Zaken doen, Advaita en ZenZaken doen en Advaita, of zaken doen en boeddhisme, of zaken doen en Zen. Klinkt allemaal wat bizar. Of gekunsteld. Maar er zijn mooie voorbeelden aan de top van het zakenleven. We geven hier integraal een toespraak weer van een CEO van een van de meest succesvolle computerbedrijven. De basis inzichten van de advaita, het boeddhisme of de Zen zitten in deze toespraak. Hij sluit af met een bekend inzicht van de verlichten: And remember, we see the world, not as it is, but as we are.
Speech given in Washington DC at the Dimensions of Leadership Conference for the Leadership Development Academy ofthe Graduate School, USDA, November 25, 2002. by Greg Merten of HewlettPackard.
I am delighted to be here with such a distinguished group of leaders in government service and to be part of this conference. This engagement resulted from a talk I gave at the annual meeting of the Society of Organizational Learning in Boston this last summer where I met Georgie Bishop,who has been instrumental in this invitation to address you. I have a lot of passion about thesubject of leadership and Hewlett-Packard has a commitment to be of service inthe communities we live. The United States is certainly one of those communities. So I have been looking forward to this opportunity toshare some of my thoughts about my leadership experience with you.
I started atHewlett-Packard over 30 years ago. My management career started even before that, in another company, so Ihave been in leadership positions for most of my work life and Hewlett-Packardhas been a great company to work for with an unbroken string of quarterlyprofits that lasted over 60 years, until very recently. A rare accomplishment.
HP historicallywas very decentralized with about 80 independent divisions. The ideal job in HP was divisiongeneral manager. They had lots ofautonomy. Training at the toplevels focused on business skills, not on the skills required to create a highperformance team and we chose new GM’s on the basis of business skills, notleadership attributes. Thisapproach is evidenced by the fact that most GM’s, who were not successful,failed because they could not lead their team effectively. This eventually gave rise to an“arrived at” culture at the top of the company that no longer required topmanagers to grow their leadership capacity at the pace the world waschanging. Some businesses were ina time warp, using practices and approaches that worked for small independentbusinesses, but which were woefully inadequate for a collaborative,interconnected business world. Sothe world changed faster than we did, requiring massive changes to catch up,including the merger with Compaq, a change of huge proportions that we areengaged with now.
I believe lack ofperformance, that is a lack of desired results, is fundamentally a leadershipissue, and I believe the source of leadership is in learning, learning aboutourselves, in relationship with others and the circumstances in which weoperate so we can be ever more effective at producing those results. Stated another way, leadership is abouthow to create the most effective intersection among ourselves, other people,and our shared circumstance. If we learn to do this, we canlook forward to our best days as still ahead of us, not behind us!!
It is widelyrecognized that the most effective leaders have both analytical and emotionalintelligence, or “EQ” as it is designated in the literature. Emotional intelligence is concernedwith character, a capacity to understand ourself, and a capacity to relate wellwith other people. The complexityof the world today requires decisions that cannot be based only on limitedanalytical analysis. It requires arelationship to self and to others to gain understanding beyond mere data. Peter Senge once told me that a mentorto him, a former CEO of Royal Dutch Shell, said that his greatest attribute, asCEO, was his vulnerability, especially in time of strategic shift. In these circumstances, he didn’t knowthe answer and was willing to admit it and to learn with others. Strategic vision emerges from avariety of people and sources and his vulnerability gave him access to thosesources.
Conversely, FordMotor Company recently replaced its CEO.Why? Because he was unable or unwilling to learn whatwas critical today in his circumstances.He already “knew” and was unable to collaborate with others effectivelyin a changing environment. What he“knew” was inadequate or outdated.As Mickey Connolly says in the book, The Communications Catalyst, themore dynamic the environment, the more we add value out of our rate oflearning, not out of what we already know.
