Saturday, December 10, 2011

What truly motivates us

By Ernie A. Cevallos

Based on decades of scientific research on human motivation, Daniel Pink shows in this RSA Animate video the mismatch between what science knows and how business has it all wrong about what truly motivates us. He proves that while the old-fashioned carrot-and-stick approach works in some instances; it's precisely the wrong way to motivate when tasks are complex in nature or involve conceptual creative thinking. The three elements of true motivation are: 

  • Autonomy: the desire to direct our own lives 
  • Mastery: the urge to get better and better at something that matters 
  • Purpose: the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Reinventing the Technology of Human Accomplishment: Management 2.0

By Ernie A. Cevallos

Watch how Gary Hamel,  management thinker extraordinaire , makes the case for reinventing management for the 21st century in this idea packed 15-minute video essay. For the first time in over 100 years, we have a viable alternative to the old management model built to maximize standardization, specialization, hierarchy, control, and shareholder interests.

Due to progress, social change,  and the exponential growth of the Internet we can envision companies that are large but not bureaucratic, that are focused but not myopic, that are specialized but not balkanized, that are efficient but not inflexible and, best of all, that are disciplined but not disempowering. Moving from management 1.0 to management 2.0 means transplanting the Web's DNA into organizations, or in other words applying the interwoven values of transparency, collaboration, meritocracy, openness, community, and self-determination.

Hammel argues that  the values driving our institutions today such as zero-sum thinking, profit-obsession, short-term results, power, conformance, control and command, hierarchy, and obedience don’t stand a chance against the management 2.0 paradigm. The time is now to rethink how we make corporations adapt and succeed in a sea of changes, challenges, and most of all opportunities.


Saturday, May 07, 2011

The most Important Stage in a Complex Sale

By Ernie A. Cevallos

For generations and to this day many managers swear that obtaining commitment or closing the sale is the most important stage in a sale. If you are dealing with small or transactional sales, there is evidence to suggest that closing is the most important stage supporting the notion that “if you can’t close, you can’t sell”.

On the other hand, high level or complex sales have a much longer sales cycle and closing is not the most important sales stage. Why?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Project Oxygen: Building Better Bosses

By Ernie A. Cevallos

The purpose behind Google’s Project Oxygen initiative was to seek an answer to a simple question: How to build better bosses for Google's 26,000 plus employees?

Leave it to a data-mining titan like Google to take an information driven approach, and set out to collect data on qualities successful managers have in the hopes that they could help less successful managers replicate the behaviors.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Happiness: Are you happy in your life or with your life?

By Ernie A. Cevallos

Widely regarded as one of the world's most influential psychologist, Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel Prize for his pioneering work in behavioral economics. In this TED featured speech, Daniel shares great insights about the state of well being that we all pursue, "Happiness". As a good story teller, he uses examples from vacations to colonoscopies to dissect how our "experiencing selves" and our "remembering selves" perceive happiness differently. This new insight has profound implications for economics, public policy, and our own self awareness. Watch Daniel Kahneman!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Peter Drucker's Legacy Includes Simple Advice: It's All About the People

By Ernie A. Cevallos

This classic eulogy to one of the greatest business thinkers was published By Scott Thurm and Joann S. Lublin, staff reporters of The Wall Street Journal on November 2005.

Peter Drucker was the most influential management thinker of the past century. But his most crucial insights were about workers.

