peter drucker

On Quiet

I recently finished reading Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. This book was referenced by one of my colleagues during a recent Toastmaster’s speech, which sparked my interest in reading it.

Below are key excerpts from the books that I found particularly insightful:

1- “It makes sense that so many introverts hide even from themselves. We live with a value system that I call the Extrovert Ideal—the omnipresent belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight. The archetypal extrovert prefers action to contemplation, risk-taking to heed-taking, certainty to doubt. He favors quick decisions, even at the risk of being wrong. She works well in teams and socializes in groups. We like to think that we value individuality, but all too often we admire one type of individual—the kind who’s comfortable “putting himself out there.” Sure, we allow technologically gifted loners who launch companies in garages to have any personality they please, but they are the exceptions, not the rule, and our tolerance extends mainly to those who get fabulously wealthy or hold the promise of doing so. Introversion—along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness—is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology. Introverts living under the Extrovert Ideal are like women in a man’s world, discounted because of a trait that goes to the core of who they are. Extroversion is an enormously appealing personality style, but we’ve turned it into an oppressive standard to which most of us feel we must conform.”

2- “What exactly do I mean when I say that Laura is an introvert? When I started writing this book, the first thing I wanted to find out was precisely how researchers define introversion and extroversion. I knew that in 1921 the influential psychologist Carl Jung had published a bombshell off a book, Psychological Types, popularizing the terms introvert and extrovert as the central building blocks of personality. Introverts are drawn to the inner world of thought and feeling, said Jung, extroverts to the external life of people and activities. Introverts focus on the meaning they make of the events swirling around them; extroverts plunge into the even themselves. Introverts recharge their batteries by being alone; extroverts need to recharge when they don’t socialize enough.”

3- “Nor are introverts necessarily shy. Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating. Shyness is inherently painful; introversion is not. One reason that people confuse the two concepts is that they sometimes overlap (though psychologists debate to what it degree). Some psychologists map the two tendencies on vertical and horizontal axes, with the introvert-extrovert spectrum on the horizontal ax and the anxious-stable spectrum on the vertical. With this model, you end up with four quadrants of personality types: calm extroverts, anxious (or impulsive) extroverts, calm introverts, and anxious introverts.”

4- “If there is only one insight you take away from this book, though. I hope it’s a new found sense of entitlement to be yourself I can vouch personally for the life-transforming effects of this outlook.”

5- “At the onset of the Culture of Personality, we were urged to develop an extroverted personality for frankly selfish reasons—as a way off outshining the crowd in a newly anonymous and competitive society. But nowadays we tend to think that becoming more extroverted not only makes us more successful, but also makes us better people. We see salesmanship as a way of sharing one’s gifts with the world.”

6- “If we assume that quiet and loud people have roughly the same number of good (and bad) ideas, then we should worry if the louder and more forceful people always carry the day. This would mean that an awful lot of bad ideas prevail while good ones get squashed. Yet studies in group dynamics suggest that this is exactly what happens. We perceive talkers as smarter than quiet types—even though grade-point averages and SAT and intelligence test scores reveal this perception to be inaccurate.”

7- “”Among the most effective leaders I have encountered and worked with in half a century,” the management guru Peter Drucker has written, “some locked themselves into their office and others were ultra-gregarious. Some were quick and impulsive, while others studied the situation and took forever to come to a decision…. The one and only personality trait the effective ones I have encountered did have in common was something they did not have: they had little or no ‘charisma’ and little use either for the term or what it signifies.””

8- “It’s impossible to say. No one has ever run these studies, as far as I know—which is a shame. It’s understandable that the HBS model of leadership places such a high premium on confidence and quick decision-making. If assertive people tend to get their way, then it’s a useful skill for leaders whose work depends on influencing others. Decisiveness inspires confidence, while wavering (or even appearing to waver) can threaten morale. But one can take these truths too far; in some circumstances quiet, modest styles of leadership may be equally or more effective.”

9- “…I wonder whether students like the young safety officer would be better off if we appreciated that not everyone aspires to be a leader in the conventional sense of the word—that some people wish to fit harmoniously into the group, others to be independent of it. Often the most highly creative people are in the latter category.”

10- “A mountain of recent data on open-plan offices from many different industries corroborates the results of the games. Open-plan offices have been found to reduce productivity and impair memory. They’re associated with high staff turnover. They make people sick, hostile, unmotivated, and insecure. Open-plan workers are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure and elevated stress levels and to get the flu; they argue more with their colleagues; they worry about coworkers eavesdropping on their phone calls and spying on their computer screens. They have fewer personal and confidential conversations with colleagues. They’re often subject to loud and uncontrollable noise, which raises heart rates; releases Cortisol, the body’s fight-or-flight “stress” hormone; and makes people socially distant, quick to anger, aggressive, and slow to help others.”

