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jueves, diciembre 28, 2006






David Maister Pronto estará en Chile.

Professionalism in Consulting

(about pdf)

by David Maister 2005

Chapter 2 of The Contemporary Consultant, edited by Larry Greiner and Flemming Poulfelt, Thomson-Southwestern, 2005

Like many profound ideas, “professionalism” is an ambiguous concept used to refer to a wide range of attitudes, skills, values and behaviors. For example, if one asks people what is meant by referring to a consultant as “really professional,” one hears a variety of replies. A really professional consultant, I am told,

  • Gets involved and doesn’t just stick to their assigned role
  • Reaches out for responsibility
  • Does whatever it takes to get the job done
  • Is a team player
  • Is observant
  • Is honest
  • Is loyal
  • Really listens to the clients’s needs
  • Takes pride in their work, and shows a commitment to quality
  • Shows initiative

This list indicates some of the differences between a “really professional” consultant and an ordinary consultant. It reveals that a high level of professionalism doesn’t stop with a foundation of technical qualifications and analytical skills. In addition to these basic attributes, the right attitudes and behavior must also be in place, and these become the distinguishing factor for achieving real professionalism. My former business manager, Julie MacDonald O’Leary, said it best: “Professional is not a title you claim for yourself, it’s an adjective you hope other people will apply to you. You have to earn it.” (David H. Maister, True Professionalism, Free Press, 1997)

“You have to earn it” may not be a bad way to summarize what professionalism is really all about. It means deserving the rewards you wish to gain from others by being dedicated to serving their interests as part of an implied bargain. Professionalism implies that you do not focus only on the immediate transaction, but care about your relationship with the person with whom you are working. It means you can be trusted to put your clients’ interests first, can be depended upon to do what you say you will do and will not consistently act for short-term personal gain. Professionals make decisions using principles of appropriate behavior, not just short-term expediency.

Significant efforts have been made, and continue to be made, to “professionalize” consulting by promoting the use of the CMC–Certified Management Consultant–qualification. However, professionalism is not about qualifications and certification. Having an MBA from a name school or official recognition from a trade association or certifying body might say something about your knowledge, but these pieces of paper are unlikely to be predictive of your attitudes and behaviors, and maybe not even your skills. No formal qualification will ever provide complete assurance to the buyer that the provider will act appropriately, even if equipped with the required skills.

Forging Attitudes

The B-School Problem

It is not clear how consciously business schools, even those with special programs on consulting, set out to forge the appropriate attitudes for consulting. Through oversight or neglect, they may even sometimes create inappropriate behaviors. For example, many professional schools, whether in the law, business or medicine, work hard to create a sense in their students that they are an elite, the “best and the brightest.” This can breed arrogance that later shows up (no matter how unintentionally) as pompous, patronizing, condescending behavior when dealing with clients. “You are the person with the problem; I am the trained expert, so shut up and do what I say.” Only in recent years have medical schools begun to provide programs to fight this socialization, and few business or law schools have anything substantive in this area.

Some schools have attempted to tackle the difference between knowledge and skill by building real or simulated consulting projects into the curriculum, but few, if any, are consciously designed to provide a critical examination of the consulting experience by debriefing and exploring issues such as (a) what does it feel like to be a client?; (b) what is the difference between being an expert (providing answers) and being a skilled advisor (helping the client solve his or her own problem)?; (c) what is the consultant’s role when members of the client organization are at odds or in disagreement?

Yet the need is readily apparent to each of us whenever we contemplate our own experiences as buyers of professional services. In working with professionals, I frequently ask them to tell me what they dislike about having to deal, as a client, with other professionals such as doctors, accountants, lawyers, interior designers and, yes, management consultants. The list I am given of how people are treated as clients by these professionals is remarkably similar, regardless of the profession being discussed. Professionals (“those guys”), I am told,

  • Are pompous, patronizing, condescending and arrogant
  • Don’t listen
  • Treat me like a job, not a person
  • Don’t explain what they’re doing and why
  • Don’t like to be asked questions or challenged
  • Leave me out of the loop and take over my issue
  • Tell me what they think I must do instead of giving me options
  • Are more interested in my money than me
  • Ignore my feelings and treat the issues as purely technical
  • Apply standard solutions and approaches; don’t make me feel as if they are customizing to my needs
  • Don’t act as if they care about me

Test this list against your own experience as a patient or client with professionals. Does it sound familiar? What should be obvious about this list is that many, if not all, of the behaviors reported as missing are the very ones we would use to describe someone as a real professional. Note, however, that none are technical in nature, and all relate, one way or the other, to the provider’s attitude toward dealing with the client.

A business school education does little to help students distinguish between the “consultant as expert” (I can solve your problem) and the consultant as helpful advisor (I can facilitate your decision-making process and help you make your decisions). (See David H. Maister, Charles H. Green, Robert M. Galford, The Trusted Advisor, Free Press, 2000)

Successfully conveying an attitude of trying to help (as opposed to being right) is a prerequisite for all consulting work: without the ability to earn a client’s trust, content expertise will not be listened to by clients.

Few consultants report that they have been trained in these human interactive skills. Their entire education in schools and in firms has been about logic, rationality and intellect, and little, if any, experiential learning was provided to them on how to earn trust, win influence and establish relationships. Many do not want to engage in the interpersonal, social and emotional activities that being a “trusted advisor” requires. Many consultants consciously avoid anything that smacks of intimacy with their clients and rush to return to the “high ground” of detached, logical analysis where they feel most comfortable.

Further attitude problems, perhaps unconsciously, can be formed from the educational experience itself. In case-study-intensive programs, the student is invited to stand as the “outsider” and form judgments on the solutions to business problems. This can breed an attitude of detachment or disengagement; a view that logical, rational, intellectual analysis is the primary virtue; and that emotions, passions, and interpersonal dynamics are relevant only as subject matter to be studied and likely of secondary importance in consulting unless one is a “behavioral” consultant. At no time does the student receive the message that immersing oneself in the messy human dynamics of a business situation is a requirement to finding constructive solutions.

This problem is accentuated by other social conditioning absorbed in business schools about what business is about and what management involves. In one school of my acquaintance, hardly a single case study was examined without someone saying something like “This company is not in business to make widgets, it’s in business to make money,” thereby dismissing any need to feel passionately involved in the product, the customers or the employees. For better or for worse, such attitudes will influence the future consultant’s view of what is important in his or her profession and inevitably send the wrong signals to clients.

Firm Weaknesses

The socialization that takes place in consulting firms varies immensely. Firms often develop their own cultures of what they think “professionalism” is, and consciously or unconsciously socialize their employees into their specific definition of the term. They use the term constantly in their hiring and in proposals to prospective clients.

These varying definitions of professionalism differ immensely from firm to firm, probably appropriately so. For example, some firms emphasize “implementation” as the key to their professionalism, while others stress that their value is added by providing a “big picture” review. Is one of these strategies more “professional” than the other? Clearly not. It would be wrong to conclude that, for example, one must be involved in implementation or give the big picture to be deemed fully professional. The underlying issue is really one of integrity. Is the firm consistent in what it claims to be and do? Does it deliver on what it claims to provide? In essence, the issue is whether or not the firm has (and lives by) a clear ideology of high standards.

Some firms with a clear ideology, such as McKinsey, go out of their way to indoctrinate new hires into their value system (their way of doing things), which includes concrete positions on the role of the consultant, the appropriate way to work with clients and the attitudes expected of all consultants. Of course, what makes this formal indoctrination “stick” is whether or not the attitudes preached are, in fact, the ones that the young consultant sees modeled every day by the more experienced people in the firm.

