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Blog 1-17

Due: 4-28-11

Standard Case: The Men’s Wearhouse

Extra Readings: Organizational Silence; ACT Change

A main reason on all organization certainly is having economic profits, but this is more difficult getting it in a competitive and turbulent entrepreneurial environment. For that, managers should not only implement good technical skills to manage their companies but also have suitable organizational philosophy wherein allows being competitive and having sustained growth over time. In truth, nowadays, managers must change their traditional system of work for being more creative and encompassing according to the current circumstances. This is by employing technical criteria as well as intuition and emotional inspiration to connect personnel, customers, and enterprises through the leadership in which combines science and art for managing any organization. This shift of perspective is possible to attain through a servant leadership in which a leader and their subordinates put maximum endeavors to achieve their goals in a holistic context.

As an illustration of this, after several years of hard-working from Men’s Wearhouse Company’s manager- George Zimmer-  achieved to put to his organization in a competitive position of leadership. It was due to not only by implementing a variety of assertive strategies such as trusting in the value of human potential as fundamental mainstay of his company. This is for betting on employees as first priority, of course in a positive work environment, because “the people you manage and work with are your customers, as well as clients of the store.” It means employees are first, then customers, vendors, and communities. In fact, if you do not have efficient, skilled, trained, engaged, and motivated workers will be very difficult to reach your setting goals. In like fashion, another strategy is related to have an entire vision of product as pointed out another top management- Charlie Bresler- “we try not only to dichotomize customer service and selling- we treat them as an integrated package.”

However, in some organizations, there are certain issues and problems as organizational silence, which according to Elizabeth Wolfe and Frances Milliken in their article “Sounds of Silence,” organizational silence is pervasive and is potentially dangerous impediment to organizational learning and change. Indubitably, organizational silence could seem simple and straightforward, but these result being more complicated and harmful for any organization if these are not appropriately managed and overcome. In addition, this problem is a barrier for any firm to flourish because among workers there is no a fluid communication, exchange of opinions, critical analysis, and differences. All this does that a manager is unable to take decisions in order to enhance his o her company. In truth, managers are responsible for this because they should break this “coldness” for changing the status quo in their companies through an authentic leadership in which managers should create reliable mechanisms for that, they but above all must change first.

In fact, if managers struggle by being successful into their organizations, they should change their attitudes, work habits, and behaviors first before waiting changes from their employees. In that sense, they should give the example through positive and effective changes in human system for which managers have a great responsibility not only with their firms but also with their workers. This is because employees are a meaningful component in any organization. To illustrate, in Robert Quinn, Gretchen Spreitzer, and Matthew Brown in their article “Changing Others through Changing Ourselves the Transformation of Human Systems,” real adaptive change can only be achieved by encouraging people to make painful adjustments for which leaders convince others to change when they first change themselves. Surely, this transformation of human system should not be simple or traditional changes because these are not effective in consequence do not have good outcomes.

On the contrary, these shifts should be circumscribed in an important vision for the common good, which integrate the individuals to a collective good. With this in mind, an advanced change theory (ACT) is required, which is more complex but more comprehensive because this requires the leader to employ a high level of cognitive, behavioral, and moral complexity. For that, Argyris comes up with two types of action: 1) single-loop learning or adaptive behavior, which triggers in incremental improvements and 2) double-loop learning or innovative behavior, which does transformational change. In short, if managers do not like to be “between a rock and hard place,” they should start by changing themselves first, then implementing effective, workable, and attainable strategies as democratizing everything through an entire vision of products, avoiding groupthink, as well as employing the servant leadership by nurturing a Win-Win-Win relationship into their organizations.


HBS: Layoffs

Blog 1-16

Due: 4-21-11

HBS: Layoffs

Any company has economic scenarios with ups and downs during its lifecycle; in that sense, how it can be faced will depend on its manager. Indeed, the central purpose of any manager is maintaining a lasting and stable growth in his or her firm. However, sometimes managers blindly adopt the “easiest and cheapest decision” in order to resize their company by cutting costs relied on layoffs such as Astigo Holdings Company’s strategy. This decision along the business history lots of times has resulted being prejudicial for companies because this creates an unstable context not only for companies, suppliers, customers but also for workers because these circumstances are directly correlated to workers’ morale and productivity, definitely. With this in mind, managers, in a difficult scenario, should be more creative and imaginative in order to solve their competitiveness by taking appropriately measures.

