Business Ethics & A Moral Compass

September 21, 2015

 

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The notion of an “ethical business” isn’t an oxymoron. Two automotive companies make me wonder:

  • GM was just fined $900 million for the car ignition problem that killed over 100 people. People inside GM knew the truth and looked the other way. Right now, the Justice Department has no plans to issue criminal indictments. I heard someone on the news say, “The law really doesn’t address this issue.” It would seem product liability laws have kicked in but what about concealing the truth from management and customers? What about customers dying and not one word was uttered by GM until it was forced to face the music?
  • VW has been caught providing invalid documentation of diesel engine emissions on its automobiles. The software settings that confirmed the vehicles met emission requirements were changed for production vehicles meaning the vehicles did not meet emission requirements. VW is facing fines of up to $18 billion for this violation.

I was taught we should “do the right thing.” Both GM and VW have failed to “do the right thing.” In the case of GM, people have died. In the case of VW, our environment has been compromised.

Ethical choices in business depend on a proper moral compass. Leadership must set the compass and monitor compliance.

Thought for the week:

“If you see distraction externally, you end up creating an internally distracted state.” – Tim Ferriss
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What do you think? I welcome your comments!
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Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2015 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

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


Play Small To Lose

September 7, 2015

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My father and I took up watching Stanford football after my mother’s passing in 2007. Stanford has had some pretty good years the past decade with Coach Jim Harbaugh (who went on to coach the San Francisco 49ers and now the University of Michigan) and Coach David Shaw who is in his fifth season coaching at Stanford.

Dad, a 1948 Stanford B.S. Electrical Engineering grad, is ever hopeful that “this is the year.” It only took one game to see that this likely isn’t Stanford’s year. Stanford looked and played flat yesterday in their 16-6 road loss to Northwestern University. This was a very disappointing start to what appeared to be a season filled with hope and great aspirations. What happened?

  • Shaw’s play calling was too conservative. This is a bad habit of his. It’s tough to watch when Stanford has a small lead but when the team is behind, it is maddening. When you need to pile up a lot of yards as time wanes in the game, 5-yard passes won’t get it done. And, it didn’t.
  • While I don’t yet understand the new rules changes about when the clock stops, it is clear that you have to manage the clock differently today than just a few years ago. The clock doesn’t stop much and the available time to run plays is far less than it used to be.
  • Shaw built his offense around a guy who can run and catch the ball. But, when this guy is central in too many plays, the opposing defense rightly concludes if he’s not running the ball, then a pass is headed his way. The team is not effectively using all its offensive weapons.
  • The quarterback, Kevin Hogan, decided to play one more year at Stanford and not enter the National Football League draft after having 3 strong games at the end of the the 2014 season. His inconsistency and ineffectiveness yesterday won’t help him with his NFL aspirations.

Stanford has some really tough PAC-12 games this year: Oregon, UCLA, USC and Cal. They also play Notre Dame.

David Shaw shoulders the blame for yesterday’s loss. Stanford was ranked 21st going into yesterday’s game. They don’t belong in the Top 25. Stanford has the talent but lacked in execution yesterday.

What’s the lesson? When you need big plays and play small, you’re not going to win in football or in business.

Thought for the week:

“Knowledge isn’t power until it is applied.”  Dale Carnegie
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What do you think? I welcome your comments!
___

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

© 2015 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

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


Too Much Ouzo?

July 12, 2015

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Greece had a referendum a week ago and voted “no” to accepting the terms of financial bailout from the European Union. The “no” vote stems from nationalistic pride, not common sense.

While the Greeks were momentarily happy for “standing up to the EU,” Greece now needs to negotiate a bailout that resembles what the Greeks voted against. Huh?

What we have witnessed can only be deemed a Greek government leadership failure that has brought Greece to a state of financial insolvency. The Greek government has failed to lead.We now know how not to lead.

Too many departments and organization fall victim to not leading. Don’t let this happen to you.

Photo Credit: Dennis Jarvis on Flickr

Thought for the week:

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” – Theodore Roosevelt

What do you think? I welcome your comments!
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Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2015 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

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


Investing In Employee Growth

May 18, 2015

 

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This story or its variations have been shared many times:

CFO: What if we invest in our employees and they leave?

CEO: What if we don’t invest in them and they stay?

In a Fast Company article I wrote called How Much Experience Do You Have?, I offered the following story:

Our CEO offered, “Someone who repeats the same year of their life fifteen times doesn’t have 15 years of experience; they have one year of experience repeated fifteen times.” That thought really stuck with me. We had a lot of people that fit that bill. What are leaders facing?

A business is either evolving or dying. The people within the business are either growing or dying. What are you doing to ensure your people are growing?

Photo Credit: Sean MacEntee, Flickr

Thought for the week:

“Only 3% of the Earth’s water is fresh water. 97% of the water on Earth is salt water.” – Heard through @AquaiWater on Twitter
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What do you think? I welcome your comments!
___

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

© 2015 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

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


Vishal Sikka Departs SAP

May 5, 2014

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Sunday evening, May 4th, I learned Vishal Sikka, CTO and an executive board member of SAP, had resigned for “personal reasons.” News of his departure is shocking to me. Earlier this year, I met him to learn about the transformation he was leading. Vishal is a very impressive individual.

