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Art Pulis
I am a business consultant, writer, public speaker with a wonderful wife and three children out of the nest. I have a passion for free-enterprise business and for business people to be successful.
Interests: fishing, reading, trying to live a life obedient to God, and living a life one day at a time.
Recent Activity
Within the past two days, news stories about General Motors have signaled a major shift in thinking about the way workers are compensated. These stories indicate to me a huge change in corporate culture. The first story is about a shift the company is taking by moving salaried workers from defined benefit pensions to defined contribution pension systems. The second is about profits, and the fact that many workers will receive $7,000 profit-sharing checks. The connection between these stories tells me that the company is moving its employee motivation toward a greater risk and reward strategy. The company is saying... Continue reading
Posted Feb 16, 2012 at The Winning Culture
I see the joining of two completely different and unique trends that may quickly represent a very important change for society. The trends are on-line education and telecommuting. For several months I’ve been enjoying a daily blog, http://people.uis.edu/rschr1/onlinelearning/ From this, we can clearly see that the traditional educational establishments, both in k-12 and higher education, are loosing their monopolistic grips, and on-line education is providing many more choices to the person wanting to teach or learn from home. The other clear trend from business is that more companies are allowing flexible work arrangements. We can add to that the clear... Continue reading
Posted Feb 15, 2012 at The Winning Culture
I had to comment on the recent American Airlines announcement of getting rid of 13,000 employees. In Dallas, Texas there are two well known airline companies. One is in hemorrhaging money, is in bankruptcy, gives (in my opinion) horrible customer service, and is now getting rid of a bunch of employees. The other one makes lots of money, gives great customer service, has never had a layoff, and is expanding. Do we wonder what is the difference between Southwest Airlines and American? Does anyone think that the executives might want to look to the other side of town and find... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2012 at The Winning Culture
The other day I was talking to a department head about the concept of collaborative decision making. He felt that he, as department head, should make the decision. I suggested that he should bring the entire department into the decision-making process. My reasoning was simple. Yes, he might be the smartest in the department, and be in the best position to make the decision. But, did he really think that he was smarter than the other five department members combined? When we bring others into the decision we gain the knowledge of the entire group which, hopefully, is greater than... Continue reading
Posted Jun 25, 2011 at The Winning Culture
Reading a recent news article caused me to reflect on how risk and cultures are related. More importantly, they are critical to the success of a business or organization. Here is a very quick clip from the news article. "The City of Portland, Oregon just drained off some 8 million gallons of its fresh water supply. Why? Because some kid decided to take a leak while hiking with some friends." What's behind the story is probably a lot more important. Clearly the city water department didn't want to take any risk. Despite the dilution factor, as well as the fact... Continue reading
Posted Jun 21, 2011 at The Winning Culture
One of the reasons why our organizations need more emphasis on policies and less on rules is that rules so often force the organization into difficult or impossible situations. This week there has been some news discussion about new rules the Department of Education is proposing on college student aid. The government wants to crack down on “unscrupulous” for-profit colleges that get a lot of money from student loans and then leave the graduate with a lot of debt and no job. The idea is good, but then comes the rule setting. The rules proposed say that for-profit schools that... Continue reading
Posted Jun 5, 2011 at The Winning Culture
A couple of days ago in a seminar I was teaching, I asked a particular question of a group of about 20 financial professionals. The question was, “if one of your employees had a great idea to significantly improve the efficiency of the department, but the idea could mean that their own job might be eliminated or significantly reduced, would the person give you the idea? At first, nobody raised a hand. And, by the way, it was far enough into the seminar where everyone felt comfortable voting on certain questions. Finally, one young lady slowly raised her hand and... Continue reading
Posted Apr 23, 2011 at The Winning Culture
Recently I heard a member of Congress bemoaning the fact that technological advances kill jobs. In fact, he pointed to the iPad as an example of a culprit. You know, he is right! Every day someone comes up with a better and cheaper way to do something, and often a job is lost. That may be true of automation, out-sourcing, or using an Excel spreadsheet or the Internet to do what used to be done by a person. Since technology does kill jobs, the key is on which side do we want to align ourselves. Do we want to be... Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2011 at The Winning Culture
