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Hi Larry, While you don't put much stock in organizational research, do you have any favorite books by practioners or leaders that you've found useful in navigating the trenches? I've been reading Deming's Out of the Crisis and front-line experience/skill is something he has emphasized numerous times in the first third of the book. Would be interested in your thoughts (or anyone else's for that matter).
Thank you for sharing this recommended reading list! As mentioned by someone else, I would absolutely include the Heath brothers' Switch in the list as implementing change is, in many ways, the essence of leadership. They borrow Jonathan Haidt's metaphor of the elephant and rider to illistrate how vital it is to clearly and simply specify the steps to change and to make an emotional connection to the change. Another book that I've really enjoyed recently is Your Brain at Work by David Rock. I generally avoid "business fiction" but again, I find his metaphor of the actors and stage to be very helpful in diagnosing breakdowns in my own and other's thinking and chock full of practical tips for increasing resilience and effectiveness.
Regarding your first question, I think AnneL may have identified a fifth category between mutual obligation and indifference which would be fear driven box checking. This would be the case where individuals follow procedures out of a fear of retribution rather than an endorsement of said procedures. This would seem to be what the pilot experienced. This stage would be a slippery slope that takes you from mutual obligation to indifference and then contempt. Perhaps this is what happens when mutual obligation becomes "smart talk" without meaningful follow through from leadership? As for the second question, I take a page from Kotter's Heart of Change. United needs to feel this fiasco as a crisis and use it to motivate the customer service culture change throughout the organization. The management has a lot on its plate to make the Continental merger a success, but this transition period is also their opportunity to steer their people and customers back into friendlier skies. By all means, leverage bright spots and intrinsic motivation as other commenters suggest, but first United needs the desire to change and this could be their chance.
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Aug 26, 2012