VZM Management Services

Article Archive

(Change) Leadership, organization/process improvement

return to article archive page

In time links may turn into a dead end. If you have problems locating any of the articles below please contact us so we can help

 

A New Era for Culture, Change, and Leadership is a dialogue between Edgar and Peter Schein about their perspectives on organizational life, a brief history of ideas leading up to this moment, and their thoughts about the future. They advocate organizations and the people within them need close relationships to thrive. 
(MIT Sloan Management Review, Summer 2019)

 

Your Workforce Is More Adaptable Than You Think shows that an extensive survey reveals a surprising gap between executive being pessimistic about employees being able to adapt in an era of rapid change and the employees who are not. It identifies five important ways what employers can do to tap into the vast reserve of talent and energy companies have in their workers. 
(Harvard Business Review, May-June 2019)

 

The Collaboration Blind Spot emphasizes that leaders – to make collaborative initiatives successful – must first identify threats to a group’s security and take steps to minimize these threats and discourage defensive behaviors by the group. Too often groups feel threatened by calls for collaboration with other groups and stall the project.
(Harvard Business Review, March-April 2019)

 

The Feedback Fallacy describes why managers will never produce great performance from employees by identifying what they think is their failure and telling people how to correct it. Learning rests on our grasp of what we’re doing well, not what we’re doing poorly, and certainly not on someone else’s sense of what we’re doing poorly.
(Harvard Business Review, March-April 2019)

 

Lincoln and the Art of Transformative Leadership illustrates the leaderships skills and strengths that enabled Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, and the powerful lessons Lincoln’s leadership embodied. Inspiring lessons of leadership. 
(Harvard Business Review, September-October 2018)

 

The End of Bureaucracy describes how the world’s largest appliance maker, Haier, has been successful in breaking down the bureaucracy: it has been divided into 4,000 self-managing microenterprises. Although not every business is the same, it can inspire you to do similar things to improve your organization.
(Harvard Business Review, November-December 2018)

 

How CEOs Manage Time offers insights not only into best time-management practices but into the CEO’s role itself. Many of the lessons to be learned are also interesting for other executives and department leaders. The article is supplemented with two additional articles looking at data how CEOs allocate their time (What Do CEOs Actually Do?) and an interview with a CEO who shares what he learned from tracking his time (One CEO’s Approach to Managing His Calendar).
(Harvard Business Review, July-August 2018)

 

Managers Can’t Be Great Coaches All by Themselves identifies four distinct coaching profiles and emphasizes that time spent on coaching is less important than the type of coaching. The Connectors – connecting employees with others on the team when they are better suited to the task – are the most effective ones.
(Harvard Business Review, May-June 2018)

 

The Best Leaders Are Great Teachers discusses the importance of leaders personally imparting memorable lessons. It explores how they make their lessons stick. Something to inspire managers at all levels. 
(Harvard Business Review, January-February 2018) 

 

What to Expect From Agile highlights key learnings at ING in the Netherlands on implementing agile teams – a form of empowered teams – in the organization. Helpful for others who want to implement empowerment into their organization structure.
(MIT Sloan Management Review, Winter 2018)

 

Turning Potential into Success: The Missing Link in Leadership Development describes a more scientific approach for turning raw talent into leaders. Assess employees’ key leadership competencies and growth potential, map these against role requirements, and provide the right coaching and development opportunities.
(Harvard Business Review, November-December 2017)

 

Stop the Meeting Madness describes a five-step process to improve meetings, as many organizations suffer from too much time spend in meetings, who are often poorly timed, and/or badly run.
(Harvard Business Review, July-August 2017)

 

What Sets Successful CEOs Apart presents the results of an in-depth analysis of executives, showing that top performers demonstrate four specific business behaviors: deciding with speed and conviction, engaging for impact, adapting proactively, and delivering reliably. Charisma, confidence, and pedigree all have little bearing on CEO success, it turns out
(Harvard Business Review, May-June 2017)

 

Are You Solving the Right Problems? provides seven practices to reframe the problem to ensure the right one is solved. The point of reframing is not to find the “real” problem but, rather, to see if there is a better problem to solve.
(Harvard Business Review, January-February 2017)

