Tre saker som företagsledningarna borde fixa

Posted in Aktuellt, Leadership / Ledarskap on January 24th, 2012 by admin

Snabbhet är en nyckelfråga i dagens konkurrensutsatta marknadssituation. För att manövrera sin organisation snabbt och säkert krävs en hög grad av kommunikativ skicklighet. Men också en förståelse för att behovet av att förankra (implementera) de strategiska besluten är större än någonsin tidigare. Framgångsrik strategiimplementering (mer tids- och kostnadseffektivt än konkurrenterna) är en avgörande faktor för framgång. Ändock säger varannan svensk chef (enligt den svenska StrategiBarometern 2011 – läs mer på www.3s.se) att man i n t e lägger tillräckligt med tid och kraft på att få medarbetarna “med på tåget”.

Läs mer om detta ämna i Sara Lombergs artikel i SvD nedan:

Hygienfaktorer Bristen på kompetens seglar i globala undersökningar upp som en av företagsledarnas största utmaningar. Ändå blir man regelbundet förvånad över hur medarbetarna behandlas. Här är några grundläggande saker som kan vara bra att få ordning på.

Har företaget lyckats fånga en hungrig, nyfiken, kompetent och högpresterande person till bolaget? Ta då hand om henne eller honom och göra allt för att talangen ska stanna kvar. Sitter det en massa rädda chefer i vägen är det dags att göra sig av med dem eller att få dem att förstå vad som är bäst för företaget i framtiden. Kulturer som gynnar revirpinkande behöver moderniseras. Lika illa är det när mångåriga, erfarna, kompetenta medarbetare inte längre förstår sin funktion i organisationen. Visst, alla har även sitt eget ansvar för att forma sin roll och hitta motivation, men en smart och bra arbetsgivare coachar i den processen. Utvecklingsmöjligheter – både att få större ansvar och personlig utveckling – kommer högst upp i nästan alla undersökningar om vad akademiker främst vill ha ut hos en arbetsgivare. Och alla vill känna ett mål och en mening med det man gör. Svårare än så är det inte.

Okej, ni är pressade från högsta ledningen. Men ett säkert sätt att få medarbetaren att prestera sämre är att pressa och hota dem till abnorma stressnivåer. Förutom att de kommer att sova dåligt gör stress människan mindre kreativ och mindre produktiv. Motivationsföreläsaren Niclas Mårdfelt samlade tillsammans med den förre IBM-chefen Anders Torelm ihop erfarenheter från coachning, utbildning och intervjuer med över 1000 svenska chefer för att svara på frågan: ”Hur ska vi få människor att prestera mer på minskad tid med minskad stress?” De kom fram till att det grundläggande inte fungerade på ett enda företag. Två av huvudproblemen var att medarbetarna inte känner till syftet med sin tjänst och ett felaktigt ledarskap där cheferna inte tydliggör vad som ska göras eller vilka befogenheter någon har. Tydlighet och ett aktivt stöd från cheferna brukar däremot fungera alldeles utmärkt. Det är numera även bevisat att när anställda känner sig motiverade då ökar servicekvaliteten, kundnöjdheten, produktiviteten och de finansiella resultaten.

Det är turbulenta tider. Om ni måste organisera om och/eller skära ner på tjänster, gör detta på ett schysst sätt. Extra månadslöner hjälper, men främst handlar det om kommunikation.
Om medarbetarna:
1) förstår situationen
2) känner sig sedda
3) känner sig informerade och involverade blir de mycket mer välvilligt inställda.
Det är en win-win, de som tvingas sluta slipper känna sig arga och värdelösa. Och risken att att de spyr ur sig sin besvikelse över arbetsgivaren – både på nätet och i sitt privata nätverk – minskar.

Några saker som inte är okej: Att låta chefer med personalansvar stå utan information i en långdragen omorganisation. Att agera alldeles för sent trots varningssignaler, som direkta uppmaningar från missnöjda anställda. Och – även om tajmningen blir knivig i en omorganisation – degradera inte någon under föräldraledigheten. Det uppfattas som extremt mossigt.

Källa: SvD, januari 2012, Sara Lomberg
Läs artikelnm på SvD.se här

Funderar du på att byta jobb?

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt on January 22nd, 2012 by admin

Här är karriärveteranernas råd:

1) Välj chef – inte jobb eller bransch

Ett ständigt återkommande råd från de som varit med ett tag- och som vet vilken skillnad det kan göra. En dålig chef är ett av de vanligaste skälen att säga upp sig, men samtidigt brukar trots det vanligt förekommande rådet komma ganska långt ner när man svarar på vad man söker i ett nytt jobb – då oftare utveckling och utmaningar.

En bra chef lyfter, utvecklar, inspirerar och är i bästa fall någon att ta rygg på. En dålig håller dig tillbaka och kan till och med ge hälsoproblem. Ett otydligt ledarskap är den största stressfaktorn, visade en jätteundersökning från Kairos Future förra hösten. Om du väl har hittat världens bästa chef och denna går vidare – var inte rädd att fråga efter möjligheten att få följa med.

Något som hänger tätt ihop med ledarskapet är att man ska välja en kultur som passar med ens värderingar. Och att man ska kunna stå för det företaget står för. Något som den nya generationens medarbetare verkar ha insett, att döma av alla undersökningar.

2) Hitta ett jobb som känns kul

Det som gör dig glad ger dig också kraft. Ord som passion och intuition förekommer ofta när de som varit med ett tag får råda.
”Gör saker du är bra på, då växer du”, sa Pär Johansson, vd för Glada Hudik när vi intervjuade honom förra året- och tog det tydliga motexemplet att när han började jobba med utvecklingsstörda så tränade man dem på sådant de inte kunde.

