Thursday, February 16, 2012

Policies and Techniques to Keep Your Company From Becoming a Zombie

My last blog post described those amazing creations I call “zombie companies.”  Today's blog focuses on how to destroy zombie company mentality. 

You can read my latest Forbes blog post here, and I've also included below some policies and techniques to keep your company from being labeled a "zombie."

Compensate for company pride
1.     Create internal advocates for strategies and technologies introduced by competitors and by other outside firms that are tackling analogous tasks.
2.     Give someone the job of monitoring competitor’s missteps and making sure that they’re avoided. 
3.     Use partnering to bring in new ideas and new practices.

Compensate for the company’s vision of excellence
1.     Make sure that the improvements the company most wants to provide are the ones the customers most want to have.
2.     Make each top executive personally responsible for dealing with important customers.

Compensate for the company’s positive attitude
1.     Reward employees who can find flaws or potential problems in the company’s procedures.
2.     Make heroes of the “Paul Reveres” who ride through the company warning that “the British are coming.” (As long as they’re not really “Chicken Littles” announcing that the sky is falling).

Compensate for company perfectionism
1.     Get senior managers to set the example when it comes to acknowledging and learning from failures.
2.     Use external benchmarks, especially for routine operations and centralized support services.
3.     Use devices such as “Mistake of the Month” to reward experiments that are unsuccessful when it comes to producing financial returns but highly successful when it comes to producing knowledge returns.

Compensate for team spirit
1.     Request minority reports and reports that aim at presenting the strongest contrasting position.
2.     Create cross-functional teams and diverse work groups whose members will see things differently.
3.     Seek critical evaluations from genuine outsiders.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How to Spot a Zombie Company

Almost 10 years ago I wrote a book called, Why Smart Executives Fail.  After six years of investigation, my research team and I identified the underlying causes of failure in companies.  The book became a bestseller and was translated around the world. As the ten-year anniversary of publication of the book approaches, I will occasionally add a blog post about some of the ideas that have stood the test of time, and take a look at some modern-day examples.

Read the full Forbes post. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Leadership Lessons from the Australian Open

Sitting in a cafĂ© in Melbourne, Australia is probably one of the best places to collect my observations after spending the last week in the sports capital of the world.  With apologies to New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and the Red Sox Nation, Aussies are crazy … about sports, among other things.