Auschwitz (70 years since liberation)
One of my consulting projects had a significant personal impact when meeting the client for the first time.
The project was in Livonia, MI….the family were refugees from WW ll. As I recall they arrived in the US with less than $10. The more memorable encounter was that they were held in Auschwitz. The numbers were on their arms. The family prospered in the US and it was an honor to work with them.
Great businesses revolve around people. By telling their story…..and my willingness to listen made this project successful. It was also a powerful example of courage and a privilege for me to work with this family.
Remember quote, leaders job create more leaders, not followers. Being in charge & pursue Excellence NOT about “controlling.” – Tom Peters
Leaders/leadership has to be one of the most written about subjects in the business/organizational environment.
Like any aspect of business….there is always something new or different to learn about leadership whether it’s the military….government….enterprises….or non-profits.
In some environments….little attention is paid to leadership. Often I would hear – this is the way it has been done….so this is the way we do it now. In one situation in particular….an organization continues with adequate resources yet any growth had been minimal….so therefore why change the leadership model.
In the Michigan MBA program (1967) the emphasis was on management theory….not so much on leadership. That has changed over the years….Noel Tichey being the prominent leadership professor at the business school. http://www.noeltichy.org/
Or Lack Of
In a recent Defense Brief….were two discouraging stories of lack of common sense:
One involving two Air Force Academy (AFA) cadets….the other an US Navy Captain (06).
The cadets placed themselves in a compromising situation. Do they not value the opportunity to attend the academy?….to attend a military academy is a privilege….don’t jeopardize the opportunity. It is doubtful they will be commissioned….common sense must be an attribute of any officer…..if it can’t be exercised as a cadet….more than likely it won’t be applied as an officer.
The second story involved a Navy Captain….who should have exercised mature common sense. It is intriguing that a O6 would place himself in this position or even take an inappropriate course of action. More than likely, something is discovered and a firing takes place and resignation (or retirement). Colonels/Captains are a valued rank for most military officers. Apparently, this Captain exhibited little common sense….unfortunately he will not be the last.
Both the AFA cadets and Navy 06 were not very smart.
From the JSOnline:
There are many classic car restorers….Valenti Classics is in Franklin, WI.
Three key points from the jsonline story:
- Longevity and growth of the business
- Wide customer base – national and international
- Importance of the internet and a stylish website
Peter Drucker has long been recognized as the major influencer on modern business management. From the Harvard Business School:
What do effective leaders have in common? They get the right things done in the right ways – by following eight simple rules:
- Ask what needs to be done
- Ask what’s right for the enterprise
- Develop action plans
- Take responsibility for decisions
- Take responsibility for communicating
- Focus on opportunities, not problems
- Run productive meetings
- Think and say “We” not “I”
These eight rules ought to be laminated and used every day….they are as valid now as they were when Drucker wrote them.
One that stands out: Think “We”
Bicycles have long life cycles….it seems there is always a new way to make a simple product different.
The latest innovation is fat bikes/fat tire bicycles…..that can be ridden on extreme surfaces.
Wisconsin has several cycles manufacturers and all are developing fat bikes to extend their product lines and riding season.
The lesson learned is that there is always way to make a product unique and create a market for that product.
Some business thinkers/writers are not so well-known. George Whalin perhaps….however, he is well-known for the above quote.
George Whalin wrote in 2009: Retail Superstars – Inside the Best 25 Independent Stores in America. It would be interesting to revisit these stores and see where they are now….what impact the internet has had and how they have adapted.
For any business/organization being the best should always be a major goal….though for many….average often seems to be good enough.
For a nice followup: http://tompeters.com/cool-friends/whalin-george/
But your brand is a story, a set of emotions and expectations and a stand-in for how we think and feel about what you do. – Seth Godin
Your brand is how people identify you versus the competition.
A brand is what a business must protect….celebrity brands in particular are most vulnerable. A small misstep can immediately diminish a brand and in some cases minimize it completely.
A great business works hard on its brand….Apple….Southwest Airlines are good examples. Some businesses….GM (recalls)….can easily tarnish their brand.
A well-earned brand is a valuable asset.
From the N&O: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/11/22/4339225/first-citizens-ceo-says-consistency.html
First Citizens Bank is a Raleigh-based family controlled bank.
The CEO Frank B Holding Jr. is interviewed in the N&O story. A key value for First Citizens is consistency of culture:
“I’m the third CEO here since the 1930s. That consistency of culture means a lot to our associates internally as well as to our clients external. It means there is a certain level of dependability here, a certain level of stability and consistency, that we think adds value.
“Many of our clients are small and midsized business owners themselves, and they relate to that family control and that family ownership.”
Consistency of culture should be the goal of any business/organization.
How People Work
“The Social Psychology of Organizing (1969 1st ed) was the single book that most influenced me.” – Tom Peters
The Michigan Business School didn’t emphasize the psychology of organizations in 1967….the primary courses were called Industrial Relations. Of course, the above book wasn’t published until 1969 (the author a Michigan professor).
Tom Peters and others have expanded on the ideas that it is not just numbers or analysis that makes an organization/business successful….it is the people who make a business what it is….the culture of the business.
Great leaders/managers recognize that it takes understanding the “soft” and “hard” aspects of the organization to develop a great business/organization.