Thursday, October 22, 2015

A lesson from VW

“By 2018, we want to take our group to the very top of the global car industry,” said the Volkswagen CEO four years ago.
 For social and environmental investors or for that matter for all investors that should have been a red flag. A month ago it was discovered that VW knowingly rigged their emissions control system. So they lied and they were environmentally irresponsible. Their intention of being the number one car -maker prevailed, and so then did short cuts and cover-ups. Hundreds of thousands if not millions of investors, customers and employees have been negatively impacted. The fall-out is still uncertain, there is talk that the German economy may suffer as well
 The intended goal of “building the best possible product for our customers, and working toward the most efficient fuel efficient technology” an admirable goal in itself, became just glossy presentation on the road to number one. Sustainable profit requires sustainable practices and fostering sustainable resources.
 “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” – says Warren Buffet.
 The lesson we learn is that setting goals that are not directly correlated to the greater good is not productive. The greater good will always prevail; it’s in our nature.
 P.S. The science of this can be found all over the internet. Firms of Endearment (click on the “performance tab”) is one example.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Its all about the Team!

“Coming together is beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” —Henry Ford
This week I heard someone saying that they are struggling with employee satisfaction/engagement, and then they changed the subject and talked about how they are trying to decide whether or not to buy another company for $100million. The two situations seemed to be unrelated in their mind.
I can't say that I can relate to the pressures and nuances of the c-suite although at one point in my life I was responsible for 60 employees, and a $2 million budget, which pales in comparison to what most of the influential corporate decision makers have on their hands. But, if I remember correctly the emphasis on spending money outside of salary is marketing and product development. Mostly,  salaries are seen as a financial burden, while money for developing new products and selling them is a bottomless well.
Isn't a company not very different from a sports team. Aren't the players the most important component? Without productive, fulfilled players, spectators don't show up.  
Companies that have figured this out are thriving. The old school style of management, which treats employees like a commodity, is going the way of the Dodo, and so will leaders who don’t shift their priority to building and fostering a strong team.
Does it really make sense to consider a multi million acquisition, when your team is not fulfilled and thriving? Why not spend that money to built an elite team. Not necessarily an increase in salary, but specialized training, career path enhancement, services and reduced work load.  Think improving employee well-being. It's not until the employees are fully engaged and on board with the mission, will the mission succeed. Only then should client interests and shareholder demands be considered. It should be a corporate leader's job to make the clients and shareholders realize that it's in their best interest to have engaged employees. Is that not an executive’s fiduciary responsibility?
“A good objective of leadership is to help those who are doing poorly to do well and to help those who are doing well to do even better” – Jim Rohn

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Porcupine

We came across a porcupine last week walking through the Maine woods.  He (as his gender assumed) in our dinner conversation later that night, walked away from us as fast as he could with his quills at attention.  Porcupines can't move very fast.    He walked up a rock gentle face and we followed and then he stopped and we stopped.  I sat down and put my hand down on the rock making a soft clicking noise.  After a while he put down his quills and I could see his eyes relax.  Then he lifted up on to his hind legs and turned to face us.  He was about four feet away from us and slightly up hill. He stood there and watched.  Long claws and short arms at his front like a T-Rex, but with the demeanor of Albert Einstein.  His yellowish rodent front teeth, front and center - giving me pause about whether to reach my hand closer.  He moved slightly closer and continued to watch us.  After a few minutes passed he lowered himself, turned and slowly walk off into the brush.

I was left feeling invigorated from what felt like a deep connection with nature.  It was a Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi moment.  All thoughts, inhibitions, fears fell away and what was left was feeling not too different from getting into a hot shower on a cold day, or drinking a glass of cold water after a long summer run.

Egoless connection = Bliss!

I wonder what the Porcupine wrote in his blog?