Leadership

Published as part of the Telegraph Business Club series by Hodder-Arnold, Leadership explores what it takes to help an organisation realise its potential through the demonstration of leadership capability of four competencies; Thinking, Influencing, Achieving, and Leading.

ISBN 0-340-91396-7

Available through Amazon, the Telegraph Business Club, and major booksellers.

 

Strategy and Performance

The second book in the Telegraph Business Club series, Strategy and Performance identifies ways in which organisational decision-makers can improve the way that strategies are developed and deployed, as well as how they can ensure sustainable high performance for their organisations.

ISBN 0-340-91397-5

Available through Amazon, the Telegraph Business Club, and major booksellers.

 

Change and Crisis Management

Change and Crisis Management is the third book in the Telegraph Business Club series, and zero's in on how managers and employee's alike can survive ongoing change efforts and avoid the potential for organisational crises that can drain resources, negatively impact company cultures, and significantly reduce the ability of an organisation to realise its potential.

ISBN-10: 0340928328

Available through Amazon, the Telegraph Business Club, and major booksellers.

Plain Talk about Business Perfomance

If there is one question that most managers ask themselves each day, it is ‘what can I do differently tomorrow to improve performance that might help me get my part of the company out of the mess that it is in?’  Okay, so most managers would say that the question they ask themselves is, ‘how can I improve performance?’ or, even more probably, ‘how can I not get caught up in the next round of personnel cuts?’  What I find interesting is that although few would admit to asking themselves the first question that is really what they are trying to figure out.  ‘What can I do differently tomorrow to improve performance?’ And just so you know, I believe that performance is defined as achieving exceptional growth and cost containment in any business environment.

(click here to read more)

ISBN 1-904754-36-8
(available through Amazon.co.uk)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gaming the System

In a world in which organizations are facing an ongoing struggle to improve their outcomes, it has become increasingly clear that by simply 'cranking up' the productivity targets, the organizational gains are rarely sustainable.  Of all the issues facing organizations that are inhibiting this ability, it is the organizational population's ability to 'game the system' that limits the success of initiatives.

Gaming the system occurs on many levels in an organization, and in many forms.  Gaming the System identifies how structures in organizations (both explicit and implicit policies and procedures, stated goals, and mental models) drive behaviours that are detrimental to long-term organizational success.  Through the utilization of case examples, this book shows how to identify these behaviours and to develop ways in which to counteract the negative effects that minimize the long-term personal and organizational potential. 

 

Gaming the System has been published in English (FT/Prentice Hall, 2001),

Traditional Chinese (Pearson Education, 2004), and,

Simplified Chinese (Portico, 2004)

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UK Edition ISBN 0-273-65419-5

Traditional Chinese Edition  ISBN 986-154-055-5

Simplified Chinese Edition  ISBN 7-300-06495-7

All available through Amazon

Coping with Growth

“Perhaps the biggest thing that is overlooked when plotting out a growth strategy is the capacity of the people to deal with all the issues around growth, especially in growth through acquisition or merger.  According to several recent surveys:  projected synergies in M&A deals are not achieved in 70% of cases; productivity actually falls in the first six months of a merger; CEOs and CFOs routinely cite “people” problems and cultural issues as the top factors in failed integrations; M&A deals in multiple industries and determined that most failures to be people-related; and, Hewitt Associates reported the top challenge to be integrating two organisational cultures.  What does this tell you?  It tells me that some decision-makers are making decisions in the dark.”

James Rieley was the featured speaker at a series of programmes sponsored by the Telegraph Business Club throughout the United Kingdom.  The ‘Coping with Growth’ video CD was produced during the Telegraph Business Club event in London, 16 March, 2005, in which James Rieley gave a presentation on the subject of what is required for organisations to sustainably cope with the issues associated with growth. It is offered in Quick-Time, can be viewed on a PC or Mac, and is 30 minutes in length.

The Journey to Z

The Journey to Z is an audio CD of a talk given by James Rieley in which he speaks to the key issues facing organisations today, as well as how to resolve them. The audio CD of The Journey to Z is currently available as a companion to Plain Talk about Business Consulting as a limited edition.