In truth, to dismiss workers for either a “first-in, first-out” policy or “last-in, first-out” policy strategy is a strong and extreme decision for the companies because this does not ensure the success of a company; on the contrary, this measure affects the entrepreneurial environment. Managers think that this could generate enough savings, which could be perhaps on the short-run, but this does not have a support over time in which this will be more expensive on the long-term. Besides, aside from this, the main problem is that the company proximally will not have credibility from its customers, suppliers, and even from its shareholders too. All this puts in a difficult situation to the company in terms of recovering its competitiveness and credibility. Consequently, in this outlook, managers’ decision would be wrong wherein they would handle to their organizations from “cradle to grave.”

In fact, for being more competitive in our organization, we should not necessarily reduce to workforce. The layoffs are a last resource. It means when a company does not have any solution managers should mandatorily rethink about that for defining “who goes, and who stays.” This is because a company invests time and money in recruiting contestants for “getting the right people in the right slots.” Likewise, of being the case and if we are “in an alley without way out,” we as managers, should combine these layoffs between old and new blood. The percentage would depend on collateral factors, but I believe by 40 and 60% could be a good decision. Nevertheless, to be honest, I do not share the idea to lay off workers because this synopsis negatively affects in our companies. Rather, we should seek high performing of our workers as well as competitiveness in our companies by designing workable, suitable, and sustainable strategies. All this does not to throw our endeavors to the overboard, which would seem being the case for Astrigo Holdings firm.

Blog 1-15

Due: 4-19-11

The Treadway Tire Company

Globalization of markets demands to organizations being each time more competitive. For that, companies should optimize their production, which means to increase their productivity and cut overall costs. The latter is more complicated because raw materials have a progressive growth in their costs. However, the term increase of productivity must involve human resource as a key point in organizations. In fact, enterprises experience a variety of problems in getting a sustained growth just by not considering this central point relied on human capital, such as Treadway’s Lima Tire Plant underwent mainly with line foremen. This was owing to the job dissatisfaction by the: lack of assertive communication, hostile labor environment, and consequently production failures  from its line foremen by which triggered in high turnover, which was “the tip of the iceberg” for Lima Tire Plant’s crappy system.

When managers have the premise to increase the production in their companies, they mostly paid attention to their economic outcomes, but they do not have into account how they have been produced. For that indubitably, human resources comply a primordial role to do reality it. In this regard and in agreement to the present article, if employees, in particular, line foremen, who have the responsibility to oversight to workforce, do not have a suitable training and communication in whole levels, this will cause a breakdown in the company’s system. Of course, this is prejudicial for any enterprise because alters, delays, and even jeopardizes its production level. Precisely, one of the tasks of any managers should be to promote systematic trainings and maintain a lastly communication with their employees certainly in greater scale with their general supervisors and line supervisors wherein a manager has closer communication with them. In consequence, high turnover is justly due to labor dissatisfaction and frustration of employees, such as describes a line foreman of Lima Tire Plant, who refers that must have “more communication from upper management and training in the labor contract.”

A manager should always seek positive changes in his or her organization. For that, before to begin any action, the manager should have “correct people on the bus” in order to assure the compliance of the entrepreneurial goals. For this purpose, he o she should encourage a formal and informal training to engage workers toward his o her organization. As managers have direct contact with general supervisors and line supervisors, they should be in first line for this training.

In truth, line foremen is extremely important component in oversight issues because through them any manager may take the decision to fix some fault in the process and improve it as well. On the contrary, ‘you’ will expose to them being “between a rock and hard place.” This is because they will be unable to control to their workers by which this is harmful for any company. So that, you as a manager should create a stable and agreeable job environment, which means to have a productive place of work, and to avoid high turnover and worse if this turnover is voluntary, such as occurred at Lima Tire Plant in which this represented 43%. Therefore, ‘you’ should fix your organizational “Crappy System.”

Blog 1-14

Due: 4-12-11

HBS: Level 5 Leadership

WSJ Lt. Withers; WSJ Col. Dowdy

Individuals should be leaders not only in their jobs but also in the driving of their daily life. This is because a leader blends knowledge, skills and internal emotions in order to attain his/her vision previously established instead of only reaching quantitative targets. In fact, being on the helm of a company may be easy, but doing it well or very well is quite difficult in terms of having to the organization a sustained growth and competitive advantages from its competitors. For such, sometimes a leader should take structural and radical decisions to changes by overcoming mediocrity performance and consequently outcomes in his/her firm. By the way, there is a variety of literature about the leadership and its levels, such as according to Jim Collins (2001) in his article “Level 5 Leadership,” there are five levels of leadership, but the level 5 is an executive level wherein leaders, in this hierarchy, carry to their enterprises from “good to great.” 