One of the most important differences between the old style organization and the new one is the ability to structure jobs and duties. We say that we want to pay people to do work, but we actually pay them to put in time and hope that they work while putting in the time. In fact, the most bureaucratic cultures even hire "supervisors" and "managers" to watch over the people and make sure they work. The modern way is to organize jobs around tasks and projects measuring progress with good metrics. For example, you can pay a collector to sit and... Continue reading
Posted Apr 15, 2011 at The Winning Culture
Everything that I'm reading these days points to an adaptation of the old but true concept of the "Golden Rule." That is, that when give away things you freely receive. Modern marketing, especially on the Internet, says to give out free valuable content to people, and they will visit your place of business. People don't want to be sold, they want to have a favorable experience. Yesterday, I participated in the first annual, Ace Hardware Guys Who Grill competition in Wickenburg. We had about 400 people paying $10 to sample wonderful food prepared by grilling teams. The people had a... Continue reading
Posted Mar 20, 2011 at The Winning Culture
I find myself in a struggle with an unnamed government department trying to get a certain permit for something. I don't think there is anything wrong with our application, but trying to communicate with the department is impossible. They do not answer phone calls or e-mails. If I were rating their level of customer service it would be a minus 10. When asked why, I get that they are busy. One cynical friend suggested that when governments have funds cut, they automatically allow customer service to suffer as a way to get the funds restored. I hope not, but it... Continue reading
Posted Mar 11, 2011 at The Winning Culture
I find myself in a struggle with an unnamed government department trying to get a certain permit for something. I don't think there is anything wrong with our application, but trying to communicate with the department is impossible. They do not answer phone calls or e-mails. If I were rating their level of customer service it would be a minus 10. When asked why, I get that they are busy. One cynical friend suggested that when governments have funds cut, they automatically allow customer service to suffer as a way to get the funds restored. I hope not, but it... Continue reading
Posted Mar 11, 2011 at The Winning Culture
As I watch the news about the state worker unrest in several states, I have to reflect on what this has to do with different types of organizations and different organizational cultures. We need to remember that we have the "old style" organization and the "new style" organization. The old style one was often engaged in manufacturing and needed a lot of employees who were good at following directions and obeying rules. In fact, a manager at one of these organizations actually didn't want creative people who had the ability to think on their feet. These people had a greater... Continue reading
Posted Mar 4, 2011 at The Winning Culture
Today I was thinking a lot about what religious faith has to do with good management. In Christianity, faith in God means that we trust Him and not ourselves. When we succeed in our own strength, it's easy to continue trusting our own efforts to provide results. The problem, is that we are not trusting God. In management, it's the same thing. Leading people requires that we trust them and their decisions. When we don't trust our employees, we find ourselves trusting our own efforts instead. When we look at the most successful organizational leaders we find that they train... Continue reading
Posted Feb 11, 2011 at The Winning Culture
The State Of The Union address last evening said some very important things. I believe that one has some important things to ponder. This is the collection of two quotes that follows: "The rules have changed. In a single generation, revolutions in technology have transformed the way we live, work and do business… competition for jobs is real. But this shouldn't discourage us. It should challenge us,” said President Bareck Obama. I couldn't agree with these two statements more, and this has everything to do with this blog and my personal conviction about change in management thinking. The old "industrial... Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2011 at The Winning Culture
I recently saw a post on another blog about a heartwarming story involving employee empowerment involving a pilot of Southwest Airlines. The link follows: http://www.elliott.org/blog/southwest-airlines-pilot-holds-plane-for-murder-victims-family/ One of the things that sets an organizational culture apart is its level of employee empowerment. Does it give the employee the power to make "on the spot" decisions, or is every decision governed by a set of rules? When we allow empowerment we have happier employees and generally better customer service. When we go only by rules and regulations we have the advantage of more consistency in our operations. I would suggest that one... Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2011 at The Winning Culture