I’ll tell you astory about Dave Packard, one of the founders of HP, and emotionalintelligence. It’s about what hecalled his “11 Simple Rules”, a set of rules to help him be more effective withother people. These surfacedfrom our archives a few years ago, unfortunately after Dave wrote hisbook. The story is that Daverecommended these Rules to his newly appointed division managers as a way tocontinue personal development at the end of the offsite when the companycreated its first divisions. Thisrecommendation was a masterful stroke because he communicated to these newgeneral managers that it was not only acceptable to keep learning about yourself inside your job, it wascritical and even he as the head of the company, was very deliberate aboutbeing a “work in progress.” He wascommitted to growing his personal effectiveness with his business.
In HP, we call ouroperating culture the HP Way, which I have been a serious student of these last10 years. Let me tell you a couple of stories. When I first studied the 11 Simple Rules and heard the storyof how Dave recommended them to his new division managers, I had the experienceof understanding what sourced the HP Way.It was Bill and Dave’s relationship and this attitude about emotionalintelligence or personal effectiveness that the 11 Simple Rulesexemplified. The HP Way is theconsequence of the commitment to growth and relationship of each of us asemployees, not the source. We mustcontinually recreate it.
The second storyis illustrative of Bill and Dave’s relationship. Walter Hewlett told a story at his father’s funeral of oneof his nephew’s asking him many years ago if Bill and Dave ever fought. The answer was “no, never!” I once did a calculation of what sizethis company would be if it grew at a 20% lower rate because of Bill and Dave’slack of working relationship. Itwould have been about 12B$, not 50B$.If it grew at half the historical rate because of Dave and Billrelationship, it would be about 200 million, or roughly the size of Tektronix,which started about the same time.Bill and Dave had a relationship of acceptance of each other as humanbeings. It is what the Chileanbiologist, Humberto Maturana, calls legitimacy. I accept you for who you are; now let’s get to workand accomplish something together.Dave and Bill naturally extended this acceptance or legitimacy to thepeople they hired. It was unusualat the time. It gave rise to apractice that has been famous in the company called Managing By Walking Aroundor MBWA. Managers, including theCEO, would walk around talking to employees as equal human beings and learningfrom them what was actually going on in the company. An environment of strong relationships was created in HP andit is on the basis of relationships that value is generated. It is the story of humanaccomplishment.
My goal in sharingwith you my own leadership story is that it will change your life, not becauseof anything particularly brilliant I say or even because I understand it allthat well, but rather that something I say, coupled with your reflection, willchange your perspective, which will change your behavior, which will changeyour life. I don’t claim to knowwhat you should do. I can onlyshare with you my perspectives on my experiences. Remember, we see the world, not as it is, but as we are,while thinking of ourselves as objective, independent observers. No such person exists. That paradox gives rise to manyproblems that can only be solved in relationship with other people.
My story in inextricably connected with the story ofinkjet, one of the most successful technology and business ventures in thehistory of HP. The technology itselfis pretty amazing. Imaginewatching a kettle of water on the stove come to a boil. If one is patient enough, a bubblefinally appears and if one waits still longer, a rolling boil will ultimatelyoccur. Imagine instead that youcould put so much energy into the kettle in two microseconds that a singlebubble formed instantly across the whole kettle surface and ejected thecontents of the pan onto the ceiling!Now imagine that you could refill the kettle with more water and repeatthe process 20,000 times in one second, and do it with 500 kettles! That is what we do with inkjet. I know, I don’t believe it either! Of course, the geometries are muchsmaller than a kettle, which makes these speeds achievable. The drop volume is about 4 trillionthsof a liter! It takes 29 of thesedrops to make a period at the end of a sentence. Such small drops are necessary to achieve the resolution andcolor performance to produce photographic output, which our printers do verywell.
Many differenttechnologies are involved in making a print cartridge and hundreds of thousandsof engineering years of effort and billions of dollars have been expended toadvance this technology to its present state. We make tens of millions of cartridges per month in 6 sitesaround the world.
Until veryrecently, I have been with inkjet since 1981 when it was a Research andDevelopment project and I managed a thin film manufacturing area in which itwould be produced. Our firstproduct was introduced in 1984 and I had about 75 people in manufacturing. We sold about 3 million dollars worthof cartridges that first year and lost lots of money as we were still investingheavily in the business and future generations. We are now about 10,000 people in 6 sites around the worldand our sales are more than1000 times what we produced that first year, orseveral billion dollars annually.Obviously this has entailed a lot of change over that last 18years. These changesoccurred in all aspects of the business and in our people and in individualgrowth.