Det här hänger tätt ihop med råden var dig själv och var äkta, då kommer framgångarna också mer naturligt.
Dansken Andreas Andersen är ett skönt exempel på hur man via det som kanske visar sig vara fel utbildning ändå kan nå sitt drömjobb. Som jurist med ett brinnande intresse för berg- och dalbanor tog han chansen att söka verksamhetsjuristjobbet på Tivoli i Köpenhamn. Sedan i våras är han vd för nordens största nöjespark, Liseberg i Göteborg.

Och när Arja Suominen som i våras bytte presschefsjobbet på Nokia mot Finnair får säga vad hon tycker utmärker de framgångsrika personer i näringslivet som hon mött under sin karriär blir svaret ”passionen, man måste verkligen gilla det man gör.”

3) Våga gå utanför komfortzonen

Ta chanser som dyker upp och våga gå utanför komfortzonen. Väldigt många som kommit långt i karriären ger rådet att inte planera för mycket, var här och nu och var öppen för att testa nya saker när chanserna kommer.

”Att jag vågade säga upp mig för något jag brinner för är det klart bästa steget jag tagit i mitt liv hittills”, sa Katarina Kahlmann som vi skrev om i september. Hon sa upp sig från prestigearbetsgivaren McKinsey för att bli volontär på Haiti och fick snart ett chefsjobb där.

Annika Lundius, vice vd i Svenskt näringsliv och styrelseledamot i bland annat SSAB, ger rådet att ”ha god tillit till dig själv och var inte rädd att hoppa”. När hon har blivit tillfrågad om en tjänst har hon helt enkelt ställt sig frågan: ”Tycker jag att det här skulle vara kul?” Och samtidigt gör hon vartannat år ett bokslut med sig själv för att se om det är värt det.
Och om du väl hittat rätt och vågar ta det där steget, se till att få en paus emellan. Ett avbrott ger chans till det undermedvetna att få komma fram, konstaterar Arja Suominen. Den chansen får vi inte så ofta.

Källa: SvD, Sara Lomberg, januari 2012
Läs artikeln på nätet (SvD.se) här

Google återvänder till Kina

Posted in Aktuellt, Digitalisering / Internet on January 18th, 2012 by admin

Google återvänder till Kina två år efter det att sökjätten officiellt lämnade landet för att slippa censurera sin söktjänst. Google anser sig inte längre ha råd att lämna världens största online marknad åt sitt öde, skriver Wall Street Journal.

Det var efter en kinesisk hackerattack som Google lämnade Kina under förevändningen att de inte längre ville underkasta sig censur. Istället hänvisades kineser till Googles söktjänst i Hong Kong som är svår att nå från Kina pga. statens internetfilter.

Men nu anställer Google ingenjörer, säljpersonal och produktchefer i Kina och planerar att introducera nya tjänster på den kinesiska marknaden. En viktig orsak att Google nu återvänder till Kina är att deras mobiloperativsystem Android har 60 procent av smartmobilmarknaden i Kina. Målet är att lansera Android Market i Kina.

Källa: Jajjamag.com, 18 januari 2012
Läs mer i Wall Street Journal här

What’s Key to Improve Employee Satisfaction and Engagement?

Posted in Aktuellt, Leadership / Ledarskap on January 17th, 2012 by admin

Think your employees are satisfied with their jobs and their career development opportunities? According to the 2011 Job Satisfaction and Engagement Research Report, published by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), they are and they aren’t.

SHRM reports, from the results of their employee satisfaction survey, that 83% of employees are satisfied with their jobs but only 43% of them are happy with their career development opportunities: “SHRM’s new research showed that 83 percent of U.S. employees reported overall satisfaction with their current jobs. Although declining slightly since 2009, the percent of satisfied employees hasn’t changed significantly in the last 10 years,” Schmit [Mark Schmit, SHRM’s vice president for research] noted. “In general, people find ways to be satisfied at work.”

I’ve consolidated for you the SHRM survey results and their implications for the workplace. Most importantly, this data defines the factors that are most important to employees as you continue to seek to provide a workplace that emphasizes employee satisfaction and employee engagement as recruiting, motivation, and retention tools. Use the SHRM data to your best advantage. It tells you what’s important to employees to increase their job satisfaction and engagement.

Top 10 Contributors to Employee Job Satisfaction

Employees identified these factors as their top 10 most important contributors to their job satisfaction.
•Job security: 63%, for the fourth consecutive year, as the top most important determinant of job satisfaction. (67% of employees are very satisfied or satisfied with their job security.)
•Opportunities to Use Skills and Abilities: 62%. (74% are satisfied or very satisfied in their workplace.)
•Organization’s Financial Stability: 55%. (63% are satisfied or very satisfied.)
•Relationship with Immediate Supervisor: 55%. (73% are satisfied or very satisfied.)
•Compensation: 54%. (61% are satisfied or very satisfied.)
•Benefits: 53%. (65% are satisfied or very satisfied.)
•Communication between Employees and Senior Management: 53% (54% are satisfied or very satisfied.)
•The Work Itself: 53%. (76% are satisfied or very satisfied.)
•Autonomy and independence: 52%. (69% are satisfied or very satisfied.)
•Management’s Recognition of Employee Performance: 49%. (57% are satisfied or very satisfied.)
•Feeling Safe at Work: 48%. (78% are satisfied or very satisfied.)
•Overall Corporate Culture: 46%. (60% are satisfied or very satisfied.)
•Flexibility for Work-Life Balance: 38%. (65% are satisfied or very satisfied.)
•Relationships with Coworkers: 38%. (76% are satisfied or very satisfied.)

