Big Company Syndrome

April 29, 2013

Note: This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive!

This week’s focus: big company syndrome

You know your company is plagued with big company syndrome when:

  1. There is little or no sense of urgency.
  2. The smallest unit of time is 1 year.
  3. If it can’t be done in a year, allow 2 years or maybe 3.
  4. There is always next week, next quarter, next year, next decade.
  5. Incrementalism is favored over actions that move the needle for the business.
  6. You study, analyze, and ponder for years without solving well-known problems.
  7. You invest huge amounts of capital on information technology to solve a problem that no one can articulate well.
  8. You are more concerned about getting to a perfect solution than rapidly implementing a solution that might be “good enough.”
  9. Decisions can only be made at the highest levels of management.
  10. People have little faith that their ideas are valued when senior management consistently overturns the recommendations of people on the front lines.
  11. Your people think they are part of a team with well-defined roles, responsibilities and accountabilities for each member when, in reality, they are part of a committee with poorly defined roles, responsibilities and accountabilities. [What if a professional baseball or football team played like a committee rather than a team?]
  12. Smaller, more agile competitors are running circles around you but you believe they’ll never be a threat.
  13. Your leadership is internally-focused with a passion for revenues, margins, market share, stock price and continually fixing what is wrong about the business but has no real passion for the business they are in, e.g., the products, the customers, driving innovation, etc.
  14. Employees and customers feel as though they are treated with indifference.
  15. Employees are risk-averse and cling to the status quo.

I don’t see how a company suffering from big company syndrome can thrive. Do you?

Thought for the week:

 “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit at the typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway

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What do you think? I welcome your blog comments!

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Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2013 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.

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The Power Of Focus

April 22, 2013

Note: This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive!

This week’s focus: the power of focus

Thank God It’s this Monday and not the last.

When people were attacked at the Boston Marathon, it ignited a singular focus to find the perpetrator and bring him or her to justice. At the end of the week,

  • we see the result of the focus on one goal
  • we see the result of incredible collaboration from thousands of people who have never worked together on a project like this before to produce a powerful outcome in just over 4 days
  • we witness the euphoria of a grateful citizenry
  • we feel relief

The contrast is stark: In a few days, we’ve felt the horror of the attack and sheer jubilation as a result of the suspects being neutralized.

To all who played a hand in getting us to this point, thank you. To our first responders and good samaritans who jumped into action, thank you very much.

And, finally, to all who have been impacted by the horrific event, know that you are in our thoughts and prayers.

Thought for the week:

“In your quest for the riches, don’t forget to enjoy the richness of what you already have.” – Rajesh Setty

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What do you think? I welcome your blog comments!

___

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2013 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.

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Boston Marathon Aftermath Shows Who We Are

April 16, 2013

It’s been stunning and saddening to watch what happened at the Boston Marathon yesterday here from Silicon Valley.

Yet, the valiant ways in which bystanders and first responders rose to the occasion to help one another is the real gift and inspiration from this tragedy.

In the business world, customers often say “it isn’t the problem that concerns me so much–it’s the way you respond to it.” There is lots to be proud of in the response.

Our will was not impacted yesterday. We started rising up within nanoseconds of the bombs going off. That’s America. That’s who we are.

My thoughts and prayers continue for all who’ve been impacted, all who helped, and all affected by this tragedy.

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

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Appealing to Self-Interest

April 15, 2013

Note: This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive!

This week’s focus: appealing to self-interest

Recently a high school in California faced an usual problem: The girls had started kissing the mirror in the restroom, leaving hard-to-remove imprints. Joe, the dedicated janitor, appealed to the principal for help. The principal immediately announced that the mirror kissing must stop…or else.

The kissing increased. Girls who had not really considered kissing a mirror suddenly saw the appeal. At the end of his scholarly rope, the principal called in a consultant, who brought sage advice to the situation—as we always do.

The consultant suggested that the principal meet with the president of each class in the girls’ restroom to discuss the situation. Initially the principal asked for both their empathy and cooperation in addressing the problem. Then he announced, “I think that once you understand how difficult the girls are making Joe’s job, you’ll use your influence to convince your classmates to stop kissing the mirror.”

To demonstrate the arduous task of cleaning the mirror. Joe took a toilet brush, dipped it in the toilet, and then scrubbed the mirror. That was the last time he ever had to clean the mirror.

Too often we try to effect behavior change by presenting our wants and needs while simultaneously ignoring those of others.

Consultants know better. People change—when they do change—for their reasons, not ours. If we pinpoint their motivations and fears, we take significant strides in the direction of our goals.

When we don’t, we end up with toilet water on our kissers.

Note: This guest post comes courtesy of my good friend and colleague, Linda Henman, Henman Performance Group.

