The First 90 Days

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                                                                  The First 90 Days
 In this issue:                                                   Critical Success Strategies for
 s Learn...                                                          New Leaders at All Levels
   how you can succeed in any                                                by Michael Watkins
   new leadership role by fol-
   lowing 10 steps to make a
   positive impact on your                                                A summary of the original text.
   organization in your first
                                                           ach year, more than half        transition, you will face an
   three months on the job.

 s Discover...
                                                        E  a million managers enter
                                                        new positions in Fortune
                                                                                           uphill battle from that point
   how you can slash the time
   it takes you to reach the                            500 companies alone. That’s
   break-even point: the point                          about one in every four            Your goal should be to
   at which your company                                managers in the average            arrive as quickly as possible
   needs you as much as you                             company — or, looked at            to the break-even point, at
   need it.
                                                        another way, it means the          which you have contributed
 s Understand...                                        average manager changes            as much value to the busi-
   how to achieve your goals                            jobs every four years.             ness as you have consumed
   whether you are launching a                                                             from it. When 210 CEOs
   start-up, leading a turn-
   around, orchestrating a                              If you’re in a new leadership      were asked how long it
   realignment, or sustaining a                         position in business, you’re       takes a mid-level manager
   high-performing unit.                                allowed 90 days to prove           to reach the break-even
                                                        yourself. The actions you          point, their answer was six
 s Develop...
   the skills you need to pro-                          take during your first three       months. Using the 10-point
   mote yourself, accelerate your                       months in a new job will           plan we will discuss, that
   learning, match the strategy                         largely determine whether          time can be cut substantially.
   to the situation, secure early                       you will succeed or fail in
   wins, and exceed everyone’s
   expectations.                                        the long term.                     The faster you reach the
                                                                                           break-even point (as illus-
 s Transform...                                         Transitions are periods of         trated on page 2), the sooner
   your business by achieving                           opportunity, a chance for a        you can concentrate on fix-
   alignment, building an
   effective team, creating                             fresh start for yourself and       ing problems, exploiting
   coalitions, keeping your bal-                        your organization. But they        opportunities, and building
   ance, and helping others                             are also periods of acute          the business.
   reach the break-even point.                          vulnerability, because you
                        ss                              lack established working           Here are the 10 key steps
Volume 13, No. 3 (2 sections). Section 1, March 2004.   relationships and a detailed       you can take to move
© 2004 Audio-Tech Business Book Summaries 13-5.
No part of this publication may be used or reproduced   understanding of your new          through your job transition
in any manner whatsoever without written permission.    role. If you fail to build         smoothly:
To order additional copies of this summary, reference   momentum during your
Catalog #3041.
THE BREAK-EVEN POINT                                                                  Belgium, and fumbled in
                                                                                      dealing with a racial discrim-
                                                                                      ination suit at headquarters
                                                                                      in Atlanta.

                                                                                      Seeing the big picture, and
                                                                                      dealing with key external
                                                               Breakeven Point
                                                      Value    Net Contribution = 0
                                                                                      constituencies, were not his
                                                     Created                          core competencies, and he

                                                                                      shied away from these criti-
                                                                                      cal tasks. The key to his
                            Value    Months after entry                               failure was that he had not
                                                                                      mentally prepared himself
                                                                                      for the transition from COO
                                                                                      to CEO.