It is unusual forsomeone to “stay at the top” of an organization and business that is growingthis fast where we were often doubling in less than two years. Frequently, in these circumstances, thebusiness outgrows the person and other leadership is brought in. I credit my becoming one of the VicePresidents of this multi-billion dollar business to being willing to beginpersonal development about 10 years ago in a way I had never before evenunderstood, much less attempted.
Three events orcircumstances jolted me out of the safety of avoidance of significant personalchange. One was that my boss wasgoing to retire in a year or two and I wanted his job, but he told me I was farfrom a shoo-in; the business was growing rapidly. Could I provide the necessary leadership? The person who replaced him needed tobe able to provide leadership to create what the organization needed to become,not what it was at that time. Iappreciated his candid assessment but I was also intimidated by what itmeant.
The second eventwas the loss of our third son, Scott, in a teenage car crash in 1990. Scott, at 16, was more naturallycontributing to others, than I was at 46 when he was killed, this in spite ofmy leading a very successful life by most measures. I’m an identical twin and it’s very difficult to establishone’s own identity in that environment.I entered adulthood with a legacy of self-images that were bothinaccurate and did not serve me well.I think many of us are in this circumstance. I was too insecure to take the personal risk, to bevulnerable, to achieve the personal learning necessary to be the leader thisbusiness required at that time.The kind of person Scott was inspired me to establish differentrelationships with myself and with other people.
The thirdcircumstance was that I could see that I was not anywhere close to smartenough, nor did I have enough time, to manage, as in control, an organizationthat would become 10,000 people with European, Asian, Latin American and U.S.cultures that had to work very closely together in a high-tech, high changeenvironment to achieve the growth the business required. Sites like these often becomedestructively competitive, as a matter of local survival, and we could notprosper in that kind of environment.I came to understand I could only be successful if I became much more ofa leader and less of a manager. Welead out of who we are and I needed to become much more of what theorganization needed. I needed tolead an organization as a system where the component parts act locally in anempowered way that is coherent with the larger organization’s primaryobjectives. Having all decisionscome back to the top in a large, distributed, changing environment wouldcripple our effectiveness.
In WarrenBennis’ book, On Becoming a Leader, he characterized the difference betweenleadership and management by identifying leadership with vision, contextsetting, inspiration, communication, core values, whereas he identifiedmanagement with execution, measurement and control. To be sure, there is a lot of overlap and both arenecessary, but in a high change environment, effective leadership isrequired.
My favoritedefinition of leadership was written by Peter Senge.
Leadershipis about creating a domain in which human beings continually deepen theirunderstanding of reality and become more capable of participating in theunfolding of the world.Ultimately, leadership is about creating new realities.
Certainly that isthe opportunity facing governments today as well as every other aspect of oursociety.
This definitionimplies discovery rather than adopting the arrogance of ordaining what isreality. While this is very clearin the physical world (we cannot make inkjet cartridges while violating thelaws of Mother Nature), we often act as if we can decide what works in thesocial world, rather than discover and abide by the laws in that arena aswell.
In a leadershipcourse we teach in HP, we draw the distinction that, in a dynamic environment,the rate of learning is what creates value, not primarily what is alreadyknown. Hence, my assertion thatlearning about circumstances, others and self is what is the source ofleadership, or stated another way, ourleadership is sourced by our relationship to learning. It is how we create newrealities.
I believe verystrongly that leadership is not reserved for managers. Leadership, that is causing appropriatechange, can be provided by any individual in an organization or society. In Corvallis, Oregon, where Ilive, a community volunteer, without any official position, experience, oracademic training, became nationally recognized in Emergency Management,testifying before Congress, speaking nationally of her role as chair of the BentonCounty Emergency Management Council, and creating a proposal that eventuallybecame Project Impact in the Clinton Administration among other things. Extraordinary leadership. I know the story because the person ismy wife, Diane.
