Real Life MBA

Suzy Welch is a noted journalist and is a management consultant with Bain & Company. Jack Welch is often called the greatest CEO in America. He began his career with GE in 1960 and became the Chairman and CEO in 1981.

p. 3-4 “Why is it so hard to get everyone on the same page?  All it takes is alignment and leadership. The answer is mission, behaviors and consequences.”

Note: In our work with development shops, we are discovering a lack of alignment. There has been little conversation about the organizations “WHY” and how the individual team members own “WHY’s” aligns -- what inspires a person to get up in the morning!.  Also lacking is the conversations about accountability (behaviors and consequences).

They continue, “Mission pinpoints an organization’s destination – where you are going and why. Behaviors are the ways in which employees need to think, feel, communicate and act in order to make the mission more than a plaque on the wall. Consequences put some teeth into the system.”

Note: To reach top performance in a development shop, these conversations must take place and be clarified for each team member.

p.5 “When alignment happens, there’s no more running in circles.  There’s progress: that is what happens when grind (drama) gets out of the game.”

p.14 The Welches have a lot to say about clarity and honesty in performance evaluations.  They believe explaining consequences is a critical piece. They write, “You can huff and puff and holler all your want about mission and behaviors, but if there aren’t organizational mechanisms to reinforce them, you’re like the proverbial tree falling in the forest.” Here is how they recommend a candid performance review:

“1. Here’s how you’re helping us achieve the mission, and here’s how you could do better.  2. Here’s how you’re demonstrating the behaviors we need, and here’s what you could do better. 3. Here’s how your salary and bonus and your future here reflect what I’ve just said.”

Note:  Our experience is that there is a real weakness in development shops when it comes to evaluations.  We have seen many different forms, processes and strategies to evaluate performance. The Welches provide a simple, candid communication tool that is effective.

pp. 27-28.  They spend time in this book talking about how to fix problems in an organization.  They say you must first “own your whack.”  They write, “Distracted, frightened, depressed people can’t fix anything.” They recommend getting an outside voice to look objectively at your situation to give you insights. They suggest creating task forces to help teambuilding and inspiration. They give an example of one group that created a task force to research what make top performers:  Their findings: insanely hard work, a defeat-ist impossible attitude and a passion to the be the best.  That’s how Secretariat won by 31 lengths.  They recommend every leader ask these questions, “Is hiring that person going to help us win by 31 lengths? Is going to that conference going to help us win by 31 lengths?”

Note:  Organizations spend a great deal of money sending individuals to conferences. While there is value there for the individual, it is our experience that the knowledge gained is often put on the bookshelf and not shared with the rest of the team. The Welchs recommend that money can be better spent on the team with focus on wisdom gathering. What they mean by this is bringing experts to you that will benefit the whole team. One of our clients, the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, teaches this model. They bring top experts to their site to discuss topics from a wisdom perspective...this way the whole team benefits.

pp. 38-39.  Interestingly, they encourage one to worry more productively.   Asked if it is stupid to worry, they write, “It is only stupid to worry about worrying.  It’s smart to worry as long as you nail down what you’re worried about – and face it.”

Note: At Crouch & Associates we practice the power of the pause.  When we are worried about a strategy, a client or our own business objectives, we step back, pause and face it head own. Sometimes our work gets in the way. This is where wisdom prevails over knowledge.

pp. 43-45.  They are insistent that every organization must grow. “Growth is a mindset. Every person must come to work every day knowing you’re a growth company. If you don’t think this every day, it won’t happen.” The Welch’s suggest six (6) powerfully effective catalysts for growth: 1. Bring in fresh eyes. 2. Whatever you do, don’t sprinkle resources. 3. Redefine innovation so that it is everyone’s job. 4. Put your best people on growth initiatives. 5. Compensate people for the right things. 6. Co-opt growth resisters – by any means necessary.

Note:  So many fundraisers feel the pressure of needing growth in their numbers every year; yet, they do the same things over and over again. These six catalysts will work in development offices. On page 47, they write we often don’t know what we don’t know.

p. 109.  Speaking of sales, they say the only way to beat the competition is to provide, “killer service.”  They refer to this as “Expertise and guidance.  Genuine interest and Insight. It is a partnership all over again.

Note:  I maintain that the most critical aspect of retaining donors is stewardship. The most powerful aspect is genuine partnership relations with donors. It comes from handwritten notes of thanks from board members. It grows as a development officer learns the “WHY” of the donor. It comes from adopting your language to fit their language.  In other words, knowledge meets wisdom.

pp. 142-146.  Hiring is critical according to Jack and Suzy.  They put great emphasis on “hiring deliberately.”  In this section called HIRING 101, they write: “Great teams start with great players; that’s why hiring is so darn important. To bad it’s so hard.” To be in the superhero territory of good hiring, they believe that if you get 60% of your new hires right and 80% of your promotions right, you are in good shape. They offer these guidelines:  1. Hire someone passionate about your passion. 2. Hire someone with a high IQ, thinking and emotional. 3. Personality matters. 4. Avoid drama-seekers and people with negative energy. 5. Really check references; we mean really!

Note:  At Crouch & Associates we see a crisis in hiring among nonprofits and educational institutions for development professionals.  That is why we have created a specific assessment tool to help identify the strengths of candidates. The pool of qualified prospects is small.  There is little vocational conviction in this profession among the majority of individuals in the field. We are determined to help grow the pool and strengthen those who have potential for a successful development career.

pp. 179-180.  It is evident that the Welch’s have found career karma. They discuss a career assessment process called AREA OF DESTINY. How does it work? They write: “Imagine your life as two superhighways. One course with the stuff you’re very good at - the other with the stuff you really love to do. Now, imagine those superhighways intersecting.  Right there – at the overlap of your capabilities and your happiness – lies the site where ideally you should build your career.”

Note: Wow! That is what has happened to me. I thought my ultimate job was to be a college president. I thoroughly enjoyed my 22 years in that role. But now I have found what I think is my destiny: Serving those who serve others by helping development professionals become top performers. I love seeing growth in professionals. I love the ripple effect our work at Crouch & Associates has in impacting lives. I get up every morning with a new spring in my step. Don’t we all want that?

pp. 201-211.  They conclude with what they think every boss wants to see in their employees:  1. Don’t deliver… Overdeliver. 2. Volunteer for Hard Duty. 3. Be Prepared and Speak Up. 4. Make Sure You’re Tech-Current. 5. Get Real About Mentors.  6. Love Everyone.

Note: This is advice from two people who supervised thousands.  At our firm we never want to teach anything we do not ourselves practice. I am fortunate to have a team which follows all six of these guidelines.  Do you and your boss follow these guidelines? Have you let those you mentor know that these are valuable guidelines to follow throughout their career?  Imagine a team in which everyone's a winner!!