 

The Neuroscience of Trust discusses how to boost employee engagement by creating a culture of trust, which will result in a more loyal, and more productive workforce. It identifies eight key management behaviors that generate trust and is an inspiration for managers to treat people like responsible adults.
(Harvard Business Review, January-February 2017)

 

Beyond the Holacracy Hype discusses what elements of self-organization can be valuable tools for companies of all kinds, and looks at circumstances where it makes more sense to blend the new approaches with traditional models.
(Harvard Business Review, July-August 2016)

 

Getting Reorgs Right describes a simple five-step process to help maximize the value and minimize the misery of reorgs.
(Harvard Business Review, November 2016)

 

What Makes Work Meaningful — Or Meaningless identifies five factors that support meaningful work — and the seven management sins that can destroy it. The article describes four elements an organization can address that will help to cultivating an ecosystem for meaningfulness.
(MIT Sloan Management Review, Summer 2016)

 

Manage Your Emotional Culture illustrate some of the ways in which emotional culture manifests at work and the impact it can have in a range of settings. It suggests ways of creating and maintaining an emotional culture that will help achieve the company’s larger goals.
(Harvard Business Review, January-February 2016)

 

Secrets of the Superbosses – known for grooming extraordinary people who became leaders in their fields – describes the similarities in their “people strategies”. It encourages all of us to follow the superboss playbook, to become better at nurturing talent, creating higher-performing workforces and, ultimately, more dynamic and sustainable businesses and industries.
(Harvard Business Review, January-February 2016)

 

The Leaders’ Choice discusses the advantages of “high road” organizations where both where both employees and the company prosper together instead of only treated as a cost to be minimized. High road companies achieve world-class productivity and service quality.
(MIT Sloan Management Review, autumn 2015)

 

Leaning the Back Office describes examples of successful trimming the fat from support functions in MROs.
(Aviation Maintenance. August/September 2015)

 

The man who’s reinvented Walmart describes how Doug McMillon – CEO since February 2014 – is guiding the retail giant into the Age of Disruption. He is reinventing Walmart to ward off the intensifying competition from stores like Costco, Kroger and Safeway, dollar-stores and Amanzon.
(Fortune Magazine, June 15, 2015)

 

In Why Strategy Execution Unravels—and What to Do About It five of the most pernicious myths about how to implement strategy are debunked and replaced with a more accurate perspective that will help managers effectively execute strategy (or organizational change).
(Harvard Business Review, March 2015)


Why Managers Still Matter
discusses the need of managers even in flat hierarchies and highly empowered organizations. It provides some guidelines how to mix authority and empowerment.
(MIT Sloan Management Review, Fall 2014) – free access


It’s Time to Split HR proposes to split HR into two strands: administration and leadership and organization. It is one way to address the disappointment of many CEOs in their HR people. The short article provides only a bare outline of the idea, and can be inspiring discussion on the subject.
(Harvard Business Review, July 2014) – free access


We’ve All Got GM Problems
discusses that many companies are hurt by the forming of silos and the lack of communication and information sharing between them.
(Time Magazine, June 12, 2014) – free access


Your Scarcest Resource
describes results of examining time budgets of 17 large corporations discovering largely unmanaged time and the enormous costs they involve. It outlines eight practices for managing organizational time. We all know, but in many cases can use this wake-up call.
(Harvard Business Review, May 2014) – access fee


Ferguson’s Formula
details eight parts of Ferguson’s “formula” that made him a nearly 20 year successful manager of the English football team Manchester United. The lessons described range from the necessity of maintaining control over high-performing team members to the importance of observation and the inevitability of change. The approach that brought Ferguson’s team such success and staying power is applicable well beyond football—to business and to life.
(Harvard Business Review, October 2013) – access fee

 

The Question Every Project Team Should Answer discusses the importance to clearly articulate why a project is launched. Exploring the four dimensions of a compelling “why statement” can improve a project’s chances of success.
(MIT Sloan Management Review, Fall 2013) – free access

 

