Monday, March 25, 2013

People Don’t Leave Bad Companies; They Leave Bad Management



Excerpt from Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia,
Micromanaging Into The Ground, page 42.


© Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

"To manage a company is one thing. To integrate into and influence its culture is another. Respecting the group dynamic goes a long way toward motivating and inspiring a workforce.

I worked for many years in various areas of the design business, from advertising to branding, from corporate events to slide production.

It is labor intensive, and to accomplish anything requires designers and creative types with a commando style of getting the work done on each project. 

But over the years I noticed that the styles of management that worked best seemed to respect the culture, their workforce, the talent, and the environment.
Those that did not went out of business.

 

No one needs to be pushed or prodded to get their work done; college educated self-starters work just fine without someone standing over their shoulder. Yet I noticed something interesting: When the distance between upper management and the rest of the company was greatest, management took longer to discover internal and external problems. This gap has to shrink for leadership to be successful in the twenty-first century. How can you see the internal workings of your company if you don’t get closer?

Here’s a case in point: One of the first jobs I had in New York City was at a slide production house. The main product was slides for small corporate presentations (this was way before PowerPoint). The new owner, Mr. G (not his real name), had bought the business lock, stock, and barrel. As a former executive with Otis Elevator, he felt it was high time some corporate structure was brought to the design field.

Somehow he assumed that the world of production artists and designers was not as structured as the corporate world he came from.
(Perhaps the plastic Mr. Potato Head on the twenty-inch monitor convinced him of this.)

Mr. G would walk around the office twice a day like the commander of a ship, wearing his Otis Elevator tie clip to remind us all where he came from and how powerful he used to be. Nevertheless, his twice-daily jaunts were always at the slowest times of production but at the peak time for sales calls. Work would slow down as his Australian accent pierced the office and he forced everyone to listen to his tales from the “real” corporate world. His opinion was forged by what he saw from us when on these walks. To him, we weren’t working very hard. And we weren’t; we were forced to stop what we were doing and listen to him!

Since he never integrated himself into the company culture, he never found out that every 8:00 am shift change was filled with mounds of paper work, double tracking, and a check list that only the CIA could have invented, all for the sole purpose of keeping track of billings. Between 8:00 am and 9:00 am chaos reigned as messengers arrived to whisk the slides to their destinations. This was before the Macintosh become a household name and desktop publishing became the hot buzzword of the eighties. Back then slides were produced on a Genigraphics computer; run through a programmed slide camera; and processed through an E6 slideprocessing machine, a twenty-five-foot-long roller transport automated developing machine, filled and maintained with vat after vat of chemicals.

Exposed film was fed manually to a feeder in a separate, attached darkroom. Once processing was finished, the film was cut and mounted into glass and plastic Wess Mounts during the night shift, then rushed to most clients’ desks by 9:30 am.

Where was Mr. G during all this chaos? In his office with the door closed, only fifty feet away from the production station. I guess he was strategizing his big walk. His reality was out of touch with what was really going on. We were busy—busy making corporate America look good. The second time everything heated up was at around 4:00 pm, when production prepared to pass the day-shift work to the night-shift personnel.

Paperwork was meticulously checked and discussed with each designer. Each color had a number that was checked, each typeface was checked, and, of course, we all pored over a set of full-color comps. It was all designed, programmed, photographed, and processed for the following day. Detail was what made this chaos run as smoothly as a well-oiled machine. Nothing could be left to chance. It was intense, high-pressure, deadline-driven work. How someone could see this as playing around is beyond me.

As the year went on, Mr. G added a policy requiring many, many daily memos. But with twelve day-shift employees in a 3,000-square-foot loft space, it was really not necessary to pass a memo to the person sitting next to you. It was like having to pass a note from the commander of a submarine to his navigator before he could actually say the words—a complete waste of time. But that’s what Mr. G wanted, and to keep our jobs, we complied.

What Mr. G never understood was that we were making slides for one small meeting after another, when the business of meetings was in fact a multibillion-dollar industry. Companies like Caribiner, MJM, and Weiss Watson were building full-scale meetings, with staging and lighting and giant sets as well as training, breakout rooms, and keynote speakers. The average cost for one of these large-scale annual meetings was around $2 million. In comparison, slide production, the physical designing and production of slide film, was a tiny component of the industry.