Thought for the week:

“Worrying is like praying for the things you don’t want.” – Source unknown

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What do you think? I welcome your blog comments!

___

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2013 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.

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DeNardo Lectureship A Home Run for Santa Clara University

April 14, 2013

I joined the Leadership Board for the College of Arts and Sciences at Santa Clara University this past fall. Until then, I confess to having spent little time on campus since receiving my MBA there in 1976. Since joining the board, I heard a constant refrain from the executive committee members: “Wait until the DeNardo Lectureship!” This past week was finally the week. And, now I understand why my colleagues were so excited.

The DeNardo Lectureship is combined with Health and Science Horizons and is a series of events designed to enrich student, faculty and community understanding of modern healthcare topics. As the university website states:

Boasting dynamic and eminent speakers, the series features interdisciplinary programs aimed at inspiring an intellectual dialogue across campus and our community. Health and Science Horizons brings out the best in Jesuit education, reflecting Santa Clara’s institutional commitment to the pursuit of informed ethical discourse.

Health and Science Horizons is presented in partnership with the Gerald and Sally DeNardo Lectureship, the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, and SCU Presents.

About The Gerald and Sally DeNardo Lectureship

Gerald and Sally DeNardo, Photo courtesy of UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

Gerald and Sally DeNardo, Photo courtesy of UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

The Gerald and Sally DeNardo Lectureship was established through an endowment created and funded by Gerald and Sally DeNardo. Their vision is for the Lectureship to be the major and most effective presentation in the health sciences at Santa Clara. The DeNardos expanded their vision to include Science Research Scholars, as well as a Senior Prize.

The vision for the Gerald and Sally DeNardo Science Scholars is to support the undergraduate research experience of outstanding science students with Santa Clara University faculty mentors. The Gerald and Sally DeNardo Senior Prize in Science Research is to recognize outstanding research accomplishment by a Santa Clara University undergraduate pursuing a career in the health sciences.

The major events this year included:

  • A keynote by David Kessler, M.D., former Food and Drug Administration head under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton
  • The Gerald and Sally DeNardo Lectureship Recognition Dinner
  • An Iron Chef event—the art and science of cooking healthy food
  • “Hunger, Obesity and Food Justice”
  • “What’s For Dinner? How Marketing Influences Our Food Choices”

I had the pleasure of attending the first two events.

David Kessler, M.D.

If the program goal is the “pursuit of informed ethical discourse,” I give Dr. Kessler’s program an A+. When you hear someone speak and the message takes up a prominent place in your mind for days afterward, you have real impact.

Dr. Kessler is considered the leader in turning the tide on the acceptability of cigarette smoking in the U.S and globally. I know a great deal about smoking. I smoked 2-3 packs of cigarettes a day for 18 years up until February of 1990 when I came to realize I was swimming against a strong current of change. It was becoming harder and harder to smoke where and when I wanted. The non-smoking world was closing in on me. I had to stop.

Smoking was falling out of favor. I would no longer be able to smoke in the office. Smoking was being banned on airplane flights in the U.S. And, there was little question about whether smoking was a healthy choice. It was not. Until Tuesday night, I really didn’t know who to credit with this dramatic change in attitudes and regulations about smoking. Now, I know.

Now, Dr. Kessler is taking on what represents one of the greatest national health challenges in our country’s history: the food we eat. His latest book is The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite. In this book, Dr. Kessler explains how the food industry has a disastrous impact on the eating habits of millions of Americans. The food we eat is dominated by sugar, salt and fat which is contributing to many health challenges including obesity, diabetes, and heart problems. He spoke about the current food carnival atmosphere we live in today—there are draconian implications for maintaining the status quo. Current projections show 30% of the U.S. population will be diabetic by 2030, a statistic that comes with huge healthcare cost implications. After 90 minutes with Dr. Kessler, I conclude his message is a message that everyone needs to hear and act on.

Coincidentally, the night after his speech, Taco Bell announced that they are are planning to offer healthier food choices for about 20% of their menu by the year 2020. Bold leadership! Kidding! Taco Bell is the poster child for food dominated by sugar, salt and fat. Taco Bell understands how addictive sugar, salt and fat are and don’t want to negatively impact what their customers crave: cheap, fat, salty, filling food combined with sugary beverages.

My suggestion: Get Dr. Kessler’s book, read it, share it, and discuss it with everyone you can. Dr. Kessler has an important message and perspective. Don’t look for the government to take the lead on helping us address this issue–”we” are going to have to do it on our own.