Mr. Drucker, who died at age 95, was among the first to see the limits of large industrial organizations and their authoritarian hierarchies. Long before the Internet, before even the first computer chips, he foresaw the arrival of "knowledge workers" motivated by personal pride as much as by fear and a paycheck. Harnessing their talents, he argued, required a new approach to management.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Behavior and Leadership Advice from “The Prince” and “The Godfather” Classics

By Ernie A. Cevallos

For books with pathos, dark human behavior, insights on how to gain power, and business leadership lessons there are two classics that are timeless: “The Prince” and “The Godfather”. One was written as a dissertation for the Medici family in 1513, and the other is a classic reference in American film culture that was based on a popular, though not best-selling novel, which went on to become one of the most popular movies of all time. Here is a synopsis of these two meaningful books, and the canny business and leadership advice presented.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Staving off Commoditization: Practical Ideas to Create Value

By Ernie A. Cevallos

Perfect competition is at one end of the competition spectrum, and one of the basis of the concept is that since firms produce undifferentiated products that any business in such an environment is a “price taker” or a firm that cannot affect the price of a good or service. Looked at another way, such commoditized products or services have many perfect substitutes. In theory, the better the substitutes for a product or service, the more elastic the demand for the product. So, how do your products and services stack up and what can you do to win in a commoditizing environment?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Boosting Organizational Performance Through Employee Engagement

By Ernie A. Cevallos

For a business to have sustainable growth, one of the fundamentals that must be right is that of keeping talent for every key role well engaged. For several years now, employee engagement has been a popular issue in corporate circles. It is a concept that has gained the attention of business pundits, research organizations, HR managers, as well as the executive suite. The basic notion is that when employees are engaged, they will be motivated to act in ways that further their organization's interests, and have no reason to leave their jobs for greener pastures.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Innovation & Technology Leadership in the Energy Sector: Issues & Strategies from GE's Jeffrey Immelt

By Ernie A. Cevallos

The topics of energy conservation, green initiatives, global warming, renewable energy, and environmental responsibility are popular today, but not much has changed in terms of governmental policy in the energy sector in a long time. Jeffrey Immelt, Chairman and CEO of GE, explained during a recent MIT School of Engineering lecture that he took a course in 1981 called Energy Policy and the curriculum is exactly the same today in 2007.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Quality Management Methodologies/Standards Compatibility: A Basis for Continual Improvement and Excellence

By Ernie A. Cevallos
The notion that quality management is about minimizing defects, especially in production, is an outdated view of what it is and how to improve it. This aspect has long been an entry-level requirement in competition, but is no longer enough from a customer's perspective. Customers expect buying experiences to be flawless. They evaluate quality based on the total value of the offer.

Monday, September 17, 2007

One of your Greatest Leader Assets is your Ego: Are you an Egomaniac?

The work of Good to Great best seller author Jim Collins—whose research suggested that great performing companies had leaders with two unique traits: 1) fierce personal resolve and 2) extreme personal humility—inspired authors Steven Smith and David Marcum to conduct several years of research into the ego vs. humility topic. The result is their new book called “Egonomics”.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Learn from World-Class Universities and Get Smarter for Free

The Creative Commons movement founder director Hal Abelson is also credited with influencing the creation of the OpenCourseWare concept, which grants the free use of university materials online to the general population. OpenCourseWare began in 2001 as an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to offer an innovative and more democratic way to share knowledge with the world.

Monday, September 03, 2007

What Really Matters in the Mechanics of Execution: Creating a Culture with a Sense of Urgency

By Ernie A. Cevallos

Business leaders are often asked the question “What keeps you up at night?” The more direct and better question should be “What are the most urgent things you need to accomplish? Nothing should keep you up at night if you have a clear conscience, are in good health, and get some exercise. What should keep you up every waking minute is a great sense of urgency to accomplish your main objectives, and what you promised others you would do. Unquestionably, a most important trait of effective leadership is an unshakable, incessant, and ever-burning sense of urgency—and the associated need for speed, focus, and coordination.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Productivity and Leadership Insights from George David, CEO and Chairman of United Technologies

By Ernie A. Cevallos

What brought about the transformational change and growth that United Technologies (UTX) has experienced under the leadership watch of George David? Since 1992 the Company has produced total shareholder returns of 338%, international revenue grew from 25% to 60%, market capitalization grew from $6B to over $72B, operating income margin grew from 5% to 14%, and EPS grew over 105% in the last five years.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Run with the Bulls without Getting Trampled...