Mr. G began to wonder why his company was not profitable, and how it was that all these other companies were making so much money. But because he did not respect his staff, no one was willing to help him make the leap from single-slide production to full-scale meetings. And people did try to help him for a time . . . but he was always treating his staff like peonsexercising his passive-aggressive behavior whenever the mood struck him. There were plenty on staff who had worked for the big production companies and knew how to handle large-scale meetings. His top salespeople and producers attempted to bring bigger clients through the door, but even when these bigger opportunities came Mr. G’s way, he would lose them. Unable to trust his key people and incapable of knowing how to talk with potential clients about a larger engagement, he drove his company into the ground.

People began to show signs of insubordination, simply out of frustration. Many decided to moonlight at bigger production houses.

Why bother working with someone when you know they don’t appreciate your contribution?



In response, Mr. G began to micromanage his company into the ground even more. In a last-ditch effort to shake things up, he fired his top salespeople. Instead of paying for innovation, he became obsessed with cutting costs and instituting more bureaucracy and fear. To him, the design field was exactly like the elevator business—black and white, up and down, obey my commands or else. He treated creative production like a factory. Tightening costs seemed logical. But in an industry where the best creative people can command higher fees, cutting your most talented designers becomes a formula for disaster. Furthermore, by demanding memo after memo, Mr. G was actually putting up walls between departments that needed their communication to flow.

Imagine that: He was enforcing bottlenecks.


The company went under less than a year after I left. The employees were happy about it. If only Mr. G had integrated his management style into the organization instead of dictating it! He could have easily let his key people take the lead and win the larger pieces of business, but he couldn’t see the forest for the trees. He just couldn’t let go enough or trust anyone. Everything in his world required that all eyes, accolades, and rewards go to Mr. G.

I moved on and started working for some of the biggest companies in the world, producing their multimillion-dollar meetings while Mr. G couldn’t figure out how to get his clients to order more than fifty slides at a time. It didn’t take people very long to figure out that Mr. G was not an effective leader, and for leadership to work in any organization, it has to be admired. Since Mr. G was not listening to the marketplace or his key people, he sabotaged himself.

People don’t leave bad companies;
they leave bad management."


We could have helped him, but hubris makes one blind.

Thanks again for your interest in my work,



Brad Szollose
Award-winning author, business consultant and keynote speaker

Will You Be Joining Me April 25-27th in California?

Think and Grow Rich Summit 2013
Click Here: Tickets are selling out FAST!
Join me, Jeffrey Gitomer, Sharon Lechter, Les Brown and John Assaraf for 3 days of intense MasterMind Workshops, inspirational keynotes and hands on business advice! Join us as a VIP!


Brad Szollose is a much sought-after management consultant and keynote speaker who helps smart companies understand just how much technology has transformed corporate culture and behavior…and how that impacts management, interaction and expectations in The Information Age.



But this is not based on management theory: With a 30 year career as an entrepreneur he knows firsthand what it’s like to grow a company from a simple idea in a coffee shop to an internationally recognized brand.


Brad is a former C-Level Internet Executive who went from entrepreneur to IPO in 3 yrs—co-founding K2 Design, the very first Dot Com Agency to go public on NASDAQ. His company experienced 425% hyper-growth for 5 straight years, expanded from 2 business partners to 4 with 60+ employees and offices worldwide. At its height, K2 was valuated at over $26 million. 

His results only management model (ROWE) was applied to the first wave of young Generation Y workers producing great results—winning K2 the Arthur Andersen NY Enterprise Award for Best Practices in Fostering Innovation.

Brad Szollose is the *award-winning author of Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia which explores the subject of new leadership styles – mainly how to get the tech-savvy Generation Y and analogue driven Baby Boomers working together. ISBN-13: 978-1608320554

Known for his humorous and thought-provoking presentations, Szollose received the highest testimonial of his career from a C-Level audience member: "I just had my mind blown." Brad’s keynotes and workshops are highly interactive, heart-warming, humorous, and filled with high-content information that challenge assumptions and help leaders and managers create a better work environment for innovation to thrive.


