Tuesday, September 19, 2006

3 Books on Celebrating Contribution

CAREER IMPRINTS: Creating leaders across an industry
By Monica Higgins
(Josey-Bass) (Pls take note, NOT Harvard Business School.)

REVVED!: An incredible way to rev up your workplace and achieve amazing results
By Harry Paul & Ross Reck
(McGraw-Hill Companies)

THE WISDOM NETWORK: An 8-step process for identifying, sharing, and leveraging individual expertise
By Steve Benton & Melissa Giovagnoli

This is the first time that my editor, Jun Cabochan, got excited about the theme of our newsletter, “celebrating our contribution.” He says, “beyond rewards, we feel a collective sense of joy and happiness in the triumph of people at work, overcoming challenges and adversity.”

And so I went high and low looking for books that would satisfy Jun’s enthusiasm. And I found five.

The first is Career Imprints by Monica Higgins. The jacket reads: Based on her research of 800 biotechnology companies and 3,200 biotechnology executives, Harvard professor Monica Higgins discovered that one firm—Baxter—was the breeding ground for today’s most successful biotechnology ventures. This phenomena of one organization spawning an industry has also been seen in the high-tech (HP) and semiconductor (Fairchild) industries. However, until now, there has been no suitable explanation of why and how these organizations were able to create the next generation of industry leaders.

Ms. Higgins shows why Baxter was so successful in spawning senior executives and offers an understanding of what it takes for an organization to produce leaders that will dominate an industry for years to come. She shows than an organization’s “career imprints”—the result of company systems, structure, strategy, and culture—that employees take with them throughout their careers is the key to creating great leaders.

The book is filled with the compelling stories from the “Baxter Boys” alumni. These stories of their individual career paths provide a behind-the-scenes look at the processes and effects of career imprinting.

For example, Baxter people had that style of being able to understand quickly that cash is precious, cash is king, of being able to think about the P&L view of the world rather than “I’M a marketing guy,” or “I’m a production guy.” None of these Baxter buys were really that good on the science. They were trained as general managers.

Secondly, authors Paul & Reck shares the engaging story of Katie Adams who, after being passed over for a long-awaited promotion, rose above her own personal problems to rekindle the enthusiasm and support of her team at work. Eventually, Katie got her own just rewards. She realized that “caring costs nothing, it makes you feel good, and it makes those around you feel good because it releases their reservoirs of positive energy. As a result, not only do people feel compelled to care back, but they use some of this newly released energy to care about those around them.”

The book answers the questions: How do you inspire people to work harder, reach higher, and achieve more? How do you get them to support you and go above and beyond in everything they do? How do you get them to care?

It asserts that personal relationships don’t maintain themselves. Like any other living thing, they need to be fed and cared for if they are going to thrive. Three ways of jump-starting your passion and put your self and your team on the road to big successes are: win them over, blow them away and keep them revved.

Thirdly, in every organization, people possess astonishing expertise and insights, yet they are often allowed or encouraged to apply their knowledge to only a narrow range of topics. As a result companies do not take full advantage of all the information, ideas and creativity that reside inside their enterprise.

Here’s your favorite part—the how to. Authors Benton and Giovagnoli propose eight steps to identify, share, and leverage individual expertise by establishing wisdom networks. And, may I add, allow everybody to enjoy the process.

1. Set the scene—establish a network-friendly environment.
2. Magnets—create topics to attract the experts.
3. Support systems—nurture communities that emerge around magnet topics.
4. Boundary crossing and role breaking—ensure diverse perspectives.
5. Hid-and-seek—identify the experts
6. Create organizational stars—acknowledge wisdom.
7. Ideas are not enough—provide implementation options.
8. Performance evaluation—create unconventional measures.

To ensure success of your wisdom networks make sure that at lease some members of the management team are viewed as leaders when it comes to knowledge sharing; create an ongoing corporate discussion about information, ideas, knowledge and wisdom; let sharing evolve naturally; and resist the urge to control wisdom networks or turn them into project teams.

My own take is that everything all boils down to shared leadership initiated at all levels of the organization and a culture of humility, trust, caring, mutual respect and innovation. This is a job for superman, er, Number One with the expert assistance of HR leaders. This is one job that is not delegated, it is shared. One way to teach it is by way of being the role model and setting the example.

The fourth and fifth are in our Bookshelf, but can not be reviewed for lack of space. Read them, anyway.


THE HIDDEN POWER OF SOCIAL NETWORKS: Understanding how work really gets done in organizations
By Rob Cross and Andrew Parker
(Harvard Business School Press)

EFFECTIVE SUCCESSION PLANNING 3rd ed: Ensuring leadership continuity and building talent from within.
By William J. Rothwell