Bob Sutton is Professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford and a Professor of Organizational Behavior, by courtesy, at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, but he is best known to the majority of people as the author of The No Asshole Rule.
He is also a genuinely nice guy, has a prominent email link on his blog and actually responds when you write him.
The blog is called Work Matters and it’s one of those ‘if you read nothing else…’ things. In the left column Bob has listed “15 things I believe” and my favorites form today’s quotes along with links for context.
Innovation and entrepreneurs, subjects that offer some of them most fascinating stories around. And although they often merge to form new business, there is plenty of innovation inside existing companies, too.
I have four such stories for you today, all on wheels.
On the high end we have two airlines, Air New Zealand and AirAsia.
Coach innovations helped Air New Zealand win the Air Transport World Global Airline Awards, AKA the airline Oscars. Innovations include Premium Plus Economy with more inches of legroom, special dinning options, in-flight concierges; completely re-designed coach seats, including eleven rows of three seats on each side of the cabin dubbed “Skycouches”, Snacks on Demand, three course meals, onboard events, such as wine tasting, a destination seminar or kids story time using the 23″ mounted galley monitor.
Once upon a little boy told his father, “One day I will own an airline.” The boy grew up to be Tony Fernandes, CEO of the Malaysia based budget airline, with 80 aircraft that fly to 122 destinations. AirAsia is growing, primarily because, as Fernandes says, “Each growth spurt has always come at a time of calamity for the airline business. I think the best time to build a brand is in times of recession.”
The next wheels are far smaller. They belong to Vickie Nolting, a hair salon manager who, in 1999, found work/life balance by creating a successful business called Hair On Wheels, providing on-site haircuts to such companies as DigitalGlobe, Intrado, Seagate and the U.S. Department of Commerce in Boulder, Colorado. These days Nolting has a staff of 15 part-time stylists, four vans and a PT Cruiser.
Our final look at innovation is also focused on cars, but they are parked. Parking lots take enormous space, but that’s not necessary. Using technology, their size can be cut 80% and still create a far more safe and friendly user experience. Just watch.
Engaging your people is a priority these days, but to do it you must foster an environment of trust, where the messenger is never killed and people feel safe saying what they really think. It also helps if you have the kind of ego that doesn’t stand on its dignity.
Here is one approach.
Start with how many times you have said or heard people say ‘should have’, as in “We should have…” or “My boss should have…?”
What if you could harness the creativity behind those thoughts to improve performance in an organization (whether team, executives or somewhere in-between)—the company’s; the group’s; the individual’s; your own?
The idea is to take that “should have’ attitude and make it a constructive function to foster corporate/personal growth and motivation, since the more comprehensive the view of their job and company the more creative people will become.
Drawing in all your people, no matter their level, encourages them to see a larger picture, juices creativity, surfaces ideas from unlikely sources and enhances their sense of ownership, i.e., engagement.
Improvement happens because how they think is the basis for how they perform.
If your MAP makes you the type of manager to whom this appeals then encourage your people to ask
Hovering parents, who strive to make everything right for their child, are the global bane of education.
But it doesn’t seem to end when their child graduates.
I receive at least a call a month from managers who have no idea of a polite way to deal with what can only be called workplace hovering.
In every case the parental call was either to
tell the manager how stupid she was not to hire their kid;
find out why their kid’s review wasn’t stuffed with glowing references; or
ask who the hell the manager thought he was to promote someone else.
Managers say that in many cases the parent was screaming and the language used to describe the manager is best not quotable in a business blog.
What in the world is going on?
Many of the parents calling are managers in their own right; I wonder how they handle similar calls.
I could write another 500 words on the subject and not do nearly as good a job putting the point across as does the following (in spite of it being a hoax)—perhaps a modified version could be designed for companies.
I’m not a sports fan so I rarely read sports articles, but this one from ESPN’s Mike Reiss caught my eye. Although he was talking about the Patriots, I believe it is applicable on a much wider stage.
Have we gone leadership crazy? …
In an instant, got-to-have-it-now society, the knee-jerk conclusion that the Patriots lacked leadership seemed to be one that many rallied around. … But to lay the season’s struggles on that is overlooking the more important issues: The Patriots need more playmakers, management needs to be sharper in identifying and keeping that talent, and coaches need to be better at cultivating, scheming, and communicating with players when their situations get sticky… Start there, then factor in the importance of better locker-room chemistry, and you’ll have a more accurate reflection of what went wrong in 2009 and what steps the club needs to take in 2010 to improve.
No matter where you look, business or politics, you’ll find that most commentary focuses on the lack of/need for better leadership, especially when it comes to Washington.
Just think what a difference if our national political scene included
managers who were sharper identifying and keeping talent,
everybody better at cultivating and communicating, instead of scheming, and
better locker-room chemistry.
Notice that the most important is listed last.
What a difference it would make in their ability to find viable solutions, instead of ideological posturing.
Opinions are what set us apart from other animals that deal solely in reality or, as some wag said many decades ago, “Opinions are like assholes, everybody’s got one!”
Of course, when opinions differ, obviously, it’s the other person who is the asshole.
Oscar Wilde hit the nail on the head when he said, “One can give a really unbiased opinion only about things that do not interest one.” You can’t get away from the fact that caring means bias.
Most of us spend (waste?) a great deal of time and energy in an effort to positively influence others opinions of us; instead we would be better off to remember the words of Olin Miller, “We probably wouldn’t worry about what people think of us if we could know how seldom they do.”
But if you are one of those who worry Quentin Crisp would not only understand, but applaud the effort, “The very purpose of existence is to reconcile the glowing opinion we hold of ourselves with the appalling things that other people think about us.”
As one listens to opinions it is wise to remember the words of E. B. White, “Prejudice is a great time saver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts.” And that seems to be the most prevalent approach these days.
When ‘everybody says…’ is used to support an opinion it is well to remember Bertrand Russell’ comment, “The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed, in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a wide-spread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible”
That’s all for today, but I’ll leave you with the words of James Russell Lowell to ponder and embrace, “The foolish and the dead alone never change their opinions.”