Liquid Leadership has been called "THE guidebook for the 21st Century" and has won the 2011 Axiom Business Book Award silver medal for leadership, The Indie Business Book runner up silver medal as well as becoming a #1 Best-Selling Business Book on Amazon for Organizational Learning. Published in the United States by Greenleaf Book Group, in India by Prolibris and in South Korea by UI Books/Iljinsa Publishing.

Mr. Szollose also writes a monthly column on business and marketing techniques that reach Generation Y for A Captured Mind newsletter and is part of The Mind Capture Group faculty.

Today, Brad helps businesses close the Digital Divide by understanding it as a Cultural Divide – created by the new tech-savvy worker...and customer. 



* 2011 Axiom Business Book silver medal winner in the leadership

* #1 Amazon Best-Selling Author

"I just had my mind blown..." - A.S., Vistage, New York

Liquid Leadership by Brad Szollose is available at all major bookstores and for Kindle, Nook, iPad and Sony ereaders. Internationally published in India and S. Korea.

Friday, March 15, 2013

An Invitation to Napoleon Hill's Think & Grow Rich Summit 2013

Join me on April 25th-27th 2013 in Del Mar, California for History in the Making!!!

Think and Grow Rich Summit 2013


Where will YOU BE when WE Make HISTORY?
I wanted to take a moment and reach out to all of my Followers a.k.a. Friends;-)

I am sending out a special invitation to learn the same techniques that, legendary auto magnate, Henry Ford used to overcome poverty, illiteracy and ignorance to become one of the richest men in America.

In addition, these techniques helped Thomas A. Edison become one of the most successful and famous inventors of all time.

Join me for a special F*R*E*E* replay of the webinar entitled:
How to Mastermind and Grow Rich
, it is available right now! There is no charge to watch this special training webinar.


CLICK HERE to Listen: Think&GrowRichNOW!!!

Napoleon Hill super-fans, Tony Rubleski and Jim Palmer share the power of Hill’s wisdom regarding the Mastermind Principle as well as new, updated, techniques that can help you form Powerful Mastermind Groups and “friendly alliances” that can transform your personal and professional development to a new level of achievement, success, and competency.

In this exciting and informative training, they:

1. Define and share the many benefits of a Mastermind Group
2. Share exactly how to properly find OR create your own Mastermind Group
3. Reveal the Three “R’s” all TOP Mastermind Groups have in common
4. Discuss Two Major Benefits of the Mastermind
In addition, Tony shares some exciting new developments and details and a special offer about the upcoming Think and Grow Rich Summit 2013.
To listen, go to the link below and enter your name and email address. After registering, you will get instant access!

ON TOP OF THAT, you are invited to join us in sunny California from April 25-27, 2013 for the VERY FIRST Think & Grow Rich Summit!!! Imagine 3 full days of positive uplifting talks, Master Mind workshops, and access to powerful speakers like Jeffrey Gitomer, Sharon Lechter and John Di Lemme!

To Sign up for the Summit: Click Here: Think & Grow Rich Summit Registration.

Warning:
You’re About To Learn Valuable Life-Changing Information! Attend this unique event and get exclusive access to select experts normally reserved for Private Coaching!


Or for the replay of our FREE Webinar: I don't know how long this powerful webinar will be available! Here's the link again ==> ThinkandGrowRichNOW!!!

Look forward to seeing you in person in Del Mar, California...


Brad Szollose
Award-winning author, business consultant and keynote speaker


Brad Szollose is a much sought-after management consultant and keynote speaker who helps smart companies understand just how much technology has transformed corporate culture and behavior…and how that impacts management, interaction and expectations in The Information Age.



But this is not based on management theory: With a 30 year career as an entrepreneur he knows firsthand what it’s like to grow a company from a simple idea in a coffee shop to an internationally recognized brand.


Brad is a former C-Level Internet Executive who went from entrepreneur to IPO in 3 yrs—co-founding K2 Design, the very first Dot Com Agency to go public on NASDAQ. His company experienced 425% hyper-growth for 5 straight years, expanded from 2 business partners to 4 with 60+ employees and offices worldwide. At its height, K2 was valuated at over $26 million. 

