constitute an operation becomes so routine that team members often don’t need works to signal the start of a new stage in the procedure; a mere look is enough.”

Unity in action. Teamwork. The authors found that success in learning came down to the way teams were put together and how they drew on their experience—in other words, on the teams’ design and management. “Teams that learned the new procedure most quickly shared three essential characteristics. They were designed for learning; their leaders framed the challenge in such a way that team members were highly motivated to learn; and the leaders’ behavior created an environment of psychological safety that fostered communication and innovation.”

The other topics in this compilation of research-based articles by various authors from the Harvard Business Review are: The Discipline of Teams, Building the Emotional Intelligence of Groups, Why Bad Projects Are So Hard to Kill, What You Don’t Know About Making Decisions, Communities of Practice, How the Right Measures Help Teams Excel, and The Nut Island Effect: When Good Teams Go Wrong.

Likewise, it is often said that every member of an organization is a salesman for that organization. Author Eric Baron writes about “organization-wide selling—a way of doing business in which everyone in the organization participates at some level in the sales process.” “Selling is A Team Sport” is based on the simple idea that the single best differentiator (from your competitor) you can leverage is the people who make up your organization—provided you know how to deploy them effectively as value-adding resources that can knock the socks off your customers.

Eric Baron maintains that most people within every organization touch the customer, directly or indirectly with virtually everyone touching the customer in some way. Everybody in the organization takes responsibility for the customer in everything they do. Everyone, from the executives to workers on the shop floor, must consistently think about what they can do to provide outstanding customer satisfaction.

Imagine if you have an uninvolved surgeon, assistant, scrub nurse or profusionist in a cardiac surgery team. It often happens that a customer is persuaded to buy a product but eventually gets disappointed with value-diminishing after-sales service such as erroneous billing or curt telephone operator or smug executive and the list go on.

Eric Baron talks about making the problem-solving, customer-centered, organization-wide selling a reality by cultivating a customer-driven organization-wide selling culture. He reminds us that cultural change starts at the top and cascades down throughout the organization. Selling requires the whole organization acting together in unison to serve the customer.

Michael Maginn shares 24 lessons for working together successfully in his book, “Making Teams Work.” These are
• forge a clear, common goal
• clarify member skills and responsibilities
• take time for rules
• avoid predictable problems
• use the team constitution
• tell the new folks
• collaborate, collaborate, collaborate
• bring ideas to life
• leap to creativity
• makes solid decisions
• don’t compromise
• discover consensus
• seek a shared view
• practice consensus decision making
• use disagreement
• squash conflict viruses
• actively manage differences
• trust each other
• run good meetings
• regularly size up your team
• lead without dominating
• ask for help
• don’t give up

My favorite is “reward each other.”

Maginn writes: “When a team takes time to recognize individual contributions of team members, it is adding to the self-esteem of these people. It makes people feel good to be valued. It also builds a sense of community and mutually within the team. One way to recognize individual contribution is to send a ‘Love Bomb’ to each member. After a major project is completed or when difficult work has been tiring the team, get the team together to celebrate its members.

“Here is how a love bomb works: Each team member is supplied with a sheet of paper with the name of another team member on the top. The member writes a brief comment about a quality, characteristics, or specific contribution of the person and what that has meant to the writer. After everyone completes their comment, the papers are passed one person to the right. Now the member adds his or her comment to the one already on the page. When completed, the paper is passed again to the right until each team member has comments on each page.

“The leader of the team can read these ‘Love Bombs’ and present them to the team members. When this is followed up with a lunch on the company or a trip to the ballpark, then the feeling of being part of a community which values each member is reinforced.”

Additional ideas that cost nothing are: give team members a choice of assignment for the next project, post pictures of the team in a public setting, say ”thank you” for the work.

BOOK SHELF from Harvard Business School Press:

Harvard Business Review on COMPENSATION

Harvard Business Review on BUSINESS VALUE OF IT

CHANGING MINDS: the art and science of changing our own minds and other people’s minds
By Howard Gardner

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

3 Books on Action Inquiry by Leaders and Managers

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Paradigms & Paradoxes Corporation

A Bias for Action: How effective managers harness their willpower, achieve results, and stop wasting time
By Heike Bruch & Sumantra Ghoshal
Harvard Business School Press

Action Inquiry: the secret of timely and transforming leadership
By Bill Torbert and Associates
Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Inspire! What great leaders do
By Lance Secretan
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Bruch and Ghoshal recall the origin of the phrase: Crossing the Rubicon:

“On January 11, 49 B.C., Julius Caesar made a crucial decision: to cross the river Rubicon with his army, thereby effectively declaring civil war against Pompey, who held power in Rome. With the words alea iacta est (the die is cast), Caesar resolved to return with his leions to the city. Once he crossed the Rubicon and ventured into the Roman heartland, he knew there was no turning back. Either he and his soldiers would take the city, or Pompey would destroy them.”

