When I described our most recent restructuring plan to a friend – a seasoned and successful financial professional - he was certain we must have hired McKinsey & Co. to help us think things through. Wrong. It was Erika Andersen. Danny Meyer, CEO, Union Square Hospitality Group


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Archive for December, 2009

Dec
29

I Heart Business Books

In the Books – Off to the Printers III « 800 CEO Read Daily Blog.

My friends at 800CEOREAD just reprinted an article I wrote for them a couple of years ago, about why business books are so popular.

The recession seems not have had much negative impact on this (people are still buying millions of business books), and as I re-read the article, it seemed to me that what I wrote is still pretty accurate.

Check it out — see what you think.
 

Posted in Books

Dec
22

The Spirit of the Season

I’m a sucker for Christmas. I get little-kid-style excited; I bake and I wrap; I sing Christmas carols at every opportunity; I watch sentimental movies on the Hallmark Channel (and not just because they’re a client); I love finding the perfect tree and decorating it with a collection of ornaments begun by my mom before I was born and added to almost every year since. I cook a Christmas dinner with some variety of big bird, and endeavor to make the menu as dickensian as possible. I invite my kids and my siblings and their children to our house for a big informal after-Christmas party where we talk and laugh and make fun of each other and eat good stuff. (Patrick just rolls his eyes at all of this…but I think he actually kind of likes it.)

Now, the weird thing is – I’m not a Christian.  My mother was an atheist posing as an agnostic, and my dad was an agnostic nominally self-identified as a Presbyterian.  They took us to Unitarian Sunday School, in the service of letting us come to our own conclusions, but I was raised – truly – to think of all religions as mythology.

But both my parents loved the Christmas season.  I believe they saw it as a time to celebrate love and family, and the rituals involved — from Santa Claus in his sleigh to Jesus in the manger; from the miracle of gifts appearing magically under the tree to the miracle of a holy child appearing magically in Bethlehem — were all good grist for that mill of joy and celebration.

And their version of Christmas completely resonates with the adult I’ve become.  I see the Christmas season as an opportunity to be much more overt about the things I feel all year round: gratitude for life and those I love; an appreciation for the beauty and magic that surround me.  Christmas gives me a bigger-than-usual chance to sing for joy, to laugh with happiness, to do things for my loved ones, to hope and work for a better world.

Christmas is, for me, the concentrated elixir of all that I hold dear.

So, dear readers – may you have a most wonderful, magical and joyful holiday season with those you love, both near and far.

Posted in Community

Dec
15

Holidays at Work

Rules for Dealing With the Holidays Season at Work.
I thought this was a good, practical article about how to keep things in balance during the holidays, so I’m passing it on in hopes of helping you avoid various holiday pitfalls.

Be merry, in other words, but not unacceptably so – at least at work.

(NOTE: You can be as merry as you damn well please on your own time.)

Posted in Organizations

Dec
4

New People on the Bus

The HR Acquisition.

I’ve been thinking a lot about mergers and acquisitions lately.  I think they’re going to be happening more and more now, as credit re-loosens, allowing organizations that have done well to acquire those that haven’t done as well or that have consciously positioned themselves for acquisition.

I thought the attached blog post was very interesting; my partner Jeff sent it to me primarily because we (Proteus) are formalizing expertise we have around helping organizations through major transitions into a defined Transition Support offer.

What we’ve found is that when a corporate deal gets made (acquiring, merging, divesting, etc.), the players at the top tend to focus almost exclusively on the deal goals…that is, “what we hope to gain by doing this.”  It may be cost savings, broadening or strengthening a brand, getting into new markets, simply having more “heft” in the marketplace, gaining new capabilities, removing a competitor – or some combination of those.

And those are all legitimate and compelling goals.  The problem arises when, in focusing on those goals, the senior folks forget that achieving any of those things depends upon the cooperation, skills, clarity and experience of the people in the organization.  It’s easy to think of the deal (from that 30-thousand-foot  level) as a kind of “insert tab A in slot B” kind of a operation. But an organization isn’t a clockwork; it’s always primarily a collection of human beings. And human beings – unlike cogs – operate more or less effectively depending on what they understand and know, and how they feel.

One of the things I like about this blog post is that, although the bulk of it focuses on making sure you’re not overpaying for talent in doing an “HR Acquisition” (and does so very clearly and insightfully), the author, Fred Wilson, also includes the following paragraph:

But most of all, make sure the team will be a strong cultural fit in your company. Make sure you’ll enjoy working with them and they will enjoy working for you. And make sure that they are integrated into the company in a way that will allow them to succeed. The reasons most HR acquisitions fail is the team that is acquired leaves because they don’t enjoy working in the company or are not well integrated and are frustrated.

I believe what Fred’s saying is true not just of HR acquisitions, but of any acquisition.  Failure most often happens because people important to the merged company’s success aren’t well-integrated, get frustrated, and either leave or become less engaged and productive.

I’ll bet as you read this, you’re thinking of at least one situation that you either lived through or observed where this happened.  It seems like something businesses need to do differently….

Posted in News