                                                                                      To avoid that fate, it is essen-
                                                                                      tial to establish a clear
1.   Promote yourself.                    to legendary CEO Robert                     breakpoint. Consciously
                                          Goizueta.                                   think of letting the old job go
2.   Accelerate your learning.                                                        and embracing the new one.
                                          Ivester orchestrated the                    Think hard about the differ-
3.   Match the strategy to the            highly-successful spin-off of               ences and requirements of
     situation.                           the bottling operations in                  the two. Seek advice from
                                          1986. He also oversaw the                   people who might help you in
4.   Secure early wins.                   expansion into Eastern                      understanding the new job.
                                          Europe in 1989. Ivester was
5.   Negotiate success.                   a rising star, and was                      When you move into the new
                                          rewarded accordingly, becom-                position, you have to hit the
6.   Achieve alignment.                   ing president and COO of the                ground running. One useful
                                          company in 1994. When                       exercise is to start planning
7.   Build your team.                     Goizueta died suddenly,                     milestones you wish to hit at
                                          Ivester was the obvious                     specific times — remember
8.   Create coalitions.                   choice to succeed him as                    that you have only 90 days to
                                          CEO. And he failed.                         prove yourself. For example,
9.   Keep your balance.                                                               set specific goals for the very
                                          How could such an obviously                 first day on the job. What
10. Expedite everyone.                    talented man with such a                    would you like to have done
                                          great track record fail?                    that first day?
For the rest of this summary,
we'll focus on each of these              He had been a "numbers                      Then move to the first week,
10 steps.                                 guy," detail-oriented, and                  the first month, and so on.
                                          was known as a "super-                      Even if the plan is sketchy
                         ss               COO." But when he became                    in its details, it will help,
                                          CEO, he could not let go of                 and you can revise it as
1. PROMOTE YOURSELF                       that job and in fact, refused               you go along and gain more
                                          to name a new COO. He                       experience.
If you think you can't fail in            could not let go of his atten-
transition, consider the case             tion to detail in favor of the              Even as you're planning your
of Douglas Ivester, once the              big strategic picture required              milestones, assess your vul-
CEO of Coca-Cola. An                      by the new job. He began                    nerabilities. One of the ways
accountant by training, he                alienating everyone he came                 to do that is to ask yourself
had spent nearly 20 years                 in contact with. He lost an                 what kinds of problems you
rising through the ranks of               important acquisition in                    like solving most. That was
Coca-Cola. In 1985, he was                France, failed to take charge               Ivester's problem at Coke:
named CFO at the age of 37.               when Coke was contaminat-                   He chose to focus on problems
He was the right-hand man                 ed at a bottling plant in                   that he was comfortable
2                                                                                                      AUDIO-TECH
solving, and he paid too little   you the truth.                      One learning disability is
attention to the rest. You                                            the failure to even try to
have no doubt perfected           You'll need to negotiate clear      understand the history of the
skills at solving certain kinds   expectations with your old          organization. Every leader
of problems, and those are        boss as you make the some-          should start by asking, "How
probably the ones you like        times-messy transition from         did we get to this point?"
most. But that could leave        one job to another. Both of         Otherwise, you risk tearing
you vulnerable if those aren't    you have to know not only           down fences without knowing
the requirements of the new       what will be done but —             why they were put up. Once
job.                              equally important — what            you know the history, you
                                  will not be done.                   may find you can get rid of
Most problems will fall into                                          the fence — or that there is a
one of three categories:          Don't get caught like Ivester,      good reason to leave it where
                                  trying to do two jobs at once.      it is.
1.   Technical problems           One of the keys to success in
     involve strategy, mar-       transition is learning how to       Other new leaders suffer
     kets, technologies, and      learn again. It may have            from a near-compulsive need
     processes.                   been some time since you            to take immediate action.
                                  had to re-learn your job, and       Listening and observing
2.   Political problems con-      it may be uncomfortable.            should always be the first
     cern power and politics      Let's take a look at the            actions you take. Worse than
     in the organization.         process.                            that are leaders who arrive
                                                                      with the solution already in
3.   Cultural problems                          ss                    mind, before they've even
     involve values, norms,                                           studied the problem. What
     and guiding assumptions.     2. ACCELERATE YOUR                  works in one organizational
                                  LEARNING                            culture may fail miserably in
For example, ask yourself if                                          another.
you deal best with customer       When a new leader derails,
relationships, budgeting,         failure to learn is almost          If you approach your efforts
cost-cutting, product posi-       always a factor. There is           to get up to speed as an
tioning, or cross-functional      such a torrent of information       investment process, you will
cooperation. Look carefully       at first that it can be difficult   realize returns in the form of
at what the new job entails,      to know where to focus. You         actionable insights. An
and see how your problem          may focus on technology, for        actionable insight is knowl-
preferences fit or fail to fit.   example, and forget to learn        edge that enables you to
Where there are gaps, pre-        about the culture and politics      make better decisions sooner,
pare to do the tough work to      of the new position.                and to reach the break-even
bring yourself up to speed on                                         point faster.
those areas. It's going to        Another problem is the
take discipline.                  failure to plan to learn.           To gain actionable insights,
                                  Planning to learn means fig-        you need to talk to external
The main tools for dealing        uring out in advance what           sources of information,
with your vulnerabilities are     the important questions are         including customers, distrib-
self-discipline, team building,   and how you can best answer         utors, suppliers, and outside
and advice and counsel. You       them. Few new leaders take          analysts. You should also get
will need to do the jobs you      the time to think systemati-        information from internal
don't enjoy as much. You          cally about their learning          sources, such as people in
will have to consciously          priorities. Fewer still explic-     sales, purchasing, R&D,
restructure your team, bring-     itly create a learning plan         finance, human resources,
ing in those people who can       when entering a new role.           and so on.
compensate for your weak-
nesses and letting go of some     Some leaders even have              Other people who can pro-
others, perhaps people you're     "learning disabilities," or         vide useful insights are
fond of working with. And         crippling internal blocks to        historians — that is, people
you will have to create a net-    learning.                           who have been with the
work of advisors who can tell                                         company a long time and
BUSINESS BOOK SUMMARIES                                                                              3
know the roots of its culture   •   What is the stated vision    these five questions:
— as well as integrators,           and strategy?
such as project managers                                         1.   What are the biggest
and product managers, who       •   Is the organization really        challenges the company
coordinate cross-functional         pursuing that strategy?           is facing now and will
interaction; these people can       If not, why not?                  face in the near future?
help you to identify the true
hierarchies and tell you        •   Among the company’s          2.   Why is the organization
where the internal conflicts        people, who is capable            facing or going to face
lie.                                and who is not?                   these challenges?

