vendredi 25 novembre 2011

Post-it war

Paris, La defense – The phenomenon took place in Summer 2011 and was initiated by Unisoft and BNP – the concept is clear : design characters from comics and cartoons with simple Post-it and try to be better than the competitor building in front of you…

More and more firms got involved this big game in which employees take part with enthusiasm. The event created a real buzz on Facebook - more than 6000 likes in three days, today more than 45 000 likers – and French medias follow it since the beginning.

Even if it looks totally counterproductive, a real waste of time and money - when post-it has been replaced by emails and bugdet for furnitures become more and more tough – this new activity seems to have real vertues for employees. Indeed, it allows them to relax by having fun and reinforce their motivation and cohesion within the team and then outside with those who play the game against them.  Also, it reinforces the corporate feeling of employees who are proud to defend their company against their evil competitors…

It is for this reason that well-known French firms like Renault, SFR, Citroen, Haribo and SNCF decided to take part to the game. Even more, PricewaterhouseCoopers offices in Paris dedicated a whole room to this original and pleasant activity.

Do you think it is a good way of managing people?

jeudi 17 novembre 2011

Who did what?

Link the idea to the person.
Don't cheat! Try to remember who worked on what.
When you’re finished, give us the answers. We will tell you if it’s right or wrong.
Have fun!

1) Adam Smith
2) Taylor
3) Mc Gregor
4) Fiedler
5) Mintzberg
6) Lewin
7) Holland
8) Hersey
9) Gantt
10) Pfeffer

a) X and Y theory
b) Division of work
c) Planning chart
d) Scientific management
e) Power in organization
f) Change process
g) Contingency model of leadership
h) Typology personality/job
i) Model of the situational leadership
j) Roles of a manager

mercredi 9 novembre 2011

IKEA way of managing

As you know, the way of managing is partly influenced by the culture of the country. People are unconsciously raised with a certain culture characterized by some customs and habits which have an impact on the human being. Geert Hofstede (2 October 1928 in Haarlem, Netherlands), an influential Dutch social psychologist and anthropologist, has played a major role in developing a systematic framework for assessing and differentiating national cultures and organizational cultures (website link :

He classified the countries according five major points, determined by a report studying the behavior of IBM employees in 70 countries, which are:

-         Power Distance Index (PDI) : that is the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions (like the family) accept and expect that power is distributed unequally
-       Individualism (IDV) : it measures if people are used to work alone or prefer working in a group
-      Masculinity (MAS) : versus its opposite, femininity, refers to the distribution of roles between the genders which is another fundamental issue for any society to which a range of solutions are found
-        Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI) : it measures the level of uncertainty people can accept and to what extent they are willing to take risks
-            Long-Term Orientation (LTO): versus Short-Term Orientation depends on the level managers think, rather in a long term way or in a short one.

A good manager has to be aware of these characteristics before thinking about working with or in another one located abroad. Yet, some companies succeed in applying their way of managing all over the globe which can sometimes be a key of their success.

For instance, the well-known brand IKEA, the world’s larger furniture retailer, presents in 3 countries, has developed its success around its design products and its original ‘Scandinavian lifestyle’ which convinced both customers and employees.

The Swedish model spreads worldwide

According to Hofsede, the Swedish power distance index is low, which means the hierarchy is not that specified with many levels. Besides, masculinity is very low as well, which means people are preoccupied by emotional issues rather than by facts.

This is the way the company is organized, with the minimum of hierarchy. They emphasized the personality of people they hire, with a real will to hire people with their own characteristics.
It has a strong almost ethnocentric Swedish corporate culture following a home based internationalization strategy.  The great challenge of the organization as it becomes larger and more diverse through the years is how to keep the core founding values alive. To make it right, it simply reproduces its way of managing in all the countries, which sometimes has been a real issue.

For example, in the European countries, such as France and Spain (the two tables among) which, even if they have some differences of culture (France has a high power distance index), succeed in adopting the IKEA culture. At the contrary, IKEA have had some difficulties in convincing the US of its corporate culture and struggled to tap the market (consumers have different expectations, competitors are numerous…).

Another question : if and how individuals with differences in background as race, gender, physical ability, ethnicity, sexual orientation and age all can subscribe to the shared corporate values of IKEA and find it a good place to work?

This contradiction is not an error from IKEA, it goes with its orientation of diversity management. There must be non-negotiable differences of gender, ethnicity etc. in order for it to make sense, to speak of diversity. At the same time, these differences must be negotiable in order for it to make sense to manage them in a coherent corporation.

Accepting the paradox, whether explicitly or implicitly opens a field of possibilities, one of which is the practice displayed in the web pages of IKEA. We might inquire, however, if this paradox is specific to the diversity management practice of IKEA.

mardi 1 novembre 2011

Apple vs. Google: Battle of the Management Styles

With the recent death of Steve Jobs and our previous articles concerning Google's management style, we find interesting to compare these two companies' ways to motivate their employees. 

Apple Computer is getting a lot of press these days, but the focus isn’t always on its computers, iPhone, or ubiquitous iPods. Rather, various sources have written about how Apple is run very much like a traditional top-down company. People are told what to do and then sent off to do it. If they do a bad job, they may get yelled at by the boss.

Who would have guessed?
Since reading about Apple’s old-time management style, I can’t help watching the “I’m a Mac, and I’m a PC” TV commercials more closely to see if the cool Mac guy has bloodshot eyes from crying in his cubicle.
According to Leander Kahney, author of a recent essay in Wired magazine titled “How Apple Got Everything Right By Doing Everything Wrong“:
“Whereas the rest of the tech industry may motivate employees with carrots, Jobs is known as an inveterate stick man. Even the most favored employee could find themselves on the receiving end of a tirade. Insiders have a term for it: the “hero-shithead roller coaster.” Says Edward Eigerman, a former Apple engineer, “More than anywhere else I’ve worked before or since, there’s a lot of concern about being fired.”
Apple’s management style seems the polar opposite from what we hear takes place at most modern tech firms, including the world’s most powerful brand, Google. Leander Kahney writes:
“Google’s engineers have unprecedented autonomy; they choose which projects they work on and whom they work with. And they are encouraged to allot 20 percent of their work week to pursuing their own software ideas. The result? Products like Gmail and Google News, which began as personal endeavors.”
Google’s management style sounds idyllic, but I bet the reality of the situation isn’t so rosy. I’m certain there are some team members no one wants to work with and a bunch of projects that need to get done that no one wants to do. I suspect there are even days when the catered meals need salt and the massage therapist’s hands are cold.
From a talent management perspective, I think the Google style may work for Google but is at the experimental stage elsewhere. It’s not yet certain such a high level of freedom leads to greater happiness among employees or a more creative and productive team. Economists would surely say that, given such freedom, team members will inevitably choose individual self interests over what’s best for their colleagues or the company.
The opposite approach, though, of beating employees with a stick, will only be endured by the employee until a better job comes along. Making matters worse, when that employee does leave, he or she will be bitter and will do all he can to hurt the company.

So which type of management do you think is the best ? 
Is it better to motivate people by letting them do what they want and have a certain autonomy or by putting them under pressure in order to reach the company's goals ?