Archives for: September 2008


10:19:21, Kategorien: Books of interest, 298 Wörter  

Book recommendation: Managing yourself

Theme: Emotional Intelligence, Personal Development
Author: Paul Morgan
Publisher: Pearson Professional Education Momentum

Honestly, how often did you come back from a training course and thought “I have heard that before”?
It is human nature that we have accumulated a wealth of knowledge and experience which is stored somewhere in our brain and we know what should be done. That’s what most of the coaching models building on: mobilizing the subconscious knowledge we all have.
Paul Morgan is aiming to do exactly that with his book „Managing Yourself - coach yourself to optimum emotional intelligence“. Trained as sports psychologist he coached teams in the English and Irish Rugby League. He developed highly successful distance learning programmes.

Morgan does not make unrealistic promises about the book’s purpose. Neither does he take off in to an esoteric maze where readers get lost. He opens the subject of emotional intelligence (EQ in contrast to IQ) to a lay person in an easy to understandable and applicable way. When he talks about the importance of emotional intelligence for leaders he refers back to the work of Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis.
Throughout the book he uses some self analysis tools which help readers to gain insights and find starting points for further development of their EQ. Case studies, examples and recommendations point to ways through which readers can develop themselves to achieve a higher level of EQ and hence become a more effective leader in their professional live.
Some of my clients bought the book and used it complementary to our coaching conversations. They were all very positive about it. I think it also accelerated their development in the course of our coaching. However, the book is also suitable as a self study tool and will help readers to develop themselves.

10:17:15, Kategorien: R&D Leadership, 659 Wörter  

From specialist to leadership, A recipe for success or disaster?

A R&D expert becomes a leader, some of you as line managers might know the twist in the gut you feel when this happens. Will the person be able to see that from now on communication is one of his/her main tasks? Does (s)he know the tools and tricks to succeed. What about acceptance by his new team? These are all fair points to be made

In the role of an expert the person gained a lot of respect in his/her field of expertise and over time you developed a very solid level of confidence. Moving into a leadership role all this is turned on its head, the person will initially lack of confidence as (s)he dos not really know what ahs to be done and what is expected. Skills in dealing with laws of physics, chemistry or biology are not longer important the new role requires competencies in leading people, communication, strategic thinking and crisis management. Unfortunately these are quite often the weaknesses of R&D experts as a study, conducted by the Hay group, has shown.

It is exactly in these areas where your task as a line manager begins to make such career changes a success.
There are at least 5 things you can do to support the person:

1. Create a very clear switch in rolesEverybody on you organisation needs to understand that Pete is now in a leadership position. To achieve this transfer all his old responsibilities to other people in the group. Avoid leaving some of the old responsibilities in his hands. If you have the opportunity to move him into another space do it. This helps all internalise the change very quickly.

2. Talk about you experiences
Story telling is very powerful. Talk about you successes as well as about you failures as a leader. This sends the signal that the person could approach you to reflect on thing (s)he may be struggling with.

3. Offer support through a mentor and internal or external coachCreating clarity with an external and independent perspective is very important when one lacks of inner clarity. For that reason an internal or external coach as a sparring partner can add enormous value to the process. A mentor can provide very useful support giving tips and hint.

4. Plan in the beginning more time for feedback and reflection with the personBest practice is to plan up to one and half hours every week either at the beginning or at the end of it. If you are travelling a lot agree conversations over the phone!

5. Assign specific tasks as learning opportunities to the person outside the person’s day to day responsibilities Give the person the opportunity to tap into his/her full potential through specially selected task. You should be the mentor for these tasks.

It would be too easy to leave it all up to the line manger! As the person who moves you are in charge of making it really a success. Apart from working hard and learning fast there are at least 3 additional things you can do to facilitate the process:
A. Seek regular feedback from direct reports and peers. Doing it, initially, once every fortnight seems to work very well in practice. After a while you could consider doing it on a monthly basis. When you request feedback don’t ask “What can I do better?”. Ask neutral questions like ”How was the communication about xyz?” You increase the likelihood that you get as well positive and motivating feedback.

B. Reflect the feedback critically and select ever only two aspects in you leadership behaviour which you want to develop further. Stay with them until you good at it. Excellence comes later.

