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Showing posts from April, 2012

Be Easy To Do Business With

HR Blogger Liz Ryan just published an interesting piece, at the Business Week Management Blog, titled "What every CEO needs to know about HR." I was drawn in, expecting to read a post addressed to CEOs. Actually it's a list of points for HR leaders. Good points to ponder, to be sure, but not what I expected.

Yet, Liz Ryan inspired me to write this blog post. Over the course of my HR career, I've had the chance to work closely with several CEOs. From my experience, plus the wisdom of Ram Charan (whose 2001 book What the CEO Wants You to Know is a small gem), here are some guidelines for HR leaders in working with the CEO and other business heads.

1.Know your stuff - CEOs are pretty smart people, generally speaking, having come up through a technical or functional path such as R&D, Sales, Finance, or Operations. Though they know an awful lot, they count on you to know your HR stuff, to be the go-to expert when it comes to HR matters.

2.Get close to your customer - …

The Way for Leaders

My OD colleague Roland Sullivan asked what wisdom I would share with CEOs in Asia about learning, development, and change. In my career, I have had the opportunity of observing "up-close and personal" several CEOs lead their organization in both learning and change. Here's some wisdom based on one of these people.

One was the CEO of a rapidly growing telecom company in the 1980's and 90's. He authored and fostered the action-oriented, fast-paced, customer-focused organizational culture that promoted teamwork, initiative, and continuous improvement. He recognized (and often said) that the company's competitive edge came from its "secret weapon" which we knew was the ACTION Culture, embodied in the highly engaged and committed People.

The ACTION phrase stood for the following ingredients:

A = Attitude
C = Close to your customer
T = Teamwork
I = Initiative
O = Open communication
N = Never ending improvement

As you can see, for this CEO, success was all…

Start Making Sense

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Professor Dave Davidson was one of my undergraduate professors in Human Communication, my major at Rutgers 35 years ago. His theory of human nature: "Never assume that the next guy knows what he is doing...much less why."

That maxim has bedeviled me ever since. As a Communication and Information theory guy, Dave Davidson was very into the work of Karl Weick, the social psychologist. Among Weick's many contributions, his concept of sensemaking made a lot of sense.

In a nutshell, sensemaking is the mental process of interpreting and constructing the reality around us. So defined, we are sensemaking pretty much all the time as we go about our daily lives. Most of the time, stuff makes sense to us. Sometimes, we find ourselves in challenging circumstances where we have to actively make sense of what is going on.

One of those challenging circumstances is organizational change. That's why Organization Development (aka OD) practitioners need to be sensemakers.

People spend…