Friday, November 21, 2008

Article on ACT change

Quinn recommends an 8-step Advanced Change Theory that he claims overcomes the inertia of a settled "normal" perspective within an organization. All of the elements of the 8 theory made a significant impression, but the one that especially stood out is the embrace of the hypocritical self. In trying to institute change in the organizations, I am always confronted by the gap between the standards I am attempting to achieve and the reality of what I am capable to accomplish. By learning to practice a new type of "transformational behavior," he suggests, even "ordinary people" can have "extraordinary impact." His message is clear, in order to become a change agent, you must first change yourself and then immerse yourself in the common good, disturb the system, and "set the truth free

Organizational Silence

The CEO isn’t wearing clothing, and yet, no one within the organization is courageous enough to speak up and notify him/her of this flaw. This enforces the concept that there is evidently something wrong with the system of the organization. Individuals tend of believe they would face negative repercussion if they spoke up. In an effort for organizations to prevent this defect from occurring, leaders should implement a reward system for employees that come forward with sensitive or risky information. As a leader, I certainly would hope my employees would look out for the organizations best interest. If I went off course in the wrong direction, employees should not be condemned for speaking out and redirecting my attention for my oversight.

Effective leaders should embrace employees that productively offer criticism and politely disagrees with their stance, but this should be exercised with precaution. Leaders should be aware of employees being reliant of your cordiality. Allow employees to offer suggestions and feedback, but set up the norm for them to conduct the research and explore of their own terms. The last thing I would want to result from this is more responsibilities and dependence.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Men's Warehouse

In the history of the Men’s Warehouse, the company grew exponentially with 40-50 stores per year. By the end of the company’s 1996 fiscal year, 345 stores were in operation. The company’s strategy surrounded the premise that men do not like to shop, or bother with the time to hunt for bargains and wait for sales. Consequently to meet the demands of men, the Men’s Warehouse offered their merchandise that were typically 20-30 percent below other competing high class department stores, avoiding the special promotion technique. This is was very thoughtful and strategic. They know who were targeting and understand the needs of their customers.

Employees in upper management are loyal to the company which indicates they are highly invested in their work. Four members of the senior management team had held their positions since its inception and others have had at least 10 years of dedication. Loyalty extends through the organization from wardrobe consultants to mangers. Zimmerman (CEO) is also heavily invested in his company, not just in the financial sectors, but building positive relationships with his employees as well. During the holiday seasons, he tries to attend at least several of the company’s Christmas party to make his presence known. To me that shows dedication and taking an interest in his colleagues and fellow workers. The same mentality is expected of managers. District managers are expected to go to every each week and regional managers are to attend every month. This is a well thought out idea to have management be more present at the lower levels of the organization.

The company is founded on the concept of servant leadership rather than self-serving interest. Under the servant leadership, people transcend self-interest to serve the needs of others, by helping them grow professionally and emotionally. They as a whole, encourages others in their personal development and helps them understand the larger purpose in their work. One of the quickest ways an organization can distinguish the difference between a servant leader and a self-serving leader is how they handle feedback, because one of the biggest fears that self-serving leaders have is to lose their position. In contrast, servant leaders embrace and welcome feedback as a source of useful information on how they can provide better service.

“The people you manage and work with are your customers, as well as clients of the store.” This place emphasis to treat your employees as you expects them to treat your clients. Both are assets to the overall wellbeing of the organization. George Zimmerman conducts training seminars personally, which is great because so many CEO’s of large corporation seems unreachable to individuals in the lower status. “Employees come first and our customers come second.” If you create quality relationships with your employees, then they will do the same for your customers.

Compensation and staffing are completely based on commission in an effort to avoid issues of working off the clock, and dealing with over time. The company implemented a new bonus program to encourage employees to be more “team oriented” by providing monetary incentives at the end of the month. Promotion & Career Development was completely from within; again, reinstating loyalty among employees within the organization. Individuals working in management have always started working for the Men’s warehouse from the bottom up. When it comes of hiring and firing, the company focused on hiring employees based on their personalities and skills rather than previous experience. If an employees is not working up to their potential, rather than firing that individual, the company provide ample opportunities (transferring that person to another store) to improve their practice. I really liked the “Jim” example of an employee whose only ability comes from stealing other consultants’ customers and pilfering other team members’ sales. The interesting result from his termination allowed other employees to collectively work together and overall, they did much better than Jim individually, which invalidates the importance of teamwork within an organization.

The company encourages its employees to socialize with each other. They have enforced several sports team such as baseball, softball, and hockey teams all consists of co-workers and colleagues. But this seems to happen with people on the same social status, the higher echelon of managers partnering with district mangers. Although it’s a step in the right direction, it is still very sheltered in terms of socialization.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Level 5 Leadership

Level 5 Leadership is an interesting concept in that it paves the steps as to what it entails to become a good leader and how good companies can become great ones. I especially took notice on the part involving personal humility. An individual that encompasses this characteristic often times look in the mirror, and not out the window. They respond by taking responsibility for poor results, never blaming other people (fundamental attribution error), external factors (self serving bias), or bad luck. My concern is how can you learn to become Level 5? I think it requires lots of personal attention to yourself and your own behaviors in order to take notice of your actions. But along that line, it also requires vision, strategy, focus, and discipline.

