Saturday, April 29, 2017

Alan Mulally and The fight to save Americas Icon

The book is a story about Ford. And how Alan rescued Ford from the doldrums. What I liked about the book is the level of detail - not just in the story of Ford, but also in the details of the execution - as to how it happened.

At one point, Alan notes - compelling vision and ruthless execution - and simple as that might seem, it is difficult in small firms, so imagine doing that in a gigantic firm.

One of the remarkable features for me was the fact that in turning around Boeing in the post 9/11 scenario and in turning around Ford - Mullallys toolkits were the same. He continued to hone and use his core strength, he was technically sound, an engineer and took that level of interest and it paid. At each level - from appointing the right person to giving them the autonomy - measuring - building transparency - this is a story over a few years of both the vision and the execution and both of these would come under question.

The second remarkable feature is the time he took to start moving on big ticket items - there were many big decisions which one is tempted to take as soon as one lands in the top chair.  But Alan took his time.

I loved the principles enunciated for the weekly meeting - can apply practically anywhere:

People First
Everyone is included
Compelling vision
Clear Performance goals
One plan
Facts and data
Propose a plan, 'find-a-way' attitude
Respect, listen, help and appreciate each other
Emotional resilience - trust the process
Have fun - enjoy the journey and each other

Data sets you free...

And as is often shared - Culture eats strategy for breakfast - Mulally had to work on changing the culture at Ford - almost as much as he had to work on changing the strategy.

And, yes, he had to take many 'decisions' along the way. And many of them were tough decisions including to lay off workforce, shut down factories, ask executives to leave - but on each decision was his stamp and responsibility.

Overall this is a good book to read if you want to go over the nuts and bolts of how Ford was turned around - it is one of those rare books that gives a fairly deep insight into the 'how'.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Learning from games

We are part of a Clash Royale clan. This clan is led by a 12 year old. This guy is the clan leader. He interacts with the 'clan', often pumps them up when a 'target' is to be met, 'promotes', doles out 'kicks'. And the clan has been in action for well over a year now - so he learns about keeping people together, getting them motivated - and this clan is a multi-national, diverse, intercultural clan. How cool is that?

A mid sized manager in a company wont have this kind of diversity and team to deal with. You can argue that it is not the same, it is a game and whatnot - but the fact is that this kid is learning serious leadership skills from game...

On the other hand, the boy at home is learning to negotiate with the leader and managed to get a promotion by persuading him a few weeks ago.

As I read about Digital natives and how these guys will grow up into future leaders (even as we speak, they are entering the workforce) - it is interesting how they cut their teeth on technology, how they learn, how they seek growth, their human and non-human interactions - which are way different from the way earlier generations did.

Are they effective - well, we can be skeptic, but I think they will figure their way around - like we figured our way around from a physical world to the digital one!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Enable your managers

This has been in circulation for a while. The story of Project Oxygen at Google. As per this research, there were 8 things that managers do to a team.

1. Be a good coach
2. Empower the team and does not micro-manage
3. Expresses interest and concern for teams success and well being.
4. Is Productive and results oriented
5. Is a good communicator
6. Helps with career development
7. Has a clear vision and strategy
8 . Has technical skills that help him or her advise the team

In the above blog, how does it apply to your company, two points stood out for me.
One: A manager has to be a great coach. And this does not mean an executive coach certification though that is worth it. What one wants is a manager who makes every team member think for herself. How does that happen? By letting people be. By asking them the right questions. By encouraging them to think. Work on things they like to work. Enable their ideas.

The second point (mentioned on that link) which in my view is a fairly big thing is Feedback Culture:  All too often feedback is reduced to a 'This is my feedback to you', if at all. But connected with the above, what if your managers also made each of those feedback moments - moments of truth for the employee.  What if there were enough moments of positive feedback as opposed to only critical/constructive feedback? What if every such interaction were energy giving, positive and solution focussed? And also receive feedback in the same manner.

Combine both points above and you have a thinking team!