Three best practises of leading organizations.

Apr 1, 05

This Month

The recent business issues be it Business Week, Harvard Business Review, Forbes or Fortune have all been focusing on companies that are investing a lot of time, energy and resources on thinking of ways to stay ahead in the game of business. The ideas that are being tried out by these organizations are truly innovative and bold.

If you or your organization is looking for ways to stay ahead, be sure to read every one of them and delve deeper by reading the articles linked in the resources section.

This month, reader Ravindra Oberai has a tip on an open source Antivirus software.

As always, I look forward to your feedback and suggestions.

Warm wishes,


Three best practises of leading organizations

1. Listening, responding and collaborating with external groups: customers, partners and even competitors.

Taco Bell sought out the feedback of about 10,200 participants to choose from various categories of fixings to create a hot selling burrito. To the shock of the dieticians at Taco Bell, instead of a low calorie item, most respondents wanted an ‘indulgent’ burrito and they were willing to pay extra for it.
P&G wants to derive half of its invention from external sources. Today it is about 35%, up from about 20% four years ago. It is open to working with outside companies too. For example, when managers found an eraser that took marks off walls, it hired German chemical giant, BASF to make the key foam ingredient and created their own product called “Mr Clean Magic Eraser” It even formed an alliance with its competitor Clorox to sell its patented adhesive film technology through a product called “Glad Press ‘n Seal”
Commerce Bank one of the fastest growing banks in the US does everything that traditional banks would shudder to do. First of all it keeps its banks open when customers want them to. Seven days a week! Its 10-minute rule means branches open 10 minutes early and stay open 10 minutes late, an added convenience for early birds and procrastinators. In one of its busiest branches on Friday, this turns out to be at 10 minutes past midnight!

2. Innovating your way to success

Innovation comes from passionate people who truly believe something can be done in a better way.

At Apple, Steve Jobs believes “Innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we’ve been thinking about a problem. Its ad hoc meetings of six people called by someone who thinks he has figured out the coolest new thing ever and who wants to know what other people think of his idea.”

“And it comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”
At GE, Business leaders must submit at least three “Imagination Breakthrough” proposals per year to the council for review and discussion. The criteria for selecting a proposal is that it should take GE into a new line of business, geographic area or customer base and also has to give GE incremental growth of at least $100 million.
IDEO which helps companies innovate, is held in great respect by many business leaders like A G Lafley and Steve Jobs. IDEO’s people, culture and methods make it stand out. The rules stencilled on their walls are: “Be Visual. Defer judgment. Encourage Wild Ideas. Build on the Ideas of Others. Go for Quantity. One Conversation at a Time. Stay Focused on the Topic.” IDEO believes that people working there are T-shaped: broad and deep. Broad in their skills and able to work with a wide range of people. Deep in their knowledge and experience in one or more disciplines.

3. Empowering your employees

IBM has allocated upto $5000 annually for each front line manager, no questions asked, to spend on responding to extraordinary situations that will enable them to generate business, develop client relationships or respond to any employee’s emergency need. With 22,000 front line managers, Sam Palmisano calls it their “$100 million bet on trust”.
P&G gets its 7500 R&D people located in 20 technical facilities in nine countries to interact in “communities of practice” dedicated to areas of expertise. They also post their problems on their internal website. Annually CEO A G Lafley conducts half-day innovation reviews for each business unit where he evaluates ideas from scientists and marketers.
Google requires all its employees to spend 20% of their time on their pet projects. Larry Page and Sergey Brin keep a list of the top 100 of the promising projects. Just imagine the culture of creativity and the energy coursing through the company.

Further Reading

The seed of Apple’s Innovation: An interview with Steve Jobs
Commerce Bank’s success story
The Immelt Revolution: He’s turning GE’s culture upside down, demanding far more risk and innovation
Ideo: The Power of Design

Suggestion of the Month

Ravindra Oberai shares this tip with HR News and Views readers:

Open Source Antivirus Clamwin
All of us use some antivirus software or the other. Most of us start with the OEM version which came with the new PC. It expires after some time which may be as short as 3 months and one year if you are lucky. Most of us are then forced to shell out for an off the shelf software and the options are Norton, McAfee, PC-cillin and few more.

Another option is to use free software and AVG is one of the most common and very effective with regular updates. (

You may want to give a try to an excellent Open Source antivirus called Clamwin. It is totally free; like all open source software is. It is still evolving but it has the creative force of open source behind it. They are often the first ones to come out with an update for the latest viruses; faster than even the commercial antivirus vendors.

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