Read the business media today – organisations of all types, from all sectors, are in deep trouble.  There are many reasons for this – and many excuses for the poor performance that organisations are delivering.  There is a common thread that is present in all organisations that are experiencing this dynamic, however.  It is that in the managerial ranks of organisations, there is little alignment in a common view of where an organisation is going, how it should get there, and impact of the reactive thinking and non-aligned activity that is present today.  This problem is not insurmountable; in fact, it is resolved quite easily – if the senior management is committed to the organisation realising its potential.

Plain Talk Weekly Newsletter

Issue 29 - Should the 'Planners' Be Doing the Planning

Several years ago, I was doing some work with a medium sized company and was asked to take a look at the strategic planning that was being done.   The plan that they had produced that year was brilliant.  Well, it looked  brilliant.  It had been printed on A4 paper, but in landscape format and had been made to appear as if it were a set of architectural plans.  Nice metaphor – building the future.  Each page was printed in four colours and had trendy looking drawings of foundations, rooms, and environmental settings.  So it looked great.  But the content was just not there.

(click here to read more)

Plain Talk about Business Performance

If there is one question that most managers ask themselves each day, it is ‘what can I do differently tomorrow to improve performance that might help me get my part of the company out of the mess that it is in?’  Okay, so most managers would say that the question they ask themselves is, ‘how can I improve performance?’ or, even more probably, ‘how can I not get caught up in the next round of personnel cuts?’  What I find interesting is that although few would admit to asking themselves the first question that is really what they are trying to figure out.  ‘What can I do differently tomorrow to improve performance?’ And just so you know, I believe that performance is defined as achieving exceptional growth and cost containment in any business environment.

What can I do differently tomorrow is a pretty powerful question, and regardless of the answer, the evidence is that most managers just do the same thing day after day – and get the same results day after day, week after week, and year after year.  And the evidence also shows that the results are not too good.  This, I find, is ludicrous. 

Most managers of companies, well at least the senior ones, are paid bloody well.  And what is interesting is that they just don’t seem to be able to deliver consistently exceptional results.  There seems to be quite a disconnect here – good compensation for mediocre, inconsistent results.  Yes, I do read the business journals and trade papers, but all I see are excuses for poor performance.  Nowhere do I read common sense reasons for why performance has not been able to meet the promises of a company’s potential.  All I see is theories on how businesses could improve – good theories by the way, but theories that had not been tested too extensively in the real world; stories about how XYZ company had been able to realise its potential – at least for a while; and stories about the market and its analysts expectations were mucking up business results.  So I decided to write about what I have learned works - time after time, in any industry or sector – just by focusing on changing organisational behaviours.


“You can feel the pain in James Rieley's words when he describes what's wrong with many businesses.  I think that he feels the pain because he sees the problems more clearly than most observers of the business world and also because he knows how to fix them.  If you work for, or consult to, a dysfunctional company, you'll feel it too.  But all is not lost; Plain Talk About Business Performance gives the reader a practical path from mediocrity to good management.  The techniques he describes might seem simple and basic when viewed one at a time but they add up to a powerful program of action.  Take hope.  It hurts now but Dr. Rieley can make it all feel better.”   – Dwight Gertz, author of the best-selling Grow to Be Great: Breaking the Downsizing Cycle

 

" I have found the reading a well-articulated (from theory to practice) and powerful journey through the art of developing real leadership behaviour throughout organisations. It captures the essence of people by reinforcing the concept of sustained change being the result of a whole company effort and not limited to some individuals. A straight forward cure to the "procrastination syndrome " of non-value activities " – Daniele Ferrarri, President, Huntsman Surface Sciences, Italy.

 

“I am only half way through, and it is excellent!” – Gunnar Vikstrom, Executive Vice President,  Lignotech/Boregaard, Sweden

 

“This book is more than "plain talk." It is clear, hard-hitting advice for business.  The timing couldn't be better: so many businesses are in dire need of extraordinary advice to get them on track. A very refreshing read to solve very critical problems.” - Jaye Muller, co-founder, j2 Global Communications


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Gaming the System

In a world in which organizations are facing an ongoing struggle to improve their outcomes, it has become increasingly clear that by simply 'cranking up' the productivity targets, the organizational gains are rarely sustainable.  Of all the issues facing organizations that are inhibiting this ability, it is the organizational population's ability to 'game the system' that limits the success of initiatives.

