Monday, May 21, 2007

Go with feeling and attitude

“Business psychology experts Kaisen have come up with a formula that helps companies grow at all levelsRoger Eglin ”

Tim Morgan joined the financial-services group Alexander Forbes four-and-a-half years ago, the management team was full of passion but somewhat light on senior management skills. Their passions also tended to get the better of them sometimes.

The company had grown by acquisition and accumulated a disparate group of managers. Its business covered financial advice, offshore tax, healthcare, personal finance and trustee services.

Some staff development was taking place at the firm, including coaching, but Morgan was worried that people tended to stick within their own little boxes. What he wanted was a broader approach with people prepared to look at the bigger picture.

He wanted them to think more about their relationships with their colleagues, particularly about how what they were doing would be received.

Morgan said he wanted to know how they could work with each other for the greater good.

The coaching and development was useful but something was needed to “take it up an extra notch”. Alexander Forbes put the project out to tender and looked at a number of firms, before settling on Kaisen, a Bristol-based business-psychology consultancy.

“They were one of the few firms I have come across that said they wanted to do an individual assessment of everyone from our side,” said Morgan, managing director of financial services.

Kaisen said a full assessment of all staff members would help Alexander Forbes to draw up an action plan. So they were tested with case studies where they were asked how they would deal with problems. “They really went into us,” said Morgan.

It was around this time that employees were introduced to Kaisen’s mantra, FAB — short for feelings, attitude and behaviour — developed just over a year ago. It is a technique whereby psychological insights unearthed in individual assessments help to identify the skills shortfalls that have to be overcome to improve leadership at all levels.

Morgan quickly began to notice a difference. People’s behaviour started to change. In the boardroom two directors who had constantly been at loggerheads became much more co-operative. “They were beginning to interact quite a bit better than they had been doing,” he said.

Robert Myatt, a Kaisen consultant, said: “We find out where the skills shortages are and work with individual leaders to overcome them.”

The FAB programme is based on five “desired outcomes”: good teamwork, improved performance, innovation,

FAB has been tested extensively at M&S Money, the store card and financial-services brand owned by HSBC. Earlier this year Kaisen gave each M&S Money manager eight days’ training on the FAB programme. The course content focused on problems and tricky situations the manager was likely to encounter in the workplace.

Using its database of 10,000 senior managers and other research, Kaisen has studied leadership and the development opportunities that are available.

Roger Coveney, a Kaisen director, (pictured) said: “There are lots of programmes that deal with self-awareness if you want to become a better leader. But we felt they didn’t tackle the whole issue. They weren’t always cohesive.

“Some programmes drew their example from the sporting world but, although this sort of thing had some value, you had to ask if it transferred to the business world.”

It was at this point that Kaisen identified the five outcomes. “If you can achieve these things you will be successful as a business leader,” said Coveney.

Leaders are shown how to achieve these outcomes by using psychological techniques to sharpen staff behaviour and encourage the communication of emotions, to convey authority and integrity, to deliver effective motivation and show that their teams are valued.

Myatt said: "Leaders have to create the right conditions for the key outcomes" we have identified as essential for getting the best out of the workforce.

"Most leadership programmes give endless broad-brush theory. Kaisen provides individually tailored sessions in practical skills, delivered by experts," he said. "We believe that leadership development should start with individuals really knowing themselves. It is not just about teaching a new set of techniques. Leaders need to understand their own psychology — in particular which aspects of their personality are holding them back."

One of FAB’s success stories is William Hill, the bookmaker. So far 60 managers have completed the course, with another 130 approaching the finishing line.

When Jo Brown joined the company two years ago she was asked to introduce management-development programmes. The firm had already been using Kaisen for profiling executives, and the top management told Brown that they wanted to continue with the employees.

This was quite a change. Until the company went public, its management style had been very much "command and control", with managers taking their cue from the people above them rather than exercising any initiative. But Brown said the programme had received strong support from senior management and after 18 months was showing every sign of being a great success.

"It started at the top and has received strong support all the way through," said Brown.

Among the benefits have been a new style of working, with people focusing on what is important and being encouraged to do it "quicker and smarter rather than harder".

Source: Times Newspapers - November 26, 2006

Read More......

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Porter thinks his way to the top

Type your summary here

“Times names Michael Porter ... the current king of management thinking”

MICHAEL E. PORTER is the Bishop William Laurence University Professor at Harvard Business School. With 18 books and a host of influential articles to his name, his status in the world of management thinking is legendary. As well as teaching and writing, he consults widely with the Monitor Group, the consulting firm he helped to establish.

Professor Porter is an educator but he is not a performer or management superstar in the conventional guru sense. One magazine observed that he was as likely to write a bestselling management blockbuster as give a lecture wearing a bra and stockings. Few of his books are available in paperback.

He has advised the public and private sectors world wide and has received civic medals usually reserved for military heroes or extraordinary sportspeople. The son of an army officer, he was born in 1947 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He studied mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton and then switched to business, gaining an MBA and PhD in economics from Harvard.

A talented golfer and all-round sportsman, Professor Porter has always been obsessed by competition. His first widely-read book, Competitive Strategy, is now in its 63rd imprint. In it he analyses competition, introducing his Five Forces framework, still essential reading for MBA students. He subsequently moved from competition between firms to competition between nations. In The Competitive Advantage of Nations he examines why some countries are wealthy and others not. His study of national economies is extensive, though not always welcome. In Can Japan Compete? he showed that the long recession suffered by Japan was the inevitable result of successive postwar Japanese governments’ policies. In 2003 he produced a report for the DTI on the UK’s competitive position — examining ways to tackle the productivity gap in the UK. He also established the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City in the mid-Nineties.

Read More......