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A RING FOR GEORGIA TECHTo the Editor:Atlanta‘s executive leadership is certainly to be applauded for winning-over intense competition-the city’s selection …

A RING FOR GEORGIA TECH

To the Editor:

Atlanta‘s executive leadership is certainly to be applauded for winning-over intense competition-the city’s selection by the International Olympic Committee as the site of the 1996 Olympic Games. Your “Native Know-How” [CE, April 1992] gave due credit to the local business and political leaders who contributed to this remarkable feat.

However, no reference was made to Dr. Patrick Crecine, president of the Georgia Institute of Technology, who directed and personally contributed to the development of the interactive video extravaganza selling Atlanta‘s bid for this prestigious event. Dr. Crecine’s role in this chapter of the Olympics will continue to be important as he oversees the preparation and management of the Georgia Tech campus as the site of the Olympic Village and venue for some of the competitive events.

The Georgia Tech administration and faculty, under Dr. Crecine’s guidance and responsibility, have accepted an assignment to develop a strategic plan for the massive movement of spectators and athletes to and from the many venues throughout the Atlanta area.

Without the influence of Dr. Crecine and the availability of the Georgia Tech campus for the Olympic Village, the odds are high that Atlanta would not have been selected as the site of the 1996 Olympics.

L. Terrell Sovey

Georgia Tech, Class of 1952

Spartanburg, SC


CAN THE COMPARISONS

To the Editor:

I enjoyed participating in the “Getting To Team” roundtable in January [CE, April 1992], and I have a few comments. I think the analogies that business people make are quite often inappropriate. We have overworked the use of military and/or athletic comparisons. I say this because, to my way of thinking, the results of an individual’s participation in a military endeavor (for example, landing aircraft on an aircraft carrier) or playing on the winning team in sports (“no stars, we all played as part of the team”) is almost immediately recognizable to each participant. This is not the case in the world of business.

One other point on teamwork: The “leader” must be honest in his words and deeds, otherwise his communication link to the members of the team will be ineffective and perhaps even shunned with cynicism. I put this value of honesty even higher than visibility which is often referred to as “management by walking around.”

Richard M. Clarke

Chairman and Chief Executive

AKZO

Dobbs Ferry, NY


TAKING THE INITIATIVE

To the Editor:

I found your roundtable article, “Getting To Team,” particularly interesting, since the process of top team-building has been the thrust of our work for over 20 years.

I would like to comment on some of the topics raised at the roundtable. A change is now taking place, bigger than anything in U.S. business history. America is stumbling in the direction of Japanese team-style management, which is implemented by CEOs who plan for the long term, make commitments, and follow through on them.

These executives have learned that good decision making requires the initiative to act in three distinct stages. The first is the initiative of attending, which represents the preference for definition, research, analysis and study. The executive who follows this initiative only is a careful, long-term planner who measures the risks against the benefits before taking action. He is well-prepared when he decides to act, but he risks losing business to lightning-fast competitors. Japan‘s business culture tends to revolve around this type of CEO, even though he is often accused of being theoretical, uncompetitive and unmotivated. The second is the initiative for intending, which represents the preference for control, discipline, purpose and the desire to make things happen. This is a middle-of-the-road approach to decision making. The executive gives special emphasis to having a clear and firm purpose. He evaluates the situation carefully, but is also willing to take risks. In Japan, this type of CEO is a respected and purposeful person, while in America, he is portrayed as an enterprise constrainer, controller and inhibitor.

Finally, there is the initiative of committing, which represents the preference for taking the opportunity now in terms of buying, selling, signing and spending. Here, the chief executive deems the risks to be secondary, and he rushes to capture the prize, the contract, the sale before his competitors can. This type of chief executive has been the hero of American business for many decades, but that state of affairs is slowly starting to change as more long-term planners move into chief executive offices.

Finding any one individual who takes equal initiative in all three stages of the decision-making process is rare. In most cases there is a definite orientation toward one of the three stages. Action profiles of 20,000 executives in a variety of cultures show that each executive has a pronounced disposition toward one or the other initiatives. It is, therefore, in the chief executive’s best interest to have other managers in the team who complement-not copy-his attitude toward decision making.

Once companies recognize the need for more CEOs who can build a well-balanced team, there will truly be a transformation in American business and a transition to a new stage of world leadership.

Warren Lamb

President

Warren Lamb Associates

Claremont, CA

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