Other firms, such as the Boston Consulting Group and Bain, also have a reputation for articulating clear, consistent, firm-wide positions on what they consider the role of a consultant to be (an ideology) and to which all members of the firm are expected to adhere. Naturally, these definitions are not identical firm to firm, but all serve the role of communication and forming a set of attitudes that are required by the firm. Whether or not the firm provides formal training or documentation is of lesser importance than the fact that there is a clear role model that all recruits are expected to emulate, and that the culture is strong enough to rein in instances of noncompliance.

However, many firms, particularly those who provide widely varying services to widely different marketplaces, experience a harder time in conveying a clear, unambiguous view of the consultant’s role. In addition, many firms do not have a firmwide ideology on this point. For these firms, which are probably in the majority, there is no enforced, common approach to working with clients. Individuals are socialized not through formal indoctrination but informally and randomly by the specific individuals they happen to work with. Little or no attempt is made to formally discuss the consultant’s role and the attitudes it requires. As a consequence, the concept of professionalism is left ambiguous and, almost certainly, randomly implemented.

Skills with Clients

The range of skills that an effective consultant who wishes to become “fully professional” must develop is, in fact, a long list. While many firms train their people in such things as presentations, written communications, proposal writing and selling, a much smaller percentage actually teach their people about how to work with a client. Client service training, where it exists, is spotty and usually an afterthought. Almost none of it is taught in business schools.

Again, there are singular exceptions. Not surprisingly, McKinsey, with its reputation for making a heavy investment in training, is one of the shining examples. Formal programs of “influence skills” are available and required, taught by psychologists, and there is a common practice of reinforcing this learning by inviting a second or third consultant to sit in on client meetings to observe and debrief the interactions. Such activities take place in other firms, but few have such an organized approach that is clearly signaled and is mandatory for skill development, rather than one that is optional and idiosyncratic.

Other skills are required as a consultant develops. Paul Glen, in his book Leading Geeks (Jossey-Bass, 2002) lists, among others, the following competencies needed by an IT professional:

  • Ability to manage client relationships
  • Ability to manage technical teams
  • Ability to play positive politics
  • Ability to help expand client relationships
  • Ability to work through others and make them productive
  • Ability to manage ambiguity
  • Ability to manage time horizons
  • Ability to manage client relationships

To this fairly familiar list one could add a number of skills that most consultants wish they had mastered earlier in their careers:

  • How to earn other people’s trust and confidence
  • How to earn, deserve and thereby nurture a relationship with a client
  • How to give advice without being assertive or patronizing
  • How to deal with conflicts among client personnel
  • How to manage meetings
  • How to supervise others so they want to work for you again
  • How to get the best out of those in support or administrative roles
  • How to get someone in a more senior role to want to help you
  • How to receive work delegated to you so you know what you’re supposed to be doing
  • If, when and how to say “no” to a senior person or client
  • Getting feedback from others, inside and outside, in a timely form you can use

All of these are learnable skills (some are even teachable), and all are components of what I mean by the term “a fully skilled professional.” Some of these are commonly contained in the typical firm’s training program; a remarkable number of these skills are not.

Integrity at the Core

Integrity is usually taken to be central to the idea of professionalism. But what, precisely, does integrity mean? Consider the following list of statements, each taken from the mission or values statement of a real consulting firm:

  • We always put the clients’ interests first, ahead of our own.
  • If a client wants to pay us to do things that we think aren’t in his or her best interest, we’ll turn the work down.
  • If we have even the smallest doubt that we can’t do this work to excellence, we’ll turn the work away.
  • We never lie, misrepresent or exaggerate, in any way, to anyone, under any circumstances.
  • We stand by our work. If clients don’t like our work, we refuse to take their money.
  • If a client treats our people badly, or with a lack of respect, we’ll walk away from that client.
  • We will fire any employee who fails to treat others (at any level) with respect and dignity.

How many firms do you know that could meet all these standards? If you think the standards are too tough to be realistic, how would you change them? Do you think a firm that lived by these rules would flourish financially or die? What else do you think belongs on the integrity rules list? Every firm (and individual consultant) should reflect on the above questions.

The key point is that integrity cannot be judged by what you advocate, only by that which you always do. A claim to integrity is only meaningful if it includes this follow-up statement:

“We treat our espoused values as nonnegotiable minimum standards, and counsel anyone who is not in compliance with them. If, after counseling, the person does not, or cannot, get into compliance with our values, we will help them find alternative employment.”

One of the readers of my website, where I first posted this statement, responded as follows:

“No firm meets all these tests. Putting the clients’ interests first, ahead of our own, is difficult to rationalize in public corporations. The commonly held guideline for behavior (maximize shareholder value) inevitably leads to a violation of the spirit of this principle. Leaders are willing to deceive (if not outright lie) to anyone producing a “drag coefficient” on revenue, including customers. Can (should) this change? I don’t think that adherence to strict integrity rules would actively constrain a firm’s performance. However, the traits that lead to violations may lead to disadvantages down the road, e.g., lying can work in the short term, but not the long term.”

Another reader of my website posed the following question:

“Do you think many professional firms are compromising their integrity in favor of money? The more competitive their environment and the larger their firm, it seems the pressure to maintain or increase revenue is just too great. Are professionals in such firms just high-paid technicians if the driving force from the firm is to make money even if this means risking its reputation?”

As these cynical comments show, there clearly are those firms out there that send a clear message to their people: “It’s about the money, stupid: do whatever it takes.” I have experienced first-hand those consulting clients who create such pressure to meet short-term financial goals that their people are led into faking orders, padding bills, neglecting client service and beating their staff to a pulp. In fact, if you read the gossipy bulletin boards on the Internet about consulting firms, you can easily conclude that such behavior is more common than not.

Integrity Pays Off

It is difficult to prove with hard science, but my 20 years of watching consulting firms leads me to believe that in consulting you can’t get away with a lack of integrity or ethics for long. I’d risk the generalization that those consulting firms that have, over the years, vigorously enforced values, standards and principles will also have achieved the best brand names and the highest profits.

In my book Practice What You Preach (Free Press, 2001) I surveyed 5,500 people in 139 professional firm offices in 13 countries, posing 74 culture questions, as well as obtaining three years’ worth of financial performance data. Using both stepwise regression and structural equation modeling (path analysis) I discovered that the answers to only nine questions accounted for more than 50 percent of all financial performance differences between and among these 139 businesses. They were

  1. Client satisfaction is a top priority at our company.
  2. We have no room for those who put their personal agenda ahead of the interests of the clients or the office.
  3. Those who contribute the most to the overall success of the office are the most highly rewarded.
  4. Management gets the best work out of everybody in the office.
  5. Around here you are required, not just encouraged, to learn and develop new skills.
  6. We invest a significant amount of time in things that will pay off in the future.
  7. People within our office always treat others with respect.
  8. The quality of supervision of client projects is uniformly high.
  9. The quality of the professionals in our office is as high as can be expected.

The firms that succeeded financially were not those that preached these standards (nearly every firm does) but those whose staff, top to bottom, agreed that they were the principles on which their firm actually operated. What’s notable about this list is how familiar it is. All it says is that the firms making the most money are those who are actually living up to familiar standards that everyone preaches. The message is that you can make more money when you behave and enforce standards, not when you superficially advocate them or merely post them on a bulletin board or company website.

Whether or not a consulting firm actually has the necessary standards of professionalism is proven by whether or not there are consequences for noncompliance. If a firm has a partner who does not treat others with respect, that partner must be counseled, and if the counseling doesn’t work, then that partner must be fired. If the firm is prepared to go that far, it can, in my opinion, be called truly professional and will likely make more money.