His results only management model (ROWE) was applied to the first wave of young Generation Y workers producing great results—winning K2 the Arthur Andersen NY Enterprise Award for Best Practices in Fostering Innovation.

Brad Szollose is the *award-winning author of Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia which explores the subject of new leadership styles – mainly how to get the tech-savvy Generation Y and analogue driven Baby Boomers working together. ISBN-13: 978-1608320554

Known for his humorous and thought-provoking presentations, Szollose received the highest testimonial of his career from a C-Level audience member: "I just had my mind blown." Brad’s keynotes and workshops are highly interactive, heart-warming, humorous, and filled with high-content information that challenge assumptions and help leaders and managers create a better work environment for innovation to thrive.


Liquid Leadership has been called "THE guidebook for the 21st Century" and has won the 2011 Axiom Business Book Award silver medal for leadership, The Indie Business Book runner up silver medal as well as becoming a #1 Best-Selling Business Book on Amazon for Organizational Learning. Published in the United States by Greenleaf Book Group, in India by Prolibris and in South Korea by UI Books/Iljinsa Publishing.

Mr. Szollose also writes a monthly column on business and marketing techniques that reach Generation Y for A Captured Mind newsletter and is part of The Mind Capture Group faculty.

Today, Brad helps businesses close the Digital Divide by understanding it as a Cultural Divide – created by the new tech-savvy worker...and customer. 



* 2011 Axiom Business Book silver medal winner in the leadership

* #1 Amazon Best-Selling Author

"I just had my mind blown..." - A.S., Vistage, New York

Liquid Leadership by Brad Szollose is available at all major bookstores and for Kindle, Nook, iPad and Sony ereaders. Internationally published in India and S. Korea.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Time to Burn That Organizational Chart

Companies That Flatten Their Hierarchy are FASTER to Market...and More Creative

Excerpt from Liquid leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia,
Culture Shock, page 35...

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
One afternoon as I was preparing for a presentation to the K2 board of advisers later in the evening, a vigorous knock pulled me from my thoughts. Our receptionist, Jennifer Rivers, opened the door and asked...

“Do you have time to show some tourists around the office?”


It turned out that a small group of Japanese businessmen wanted to take a tour of our 3,000-square-foot facility. This was back in 1996, and K2’s main offices were at 55 Broad Street in the New York Information Technology Center (NYITC for short)... we were one of fifty new media tech companies but the only one in the building that was publicly traded. So, alas, we attracted the curious.

I had only one hour to spare. As I entered the lobby ten businessmen greeted me, along with the tour guide who served as their interpreter—all from Japan and all very curious about this phenomenon called the “Internet boom.” As we shall see, their curiosity was symbolic (and still is) of a much larger divide—not just between East and West, but between comfortably old methodologies smacking into radically new ways of doing business.

I immediately introduced myself and smiled to the group. The tour guide, a woman named Yumi, explained that they wished to see K2. Of course, I agreed. Knowing a little bit about both Japanese and Chinese culture, I bowed and said it would be my honor. Everyone bowed in unison and smiled.

Questions abounded as I began the tour with a description of the processes at K2: the careful balance among programmers, technology, and designers, and the great care taken to assure that an end user’s experience was seamless and memorable. Our visitors seemed to be mentally contrasting what appeared to be a loose management style with traditional Japanese management. To them, K2’s approach made no sense. Contrasts between East and West are not new, but the dot-com boom made them even more apparent.

Seeing their puzzlement, I attempted to enlighten them.  
“Everyone here is encouraged to bring fresh ideas to the table, and we do our best to support and reward those ideas. Nothing is considered a dumb idea, and without everyone’s input, most projects would be mediocre.”