The questions you need to       •   What are the key             3.   What are the most
ask these sources are based         processes, and are they           promising opportunities
on your learning agenda.            performing acceptably?            for growth?
Your learning agenda is a           If not, why not?
focused set of questions you                                     4.   What would need to
will use to help you get the    •   What cultural or political        happen for the company
answers you need the most.          missteps must you avoid           to exploit them?
To create a learning agenda,        making?
list the most important ques-                                    5.   If you were me, what
tions you need to answer        •   In what areas — people,           would you focus attention
about the past, the present,        relationships, processes,         on?
and the future.                     or products — can you
                                    achieve some early wins?     This will allow you to find
Under the subject of the                                         out if there is consensus
past, ask about performance,    Finally, examine the future:     about these matters and also
root causes, and history:                                        give you a reading on your
                                •   In what areas is the         direct reports. Are there fin-
•   What has the past               business most likely to      ger-pointers in the group?
    performance been?               face stiff challenges in     Do people answer honestly or
                                    the coming year?             evasively? Who has the big
•   How were goals set?                                          picture?
    Were they too big or too    •   What are the most
    small?                          promising opportunities?     As you go through the
                                                                 learning process, you will
•   Were benchmarks used?       •   What are the biggest         repeatedly collect informa-
                                    barriers to change?          tion, analyze and distill it,
•   What measures were                                           develop hypotheses, and test
    employed, and what          •   Are there islands of         them, progressively deepen-
    behaviors did they              excellence that you can      ing your understanding of
    encourage and                   leverage?                    the organization. Only then
    discourage?                                                  can you begin the process of
                                •   What new capabilities        diagnosing the business situ-
•   What happened if goals          will you need to develop     ation, a vital step in moving
    were not met?                   or acquire?                  toward meaningful action.

•   What efforts have been      •   Which elements of the                        ss
    made to change the              culture should be pre-
    organization? What              served, and which need       3. MATCH THE STRATEGY
    happened?                       to be changed?               TO THE SITUATION

•   Who has been instru-        Using a structured learning      There are four types of busi-
    mental in shaping this      process can make much bet-       ness situations that new
    organization?               ter use of your time and         leaders must contend with:
                                accelerate your transition.
Next, assess the present:       Meet with your direct reports    1.   Start-up
                                one by one, and ask them
4                                                                                 AUDIO-TECH
2.   Turnaround                   THE STARS MODEL
3.   Realignment

4.   Sustaining success

We will refer to this frame-
work of transition types as
the STARS Model. Knowing
which situation you face will
help crystallize your strategy
for action.