Origins of Failure

If all this evidence is valid, why then is excessively risky short-term behavior reported to be so common in business in general and is even found in many consulting firms? Why do we keep hearing of managers “forcing” their people into behaviors that at kindest can be described as “cutting corners” and at worst as unethical?

The most important point to make is that you don’t have to be unethical to be dumb. As my questioner put it, consulting firms are doing things to make short-term profits that put their reputations at risk. That’s not necessarily a lack of integrity, it’s just stupidity. And, at some level, it’s even understandable stupidity. A slightly compromised reputation might hurt you tomorrow, or the day after that, but, hey, that’s the future, and you wouldn’t believe the discount rate we apply to profits in the future compared to today! (And we’ll have a year or two to make up for it, won’t we? And maybe the clients will forget that we weren’t that great two years ago!) Call this the short-termism excuse.

There are others too. I have sat in strategy meetings where firm leaders acknowledge the future cost of compromising reputation, but argue that by the time it hurts the firm they will have made their pile and cashed out. These people aren’t really short-termers; they’re just selfish and greedy.

Then there are consulting firm leaders who don’t really believe their own mission statements, vision, values and strategy. They say that they believe a reputation for excellence is worth its weight in gold, but they are not willing to actually put the proposition to the test. For example, how many firms that preach dedication to outstanding client service are also willing to give an unconditional client satisfaction guarantee? Not many! These people are not being excessively short-term thinkers: they are cynics and unbelievers. They don’t really think that building or sustaining a reputation is worth sacrificing any amount of short-term cash.

Another pathology that occurs among a firm’s leaders who are not short-term thinkers, are not greedy and are not cynical is that they are very scared and lack courage. They would really like to stick with the firm’s strategy and standards and not accept a short-term hit, but they are frightened to take such a risk, either because they think their partners will rise up and revolt, which is actually quite possible, or, if they are publicly held, that Wall Street will take out a substantial chunk of their market value.

A final group of consulting firms with low standards engages in short-term compromises and acts of expediency because they actually don’t have ambition. To accept a short-term adverse consequence, you’ve got to have a passionately held ambition to get somewhere. Otherwise, why would you make sacrifices? Yet many firm leaders are more concerned about not messing up than they are about “going for the gold.”

So what have you got to have as a person to “do the right thing?” You have to have integrity, and really believe in your strategy, mission and values, and have a dream, fervently desired, and have the patience and courage to bet on the long term, and resist palpable pressure from the constituencies you serve and

be willing to accept the short-term consequences of your actions. This all takes a level of self-discipline that few of us measure up to in our everyday behavior. I guess that’s why it’s not common. And I guess that’s why they call it professionalism.

Problems of Enforcement

If you really want to obtain the commercial benefits from any strategy, you must put in a system that forces you to execute that strategy. The tragedy of many consulting firms, and the source of their lack of professionalism, is that they have not put in place systems to enforce accountability for standards.

As an example of one that has, consider EDS, the computer services giant. They have a Web-based project management system that records everything about the project–when are the next due dates, what have we done, what’s on time, what’s delayed, how much of the budget has been spent and accumulated? Here is the key point: this information is entirely accessible to the client! At any time, the client can log in and see where his or her project stands, with budget, due dates, deliveries, etc. EDS asks its clients to log in every two weeks to indicate on a simple scale of one to four their level of satisfaction with the client project so far. The chairman of this multibillion-dollar company logs in every day and can see client feedback from every client for the entire company, and that is the first thing he does every day.

What’s impressive about EDS is not the technology but the willingness to be held inescapably accountable to high standards. Many consulting firms haven’t even got a decent internal project management system, let alone one that they would give clients access to. Most firms have a mission statement that declares a commitment to client satisfaction and client service. But how many have a feedback system where they regularly ask clients, at the end of every transaction, how happy they are with the work? Only a few! How many publish those results with the names of the relevant partner to everybody in the firm? Even fewer! Instead, what exists in most firms is a frequently espoused belief that client service is very important, but a refusal to establish behaviors to accept accountability for it.

Firms typically leave it up to the individual and his or her self-discipline to accomplish high standards of professionalism, but that usually doesn’t do the job. If there is no system that keeps people honest about performing up to standard, you don’t get the benefits. The key, if you really want to make something happen, is to not leave it to self-discipline. If you really want to make something happen, create an external discipline. And if you don’t want to try that hard, and if you don’t want to be held strictly accountable, then fine, move on to something else. But if you can’t find anything you’re prepared to actually commit to, then recognize that you’re probably never going to be anything other than no worse than anybody else.

The Upside

Imagine a world where every junior member of the firm says, “In this firm, one thing you can bank on is that you will be superbly supervised on every transaction. It is a matter of professional principle with us. We don’t do work unless we supervise it superbly” (note that this was one of the nine profit predictors in my statistical study). What commercial benefits would come to that consulting firm if it were true that supervision was always done superbly?

First, from the firm’s point of view, there would be less wasted time and rework, and the firm would experience lower write-offs and higher realization. You could obtain better economic leverage because people would feel more confident in delegating work to trained people. Second, the firm would spread skills faster and the firm would do a better job of retaining people.

Clients would notice a higher level of quality and therefore might feel less fee sensitive, knowing that they had found someone who always supervised the work well. This is terribly scary, because maybe that might mean they would also notice when the work was not supervised superbly.

If, as a senior partner, I knew that every junior consultant had been supervised superbly since the day they joined the firm, I might actually trust these young people and delegate more to them; whereas if I am living in a normal consulting firm where excellence in supervision happens only sporadically then it’s quite logical never to delegate because the juniors are untrained, unguided missiles.

This list of benefits for both firms and clients can be obtained by diligent, enforced adherence to a high standard of project supervision. But here is the issue: Why are many consulting firms not getting these benefits despite everything they promise to new recruits about the importance of quality, professional pride and great work environments? Why does the average consulting firm not enforce this standard? Because they can get away without doing it!

Many consulting firms fail to meet the high standards of professionalism not because they do not believe in them and advocate them, but because they fail to enforce them. It’s not an issue of being “unprofessional” or unethical. It’s simply a matter of the difference between the true pursuit of excellence and the acceptance of mere competence. They have wonderful standards of quality that are preached. But they will forgive any partner who does not do this, as long as he does not go to the opposite extreme and do something ugly–sexual harassment or get us sued. Competence (“don’t mess up”) is not the same as professionalism (“uncompromisingly high standards”).

Partners’ Failed Leadership

If you go to the typical consulting firm today and ask, “What percentage of your partners would put hand-on-heart to say that they regularly read every issue of their main client’s trade magazine? Not all your clients–just your main client?” I can report from experience that, around the world, the answer is sadly in the single digits. Yet we all know that clients like for their consultants to show an interest in their business. So let me ask again: “Do you act as if you care about your clients?” In the typical consulting firm, the honest answer is, “We believe that we should care, but we frequently don’t act that way.”

I often talk about meeting three kinds of partners in consulting firms: dynamos, cruisers and losers. These, by the way, are not different people; they are all of us at different stages in our lives. A dynamo is somebody who is always acting like they have a career. In addition to taking care of this year, every year they are doing something to bring about their personal future. Every year they’re always saying, “Where do I want to go next, and what do I do today to make that happen?”