When the Inkjetbusiness really started to grow in the early 90’s and we were hiring lots ofpeople, among other things, we offered a reflective leadership experience toeveryone in the organization. Iintroduced those courses and made an explicit connection between the things Iwas hoping they would learn about themselves and the results we would obtain asa business. It was money wellspent.
Change I neededto make:
So how did I needto change?
I needed to quitcompeting with people; the kind of competition that arises out of insecurity orpreservation. Dave’s firstSimple Rule was to think of the other person first, forming a basis ofrelationship upon which value could be created. I began creating much more effective relationships when Ifollowed this rule, and discovered my personal concerns paradoxicallydisappeared!
I needed to learnhow to collaborate more effectively, to find valuable intersection with peoplerather than force my limited point of view. Inquiry creates more value than advocacy because learning isoccurring. Learning is the basisof a conversational cycle of value, while simply disagreeing and defending myposition begins a cycle of waste.
I needed to becomemuch more effective in listening because all things we accomplish involves listening. A valuable conversation bothenhances relationships and causes learning.
I needed to learnhow to build more powerful relationships, ones that would withstand thechallenges of failure and problems and not breakdown when they were needed most. Value creation cannot besustained in adversariality.
Anotherstory: 1995 was the first year we produced one product at all three sites. Including wafer fabrication, theprocess contains about 200 steps.We produced the silicon chip in our Singapore site and assembled thechips into cartridges at all three sites, Singapore, Puerto Rico, andIreland. We developed a seriousyield problem that was generating a lot of scrap. It was an urgent critical situation.There were misleading indicators as to the cause of the problem, whichcaused assertions and accusations, which wasted time and damagedrelationships. We solved theproblem, but it took too long and we rendered the organization less capable ofsolving the next problem in the minimum time, because the relationships wereweaker. While I wasdisappointed that we did not solve the problem sooner, because of damagedrelationships, I was really worried about out ability to solve the next problem,which would likely be even more critical as we were growing so fast. Hence my assertion thatvaluable conversation causes learning and enhances relationships. Because of this experience, we startedtraining in conversational competence in a serious way so we could reduce ourtime-to-resolution all across the organization.
I needed to learnhow to create an environment where people would take on risk to accomplish theseemingly impossible and I needed to help them believe in themselves more fullyso they would take on such risk.
I needed to take morerisk personally to contribute to the organization and to others. The essence of leadership arises fromwithin, from who we are at our core.That essence gives rise to behaviors, which in turn, give rise topractices. In short, I needed tobecome the change I wanted to see in the organization, to paraphraseGhandi.
I believe the mostfundamental realization I have made is that if I want things to change “outthere”, I have to change “in here”.We can change no one but ourselves, and in so doing, cause changes “outthere” way beyond what we would predict.As Adam Kahane expressed:Our ability to change the world is commensurate with our level ofpersonal development.
So how am Igoing about it?I attended a seminar on leadership shortly after ourson’s death that was unusual and that gave me insight on how my self-image wasnot serving me well. I thought alot less of myself than others thought of me. Do any of you perhaps struggle with that? The evidence is in all the ways wecreate safety for ourselves by separating from other people, thus avoidingpersonal risk.. In that seminarand in a repeat one that involved the management team, I was confronted with mylack of calibration in a pretty unavoidable way. It became very clear that I needed to readjust my self-imageand, out of that, contribute much more effectively. I had a lot of talent and opportunity to contribute I wasnot fulfilling.
I became part of a“developmental community” which consisted of myself and primarily my staff,meeting one day every month or so with two coaches to take on personal growthand team effectiveness and leadership.We used the issues in the organization as “grist for the mill” andfigured out how we could have more effective impact across the entire organizationthan we were having. This was agreat learning experience.
I started readinga lot more. I’ve read close to 100books or so (I travel frequently) in the past several years on all kinds ofsubjects from philosophy, biography, culture, business, economics, religion,history, etc. Each book hascontributed to my life and to my job.I suggest to my organization and to you that if you are not readingbroadly, especially outside your discipline, you are likely to be a stalethinker, and your creativity is greatly limited.