Although level 5 leadership is very complicated to achieve it, this is possible in so far that leaders have ambition and draw ideas for both: themselves and their companies. They in turn combine quantitative and qualitative aspects. In this sense, quantitative aspects include, among others, financial metrics, turnover, layoffs, and stocks, while qualitative aspects in terms of human treatment. Furthermore, leaders within level 5 leadership have particular traits in their personality for being modest and willful as well as shy and fearless. Above all, they seek the better people for their teamwork as well as seek a good successor for following the entrepreneurial success. Besides, they are participative leaders in agreement to Collins’ slogan: “First who, then what,” which means to get the best “who” into a room and together decide the best “what.” These details on the leadership style do the difference with other ones.

Certainly, a leader is the person who also has a positive and enduring impact on people. This is because his/her leader’s attitudes and behaviors has influenced in persons, such as was the case of John Withers, a U.S. Officer, who helped and decided to take care of “Peewee” and “Salomon” notwithstanding the rigid and tensional circumstances in which John is involved. Likewise, Col. Joe D. Dowdy did another style of leadership. This is because he did not expose to his marines to comply a mission because this was a dangerous military operation in which in so doing would represent risks for him and his marines. In this scenario, the lieutenant said, “in war, you have competing demands between men and mission.” Although he knew about implications by do not comply and disobey superior orders, he took the decision of not doing it by which he was finally fired.

In short, there are a lot ways of doing leadership in any scenario, such as done by John Withers and Joe D. Dowdy, in which such actions in truth should be imitated. Surely, a leader should take strong decisions in which evolve symbiotic relationships between human resources and physical results. For that, leaders should also have the “right people on the bus and wrong people off the bus” for reaching their objectives based on the entrepreneurial vision. Nevertheless, building enduring greatness through “personal humility and professional will,” which are attributes of leaders with a level 5 leadership, is a challenge for managers. This will be attainable when “the window and the mirror” are suitably and coherently seen, and I believe that luck too.

Blog 1-13

Due: 4-7-11

HBS: Diamonds in the Data Mine

HBS: Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc.

Mediocre scores on companies ought to be rapidly outcome because the bottom line is being a profitable firm wherein its profits have a sustainable growth over time. This will be possible in so far that managers design competitive strategies to capitalize customers’ satisfaction. For such, managers should structure also appropriate tactic plans, which are short action plans in order to achieve these strategies and setting goals. In the like fashion, this set of strategies should always meet both parts: customers and companies, which means, “giving and getting.” Of course, there are several strategies to apply in an organization, but these should be carefully assessed in agreement to company’s prioritizations and requirements. One of them and without doubt the most important, is related to database (physical strategy), which store very important evidences from different sources. Furthermore, another strategy above all is related to human resources (human strategy) in particular employees.

Indeed, a company through its manager should implement strategies justly based on database, which allow developing quantitative models to predict key issues for a greater customer satisfaction. For this, the firm should invest in the development of the intellectual and technological capabilities as for storing the data as also for processing, analyzing, and outlining strategies. These may be focused on geographic diversification to introduce company’s brand and customer loyalty through reward programs for instance. A company’s manager in turn should always monitor and enhance the outlined strategies. With this in mind, database and an effective marketing program become for organizations in a meaningful analytical tool. The Harrah’s Entertainment Company has used this tool, such as points out Gary Loveman (2003) in his article “Diamonds in the Data Mine.” Its database have become in a very rich repository of customer information because store valuable information in terms of names, addresses, age, gender, among other customer preferences. Consequently, the company designed a strategy by doing visible the differentiation in customer services, which permitted to Harah Company to have greater advantages from its competitors.

Regarding the human strategy, a primary activity of managers is to pay attention to their employees because they are the mainstay of any organization. So that, the key point is to have the best workers, who, first should be rigorously selected by their meritocracy. Then, they should receive a systematic training in order to have for the organization trained and skilled workers. For example, according to Thomas Delong and Vinetta Vijayaraghavan (2003) in their article “Harah’s Entertainment, Inc.: Rewarding our people,” bonus plan for workers by improving customer-satisfaction scores were implemented. This has been done to persuade customers. This plan has been based on reward employees for customer service metrics by giving selective treatment to customers through employees’ speed plus friendliness. Thus, having a sustainable and competitive advantage by employing human capital duly engaged and motivated as well as by using technological systems to get to know better to customers is profitably workable to reach the entrepreneurial goals.

Blog 1-12

Due: 4-5-11

HBS: Evidence-Based Management

Good to Great, or Just Good

Time and space are two structural and determinant variables of management wherein every manager should take into account for accomplishing optimal managerial outcomes. Above this point, in truth, they inappropriately apply some procedures of management in their companies, such as the benchmarking, an entrepreneurial performance comparison, or other practices based on partial inferences or suppositions, which barely work well due to their half-truths. In this sense, technique applications in firms should be centered on complete evidences for getting reliable effects. Already Saint Thomas of Aquino said, “I have to see to believe” on the mystery of the Eucharist. So that, employing deeper logic plus facts can become in an extremely important managerial tool, which senior managements should use it.