The cruisers (by definition, not losers) are a very important category that includes the majority of partners. They are good, solid citizens, coming in each week to make the sausages. They come in next month and they make the sausages. They come in next year and they make the sausages. And everybody knows those sausages are fabulous. The quality is there. The hard work is there, but that person isn’t actually going anywhere. He’s acting like he’s got a job, but if you said, “Where do you want to go next with your career? What kind of transactions do you want to be doing three years from now?” he’d say, “Sausages!” He has no particular desire to advance his professional career.

At some stage in your life, you’re probably a loser. The usual reasons: divorce, alcoholism, cocaine, manic depression, the kids have been arrested again. Things happen. If you’re lucky you deal with it and recover; if you’re unlucky you get stuck.

In the typical consulting firm, I am told by firms around the world, the percentage of partners in those three categories is about 15 percent dynamos, 75 percent

cruisers and 10 percent losers. If that’s the makeup of the typical partnership in the typical consulting firm, only 15 percent of the partners are trying to get somewhere and the large majority is just coasting along while making sausages day after day. Is that professionalism?

If my estimate is accurate, firms should not waste their time doing strategic planning. Because strategic planning in that environment is like trying to figure out which way to point the thundering herd when the herd isn’t thundering. The issue is not direction or strategy. The issue is, “Do they or do they not have the appetite to go somewhere, and to accomplish it with high standards of professionalism?”

We therefore come to the key choice if you’re considering a firm to join as a partner: which gang do you want to belong to? The tolerant firm says, “If you want to cruise, that’s okay. Not only is it acceptable, it’s actually the overwhelming norm here,” just like in many consulting firms. Or you might want to join a firm where they say, “The rule here is you’ve got to be learning and growing, because otherwise you’re not meeting your requirements as a partner. It’s something we have a right to expect of each other, that we are all continually learning and growing.” Notice that there’s an option here for firm leaders to confront and decide. The choice is, do you want to set forth and enforce a high standard in your partnership agreement?

The Real Bottom Line

The lessons should be clear. You get the benefit of that which you actually do, not that which you encourage. Ultimately, professionalism goes beyond attitudes, knowledge and skills and is about dependable, reliable, consistent behavior. You may believe in something, know how to do it and be skilled at doing it. But unless you can be relied upon to actually do it, and do it unfailingly, then you cannot hope to develop a reputation for professionalism.

The way you make money in consulting is not to be good at managing the money. The way you get money is to decide which product you want to deliver–quick, hot fast food or fabulous cooking for some cuisine connoisseur–and then enforce the standards appropriately for that choice though superb leadership. The money is an outcome of how high your standards are and what you do about them. He or she who lives to the highest standards–in other words, is most professional–wins.

Saludos cordiales
Renato Sánchez 3586 dep 10
Santiago, Chile

Young Professionals: Cultivate the Habits of Friendship

Young Professionals: Cultivate the Habits of Friendship

Rodrigo González Director de Lawyerschile.blogspot.com diojo: Estrá en Chile pronto

(about pdf)

by David Maister 2005

Most young professionals realize early in their careers that, at some point, skill in generating business will be an important determinant of their success. However, many believe that, in the early stages of their career, they do not have much opportunity to develop these skills.

This could not be further from the truth. True, few clients will trust someone still “wet behind the ears” with their business, but it is never too early (or, for that matter, too late) to begin the process of learning how to earn and deserve trust.

The way most clients choose among professionals is essentially identical to the way people choose their friends. At the point of selecting a professional to work with, clients go with providers who can (a) make them feel at ease; (b) make them feel comfortable sharing their fears and concerns; (c) can be trusted to look after them as well as their transaction and (d) are dependably on their side.

Creating these feelings in others begins with the correct attitudes (few people can make others think they care when they don’t) but also require the development of conversational and interpersonal skills, which only come with practice.

If you have an active social circle and people like being with you in your personal life, the odds are that you will have a significant advantage in learning the skills and habits of business development. If, on the other hand, you’re a social recluse personally, you will find it more difficult to get clients to see you as the trusted advisor they wish to work with.

Two key points must be stressed. First, none of this means that you can be anything less than excellent technically. The issue is not whether you are competent or trustworthy, but whether or not you are both.

Second, it is not necessary (or even always advisable) to actually make your clients your best friends. Friendship skills, while useful in both personal and professional life, can be put to different purposes. But first you have to develop them.

Making Friends

I had to learn these lessons the hard way. For years, I have worked for clients who have been gracious enough to invite me to dinner the evening before or after my work with them. They weren’t trying to get more work out of me; they just wanted to be sociable.

However, after a long day’s work, the prospect of still being “on duty” has not been attractive to me. It’s not that I don’t like my clients, but that I prefer to unwind by being alone. I’m not that sociable by nature. (I don’t drink, I don’t like sports. I like the Bee Gees. You get the idea.).

This is something I now regret. I have missed a lot of opportunities to form relationships with interesting people, and I know it would have helped me a lot professionally to make the gesture occasionally. I have tried to make up for it by being attentive and dedicated to my clients on the work issues during work hours, and to some extent that has been effective.

But I know I missed something important due to my social habits. At a minimum, I have undercapitalized on the many opportunities given to me to build profitable and fulfilling long-term client relationships.

A Talent For Friendship

There are people in this world who have a talent for friendship. My (late and very lamented) friend Roger Bennett, with whom I went to Harvard Business School, was so good at friendship that, in his 40s he was still in regular touch with people he went to school with at age 12, with people from all walks of life, tastes, social standing, income levels and preferences.

Roger could talk sports with some people, switch to an intellectual discussion of philosophy with others, share cooking tips with a third group. Lots of people considered Roger their best friend, and few people did not enjoy his company.

Yet he was never anything but himself. He was not a chameleon, acting differently just to blend in. He fit in everywhere because he was interested in a broad range of things.

The actress Angelina Jolie was interviewed on television and asked if she had to like the characters she was portraying in order to act them well. Her answer was brilliant. She said something like: “You can’t love everything about everyone. But there must be something there. The key is to find that one small slice of overlap between you and them, and focus intensely on that overlap, ignoring everything else.” I don’t know about acting, but that sounds like a perfect recipe for human relationships to me.

Someone can be your friend if you have anything in common. You don’t need a majority of things in common. There are none so lonely as those who dismiss others as “not my kind of person.” If someone else has to match you to be your kind of person, you will have few friends.

Notice, it’s not about pretending. It’s about actually working hard to find the area of mutual interest or common ground, whatever that might be. People can get very lazy at this, or unpracticed in doing it with politeness and sincerity.

For example, if I am in the wrong mood, I can find table talk at a dinner party to be an effort. I say to the person my left “And what are your hobbies?”

“Oh,” he or she might reply, “I love mountain climbing.”

At this point I have to fight an overwhelming desire to turn immediately the person on my right side to save me from having to ask a follow up question with the first person. Mountain climbing! Ye gods, this is going to be a long night!

Other people can and do immediately think of three or four follow-up questions (“Where do you go? Do you climb alone? What got you started in this?”) and can keep posing additional questions all evening long.

By the end of dinner, their table companion, who has done nothing but talk about himself or herself the whole time has come to think of the questioner as an enjoyable person to be around. He or she will look forward to meeting again.

So it is with business development and client relations. The most trusted advisors in every profession are not those who have a ready answer for every client problem, but those who can, through questions and conversational style, put the other person at ease, make them want to tell you about themselves and engage in a dialogue.

And just as in personal life, it is done not by trying to be impressive, but by learning how to show a genuine interest in other people and keep them talking, not primarily doing the talking yourself.

Can this habit be abused? Yes. Will it work if you are only faking it? No. Can you leave it out? No.