In a start-up, you will have
to put together the people,
funding, and technology to
get a new business, product,
or project off the ground. In
a turnaround, you have to        success. One of the keys to      recruiting new people?
take a troubled unit by the      moving toward sustaining
horns and get it back on         success in any of these cases    In turnarounds and start-
track. Both involve resource-    it to address the psychology     ups, the emphasis is on
intensive construction work      of the organization.             taking action. You'll have to
rather than using existing                                        make decisions early and
infrastructure or capacity.      •   In a start-up, people are    often without complete infor-
On the plus side, you are get-       going to be excited but      mation. Learning is still
ting a fresh start. On the           may lack direction. Your     required, but it's going to
negative side, you'll have to        job will be to channel       be mostly technical at first.
make some tough calls early          their energy in productive   Fortunately, that's the
on.                                  directions.                  easiest kind of learning.
In a realignment, you are        •   In turnarounds, people       In sustaining success situa-
taking charge of a unit that         will be demoralized.         tions and realignments, the
is drifting into trouble and         Your job is to provide the   emphasis is on learning,
needs revitalization. In a           light at the end of the      because you're dealing with
sustaining success situation,        tunnel.                      people who are successful in
you will need to preserve the                                     the first case, and in the sec-
vitality of a successful orga-   •   In realignments, you         ond case, you're dealing with
nization and shepherd it to          will have to overcome        people who think they are.
the next level. In these two         people's denial before       Early mistakes will be costly.
situations, you will have            helping them reinvent        Fortunately, you have more
some time before having to           the business.                time to learn. Delve deeply
make the big decisions,                                           into organizational culture
which allows you more time       •   In a sustaining success      and politics.
to learn. On the downside, it        situation, you'll have to
will be harder to gauge your         combat complacency and       In a realignment or a sus-
progress.                            find new challenges to       taining success, it is more
                                     maintain growth.             important than ever to
Obviously, a start-up, turn-                                      secure those all-important
around, or realignment that      You'll have to allocate your     early wins. Let's discuss how
succeeds becomes a sustain-      resources differently depend-    to do that in more detail.
ing success situation. A         ing on the type of STARS
turnaround or start-up that      situation you're in. For                      ss
fails gets shut down. But a      example, how much time
realignment that fails can       should you devote to learning    4. SECURE EARLY WINS
become a turnaround with         as opposed to making deci-
a chance for sustaining          sions, initiating changes, or    What can you hope to
BUSINESS BOOK SUMMARIES                                                                         5
accomplish in 90 days? By              agree with your boss's            flexibility while you
the end of your transition,            priorities, you have to           learn more about your
you want your boss, your               take them into account            situation.
peers, and your subordinates           in planning your wins. If
to feel that something new,            you fix an important          The second half of the equa-
something good, is happen-             problem for your boss, it     tion, changing people's
ing. Doing this requires               is a huge win.                behavior, is just as important
avoiding the five most                                               as achieving those A-item
common traps in transition.       •    The fifth and final trap is   priorities. Develop a clear
                                       letting your means            vision of how you would like
•   The first trap is the fail-        undermine your ends.          people to behave by the end
    ure to focus. During the           You can't use means           of your tenure, and plan how
    transition, things can get         that are manipulative,        your early wins will advance
    confusing fast. You can't          underhanded, or incon-        that process of change.
    hope to achieve results in         sistent with the culture,
    more than a couple of              no matter how big the         This will have two phases:
    areas at the start.                win might be in the end.      building your credibility
    Identify the best oppor-           Align your wins with          in the first 30 days, and
    tunities and focus relent-         behavior you hope to          beginning to achieve early
    lessly on translating              instill in your new           performance improvements
    them into early wins.              organization.                 in the remaining 60 days.