The Network Secrets of Great Change Agents explains how in large organizations the network of change agents can be critical in their success of supporting organizational change.
(Harvard Business Review, July-August 2013) – access fee


Office Space discusses how smart open space office lay-outs can support improving teamwork, productivity and satisfaction. It provides examples of successful designs and attention areas.
(CFO Magazine, December 2012) – free access


The Role of the Chief Strategic Officer
describes the four typical roles for this function: internal consultant, specialist, coach or change agent. Depending on the organization’s needs, the board should pick the type of CSO necessary for their leadership team.
(MIT Sloan Management Review, Fall 2012) – access fee


Your Company’s History as a Leadership Tool
advocates that a sophisticated understanding of the past is a powerful tool for shaping the future. A can support leaders to motivate people to overcome challenges and serve as a potent problem-solving tool.
(Harvard Business Review, December 2012) – access fee


Amoeba Management: Lessons From Japan’s Kyocera
describes how this system work and what can be learned from it. Empowerment is at the heart of amoeba management, a highly decentralized organization system that is based on highly collective and collaborative behavior.
(MIT Sloan Management Review, Fall 2012) – access fee


Cultural Change That Sticks
discusses five principles for organizations to follow to make most of their cultures, supporting major change initiatives.
(Harvard Business Review, July/August 2012) – access fee


The Darwinian Workplace
 suggests a maybe controversial method of increasing productivity: by introducing competition between employees. Maybe a step too far (especially in most ofEurope), but it can inspire the reader to think differently about remuneration and stimulating employee productivity.
(Harvard Business Review, April 2012) – access fee

In The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs Walter Isaacson, the author of Steve Jobs’ biography, identifies the 14 key elements of his success.
(Harvard Business Review, April 2012) – access fee


The Rise of the Supertemp
 discusses the phenomenon of the increasing use of top interim-managers and professionals (Supertemps) by corporations for mission-critical work. It offers new flexibility and freedom to highly skilled workers, and new possibilities for growth and innovation to corporations.
(Harvard Business Review, April 2012) – access fee


What will Steve do?
 is a plea for teaching our future business leaders more about product-driven innovation and less financial engineering.
(Time Magazine, February 27, 2012) – free access


First, Let’s Fire All The Managers
 describes the organization without bosses of the successful Morning Star Company, a leading food processor. Cornerstone is the personal mission statement every employee has to prepare with a personal operating plan annually to negotiated with colleagues. Another inspiring example of self-management.
(Harvard Business Review, December 2011) – access fee


Smart Rules
provides six rules to create an environment in which managers mobilize the skills and intelligence of the employees. It is all about enabling and impelling, in stead of adding more layers and rules making an organization even more complex.
(Harvard Business Review, September 2011) – access fee


The Frontline Advantage
emphasizes the importance of CEOs and other executives to directly interact with frontline managers – shop-floor managers, leaders of R&D and sales teams – on a systematic basis. These contacts provide opportunities to get unfiltered information and explain them the strategy.
(Harvard Business Review, May 2011) – access fee


Four Mistakes Leaders Keep Making
discusses behaviors deeply routed in the managerial psyche, which block organizational change. The traps are almost always mechanisms for avoiding anxiety.
(Harvard Business Review, September 2010) – access fee


Lessons From a Blue-Collar Millionaire
describes the 10 key ingredients Nick Sarillo, founder of a successful pizza business, used to build a corporate culture best characterized as “trust and track”. The former construction worker developed a unique management system that is strikingly effective and based on good ideas coming from the most humble of sources. An inspiration even for highly trained business leaders.
(Inc. Magazine, February 2010) – free access


Where Process-Improvement Projects Go Wrong
discusses why often Six-Sigma and other programs too often fail to have a lasting impact as participants gradually lose motivation and fall back into old habits.
(Business Insight, January 25, 2010) – free access


How to be a Good Boss in a Bad Economy
discusses that in uncertain times it is important that managers pay attention to four areas: predictability, understanding, control and compassion. Although the article is much about plant closures and lay-offs, the lessons are also very valid for major other changes in a company.
(Harvard Business Review, June 2009) – access fee