Finally, Ispend much more time learning from my experiences. I reflect on most conversations I have to learn what wentwell and what didn’t and how I could speak differently the next time. I look for both things I might have saidand didn’t, and for ways I could have said something more effectively. I have NEVER failed to learn somethingfrom these reflections. I’m oftenable to observe myself even while having the conversation. Warren Bennis wrote the book, OnBecoming a Leader, as a result of research he did to discover if there was acommon trait among leaders. Heshadowed leaders in several arenas and discovered what was common was awillingness to reflect and, thereby, to learn from their experiences. Don’t we all? No, some of us very little. Witness Archie Bunker, the quintessentialnon-reflective person. He alreadyknew everything so he had no need to reflect! The more we reflect, the more we act in circumstances ratherthan react. When teenagers or aspouse get surprised by your response to a situation in which they “know” howyou will react, it is the result of your being reflective, of your learningsomething in that reflection, and of your choosing to behave differently thenext time. That is how wegrow. As, Humberto Maturana,says that is the biological way of learning, that is, we learn capability onlythrough experience that we recognize or become aware of through reflection.
So what am Ilearning?
I am learning thatwe get trapped and frustrated by our expectations. It is far better to build on the partnerships of mutualcommitment than the adversarial relationships that arise from casting ourexpectations on others.Expectations require judgments we are incapable of making because ourability to perceive accurately is so limited. I suggest that a conversation that engages others in theopportunity and that leads to commitment on their part captures their heartrather than just their head. Thisis because we honor their agency or choice in the matter, or, stated anotherway: if we cannot say “no”, then we cannot wholeheartedly say “yes”. I believe moving to commitmentfrom expectation in human relations is a huge opportunity in most organizationsthat would unleash enormous pent up potential. We could spend 2 hours just on this distinction alone.
I am learning togrant the same good intentions I reserve for myself, even in the face of“evidence” to the contrary, or as Lao Tsu said, “In speech, it is good faiththat matters.”. That trustrequires me to check out the “evidence” and to reestablish relationship. It is the trust in someone else thatdetermines the level of faith or risk we are willing to engage with that personin pursuit of some goal. Withoutit, we do not even get started.
I am learning thatmost people want to and will do a good job. So create an environment in which they can!
I am learning thatforgiveness, that is letting go, is essential to personal and organizationalhealth and effectiveness. If wedon’t forgive, we become tied to the past in a way that prevents us from beingcoherent with the present, which greatly limits our future. The friendship weoffered to our son’s friend who was recklessly driving the car when our son waskilled had a great impact on him, on our family, and in our community.
I am learning thatwhile leaders do not “do it all”, they are critical to the success of anorganization. An organizationseldom exceeds the vision and the commitments of its leader. A wise man once said: Where there is novision, the people perish! I cannever escape the “mantle” of my position.I’m always on stage and opportunity is always in front of me. We often miss those opportunities tomake a difference out of fear or lack of awareness of our opportunity to influence. I can always make a difference, yetit’s not about me.
I am learning thatmy perspective of the world and of myself is not only my primary leadershipasset but also my primary limiter, so I need to keep expanding and truing myperspective. I havediscovered I make a home out of my perceptions and grant it the reality ofstone, when it is more like a house of cards! I encourage us all to read and learn in other ways toenliven our thoughts, and to reflect so we can see ourselves, others and worldthrough new eyes.
I am learning thatorganizations will lose effectiveness if they do not stay in touch and servetheir constituency. If I am notwilling to change, to take risk about who I am in the matter, I can’t expect myorganization to take on change and personal growth. It starts with me.
I am learning thatreviewing results as a team, what I call public performancemeasurement (because we can fool our boss but not our peers), is critical tosuccess and the measurement must reflect the objectives of theorganization. Bill Hewlett said,“tell me how you’re are going to observe me, and I’ll tell you how I’llbehave.”
I am learning thattime-to-create value, like time-to-market, is fundamentally a function of ourcompetence in conversation with others, that conversations for possibility arefar more effective than conversations for no possibility, that building onmutuality creates more value than focusing on differences and that listening ismore powerful than speaking.