Surprisingly, it also turns out that you are also more likely to build a bond with someone by letting them help you than being too keen to try and help them. My wife, Kathy, is involved in a variety of handcraft groups. She reports that some of her most dedicated friendships began when she confessed her (relative) weaknesses and accepted help from others, whereas those she helped often resented (a little or a lot) having to seek out or accept her input.

Again, this matches client relationships and business development. You will accomplish more by saying to potential clients “I’m not sure I understand why you are doing things the way you do, could you explain it to me?” than you will by saying “If you’ll just shut up and listen, I’ll tell you the right answer to your problem.”

As professionals, we sometimes think that, to be impressive, we must demonstrate our competence by never revealing our weaknesses or areas of ignorance. This belief is incorrect. One of the ways you build friendships is to let people help you. Developing the self-control to do it that way is a lifelong learning process!

Start As You Mean To Begin

When I was young I thought that the way you made friends was by turning yourself into an interesting person. Eventually, I learned the truth: You don’t make people want to spend time with you because they feel good about you. You do it by making them feel good about themselves when they are with you.

For example, do people feel comfortable around you? (No, she’s always trying to be the center of attention.) Do they enjoy themselves when they are with you? (No, he’s always trying to win arguments and prevail.) Do they feel they can let their guard down and tell you how they really feel and what they are really worried about (No, because when I do people are always trying to take advantage of me. I don’t trust them to be really interested in me.)

None of this means you need to make people feel good by engaging in false flattery, which is soon detected and rejected. It means that you learn to talk and act in ways that make people feel comfortable and safe around you. They feel that you are on their side. That you can disagree and have lively debates without taking things personally, because the friendship matters more than anything else.

It turns out to be the same in business development. The key to getting hired is not convincing the client things about you (“I’m terrific, trust me!”) but being convincing that you will look after them.

It’s also worth pointing out that, with people, you get points for trying. It’s like a romantic relationship. You don’t have to be perfect. Your partner just wants to see that you’re sincerely trying to do the right thing. Your motives are more important than your abilities.

Friendship Attitudes and Behaviors

Abilities, however, do count and that’s where getting started early matters.

Suppose you wanted to be good at building romance, excelling at getting another person to work with you to build a mutually beneficial, mutually supportive relationship. What characteristics would make you good at this? Most of us have discovered that whether it be love, friendship or work, people respond best when they believe you are considerate, supportive, understanding and thoughtful.

These are easy words to say, but being viewed this way is not trivial. You actually have to earn the reward through your social habits. Many of us want to be considered as supportive, but that doesn’t mean we know what to do in order to be seen that way.

For example, to be seen as considerate you have to be able to remember to follow up with things that people told you about their lives last time you met, thus proving that you listened and paid attention. The classic example of this in business is to send along a newspaper clipping or article that you find that responds to something the other person made reference to.

To achieve the desired effect, this must not come across as, and must not be, a formulaic gesture. You don’t “cheapen the currency” by doing it all the time, and you must ensure that the clipping or article actually is useful so that you are not immediately seen to be making phony gestures.

It also helps to follow up with questions about what you were told last time you met, as long as you are skilled in phrasing your query (“How did it all work out with that guy you met?”) so that it comes across as concern and not as overly intrusive.

This is a delicate issue of language, which needs to be done differently with different people. They are not inherent talents, but habits of social intercourse. Habits that can only be developed with practice.

Social courtesy works in personal and business life. It is remarkably effective to remember to telephone your host or hostess the day or week after a party to say something like “I just wanted to say thank you for the party the other night. I had a great time. What time did you eventually get to bed after clearing up the mess we all made?”

Exactly how formally or informally this will be expressed is different in different parts of the world, and among different types of people, but the habit of expressing appreciation (and judging just how much is enough without being false) can — and must be — developed over a lifetime.

Similarly, it is remarkably powerful to call clients after a business meeting to say something like: “I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the opportunity to work with you. Thanks! See you next time, as planned.”

Done with a sensitivity to local culture and phraseology, such a call can go a long way to making the other person realize that you do not just see him or her as a “business contact,” but as a person with whom you want a friendly relationship. Not everyone will reciprocate, but the majority of people will.

If you do not develop the habit early in life, the act of making such a telephone call after a meeting could feel awkward and you will either leave it out or do it poorly, not quite creating the casual, comfortable “just a quick call between us friends” atmosphere that you wish to create.

For example, my old friend Roger was very good at working at staying in touch with everyone. He didn’t need an excuse to telephone. He would just pick up the phone to ask how everything was going. He did that to all his business clients as well as his friends. To him, there was no difference, and one context was no more difficult or embarrassing than the other. It was just the way he dealt with people.

To be viewed by other people as supportive also takes thought and careful attention to language. It is important to remember that friends don’t judge each other. They don’t evaluate. They don’t point out each others’ weaknesses. Even when asked directly (“Do I look fat in this?”), friends work hard to find the language that deflects criticism (“I like the other dress better.”)

Suppose that your friend has a child that is badly behaved. You don’t say “Your kid is a little horror!” nor “You’re raising that kid incorrectly”, even though both statements may be true. Instead, a friend might say something like “Have you ever thought about doing or saying ‘such-and-such’ to little Ashley?”

Having the ability to respond with the right phrase in real time takes practice, as do all social skills. Can you recall how difficult it was to find the right words and tone when you first wanted to signal to someone that you might be interested in a date? Can you imagine what it would be like if you still had to do it the same way today as you did that first time?

So it is with business development. If the first time you try to convince someone that you are interested in them and their business and want to help is when it is urgent for you to win business, you will be under too much pressure to learn it fast. Better to start practicing now, when there is less pressure for immediate results and more room to develop your own style, discovering what works for you.

Cheers! Skol! Salud!

In almost every society, ancient and modern, the cultural norm is to build friendships over food and drink. There is no more culturally accepted way to develop a friendship than to share a meal.

You want to be good at business development later in your career? Start inviting the people that you meet in the course of your work (whether they are powerful client executives, administrative assistants or anyone else) for coffee, lunch, a drink.

Ask them about their work lives and their personal lives. Do it as an exercise in developing your “curiosity muscles.” Do it as an exercise in asking good follow up questions about what people tell you. Do it to develop your ability to understand other people who are not like you. Do it now.

If your reaction is that doing so will not pay off for you immediately and therefore is not worth doing now, then you are missing the whole point about human relationships and you are going to be very bad at getting people to entrust you with their business.

If you only do things when it pays off for you in the short term, your attitude will be readily transparent. People will see that you view them “instrumentally,” interested in them only to the extent that you can get what you want. And if they detect this in you, they will give you what you want less often.

The key to business development success is making people believe that you are truly interested in a two-way relationship, and that you are willing to earn and deserve your relationship. You must first make deposits in the “trusting relationship bank” if you wish to make withdrawals later.

You will actually need to be willing to get interested in people and initiate relationships, and that means being willing to ask someone out for a drink without being self conscious about it. And the only way to get to that stage is to have a history of doing it!

One of the most important habits of friendship is taking the initiative and doing the inviting, not just waiting to be invited. Do you remember that from adolescence? The way you get people to ask you out for a drink is to ask them out for a drink first. If it feels uncomfortable the first time, and an act of tremendous courage, well, it is.

We all need to get to the stage that we can talk to someone we’re interested in (a client or a romantic prospect) without being frozen into inaction by our hopes and fears. The guidelines are well known. Keep it casual, keep it small, take it a step at a time, but get out there and start meeting people.

Yes, we hated it when our parents told us to do that as children and it doesn’t make it any less terrifying today, but the habits are identical and you don’t get better at them by going to a training program.

