19th Edition — June 16, 2019
“Their greatest product was the Hewlett-Packard Company and their greatest idea was The HP Way.” Jim Collins
1. No HR Department?
Some of my favorite people at the companies I work with are the HR professionals. Friendly, smart, caring, focused–I could go on.
Imagine the first 18 years of your company not having an HR department. That seems implausible.
When I read non-fiction, I rarely read the chapters in order. When I opened The HP Way this week, I started at Chapter 11, Managing the Organization. HP waited nearly 20 years before they hired their first Personnel Director (the term used then). Yet, the founders took the employee-manager relationships seriously during those first 18 years which included promoting from within, providing constant feedback to staff, offering profit sharing plans to all team members, and many other activities showing the importance of every team member.
“Get the best people, stress the importance of teamwork, and get them fired up to win the game.” – David Packard
2. The Title Gives Away Why CEOs Fail According to These Authors
I’m lukewarm on the book Why CEOs Fail by Dotlich and Cairo. The subtitle is The 11 Behaviors That Can Derail Your Climb to the Top.
The book is heavy on businesses that failed and the leaders who were steering the ship at the time. It’s easy to play armchair quarterback on why such CEOs failed. How about a book on why CEOs are failing now? Or would we get the same answers?
While not scientific, the authors address behavioral deficiencies in the leaders they researched. Those behaviors included volatile mood swings, fear of making decisions, cockiness in that rules are meant to be broken, perfectionism, arrogance, and focusing on the negatives. Poor strategy and execution were not major themes in this book.
3. Stoplight Colors on a Company Dashboard
When I visit companies, I’m on the lookout for company dashboards showing their key metrics. Here’s a truism–if they have sales under $10 million, they don’t have one. And when they learn about dashboards, they want the ones with red-yellow-green stoplight colors.
Do you agree? That is, do you like the concept of such a color combination.
I find them hard to read, and that’s because every number or cell has a color. But don’t ask me to explain the deficiencies of such a color combination. Instead, I prefer a color scheme emphasizing signals, not needless noise.
Every financial professional should own one of Stephen Few’s books or follow him on Perceptual Edge. I own all of Few’s books, and they will set you back a pretty penny or two. However, he’s written lengthy white papers on every important data-viz topic including stoplight colors on tables and graphs. Take a look if you want – Practical Rules for Using Color in Charts. This is similar content you’ll find in each of his books on data visualization.
4. Who are some relatively unknown CFOs?
Do you have an answer for this question? This question was raised on Quora, and my response was the guy who built The Empire State Building. He’s the guy who persuaded the Dupont family to invest heavily in General Motors. He was instrumental in getting Durant removed from the top post at GM and nodded in agreement with the Sloan selection.
John J. Raskob was hired by John Pierre Dupont for $5 a week to be his clerk and bookkeeper. Raskob later became the first-ever CFO of a public company–General Motors.
I’ll be writing more about Raskob in the weeks to come.
Incidentally, should great CFOs be known? Let’s remove the word ‘great’ and ask the question again–should CFOs be known? Why is it that the ones I have read about have served prison sentences?
5. Homework Assignment
The HP Way, the Disney Way, The Cardinals Way (I’m running out of ways).
Can you easily and quickly write down the ___________ Way of your company? How about for your department?
That’s your assignment for this week.
Thank You Very Much and Happy Father’s Day
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Take care and have a great week. Always be learning.