Gaming the system occurs on many levels in an organization, and in many forms.  Gaming the System identifies how structures in organizations (both explicit and implicit policies and procedures, stated goals, and mental models) drive behaviours that are detrimental to long-term organizational success.  Through the utilization of case examples, this book shows how to identify these behaviours and to develop ways in which to counteract the negative effects that minimize the long-term personal and organizational potential. 

The “survey of management” in a recent issue of The Economist paints a pretty scary picture – management is still demonstrating behaviours that are not conducive for consistent high levels of organisational performance.  The survey speaks to some of the dynamics that businesses have faced in the past year, and how management has reacted to them.  The behaviours that management has demonstrated, according to the article, “can be disastrous.”  How can this be?  Haven’t managers been able to learn from the past?  Apparently not.

Sure, there has been a recession for the past year or so, but this happened a decade ago as well.  According to The Economist article, when asked what important lessons managers learned from that recession, the most common answer was “I don’t know.”  Management’s desire to continually pursue mergers and acquisitions as a growth engine have largely failed; and when asked why they haven’t realised their potential, the most often stated reason is an inability to resolve “people issues.”  What skills and competencies do managers have?  What skills and competencies do they need?  Apparently they do not know that either, or else we would be seeing higher performance results.  Something is going on out there, and it might just be that we are not looking at the right problem for answers.

Something that we do know is that although performance has been suffering in the past years, the amount of organisational gaming the system has been increasing.  Gaming the system is a behaviour that surfaces when managers are not able to deliver upon the promise of hard, measurable results.  Gaming the system surfaces when the pressure is on for performance.  Gaming the system surfaces when cost-cutting becomes the strategic force in business.  Gaming the system surfaces when the chips are down, and they have been down for quite a while now.  Gaming the system is the ultimate individual and collective organisational defence mechanism in business today.

Just look at the business stories in the news lately – Andersen, “Enron, Lucent, Xerox or any of the other big corporate deceivers that have come to light in recent years.”  Gaming the system was used extensively in these organisations as a way to offset the bad news that they knew was rampant in their organisations.  When management ‘games the system’ it sends a signal to the rest of the organisation that it is an acceptable behaviour – in some examples, it sent the signal that it is the most appropriate behaviour.  What can be done to reverse this trend in business?

Eliminating gaming the system from the culture of business requires that we first understand its dynamics – what feeds it and how it is then able to feed itself. 

Is management currently equipped to deal with gaming the system?  Probably not.  Does management even have the stomach to deal with gaming the system.  Probably not again.  Part of The Economist article says it all – “management usually knows what to do, but for some reason it doesn’t do it.”  Well if management doesn’t do something, we will continue to see results that do not meet the promises that stockholders and employee are given.  And who do you suppose the losers will be….


In Gaming the System, James Rieley artfully minimises the divide between business skills and common sense management practices. He shows depth and a belief in people and their needs in today's business arena that will strike a chord in every organisational development leader's heart.  Gaming the System should help readers to take greater responsibility for growing organisational effectiveness through communication, a focus on core capabilities, and shared vision." Marcia Bradley, Chief People Officer, Ericsson Wireless Communications, San Diego

"James Rieley has used a set of stories to illustrate very effectively the mistakes companies make in trying to make and enable change, and improve their results.  Rieley's examples are real, feel real, and therefore, demonstrate how employees react and what senior executives need to do differently in specific problem situations.  His summary, with a focus on using vision, understanding, and thinking systemically, is 'spot on' in suggesting solutions for dealing with the issues raised in the book.  We used these concepts very successfully in the transformation efforts at the Royal Dutch Shell group of companies."  Mac McDonald, Director, Leadership and Performance Operations (LEAP) Shell (retired).

"This should be required reading for every CEO...or newly minted MBA.  The mechanistic things discussed at most Board meetings and taught in B-schools never get to the realities James B. Rieley describes."  Michael Eisenbud, VP of Human Resources at Alstom.

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All information is copyright James B. Rieley 2004 - 2009