Archive for the ‘CEO Advantage Journal’ Category

Succeeding the Founder

Monday, February 20th, 2012 by Ben Anderson-Ray

On August 24, 2011, Steve Jobs resigned his role as Apple CEO and was replaced by Tim Cook. This followed a seven-month period in which Cook was already functioning as CEO while Jobs focused on fighting the health problems that ultimately took his life on October 5.

Many are watching to see how this unique leadership transition will work out for Apple, but it is not the first unique leadership transition they have faced. Jobs, of course, was the cofounder of Apple, but organizational infighting led to his ouster when John Sculley took over in the mid-1980s. Sculley oversaw the growth of the Macintosh and thus the company, but when that growth slowed and new internal issues arose, a series of CEOs failed to get the company back on track. In 1997, a more experienced Jobs returned and drove tremendous growth.

The leadership history of Apple is a good reminder that a leadership transition–particularly one involving the founder–presents both risk and
opportunity to any organization. If done poorly, it spawns uncertainty, conflict, and stress, stalling growth and exacerbating misalignment that may or may not have already been there. If done well, it brings new vision and strategic clarity to the organization. Indeed, success for an organization begins with the leader and the culture he or she creates and nurtures.

Much has been written about how to manage effective transition, but most of it focuses on the outgoing founder or CEO. Our work as advisors to midmarket companies has enabled us to closely observe numerous transitions, and we would like to look at this issue from the perspective of the successor.

(Read this full article, which was recently published in The CEO Advantage Journal.)


Why Retire? Talking With Some Who Work Past 80

Monday, February 20th, 2012 by Troy Schrock

As a young boy, I distinctly remember hearing my older relatives and their friends complain about their work. This was particularly noticeable on Sunday evenings as they contemplated getting back into the grind of another week. It always perplexed me to hear them talk that way. “Why would anybody continue to do something they don’t enjoy?” I wondered. Why not do something you do enjoy? And if you enjoy it, why stop?

These questions developed a passion for what I call lifetime effectiveness: engaging in productive work throughout one’s lifetime. I believe there is honor in work and that God has created us to work and be productive in His creation. This ideal runs contrary to the modern goal of retirement, a historically new idea that, in my opinion, deserves to be challenged.

Not everyone has bought into the notion of retirement. I decided to look for people who have chosen to remain engaged in their vocations beyond the age of 80. It didn’t take me long to find four of them. These people don’t have to work; they choose to work simply because they like being engaged. They essentially ask the same question I’ve asked for a long time: why not do something you enjoy, and if you enjoy it, why stop?

Read the edited interviews with these exceptional people – Bernie Moray, Dorothy Zehnder, Jack Kirksey, and George Roumell, in my recently published article in The CEO Advantage Journal.


The Role of the CEO’s Spouse

Monday, February 20th, 2012 by Dave Dudon

Those who have read my past articles in The CEO Advantage Journal know that I am intensely interested in family businesses. This passion arises from my own experience as the second-generation CEO of a manufacturing firm. I’ve known both the joys and the struggles of operating an enterprise that matters so much to those I care about most. It’s one thing to have a wife and children depending on you; it’s another to have parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews watching, as well. Indeed, it is a solemn responsibility–and a fulfilling one.

Family businesses have unique issues, but every business has at least one family to whom it is a family business whether the outside world characterizes it that way or not: the CEO’s family. To run a company effectively, one has to live and breathe it. Many hours are spent at work, and even the hours at home are often occupied with thinking of issues at work. In that sense, the spouse and children are wrapped up in it, too.

Shelves abound with books professing to help CEOs run their businesses, but not much has been written about the role of the CEO’s spouse. My recently published article in the 2012 edition of The CEO Advantage Journal explores the critical role of a CEO’s spouse in the life of the CEO, the family, and the business.


Creating a Culture of Strategy Execution

Monday, February 20th, 2012 by Troy Schrock

Success is not rocket science. One might think that the most successful organizations have some key insight that sets them apart, but nothing could be further from the truth. We live in a time in which knowledge is accessible to just about anyone for very little (if any) cost. Indeed, the basic principles of success are well known, but most people and organizations struggle to put them into practice. What differentiates the greats from the rest is an understanding of the knowing-doing gap, the difference between what people know they need to do and what they actually do. It’s not access to knowledge or even lack of desire that holds people back. It’s simply poor execution.

Strategy execution is about more than completing a checklist; it’s about creating a culture. How does an organization foster an environment in which everyone is focused on achieving a shared set of goals? My recently published article in The CEO Advantage Journal shares a few observations and disciplines from my work with clients using The CEO Advantage Process™. These ideas are not new, and they are definitely simple, but they are difficult to implement. My hope is that you will glean from this article a better understanding of what you must do to strengthen the culture of strategy execution in your organization.


Talking with Jeffrey Pfeffer

Monday, February 20th, 2012 by Troy Schrock

If you’re looking for sugar-coated advice, don’t talk to Jeffrey Pfeffer. If you want the hard facts as perceived by a noted authority in the area of
organizational management, talk to Jeffrey Pfeffer.

Jeffrey Pfeffer is an accomplished author, speaker, and Stanford Business professor.  In Summer 2011, I had the opportunity to meet with Pfeffer near his Stanford University office. His opinions are pointed and succinct.  He will challenge some of your assumptions and definitely have you thinking about how to better run your business.  I encourage you to check out the edited interview in the recently published CEO Advantage Journal.


The Wrong Purpose

Monday, February 20th, 2012 by Ellen Bryson

Unless your employees clearly understand and buy into your company’s reason for existence, they will eventually lose any passion they have for your work and ultimately leave your organization. Today’s workers want more than a paycheck; they want connection to something bigger than themselves. They want to know how their talents contribute to the successful realization of a shared vision. If they don’t find it at your company, they will seek it elsewhere. Based on the evidence of today’s highly transitory workforce, it seems they do not often find it at their next stop, either. In short, those companies who are able to align their employees around a clearly articulated purpose seize a distinct competitive advantage in the marketplace.

All purposes are not created equal, however. While there is no “right” purpose, I suspect there is a wrong one: financial performance. When growth becomes your purpose, trouble is not far away.  Is financial performance important? Of course! But it is the result, not the cause, of serving customers well.

For more on this topic, check out my recently published article: “Should Financial Performance Driver Your Culture?”