All entries for February 2012

February 21, 2012

The Effectiveness of Leadership Programmes

I had a meeting last week with the Leadership Development Manager of Network Rail to start my research on NR leadership programmes. During our discussion, I told him about the CIPD research 2011 that "39% of both leaders and HR professionals in UK consider their organisations’ leadership development programmes to be highly effective". Surprisingly, he was not astonished by the number since he knew what is going on. I replied to him that “if this is the case in UK, what about other countries in Asia or Middle East.......”

The main issue which lies behind the ineffectiveness of such programmes is that most of the companies do not have appropriate tools and methods to measure the effectiveness of leadership programmes and the value of learning for the development of their leaders within their organisations and especially tackling the intangible benefits or “the missing measures” as referred by Norton and Kaplan, or do they make sure that these programmes are well aligned and linked to the vision and strategic objectives of the company. Few companies like IBM have overcome this issue by establishing a strong measurement system to increase the impact of such development programmes called “Learning Effectiveness Measurement (LEM)”.

Others might not be aware of this issue or they might be ignorant, and as a result this might lead to competitive disadvantage and sometimes maybe worse, like bankruptcy. But one question arises in my head: how do these companies still exist or are still operating? They ought to be out of business from long time ago!

February 18, 2012

Practice What You Preach

Once again, Paul amazes us with his wonderful and impressive style of teaching. The module was tough but enjoyable and interactive, I enjoyed every moment of it, and I learned a lot during this week. It reminded me of my past work experience, it happened that all my bosses were so tough with me, and the working atmosphere was so stress and a lot pressure, and that’s what made me what I am really right now, yet the working environment was so fun and enjoyed working and learned a lot during that time. However, the differences is that the learning environment in the class is safe, so you could make mistakes as much as you can, whereas in the real world it is quite different; a mistake might be deadly and as a result you might be asked to leave your job.

I feel that this module counts the same for the total of the past four modules we had during the last few months. One of the main things I learnt is to move out from my comfort zone constantly; to experience new things and adapt to changes in a positive attitude.

This is all about excellence; why study business excellence if I am not convinced that there is something called excellence, or why study BE if I know that I am not going to apply them after graduation. It is not about the degree, it is about benefit, experience, practice and application. Simply, practice what you preach.

If you want people to believe in you, apply those principles first, same as Paul.

February 08, 2012

Rank & Yank

Measuring performance has been controversy overtime, and one of those appraisal methods which was heavily criticized was “forced distribution rating system”, or “forced ranking appraisal systems” and some call it “rank & yank” approach.

Nothing is absolute bad or absolute wrong, there are pros and cons. However, in my view, this respective approach is not totally bad, and one could argue about this and start listing the disadvantages of forced ranking system supported by Deming’s system of profound knowledge, but I do believe that this system might be good applying it at some stage within an organisation, especially when the company is suffering from a bad working culture or the organisation might not be “mature” enough”, especially if line managers and direct supervisors inflates ratings and award superior scores to their subordinates or having the same ratings amongst their staff, then this method will be a perfect solution to force those managers to rate their employees according to their actual performance. And once again, this might be applied at some stage when the organisation is having the same sort of troubles and this is drawn from my own experience.

Let’s not go too far, University of Warwick is a prime example of implementing the forced ranking system (and like other universities in UK and abroad), they reward the best students for their good marks, and yank out students for failing and not scoring the minimum required marks or not abiding by the regulations. and yet, Warwick is rated one of the top universities in UK.

In conclusion, this type of appraisal management system might not be right for all companies at a particular time, but sometimes it might be the right choice at the right time. From my experience it promotes a productive and excellence performance culture, where those who work hard and achieve great results are rewarded and retained. Anyway, I am not saying it’s good, but it’s not bad too!

The Unbalanced Scorecard – Strategy Number 3

While building the balanced scorecard for Waveriders company using strategy number 3 in our mini project “Winning Strategies part 1”, and as a team leader for this project, We have noticed that while giving an equal consideration and importance for the four perspectives; it might seem theoretical easy, but in application it might be quite different.

Based on this respective strategy, the main focus was on expanding the market share in the European market through research, and identifying a new distributor as there is a potential growth in the Euro market; therefore it turns out to have some unbalances amongst those four dimensions.

In this respect, we found out that we have to slightly modify the weight of these perspectives in order to be more effective; at the same time we were aware that these changes in the internal domains (Internal Process & Learning and Growth) - particularly the unbalance in the learning and growth perspective - will affect the other two externals (Customers & Financial).

My point is that, if the strategy was concentrating on a particular aspect, and this aspect goes under one of the four perspectives of the balanced scorecard, then should we unbalance it accordingly? Or in other words, must we keep the balance and consider equally between these four dimensions as a rule of thumb? Definitely, we will raise this issue to Paul next week.

February 06, 2012

Entrepreneurs or Leaders

Going back to some real life examples on leaders presented by Paul last week, and thinking of Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, or maybe the lady behind the business of Salinas Bikini “Jacqueline De Biase”, and other successful entrepreneurs who started by themselves their own businesses as a simple idea then turned to a whole successful business later then. A thought flashed into my mind about whether those people are entrepreneurs or leaders? Or were they first entrepreneurs then became leaders? Or were they both entrepreneurs and leaders?