More Friendship Habits

People good at friendship work hard at developing joint habits and routines, whether it’s as simple as discussing “last night’s game” or going to the same place each time for a cup of coffee. For my friend Roger and me, regular sessions of playing cribbage (the card game) became our way of cementing and celebrating our bond. I rarely played the game with anyone else.

Good friends go out of their way to celebrate each others’ small triumphs and make it their business to be there in times of need for their friends. They stay alert for any opportunity to help, in ways big or small, without keeping track of who has done how much for whom. That’s exactly what happens in effective business development.

Clearly, there is more to say about friendship skills, but my purpose here is not to report everything you have to learn. Goodness knows, I have only learned a little of what I should have. The key lesson is that it is learnable. You don’t have to be a natural to get better at this.

And, for goodness sake, start earlier than I did!

Saludos cordiales
Renato Sánchez 3586 dep 10
Santiago, Chile

David Maister

it's Not How Good You Are, It's How Much You Want It

(about pdf)

by David Maister 2006

People often ask me about my career and what I have learned from it. There’s a lot to say, but here’s some of what happened and what it taught me.

As you will see, I think the lessons apply not only to individual careers, but also to firm strategy. I’ll tell my story, then explore the lessons for individuals, and finally use those lessons (toward the end of the article) to make some comments on firm strategies. But don’t skip ahead – it’s all connected!

Some Personal History

Like many people, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life when I left college. I took a job as a statistician because that’s what my undergraduate degree had been in. I soon discovered that it was neither my passion nor my area of special talent. So, because I couldn’t think of anything else to do, I went back to school for a Master’s degree, taking a teaching job to support myself.

Bingo! I discovered (without planning it this way) that while my studies were a chore, I loved teaching and happily did that for a number of years. I was still teaching statistics, which did take the edge off my excitement a little.

I had no idea what opportunity was going to come next – I considered a lot of things, and waited, eyes open. At one point I even applied to be a radio producer at the BBC. (I didn’t get the job.)

Then the chance came to do a doctorate degree course at the Harvard Business School. (I had been sent by my employer as a delegate to a course HBS was running in Europe.) I had never previously considered an academic career.

This was a big step, and one I was not sure I could pull off. Teaching in a local college is not the same as committing yourself to a career of producing original, scholarly research. I had never been top of my class in anything at any stage of my education (I still haven’t been) but – well, it was worth a shot!

The problem was that I had no money, so I could only make it work if I got a full scholarship. But which one should I apply for? There were generous scholarships available in a variety of specialties.

Two factors affected my choice. The first was my respect for a faculty member who was both impressive and helpful. (Thanks, Jim Heskett!) The fact that his area also offered the largest scholarship may also have had something to do with things!

That’s how I ended up spending the next six years as a specialist in logistics and transportation. My doctoral dissertation was about grain transportation in Canada, and I ended up writing three books on the trucking industry and one on the airline industry. Given my focus today, people are always surprised to learn about that part of my history.

Which is, of course, the point! Did I know when I started whether transportation was going to be a fulfilling field for me? No, I didn’t. Did I give it my full commitment and try to make it work for me? Absolutely. And when it became clear that this wasn’t my life’s calling, did I hunt around for the next chance to move on? You bet!

It came with the chance to return to HBS three years after graduation, but this time as a faculty member teaching management of service business and factory operations. (Yes, that was also a stretch, but you have to keep trying things, right?)

This was not as obvious a decision to make as it might now appear. I already had a good job in a good university, with friendly colleagues. Giving that up to join HBS was equivalent to signing up for the Olympic team. Not only would I have to work much harder and achieve higher standards, but also there was a very real chance that I would not make it. HBS has an up-or-out policy with very high standards for its faculty.

In spite of (or perhaps because of) the challenge, I took the new post. Eventually, at age 35, I started work on the topic that really turned out to be my passion – professional services.

I was 35! Had I not enjoyed the previous 14 years of my career since I obtained my undergraduate degree? Quite the contrary! It was by turns frightening and fulfilling, but it was always exciting.

One more personal story before we search for the lessons: I always wanted to be a published author. I remember that even in my college days, I thought how cool it would be to have someone who doesn’t know you read your ideas and know your name.

There was only one problem: the act of writing has always terrified me! Whenever I have some writing to do, I get agitated, sweat, and avoid the task like the plague. In spite of this, my consulting career was launched (and is sustained) on writing.

In my academic career, I had written a lot of books and articles, but I must confess it was always a case of “publish or perish.” I did it because that’s what academics are expected to do. However, I kept discovering that the topics didn’t really excite me.

Things began to change when I left academia to start my solo consulting business. I promised a magazine editor that I would write an article every month, knowing full well that I was committing myself to something that I would not necessarily enjoy, but which would get me where I wanted to go.

Having no choice, I lived up to my commitment and soon was being referred to as the guy who keeps writing all those articles. They weren’t all good, and few people liked all of them, but the key was that I got my audience used to the idea that there would be a new set of thoughts from me on a regular basis. The phone started to ring and my consulting career took off.

Force and Momentum

“Find your passion” is common career advice. But less frequently pointed out is how difficult this can be. You really need to work hard to find out what you can be passionate about. Unless you are very lucky, you may find that, like me, it takes many years to discover what really turns you on, long-term.

Successful people often appear to have had a rational career progression, with each step a seemingly sensible preparation for the next. The truth, however, is that most successful business careers have been based on experimentation and opportunism.

This is where business careers differ from careers in, say, sports and the arts. In those fields you usually have to pick an event or an instrument and dedicate yourself early to an almost exclusive focus on that choice.

Business careers are not like that. Did Richard Branson know he was going to found an airline or a telephone company when he started selling records? Did Bill Gates ever know what products Microsoft was going to offer in a few years’ time?

To succeed, you must be prepared to keep searching until you find out what truly excites you, even though there will be temptations along the way for you to give up your search.

After all, what you are doing at any given moment is almost by definition the result of a previous guess of yours as to what you thought would be fulfilling. So, it’s unlikely to be disastrous. It’s probably “OK.”

This is where the world divides into two groups of people. One group will stroll down the path labeled “It’s OK, so why change?” while another group will run down the path marked “It’s only OK, let’s find something better!”

My trainer once pointed out that to get the benefits of exercise, you must use force, not momentum. You don’t develop a muscle by letting momentum move the equipment – it’s the amount of force you apply that develops you.

The business equivalent is obvious. Career momentum can do a lot of the work for you and, indeed, carry you a long way. However, it is only when you add force to this that you create enhanced capability and extra achievement.

Actually, the conclusion is probably even stronger than that. Since even the most thrilling things become familiar after a while, passion and “engagement” will almost inevitably decline and there will be a life-long need to seek out new challenges. However, given the power of momentum, only those determined to get somewhere will actually do what it takes.

If you truly want to succeed (and many people do not want it badly enough to make it happen) then you must never settle, never give up, never coast, never just accept what is, even if you are currently performing at a high level.

If what you have now isn’t what you dream (or dreamed) of, then you must keep looking, experimenting, and adapting. You must always search for the next thing you think you can feel passionate about, so that you will have a burning reason to show the discipline and drive that will distinguish you.

Once you have found something to try, you must then throw yourself into it and work at it with as much commitment as you can muster until you can answer three questions:

  • Is it as exciting as I thought it was going to be?
  • Is there a market for this? (Will anyone pay me to do it?) and
  • Can I make a contribution that others are not (yet) making?

All three must be present to succeed. If any component is missing you must move on.

Living your professional life this way is not easy. Each step in my career often seems to other people like a terrific “step-up” accomplishment: giving up my statistics job to go get a master’s degree, signing up for a doctorate, joining the Harvard faculty, then later leaving it to become a solo consultant.

