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论老子

道,领导也。领导必需要不断呼唤,教导下属以及以身作则。下属的过和错皆因领导懒惰。

 
 
 

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Chapter 4: Ostrich Mentality  

2012-06-20 11:57:26|  分类: 7 Deadly Mgnt Be |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Carly Fiorina was once the most powerful female CEO in the world, yet she failed to lead Hewlett-Packard out of its doldrums during her 5 years of tenure. On 9 February 2005, the board of directors asked her to step down from her role. HP’s share price at that time had been declining for five years and hovering at a PE (Price Earning) ratio of less than 17.

The root cause of her downfall laid in the HP culture[1], a culture that did not adapt to a changing business environment that was becoming more and more hostile to HP’s businesses.

During her tenure, HP evolved into a “great” company to work for. The so-called laissez-faire policy prevented the management from interfering with the way something being done as long as the job gets done. The unspoken rule was ‘do not rock the boat’. No one wants to be seen as the bad guy. Likeability fills the air in HP.

At the end, Carly failed to bring the slightest change in the HP Way despite her decisions to axe several top executives. The HP Way was the obstacle to improvement.

Setting Stretch goals

Next year’s goal is set based on the average performance of the fourth quarter of present year. Achieving next year’s goal is therefore a certainty. To prod employees to do a bit more, a stretch goal is set. The stretch goal is usually set at about five percent higher than last year’s goal. However, this way of setting goal certainly leads to mediocre performance every year.

I used to work for an American MNC where there was an assembly line producing ink cartridges. It took more than five years to reach an output level of 44,000 cartridges per day from an initial output of about 22,000 cartridges per day[2]. Every year, there was a grand celebration for breaking the previous year’s record. Great effort, wasn’t it? The productivity level of the assembly line for the first year was less than 50%. Even at the output of 44,000 cartridges per day, the productivity was only close to 80%.

Comparing to more efficient companies, the performance was poor rather than fantastic. If only senior management had chosen to measure its assembly line machine utilization by productivity instead of raw output numbers, it would have achieved more than 90% productivity within a span of one to two years instead of five years or more. But it chose output quantity as the tool to measure productivity because it made them look good every year.

One of the Engineering Managers told me, “The art of keeping your job is to keep some room for improvement every year; otherwise you will have nothing to show as improvement in the subsequent years. Why should I work too hard to push myself now? Spread out the productivity gains over the years. That is called ‘working smart’.” 

Well the truth is that it is an ‘ostrich’ behavior.




[1] At the heart of the HP culture is the HP Way. The HP Way was formalized in 1957 by founders Bill Hewlett and David Packard who wanted a set of guiding principles beyond the profit motives to serve as a moral compass for the company.

[2] For the full story, please read chapter 1, “Capacity utilization’ in book “The untold secrets of lean sigma” by the same author.

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