As I read about the tragedy of the Arizona shootings, and then the political rhetoric and calls for legislation, it brings to mind the importance of carefully thinking through our management decisions. So often, our organizational leadership makes quick decisions to “put out a fire or plug a hole,” only to later discover that the decision caused even larger problems to occur. This especially happens in a bureaucratic or autocratic system, but can also happen in a collaborative system. When mistakes happen there is a natural tendency to find someone or something to blame, and go about trying to make... Continue reading
Posted Jan 10, 2011 at The Winning Culture
In the Bureaucratic environment, what does management do when there is a problem? Simple, it passes more rules and regulations, and enforces existing rules to make sure that everyone obeys. The problem is that the system doesn't work. There obviously was a problem with the snow removal in New York around Christmas. What's NY City's solution? According to a recent article, "Saying a lack of information hampered snow clearing, the mayor announced that 50 Sanitation trucks assigned to Midwood, Flatbush, Ditmas Park and Kensington will be outfitted with GPS and that roving observation teams armed with video cameras will transmit... Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2011 at The Winning Culture
As we start the new year it’s easy to consider the famous “new year’s resolution.” While there are many jokes about the practice, it does bring up a serious issue about establishing the culture of the organization. When we have a vision of where the organization is headed, and all members agree and buy into the vision, the organization works a whole lot better. I don’t agree with endless meetings wasting huge amounts of time hammering out each and every word of a vision statement. But, I certainly do agree that the organization should spend a little time making sure... Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2011 at The Winning Culture
In reading several books recently, I've come to realize the importance between the old style, "factory" type organization and the modern collaborative organization. In the old style organization, the owner hired workers who would be obedient and do that which the boss or manual said to do. The owner really didn't want a very creative person. After all, the worker was really just another machine in the factory. In the new modern organization, we want people to think for themselves. We want them to be creative and be problem solvers. Yes, the business owner wants them to be obedient, but... Continue reading
Posted Jan 4, 2011 at The Winning Culture
I've recently been reading Seth Godin's book, Linchpin. It really got me thinking on how we all tend to use fear as a way to motivate people to change. Employers, schools, and even society uses it. We fear not doing well, being fired, not fitting in, etc. In reality, fear stymies our creativity and won't let us really succeed. So, the challenge for managers and leaders is to figure how we can motivate without using fear. In my opinion, that could be a major challenge for the coming year. Continue reading
Posted Dec 28, 2010 at The Winning Culture
Having happy employees is important, if not required, to have the brightest and best employees. It is interesting to correlate happy employees to the success of the organization. Today I saw a release from glassdoor.com that Southwest Airlines has been rated as one of the best places to work. That is, the rating is from the employees themselves. Other winners were Facebook, General Mills, and Overstock.com. It is interesting that these companies are also eminently successful. Two things beg a comment. First, the world now knows if your employees are happy or not. Years ago, nobody would know about happy... Continue reading
Posted Dec 15, 2010 at The Winning Culture
At my seminars I often ask the group, "what is the difference between management and leadership?" The answers are fascinating. For me, the real difference seems to be the difference between "top down" and "bottom up." When the manager is asking the department to do something, it is more of a top down approach. When the leader is asking the team to follow him or her, it is more of a bottom up approach. One participant gave me a definition that I will treasure and use a lot. He said that, "you manage things, but you lead people." Wow! I... Continue reading
Posted Dec 10, 2010 at The Winning Culture
Many people mistakenly believe that a more collaborative or team approach is an opportunity for less than totally strong leadership. In fact, the collaborative style requires a stronger not a weaker kind of leader. The difference isn’t in strength - it is in style. When leaders start to question their effectiveness and strength, they have a tendency to become more autocratic in style. They tend to take over more control since they begin to fear losing control. Unfortunately, this often had the opposite effect and their organization suffers badly. Strong, but collaborative leaders, recognize that they desperately need the help... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2010 at The Winning Culture
The following appeared in a news article. It is one of the most typical of the fear of people in the bureaucratic culture. Notice especially the quote that, ""What kind of environment have we created such that the principal does or doesn't feel comfortable overriding a rule," said Dean." In the low trust environment of the bureaucratic culture, people don't feel the trust to make good decisions. The key is to establish a collaborative culture where people are trusted and encouraged to take a little risk. School officials at Del Mar High aren't talking about the situation, so Musquez is... Continue reading
Posted Nov 16, 2010 at The Winning Culture