Although the benchmarking, which is a process to compare processes and performance metrics among enterprises, is a powerful cost-efficient tool, this is unable to be blindly applied to any organization. This is because each firm has different reality, organizational culture, philosophy, workforce, strategies, goals, competitive environments as well. This entire means that organizations have different physical temporal spaces for developing their activities. In this scenario, Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton’s article entitled “Evidence-Based Management” explains the benchmarking is the most insecure technique to organizational health. As an illustration, they also refer, that United Airlines (UA) decided to compete with Southwest in the California market. For such, UA employed the benchmarking in order to provide the same services than Southwest. However, this mechanism-benchmarking- did not functioned owing to particular factors and realities in each of them because “one thing is only unique, the rest is imitation”.

On the other hand, evidence-based management (henceforth EBM) is an efficient technique, which can be learned through practice and experience. In the same way, EMB combine quantitative and qualitative evidences for its application, which does a technique more robustness. Even more so, EBM procedure can be strengthened through feedbacks, which becomes it in a continuous improvement process. For these reasons, EBD’s usage would have competitive advantages compared with other methods. However, according to a research conducted by Pfeffer and Sutton concludes, at least at medical firms, only use this technique around 15%.

Definitely, time and space play an important role in development of organizations. In this level, each manager has the responsibility to built management knowledge within his or her companies. With this in mind, induced works, such as Bruce Niendorf and Kristine Beck in their article “Good to Great, or Just Good,” point out that any manager should avoid results coming from induced works how found, for example, in Collins’ book, “Good to Good” in which used empirical evidences- mediocrity evidence, and statistical arguments based on the former. So that, there is no evidence that Collins’ findings can be generalized to other firms. Rather, evidenced-based management and logic analysis of the facts result being a suitable work system for being applied in our organizations. Hence, to put in practice sound procedures, such as EBM, to get “the right people on the bus” can be an extremely productive tool.

The Dean’s Disease

Blog 1-11

Due: 3-31-11

The Dean’s Disease

There is an inseparable linkage between power and leadership in terms of that an individual cannot be a leader without exerting power, which is the engine that drives the ability to influence over persons. However, the exercise of power sometimes is misunderstood and misused as well because managers do abuse of this to take advantage of the circumstances since their labor position. In this instance, there are two scenarios about the exercise of power: positive and negative connotations. The former uses power as a powerful tool for developing a effectiveness leadership, whereas the latter is seen as a “groupthink” style as points out Arthur Bedeian in his article (2002) entitled “The Dean’s Disease: How Darker Side of Power Manifests Itself in the Office of Dean.”

In fact, the influence of leaders in firms is vital because they should influence to their employees to work as teamwork instead of team of players. For that, the energy force from them is substantial to positively influencing in workers for attaining the goals circumscribed into the entrepreneurial vision and mission. In this context, there is a variety of power sorts, such as the power of relationships, the power of information, the power of position, etc., but managers appropriately persuade all of these types of power. Truly, the target from the power holders is positively channelized through empowerment programs wherein employees enhance their job performance. This in effect begins by the employees’ behavior and attitude changes. As a result, enterprises increase their productivity due to the practice of power.  

However, in other scenario, individuals misuse the exercise of power because they focus their efforts in negative context by acting under a “groupthink” style. This property in turn becomes to followers in cerebral paralyzed people because they foster the conformism and religiously accept orders from their hierarchal superior “without neither doubts nor gossips.” In truth, there are many experiences about the darker side of power. This is not only coming from the academic word, but also of public and private organizations. Leaders from the dark side of power in truth have undergone psychological changes but with negative results. They foster and boost an inner circle in the development of their activities; for such, unconditional lackeys, who also are benefited with the wedding cake, surround these “leaders”. In addition, these pseudo leaders defend to “clock and sword” their privileged labor positions everything by the “power hungry,” which certainly becomes a drug for them. These “leaders” are able to destroy any “enemy” that contradicts or critics their archaic and routine management. 

To conclude, the two sides of the exercise of power-positive and negative are evident and still exist. Nevertheless, the negative side, which works under a “group-think” model, should be exterminated by complete in our organizational environment for the vitality of organizations. Changing form negative to a positive power side because managers wherein work trough this model encourage value chains in terms of integrity, honesty, fairness, candor among others.  But, this will be possible when our “Crappy Systems” changes and so do not have “Crappy Deans,” who suffer with the disease of power for maintaining their delusions of grandeur.

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