SHRM Reports that Benefits which had been in the top two contributors to job satisfaction since 2002, slipped to fifth place. Relationship with immediate supervisor is new this year to the list of top five most important job satisfaction contributors. Among SHRM’s other results: Chance for career advancement (36%) has been declining since 2002. Coaching, mentoring, and succession planning are less important in companies with less than 100 employees.

18 Employee Engagement Conditions

Employee engagement, according to the SHRM report, is more likely to occur when certain conditions exist. Employers can maximize employee engagement via improving these factors. The percentages indicate the overall satisfaction of employees with the listed condition of engagement. The items are listed in order from the employee survey results: most satisfied to least satisfied with the condition in their organization.
•The work itself: 76%
•Relationships with co-workers: 76%
•Opportunities to use skills and abilities: 74%
•Relationship with immediate supervisor: 73%
•Contribution of work to organization’s business goals: 71%
•Autonomy and independence: 69%
•Meaningfulness of job: 69%
•Variety of work: 68%
•Organization’s financial stability: 63%
•Overall corporate culture: 60%
•Management’s recognition of employee job performance: 57%
•Job-specific training: 55%
•Communication between employees and senior management: 54%
•Organization’s commitment to professional development: 54%
•Networking: 49%
•Organization’s commitment to corporate social responsibility: 49%
•Career development opportunities: 48%
•Career advancement opportunities: 42%

With the percentages noted in both the satisfaction portion of the survey results and the engagement aspects of the survey, employers have some work to do to fully satisfy and, especially, engage employees. Note that four aspects of employee career and professional development fall in the bottom seven for employee satisfaction:

•Job-specific training
•Organization’s committment to professional development
•Career development opportunities
•Career advancement opportunities

Sorce: About.com, Sara M. Heathfield, January 2012
Read more about Sara M. heathfield here
Read about strategic staff surveys by 3S here

Muhammad Ali 70 år idag!

Posted in Aktuellt, Nonsens, sport, skämt m.m. on January 17th, 2012 by admin

Jag har haft många förebilder i mitt liv, men inte så många idoler. I alla fall inte riktiga idoler. Visst hade jag under en period flera av dessa jättelika posters på popstjärnor uppsatta i mitt pojkrum. men det handlade knappast om idolskap utan mer om att hänga på en trend i tiden.

Två personer har jag dock alltid haft som idoler. den ena är John Lennon. Den andra är Muhammad Ali. Bägge mycket speciella personer. Var och en på sitt sätt.

Jag vill ta tillfället i akt att idag gratulera The Champ (eller The Greatest) på hans 70-årsdag. Personligen anser jag att han, förutom att vara den största idrottsmannen genom tiderna, är den idrottspersonlighet som mest av alla påverkat idrotten och dess omgivning.

Jag kan varmt rekommendera boken om hans liv (som jag läst två gånger). Här finns alla hans klassiska citat där jag bl.a. minns hans uttalande inför den klassiska matchen mot George Forman i Kinshasa i Zaire 1974 (jag såg matchen på länk i Kungliga Tennishallen kl..02.00 på natten): ”Jag är så ond att jag gör medicinen sjuk”

Grattis Champ!

“Jag var olämplig som chef”

Posted in Aktuellt, Leadership / Ledarskap on January 16th, 2012 by admin

Läs mer här

Krisen tufsar till kaxig generation

Posted in Aktuellt, Leadership / Ledarskap on January 15th, 2012 by admin

Ta gärna del av Sara Lombergs artikel (i dagens SvD.se) om hur 80- och 90-talisterna ser på dagens arbetsmarknad:

Den ekonomiska krisen tvingar till och med den kaxigaste generationen att kompromissa. 80- och 90-talisterna är något mer ödmjuka på arbetsmarknaden 2011 än 2008, visar en ny global undersökning från PWC.

Tre fjärdedelar av de nyutexaminerade och unga anställda (upp till 31 år) i den globala undersökningen har svarat att de behövt göra kompromisser när de tog sitt nuvarande jobb.

När revisions- och konsultjätten Price Waterhouse Coopers för andra gången kartlägger akademiker födda på 80- och 90-talen, de som de kallar ”millenials”, på svenska ofta benämnda den nya generationen eller generation Y, är det fortfarande samma drivkrafter, framför allt den personliga utvecklingen, som står i centrum, men finanskrisen har satt sina spår.

2008 trodde 75 procent att de inte skulle ha fler än två till fem arbetsgivare under sin livstid. 2011 hade den siffran sjunkit till 54 procent medan 25 procent förväntar sig att ha sex arbetsgivare eller fler.

Och eftersom många gjort avkall på önskemål kring till exempel lön, förmåner och geografiskt läge när de sa ja till sitt nuvarande jobb är det också 38 procent som letar aktivt efter en ny roll och 43 procent som är ”öppna för förslag”. En situation som rapportförfattarna bedömer kommer att leda till en stor rörlighet när världsekonomin stabiliseras.

I Storbritannien uppger 72 procent att de var villiga att kompromissa med sin anställning på grund av den tuffa arbetsmarknaden för nyutexaminerade.

I tuffa tider kan man heller inte lägga lika stor vikt vid företagets rykte och csr (corporate social responsibility), även om parametrarna fortfarande är viktiga för de unga akademikerna. 2008 uppgav 86 procent att de skulle lämna en arbetsgivare vars verksamhet eller kultur inte stämde med de egna värderingarna. 2011 var det endast 56 procent som svarar ja på den frågan. 58 procent säger ändå att de skulle undvika att jobba i en viss sektor för att de inte gillar vad den står för.