C. Develop you emotional intelligence by using the book 'managing yourself'. It is a working book through which you can work step by step. Take your time, at least 6 month but don’t drag it out for more than 9 month.

09:56:37, Kategorien: R&D Leadership, 420 Wörter  

Making R&D specialist to stay through enriched jobs

Interview with Ian M Clark:

Ian Clark is an engineer by training and had worked for Unilever for over 31 years. He had had many assignments in different parts of the world in engineering, supply chain and R&D. He had left Unilever to take a role as Managing Director at Monosol UK where was in charge of the European business and global R&D. He then moved on to set up his own consulting business. Ian and I know each other from our times at Unilever. He has seen a lot of people come and go in R&D and understands their inner motives very well to know what they would need to satisfy these motives.

Here are the key points from the interview which may be of great interest to R&D leaders and managers:

Up to these days in most companies R&D careers are seen to be different (less valuable) versus more general career paths in a company. People move into general management careers to satisfy their underlying motive for personal fulfilment. They consider this as the opportunity to make a difference in the company and their life. To change this, R&D has to become attractive for these ambitious people. In order to achieve this one could consider having leadership responsibilities for technically biased business projects placed in R&D. Or give the person the sole responsibility of a project which can make a business impact when successful.

The top 3 considerations for R&D leaders to enrich the life of their high performer are:

•Move away from separating R&D and open the organisation up to the rest of the company tearing down walls (mostly in peoples mind). This also helps to get out of the “silo thinking” for work and career considerations.

•Get the ambitious people involved in small assignments in other functions (may be short but with a real job) to broaden their business understanding. This may mean to take some risk as the R&D leader.

•Invest in the individuals for their personal development through coaching. Either do it yourself or bring in a professional coach to unleash their enormous emotional energy coming from their inner motives to enhance their performance an reap the benefits for the company.

A side effect of such actions will be that other members of the R&D community may find this motivating to work harder to be at one point considered for such assignments and roles.


20:46:11, Kategorien: R&D Leadership, General News, 326 Wörter  

The Silo Lives!

I came across a interesting interview about communications in large companies.
What is the situation in your organsiation? How permeable are functional boundaries?

"Although many companies aspire to promote easy interaction and coordination across departments, office locations, and pay scales, the "boundaryless" organization—like the paperless office—hasn't materialized.
The corporate silo is alive and well.
This observation is supported in a recent working paper, "Communication (and Coordination?) in a Modern, Complex Organization," written by Harvard Business School postdoctoral fellow Adam M. Kleinbaum, and professors Toby E. Stuart and Michael L. Tushman.
In an unnamed company with over 100,000 employees, the team analyzed over 100 million e-mails and 60 million electronic calendar entries over a three-month period. The results provide an unmatched look inside the "black box" that hides what Stuart calls the "soft wiring" of previously invisible social networks.

Key conclusions are:
• Inside the studied company, practically speaking, little interaction occurred across three major corporate boundaries: business units, organizational functions, and office locations.
• Communication patterns were extremely hierarchical: Executives, middle managers, and rank-and-file employees communicated extensively within their own levels, but there were far fewer cross-pay-grade interactions in the firm.
• Junior executives, women, and members of the salesforce were the key actors in bridging the silos.
• Relative to men, women participate in a greater volume of electronic and face-to-face interactions and do so with a larger and more diverse set of communication partners.
• Server logs can provide valuable information to managers on communication flows within their own organizations. "

To read it all at HBS KW use the link in the title.

Sarah Jane Gilbert is a product manager at Harvard Business School. She conducted the interview with the authors of the study:
Toby E. Stuart is the Charles Edward Wilson Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.
Michael Tushman is the Paul R. Lawrence MBA Class of 1942 Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School

This article is being republished with permission of the
HBS Working Knowledge


16:37:31, Kategorien: R&D Leadership, 800 Wörter  

Opportunities and risks in career moves out of R&D

The interview builds on the theme “Opportunities and risks for people moving from a R&D specialist role to a general management career path"

My interview partner was Ian Clark.
Ian had worked for Unilever for over 31 years. He left Unilever to take a role as Managing Director at Monosol UK where was in charge of the European business and global R&D. He then moved on to set up his own consulting business. Ian and I know each other from our times at Unilever. These days we are working together in various setting mainly around intercultural communication.