11- “Psychologists usually offer three explanations for the failure of group brainstorming. The first is social loafing: in a group, some individuals tend to sit back and let others do the work. The second is production blocking: only one person can talk or produce an idea at once, while the other group members are forced to sit passively. And the third is evaluation apprehension, meaning the fear of looking stupid in front of one’s peers.”

12- “The way forward, I’m suggesting, is not to stop collaborating face-to-face, but to refine the way we do it. For one thing, we should actively seek out symbiotic introvert-extrovert relationships, in which leadership and other tasks are divided according to people’s natural strengths and temperaments. The most effective teams are composed of a healthy mix of introverts and extroverts, studies show, and so are many leadership structures.”

13- “Psychologists often discuss the difference between “temperament” and “personality.” Temperament refers to inborn, biologically based behavioral and emotional patterns that are observable in infancy and early childhood; personality is the complex brew that emerges after cultural influence and personal experience are thrown into the mix. Some say that temperament is the foundation, and personality is the building. Kagan’s work helped link certain infant temperaments with adolescent personality styles like those of Tom and Ralph.”

14- “When combined with Kagan’s findings on high reactivity, this line of studies offers a very empowering lens through which to view your personality. Once you understand introversion and extroversion as preferences for certain levels of stimulation, you can begin consciously trying to situate yourself in environments favorable to your own personality—neither overstimulating nor under-stimulating, neither boring nor anxiety-making. You can organize your life in terms of what personality psychologists rail “optimal levels of arousal” and what I call “sweet spots,” and by doing so feel more energetic and alive than before.”

15- “Dom has observed that her extroverted clients are more likely to be highly reward-sensitive, while the introverts are more likely to pay attention to warning signals. They’re more successful at regulating their feelings of desire or excitement. They protect themselves better from the downside.”

16- “When I first met Mike Wei, the Stanford student who wished he was as uninhibited as his classmates, he said that there was no such thing quiet leader. “How can you let people know you have conviction if you’re quiet about it?” he asked. I reassured him that this wasn’t so, but Mike had so much quiet conviction about the inability of quiet people to convey conviction that deep down I’d wondered whether he had a point. But that was before I heard Professor Ni talk about Asian-style soft power, before I read Gandhi on satyagraha, before I contemplated Tiffany’s bright future as a journalist. Conviction is conviction, the kids from Cupertino taught me, at whatever decibel level it’s expressed.”

17- “But the most interesting part of Thorne’s experiment was how much the two types appreciated each other. Introverts talking to extroverts chose cheerier topics, reported making conversation more easily, and described conversing with extroverts as a “breath of fresh air.” In contrast, the extroverts felt that they could relax more with introvert partners and were freer to confide their problems. They didn’t feel pressure to be falsely upbeat. These are useful pieces of social information. Introverts and extroverts sometimes feel mutually put off, but Thorne’s research suggests how much each has to offer the other. Extroverts need to know that introverts—who often seem to disdain the superficial—may be only too happy to be tugged along to a more lighthearted place; and introverts. who sometimes feel as if their propensity for problem talk makes them a drag, should know that they make it safe for others to get serious.”

Regards,

Omar Halabieh

Quiet

On Only The Paranoid Survive

I recently finished reading Only The Paranoid Survive by Andrew S. Grove.

Below are excerpts from the book that summarize the key points presented by the author:

1- “Business success contains the seeds of its own destruction. The more successful you are, the more people want a chunk of your business and then another chunk and then another until there is nothing left. I believe that the prime responsibility of a manager is to guard constantly against other people’s attacks and to inculcate this guardian attitude in the people under his or her management.”

2- “We all need to expose ourselves to the winds of change. We need to expose ourselves to our customers, both the ones who are staying with us as well as those that we may lose by sticking to the past. We need to expose ourselves to lower-level employees, who, when encouraged, will tell us a lot that we need to know. We must invite comments even from people whose job it is to constantly evaluate us and critique us, such as journalist and members of the financial community. Turn the tables and ask them some questions: about competitors, trends in the industry and what they think we should be most concerned with. As we throw ourselves into raw action, our senses and instincts will rapidly be honed again.”