Vilka sektorer det är skiljer sig mellan olika länder. 26 procent av kineserna vill till exempel inte jobba i försäkringsbranschen, hälften av afrikanerna vill inte jobba inom regerings- och offentlig verksamhet medan bank- och finanssektorn helst skulle undvikas av 30 procent av de schweiziska unga karriäristerna.

Källa: SvD.se, 15 januari 2012, Sara Lomberg
Läs artikeln här på nätet
Läs gärna fler artiklar av Sara Lomberg här

How leaders kill meaning at work

Posted in Aktuellt, Leadership / Ledarskap on January 13th, 2012 by admin

Senior executives routinely undermine creativity, productivity, and commitment by damaging the inner work lives of their employees in four avoidable ways.

As a senior executive, you may think you know what Job Number 1 is: developing a killer strategy. In fact, this is only Job 1a. You have a second, equally important task. Call it Job 1b: enabling the ongoing engagement and everyday progress of the people in the trenches of your organization who strive to execute that strategy. A multiyear research project whose results we described in our recent book, The Progress Principle,1 found that of all the events that can deeply engage people in their jobs, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work.

Even incremental steps forward—small wins—boost what we call “inner work life”: the constant flow of emotions, motivations, and perceptions that constitute a person’s reactions to the events of the work day. Beyond affecting the well-being of employees, inner work life affects the bottom line.2 People are more creative, productive, committed, and collegial in their jobs when they have positive inner work lives. But it’s not just any sort of progress in work that matters. The first, and fundamental, requirement is that the work be meaningful to the people doing it.

In our book and a recent Harvard Business Review article,3 we argue that managers at all levels routinely—and unwittingly—undermine the meaningfulness of work for their direct subordinates through everyday words and actions. These include dismissing the importance of subordinates’ work or ideas, destroying a sense of ownership by switching people off project teams before work is finalized, shifting goals so frequently that people despair that their work will ever see the light of day, and neglecting to keep subordinates up to date on changing priorities for customers.

But what about a company’s most senior leaders? What is their role in making—or killing—meaning at work? To be sure, as a high-level leader, you have fewer opportunities to directly affect the inner work lives of employees than do frontline supervisors. Yet your smallest actions pack a wallop because what you say and do is intensely observed by people down the line.4 A sense of purpose in the work, and consistent action to reinforce it, has to come from the top.

Four traps
To better understand the role of upper-level managers, we recently dug back into our data: nearly 12,000 daily electronic diaries from dozens of professionals working on important innovation projects at seven North American companies. We selected those entries in which diarists mentioned upper- or top-level managers—868 narratives in all.

Qualitative analysis of the narratives highlighted four traps that lie in wait for senior executives. Most of these pitfalls showed up in several companies. Six of the seven suffered from one or more of the traps, and in only a single company did leaders avoid them. The existence of this outlier suggests that it is possible for senior executives to sustain meaning consistently, but that’s difficult and requires vigilance.

This article should help you determine whether you risk falling into some of these traps yourself—and unknowingly dragging your organization into the abyss with you. We also offer a few thoughts on avoiding the problems, advice inspired by the actions and words of a senior leader at the one company that did so.

We don’t claim to have all the answers. But we are convinced that executives who sidestep these traps reduce their risk of inadvertently draining meaning from the work of the people in their organizations. Those leaders also will boost the odds of tapping into the motivational power of progress—something surprisingly few do.

We surveyed 669 managers at all levels of management, from dozens of companies and various industries around the world. We asked them to rank the importance of five employee motivators: incentives, recognition, clear goals, interpersonal support, and progress in the work. Only 8 percent of senior executives ranked progress as the most important motivator. Had they chosen randomly, 20 percent would have done so. In short, our survey showed that most executives don’t understand the power of progress in meaningful work.5 And the traps revealed by the diaries suggest that most executives don’t act as though progress matters. You can do better.

Trap 1: Mediocrity signals
Most likely, your company aspires to greatness, articulating a high purpose for the organization in its corporate mission statement. But are you inadvertently signaling the opposite through your words and actions?

We saw this dynamic repeatedly at a well-known consumer products company we’ll call Karpenter Corporation, which was experiencing a rapid deterioration in the inner work lives of its employees as a result of the actions of a new top-management team. Within three years of our studying Karpenter, it had become unprofitable and was acquired by a smaller rival.

Karpenter’s top-management team espoused a vision of entrepreneurial cross-functional business teams. In theory, each team would operate autonomously, managing its share of the company’s resources to back its own new-product innovations. During the year we collected data from Karpenter teams, the annual report was full of references to the company’s innovation focus; in the first five sentences, “innovation” appeared three times.

In practice, however, those top managers were so focused on cost savings that they repeatedly negated the teams’ autonomy, dictated cost reduction goals that had to be met before any other priorities were, and—as a result—drove new-product innovation into the ground. This unintended, de facto hypocrisy took its toll, as a diary excerpt from a longtime Karpenter product engineer emphasizes:

Today I found out that our team will be concentrating on [cost savings] for the next several months instead of any new products. . . . It is getting very difficult to concentrate on removing pennies from the standard cost of an item. That is the only place that we have control over. Most of the time, quality suffers. It seems that our competition is putting out new products at a faster rate. . . . We are no longer the leader in innovation. We are the followers.

This employee’s work had begun to lose its meaning, and he wasn’t alone. Many of the other 65 Karpenter professionals in our study felt that they were doing mediocre work for a mediocre company—one for which they had previously felt fierce pride. By the end of our time collecting data at Karpenter, many of these employees were completely disengaged. Some of the very best had left.