This answer seemed to amaze them. According to Yumi, this was not how business is done in Japan. There must be hierarchy and structure. Communication was one-way in their organizational chart. Some in the group looked confused, and I imagined their blank looks were saying, “How in the hell do these young Americans get any work done?” Where is the taskmaster? They didn’t understand that mass collaboration was what made our business most effective. It was like trying to get Boomers to understand the business training a teenager was receiving by playing World of Warcraft.
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
What I failed to mention at the time, and what perhaps could have satisfied their curiosity, is that we always hired smart people at K2 who weren’t afraid to speak up. We gave people flexible time to get their work finished while balancing out deadlines. In other words, if it took four hours to get eight hours’ worth of work finished, then an employee could work on something else, create a project for the company, or leave early and work from home.

Without knowing it we had created at K2 a results-only work environment (ROWE), where our best employees were rewarded for their results rather than the number of hours worked. In these environments, productivity goes up, workers satisfaction goes up, and turnover virtually disappears.

By contrast, whenever a strict cultural paradigm does not allow for input from lower-level employees, executives miss innovations that could have made their companies instant leaders. In such a world, one must earn the “right” to be listened to and lower-rung employees can’t possibly have an effective contribution. Without permission, no one shares their insights.

In today’s world, self-motivated, peer-to-peer communication speeds up the creation of innovative ideas by giving them the platform to be heard.


This isn’t some new-age management philosophy; this has been field-tested all over the world by the best management and behavioral scientists on Earth. Giving smart people autonomy in an organization and the ability to manage their own time creates groundbreaking output.

In our company, project managers pushed every project through in order to meet deadlines, but they were just as responsible for input as they were for receiving a critique. Not seeing an official commander-in-chief must have seemed strange to these visiting hierarchy junkies, but to our project managers, a traditional top-down approach would have seemed like a cattle drive: “I don’t care how you get there, just get it to market.”

Our managers knew that the best way to build dynamic experiences and products for consumers is to give them not just what they want but what they need, and to do so alongside things that are exciting and add value.

In order to create such dynamic experiences for a user, the people building the website have the freedom to create one-of-a-kind experiences. Utilitarian doesn’t work in Internet development.

I took our tour through the programming department, then into accounting where Seth Bressman our CFO was overseeing payroll, then into the producer’s area. Everything at K2 had a tinge of corporate and creative rolled into one: cubicles but fully exposed HVAC and ductwork to give it an industrial air yet retain that loft feeling. The last stop on the tour was our design department, a five-sided, uneven room with a black Formica wraparound counter with multiple workstations, all Macintosh with twenty-three-inch screens. The only light sources were from the monitors and any light from the sixth-floor terrace outside. The design department was state of the art and the coolest part of our offices, so it was the best place to end our tour.

I opened up the floor to Q&A. A very polished businessman wearing corporate casual, with a camera strapped around his neck and a pair of thick glasses, asked a question.

Yumi turned to translate.

“What is your initial market cap?
“It’s $26 million and growing,” I responded.
There was a slight delay as Yumi would reinterpret my words into Japanese.
I was careful not to use slang or American colloquialisms.
“You appear to be in hyper-growth. Is that true?”
“Yes,”
I replied. “As a matter of fact we are getting ready to consolidate our other three divisions under one congruous, 13,000-square-foot office across the street at 30 Broad.” We were actually two months away from moving our workforce of sixty full-time employees. I wondered how these businessmen from the Land of the Rising Sun could see what we were going through when American investors couldn’t. Perhaps they were looking for different things.

Pulling the Lid off the Past


The older Japanese businessmen didn’t seem to understand that the greatest innovations in technology and the freshest ideas can come from anyone—young or old—especially when the environment is right. Products that have excited consumers do so because the company that created them built something passionately and creatively to solve a problem or excite the customer. From dishwashing liquid to sports cars to computers, the leaders are always the most creative and the ones that incite an emotional response from their customer. You may not be aware of this, but just about everything you have ever purchased in your life was due to the fact that it was the most creative, coolest thing in your world and it made life better. Period. We don’t buy things; we buy experiences. What we think this product or that will give us, whether it’s cleaner clothes, faster Internet access, or the most luxurious car our dollar can buy.

Without consistent creativity, there is no innovation.
So why do so many companies ignore creativity as a line item?