By Ernie A. Cevallos

Most of us spend over fifty percent of our waking hours trying to win in the race of work and climbing the career ladder without being knocked down by events, misguided people, or poor choices. In similar manner, we all know the fate of unskilled runners of the San Fermin Festival in Pamplona, Spain. In his new book “Run with the Bulls without Getting Trampled: The Qualities You Need to Stay Out of Harm’s Way and Thrive at Work”, corporate psychologist Tim Irwin, Ph.D., applies the “running with the bulls” metaphor to parallel what unprepared individuals face, and offers sage advice that will help to steer clear of any 1,400 pound corporate charging bull.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish, Jobs says

Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and Pixar Animation Studios is a greatly admired contemporary leader that continues to enjoy tremendous success. His company's stock grew over 100% in the last year alone. A great way to understand the man, learn where he came from, and appreciate what he believes in is to listen to his 2005 Stanford University Commencement address. He gives account of his rags to richness story, bout with cancer, setbacks (being fired from the company he founded), and gives us the insight to find what you love in order to be successful.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Benefits of Critical and Skeptical Thinking

Healthy skepticism, questioning your underlying assumptions and introducing doubt, can be helpful. There are many traps that can cloud our choices and decision making ability. Become an effective critic, glean the best information available, and know what information you need to be proven right or wrong.

read more | digg story

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Decision Traps: Barriers to Better Decision Making

By Ernie A. Cevallos

At every step of decision making misperceptions based on incorrect input, biases, lack of information, and other traps can corrupt the choices we make. We are particularly vulnerable to traps involving uncertainty because most of us are not good at judging chances. Complex and important decisions are the most prone to distortion because they tend to have many assumptions, estimates, and influence by misaligned parties.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Contrarian Leadership Guide: Insights for Success at Work and Home

By Ernie A. Cevallos

One of the most respected and sought after executive coaches is Marshall Goldsmith. His primary insight is that “good manners is good management”. Now you may ask yourself, why would impressive and successful executives need help with manners and behavioral issues? After all they most likely acted out consciously or unconsciously Stephen Coveys’ “Seven Habits of Highly Successful People” to get to the position they hold. But don’t be misled by the aura of success or turn your back on the human condition and its foibles.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Man in the Arena: The Biggest Failure Is not Trying...

By Ernie A. Cevallos
A person dealing with challenges that require leadership, skill, persistance, and courage is referred to as "The Man in the Arena." The phrase is a tribute to most of humanity and doers of deeds who in the pursuit of goals know victory and defeat as well. The famous passage comes from a speech given by Teddy Roosevelt at the Sorbonne in Paris, France on April 23, 1910. The speech was published in his book "Citizenship in a Republic."

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Warren Buffet on Succession Planning

By Ernie A. Cevallos

The record clearly indicates Warren Buffet is a businessman extraordinaire who continues to enjoy a long and exceptional career. Apparently his success has not been all about the money, given his personality and humility. As the 76 year old magnate ages he has come to terms with his mortality, and the challenge of a succession plan to replace him from the helm of Berkshire Hathaway. Such an endeavor did not go unnoticed and a New York Times column partially titled "The Apprentice: Omaha Edition," described Buffett as having Donald Trump like tendencies, and was critical of the "Apprentice" like approach to select a successor.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Thoughts on Leadership

By Ernie A. Cevallos

Leadership and managerial ability are not about mystical skills or pure personality traits that only a chosen few were born with. Leadership is different from management, but it does not mean that leadership is superior or a substitute of management skills. Rather, leadership and management are two complementary competencies, and both are necessary for the success of any enterprise. Leadership complements management; it does not replace it.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Recipe for Sustainable Business Greatness

By Ernie A. Cevallos

Sample 1,435 good companies. Evaluate their performance over 40 years. Distill it to eleven great companies

Abbott, Circuit City, Fannie Mae, Gillette, Kimberly-Clark, Kroger, Nucor, Philip Morris, Pitney Bowes, Walgreens, and Wells Fargo

Whatever happened to would be good companies such as Burroughs, Enron, Businessland, MCI, Bethlehem Steel, Daewoo, Arthur Andersen, DeLorean Motor Co., Olympia and York, countless dotcoms, etc. Reading through the list gives you an appreciation for how once proud and good business can become obsolete and doomed to extinction if not led and managed properly. We should not despair, the good news is that although we lose companies with alarming frequency, there are new and old firms that adapt well, and find ways to invent competitive and sustainable positions in their markets. What do those companies do right?

