Joe and Wanda on Management

Joe Kerr and Wanda B. Goode, two characters from Nick McCormick’s book, “Lead Well and Prosper,” dispense their management wisdom

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Month: April, 2008

Blue Ocean Strategy – Fair Process

29 April, 2008 (22:56) | Leadership, Management, Strategy/Goals | By: Administrator

In their book, Blue Ocean Strategy, W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne address the difficulties of implementing strategy of any kind – blue, red, or any other color for that matter. They maintain that “fair practice” is the key variable that distinguishes successful strategic moves from those that have failed. Fair practice is a managerial adaptation of procedural justice theory which states that people care as much about the justice of the process that produces an outcome as they do about the outcome itself. So, if there is a level of fairness in the strategic process, not only will people do what they are told in order to execute the strategy, they will go above and beyond the call of duty to do so, increasing its chances of success tremendously.

To create fair process, the authors suggest following “The Three E’s.” They are Engagement, Explanation, and Expectations. Engage employees in the strategic development process. Explain the reasons particular strategies have been chosen, and clearly state Expectations.

“Fair process builds execution into strategy by creating people’s buy-in up front.”


Joe Kerr: Allow me to quote William Goldman… “Life isn’t fair. It’s just fairer than death, that’s all.”

Wanda B. Goode: I certainly agree that if people are involved in a process, they have more ownership of it. Of course if the new strategy is going to mean they lose their job, it’s a bit tougher sell.

Being honest and communicating openly is always the best way to go. Obviously if people believe that their thoughts and opinions matter, and that information is being shared freely, they will be more willing to help implement a strategy. It doesn’t mean there won’t be some bumps along the way, but it most cases the mountains can be avoided.

We’ve talked about strategy quite a bit lately. The most wonderful strategies are indeed useless unless executed. Ensuring “Fair Process” seems like it would help with execution. The previous post from Blue Ocean Strategy about utilizing tipping point leadership is very applicable as well. Click here to go to that post.

We’ll point you again to the following post from Joe Grant for more on Blue Ocean Strategy

Blue Ocean Strategy – Motivation for Implementation

23 April, 2008 (01:12) | Leadership, Management, Strategy/Goals | By: Administrator

In their book, Blue Ocean Strategy, W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne talk about how to motivate the troops to execute a strategy. They discourage the traditional approach of creating grand strategic visions propagated by massive top-down mobilization initiatives that are very expensive and usually only inspire lip service.

Instead of diffusing change efforts widely, they advocate seeking massive concentration focusing on 3 areas of disproportionate influence to motivate employees.

  • Kingpins – Efforts need to be concentrated on the key influencers in the organization – the well respected, natural leaders. Convince/Hit the kingpins and the rest come toppling down.
  • Fishbowl Management – Place the Kingpins in a fishbowl. In other words, make their actions/inactions highly visible.
  • Atomization – Break down the challenge into smaller bite-sized pieces so people see that the larger goal is actually attainable.

Thoughts Joe and Wanda?

Joe Kerr: I am a kingpin.

Wanda B. Goode: Makes sense. I guess the difficulty is in actually doing it. First, the kingpins need to be identified, which doesn’t sound like a simple process. Then the fishbowl management techniques must be created. They must be fair and measurable. If not, the effort could easily backfire. Breaking down the large nut into smaller pieces is certainly sound advice. I know even in my daily work I’ve been overwhelmed by some assignments and have had difficulty starting them until I’ve broken the larger chunks into more manageable parts. I can see how the concept transfers to strategic implementation.

For more about the book, Blue Ocean Strategy, check out this post.

Larry Bossidy on Leadership

15 April, 2008 (22:40) | Leadership, Management | By: Administrator

In his book, Execution, Larry Bossidy mentions that Leadership is not about strategizing and creating vision then dispensing it on managers to do the grunt work. Leadership is not about presiding. Leadership is about being actively involved in the business.

Joe and Wanda?

Joe Kerr: Nonsense! Bossidy ignores the enormous difference between managers and leaders. When I first started, I was a task master, and a perfectly good one. I’ve evolved over the years to become more of a creative thinker. Let me give you an example. Yesterday one of my guys told me that we were out of plastic forks in the break room and that Sam, the gal that normally does the ordering, was out of the office. “Green Manager Joe” would have probably had his admin dial Sam’s manager to get some other gal do the needful. Problem solved. A perfectly reasonable approach and solution for a rookie earning his stripes.

What did “Seasoned Leader Joe” do instead? Well, it’s natural for me to look outside the box. It’s an instinct at this point in my career. I looked at the big picture. I said to myself. How many boxes of these things do we go through in a month and how much is it setting us back? We have a couple dozen break rooms in our 4 locations and they probably go through forks like butter. I decided to start a pilot program to have the employees bring in their own forks from home. I had my admin send out an email to the masses. That’s all it took to implement. Then I added it to the agenda for our next leadership meeting. If the pilot is successful, which I have no doubt it will be, we can roll it out across the region. We’ll be saving some much needed cash, and we’ll never run out of forks again!

Wanda B. Goode: It seems as managers climb the ladder of success (some only a rung or two), they tend to forget their role. They like to think of themselves as these grand, exalted cerebral thinkers that are above the tasks of mere managers, to include supporting the people in their organizations and getting things done. Anecdotal evidence indicates that it must be easy to fall into this trap.

For a post that focuses on the CEO, click here.