The mediocrity trap was not unique to Karpenter. We saw it revealed in different guises in several of the companies we studied. At a chemicals firm, it stemmed from the top managers’ risk aversion. Consider these words from one researcher there:

A proposal for liquid/medical filtration using our new technology was tabled for the second time by the Gate 1 committee (five directors that screen new ideas). Although we had plenty of info for this stage of the game, the committee is uncomfortable with the risk and liability. The team, and myself, are frustrated about hurdles that we don’t know how to answer.

This company’s leaders also inadvertently signaled that, despite their rhetoric about being innovative and cutting edge, they were really more comfortable being ordinary.

Trap 2: Strategic ‘attention deficit disorder’
As an experienced leader, you probably scan your company’s external environment constantly for guidance in making your next strategic moves. What are competitors planning? Where are new ones popping up? What’s happening in the global economy, and what might the implications be for financing or future market priorities? You are probably brimming with ideas on where you’d like to take the company next. All of that is good, in theory.

In practice, we see too many top managers start and abandon initiatives so frequently that they appear to display a kind of attention deficit disorder (ADD) when it comes to strategy and tactics. They don’t allow sufficient time to discover whether initiatives are working, and they communicate insufficient rationales to their employees when they make strategic shifts.

Karpenter’s strategic ADD seemed to stem from its leaders’ short attention span, perhaps fueled by the CEO’s desire to embrace the latest management trends. The problem was evident in decisions at the level of product lines and extended all the way up to corporate strategy. If you blinked, you could miss the next strategic shift. In one employee’s words:

A quarterly product review was held with members of the [top team] and the general manager and president. Primary outcome from the meeting was a change in direction away from spray jet mops to revitalization of existing window squeegees. Four priorities were defined for product development, none of which were identified as priorities at our last quarterly update. The needle still points north, but we’ve turned the compass again.

At another company we studied, strategic ADD appeared to stem from a top team warring with itself. Corporate executives spent many months trying to nail down a new market strategy. Meanwhile, different vice presidents were pushing in different directions, rendering each of the leaders incapable of giving consistent direction to their people. This wreaked havoc in the trenches. One diarist, a project manager, felt that rather than committing herself to doing something great for particular customers, she needed to hedge her bets:

The VP gave us his opinion of which target candidates [for new products] may fit with overall company strategy—but, in reality, neither he nor anyone in our management structure knows what the strategy is. It makes this project a real balancing act—we need to go forward, but need to weigh commitments very carefully.

If high-level leaders don’t appear to have their act together on exactly where the organization should be heading, it’s awfully difficult for the troops to maintain a strong sense of purpose.

Trap 3: Corporate Keystone Kops
In the early decades of cinema, a popular series of silent-film comedies featured the Keystone Kops—fictional policemen so incompetent that they ran around in circles, mistakenly bashed each other on the head, and fumbled one case after another. The title of that series became synonymous with miscoordination. Our research found that many executives who think everything is going smoothly in the everyday workings of their organizations are blithely unaware that they preside over their own corporate version of the Keystone Kops. Some contribute to the farce through their actions, others by failing to act. At Karpenter, for example, top managers set up overly complex matrix reporting structures, repeatedly failed to hold support functions (such as purchasing and sales) accountable for coordinated action, and displayed a chronic indecisiveness that bred rushed analyses. In the words of one diarist:

Last-minute changes continue on [an important customer’s] assortments. Rather than think through the whole process and logically decide which assortments we want to show [the customer], we are instead using a shotgun approach of trying multiple assortments until we find one that works. In the meantime, we are expending a lot of time and effort on potential assortments only to find out later that an assortment has been dropped.

Although Karpenter’s example was egregious, the company was far from alone in creating chaotic situations for its workers. In one high-tech company we studied, for example, Keystone Kop–like scenarios played out around the actions of a rogue marketing function. As described in one engineer’s diary, the attempts of many teams to move forward with their projects were continually thwarted by signals from marketing that conflicted with those coming from R&D and other key functions. Marketers even failed to show up for many key meetings:

At a meeting with Pierce, Clay, and Joseph, I was told that someone from marketing would be attending our team meetings (finally). The meeting also gave me a chance to demonstrate to Joseph that we were getting mixed signals from marketing.

When coordination and support are absent within an organization, people stop believing that they can produce something of high quality. This makes it extremely difficult to maintain a sense of purpose.

Trap 4: Misbegotten ‘big, hairy, audacious goals’
Management gurus Jim Collins and Jerry Porras encourage organizations to develop a “big, hairy, audacious goal” (BHAG, pronounced bee-hag)—a bold strategic vision statement that has powerful emotional appeal.6 BHAGs help infuse work with meaning by articulating the goals of the organization in a way that connects emotionally with peoples’ values. (Think of Google’s stated mission to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”)

At some companies, however, such statements are grandiose, containing little relevance or meaning for people in the trenches. They can be so extreme as to seem unattainable and so vague as to seem empty. The result is a meaning vacuum. Cynicism rises and drive plummets. Although we saw this trap clearly in only one of the seven companies we studied, we think it is sufficiently seductive and dangerous to warrant consideration.

That company, a chemicals firm, set a BHAG that all projects had to be innovative blockbusters that would yield a minimum of $100 million in revenue annually, within five years of a project’s initiation. This goal did not infuse the work with meaning, because it had little to do with the day-to-day activities of people in the organization. It did not articulate milestones toward the goal; it did not provide for a range of experiments and outcomes to meet it; worst of all, it did not connect with anything the employees valued. Most of them wanted to provide something of value to their customers; an aggressive revenue target told them only about the value to the organization, not to the customer. Far from what Collins and Porras intended, this misbegotten BHAG was helping to destroy the employees’ sense of purpose.