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Flat World Business Rules

By Ernie A. Cevallos

“The Six Sigma master was once the undisputed authority in management. But Fortune is finding that today's smart CEOs are following a different set of rules.” A recent article in Fortune blasted out the news that Jack Welch's rules for running a successful business have gone out, and the poor guy has only been out of the corner office for five (5) years. How time flies. Yet in the offices of corporate America, the momentum of the old rules is strong. Many business leaders are following playbooks that apparently have been distorted by progress and time.

If you didn't see the piece, the list was kind of interesting:

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Why Google Rocks?

By Ernie A. Cevallos

Management à la Google

Worldwide best seller business writer of “Competing for the Future” and strategy and management professor extraordinaire, Gary Hamel, just offered his observations about the greatness of Google in a WSJ opinion article. Will it fizzle before it realizes all its growth potential? Has it realized the promise of its business model as its stock soared to over $425/share and its market cap reached $126B, and settle into maturity much like Dell, Microsoft, and many others?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Peter Drucker's Legacy Includes Simple Advice: It's All About the People

By Ernie A. Cevallos

Peter Drucker understood the value of people in the business equation a long time ago. In his last best seller book author Jim Collins deliberates on what could merely good companies do to become great. One of the no brainer findings had to do with the importance of people. Surprise, surprise?

It is evident that one of the primary objectives in making a company great is to get the right people for the task(s), and create a culture with self-disciplined team players who are willing to go to extreme lengths to fulfill their responsibilities. This truth about business is not revolutionary or new, besides Drucker and now Collins, the late W. Edwards Deming had also been preaching it with passion a long time ago. Why don’t we have more great companies with sustained growth and innovation? Well, that is the job of those of us in leadership roles; that is a fundamental that has to be right. At the end of the day huge value is created by getting the people truth right!

Friday, March 17, 2006

TQM, ISO 9000, Six Sigma: Do Process Management Programs Discourage Innovation?

By Ernie A. Cevallos

A Knowledge@Wharton article based on joint research with the Harvard Business School says now may be the time to re-evaluate the corporate efficacy of process management and tailor them to the right applications. Studies show that misapplied process management can hinder companies and dull innovation. "In the appropriate setting, process management activities can help companies improve efficiency, but the risk is that you misapply these programs, in particular in areas where people are supposed to be innovative," notes Mary Benner–management professor at Wharton.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Customer Value Propositions and Persuasion Effectiveness

By Ernie A. Cevallos

What is wrong with value propositions?

In today’s competitive environment creating and delivering winning value propositions is a fundamental expectation in the race to win more business and out perform rivals. It is evident that properly constructed and communicated value propositions make a powerful argument, and align the solution fit with the needs and buying criteria of customers. The goal is to persuade the customer by irrefutable proof that the value proposition represents a win-win business transaction.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Knowledge Driven Organizations Significantly Outperform their Rivals

By Ernie A. Cevallos

While conversing with an experienced sales manager, I wanted to learn if the resources being invested on a particular customer to develop an opportunity was justified. Was it more efficient to work on other projects that competed for resources, or was it better to continue investing in this project? This manager's response was "Let's stay the course for sure". In this example, the manager had figured out a labyrinth of issues including people, compelling event, solution fit, procurement processes, cultural compatibility, how the customer perceived value, and most importantly a convincing value proposition that was co-authored under the sponsorship of the customer. Did it work? Yes, the efforts of this knowledge worker produced a $15M sale.

