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The good, the bad & the ridiculous

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

Use the fortunes of prominent organizations to gain insights into leading your own enterprise.

The Good: IBM’s attempt at global integration picked up steam last year because the firm quit trying to replicate itself in other countries. Instead, IBM uses talent where it’s found: the supply chain in China, information technology in India and a financial back office in Brazil. Big Blue also redesigned processes and switched to three cross-functional teams.

The Bad: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has presided over a monumental case of bad execution. By the middle of last year, flight delays were running at twice the 2002 level. The problem doesn’t rest with the usual culprits: money or lack of know-how. The FAA hasn’t planned well enough or moved fast enough because of political interference in budgeting and managing facilities. It remains to be seen if NextGen, the new air traffic control system coming online in the next 15 years, will improve the situation.

The Ridiculous: At Merrill Lynch, Stanley O’Neal was said to feel uncomfortable around those who disagreed with him, so apparently he failed to engage with people who could have warned him about the imminent sub-prime meltdown.

“There is much to be learned from both the successes and failures of public companies and government agencies,” says author and consultant Richard Lepsinger. These organizations are “a living laboratory for the rest of us. We just need to pay attention.”

—Adapted from Flexible Leadership, Richard Lepsinger, Gary Yukl, Jossey-Bass.

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