How to Manage Virtual Teams
discusses experiences with geographically dispersed teams based on a study of 80 software development teams. It provides key lessons that can help companies maximize the performance of their virtual teams. Inspiring for anyone who needs to deal with formal and informal virtual teams.
(MIT Sloan Management Review, June 30, 2009) – free access


Toyota’s Secret: The A3 Report
explains the toolToyota uses to solve problems, create plans, and get new things done while developing an organization of thinking problem-solvers. It may be nothing more “than using common sense” as one commentator on the article rightly says, let it inspire you to use it and give improvement initiatives in your company another boost.
(MIT Sloan Management Review, June 30, 2009) – free access


How to Talk about Layoffs
is a good summary on this subject, although part of the article is focused on theUS legal system applicable during lying off people. Even for experienced managers good to refresh the memory.
(CFO Magazine, February 2009) – free access


How GE Teaches Teams to Lead Change
primary message is how effective it is to train intact management teams. Traditional management development programs focus on teaching individuals with the risk that other members of the individual’s team who have not taken the course may resist efforts to change.
(Harvard Business Review, January 2009) – access fee


Cisco sees
the future is an HBR interview with Cisco longtime CEO John Chambers. Although it is much about technological innovation driven by their capability to predict trends six to eight years ahead, it also tells you how they organized themselves – into a collaborative team model up to the highest level in the company – to be very effective in this field.
(Harvard Business Review, November 2008) – free access


Get Rid of the Performance Review
describes a somewhat radical view about this issue. It sums up a list or reasons why they are ill advised and bogus and provides an alternative: previews and how to perform these. Even if you don’t agree with all the points, or the rules are set in your company it can inspire you in improving the way you will perform these reviews.
(MIT Sloan Management Review – Business Review, October 20, 2008) – free access


In Search of Growth Leaders
is about a special breed of midlevel managers who are achieving organic growth for their company. It can be a source of inspiration for other managers and help companies to identify them.
(Business Insight, July 7, 2008) – free access


The Contradictions That Drive Toyota’s Success
describes the other factor, overlooked until now, of Toyota’s success: its culture of contradictions. This article is adapted from the new book Extreme Toyota: Radical Contradictions That Drive Success at the World’s Best Manufacturer
(Harvard Business Review, June 2008) – access fee


Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time
is all about how to cope with the demand for ever-higher performance. The solution is not to put in longer hours, but to manage the personal energy. The article recommends practices for renewing four dimensions of personal energy.
(Harvard Business Review, October 2007) – access fee


How successful leaders think
advocates integrated thinking, holding two opposing ideas at once in the head and then come up with a new idea that contains elements of each but is superior to both. The author argues that this process of consideration and synthesis (rather than superior strategy or faultless execution) is the hallmark of exceptional businesses and the people who run them. “Don’t accept that it’s an ‘either-or.’”
(Harvard Business Review, June 2007)


The tools of Cooperation and Change
discusses which type of change tools should be used in different circumstances. It provides an effective overview to help select the right tools and the right time, but it takes more to be an effective change manager.
(Harvard Business Review, October 2006)


The why, what and how of management innovation
can be a source of inspiration for innovating ways to manage your business. Not only interesting if you want to become a management innovator, but also if you are working on improving your management processes.
(Harvard Business Review, February 2006)


How China Will Change Your Business
discusses the rapid growth and strength ofChina. It describes fourteen elements every entrepreneur should know about the capitalist explosion heading our way.
(Inc. Magazine, March 2005)


Seven Surprises for New CEOs
discusses the difficulties confronting a new CEO. It describes seven issues he has to deal with, such as the need for different management style to run the company, handling of shareholders and your still human. Although the article is primarily focused on CEOs, it can also be interesting for other (new) top executives.
(Harvard Business Review, October 2004)

In What Makes an Effective Executive Peter Drucker discusses eight key practices that makes a leader effective. However basic they are, the article can be a source of inspiration for every executive who wants to ensure he operates effectively.
(Harvard Business Review, June 2004)