The Gerald and Sally DeNardo Lectureship Recognition Dinner

The dinner was preceded by a poster session put on by the Santa Clara University Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society. Key take-aways:

  • I met incredibly bright, passionate students presenting complex research
  • The students did a very good job explaining their research in layman’s terms—I commend them for being able to do that
  • They have very capable, committed academic advisers
  • It is hard to believe how gifted students are today

The DeNardos have laid the groundwork for committed student/professor research and collaboration. The scholarship assistance they are providing is extremely valuable. It was a pleasure to meet and have dinner with several award recipients and their professors.

Summary

Gerald and Sally DeNardo have put something in place that is incredibly special. The DeNardo Lectureship Committee is doing a remarkable job of ensuring the vision of the DeNardo’s is achieved. I am looking forward to this event in 2014. And, you can be sure I’ll be telling new board members to come experience something very special!

As I walked to the car after the second night, I had a feeling of elation. It is amazing to see where the Santa Clara University students, the faculty, the campus and the university administration have evolved to. Am I jaded? I don’t think so. I see many impressive things. But, one thing that is unmistakable: what is happening at Santa Clara University is very special.

Dave Gardner

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Taking The Temperature Of Your Business

April 8, 2013

Note: This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive!

This week’s focus: taking the temperature of your business

  • Are your employees happy and excited about your business?
  • How is your employee turnover?
  • Are potential employees excited about the prospects of working for you?
  • Are you internally focused or customer focused on everything you do?
  • Are your customers loyal, enthused and delighted about the opportunity to do business with you?
  • Is customer retention high?
  • Are your investors excited about the future or worried about your viability?
  • Are industry analysts upbeat or writing doom and gloom stories?
  • Is your business growing, shrinking or stuck?
  • Are you excited about getting up every day and facing your world? Or, is your head just not in the game?
  • As a leader, are you and your team inspired to take action or in the doldrums worrying about how your life will play out?

It is important to confirm the answers to these and many more questions. You shouldn’t guess about the answers. You must assume your competitors are thinking about and addressing these issues.

The best practice is to have an independent third-party dig in and help you understand where things stand. For a modest investment, you can either confirm what you believe to be true and/or learn about gaps have yet to appear on your radar screen. This will help your business thrive.

Here are two Fast Company articles about this:

Filtered Water Is Good; Filtered Information, Not So Much

Are You Excited About Your Business Execution and Collaboration?

Thought for the week:

 “I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and Constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”  – Thomas Jefferson 1816

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What do you think? I welcome your blog comments!

___

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2013 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.

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British Airways Shows How Airlines Can Be So Exasperating

April 3, 2013

Last year, I was to travel from San Francisco to India for a conference. While 2 of us from California allowed ample time to get our visas from the Indian Consulate in San Francisco, in the end we did not have our visas issued in time:

  • After dilly-dallying for a couple of weeks, the requirement that we needed “conference” visas was changed within 2 days of our flight time to needing “business visas.”  I didn’t care that it cost a bit more money–I needed the visa so I could fly to New Dehli.
  • With no time to spare, it turned out the printer that prints the visas in a passport was broken and therefore no visa could be issued. Hard to believe that there’s no alternate printer or work-around for this.

Two of us missed getting to the conference due to Travisa and the San Francisco Indian Consulate’s inefficiencies and having a single-point-of-failure in a critical process: printing the visa in my passport.

My air travel was on British Airways. I paid additional money out of my pocket to ensure I wasn’t stuck in a middle seat of a 747 for two flight segments of about 11 hours each.

I missed my outbound flight–I alerted the travel agent and airline well in advance of the scheduled departure. The travel agent notified BA that I was awaiting my visa and might be able to leave a day late and get to the conference. I was told “you have 52 weeks to use this ticket.” I thought that was great.

Today, I called BA to see about using that ticket to attend this year’s conference in Istanbul, Turkey. It’s about 2 weeks earlier this year so it should have been easy to leverage the ticket with BA.  Wrong!

BA tells me that the ticket needed to be re-booked at the same time I missed my outbound flight or the entire ticket value would be lost.

How on God’s green earth can I be told 2 entirely different rules about the same ticket?  Does anybody see the conflict?

And, what does BA say, “We’re sorry. There’s nothing we can do. You need to call your travel agent.” [Read my Fast Company blog post “I’m Sorry Doesn’t Cut It Anymore.”

So, Dell (who is paying my travel to these 2 conferences) is out the money. This makes me as angry as if was my own money.  And, as for reclaiming the $170 I paid out of my pocket to not sit in middle seats, that reimbursement claim was rejected by BA as well last year shortly after I was unable to travel.  I seem to recall BA was “sorry” about that as well.

Airline passengers are sick and tired of being gamed by the airlines, their silly rules, and their complete lack of accountability. It’s just disgusting.

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting, http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

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