Case I: Collaborative Competition--Tim Galwey and IBM
Author and consultant Tim Galwey recently related to us his success with an IBM sales force. Salespersons competed with each other every quarter for who could sell the most. At the quarterly sales conferences, the winner would be announced and would receive a prize, plus a vacation for the family. There was much excitement and much hoopla. Competition was fierce,which was part of the trouble...as it turned out. Salespersons were very careful not to pass on information that they discovered in talking to customers. If new opportunities opened up or if there were new patterns of demand,they kept this to themselves. Each contestant had no intention of helping anyone else to win. Information was secret weapon.
There was also some grumbling from customers. At the end of each quarter,salespersons tried to unload as much product on customers as they could. This increased inventories and left the customers with carrying costs. There was also a marked increase in sales resistance. The more salespersons tried to push customers into buying, the harder the customers pushed back. The suspicion grew that instead of serving customers, sales staff had their own agendas--which was true enough. There was a marked rise in tension, and absences resulting from mental health problems rose from 3 percent to 7 percent. Yet the spirit of competition was strong, and neither IBM nor Galwey wanted to see it diminished. Individual effort and creative ingenuity in spotting new patterns of demand are crucial to IBM's success.
This is clearly a conflict between competitiveness, a derivative of Individualism, and cooperation, we would expect competition to be furious and opportunities to cooperate to be potentially neglected.
What could Galwey do? What you cannot do as a consultant,unless you want to be sent packing, is to disparage the dominant value of that culture--in this case,competitive individualism. Galwey's challenge was to somehow qualify that competitiveness with more cooperative modes, but he could not, dared not, reduce the intensity of competition. Like Rick in Casablanca, each salesperson was out for his- or herself and objections to that reality would get Galwey nowhere.
What Galwey did was change the rules of the competition. Instead of giving the prize to the person with the highest sales,IBM awarded it instead of the salesperson who had learned the most from the customer in the last quarter.
How was such "learning " to be judged? By the simple expedient of having each salesperson ascend the rostrum in turn and tell all his or her comrades not " This is how much I sold," but " This is what I learned from customers. " The audience would then vote on the value of this this information to each of them. The person with the most votes won the contest.
Was Galwey successful? Very much so. Sales increased by more than 20 percent. For the most part, the person who "learned most " from the customer also sold most. The performance gap between salespersons narrowed as the less informed learned from the best informed. And nearly all the customer complaints vanished. There was no longer an incentive to load customers up with products.they did not need, or to achieve sales by a certain date. Instead of trying to " beat " the customer resistance, the salesperson now listened and took notes. It was the information not the sale that would count, and the more the salesperson learned the more genuinely helpful that person became. No wonder the rate of absenteeism from mental disability fell,even as tension eased.
Galwey had left the value of competition in place, but he had made it impossible to compete successfully without first cooperating with, and learning from, the customer. He also made it impossible to win without first relaying all important information to the other members of the sales force,so that it was the best cooperator who won the competition, and the person whose information had won most votes.
The dilemma between competition and cooperation is illustrated in Figure 4.4. At top left is the situation as Galwey found it, with overly assertive salespeople browbeating customers, overloading them with inventory and stiffening the customers' sales resistance. On this end of the continuum,the sales force is overly competitive and insufficiently cooperative.
If we follow the direction of the learning circle, we see efforts to move toward sustained listening to customers. We are no longer trying to force products on them. We are listening to their needs and aspirations. This approach actually makes products easier to sell. People who learn more from their customers are better able to help them and hence better able to help themselves competitively. As information flows ever more freely among salespeople, sales soar.
Galwey has argued that within every game is a "hidden game ." In this case the game was cooperating with each person to learn what the best competitors knew.
Case I : The Ungrateful Supervisor
Jeff was a twent-eight-year-old Israeli,a "local hire " off the streets of Tokyo. He worked for Motorola Nippon, a largely autonomous Japanese subsidiary of Motorola, the American electronics corporation. Jeff was part of a four-person sales force for complex land-mobile products (LMP) sold to companies and municipalities with their own fleets of vehicles or aircraft. LMP allowed all fleet vehicles to communicate with each other and with central control.