The authors aver that Caesar’s decision changed the course of history. “Before he crossed the river, taking Rome had been merely an idea, a wishful desire that he might achieve. After the crossing, it became an unalterable course, with the force of his whole will behind it—which in itself practically ensured success.”

Bruch and Goshal assert that to move from “motivation” to “willpower,” a manager must undergo precisely this decisive shift to total commitment. “Managers who engage the power of their will typically have crossed their own personal Rubicon. Before it, a person experiences desire—the driving force behind often volatile and superficial motivation. At that time, a person can always go back.”

A Bias for Action gives actionable tips for harnessing our willpower to achieve results, distinguishing active nonaction (endless meetings, emails and phone calls) from purposeful action, marshaling energy and focus and, thereby, crossing our own Rubicon. It also advocates cultivating a company of action takers by developing purposeful managers, unleashing organizational energy for collective action and freeing people to act. It gives instructions on how organizations can move from Corrosion, Resignation and Comfort Zones to productive Zone and stay there a long while. The authors remind us that management is the art of doing and getting done.

On the other hand, Bill Torbert bats for Action Inquiry (AI) as a transforming leadership skill to finally make things happen. He asserts that AI is not a set of prescriptions for behavior that, when followed, invariably manipulate situations as we initially wish and yield the success we dreamed of. He says AI is not a process that can be followed in an imitative, mechanical way, learning a few ideas and imagining that parroting them back to others occasionally means we are doing AI.

Torbert claims that AI begins we (any one of us, or any family, or organization) experience some sort of gap between t\what we wish to do and what we are able to do. Ai is simultaneously productive and self-assessing.

Tolbert identifies four parts of speech used in AI:

1. Framing – explicitly stating what the purpose is for the present occasion, what the dilemma is that everyone is at the meeting to resolve, what assumptions are shared or not shared. That is, to put one’s perspective as well as understanding of the others’ perspectives out onto the table for examination.
2. Advocating – explicitly asserting an option, perception, feeling, or strategy for action in relatively abstract terms, e.g. “We’ve got to get shipments out faster.” “Do you have a pen?” is a question which is easily answerable by a no. In contrast, “I need a pen (advocacy). Do you have an extra one (inquiry)?” might yield an answer like, “No, but there’s a whole box in the secretary’s office.”
3. Illustrating – telling a bit of a concrete story that puts meat on the bones of the advocacy and thereby orients and motivates others more clearly. For example, “We’ve got to get shipments out faster (advocacy). Our biggest client has got a rush order of his own, and he needs our parts before the end of the week (illustration).”
4. Inquiring –questioning others in order to learn something from them. In principle, Tolbert reminds, the simplest thing in the world; in practice, one of the most difficult things in the world to do effectively. One reason is that we often inquire rhetorically, as we just did. We don’t give the other the opportunity to respond; or we suggest by our tone that we don’t really want a true answer. “How are you?” we say a dozen times each day not really wanting to know. “You agree, don’t you?” makes it clear what answer we want.

The author also writes that AI is a way of organizing and proceeded with how this is done. Read the book and find out how.

I love quotations and the book Inspire! has lots of them because it deals precisely with inspiring people to act. Author Secretan says motivation is something we “do” to someone; inspiration is something that is the result of a soulful relationship.

This book is a good companion on chilly evenings like we are having nowadays (thanks to the winds from Siberia) and it also helps us plan for the next day. Read the book for tips and how-to’s on many topics of inspiring self and others. Meanwhile, let us meditate on some of the quotations:
• Keep your fears to yourself, but share your inspirations with others (Robert Louis Stevenson)
• Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely. (Karen Kaiser Clark)
• Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. (Mahatma Gandhi)
• Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the pay-it-safers, the creatures of commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary. (Sir Cecil Beaton)
• Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen. (Albert Einstein)
• I’ve had many problems in my life—most of which never happened. (Mark Twain)
• Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves. (Carl Gustav Jung)
• Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their jobs done. (Peter Drucker)
• I don’t dream at night, I dream all day; I dream for a living. (Steven Spielberg)
• Courage is the power to let go of the familiar. (Raymond Lindquist)


Balanced Scorecard Step-by-Step: Maximizing performance and maintaining results
By Paul R. Niven
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

The Strategy Maps: Converting intangible assets into tangible outcomes
By Robert S. Kaplan & David P. Norton
Harvard Business School Press