3- “A strategic inflection point is when the balance of forces shifts from the old structure, from the old ways of doing business and the old ways of competing, to the new. Before the strategic inflection point, the industry simply was more like the old. After it, it is more like the new. It is a point where the curve has subtly but profoundly changed, never to change back again.”

4- “Of all the changes in the forces of competition, the most difficult one to deal with is when one of the forces become so strong that it transforms the very essence of how business is conducted in an industry.”

5- “When an industry goes through a strategic inflection point, the practitioners of the old art may have trouble. On the other hand, the new landscape provides an opportunity for people, some of whom may not even be participants in the industry in question, to join and become part of the action.”

6- “When a strategic infection point sweeps through the industry, the more successful a participant was in the old industry structure, the more threatened it is by change and the more reluctant it is to adapt to it. Second, whereas the cost to enter a given industry in the face of well-entrenched participants can be very high, when the structure breaks, the cost to enter may become trivially small.”

7- “I suspect that the people coming in are probably no better managers or leaders than the people they are replacing. they have only one advantage…the new managers come unencumbered by such emotional involvement and therefore are capable of applying an impersonal logic to the situation.”

8- “As these questions to attempt to distinguish signal from noise: 1) Is your key competitor about to change? 2) Is your key complementor about to change? 3) Do people seem to be “losing it” around you?”

9- “I call the divergence between actions and statements strategic dissonance. It is one of the surest indications that a company is struggling with a strategic inflection point.”

10- “Ideally, the fear of a new environment sneaking up on us should keep us on our toes. Our sense of urgency should be aided by our judgement, instincts and observations that have been honed by decades spent in the business world. The fact is, because of our experience, very often we managers know that we need to do something. We even know what we should be doing. But we don’t trust our instincts or don’t act on them early enough to take advantage of the benign business bubble. We must discipline ourselves to overcome our tendency to do too little too late.”

Regards,

Omar Halabieh

Only The Paranoid Survive

On My Years With General Motors

I recently finished reading My Years With General Motors by Alfred P. Sloan.

This is a true business classic. In this book Alfred Sloan shares his years of wisdom – while heading General Motors – in a variety of areas including planning, strategy, finance, leadership, innovation and management. Alfred was a true pioneer of his time in building the discipline of management and his approach is just as applicable now as it was in the early 1900s.

Below are key lessons in the form of excerpts that I found particularly insightful from this must read classic.

1- “I feel that a proper balance can and must necessarily be established in the course of time between the activities of any particular Operation and that of all our Operations together and as I see the picture at the moment no better way or even as good a way has yet been advanced as to ask those members of each organization who have the same functional relationship to get together and decide for themselves what should be done where coordination is necessary, giving such a group the power to deal with the problem where it is felt that the power can be constructively applied. I believe that such a plan properly developed gives the necessary balance between each Operation and the Corporation itself and will result in all the advantages of co-ordinated action where such action is of benefit in a broader way without in any sense limiting the initiative of independence of action of any component part of the group.”

2- “I am not going to say that rate of return is a magic want for every occasion in business. There are times when you have to spend money just to stay in business, regardless of the visible rate of return…Nevertheless, no other financial principle with which I am acquainted serves better than rate of return as an objective aid to business judgment.”

3- “The growth in the capital employed in General Motors reflects the progress of the corporation. In an economy based on competition, we have operated as rational businessmen, a fact I have tried to demonstrate with  close description of the development of our approach to management. The result has been an efficient enterprise. It should be noted that a rising successful economy like that of the United States is not only an opportunity, it is also very demanding on those whose ambition is to excel in it. ”

4- “I believe that the franchise system (dealerships), which has long prevailed in the automobile industry, is the best one for manufacturers, dealers, and consumers.”

5- “The potential rewards of the Bonus Plan to ego satisfaction generate a tremendous driving force within the Corporation…To the recipient it is also an evaluation of his personal contribution to the success of the business. It is a means of conveying to the executive a form of recognition which he prizes independently of his monetary compensation.”

6- “It has been a thesis of this book that good management rests on a reconciliation of centralization and decentralization, or “decentralization with coordinated  control.” Each of the conflicting elements brought together in this concept has its unique results in the operation of a business. From decentralization we get initiative,  responsibility,  development of personnel, decisions close to the facts, flexibility – in short, all the qualities necessary for an organization to adapt to new conditions. From coordination we get efficiencies and economies It must be apparent that c-oordinated decentralization is not an easy concept to apply.”

