Sunday, May 15, 2011

Maverick, Ricardo Semler.

The book “Maverick” by Ricardo Semler is a narrative about a company identifying the need for a transformational change then telling the story of how that change was brought about.

The example however falls short of being a paradigm on a number of fronts.

Ricardo Semler had the right idea and the right goal but went about it the wrong way.

The book is an eight year litany of confrontation, bloody noses and sackings as Ricardo tried to force his employees to change.

He did not have the best people at the start, he had normal people.
His workforce were exactly the same as any other workforce on the planet, they were average people, but they were all individuals.

He inherited the company from his father; who was a traditional authoritarian boss. He demanded that it was done his way or the highway, and had no idea how destructive his uncompromising Command and Control style of management was.

His workforce was average and produced an average performance.

Ricardo's vision was that each employee was potentially exceptional but that it was the working environment they were kept in that prevented them from being exceptional.

Ricardo's' vision was to create the working environment that would allow his employees to be as good as they could be.

This involved getting the managers out of the way to stop them interfering with the ability of the workforce to perform and to give control of their lives back to the workforce.

The company in those eight years grew over ten times but the cost was the replacement of almost every single member of the management team.

The reason for this was that although the change was the right change, it was being driven by Ricardo, from the top down.

This made the workers and the middle management resist what was happening because they were being told what they had to do.

When you tell a human being what to do, whatever it is, the act of telling automatically generates resistance to whatever it was they were told to do.

It is not “What” they were being told that caused the resistance it was just “Being Told.”

At the end of eight years the employees were the same individuals but the environment that had been created for them to work in had allowed them to engage. That in turn allowed them to be exceptional and to produce exceptional performance.

Today we recognise the problem of top down driven change that Ricardo could not avoid.

It lost Ricardo his whole management team and eight years of superhuman effort to drive through his changes.

Today we can see how, by allowing change to come from the bottom up, we not only get the right change but we also avoid the resistance that the “Top Down” driven solution creates.

Ricardo Semler did his best with what he had.

Now we know better.

No matter how right the change being proposed, if it is driven from the top down it will create the resistance that will cause it to fail.

Peter A Hunter

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Our Iceberg is Melting by John Kotter & Hogler Rathgeber

I read this book, after strong recommendation of my professional guide.

The book is in the fable form, and it reminded me of book 'Who Moved My Cheese?' by Spencer Johnson.

Though I have read the ideology of John Kotter, in one of his Harvard Press Articles, listing out his 8 steps Change Management Press, but fable is more enjoyment, less stress and more insight.

So, in general it was fabulous book on Change Management, which is becoming increasingly important, as global forces are making businesses and all other spheres of life fast changing. It actually reminds of the phrase ' Changing is Changing So Fast!!' in the book 'Future Shock' by Alvin Toffler.

Still, I think most of the management theories are unable to answer one vital question 'How to create a change, when its not actually not a zero sum game, but at the same time, also to an extent a zero sum game?' The typical and extreme case is 'Downsizing'.

And, I couldn't get the answer to this question in this book too.

But, in total its a good methodology and book to follow in any Change Management Process.

One can refer to the site of John Kotter, for further details on the book and its methodology

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Reengineering the Corporation by Michael Hammer & James Champy

This book was written by the authors, who coined the term 'Business Process Reengineering', which has been a buzz word since 1990's and still is.

Though this book as written in 1990's and then rewritten in early 2000's, but the approaches discussed in it are quite relevant.

The best thing I liked about the book is how the authors took me through the journey of Industrial Revolution, Adam Smith's Factory Model, Ford's Assembly line model and then back to Process based industry.

I think, this book is must read for any corporate manager. While many of the approaches discussed, may not be immediately applicable in one's environment, but it surely will broaden the perspective of readers

More works of Michael Hammer can be explored at his company's website