•   The second trap is not        Early wins are the building        Your earliest actions will
    taking the business sit-      blocks of your credibility, and    have the greatest impact.
    uation into account.          should lay the foundation for      Think hard about what mes-
    What can be a win in one      your long-term goals in the        sage you want them to send.
    STARS situation will be a     company. Remember, the             Identify your key audiences
    loss in another. Simply       transition is 90 days, but you     for those messages, such as
    getting people to talk        will be in that job two or         your boss, your direct
    about change can be a         more years. Your early wins        reports, your peers, and out-
    big win in a realignment      will set the tone for those        side constituencies, such as
    but a loss in a turn-         years and dictate to some          customers and suppliers.
    around, where action          extent what you're able to         Focus on who you are and
    is required. Think tacti-     accomplish.                        what your values are. Here
    cally about what will be                                         are some questions people
    required.                     There are two broad areas          will be asking about you
                                  you want to influence: You         when you first arrive:
•   The third trap is not         want to move toward imple-
    adjusting to the cul-         menting your A-item                •   Do you have the insight
    ture. If you're coming in     business priorities, and you           and steadiness to make
    from outside, this is a       want to introduce the new              tough decisions?
    great risk. Beware your       pattern of behavior for
    preconceptions of what        your organization. Keep            •   Do you have values that
    constitutes a win. In         three principles in mind as            they relate to, admire,
    some cultures, the indi-      you establish your A-item              and want to emulate?
    vidual pursuit of glory is    priorities.
    frowned upon. In others,                                         •   Do you have the right
    it's admired. Should you      1.   A-item priorities should          kind of energy?
    lead a team to success, or         follow naturally from
    do it on your own? Only            core problems.                •   Do you demand high lev-
    a correct reading of the                                             els of performance from
    culture can tell you.         2.   They should be neither            yourself and others?
                                       too general nor too
•   The fourth trap is fail-           specific.                     In shaping how people are
    ing to get wins that                                             going to answer those ques-
    matter to your boss.          3.   They should offer clear       tions, consider the following:
    Even if you do not fully           direction, yet allow for      New leaders are perceived as
6                                                                                    AUDIO-TECH
more credible when they are:     90-day plan.                     Out of this conversation,
                                                                  you'll be able to figure out
•   Demanding, but able to       This can be done through         some early wins that will
    be satisfied.                five conversations, which you    align with your boss's priori-
                                 will plan and execute. They      ties. That will secure you
•   Accessible, but not too      will cover:                      the help you need to go to
    familiar.                                                     the next level.
                                 1.   The business situation.
•   Decisive, but judicious.                                      Once you move into action,
                                 2.   Expectations on both        always promise slightly less
•   Focused, but flexible.            sides.                      than you deliver. No one will
                                                                  complain if you delight them
•   Active, without causing      3.   Style of interaction.       with surprise bonuses. But
    commotion.                                                    promising what you can't
                                 4.   Resources you'll need       deliver hurts credibility.
•   Willing to make tough             compared with what is
    calls, but humane.                available.                  Go back frequently to con-
                                                                  firm that you're on the same
With this in mind, you can       5.   Your personal               page with your boss. Ask the
then set your strategy for            development on the job.     same question in different
specific initiatives.                                             ways to gain insight. Read
Remember to keep your long-      Let's take them one at a         between the lines. Put your-
term goals in mind while         time.                            self in your boss's shoes.
identifying a few promising                                       Don't let key issues remain
areas where improvement          The first conversation is        ambiguous.
can be made quickly. Master      about reaching a shared
those areas and then launch      understanding of the busi-       Once you have negotiated
a pilot project to test your     ness situation. This will help   expectations, you are ready
hypothesis. Identify people      define which of the STARS        for the style conversation.
at all levels who have the       models you'll use to design      This will determine how you
insight, drive, and incentives   your overall plan. Once you      and your boss can best work
to advance your agenda and       have defined which situation     together. The first step is to
promote them. Then reward        you're in, you'll need to        diagnose his style.
them for success.                define your boss's role in
                                 helping you achieve results.     For example, does your boss
             ss                                                   prefer voice mail or e-mail?
                                 For example, you may need        If you have to leave an
5. NEGOTIATE SUCCESS             help in getting resources in a   important message, that's
                                 start-up or turnaround, or       a key piece of information.
One of the most important        help in making the case for      Does he prefer talking
elements of your success in      change in a realignment.         face-to-face, or exchanging
transition is your boss. The     This conversation will lay the   written messages?
time you invest in this criti-   groundwork for everything
cal relationship is well worth   you do in those crucial 90       What kinds of decisions does
it. Your boss sets your          days.                            he want to be involved with,
benchmarks, interprets your                                       and what kind will just
actions for others, and con-     The second conversation is       annoy him to know about?
trols access to resources. He    about expectations — yours       Does he arrive early and
or she is the gatekeeper of      and your boss's. This is         work late? Compare and