The truth, however, is that for me (as for most people) each successive step was a terrifying leap into the unknown, requiring me to abandon the security of what I had without any certainty (or even probability) that it was going to work.

Determination: The Only Sustainable Competitive Advantage

Sheer determination is the only explanation I can offer as to why I took these career risks. Looking back, I am amazed at the chances I took, and am grateful that they worked out (almost always with setbacks along the way.). I often feel that my career has been one of “stumbling upwards.”

There are no guarantees in life, and determination is only an essential ingredient, not a sufficient one. People try and some of them fail. But a lot more never try, and they cannot win.

The key lesson is that, for me and for others, lifelong drive and determination, the burning passion to get somewhere next, are the key ingredients in career success.

Did Richard Branson or Bill Gates (or anyone else) succeed mostly because they had higher IQ’s than anyone else? They are certainly very smart people. But what made them special and successful was clearly something else: discipline, ambition, passion, entrepreneurship, energy, enthusiasm, engagement, and a whole host of closely allied characteristics.

The point is worth stressing. In a free- market economy, what is rewarded is not inherent value, but scarcity (the relative supply and demand).) If many other people have what you have, then you cannot earn a premium or distinguish yourself just because you have it.

Intelligence, IQ, brains, and smarts are all important, but they are also more common than drive and determination. The latter will be more highly rewarded and also more determinative of future success.

And here’s the key: you can’t sustain lifelong drive and determination unless you are passionate about accomplishing something. Discipline for discipline’s sake won’t work.

These things also apply in most other walks of life. World-class athletes and artistic performers push themselves to the limit with repeated practice, training, and rehearsal. No matter how much natural talent they bring to the game, it is their determination to do what it takes to get there that makes people them distinctive. It is the most talented performers who practice the most.

It’s the willingness to keep trying, always committing yourself to getting better, whenever you have just stumbled – which is hard. What may be more critical, successful people keep stretching when they are already doing well – which is even harder!

Whether we are in our 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, or 60s (or beyond), the question that we must all address is: are we still trying to get somewhere? Do we have new worlds to conquer, and do we know what they are? It’s always worth examining this because, as Napoleon said: “Glory may be fleeting, but obscurity is forever.”

Bouncing Back

If people sometimes lose sight of the need for energy and “force” because their momentum is carrying them, they also lose drive and energy when they have to deal with setbacks. Things that didn’t really go so well. A missed promotion. Ungrateful superiors, colleagues, or clients who fail to acknowledge a contribution.

We all have setbacks, whether they were our fault or not. The question then becomes: What are you going to do now? Withdraw, or renew your efforts?

It’s tempting and completely understandable to conclude: “Ah, I’ve been trying but the struggle is too frustrating. Why bother? Look what happens every time I try to change things?”

It’s also tempting to beat yourself up. We have all lain awake at night thinking about mistakes we have made, things we could have done or said differently. Rather than dwell on any accomplishments they might have attained, people often tend to dwell on missed opportunities and failures.

All of this is, of course, quite useless – literally. Nothing productive can come from it. While we must not veer to the opposite extreme of always blaming external forces and other people for what happened to us, there is no point getting stuck in a “doom loop” of self-criticism.

You’re going to live with yourself for a long time. It’s your own good opinion of yourself that matters more than anyone else’s. Be kind to yourself. There are plenty of people out there prepared to judge you. Why do it for them?

The good news is that it’s amazing how many times you can mess up in life and still succeed. As Winston Churchill reportedly said: “Success is the ability to move from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

Another example – George Washington barely won a battle in the early years of the Revolutionary War. His greatest triumph was to prevail by not losing (and inspiring others not to give up, despite terrible defeats and narrow escapes). Just staying in the game led to victory.

The key skill in life is not “never make a mistake!!” That’s impossible. Rather, it is rebounding from (and fixing) your mistakes. Although it doesn’t always feel like it, you have a choice in how you react to things that happen to you. You can let them get to you or you can brush them off. “OK. I blew it. Time to move on.”

Lessons for the Firm

If moods, emotional states, and such characteristics as determination and enthusiasm are the keys to individual success, what does all this mean for companies and firms?

The most important lesson is that managers, if they are to serve their role, must, above all else, be net creators of energy, passion, drive, and enthusiasm in other people.

Even Jack Welch, the recently retired chairman and CEO of General Electric, who had a reputation for being a hard-driving boss, wrote (in his book Winning): “The job of any leader is to build self-confidence in the people around him. Make those people feel twelve feet tall. Clap for every achievement, no matter how small, with everybody around you. That’s a hell of a lot more important than some finite strategy.”

Unfortunately, in too many cases, managers, rather than being creators of excitement, end up being net destroyers of it. Managers have been encouraged and trained to focus on tasks, activities, outcomes, and accomplishments, but they are rarely trained to understand and influence people’s emotions, either as individuals or in groups.

For example, few business strategies are chosen because of (or tested against the criterion of) how motivating individuals and groups in the firm will find them. Product, service line, and location choices are still most frequently made on the detached, analytical grounds of “it’s an attractive market.”

The received approach to good corporate strategy remains one that stresses analytics, planning, and logical, rational thinking. Managers are frequently skilled at figuring out what their firms should be doing. It is less common to find managers who can get their people and their organization to go there.

I have previously observed (in “Strategy and the Fat Smoker,”) that the primary outcome of strategic planning should not be analytical insight or smart choices, but a superior resolve to accomplish something.

Too few organizations, and too few individuals, have implemented the basic insight of this article: He or she wins who gets more done, and he or she gets more done who passionately wants to get to the next level of accomplishment. Creating and sustaining that ambition is management’s primary task. It’s obvious, but it’s still scarce.

How well does your firm stack up against these behaviors and states of mind?

  • New challenges are eagerly, continuously sought out.
  • The firm and its people never rely on momentum for their success, but are always seeking to build new capabilities.
  • Compared to key competitors, the people in the firm are distinguished by a superior, burning passion to get somewhere new.
  • The firm emphasizes and requires adaptability, flexibility, and responsiveness as key virtues.
  • The firm’s strategies are created through continued and repeated experimentation.
  • The firm is markedly superior in creating (not just hiring for) energy, excitement, enthusiasm, drive, determination, passion, and ambition.
  • Service offerings, locations, and operating units are repeatedly assessed against the three key criteria: Do the people in the firm find this exciting? Are we making money? Are we doing something special that others are not doing?
  • There is a restless refusal to accept “It’s OK.” People never settle, never give up, never coast.
  • The firm sustains energy and investment actions both when things have gone badly and when things are going relatively well.
  • The firm does not judge its performance by the levels of its accomplishments, but by the “relative incline”: whether or not it is improving relative to competitors on the characteristics it has chosen to compete on.
  • Management is held accountable for its ability to create and sustain drive, enthusiasm, passion, ambition, commitment, and excitement, and instills these things in the individual members and groups that make up the organization. Managers who cannot do this are replaced.

Yes, these are tough standards. But if individual success is based on outperforming others on determination, it surely follows that an organization that cannot create and sustain it must be in trouble, no matter how much organizational momentum it has.

Last Thoughts

A final autobiographical note. In my mid-50s, after having written a book per year for three years in a row, I suddenly found myself without energy. The lethargy lasted for more than two years, and I have never been so miserable in my entire life.

It turned out that I had sleep apnea, a medical condition that meant I hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in two years or more. There was (I understood only in retrospect) a reason that I had been physically and mentally exhausted. With treatment, my energy bounced back, and I’m writing again, great things are happening in my career, and I’m having a ball.