Avoiding the traps
Spotting the traps from the executive suite is difficult enough; sidestepping them is harder still—and wasn’t the focus of our research. Nonetheless, it’s instructive to look at the one company in our study that avoided the traps, a creator of coated fabrics for weatherproof clothing and other applications. We recently interviewed its head, whom we’ll call Mark Hamilton. That conversation generated a few ideas that we hope will spark a lively discussion in your own C-suite. For example:

When you communicate with employees, do you provide strategic clarity that’s consistent with your organization’s capabilities and an understanding of where it can add the most value? Hamilton and his top team believed that innovating in processes, rather than products, was the key to creating the right combination of quality and value for customers. So he talked about process innovation at every all-company meeting, and he steadfastly supported it throughout the organization. This consistency helped everyone understand the strategy and even become jazzed about it.

Can you keep sight of the individual employee’s perspective? The best executives we studied internalize their early experiences and use them as reference points for gauging the signals that their own behavior will send to the troops. “Try hard to remember when you were working in the trenches,” Hamilton says. “If somebody asked you to do a bunch of work on something they hadn’t thought through, how meaningful could it be for you? How committed could you be?”

Do you have any early-warning systems that indicate when your view from the top doesn’t match the reality on the ground? Regular audits to gauge the effectiveness of coordination and support processes in areas such as marketing, sales, and purchasing can highlight pain points that demand senior management’s attention because they are starting to sap meaning from your people’s work. In Hamilton’s view, senior executives bear the responsibility for identifying and clearing away systemic impediments that prevent quality work from getting done.

Hamilton’s company was doing very well. But we believe that senior executives can provide a sense of purpose and progress even in bad economic times. Consider the situation that then–newly appointed Xerox head Anne Mulcahy faced in 2000, when the company verged on bankruptcy. Mulcahy refused her advisers’ recommendation to file for bankruptcy (unless all other options were exhausted) because of the demoralizing signal it would send to frontline employees. “What we have going for us,” she said, “is that our people believe we are in a war that we can win.”7 She was right, and her conviction helped carry Xerox through four years of arduous struggle to later success.

As an executive, you are in a better position than anyone to identify and articulate the higher purpose of what people do within your organization. Make that purpose real, support its achievement through consistent everyday actions, and you will create the meaning that motivates people toward greatness. Along the way, you may find greater meaning in your own work as a leader.

Sorce: McKinsey Quaterly, January 2012
Authors: Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer
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Three steps to building a better top team

Posted in Aktuellt, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete, Leadership / Ledarskap on January 11th, 2012 by admin

When a top team fails to function, it can paralyze a whole company. Here’s what CEOs need to watch out for.

Few teams function as well as they could. But the stakes get higher with senior-executive teams: dysfunctional ones can slow down, derail, or even paralyze a whole company. In our work with top teams at more than 100 leading multinational companies,1 including surveys with 600 senior executives at 30 of them, we’ve identified three crucial priorities for constructing and managing effective top teams. Getting these priorities right can help drive better business outcomes in areas ranging from customer satisfaction to worker productivity and many more as well.

1. Get the right people on the team . . . and the wrong ones off
Determining the membership of a top team is the CEO’s responsibility—and frequently the most powerful lever to shape a team’s performance. Many CEOs regret not employing this lever early enough or thoroughly enough. Still others neglect it entirely, assuming instead that factors such as titles, pay grades, or an executive’s position on the org chart are enough to warrant default membership. Little surprise, then, that more than one-third of the executives we surveyed said their top teams did not have the right people and capabilities.

The key to getting a top team’s composition right is deciding what contributions the team as a whole, and its members as individuals, must make to achieve an organization’s performance aspirations and then making the necessary changes in the team. This sounds straight-forward, but it typically requires conscious attention and courage from the CEO; otherwise, the top team can underdeliver for an extended period of time.

That was certainly the case at a technology services company that had a struggling top team: fewer than one in five of its members thought it was highly respected or shared a common vision for the future, and only one in three thought it made a valuable contribution to corporate performance. The company’s customers were very dissatisfied—they rated its cost, quality, and service delivery at only 2.3 on a 7-point scale—and the team couldn’t even agree on the root causes.

A new CEO reorganized the company, creating a new strategy group and moving from a geography-based structure to one based on two customer-focused business units—for wholesale and for retail. He adapted the composition of his top team, making the difficult decision to remove two influential regional executives who had strongly resisted cross-organizational collaboration and adding the executive leading the strategy group and the two executives leading the retail and the wholesale businesses, respectively. The CEO then used a series of workshops to build trust and a spirit of collaboration among the members of his new team and to eliminate the old regional silo mentality. The team also changed its own performance metrics, adding customer service and satisfaction performance indicators to the traditional short-term sales ones.

Customers rated the company’s service at 4.3 a year later and at 5.4 two years later. Meanwhile, the top team, buoyed by these results, was now confident that it was better prepared to improve the company’s performance. In the words of one team member, “I wouldn’t have believed we could have come this far in just one year.”

2. Make sure the top team does just the work only it can do
Many top teams struggle to find purpose and focus. Only 38 percent of the executives we surveyed said their teams focused on work that truly benefited from a top-team perspective. Only 35 percent said their top teams allocated the right amounts of time among the various topics they considered important, such as strategy and people.

