Tuesday, May 26, 2009

In a high school, it's called lazy. In a boardroom it's called groupthink. And why I think XRX may be ready to execute.

Whatever it's called it's one of the many reasons that smart good people make really dumb decisions. The two snippets below comes from today's FT.com. It's a limited-feedback and signal-v-noise problem. It's why President Obama listen/talks to everyone. It's not just politics. It's just good management.

You think what you think, because you see what you see.
The issue is not what you think nor getting the new idea. In fact there are no new ideas. Just better ways to implement the old ones. The issue is what gets on the radar and attracts focus.

President Bush saw/focused on some things. Vice President Cheney saw/focused on others. Colin Powell saw/focused on still others. Some high school principals see/focus on some things. Other high school principals see/focus on something else. If you focus up, you see/focus on what's important to up. Likewise if you see/focus down.

If you see/focus on the group you are supposed to serve, it's pretty easy to make better decisions. For a public company, the Board Room should see/focus the stock holders, not the management, not the good of society. Those other concerns are decision making constraints, not the objects of focus.

In a high school, a principal should see/focus how well the students are learning to learn, not the teachers or the school board or the local politicians. Those other concerns are decision making constraints, not the objects of focus.

You see what you see because of who you listen to, where/when you grew up and the constraints of decision making. If you are too busy being busy it's hard to see/focus on anything. The paradox is that the best pointers to the relevant slices of reality comes from compare and contrast. When everyone sees the same thing, compare and contrast are impossible.

Diversity in the absence of violence is an evolutionary advantage. It's also the real secret of America's success and why I love Brooklyn and New York City and Australasia and the Internet and Printed Books. It's also why I think Xerox USA might be ready to execute.
Diversity fails to end boardroom groupthink:
"Ms Alexander, whose election is expected next week, has called for greater boardroom diversity, saying it could put an end to the “groupthink” that contributed to recent financial disasters. “It is clear that teams that have diversity within them don’t result in groupthink. People come at things in a different way and organisations have to take those into account,” she told the Financial Times.

Given the mess an overwhelmingly white male business elite has made, the idea of changes to company boardrooms looks compelling. Ms Alexander, a former chief executive of The Economist, is not the only person who thinks so. Lord Myners, the City minister, told the House of Commons Treasury committee that too many directors were “people who read the same newspapers, went to the same universities and schools and have the same prejudices”. . .

Writing in the Wisconsin Law Review, Prof Fairfax cites studies that show heterogeneous groups make higher-quality decisions because of their disparate backgrounds. “When group members all have the same perspective, it limits the range of information they have and the issues they consider,” she writes.
Snippet number 2: US Governance Reform Must Not be Ducked
The winds of change that brought President Barack Obama into office will soon blow through US boardrooms. Unfortunately, executives are not welcoming this as a breath of fresh air but see it rather as a dangerous intrusion into their affairs.

No comments:

Post a Comment