Well, in my view, I don’t think Zuckerberg, or Biase are leaders, they are successful entrepreneurs. Although Zuckerberg absolutely changed the world, and the way we live and interact, but still this does not make him a leader.

Some of those successful people didn’t have the vision at the first stage, and even when Paul said that living the gap between the reality and what you really aim - is the case, yet I don’t think this is the case, because some people do what they really like to do, they have the passion, innovation, and ambition, and in doing so they attain what they aimed, and therefore they might change the world in some aspects or change the way we live, or think.

This is so controversy, some might agree and some might disagree about this. However there is a thin line between these two terms. Some great entrepreneurs are not exceptional leaders and vice versa, yet it is relatively easier to become an entrepreneur, while being a leader is much harder to make those around you follow you, especially in the beginning of your journey, as Gandhi said “First they ignore you, then they mock you, then they fight you, then you win."

Is this the case, or am I missing anything here?

February 03, 2012

CSR Drawbacks

Why do people always talk about the advantages of something, while they completely ignore the disadvantages of it? Nothing is perfect, and even if the upsides significantly outstrip the downsides, though, we still have to mention and give them a great deal of consideration.

The lecture of CSR was impressive and I enjoyed it, but, I think Zoe had missed an intrinsic part of the whole subject, if not CSR drawbacks, then maybe the concerns, challenges, threats or arguments about CSR.

Even though I am not well rounded with this topic but I do believe that there must be disadvantages or concerns about CSR as it is a very sensitive issue viewed by the public, especially with those companies who are questionable about their activities, and are involved in damaging social, environmental or the wellbeing of people, to some extent which can lead to hypocrisy!

I really believe that CSR has long term benefits for organisations, but in doing so, and to apply it correctly, we have to be conscious and aware of the drawbacks and arguments of CSR.

Is Leadership the answer to everything?

It is truly sad to hear that one of the companies which was founded 120 years ago and was ranked on the 2011 Fortune 500 list is going bankrupt; and you probably heard about it few days ago, it was quite shocking! Kodak was a pioneer in film and camera industry. Kodak changed the world! Kodak and Photography have become interchangeable, By the 1970s, Kodak was responsible for 90% of film and 85% of camera sales in the United States, but what happened? Why did the company - Out of the blue - filed for bankruptcy protection?

Kodak listed total assets of $5.1 billion and debts of $6.75 billion in the filing. The company's shares, which had already dropped more than 90% in the past year, fell further this month!

As one of the reasons though behind this crack was not capturing the voice of the customer, but eventually, I think that this is all to do about with “Leadership”, the top management did not have the insight, they were stiff – necked leaders and absolutely ignorant, they did not face the fact that the world has changed, that customer needs are rapidly changing, and in addition to that, might be attributed to other leadership related issues which requires more investigation and deeper analysis.

I don’t know if they will ever could go back again to those days where Kodak was reckoned as a pioneer in its industry, but I am sure that they have lost a substantial deal of their market share, as they blew their reputation out of the water, and it will definitely take a long period of time to restore their position as the market leader in photography and camera industry.

In conclusion, I believe that – to some extent – leadership is the answer to everything, whether it is in politics or, business or in our daily life situations.

February 01, 2012

Level 5 = Humility + Will

Level 5 is the title of Jim Collin’s chapter in his book “Good to Great” where he defines leadership as the fifth highest level in his hierarchy of C-suite executives. He concluded this level after a long research with a group of researchers on a set of companies that appeared on the Fortune 500. He concluded that Leadership is a combination of Humility and Professional will as illustrated in the figure below.

Level 5

Leaders in level 5 are incredibly ambitious, and this ambition is for their organisation's success not for themselves.

However, after our first mini project on the definition of leadership, I found out that both our definition and Paul’s might go under the second or third level. So did we miss anything here? Or we are just defining leadership as a general activity rather than trying to investigate what differentiates effective leadership than ineffective leadership.

I will try to raise this issue to Paul on Friday morning!

Leadership Styles And The Yellow Banana

One of the things that caught my attention and for several years is that there are many types of leadership; like ethical leadership, social emotional (or social) leadership, situational leadership, collaborative leadership, crisis leadership, adaptive leadership, transformational leadership, task leadership, strategic leadership, team leadership, and this growing list of management fads could go on and on, and each type has its own definition.

Surprisingly, all these styles and leadership (as a broader term) has the same exact meaning, because leadership is not just about ethics, change management, or strategic issues, etc. it cannot be isolated as a one part or smaller sub systems, leadership must be viewed as a whole system, containing all those types together and integrating them, as leadership involves the appreciation of socio emotional needs of employees and motivating them, flexibility in dealing with situations, collaboration, crisis management and change management, etc. at the same time.

But, what really gets my goat is that why do some people like to make life more difficult, whereas they could make it much easier and make leadership term a little more understandable. Why should I call a banana a “Yellow Banana” when everybody knows that banana is “Yellow”, and this goes the same for “Strategic Leadership” as everybody knows that when we talk about leadership we definitely are talking about achieving strategic objectives. And the same applies for all those respective styles.

Leadership is leadership whether its task leadership or social leadership or other styles, it cannot be separated, it must be viewed as a whole system, and therefore, all these styles must operate under one umbrella which is “Leadership”.

February 2012

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