What are they doing instead? Everything else. Too often, top teams fail to set or enforce priorities and instead try to cover the waterfront. In other cases, they fail to distinguish between topics they must act on collectively and those they should merely monitor. These shortcomings create jam-packed agendas that no top team can manage properly. Often, the result is energy-sapping meetings that drag on far too long and don’t engage the team, leaving members wondering when they can get back to “real work.” CEOs typically need to respond when such dysfunctions arise; it’s unlikely that the senior team’s members—who have their own business unit goals and personal career incentives—will be able to sort out a coherent set of collective top-team priorities without a concerted effort.

The CEO and the top team at a European consumer goods company rationalized their priorities by creating a long list of potential topics they could address. Then they asked which of these had a high value to the business, given where they wanted to take it, and would allow them, as a group, to add extraordinary value. While narrowing the list down to ten items, team members spent considerable time challenging each other about which topics individual team members could handle or delegate. They concluded, for example, that projects requiring no cross-functional or cross-regional work, such as addressing lagging performance in a single region, did not require the top team’s collective attention even when these projects were the responsibility of an individual team member. For delegated responsibilities, they created a transparent and consistent set of performance indicators to help them monitor progress.

This change gave the top team breathing room to do more valuable work. For the first time, it could focus enough effort on setting and dynamically adapting cross-category and cross-geography priorities and resource allocations and on deploying the top 50 leaders across regional and functional boundaries, thus building a more effective extended leadership group for the company. This, in turn, proved crucial as the team led a turnaround that took the company from a declining to a growing market share. The team’s tighter focus also helped boost morale and performance at the company’s lower levels, where employees now had more delegated responsibility. Employee satisfaction scores improved to 79 percent, from 54 percent, in just one year.

3. Address team dynamics and processes
A final area demanding unrelenting attention from CEOs is effective team dynamics, whose absence is a frequent problem: among the top teams we studied, members reported that only about 30 percent of their time was spent in “productive collaboration”—a figure that dropped even more when teams dealt with high-stakes topics where members had differing, entrenched interests. Here are three examples of how poor dynamics depress performance:

The top team at a large mining company formed two camps with opposing views on how to address an important strategic challenge. The discussions on this topic hijacked the team’s agenda for an extended period, yet no decisions were made.

The top team at a Latin American insurance company was completely demoralized when it began losing money after government reforms opened up the country to new competition. The team wandered, with little sense of direction or accountability, and blamed its situation on the government’s actions. As unproductive discussions prevented the top team from taking meaningful action, other employees became dissatisfied and costs got out of control.

The top team at a North American financial-services firm was not aligned effectively for a critical company-wide operational-improvement effort. As a result, different departments were taking counterproductive and sometimes contradictory actions. One group, for example, tried to increase cross-selling, while another refused to share relevant information about customers because it wanted to “own” relationships with them.

CEOs can take several steps to remedy problems with team dynamics. The first is to work with the team to develop a common, objective understanding of why its members aren’t collaborating effectively. There are several tools available for the purpose, including top-team surveys, interviews with team members, and 360-degree evaluations of individual leaders. The CEO of the Latin American insurance company used these methods to discover that the members of his top team needed to address building relationships and trust with one another and with the organization even before they agreed on a new corporate strategy and on the cultural changes necessary to meet its goals (for more on building trust, see “Dispatches from the front lines of management innovation”). One of the important cultural changes for this top team was that its members needed to take ownership of the changes in the company’s performance and culture and to hold one another accountable for living up to this commitment.

Correcting dysfunctional dynamics requires focused attention and interventions, preferably as soon as an ineffective pattern shows up. At the mining company, the CEO learned, during a board meeting focused on the team’s dynamics, that his approach—letting the unresolved discussion go on in hopes of gaining consensus and commitment from the team—wasn’t working and that his team expected him to step in. Once this became clear, the CEO brokered a decision and had the team jump-start its implementation.

Often more than a single intervention is needed. Once the CEO at the financial-services firm understood how poorly his team was aligned, for example, he held a series of top-team off-site meetings aimed specifically at generating greater agreement on strategy. One result: the team made aligning the organization part of its collective agenda, and its members committed themselves to communicating and checking in regularly with leaders at lower levels of the organization to ensure that they too were working consistently and collaboratively on the new strategy. One year later, the top team was much more unified around the aims of the operational-improvement initiative—the proportion of executives who said the team had clarity of direction doubled, to 70 percent, and the team was no longer working at cross-purposes. Meanwhile, operational improvements were gaining steam: costs came down by 20 percent over the same period, and the proportion of work completed on time rose by 8 percent, to 96.3 percent.

Finally, most teams need to change their support systems or processes to catalyze and embed change. At the insurer, for example, the CEO saw to it that each top-team member’s performance indicators in areas such as cost containment and employee satisfaction were aligned and pushed the team’s members to share their divisional performance data. The new approach allowed these executives to hold each other accountable for performance and made it impossible to continue avoiding tough conversations about lagging performance and cross-organizational issues. Within two years, the team’s dynamics had improved, along with the company’s financials—to a return on invested capital (ROIC) of 16.6 percent, from –8.8 percent, largely because the team collectively executed its roles more effectively and ensured that the company met its cost control and growth goals.

Each top team is unique, and every CEO will need to address a unique combination of challenges. As the earlier examples show, developing a highly effective top team typically requires good diagnostics, followed by a series of workshops and field work to address the dynamics of the team while it attends to hard business issues. When a CEO gets serious about making sure that her top team’s members are willing and able to help meet the company’s strategic goals, about ensuring that the team always focuses on the right topics, and about managing dynamics, she’s likely to get results. The best top teams will begin to take collective responsibility and to develop the ability to maintain and improve their own effectiveness, creating a lasting performance edge.

