Informed in five minutes

We
do your reading for you! By reading these quick summaries you can stay abreast
of key articles in top business journals. This week Harvard Business Review and
Management Today.

Work
with Meaning

By Rebecca Hoar, Management Today, May 2004

New
research from Roffey Park management research and training institute  has found that 70 per cent of managers are
looking for a greater sense of meaning in their working lives. Alarmingly this
includes 63 per cent board directors and the group most like to feel a lack of
meaning are those in their 20s and 30s, at 82 per cent.

People
say they are looking for employers with stronger corporate social
responsibility, and feel a tension between their ‘spiritual’ values and their
daily work. Others are looking for more personal fulfilment. Groups have been
identified such as Generation X, who are depressed, and TIREDS –
Thirty-something, Independent, Radical, Educated Dropouts who are alienated
from the workplace and cynical about corporate values.

Among
the solutions are to show more appreciation for individual effort, have a less
relentless focus on shareholders and more on customers, get managers to ‘walk
the talk’, be consistent with company values, manage change well, have clear
roles for individuals and introduce flexible working practices.

What
Makes an Effective Executive?

By Peter F. Drucker, Harvard Business Review, June 2004

History
shows that effective leaders are not necessarily charismatic and stereotypes
are misleading in predicting whether an executive will be successful. They vary
hugely in their personalities, attitudes, values, strengths and weaknesses.
Although some individuals are born effective, there are not enough
extraordinarily talented individuals to fill all the positions available.
Fortunately effectiveness is a discipline which can be learned and there are
eight essential practices common to all successful leaders. These are:

·           They ask ‘What needs to be done?’

·           They ask ‘What is right for the
enterprise?’

·           They develop action plans.

·           They take responsibility for
decisions.

·           They take responsibility for
communicating.

·           They are focused on opportunities
rather than problems.

·           They run productive meetings.

·           They think and say ‘we’ rather than
‘I’.

Good
role models are former US president Harry Truman and former General Electric
CEO Jack Welch.

Capitalizing
on Capabilities

By Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood, Harvard Business Review, June 2004

The
most admired companies don’t stand out because of their structure or management
approach but because of their ‘organisational capabilities’: an ability to
innovate for example, or to respond to changing customer needs. These
capabilities are the collective skills, abilities, and expertise of an
organisation and the outcome of investments in staffing, training,
compensation, communication and other human resources areas. They are more
difficult for competitors to copy than capital market access, product strategy
or technology and explain why some companies have higher market valuation than
others despite having lower revenue and profits. The problem is that these
organisational capabilities are difficult to measure. The solution is to carry
out a ‘capabilities audit’.

The
authors suggest a five-step process for the audit:

1)         Determine which part of the business to
audit.

2)         Create the content of the audit.

3)         Gather data from multiple groups on
current and desired capabilities.

4)         Synthesise the data to identify the
most critical capabilities requiring managerial attention.

5)         Put together an action plan with clear
steps to take and measures to monitor, and assign a team to the job of
delivering on the critical capabilities.

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