A message from Executive Leader Coach Dave Kinnear.
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September 2019

Dear Friends and Colleagues

Whiplash! Major pivots in the business world! And I find a reason for hope in the changes that appear to be in the wind.  (Speaking of pivots, check out the Cheetah making a major pivot—and lots of divots—when the lure took an unexpected sharp turn! Eyes on the prize.)

What got me thinking about all of this were two business articles which hit my desk at approximately the same time. The first was the recent edition of the Harvard Business Review (HBR), and a lead article titled, Don't Let Metrics Undermine Your Business. The second event was the announcement from the Business Roundtable that they were changing the Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation.

I encourage you to read the article. The short story is that it is easy for leadership and employees to make the mistake of focusing on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and other metrics and forgetting the carefully crafted strategy that those KPIs were meant to represent. The map is not the territory and the KPIs are not the strategy. The authors call this the "Surrogation Snare." 

Purpose of a Corporation
I admit to not being too sure of what to think about the Business Roundtable statement. I want to believe it. But I guess I'll wait and see what happens. The report claims that all stakeholders will be considered, not just shareholders. In order of priority, the roundtable members have put customers first, then employees, suppliers, communities, and finally, shareholders. If this happens, it will be a significant step forward in saving our capitalist system from implosion.

As if to drive the point home, Walmart has announced it will no longer sell handguns in Alaska, nor will it sell ammunition used in non-hunting long rifles. This action will cause a significant hit to their revenues. Despite that, they feel they need to respond to the mass killings in our country. Regardless of what I might think about this controversial issue, I have to acknowledge the company's decision to forgo revenues and take a stand to support the communities they serve.

In This Issue
The first article is "All Books Are Fiction" and was inspired by a conversation with an educator who made the statement that she never reads nonfiction. Well, in my view, it's all fiction.

The next article is "Ageism Is Alive And Well." I recently started thinking about all of this because one of the podcasts I listen to was discussing the impact of GM shutting down their Lordstown manufacturing facility.

The third article is "What Do We Expect?" This topic is especially apropos, considering the two articles mentioned above. Values underpin everything in an organization. What are we teaching our children?

Finally, in the Nullius In Verba column, I discuss some concepts of how the sales process is changing, even for the big box retailers.

I had the great fortune of hearing a presentation from the folks over at ITR. Here's a thumbnail sketch of what they had to say about the economic situation.
  • No recession, slowdown in GDP as predicted
  • Negative growth in industrial production 2020
  • CA GDP also slowing down
  • A slight recession in 2023-2024
  • Hire Immigrants (workforce shortage)
  • Don't pay off your childrens' School Debt
  • Trust U.S.A. Government data, it is accurate
  • Secure loans now, interest rates going up
Commentary included the admonition to remember that there are no quick economy responses to congressional economic changes—everything takes time. So business leaders paying attention have plenty of time to get ready for any changes. The effects of the tax cuts are a) over and b) weren't what was intended—as usual.


Best Regards,
Dave Kinnear
Executive Leader Coach
Vistage Chair

All Books Are Fiction

An Educator: One of the topics I tend to worry about is education. I worry about it because our country is being very slow to change the way we educate our young people. We are not preparing them for the future.

I’ve become a bit of an evangelist for this concern. Moreover, to educate myself on the topic, I’ve read many articles and books about education. I’ve also solicited ideas from and conversation with colleagues in the education business.

[Read the full post . . .]

Ageism Is Alive And Well

Stereotype: “We need fresh ideas.” “We need a Millennial to address our social media marketing.” “I don’t think Frank is up to the demands of the new software.” “If our salespeople won’t use the automation system, then we’ll get some younger folks in here who will!”

I’ve heard these comments or comments very close to them on more than one occasion. In my opinion, they are sometimes true statements. At other times. . .

[Read the full post. . .]

What Do We Expect?

When I was a boy, I learned that we play to win, but how we play the game is more important than winning. If I was caught cheating I was out of the game. I learned a similar lesson when negotiating with other people. The lesson was to negotiate the best deal I could, but not at the other’s expense. People expected that I would find a way for us both to win.

That lesson of play hard, play to win and play fair carried over to my professional life. Others in leadership positions did not learn the same values. What happened?

[Read the full post . . .]

Nullius In Verba

On The Other Hand

An article in the Harvard Business Review (HBR — Jan/Feb 2019, pg 72) suggested that the brick and mortar retail industry is “squandering their most potent weapons” against their e-commerce competition. The author suggests that the hidden advantage is in the store is salespeople. I’m afraid I have to disagree.

[Read the full post . . .]
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Leaders are

Here's what's new in the reading stack!

I'm still reading George Will's the Conservative Sensibility, but I've added Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed. We'll see how I can get through the stack that is getting higher every day! So many good books, so few hours in the day.


Local Events

ENP Institute

Disrupt HR 7.0 – Brave New Org – Reimagining the Workplace

September 26, 2019
5 pm to 8:15 pm

The Cove at UCI Applied Innovation
5141 California Avenue
Suite 250
Irvine, CA 92617

Register Here

Tech & Employment

From Human Resources to Helpful Robot—How AI May Transform HR

So how might your neighborhood HR Specialist be replaced by AI? And how likely is it to happen?

Routine Information Requests
Let’s start with the simpler processes such as providing routine information to employees and job applicants.

Many of the calls HR receives are requests for information. Employees and applicants want to know the status of something, or how to do something.

This type of call rarely requires in-depth analysis — it just requires someone who understands the question and knows where to find the answer. Chatbots can handle much of this type of work, and their capabilities are advancing rapidly.

Here is an example of a chatbot from Amazon Web Services. Services such as these do not rely on a user picking from a list of options, then from another list, then another, until the user eventually gets to an answer or to someone who can help. They rely on natural language, so the caller can ask the question in the same manner s/he would with a human HR Specialist.

Another part of HR that lends itself to AI is benefits. The largest numbers of interactions between employees and HR are for benefits. Workers want to sign up for health insurance, change to a different insurance plan, ask for retirement estimates, file an injury compensation claim, or perform some other benefits related task.

In much of the private sector and in some agencies, the bulk of human interaction of benefits work is performed in call centers. In the past 20 years, much of the rest of it has moved to employee self-service.

When we combine emerging natural language generation capabilities of AI with the trend toward employee self-service and centralization of benefits work, it is easy to see how the benefits counselor of the future will be made of silicon rather than flesh.

Another aspect of HR is compliance.

The traditional approach to compliance is laborious audits that consume resources and offer little return when the agency is following the rules. AI will eliminate much of that work by analyzing data for transactions that do not comply with established norms. That type of analysis will also help agencies to identify issues with policies, decision-making, and other aspects of agency people programs.

[Read Full Article Here]


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CCE - Board
Certified Coach
Certified Veteran
Development Coach
Dave Kinnear, Executive Leader Coach
Dave Kinnear
Vistage Chair, CCE-Board Certified Coach, Certified Veteran Development Coach, and
 Executive Leader Coach
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