Part of the reason creativity appears to be absent in most companies is that most executives don’t really understand it—or how to manage it. The old saying “If it isn’t measurable, it isn’t manageable” has been flipped. It doesn’t look like a real business environment when it appears that people are having fun. And ROWE works only for companies where more complex, conceptual, creative output is their business. Traditional management and reward paradigms work well in companies where there is a narrow band of focus—a simple set of rules, goals, and tasks to follow and a reward for top performers.

But in companies where complex, out-of-the-box thinking is needed to stay consistently in the innovative sweet spot, managers would do well to adopt a results-only environment. With no clearly set work hours, the emphasis is on results—not time at a cubicle. Measuring individual output becomes the standard for measurement in a ROWE-run company. No one cares when you decide to work or where, as long as it comes in on deadline and is impeccable. Not surprisingly these environments have the highest employee satisfaction and the lowest turnover.

But results-only environments are not the best environments for everyone, especially those environments where an actual amount of work is measurable—for example, how many pieces did you assemble during an eight-hour shift? Or how many welds did you accomplish? Certain jobs and departments—accounting, baking, and construction come to mind—just cannot be run openly like this. But we can make these environments better places to work by giving employees the incentive to come forward with money-saving and money-making ideas—ideas that won’t interfere with productivity.

Results-only collaborative environments can actually be destructive to people who lack the discipline to self-manage their time or those who are incapable of taking responsibility for their work. People like this should stay in environments where management is hanging over their shoulder, where all they have to do is follow rules and finish a task. For people like this, working alone and taking responsibility for their own time management is not something they can ever get used to. It is too loose for their work ethic. They need (and want) to be managed.

To have consistent breakthroughs, intense creativity, and innovation, however, letting people manage their own time and output is the key to success."


Don't you think it's time we managed people better? Thank you for reading...


Brad Szollose
Award-winning author, business consultant and keynote speaker


Brad Szollose is a much sought-after management consultant and keynote speaker who helps smart companies understand just how much technology has transformed corporate culture and behavior…and how that impacts management, interaction and expectations in The Information Age.



But this is not based on management theory: With a 30 year career as an entrepreneur he knows firsthand what it’s like to grow a company from a simple idea in a coffee shop to an internationally recognized brand.


Brad is a former C-Level Internet Executive who went from entrepreneur to IPO in 3 yrs—co-founding K2 Design, the very first Dot Com Agency to go public on NASDAQ. His company experienced 425% hyper-growth for 5 straight years, expanded from 2 business partners to 4 with 60+ employees and offices worldwide. At its height, K2 was valuated at over $26 million. 

His results only management model (ROWE) was applied to the first wave of young Generation Y workers producing great results—winning K2 the Arthur Andersen NY Enterprise Award for Best Practices in Fostering Innovation.

Brad Szollose is the *award-winning author of Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia which explores the subject of new leadership styles – mainly how to get the tech-savvy Generation Y and analogue driven Baby Boomers working together. ISBN-13: 978-1608320554

Known for his humorous and thought-provoking presentations, Szollose received the highest testimonial of his career from a C-Level audience member: "I just had my mind blown." Brad’s keynotes and workshops are highly interactive, heart-warming, humorous, and filled with high-content information that challenge assumptions and help leaders and managers create a better work environment for innovation to thrive.


Liquid Leadership has been called "THE guidebook for the 21st Century" and has won the 2011 Axiom Business Book Award silver medal for leadership, The Indie Business Book runner up silver medal as well as becoming a #1 Best-Selling Business Book on Amazon for Organizational Learning. Published in the United States by Greenleaf Book Group, in India by Prolibris and in South Korea by UI Books/Iljinsa Publishing.

Mr. Szollose also writes a monthly column on business and marketing techniques that reach Generation Y for A Captured Mind newsletter and is part of The Mind Capture Group faculty.

Today, Brad helps businesses close the Digital Divide by understanding it as a Cultural Divide – created by the new tech-savvy worker...and customer. 



* 2011 Axiom Business Book silver medal winner in the leadership

* #1 Amazon Best-Selling Author

"I just had my mind blown..." - A.S., Vistage, New York

Liquid Leadership by Brad Szollose is available at all major bookstores and for Kindle, Nook, iPad and Sony ereaders. Internationally published in India and S. Korea.