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CEO Daily Brief – Nov. 2, 2010

Management Lessons from the Castoffs and Misfits of the Champion San Francisco Giants The San Francisco Giants, who had not …

Management Lessons from the Castoffs and Misfits of the Champion San Francisco Giants

The San Francisco Giants, who had not won a World Series since moving from New York to California in 1958, and whose team’s slogan was “torture” – are baseball’s newest champions. What are some of their management secrets beyond excellent pitching?

Inder Sidhu, senior vice president of Strategy & Planning for Worldwide Operations at Cisco, says the Giants’ roster is filled with individuals that other teams either overlooked or did not want.

How did the organization turn them into winners? It provided opportunities for individuals to shine while building a foundation of cohesive teamwork. While that might sound easy, anyone who has ever managed a team knows it isn’t.

In organizations that prioritize the collective, new ideas are often smothered and groupthink frequently prevails. When this happens, individuals lose their drive to aspire for greatness. As a result, mediocrity often settles in.

Similarly, organizations dominated by superstars have their own problems. When jumbo-sized egos take over, teams lose their unity and sense of purpose. Without shared organizational goals, individuals focus more on their own glory than on team pursuits. When this occurs, internal strife often results.

While inspiring individual performers to aim high, manager Bruce Bochy has also promoted an atmosphere of inclusion and camaraderie. To read more about the Giants’ strategy as explained in the Huffington Post, please click here.

Managing Creative People Is Difficult

Managing creative people is difficult, not just because creativity is rare and the people who possess it chafe at being managed but because establishing a market for creative work is one of the hardest things to do in business. Venture capitalists know this when they install seasoned executives to guide young founders; Eric Schmidt at Google, for example, and Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook.

Similarly, Hollywood will often pair a hard-headed business type with a creative genius. Steven Spielberg’s career took off under the guidance of Sid Sheinberg, a fierce lawyer who ran MCA/Universal. And book publishing’s best-known agent, Andrew Wylie, is nicknamed “the Jackal” for his aggression and tenacity on behalf of clients. The Rolling Stones required three very different kinds of managers: the first to validate them within a highly competitive industry, and then to establish them in the public eye; the second to usher them into the big time; and the third to build a protective fort around their steady-state operations and ensure their long-term survival and profitability. To read more about managing the creative employee, as reported in FT, with resonance far beyond music, please click here.

Pitney Bowes CEO Murray Martin Advises Managers to Act Like a Customer Yourself

Murray Martin, CEO of Pitney Bowes, says understanding customers is crucial for any business. “Today my first rule is that you must act like a customer yourself. I insist on personally using our products and finding out what works and what doesn’t and where we create pain for our customers. Firsthand experience definitely helps me understand,” he says. My second rule is to speak to customers about their goals, experiences and challenges and ask directly how they see those things progressing.

We’ve asked what technology capabilities we had and how we could apply them to other areas. We moved from indicating postage to ensuring the quality of the address on the envelope. Then that led us into location intelligence, mapping physical addresses and helping companies make better business decisions through a greater understanding of each location on a map. We looked at our encryption technology, because we print more than $20 billion of currency every year and have to ensure that every time we print it’s unique and can be identified and validated as an original.

As I look at strategy, I look at all those capabilities and see a lot of potential business opportunities that our organization can understand and effectively deliver on. We have to understand the future and continuously innovate and create new processes for the ways we do things, as well as new products and services that we can offer by applying technologies. To read more of Martin’s business strategy as reported by Forbes, please click here.

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