the break-even point.            where you set short- and         contrast your two styles and
                                 medium-term goals and            see where they mesh or
The best strategy is to          define what success is going     clash. Talk to others.
negotiate some realistic         to look like. You'll decide on
expectations up front, reach     a timeframe for milestones       In the end, remember that
a consensus, and secure          and look to the future beyond    it's your responsibility to
enough resources to succeed.     those targets.                   build a good relationship
To do that requires having a                                      with your boss and not the
BUSINESS BOOK SUMMARIES                                                                            7
other way around. You are         Going through those conver-       the strategy, including
going to have to adapt to his     sations will help you to          changes in positioning and
style. If he doesn't like voice   develop a 90-day plan. Once       supporting capabilities.
mail, don't use it. If he wants   your boss has bought into         Work out a realistic time-
all the details of every deci-    that plan, it is your ticket to   frame for those changes.
sion, deliver them. When in       success in transition. If you     Remember, you'll have to
doubt, ask. And if serious        plan to use the first 30 days     reshape structure, systems,
issues of style come up,          for learning and building         and skills at the same time.
address them directly and         personal credibility, make
honestly.                         sure it's negotiated with your    A key element in assessing
                                  boss up front, and don't allow    alignment is looking at how
Once you've laid this ground-     yourself to be derailed with      your group's strategy is
work, confront the issue of       unexpected projects.              actually being implemented.
resources. This will differ                                         Look at what people are
markedly depending on which                    ss                   doing, not what they're
situation you are in. In a                                          saying.
start-up, you need money and      6. ACHIEVE ALIGNMENT
technical support, along with                                       For example, if the strategy
people to do the job right. In    The higher you climb in a         calls for new skills, is a
a turnaround, you need            company, the more you take        training program in place to
authority backed by political     on the role of organizational     develop them? If it requires
support. In a realignment,        architect. If the company’s       cross-functional teams, are
you need public backing to        strategy, structure, systems,     those people actually work-
confront the need for change.     and skills aren't aligned,        ing together? From this
And in a sustaining success       your job will be far more         sort of probing, you can see
situation, you need financial     difficult.                        if the problem lies in the
and technical resources to                                          strategy itself or in its
exploit new opportunities.        Your 90-day plan should           implementation.
                                  include an assessment of
When you set your resource        alignment and how to              In order to make a complete
goals, plan ahead. It's not       improve it. You can even get      diagnosis before taking
good to keep going back for       started on fixing the worst       action, you have to do so
more. Get what you need           misalignments in the first        step-by-step, starting with
upfront for agreed-upon           three months. Misalignment        the strategy, then moving to
goals. If the boss wants 10       is such an insidious problem      the supporting structure,
percent growth, figure out        that fixing it could even take    systems, and skills and figur-
what it will take to get it and   you to the break-even point.      ing out how you will adapt
ask for all of the resources                                        each to fit the strategy. Then
you'll need to do the job.        To move toward alignment,         chart a path for shifting the
Always link resources to          start with your business          strategy if necessary.
clearly defined results.          strategy. Ask how your team
                                  is positioned with respect to     While looking at the strategy,
The last conversation will be     the larger organizational         ask which customers you
about your personal develop-      goals. Make sure the strate-      want to serve, which markets
ment. Are there new skills        gy is well thought out and        you'll exit, and which new
you need to develop in order      logically integrated.             ones you'll enter. Develop a
to advance? Are there spe-                                          time-line.
cial projects that could help     Next, examine whether your
build those skills? Ask your      group's structure, systems,       Ask which of your businesses
boss for feedback on develop-     and skills can support the        need more investment and
ing your skills. The higher       changes in strategy that you      which can provide capital.
you rise, the more you must       envision. If they can't do the    Will even more additional
shift away from technical         job, alter the strategy and       capital be required? Where
skills and toward the "soft"      build the capabilities that       will you get it?
skills, such as cultural and      are needed.
political diagnosis.                                                Ask what your organizational
                                  Next, chart a path for shifting   capabilities are, and what
8                                                                                   AUDIO-TECH
new ones you need to devel-      your existing team before              sooner or later.
op. Will you need to create      making changes, consider               Prioritize these people
or acquire others?               the person’s competence,               for termination.
                                 judgment, energy, focus,
And last, assess what critical   relationships, and trust as        Once you have planned
resource commitments you'll      the key elements.                  your team restructuring, you
have to make. Use the                                               can begin to adjust goals,
SWOT method, analyzing           Once you have assessed each        incentives, and measures of
strengths, weaknesses,           member of the team, look at        performance to fit the team
opportunities, and threats.      the team as a whole. First         and the strategy. You'll
                                 study the data. Read reports       establish new team processes
With a thorough understand-      and team meeting minutes.          and decide who participates,
ing of strategy, including its   Then systematically ask            who makes decisions, and
history and how that strate-     questions about the chal-          who leads.
gy has been implemented so       lenges and opportunities the
far, you can intelligently       team faces. If the responses       Make sure to explain
start shaping your group's       are overly consistent, it may      the processes to the team
structure to fit it. Look at     suggest that there’s an            members so that everyone