This real life situation offers a window into one of the modern workplace's most vexing problems, the issue of knowledge management. The manager and his team had deciphered how to win this major contract and accumulated a series of advantages over the competition. But what will happen when he moves to a different job or goes to a competitor? Will productivity decline until his replacement becomes skilled?

Monday, February 13, 2006

True Value Creation and your Customers

By Ernie A. Cevallos

This paper is based on personal experience with the larger or major sale, and insights from the research conducted by Huthwaite. Major sales are more complex, take longer to develop, and typically involve many decision makers and influencers. Knowing how to navigate these waters and creating value is key to the success of any sales force. Indeed, the customer decides if the value is real or not. Customers have different notions of value, which are based on their particular circumstances, culture, procurement policies, leadership style of decision makers, business objectives, and ROI expectations. Different customers even in the same industry have varying degrees of value notions.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Five Deadly Business Sins

Books on management are published by the hundreds each year, but for your money you can skip a great deal of these publications and simply re-read Peter F. Drucker, who will always be the Shakespere of the genre. The past few years have seen the downfall of one once-dominant business after another: General Motors, Sears and IBM, to name just a few. In every case the main cause has been at least one of the five deadly business sins, which undoubtedly will harm the mightiest business. Take a look and see how your business is doing?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

What is the Purpose of Dr. Deming's Theory of Management?

(This document was submitted to Professor Howard Gitlow of the University of Miami as a term-paper for MAS 610 Statistical Analysis for Decision Making Process -- Paper has been edited for shortened Blog publication)


After World War II American industry returned to the peacetime production of consumer goods, for which there was unparalleled demand and no competition. Untouched by war, the industrial heartland produced cars, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, mixers, lawnmowers, refrigerators, furniture, carpet, and all the goods for the growing postwar suburbs inhabited by a generation of prosperous Americans.

The American corporation had fulfilled the promise of ‘scientific management,’ formulated by an influential industrial engineer named Frederick Winslow Taylor more than three decades earlier. Taylor had held that human performance could be defined and controlled through work standards and rules. He advocated the use of time and motion studies to break jobs down into simple, separate steps to be performed repeatedly without deviation by different workers. Minimizing complexity would maximize efficiency, although it was as bad to overperform as it was to underperform on a Taylor-style system.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Deming's 14 Points & System of Profound Knowledge

Deming's 14 Points
(Excerpted from Chapter Two of OUT OF THE CRISIS by W. Edwards Deming).

1. Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive and to stay in business, and to provide jobs.
2. Adopt the new philosophy. We are in a new economic age. Western management must awaken to the challenge, must learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for change.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Managing the Power of You as a Brand -- The Most Important Project You Will Ever Undertake!

By Ernie A. Cevallos

Fortune 500 firms appreciate the importance of brands. Today, in the age of Globalization where digitization, virtualization, and automation of almost everything is possible you have to manage brand You more than ever to survive in this competitive global environment. Is brand You representative of Google, American Express, Oprah Winfrey, or are you symbolic of Yugo car, Firestone tires, Hugo Rafael Chavez? As you know, brands stand for something, and it can go the full spectrum from great to mediocre to bad. What do you stand for?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Purpose and Goals in Our Lives - Where Do We Want to Go?

There are many aspects of our lives that require making choices and determining how we invest our time and energy. If we waste the opportunity to organize our limited time and energy resources, we will never experience the happiness and rewards that are within our reach.

Setting goals present a dilemma because we are committing to something that may not be reasonable tomorrow. We may feel that the exclusivity of attention may distract us from other opportunities. We may find ourselves moving in a direction that is not what we envisioned earlier. The good thing is that when we engage in goal setting, we always begin to see things that may not have been evident in a status quo environment. New perspectives and insights will help us, in a iterative process, to set the right goals and make adjustments that take us much further along the path of success.