I am learning thatpeople don’t resist change; they resist being unilaterally put at risk. Helping people move through theirperceived risk is far more effective than accusing them of being non-supportiveof required change.
I am learning thatI see issues with others easier than I see them in myself, especially if Idon’t reflect. I need people I canpartner with and learn from about myself.Many people have contributed to me over these past 12 years, helping mesee the world and myself more accurately.
I am learning thatthere is no common brain in a group, so if we want to optimize or integrateacross a system, we must accurately understand the other perspectives andconditions, and we must be in productive relationship with others, or we won’tget their perspectives and we won’t optimize the system.
I am learning thatmy belief in the capacity of my people makes a huge difference in theirwillingness to take on personal risk in pursuit of extraordinary accomplishmentand that my willingness to stand in the tension of setting aggressive goalscreates an environment where the extraordinary is accomplished.
I am learning thatI must act with integrity, that I must set the example of the kinds of behaviorI would like in the organization.Dishonesty, in all its forms, saps the strength of any organization orsystem because it kills trust and destroys risk taking.
I am learning thatto contribute to someone rather than to be seen as a criticizer, I must suspendjudgment, because to contribute to another, I must also be willing to learn.
I can demonstratethat we have brought literally hundreds of millions of incremental dollars tothe bottom line through creating effective relationships, increasing ourability to create value through conversation, executing at the system versusthe silo level, and empowering people while measuring our performance in a public conversation. This hasbeen a 10-year undertaking.
These pastyears have been a thrilling and very rewarding experience. My career and what I have contributedto far exceeded my anticipations and it keeps expanding. I left a much higher level job in theSan Francisco Bay area so our family could move back to Oregon, and I took onmanaging a much smaller manufacturing area than what I had in California, butit was in the area in which this inkjet product would get manufactured, if itwere successful. So, I wasfortunate to hook up with a winner, but I also was willing to take risk and tochange personally so I could keep pace with the growth of the business. It has been a rare, incredibleexperience for which I am very grateful.I am now embarking on another career to apply what I have learned morebroadly in HP to help the merger with Compaq be successful.
Finally, I amlearning, and believe very profoundly, that life is about growth andchange. Stasis is an illusory andultimately disappointing hope. Ifwe are to lead the changes required in our future, first take on changingourselves. We must commit!
A favorite quoteof mine is from W.H. Murray of the Scottish Himalayan Expedition…
…untilone is committed there is always hesitancy, the chance to draw back, alwaysineffectiveness. Concerning allacts of initiative and creation there is one elementary truth the ignorance ofwhich kills countless ideas and splendid plans.
Themoment one commits oneself, then providence moves too.
Multitudesof things occur to help that which otherwise could never be. A stream of events issues from thedecision, raising to one’s favor all manner of unforeseen accidents, meetingsand material assistance, which no one could have dreamed would come hisway. I learned deep respect forone of Goethe’s couplets:“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic init.”
Another quote fromMary Ann Williamson used by Nelson Mandella in his inaugural speech:
Itis called Deepest Fear:
Ourdeepest fear is not that we are inadequate; our deepest fear is that we arepowerful beyond measure. It is ourlight, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
Weask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually,who are you not to be? You are achild of God. Your playing smalldoesn’t serve the world. There’snothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecurearound you.
Weare born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s ineveryone. And as we let our ownlight shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear,our presence automatically liberates others.
I have lived bothof these quotes. When I changed roles earlier this year, I visited each of thesites. I have been working withsome of these people close to 15 years.It was a great experience, kind of a checkpoint and in many ways avalidation of this leadership journey I committed to. The level of appreciation and love that was shared was verymoving, best expressed with the following words on a gift from the folks inPuerto Rico:
Greg, thanks forcaring more than others thought was wise, for risking more than others thoughtwas safe, for dreaming more than others thought was practical, and forexpecting more than others thought was possible.
I share this in humilityand in the appreciation I feel for having had this opportunity to create suchgreat relationships, and on the basis of those relationships, be part ofextraordinary accomplishment.
And remember, we see the world, not as it is, but as we are.