Last summer I was invited to visit Procter & Gamble’s headquarters in Cincinnati. I was filled with nostalgia, for that is where I began my career in marketing and general management long ago, and I had not been back in over two decades. At first I was struck with the strangeness of the place. There was a coffee bar in the lobby, turnstiles blocked the elevators, and I recognized few faces. But by the time I left, I realized that the truth was more complex, and therein lies the secret of P&G’s continuing success.
Archive for the ‘dharmanomics’ Category
I spent the holidays doing nothing. Well, not exactly nothing. I read the kind of mindless novels I never make time for. I skied for the first time in 16 years. I went to parties and watched football and planned outrageous surprises for the kids and conspired with them on outrageous surprises for their mom. Made playlists. Exercised.
But I didn’t read business books or blogs. I unplugged from Twitter. I didn’t write. Cancelled client meetings. Closed for business.
I felt borderline depressed for the first week. I didn’t know who I was. Then one day I woke exhilarated. Read the rest of this entry »
Effective entrepreneurs keep their organizations focused on unchanging goals. At the same time, they cannot become married to specific plans because conditions change. While striving to balance consistent vision with adaptable plans, leaders must also ensure all stakeholders opt in. Whoever said it was easy?
Are you old enough to remember how free agency revolutionized baseball in the 70′s? Suddenly the whole concept of “team” was up for grabs. Many of us purists were horrified as the Yankees found they could buy championships by snapping up available stars.
Today, there is no more debate. Free agency is the water all sports teams swim in. And despite our fears, professional sports remain fascinating. Despite rapid turnover of players, teams command loyalty.
Less commented on has been the revolution of free agency in the business world. After brutal rounds of downsizing and restructuring in the 80′s and 90′s, most businesspeople no longer regard their companies as family but rather as stepping stones. And you know what? It’s OK. Read the rest of this entry »
Before carving the turkey, I’d like to pause and appreciate. Why I’m grateful to advise business leaders:
- There’s always something to learn. Every business is unique, facing unique challenges. Cookie-cutter solutions rarely work because they don’t celebrate uniqueness. Uniqueness always gives me opportunities to learn, grow, get better, be challenged…
- My experience is always relevant. The other side of bullet one is that all businesses share many commonalities. Having acquired 30 years of business experience, I can always find ideas or insights that are relevant. It feels good to add value.
- Business is a discipline for self development. It’s not like there is a border where work ends and life begins. They are completely mingled. By approaching business with the mindset of self development, it can be a marvelous yoga or meditation. Everyday it confronts me with opportunities to become a better person.
- Business lets me serve. I enjoy my life, but that’s not enough. I want to leave this world a better place. Business is my vehicle.
Why are you grateful? How does business help you on your path?
We generally publish new posts every Monday and Wednesday. This week, we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving with family. We wish you a Thanksgiving Day filled with gratitude for the year that was, and a year of gratitude for the day that is.
One weekend last year, the kids and I decided to go to a movie, then roller skate. We were excited by the plan and chatted happily during the car ride. But the movie upset my 7-year-old, with animals killing each other for survival (G-rated! What were they thinking?), and when the skating rink turned out to be closed, she burst into tears. “I didn’t like the movie and now I can’t even skate! Now I’ll never have fun!”
I immediately was flooded with feelings. First, of course, I felt like the world’s worst dad. Read the rest of this entry »
Many managers are like my dog. They are perpetually compelled to leave their mark for others to admire or fear. Someone comes up with an idea and wham! they’ve got an improvement. They add value everywhere. And they undermine their success. Because sometimes you can add the most value by saying nothing.
Successful leaders are often an odd blend of ego and humility. Arguably, they need both – the one to move boldly and courageously, the other to stay alert for potential errors and to avoid overwhelming others. For most leaders I’ve known over the past 30 years, the hubris came easily. Their challenge was to learn to cultivate humility. Here are some tips. Read the rest of this entry »
“Passion” has been one of this decade’s buzzwords. Leaders must be passionate. Employees must be passionate. Entrepreneurs must be passionate. But can one be successful without passion?
A respected colleague, Dave Taylor, argues that passion is overrated, that business people should follow the money, addressing whatever opportunities that fit their skill set. Read the rest of this entry »
Sometimes we feel violated. A colleague steals our best idea. A boss throws us under the bus. A subordinate knifes us in the back. A customer or supplier lies. What are our best coping strategies as business leaders when faced with injustice and violation?
I was robbed today. Read the rest of this entry »
A core competency of leadership is the balancing of competing needs and constituencies. There is a right way to do this and a wrong way. To do it right, think like a painter: you need both black and white. If you do it wrong, you get a palette full of gray. There are three key skills needed to avoid gray in the quest for balance:
- Cultivating diversity rather than uniformity
- Recognizing which of a range of ideas is most appropriate to the moment
- Knowing how to build on opposing ideas to reach a superior solution
“We’ll meet on edges soon, said I” – Bob Dylan
It sometimes seems that all organizations and movements are surrounded by powerful magnets pulling them off their centers. The French Revolution, which began with a Declaration of the Rights of Man, quickly devolved into the Reign of Terror. Recently Newsweek published an article by Jacob Weisberg about how Irving Kristol’s intellectual neocon movement of the ’70′s got hijacked by emotional ideologues. A recent WSJ article discussed how the GOP leadership’s strategy to rebuild after 2008 by attracting moderates was overwhelmed by tea party extremists. History is filled with similar examples.
I call it the Than Thou Syndrome. Read the rest of this entry »
Last winter spent a football Sunday with the father of a friend. He had spent his career at IBM, while I had spent 9 years at Procter & Gamble, and we fell into reminiscing. Both of us told tales of the two-way loyalty that defined life in those companies. Everything was expected of managers, but everything was given. They took care of their own. We were members of a tribe.
Oh my, how things have changed.
SUMMER VACATION! Following is a reprint of a popular post from earlier this year:
Doesn’t it seem sometimes like the world is filled with irresponsible idiots? Wouldn’t your job be easier if they just got a clue and did what they obviously need to do?
Let me give you an example of corporate idiocy. Read the rest of this entry »
On a recent trip I experienced the best and worst of customer service. The impact of each was huge, yet the gap between the two was small and easily closed. So why doesn’t every company choose to provide the best?
I’ll name names. Read the rest of this entry »
In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed piece, the admirable Peggy Noonan wrote that the age of youthful leaders should be brought to a close, and that the world needs more leadership built on the wisdom that only age and experience can bring. She’s part right – she just doesn’t take the thought far enough.
When I look back on mistakes I’ve made over my career, I find the same scenario repeated with embarrassing frequency: another manager opposed change that I was trying to implement, and I saw him or her as my enemy. This is top of mind this week after rereading a lecture by Susan Skjei of Naropa University, where I recently completed a course called “Authentic Leadership.”
One of Susan’s points is that all change provokes resistance. If there is no resistance, chances are the change is either illusory (a repackaging of the status quo) or bound for failure.
In other words, resistance is not only natural, it’s a signal that we’re on the right path. Read the rest of this entry »
Another marketer, (@kristy3m), recently retweeted my article about The 13 Worst Marketing Mistakes, saying that my subject was “when marketers and yogi’s intersect.” I love it! It inspired me to buy domain rights to themarketingyogi.com. Maybe I’ll do something with that someday. Meanwhile, some more thoughts on a BIG topic, the yoga of marketing.