Quotes On Business Management
Former Chairman and CEO of Perot Systems
On the Transformation of Perot Systems
We convened meetings of the top 100 people in the company and asked them long lists of questions: How did they feel about the company culture? What was their evaluation of our top executives? What were their feelings about our customer relations? The answers were a laundry list of horrifying bad news. Our people were angry, frustrated, irritated, deeply unhappy.
We set up teams to address these concerns and then reconvened the top 100 to ask them, again, how they felt. We got the same answers. We initiated a companywide program to teach us how to disagree with each other without tearing each other down. I attended the seminars three times; all our company leaders in the United States and Europe participated; and we extended it down into the ranks, so that today two-thirds of the entire company has been through the course.
During these seminars, we identified people who were abusive. We coached them and took them through a personal reinvention process to show them new ways of leading. These were high-ranking company officials who had generated significant business, met or exceeded their financial goals - but simply mistreated their people. Not all of them could convert. Those who couldn't change, we asked to leave. We gave them fair and extended compensation; we didn't strong-arm them out the door; and we tried to keep communications open with them. We simply told them that this wasn't a company that was right for them.
Business-the-old way told people to leave their personal problems at home. Now we make it clear that personal issues are our issues as well. Not long ago, one of our sales executives had a child born with a hole in its heart. Through e-mail, I knew about that child within four hours of its birth. Within eight hours we had a specialist working with the infant. The child will now be able to lead a normal life. Our company made that happen because it was the right thing. It's not the only kind of thing we should do - but it does represent what we should be, the kind of feeling our company should create.
On Customer Relations
...our tone was often paternalistic, almost condescending. Customers felt like they were outgunned at every turn. Too often we made them feel incompetent or just plain stupid...
You do better if your customer or your competitor doesn't feel taken advantage of. You do better, in fact, if your customer feels like your partner.
The Changing Goal of Business
There's a much larger calling in business today than was allowed by the old definitions of winning and losing. One hundred years from now, we'll know we were on the right track if there are more organizations where people are doing great work for their customers and creating value for their shareholders. And raising their children, nurturing their families, and taking an interest in their communities. And feeling proud of the contributions they make. These are things you can't measure when winning and losing are only financial metrics.
In a world where the lines between companies, industries, and even nations get blurred, a leader builds an effective organization around values and work style. And a leader learns to define success in business as both producing financial strength and generating a team of people who support and nurture each other.
Today I believe that leaders need to be good at psychology - starting with self-knowledge. Leaders today can't be manipulators, not even slick manipulators. They have to be genuine. They have to have gotten over their own internal hurdles.