Martelli’s 10 To Take With You

11 April, 2008 (00:00) | Leadership, Personal Development | By: Administrator

Phil Martelli, coach of St. Joseph’s University men’s basketball team, closes his book, Don’t Call Me Coach, with the following “lesson plan for life.” 10 principles from the “hardwood to the hard world.”

  1. All wins are not winning experiences; all losses are not losing experiences.
  2. To get respect you must first give it.
  3. Every day be willing to teach; each day be open to learning.
  4. The success of the group assures the success of an individual; it is never the other way around.
  5. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  6. Who you are is more important than what you do.
  7. We have no more right to someone’s time than we do to their money.
  8. The eyes speak for the heart.
  9. In all that you do, work (play) hard, smart, and together.
  10. Never let others know if you are working or playing; make it seem like you are doing both at the same time.


Joe Kerr: I’ll give you one to take with you. It’s all you really need… “Life’s a b#tch and then you die.

Wanda B. Goode: I’d pick prefer to stick with Phil’s approach. Excellent life lessons. Very applicable to management.

Want more life lessons? Here is some commentary on life lessons from Confucius. I’m sure Phil would get a kick out of being mentioned along side him!

Performance Appraisals – No Weaknesses?

7 April, 2008 (23:17) | Leadership, Management | By: Administrator

In Larry Bossidy’s book, Execution, Larry offers up the following comment on performance appraisals.

“If you have a boss that gives you an evaluation and doesn’t have anything to say about your weaknesses, go back and get some additional information. Otherwise you are not learning anything.”

Joe Kerr: I’ll go along with that, save one exception. I truly can’t think of a single weakness for me. I certainly have no problem pointing them out to others, though. I especially like to hit the hot shots with a couple of choice “development needs” during their reviews. It keeps them in their place. Here are a couple of favorites that I encourage you to try – “Lacks vision” is a beauty. “Needs better understanding of the business” is another winner.

Wanda B. Goode: I agree with Larry. There is the school of thought that people need to be constantly propped up. I’m all for focusing on people’s strengths, but a manager must be honest and let people know where they are lacking. The manager owes that to the employees. It’s not about bringing people down. Rather, it’s about giving them the necessary information and coaching to propel them forward.

I’ve had the opportunity to read performance appraisals done by my peers. We sometimes review each other’s write-ups in order to learn and to strive to be consistent across our teams. I’m always skeptical when I read a review that has no development needs, or if the same high level, vague development need is repeated in multiple appraisals. Sometimes the weakness is hidden or sugar-coated so much that the person doesn’t see it as an improvement area at all. For example, “Sam gets along great with her teammates. She could improve her teamwork skills if she shared her knowledge more with others.” Even if she heard the second part of that statement, she doesn’t think it is a development need. She hears that she is already sharing knowledge, but she could do even better than great if she just shared a teensy bit more.” In other words, she should just keep doing what she’s doing.

It’s not easy, but I’ve been working with my peers to show them the value of providing straightforward, honest assessments and to help them overcome the uncomfortable feeling of providing constructive criticism. It’s a work in progress, but I continue to make inroads.

Check out this post for an interesting perspective on development needs.

Martelli on Personal Development

3 April, 2008 (23:34) | Leadership, Management, Personal Development | By: Administrator

In his book, Don’t Call Me Coach, Phil Martelli states the following…

“As a businessperson, a coach, a teacher, even as a son or daughter, there’s no such thing as staying the same. I believe wholeheartedly that each day we either improve or we decline. Life is all about competing, and often the competition is most of all against your self. So you have to want to improve. And that is what I set out to do. If I can get even a little bit better each day, the program I administer will get better. The people around me will get better.”

Joe Kerr: I’ve heard it all before. If I’m through learning, I’m through. If I’m not growing, I’m dying. I’m here to tell you I’m through and I’m dead.

Wanda B. Goode: I like the part about competing against yourself. We all have the power to improve. We need to shake the self-sabotaging tendencies and just start getting IT done.

I also like the point about getting better. Not getting great, but getting better. That’s a page right out of Lead Well and Prosper.

Martelli further says, “In terms of basketball, you never may be a great shooter (I wasn’t), but you can always learn to play better defensively-and to become a better teammate.”

We can’t all become great at everything. Maybe we can’t get great at anything. But, we can all improve. We can all get good at some things and continue to work at getting better – to our benefit and to those around us. To me that’s really great.

Have you ever considered starting your own business? Talk about a self-development opportunity! In this interesting post you’ll see that self-development is just one of 10 reasons why you shouldn’t get a job.

Act Your Way to a New Way of Thinking

1 April, 2008 (22:57) | Leadership, Management | By: Administrator

In Larry Bossidy’s book, Execution, he references Richard Pascale’s quote when describing how to “operationalize” culture.

“People are much more likely to act their way into a new way of thinking, than think their way into a new way of acting.”


Joe Kerr: I think you’re acting a little wacky!

Wanda B. Goode: I agree that nothing can get change going like action, especially when the action occurs from the top down in an organization. Keep acting consistently, and before you know it, the change gets locked in and becomes part of the culture.

Bossidy says that when attempting to make changes to culture, many mistakenly start by changing the set of values. The values very rarely need changing. The values very rarely need changing. Rather, they need to be reinforced through actions, and violations of the values must be publicly addressed.

For more interesting thoughts on change, check out this post.