how the units are structured,    agreed-upon party line. If         understands what should
how people work together,        there is too little consistency,   happen and why. You will
who has power to make deci-      the team may not be coherent.      know that you have been
sions, how performance is                                           successful in building your
measured and rewarded, and       Look at the group dynamics.        team when you reach the
what the reporting relation-     Are there obvious alliances        break-even point, and the
ships are. In each case, ask:    or animosities? Who's the          energy the team creates is
Is this the best way to do       leader? Do you see signs of        greater than the energy you
things?                          team frustration? Pick up on       need to put into it. At that
                                 subtle cues, such as body          point, you will be ready to
You can't realign a company      language.                          take the next step: building
— or even your group — in                                           coalitions.
the first 90 days. But you       Once you have finished your
can gain a deep understand-      assessment, you are ready                       ss
ing of what's needed and         to begin restructuring your
make a plan. Having a plan       team. Assign each member           8. CREATING COALITIONS
will allow you to move for-      to one of the following
ward into the next step:         categories:                        Your success inevitably will
building your team.                                                 depend on people who are
                                 •   Keep in place. This is         out of your direct line of
             ss                      someone you'll definitely      authority. When this hap-
                                     retain.                        pens, it is important for you
7. BUILD YOUR TEAM                                                  to have a network of people
                                 •   Keep and develop.              to support your ideas and
The most important decision          This is someone you'll         goals. You can't wait until
you will make in your first          help move to the next          you need it. You have to
90 days will probably involve        level.                         start creating coalitions early
selecting the members of                                            on.
your team. A high-perfor-        •   Move to another posi-
mance team can give you              tion. This person may          One common mistake people
tremendous leverage.                 work out, but not in this      make in transition is to pay
                                     job.                           too much attention to those
Your team analysis will come                                        above and below them and
into play here as you decide     •   Observe for a while.           not enough attention to those
who to keep, who to let go,          This is a wait-and-see         on the sides — peers and
who to hire, and who to              situation.                     external constituencies.
                                 •   Replace. This person           You'll need to figure out who
In assessing each member of          will leave the team            you must influence, who is
BUSINESS BOOK SUMMARIES                                                                             9
likely to support you, who        owes favors to somebody else.     comparison with the competi-
will oppose you, and those                                          tion, and you know it's going
who remain undecided but          Once you have done this,          to look bad, you will have put
perhaps convincible.              draw an influence map (as         them in a position where
                                  illustrated below) to depict      they can no longer deny that
First you need to identify the    the flow of influence among       change is necessary.
key players. Who will be          various forces. Then you will
important to your success?        be in a position to say who                    ss
Start by identifying the          will support you, who will
critical interfaces between       oppose you, and who remains       9. KEEP YOUR BALANCE
your group and others.            convincible.
Customers and suppliers are                                         The life of a leader is always
natural places to start. Take     For example, you may be           a balancing act, but never
the time to get your boss to      able to convert some oppo-        more so than during transi-
connect you with key outside      nents by calming their fears      tion. If you moved from one
people. Set up meetings with      of change, but you do not         city to another, you're in a
them.                             want to waste too much time       personal transition. If you
                                  trying to convert people who      have a family, they're in
Diagnose informal networks of     will remain against you.          transition, too. With all that
influence. Every organization                                       turmoil, you're still expected
has a "shadow organization"       The best way to spend your        to get adjusted quickly to
inside of it, consisting of       time is on the undecided.         your new job and start per-
working relationships that        Their motivations may be for      forming. There are seven
aren't spelled out in the offi-   status, for financial reasons,    traps into which new leaders
cial organizational chart.        for job security, or some other   can fall in this area. Let's
This is how a lot of the real     reason. But you'll need to        examine them.
work gets done.                   figure out what stands in the
                                  way of them supporting you,       •   The first trap is riding
You need to get inside that       and then work to overcome             off in all directions.
shadow organization. Try          it.                                   There is an infinite num-
to map alliances and discover                                           ber of tasks to choose
who really holds power.           One way to convince people            from, but only a few are
You can do this by watching       is to bring them along in a           vital. You can easily
carefully in meetings to see      series of small steps toward          reach mental lock-up,
who defers to whom on cru-        your goal. The more irre-             where you simply go
cial issues. Also notice who      versible the steps are, the           from task to task, getting
people go to for advice, who      better. For example, if you           nothing done.
shares information, who           get people to collect data
marshals resources, and who       on how you're doing in            •   Trap number two is
                                                                        undefended bound-
AN INFLUENCE MAP                                                        aries. Establish clear
                                                                        boundaries early on con-
                                                                        cerning what you will
                                                                        and won't do. If you
                                                                        don’t, no one else will do
                                                                        it for you.