Good Leadership Requires Executives To Put Themselves Last

This was a great article in terms that it described what it entails to become a good leader: good governance depends primarily on leaders who put integrity and the interests of their companies ahead of their self-interests. The examples of these leaders are willing to grapple with difficult decisions that may involve personal sacrifice, which is a selfless act for the better of the organization. This behavior is definitely opposite of the “Kiss up, kick down” attitude.

Mr. Leven, the finance executive at the Day’s Inn encompassed this description of a “good leader.” Mr. Leven realized the company's cash balance was shrinking and the accounting standards he had long upheld were being undermined by the previous two owners. He discovered this problem first from suppliers, who called to tell him they weren't getting paid, and in the process revealed the new owners weren't paying the franchise fees and mortgage payments they owed. By then he suspected the owners were also embezzling funds from Days Inn's accounts. At this point he was forced to make one of two difficult decisions. After consulting an attorney who told him to resign, Mr. Levin decided to inform his bosses outlining his suspicions. Needless to say, he left the company without any severance pay (a very honorable deed). He landed a new job six months later at Holiday Inn. But he had to take a 25% pay cut and a lower-level position as president of franchising.

The following years, Mr. Tollman and Mr. Hundley were convicted of fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and lying to banks. The charges stemmed from an elaborate scheme in which lenders were defrauded of more than $100 million. I thought Mr. Leven acted with class and sophistication through all chaos and got himself out of the sticky situation gracefully and dignified. After hearing the outcome of his superiors, Mr. Leven says he isn't angry about how things turned out. "I did what I had to do even though it cost me a significant amount of money."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

How a Marine Lost His Command in Race to Baghdad

This was an interesting article that involves unfolding the 18 hour, high-speed race into Baghdad, two weeks into the war in Iraq of Marine Colonel Joe Dowdy and his elite band of Iraqi troops (6,000) men. No praises awaited the first Marine regimental commander when he returned to the army station on April 4, 2003. He was stripped of his command, which immediately ended his 24 years of Marine profession. The dismissal wasn’t a normal act that was for discharge such as failing to complete a mission, or disobeying direct order, but rather it involved his decision based on a operating tempo. The reasons for the firing were convoluted because neither side wanted to discuss the outcome.

Throughout the course of the investigation, Colonel Dowdy admits to making mistakes, none of which (in my opinion) provided a valid for his removal. I’ve never been in a combat situation, so excuse me if I don’t understand the importance of following orders in a dire circumstance. But in an event of warfare, I would assume doing what’s best by using your intuition and logic would be the best choice of action under duress. His superiors confirm that he wasn’t ordered to take his regiment through the city. He decided no not to go through the city. Getting to Baghdad early wasn’t worth the risk and in the process, failed to take orders for his superiors. However, there was a lot of confusion regarding who gave permission to go or not go into the city. Colonel Dowdy makes a crucial decision, one that was against his orders but they made it through anyways.

I thought he seemed like a generous and nice person that opened his home (during Christmas) to the enlisted men in the Marines. His reputation preceded his actions in combat. One of his honorable traits was that he didn’t accept any privileges that were an entitlement unless the same was served to his men. It’s a shame that someone of his caliber was released unjustly on the basis that the Marines faulted him for “being fatigued beyond normal” and “not employing the regiment to its fullest combat potential.” Doesn’t appear to be a legitimate excuse.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Diamonds in the data mine by Gary Loveman

Harrah’s motto is” if your service can persuade one customer to make one more visit a year with us, you’ve had a good shift. If you can pursue three, you’ve had a great shift.” Their objective is to deliver excellent service from every angle and every department that contributes to the success of the company. No one is left or is expected to perform any less. Although most of their customer walking into Harrahs doesn’t fit the traditional profile of a high roller, their goal (nonetheless) is to target every customer and makes sure they feel special through recognition and great customer service.

Currently, Harrah’s technique to increase customer loyalty is utilized with two distinctive, well thought-out methods: first, through the use of database marketing to widen the gap between casinos that operates based on their customer incentives rather than intuition and evidence. Second the focus is to be on great service that the consumers expect. Fine tuning service-delivery strategies keep customers coming back. Their philosophy is “if you build it, they will come.” I thought the general shift in culture after Gary Loveman stepped on board was very effective. His promoted and encouraged the idea to make sure their regular customers are more than satisfied. Only then can they attract new customers by maintaining the ones that remained with us from the beginning.

Unlike the other fantasyland LV casinos that focuses more on the attractiveness of their facilities and the luxurious limelight of amenities, Harrah’s didn’t depend heavily on its stores, restaurants, bars or other amenities; they focused more specifically on cultivating lasting relationships with their core customers. Such as slot players, many of which are middle class, everyday “Joe the plumber” type of individuals that just enjoyed playing slot machines after work. It’s their continuous dedication that would lead to greater and more sustainable profit. They did so by providing regular customers with incentives to visit Harrah’s properties throughout the country with the launch of their Total Gold card. The three tiered system adds a motivating element (positive reinforcement) to the system that persuade customers to keep playing.

Understanding the lifetime value of the customers would be a critical marketing strategy to consider by focusing on the potential worth overtime. The hard work of some employees often times go unnoticed, even though they are the frontline representation of your company and the first person to come in contact with your clienteles. Harrah’s new incentive program allows highly dedicated employees to earn extra cash for achieving improved customer service satisfaction scores. A bonus system was implemented for the employees that eradicated the concept of individual competition. They’ve created a system that would encourage teamwork. The reward program depended on everyone’s performance. If one department was lacking in some way or another, employees that are excelling in their areas of expertise would be persuaded to assist and offer their colleagues what they can do to improve.