As the Anthony Newley / Leslie Bricusse song goes: I’m going to build a mountain / I’m going to build it high / I don’t know how I’m going to do it / I only know I’m going to try.

Saludos cordiales
Renato Sánchez 3586 dep 10
Santiago, Chile

Jefe de Bancada UDI: La Concertación ha aplicado la "ley mordaza"

Pongale nota :

Jefe de Bancada UDI: La Concertación ha aplicado la "ley mordaza"

El nuevo Jefe de Bancada UDI, diputado José Antonio Kast criticó el doble estándar del PPD, ya que según manifestó, este partido "se llena la boca" proclamando que "ellos lucharán contra los corruptos", cuando lo primero que hacen es expulsar a quien se atreve a denunciar esos mismos actos".

Kast precisó que "hay que aclarar quién miente al interior del PPD, pues hay una contraposición en las versiones de la "ideología de la corrupción" denunciada por Schaulsohn", recordando que "la Presidenta nos anunció un paquete de medidas de probidad y hasta ahora la única ley que ha aprobado la Concertación es la "ley mordaza", porque aquí al que denuncia lo silencian y al que comete actos de corrupción, lo protegen".

Agregó "que no puede ser que habiendo cinco diputados de la Concertación de la quinta región cuestionados por los programas de empleo, ninguno de ellos haya sido sancionado por el tribunal supremo como fue sancionado Schaulsohn. Se dice que ellos no pueden pronunciarse antes de que haya una resolución judicial. En el caso del ex presidente del PPD no hubo ninguna resolución judicial previa para que lo expulsaran del partido".

Finalmente, dijo que "hace poco menos de un mes la Presidenta nos dijo que quería que su gobierno fuera transparente como una pecera. La verdad es que de transparencia queda bastante poco y hoy vemos una pecera limpia, pero pasado de año nuevo lo más probable es que no se vea nada, porque el ambiente político es bastante turbio".

Saludos cordiales
Renato Sánchez 3586 dep 10
Santiago, Chile

desde areajuridica: robo de identidad.

Qué es el robo de identidad?

por Humberto CarrascoÚltima modificación 27/12/2006 00:24

Andrés Pumarino M. Abogado Profesor Magíster en TI y Gestión PUC www.pumarino.cl

¿Qué es el robo de identidad?

Según medios de prensa hace unas semanas fue detenida una banda que se dedicaba a la clonación de tarjetas de crédito de los hechos se descubrió que más 1000 personas fueron estafadas, 960 tarjetas clonadas, cerca de $ 7.500 millones en perjuicios. Se descubrieron tres bases de datos de 3.300 clientes de un importante Banco de la plaza, esto nos lleva a preguntarnos ¿Ausencia de medidas de protección? ¿Se generaron Políticas de seguridad

Hasta no hace mucho tiempo, cuando un ladrón robaba la billetera o porta documentos, el dinero era lo único que pretendía. Eso esta cambiando, hoy lo más valioso es el número tarjeta de cajero crédito, de débito, cheques y cualquier otro documento que contenga sus datos personales.

En el transcurso de un día normal, las personas entregan información al hacer transacciones en persona, por teléfono y online para efectuar la compra de productos y servicios. Si esta información confidencial cae en manos de un delincuente, podría utilizarse para robarle su identidad financiera y realizar muchas de las actividades en nombre suyo.


Nadie esta a salvo del mal uso que se puede hacer de esta información ni podemos tener la certeza de que nunca le robarán su identidad, lo importante es conocer los métodos existentes para reducir las probabilidades de que usted se convierta en una víctima y qué medidas puede tomar si llegara a ocurrir.


Lamentablemente, la mayoría de las personas no se enteran que han sido víctimas de robo de identidad hasta que solicitan un crédito y se los niegan, o comienzan a llegar estados de cobros que no se conocían o se quiere contratar el servicio de telefonía celular y no se puede.


En Chile tenemos la ley 20.009 del 1º de abril del 2005, que limita la responsabilidad de los usuarios de tarjetas de crédito por operaciones realizadas con tarjetas extraviadas, hurtadas o robadas. Esta ley señala que los tarjeta habientes de tarjetas de crédito emitidas por instituciones financieras o de casa comerciales, podrán limitar su responsabilidad en los términos que hace referencia esta ley dando aviso oportuno al organismo emisor.


El emisor de tarjetas de crédito debe proveer al tarjeta habiente de los servicios de comunicación, de acceso gratuito y permanente que permitan recibir los mencionados avisos. Es importante destacar que esta ley señala que  las cláusulas de los contratos que impongan el deber de prueba sobre el tarjeta habiente, por operaciones realizadas con posterioridad al aviso de extravío se tendrán por no escrita.


El tarjeta habiente no tendrá responsabilidad por las operaciones realizadas con posterioridad al aviso o noticia entregada al emisor sin perjuicio de la responsabilidad penal que corresponda.


El término Robo de Identidad se ha utilizado para todos los tipos de conductas en los cuales un individuo obtiene y utiliza ilícitamente los datos personales de otra persona, como por ejemplo su nombre, número de cedula de identidad, número de tarjeta de crédito u otra información de identificación, de forma tal que implica fraude o engaño, generalmente para beneficio económico.


Las quejas comunes relacionadas con el Robo de Identidad, son el fraude con Tarjetas de pago, servicios no autorizados de servicios públicos o teléfono, fraude bancario, préstamos fraudulentos, documentos o beneficios gubernamentales.


Pero también nos encontramos con las estafas de robo de identidad más utilizadas; sorteos falsos u obras de beneficencia falsificadas. Trabajos en el hogar que ofrecen ganar dinero fácil. Tarjetas de pago, protección de crédito u ofertas de reparación de créditos falsos. Estrategias de Pirámide (en las que se paga a los primeros "inversionistas" con el dinero de otra persona). Ofertas de viajes a tarifa reducida u ofertas con descuento en revistas y estafas de Becas.


Los delincuentes obtienen la Información personal de los usuarios, por regla general  robando billeteras y carteras que contienen su identificación y tarjetas bancarias y de crédito. Robando correspondencia, incluyendo estados de cuenta del banco y de las tarjetas de crédito, ofertas de tarjetas de crédito preaprobadas, cheques nuevos e información sobre impuestos.

Llenando un "formulario de cambio de dirección" para desviar la correspondencia a otro lugar. Hurgando en la basura o en los desperdicios de negocios, para obtener datos personales en una actividad conocida como "búsqueda en basureros" ("dumpster diving"). Obteniendo de forma fraudulenta su informe de crédito y haciéndose pasar por el dueño de una propiedad, por un empleador o por alguien que tiene una necesidad legítima de obtener la información, y el derecho legal para hacerlo.

Buscando su información personal en su casa. Utilizando la información personal que usted comparte por Internet.  Utilizando técnicas de estafas por e-mail tales como "Phishing" (web sites falsos duplicados para robar datos personales), haciéndose pasar por compañías u agencias gubernamentales legítimas con las que usted hace negocios. Obteniendo información sobre usted de su lugar de trabajo, en una actividad conocida como "robo de expedientes comerciales", al robar archivos de oficinas de las que usted es cliente, empleado, paciente o estudiante; sobornando a un empleado que tiene acceso a sus archivos; o utilizando la piratería informática ("hacking") para ingresar a archivos electrónicos. Dado lo anterior tome siempre los resguardos debidos en caso de pérdida o extravío de algún documento como los mencionados anteriormente, ello le puede ahorrar varios problemas en el futuro.

Saludos cordiales
Renato Sánchez 3586 dep 10
Santiago, Chile