7- “…To meet the challenge of the market place, we must recognize changes in customer needs and desires far enough ahead to have the right products in the rights places at the right time and in the right quantity. We must balance trends in preference against the many compromises that are necessary volume. We must design, not just the cars we would like to build, but more importantly, the cars that our customers want to buy.”

8- “I also hope I have not left an impression that the organization runs itself automatically. An organization does not make decisions; its function is to provide a framework, based upon established criteria, within which decisions can be fashioned in an orderly manner. Individuals make decisions and take the responsibility for them.”

Regards,

Omar Halabieh

My Years with General Motors

On The Human Side of Enterprise

I recently finished reading the classic The Human Side of Enterprise by Douglas McGregor. Below are selected excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- “It seems clear to me that the making of managers, in so far as they are made, is only to a rather small degree the result of management’s formal efforts in management development. It is to a much greater degree the result of management’s conception of the nature of its task and of all the policies and practices which are constructed to implement this conception. The way a business is managed determines to a very large extent what people are perceived to have “potential” and how they develop. We go off on the wrong track when we seek to study management development in terms of the formal machinery of programs carrying this label.”

2- “All managerial decisions and actions rest on assumptions about behavior…We can improve our ability to control only if we recognize that control consists in selective adaptation to human nature rather than in attempting to make human nature conform to our wishes.”

3- “The desirable end of the growth process is an ability to strike a balance – to tolerate certain forms of dependence without being unduly frustrated, and at the same time to stand alone in some respects without undue anxiety.”

4- “The power to influence others is not a function of the amount of authority one can exert. It is, rather, a function of the appropriate selection of the means of influence which the particular circumstances require. Conventional organization theory teaches us that power and authority are coextensive. Consequently, relinquishing authority is seen as losing the power to control. This is a completely misleading conception.”

5- “The central principle of organization which derives from Theory X is that of direction and control through the exercise of authority – what has been called “the scalar principle.” The central principle which derives from Theory Y is that of integration: the creation of conditions such that the members of the organization can achieve their own goals best by directing their efforts toward the success of the enterprise.”

6- “Confidence thus rests heavily on the subordinate’s belied in the integrity of the superior, When one is dependent, any suspicion that the superior cannot be fully trusted arouses anxiety.”

7- “To be sure, some people are dishonest. The question, however, is whether it is cheaper to setup procedures for dealing with the bulk to honest people or to build procedure for dealing with the dishonest few. In this field (retailing) at least, the data are clear: the former strategy is economically superior.”

8- “There are at least four major variables now known to be involved in leadership: (1) the characteristics of the leader; (2) the attitudes, needs, and other personal characteristics of the followers; (3) characteristics of the organization, such as its purpose, its structure, the nature of the tasks to be performed; and (4) the social, economic, and political milieu…This is an important research finding. It means that leadership is not a property of the individual, but a complex relationship among these variables.”

9- “Let us consider some of the important environmental conditions which affect the growth of managers…(1) economic and technological characteristics of the industry and the firm, (2) policies and practices of the company, and (3) the behavior of the immediate superior.”

10- “If a climate and soil conditions conducive to growth are created by the way management manages, the cream will rise to the top, in the sense that individual managers throughout the whole organization will be involved in a process of self-development leading to the realization of their full potentialities.”

11- “In view of the complexities and difficulties involved in improving managerial competence through classroom learning, our expectation should be modest. This is not to undervalue the contributions of classroom education, but to suggest that managers sometimes expect formal education to relieve them of responsibility for the growth on the job of their subordinates.”

12- “What distinguishes such groups (really good top management team or series of staff meetings or committee)? … (1) The atmosphere…tends to be informal, comfortable, relaxed…(2) There is a lot of discussion in which everyone participates…(3) The task or the objective of the group is well understood and accepted by the members…(4) The members listen to each other!…(5) There is disagreement…(6) Mist decisions are reached by a kind of consensus in which it is clear that everybody is in general agreement.”

13- “Management is severely hampered today in its attempts to innovate with respect to the human side of enterprise by the inadequacy of conventional organization theory…It is not important that management accept the assumptions of Theory Y. These are one man’s interpretations of current social science knowledge, and they will be modified…It is important that management abandon limiting assumptions like those of Theory X, so that future interventions with respect to the human side of enterprise will be more than minor changes in already obsolescent conceptions of organized human effort.”

14- “The purpose of this volume is not to entice management to choose sides over Theory X and Theory Y. It is rather, to encourage the realization that theory is important, to urge management to examine its assumptions and make them explicit. In doing so, it will open a door to the future.”

Regards,

Omar Halabieh

The Human Side of Enterprise