Jeff worked under the supervision of Muneo, his Japanese manager. One consequence of being "a local hire " was that Muneo had almost complete authority over him. There were no expatriate arrangements with headquarters. Jeff felt from the beginning that Muneo did not like him. At his first interview he was told his salary was too high. When Jeff met and became engaged to a Japanese woman, Muneo made clear his disapproval,although other Japanese in the office offered their services of mediation and seemed eager to help the young couple in any way.
Muneo also refused Jeff's request for a lower sales quota because of Jeff's difficulty with the Japanese language. However, thanks to his financé,soon to be his wife, Jeff's Japanese language skills were improving rapidly. Like many minorities before him,Jeff believed that he had to prove himself by working harder. He got up at 6:30 a.m . and scheduled four sales visits a day.
After nine months in the job Jeff was outselling the three other sales executives in his unit, all Japanese. After eighteen months he had outsold all three of them put together. This was, he felt, a triumph of hard work and persistence. He was sold out in the field 95 percent of the time and rarely bothered his boss.
It was therefore a considerable shock when Jeff received an "average " rating from Muneo at his annual appraisal meeting. This was the lowest mark possible, short of "unacceptable ," which would have led to termination. It was also the worst appraisal in the department. Jeff was too angry to argue with Muneo,but appealed his "flagrantly unfair " appraisal to Motorola's international human resources function.
After an interval of some months,international HR came down on Jeff's side and his appraisal was revised upward. Muneo not only refused to speak to Jeff, he refused to look at him. Finally Jeff asked for a meeting. Muneo was so angry he could hardly speak.
"You shoot me, I shoot you,"he repeated.
Case :Pygmalion in the Classroom
Our final case tells us a lot about the power of ascribed status to change the life opportunities of schoolchildren. Two researchers,Robert Rosenthal and Leonore Jacobson,purported to have conducted a detailed study of several classes of high school students. They presented their "findings " to the children's teachers. On the basis of careful studies,they had identified children who,during the following academic year,were expected to "spurt "in their academic achievement.
The children so designed had not been told,and the teachers were asked to say nothing to the children that might bias the researchers' predictions.
A subsequent assessment of the children's grades and their teachers' reports showed that what the researchers had predicted largely came true. The designated "spurters "had done better. Most of them had performed significantly better than they had a year earlier.
There was only one problem. No study had ever been undertaken. No potential to spurt had ever been discovered. The designed children had been chosen at random,using a random number table. The researchers' real intention had been to discover the effect of teachers' expectations on subsequent performance of children. And indeed it was powerful. The children performed in such a way as to confirm their teachers' prior ascription of status,guaranteed by Harvard. The school had thrown its mantle of prestige on selected children and they had blossomed,even though the selection had been entirely arbitrary. The children had neither achieved nor shown promise of achievement until they were changed by the positive regard of their teachers,who wanted to believe what Harvard had told them.
Liza Doolittle's adage resonates:"It's the way that she's treated that makes her a lady "---or scholar,or achiever.
This dynamic is depicted in Figure 8.7. The top left shows the mythical "level playing field "or "even break ",with children or competitors on the same footing. At bottom right,Harvard researchers predict that certain children will do better and the mystique descends. At top right we find that the teachers' expectations alone (no one had mentioned Harvard to the children) have elevated the academic status of the children.
Research of this kind leaves a somewhat unpleasant taste. There is the fact that the researchers lied to the teachers and the fact that not every child could be guaranteed by Harvard,so that what was given to one child was necessarily taken from others. However,there is no reason that status can not be ascribed to all persons on the basis of their unique characteristics and potentials,as it was in the Fairfield case.
There is abundant evidence that certain minority ethnic groups in America and elsewhere succeed despite prejudices against their ethnicity. Such success is almost certainly traceable to strong family structures and to the "undeserved "status of being loved by parents,siblings, and relatives,and to achievement being used as repayment for affection.
We have only to note the number of Asian students at the University of California, and that Chinese immigrants in the United Kingdom are wealthy relatives to others in that society,a feat repeated in Malaysia,Indonesia,Thailand, and in most parts of the Chinese disapora .
