Thursday, November 26, 2009

Crossing the Divide

"Effective intergroup leaders make it clear that everyone belongs, regardless of individual or subgroup differences. One way to do this, and to get people to invest in each other, is for leaders to invest resources in material changes that benefit all. To stress inclusiveness, some leaders get everyone a new item or new offices. To help integrate Gillette into Procter & Gamble after it was acquired by P&G, the head of P&G moved everyone, not only former Gillette employees, to a new office. Turnaround leaders hired to heal rivalries and antagonisms at the BBC (where radio and television divisions had faced acrimonious conflict) renovated rundown buildings or refurbished dingy offices. Improvements in something tangible that people see every day reinforce the message that everyone is important."

"Such actions help reverse characteristic patterns in losing streaks: decisions made in secret behind closed doors; inequalities reflecting favouritism, not fairness; exclusionary practices. Jim Kilts of Gillette was lauded for not playing favourites, for giving everyone the same objective measures and holding everyone to the same standards. Steve Luczo of Seagate Technology removed assigned seats from top executive meetings and added new meeting rooms with round tables. The symbolism of round table works everywhere; Akin Ongor of GarantiBank in Turkey replaced rectangular tables with round ones."

(Ed: Todd L. Pittinsky in 'Crossing the Divide: Intergroup leadership in a world of difference,' 82 HBP)

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