Wednesday, April 22, 2009

And The Winner Is...

So we were fortunate enough a few weeks ago to get icon Bill George who many may recognize as former Medtronic CEO, Harvard professor, and best-selling author, to serve as the judge in what we called The Bill George Challenge. I first mentioned something about it here in a post called: Semper Fi & The Challenge of Leadership

The Challenge was for members to tell Bill what they would have to change about their leadership style to adapt to a more participatory management practice. What role models would they reference? How would they measure the result to assess whether the effort to make such a change was worthwhile for themselves and their organization — would specific behaviors or aspects of the culture also change?

The responses from the membership were incredible, and while there can only be one winner (he gets to be Bill George's guest at HSM's World Business Forum) I am sure that we'll put together a collection of the responses to share.
For now, however, I wanted to thank our winner and former Healthcare CEO, Jay Jarrell, for giving us the okay to let the readers here gain from his thoughts on the subject. Here is what Jay had to say. Once read, it is easy to see why Bill George picked it.

Mr. George,

There is an old adage about having to step inside the shoes of another to understand that person's actions. I believe this understanding is the starting point for practicing participatory management. Asking questions, such as what would motivate me to participate or what would make me work harder, have always guided me in eliciting stronger participation from my staff and others. I have always found that it is my responsibility to create not only the environment for all to participate, but also, to have that occur.

From this beginning, it is a matter of having the generosity to reward success and share the financial success, the patience to listen and communicate, the good sense to encourage, the intelligent curiosity to probe and ask questions, the diligent work ethic to demonstrate personally the more routine daily actions of making sure all that I can make happen in an outstanding way does happen, and the character and integrity to reward.

I am constantly finding myself falling short of practicing what I preach. Believing in participatory management and its benefits is easy, as are having most of the characteristics I described above and practicing them. However, there are two characteristics that I find I typically over time short change.

I often don't take the time to personally reward, believing the receipt alone of previously agreed upon monetary or other awards is sufficient. Also, I find myself not making the effort each day to make the contacts to ensure all of the strategic steps of a certain goal are occurring as well as possible.

To correct the above, I have begun writing out each evening a daily plan for the next day to make sure I practice each of those steps.

President Obama has been inspiring whether you agree with him on all policies or not, and in these dire economic times, he will have to become even more so. I intend to take inspiration from him and try to communicate better a vision and hope for better times.

Measuring the benefit of practicing participatory management may be somewhat subjective, but I can see it clearly. Certainly, achieving your revenue and profitability goals or chosen other specific goals that are quantifiable are a great indication, but industry or even national or international economic crises, as we are now incurring, can prevent financial goals from occurring. I can see the benefit of having practiced good participatory management in the constant flow of ideas and suggestions on a daily basis.

If personnel at all levels down to the lowest are not comfortable in greeting me by my first name, if they are not comfortable being able to tell me their ideas or even just what is oing on at their level that day and how it can help achieve certain company goals, and if they are not completely knowledgeable of the company's goals and the problems the company is facing that month, then I have not achieved my goal.

Those cultural changes of all employees knowing what I know and enthusiastically participating in the achievement of company goals are measurement enough.

The philosophy I try to follow comes from playing and following sports. It's the team that wins or loses, not the individual. By including all employees in my circle, by empowering them with as much knowledge and information as possible, by communicating the company's goals, and then by offering significant rewards and recognition for their achievement, I've used as much leverage as I can bring. The more people a company has working together and intensely toward shared goals, the greater its chance for success.

Thank you for this opportunity.
Jay Jarrell
Congratulations Jay, enjoy the forum. New York in October is a great place to be.

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