FEBRUARY 2011 •

Source: McKinsey Quaterly, Organization Practice, February 2011
Authors: Michiel Kruyt, Judy Malan, and Rachel Tuffield
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Five technologies to watch

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt on January 10th, 2012 by admin

Innovation in energy technology is taking place rapidly. Five technologies you may not have heard of could be ready to change the energy landscape by 2020.

Recent breakthroughs in natural-gas extraction highlight the speed with which game-changing technologies can transform the natural-resource landscape. Just over the horizon are others—such as electric vehicles, advanced internal-combustion engines, solar photovoltaics, and LED lighting—that are benefiting from the convergence of software, consumer electronics, and traditional industrial processes. Each has the potential to grow by a factor of ten in the next decade.

Placing rapidly evolving technologies such as these on a resource cost curve, however, is difficult: their impact could be very big or very small. And that’s even more the case for technologies that require significant scientific and engineering innovations to reach commercial scale at viable cost. This article describes five technologies that could start arriving in earnest by 2020 or so: grid-scale storage, digital-power conversion, compressorless air conditioning and electrochromic windows, clean coal, and electrofuels and new biofuels.

Not all of these will succeed in the market; they will earn a place only if they can outperform the rising bar defined by other rapidly advancing technologies. But even if only some of them pan out, those could transform the energy landscape. It’s possible, in fact, that the development of energy technologies is approaching a tipping point that will generate increases in energy productivity on a scale not seen since the Industrial Revolution.

Grid-scale storage
The large-scale storage of electricity within electric power grids allows power generated overnight to meet peak load during the day. Today, this kind of grid storage costs about $600 to $1,000 per kilowatt hour (kWh) and can be used only when the local geology supports pumped-hydro or compressed-air storage systems. Innovations using flow batteries, liquid-metal batteries, flywheels, and ultracapacitors could reduce costs to $150 to $200 per kWh by 2020 and make it possible to provide grid storage in every major metropolitan market. At these prices, by 2020 the United States alone would want to build more than 100 gigawatts (GW) of storage (the capacity equivalent of the current US nuclear-generation fleet).

That much storage capacity would be transformative: currently, our power grid tends to use only 20 to 30 percent of its capacity because we build it to meet very high demand peaks. With storage, we can flatten out those peaks, reducing capital requirements for transmission and distribution and making power much cheaper to deliver. Power companies also could use storage to smooth variability in the supply of weather-dependent renewables, such as solar and wind power, thereby converting them from intermittent power sources into much more reliable ones.

Digital-power conversion
Large-scale high-voltage transformers, developed in the late 1880s, set the stage for the widespread development of the electrical grid. Virtually the same technology is still in use today. A typical transformer costs $20,000, weighs 10,000 pounds, and takes up 250 cubic feet. High-speed digital switches made of silicon carbide and gallium nitride have been developed for high-frequency power management for everything from military jets to high-speed rail. They use 90 percent less energy, take up only about 1 percent as much space, and are more reliable and flexible than existing transformers. Today’s advanced applications include consumer electronics and variable-speed industrial drives for manufacturing. As such applications expand and the major semiconductor manufacturers begin to produce these technologies at scale, they could replace conventional transformers in the utility industry (at less than one-tenth the cost) by 2020. China is particularly well positioned to benefit from adopting digital-power electronics because of the scale of its planned grid expansion.

Compressorless air conditioning and electrochromic windows
Today, it costs about $3,000 to $4,000 a year to run a high-efficiency air conditioner in a hot region, and even the efficient windows now commonly used allow 50 percent of the cooling energy to escape. New compressorless air conditioners dehumidify the air with desiccants rather than the traditional “compress/decompress” refrigeration cycle. Electrochromic window technologies change the window shading, depending on the temperature difference between outside and inside. These technologies offer the potential to cut home-cooling bills in half. Advanced windows also could slash heating costs by half, allowing the sun to warm houses while keeping the cold out—the new windows are often better than the standard attic insulation in cold-climate homes today. These technologies are expensive now, but by 2020 they should cost only about half as much to install as current state-of-the-art cooling and window technologies do.

Clean coal
Today, carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) costs $8,000 to $10,000 per kilowatt (kW). Innovative processes now under development could help coal-fired generators to capture more than 90 percent of their carbon dioxide, at a cost of less than $2,000 per kW. If the technology is viable by 2020, it would be possible for nearly 70 percent of the roughly 200 US coal plants currently slated for closure in that year to stay open for decades. The same goes for similar plants in China and Europe. Without supportive carbon regulations, though, we are unlikely to see clean coal deployed at scale. Coal without carbon sequestration will always be cheaper than coal with it. On current course, though, coal with carbon sequestration could become cheaper, more reliable, and more widely deployable than many renewable technologies.

Biofuels and electrofuels
With crude-oil prices approaching $100 a barrel, market shares for biofuels such as cane and corn ethanol are rising rapidly. Although second-generation cellulosic biofuels have proved harder to make than many had hoped five years ago, innovative start-ups focused on cellulosic and algae-based biofuels are starting to create high-margin specialty chemicals and blendstocks, generating cash now and suggesting a pathway to deliver biofuels at $2 a gallon or less by 2020. At the same time, biopharmaceutical researchers are developing electrofuel pathways that feed carbon dioxide, water, and energy to enzymes to create long-chain carbon molecules that function like fossil fuels at one-tenth the cost of current biofuels. The key question is whether these new technologies can be scaled. If they can, today’s constraints on biofuels—the declining quality of available land and “food for fuel” trade-offs—may diminish.

Source: McKinsey Quaterly, January 2011
Author: Matt Rogers, McKinsey
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