                                                                    •   The third trap is brittle-
                                                                        ness. It's easy to get
                                                                        defensive in transition,
                                                                        and that leads to rigidity
                                                                        and a need for control. If
                                                                        you stick with a bad deci-
                                                                        sion out of defensiveness,
                                                                        you can doom your

10                                                                                  AUDIO-TECH
•   Trap number four is iso-     you might miss. Use a mix             or sustaining success.
    lation. It is surprisingly   of internal and external
    easy for a new leader to     people with strengths in          •   Their agenda for techni-
    end up isolated.             technical, cultural, and              cal, cultural, and political
    Overwhelmed, you may         political issues.                     learning, and the key ele-
    not take time to connect                                           ments of their learning
    with people. Encourage       Success depends heavily on            plan.
    people to share informa-     your ability to keep your bal-
    tion, including bad news,    ance during transition and        •   Their progress in engag-
    with you.                    beyond. Your day-to-day               ing their new boss in
                                 actions during this period set        the five key conversa-
•   Trap number five is          the stage for all that follows.       tions about the business
    biased judgment. You         With the strategies already           situation, expectations,
    can lose perspective         laid out, the balancing act           communication style,
    because of ego, because      will be well within your              resources, and personal
    of a tendency to focus on    grasp.                                development.
    only information that
    confirms your views, or                   ss                   •   Their A-item priorities,
    because of overconfi-                                              goals for behavior
    dence. In each case,         10. EXPEDITE EVERYONE                 change, and ideas about
    it can keep you from                                               where they can secure
    making sound decisions.      You have now gone through             early wins.
                                 the main steps involved in
•   The sixth trap is work       accelerating transition for       •   Their priorities for
    avoidance. To avoid a        stunning success in the first         strengthening their
    tough decision, it’s easy    90 days on a new job. The             advice-and-counsel
    to focus on other work to    last, and perhaps most                network.
    avoid it. You can be         important, step is to bring
    incredibly busy — and        this process to the organiza-     A common vocabulary
    failing every day.           tion. Imagine the benefit to      ensures that these important
                                 the bottom line if everyone       conversations not only can
•   Trap number seven is         could transition faster.          but will take place. Bringing
    driving yourself to the                                        this kind of change to an
    point of diminishing         Most companies pay no             organization is a challenge,
    returns. All of those        attention at all to transitions   but one worth undertaking.
    traps can generate           and many even put barriers        Start locally and expand.
    dangerous levels of          in the way of people who          Your own team members are
    stress. When stress          step into new jobs. In some       the first obvious choices.
    gets too high, you work      organizations, it's a sink or
    harder and achieve less,     swim culture, where senior        When you hire people, for
    leading to exhaustion or     managers view this as a way       example, see how quickly you
    burn-out.                    to winnow talent.                 can get them to the break-
                                                                   even point. Teach them
The key to avoiding these        The first step in introducing     about the 90-day plan and
seven traps is to be aware of    the transition acceleration       help them develop it.
yourself. You need discipline    framework to your organiza-       Encourage the five-conversa-
and energy, but you also         tion is to introduce a new        tion framework for building a
need self-reflection to keep     vocabulary to make it possi-      relationship with you. Have
tabs on how you're doing.        ble to talk about it. People      them diagnose the business
Building an advice-and-coun-     need to be able to approach       situation and discuss it with
sel network is an important      their bosses, peers, and          you.
step in doing this.              direct reports and discuss the
                                 following:                        Merge this with the expecta-
That group can give you                                            tions conversation. Work
invaluable support, as well      •   The type of transition        with them to create a learn-
as feedback on how you're            they're entering: start-up,   ing agenda and plan. Help
holding up and clues that            turnaround, realignment,      them identify people who can
BUSINESS BOOK SUMMARIES                                                                         11
support them. Tell them to           These same approaches can                 sluggish or failed transitions.
create an A-item list, and           be used effectively in devel-             When the author surveyed
push them toward some                oping high-potential leaders,             company presidents and
early wins. Then, when they          in succession planning, and               CEOs, he discovered that the
have reached break-even, get         in accelerating post-merger               average number of people
them to use the transition           integration. When organiza-               whose performance was sig-
acceleration framework on            tions merge, they invariably              nificantly compromised by
others.                              bring two different languages             the arrival of a new mid-level
                                     to the new organization, and              manager is 12.4 people.
You can also use this frame-         that can spell disaster. The              With one-fourth of your com-
work for accelerating your           STARS Model gets everyone                 pany’s managers in transi-
team building efforts. This is       to use the same terms from                tion at any one time, it is
especially powerful if your          the start and can smooth the              easy to see why companies
team mixes people who have           way to successful transition.             are less productive than they
been around for a while with                                                   could be. The STARS Model
new people. Introduce the            Remember, the ultimate goal               can accelerate the transitions
team to the STARS Model              behind transition accelera-               of all of those people and
and push them to clarify key         tion is to reap big returns               keep the machinery of busi-
challenges and opportunities         that ultimately fall to the               ness running smoothly in
they'll face as a team. Focus        bottom line. A quick back-of-             this fast-paced world.
on how the team will define          the-envelope estimate of how
its A-item priorities and            many people are in transition
secure early wins. Explore           at any given time — and how                            ss
the kind of coalitions you'll        many other people they in
build to marshal the support         turn impact — could show you
you'll need.                         the whopping annual cost of

                          ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 Michael Watkins is an Associate Professor at Harvard Business School, where
 he studies leadership and negotiation.

 He is the author of several books, including Breakthrough Business
 Negotiation: A Toolbox for Managers and the coauthor of Breakthrough
 International Negotiation: How Great Negotiators Transformed the World’s
 Toughest Post-Cold War Conflicts, Winning the Influence Game, and Right
 from the Start.

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                                                    Audio-Tech Business Book Summaries
                                                               825 75th Street
                                                           Willowbrook, IL 60527

 The First 90 Days, summarized by arrangement with Harvard Business School Press, from The First 90
 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels by Michael Watkins. Copyright 2003
 by Michael Watkins.

                               825 75th Street, Willowbrook, Illinois 60527
                       1-800-776-1910 • 1-630-734-0600 (fax) •

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Description: This is a short summary of the book "The First 90 days" on the job. Great reading for those who wants to succeed in a new job.