No less an authority than Douglas McGregor, a professor at MiT in the sixties and formerly president of Antioch,described the role of ascribed status in business. He argued that the status ascribed to employees was either inconsistent with heightened achievement or consistent with it. He called the inconsistent ascription Theory X and the consistent ascription Theory Y. He held that both attitudes were self-fulfilling,so that the manager would "discover "what she had initially assumed and then spend much of her career being validated.
Theory X assumes:
•The average individual has inherent dislike of work and will avoid it if possible.
•Most people must be coerced,controlled,directed, and threatened with punishment to get them to put forth adequate effort.
This is because:
•They prefer to be directed,wish to avoid responsibility,have relatively little ambition, and want security above all.
Theory Y assumes:
•The expenditure of physical and mental effort in work is as natural as play or rest.
•External controls are not the sole means [of motivation] since individuals will exercise self-direction and self-control in the service of objectives to which they are committed.
•Commitment to objectives is a function of the rewards associated with their achievement (which can take the form of actualizing both the self and organizational objectives).
•The average individual learns under proper conditions not only to accept but to seek responsibility.
•The capacity to exercise a relatively high degree of imagination,ingenuity, and creativity in the solution of organizational problems is widely,not narrowly,distributed throughout the population.
Clearly,by anticipating future achievement,Theory Y makes that much more likely to occur. In contrast,Theory X by ascribing an anti-achievement,low-strategy role to employees,makes them hostile toward the manager,the organization,and the achievement ethnic.
Corporate Stories Reveal the Culture
Universalism and Particularism are not commonly used in the discourse of employees and managers. If people do not identify themselves by these labels,how are we to discern their mental models? One way is to look at the stories they tell,much as we looked at High Noon and Les Miserables to discover what values these cultures were extolling and in what sequence. Stories that make us feel good usually have reconciled values. In stories that make us laugh,cry,or grow angry,reconciliation is not usually a priority. Our intuitive liking or disliking are vital clues. What dilemma is raised by the following stories (Figure 2.5)?
• Case 1:Refinery Fire Tim K. Was a personal assistant to the managing director of an oil company. Suddenly Tim heard his boss cry out in alarm. "Look! The refinery is on fire!" Sure enough,they could see from the top floor of the office a plume of black smoke on the horizon. "Get down to the refinery in a car and report back to me. " So Tim took the elevator to the parking garage in the basement. "I need a car!"he cried breathlessly. "I 'll take the one ", and he pointed to an old Mercedes. "Oh no you won't!"said the garage supervisor. "You're job-group 3.Mercedes is for group 2 and above. " So Tim had to wait twenty-five minutes for a Ford from Avis.
•Case 2 : Revson's Revenge Charles Revson,heard of Revlon Corporation,insisted that everyone sign the time of his or her arrival in the office in a book kept in Reception was at her first week on the job when a man she had not seen before walked into Reception and walked off with the book. She chased him. "Excuse me,sir!But that book is not to be removed. I have strict instructions. " Revson turned and stared at her. "When you pick up your last paycheck this evening,ask them to tell you who I am. "
•Case 3: The Indignant Client There was a rule at one advertising agency that copywriters were not to speak to clients. When an august client was due to be entertained for lunch in the penthouse suite of the agency,the directors all waited,oozing obsequiousness,outside the top floor elevator. But the client had gotten stuck in the elevator,with his head and shoulders visible through the gate on the fourth floor and his legs and briefcase hanging around the third floor. One of the copywriters happened upon his top half. "I say,little man,are man,are you stuck?"he asked cheerfully. "Well,never mind,we'll feed you through the bars. In the meantime,no peeking up the girls' skirts!" The agency lost the account. Ever since that day the account executives and creative people have maintained a segregation and a standoff.
•Case 4: Watson's Badge A 19-year-old,ninety-pound female security building,when Tom Watson and a group of senior managers and top brass from the Pentagon approached. "I cannot let that man through,"she said in a quavering voice. "He does not have his security clearance badge. " Another manager hissed,"Don't you know who that is ?It's the chairman himself!" But Watson halted the whole party and sent for his badge. "She's quite right,"he said. "We make the rules. We keep'em. "
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