  • About 25,000 employees reported to Vishal. SAP has some 70,000 employees total to give you some perspective.
  • People in Vishal’s organization are in shock and traumatized by his departure. They won’t have definitive answers about what his departure means for some time yet. Vishal’s vision was clearly instantiated in the product roadmap; it can’t turn on a dime.
  • Vishal’s story seemed almost too good to be true and, perhaps in the end, it was. He was leading SAP and its SAP customers to a new and, in my opinion, better place. However, those who lead enterprise-wide transformations scare those who are reliant on and nervous about changing the status quo. There is always friction and resistance to change. SAP’s status quo won last night.
  • He seemed to enjoy a very cordial relationship with his team. He knew people in Palo Alto by their first names, something that surprised me. After all, an important guy like Vishal doesn’t have time for such trivialities, right? Wrong.
  • In a streaming media event, Vishal appeared to be a rock star at SAP. He had the ability to advocate for non-traditional development issues, e.g., pricing products and services. His ability to influence and make change had to scare some people in leadership roles, people who didn’t hold back voicing their concerns.

My friend and colleague, Ray Wang of Constellation Research, noted that Vishal’s departure boiled down to 3 issues:

  • Vishal advocated for building platforms as opposed to applications
  • Vishal was enabling customers to build versus buy applications and solutions
  • Vishal was enabling customers to innovate versus simply executing what SAP defined

Who was most concerned about this paradigm shift that Vishal was leading? Sales and the board of directors. The board took action to alter the path Vishal was putting the company on.

Big companies do what they have to to protect revenue streams. Ultimately, I surmise SAP had real fear that Vishal was going to upset revenue streams.

When SAP tried to cage an innovator like Vishal, he had little choice but to flee the building. Change is hard even for a smart, engaging, charismatic professional like Vishal. And, change is even harder for SAP, a company that has seen a number of executives leave the company.

I hope Vishal, his team and SAP find a compelling way to thrive.

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

© 2014 Dave Gardner

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For Change Sake, Meet People Where They Are

May 5, 2014

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I was contacted by a manufacturing company in a world of hurt. The short version: the client had purchased an ERP system with the hope that business execution would improve. It didn’t. There were no processes in place to be integrated with the new tool. No one used it. The ERP investment was yielding no business benefit.

The client had an open stockroom and did not want to build a cage around it. When it came time for process roll-out, I had to share the idea of “transacting inventory” to account for its consumption by individual job. I knew “transacting inventory” would never resonate with this team so I had to invent a sticky way of making the point.

As I drove by a Wal-Mart, I discovered a solution to my problem:

  • Wal-Mart is like a big open stock room
  • If you don’t pay (transact the merchandise) at the register on your way out the door, it’s shoplifting.
  • And, for my client, if they didn’t stop by the “register” to charge off the parts to the job, that, too, would be considered shoplifting.

The notion of “shoplifting” became the key to my training and to changing the business practices and culture around ERP adoption. Afterall, who would want to be accused of shoplifting?

This idea stuck. When someone would come out of the stockroom with one or more parts, the other people on the shop floor would point at the person and ask if they shoplifted the parts. This became a big part of driving inventory accuracy.

Without this “shoplifting” idea, I doubt we would have gotten the adoption we needed. The company had a 35-year history of not transacting inventory–it was like being in the wild, wild West. Yet, I helped my client cross this uncrossable chasm in a matter of minutes.

The lesson: meet people where they are, not where you wish they are, if you want them to adopt change their world. It’s okay to make it fun sometimes, too.

 Photo Credit: Alison Christine, Flickr.com

Thought for the week:

“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” – Jim Rohn
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What do you think? I welcome your comments!
___

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

© 2014 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

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

October 14, 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: leadership and culture

I didn’t expect to awaken this past Thursday to seeing Santa Clara University on the front page of the San Jose Mercury News.

Father Engh, University President, made headlines by announcing his decision to drop elective abortion coverage for all University employees. Some would say, “C’mon, Dave–this is a private Jesuit university of practicing Roman Catholics–Father Engh is correct in adopting this position.” And, “some” would be right.

Here’s the problem. The decision was made unilaterally without consulting with the employees. The announcement came as a shock to the University’s 1,600 employees. Does Father Engh really want to shock the institution and culture of the University? One faculty member offered:

“Santa Clara has a stated commitment to shared governance, inclusiveness, openness and so forth,” said history professor Nancy Unger. “This is such a powerful violation of all that Santa Clara says that it stands for.”

Apparently, there will be discussions with the stakeholders about this change after the fact. Too late.

As is often the case, it’s often not the policy change that offends as much as it is the way in which the decision is communicated.

Father Engh is clearly seizing the opportunity to align the University’s position with the Affordable Care Act. The ACA requires that birth control be made available. It doesn’t require that an employer offer abortion coverage. The University is complying with the both the law and teachings of the church.

While it works logically, as a practical matter, the manner in which this change was announced has undermined the University’s culture.

It doesn’t take much for leadership to undermine the culture of any organization–it only requires taking action that is inconsistent with cultural norms. Trust can be made very fragile very quickly. And, that is what has happened here.

[Full Disclosure: I’m a member of the Leadership Board for Santa Clara University’s College of Arts and Sciences. My views are my own.]

Thought for the week:

“I am in awe every day of the power of words. The ones we say, the ones we omit, the ability of elegantly assembled ones to move us.” – Amber Naslund via Twitter
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What do you think? I welcome your 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.