If you want to listen to the interview use the mp3 player here:

If you want to summary only keep on reading:

The majority of companies who are conducting R&D at a reasonable scale have no technical career path. In such organizations people have to leave R&D to make a career in General Management. Some make it, some fail.

What are the motives for such moves?
Key driver is the ambition high potential have and also the recognition one can get by holding a more senior position in an organisation. May be money plays a role as well but not a very strong one?

What are the risks when a R&D specialist moves into a General Management role?
Two types or risk can materialize. The first one is an organizational, i.e. not being accepted by the new colleagues in the field he is moving into. Or a short term (may be even long term) drop in performance when he is affected by the Peter Principle.
The second are more personal risks: I.e. dealing with disappointments of the new job which may not meet the high expectations projected into it before the move. The new position may not be as intellectually challenging but very demanding and hard work.
Some of these risks may only materialise later on, may be in the next move.

Considering the risks there must be some benefits for the company and the individual otherwise such moves would not happen. What are these?
Key benefit is to using the talent fully. Demonstrating that a position in R&D is not a dead end job thus enhance the retention of excellent people
Broadening the persons horizon to enrich their experience and prepare them for other leadership position may be back in R&D.

This brings up an interesting point: Europe in General is moving into a period of shortages of skilled people and experts. Aren’t such moves of people out their field of expertise exaggerating the shortage of experts for a company in the future?
Moving people beyond the expert role, not just out of R&D, seeing people being trained and enabled to move onwards and upwards can make it much more attractive for talented people to joining the company. A company should not just look for the experts but for people with a broad range of skills. Offering them careers can attract the ‘high flyers’ a company needs as well.
Moving people across functions allows them the weave technical skills with business skills to grow them to take a more senior position at a later date back in R&D. This also facilitates an integration of the R&D function in the business.

Some, mostly larger, companies have a dual career path. I have seen people moving for a specialist role to a management role and back to find the real home base. I am wondering whether small or medium sized companies with a reasonably sized R&D function would benefit from such a system as well.
Small companies have more often several function assigned to one individual. Such multifunctional roles offer per definition a wide variety and require a broad spectrum of interest of the person holding the position.

So, could large organisations learn from such multifunctional arrangements?
Looking at my last experience with Unilever where I managed a very fast Innovation-Business project, as the project leader I had a role which was truly multifunctional. This can be a model to be applied to create multifunctional opportunities for professionals.

In today’s world, where the concept of a job for life time has vanished, companies should offer career opportunities where potential candidates have a wide spectrum of experiences they can engage with. This may not be a nice thing to have but might well be a must have for large companies to survive and attract the best people otherwise they may lose out against some more attractive SMEs.

We hope that the readers of the R&D Insights can extract some food for thought from our conversation and get some ideas when they think about their strategies in people development.


17:34:36, Kategorien: R&D Leadership, General News, 237 Wörter  

Perturbation and the Paradox of the Highly Disciplined Organization

Many organizations struggle to balance the conflicting demands of efficiency and innovation. Organizations can become more efficient in the short run by replacing costly, unpredictable problem solving activity with consistent, streamlined routines. However, this efficiency often comes at the cost of long-run adaptability. The more organizational activity is dominated by stable routines, the less the organization learns, and the more rigid and inflexible it becomes. To escape this fate, the authors of this working paper theorize that highly disciplined organizations must actively engage in strategic and selective perturbation of established routines. A perturbation interrupts an established routine and creates an opportunity to innovate and learn. Using illustrations from Toyota, the authors investigate the conditions under which perturbations can sustain exploration in highly disciplined organizations. Key concepts include:

To sustain adaptability in the long term, perturbations must occur throughout the organization.
In highly disciplined organizations, adaptability depends on the active participation of organization members in inducing and interpreting perturbations.
Management must trust employees to perturb processes, teach them to detect and interpret perturbations, and motivate them to do so.
In the long term, business success depends as much on the commitment and knowledge of frontline employees as on strategic decision-making by senior management.

To read the full paper click in the title which contains the link to HBS WK

Authors: David James Brunner, Bradley R. Staats, Michael L. Tushman, and David M. Upton

(repulished with permission from HBS-WK)

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