Deep Change: How Operational Innovation Can Transform Your Company
discusses why and how companies can create real competitive advantages. As Garry Hammers argues, with breakthrough innovations – not just steady improvements – in operations one can destroy competitors and shake up entire industries.
(Harvard Business Review, April 2004)


Mighty Amazon
tells the story behind the success of Jeff Bezos’ Amazon.com. It is an interesting story about a man crazy about numbers and who hires smart.
(Fortune Magazine, May 26, 2003)


Beyond Empowerment: Building a Company of Citizens
describes an inspiring prototype for a model to take an organization beyond empowerment drawn from history: the city-state of ancientAthens. The Athenian model of organizational democracy offers a window into how sizable groups of people can, in an atmosphere of dignity and trusts, successfully govern themselves without resorting to a stifling bureaucracy.
(Harvard Business Review, January 2003)


The young and the clueless
reiterates the need for the rising stars among managers to get time develop their emotional competencies – competencies required to become an effective leader at senior management level. It describes five effective strategies to develop people skills and redirecting managers, and make sure people are ready before they get promoted to higher management.
(Harvard Business Review, December 2002)


The 5 pitfalls of CEO succession
summarizes the five worst things you can do when selecting a new CEO.
(Fortune Magazine, November 18, 2002)


Why companies fail
argues that in most cases not external factors, but internal sins are the prime to blame. It discusses ten most common reasons why companies fail. Although most are well known, the many recent failures of companies show it never hurts to be reminded what they are. 
(Fortune Magazine, May 27, 2002)


Overcoming dyslexia
discusses a wide variety of business leaders and artists who have gone beyond the limitations of dyslexia. Not only inspiring for people who need to deal with this phenomenon.
(Fortune Magazine, May 13, 2002)


How to Cut Pay, Lay Off 8,000 People, and Still Have Workers Who Love You
is an inspiring article, even though it is about downsizing and lying off people. It tells the story how Agilent, a spin-off of Hewlett-Packard, was able to keep people motivated while it had to lay off people. By following theHP Way — or better theAgilent Way.
(Fortune Magazine, February 4, 2002)


The Superefficient Company
discusses the next step to improve a company’s efficiency by streamlining cross-company processes. It provides inspiring examples of successful redesigned cross-company business processes and describes shortly how to structure a project to superefficiency.
(Harvard Business Review, September 2001)


Great Expectations
discusses an interesting tool to improve the commitment and productivity of employees: the “expectations agreement”, an agreement between the company and the employee, in which both parties write down what they expect from the job and each other.
(Inc. Magazine, March 2001)


Changing of the Guard
describes the process of selecting Jack Welch successor, Jeffrey Immelt, at GE. Regardless of Immelt’s being successful, the way he was selected will almost certainly for a long time be a case study of how to (or not to) select a new CEO (or another top key-manager within a company).
(Fortune Magazine, January 8, 2001)


Zen and the Art of the Self-Managing Company
is a case study about a learning organization in a “Self-Management” company culture. It describes how at Great Harvest Bread Co, aUS bakery franchise uses an informal and freedom first company culture to effectively exchange ideas and improve them. Even if you’re not in the franchise business it can be inspiring to improve the way your company operates.
(Inc. Magazine, November 2000)


How We Went Digital Without a Strategy
is not so much about ICT or e-commerce, but about Ricardo Semler’s philosophy of giving all employees freedom and responsibility to run the business. He has managed already a long time ago to shape Semco, his Brazilian company he described in his book Maverick in the early nineties, into a environment that stimulates creativity and entrepreneurship, much like Gary Hamel advocates in his article Reinvent Your Company. Even though, like his book, some of the stories may sound unbelievable, it is better to focus on the parts that inspire than the to put energy to prove some of them are different in real live. Although for readers of his book and earlier articles, most of ideas he tells are not much news, it is still great to get inspired again.
(Harvard Business Review, September-October 2000)


Reinvent Your Company
is an inspiring article from Gary Hamel about how to boost your business results. It provides ten rules for designing a culture that stimulates innovation using Silicon Valley analogy. This article is an excerpt of Gary Hamel’s new book Leading the Revolution.
(Fortune Magazine, June 12, 2000)

 

return to article archive page