POINTS for a New Workplace, New World
21, 2000 Issue 4
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R. I. Fitzhenry, Tom Stoppard
Self-Organizing to Success: Semco's Experiment in Managing
Is Emotional Intelligence a Fad or a Fundamental Skillset?
and Reader Response to the Role of Technology in Learning
Drifting Goals: The Challenge of Conflicting Priorities by
Daniel H. Kim
Special Discounts for LEVERAGE POINTS Subscribers on THE LEMMING
DILEMMA: LIVING WITH PURPOSE, LEADING WITH VISION
December 4-5, 2000. System Dynamics for Senior Managers, Cambridge,
and mystery are energies of life. Don't let them scare you
unduly, for they keep boredom at bay and spark creativity."
--R. I. Fitzhenry
door like this has cracked open five or six times since we
got up on our hind legs. It's the best possible time to be
alive, when almost everything you thought you knew is wrong."
--Tom Stoppard, Arcadia (Faber and Faber, 1993).
to Success: Semco's Experiment in Managing Without Control
the past 20 years, Brazilian-based Semco has been "able
to transform itself continuously and organically--without
formulating complicated mission statements and strategies,
announcing a bunch of top-down directives, or bringing in
an army of change-management consultants." How? By giving
employees freedom to choose their projects, their schedules,
their career tracks--even the company's strategic direction.
like a recipe for anarchy? On the contrary, owner Ricardo
Semler believes that this laissez-faire philosophy has led
to Semco's success in adapting to the needs of a changing
business world. Whereas in the early 1990s, the company manufactured
pumps and washing machines, today, through employee initiatives,
almost 75 percent of its business is in services. Semler anticipates
that in 2001, 25 percent of revenues will come from new Internet
believes that people act in their own best interests. So,
employees can take as much leave time as they want, but they
must reapply for their jobs every six months. They also choose
how they are compensated, based on 11 different options. These
policies encourage self-regulation rather than top-down enforcement
unorthodox approach has paid off. In 10 years, revenues at
the $160-million company have quadrupled, and the staff has
grown from 450 to 1,300 employees. The turnover rate in the
past six years has been less than 1 percent.
"How We Went Digital Without a Strategy" by Ricardo
Semler, Harvard Business Review, September-October 2000.
Emotional Intelligence--as defined by Daniel Goleman
and others--a fad or a fundamental skillset?
take a minute to share your thoughts about this issue at the
Leverage Points Discussion forum, part of our new online Community
Bulletin Board. Go to our Community
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issue of LEVERAGE POINTS.
How can technology help--or hinder--the
technology is inexpensive, involves human beings, and actually
addresses the issues relevant to that moment. For instance,
to discover where to focus efforts in relation to customer
complaints, it is adequate to use Post-Its or just a whiteboard
and a pen to sort the complaints into categories. No tabulation
software or forms are necessary.
often electronic, always inhuman, is technology's common guise
today. Thus, we have "odorless" videoconferences,
teleconferences, and software for training. But for technology
to help the learning process, it must perform tasks that we
cannot perform or that would take us years to perform (e.g.
electronic searches), or it must complement our sensory apparatus
(e.g, by helping us organize information into useable chunks).
helps when it complements our senses. It hinders when it attempts
to bypass or replace them.
EDS EMEA Training & Development
who wish to continue this discussion are invited to go to
our new bulletin board in the Community section of our Web
site at Community
Bulletin Board and Forums. Look for the LEVERAGE POINTS
Goals: The Challenge of Conflicting Priorities
by Daniel H. Kim
arrive at 9:00, when your first meeting at your new job is
scheduled to start. You find that you're the only one there.
Around 9:05, some of your coworkers show up, and by 9:10,
everyone has arrived. So, what do you learn from this experience?
Probably the same thing the others have learned--that the
real starting time for meetings is never the stated time.
is a common example of the "Drifting Goals" archetypal
structure. We say 9:00 a.m., but we tacitly accept that it's
O.K. to begin the meeting late. So why don't we just schedule
the meeting for 9:15? Because then it's likely to start at
9:30! It seems that once we compromise a little, we are headed
down a slippery slope with no bottom in sight.
leverage point would be to emphasize the importance of starting
as scheduled and to ask what it would take to meet that commitment.
We may discover that 9 a.m. is not the best time to accomplish
this goal because of competing variables such as traffic and
urgent messages to return. The principle is to establish the
importance of meeting a specific goal in the context of multiple
goals, and then to set up structures to minimize the conflicts
between competing priorities.
the complete article.
who wish to discuss this topic are invited to go to our new
bulletin board in the Community section of our Web site at
Just click on the Community Bulletin Board and Forums link.
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4-5, 2000. System Dynamics for Senior Managers, a program
in the MIT Sloan School Executive Series on Management and
Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
This intensive program for senior technical and general managers
explores a set of innovative management tools for brainstorming,
dynamic thinking, understanding complex interrelationships,
tracking the behavior of business systems over time, and creating
the building blocks of successful business strategies. For
more information, contact Maureen Tracy at 781-239-1111.
a complete calendar of events, go to
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