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Bill and Rich

The New Book is Nearly Here!

As many Fresh Milk readers are aware, we’ve been working on a new book about Discretionary Effort for quite a while now. Indeed, “the book” has been an ongoing project for better than three years. We’ve cajoled one other, and been gently reminded by a few people (spouses included), that if more of our own discretionary effort had gone into the project, perhaps it would have been finished sooner. Guilty as charged.

We’re happy to report though that, with the recent transfer of the finished manuscript to our no- nonsense publisher, the birth of the first definitive book on discretionary effort, that extra morsel of effort that resides within us all, is very much at hand. Contented Cows MOOve Faster, which you may be assured will feature a cover every bit as outrageous as its predecessor, is expected to be available in early June. As soon as we are given a definite delivery date, we will begin accepting orders. Fresh Milk readers will get first crack.

In the meantime, it seemed only fitting to give you a sneak peek at what Contented Cows MOOve Faster is all about. Accordingly, this month’s article contains a section lifted from Chapter 15 (A Leader Sets the Bar High) of the book. In view of recent events, to include the end of the NCAA basketball championships, this section seemed fitting. Enjoy.

By Bill Catlette and Richard Hadden
April 2007

In the world of team sports, there are coaches who stand out because of their Commitment to winning - people like Pat Riley, Phil Jackson, Pat Summitt, Don Shula, Joe Torre, Vince Lombardi, Joe Gibbs, Bob Knight, Bill Parcells, Mike Krzyzewski, and John Wooden.

Over time, many of the most talented players in each sport have queued up to play for these coaches. And when they did, they had a very good sense of what they were signing up for. Usually, such players would have ‘star status’ conferred on them on day one anywhere else, but not with these coaches, because by and large, they don’t allow a ‘star system’ to exist. Miami Heat coach Pat Riley may have put it best when he said, “Being a part of success is more important than being personally indispensable.” In other words, it’s about ‘team,’ not ‘me.’

In many cases, some of these athletes might have made more money or gotten a softer deal playing somewhere else, but they chose not to because they wanted to be part of a winning organization. As a case in point, why would NFL quarterback Brett Favre want to practice his craft for a minor market team in Green Bay, Wisconsin, a place so cold that its field is referred to as the “frozen tundra?” We suspect the presence of a winning tradition has a lot to do with it.

Each of these coaches has exceptionally high standards – for their players and staff, the officials who referee their games, and for themselves.

Since 1963, Bob Knight has been coaching men’s college basketball at places like the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Indiana University, and Texas Tech University. In that time, his teams have amassed over 800 wins and 3 NCAA championships, making him one of the winningest coaches in basketball history. Knight-coached teams have also enjoyed among the highest player graduation rates in Division 1 sports programs.

Fairly or otherwise, Coach Knight has also garnered a reputation for being (how shall we put this?) extremely demonstrative when he wants to make a point. In some cases, the coach’s rather explicit mode of communicating has gotten him in trouble. While we have no interest in being apologists for bad behavior, there seems little doubt that his passion for seeing kids learn and excel has a lot to do with an occasional profane rant or outburst.

In 2003, after a winning 16/11 season that the students, Athletic Director, and college president were all more than satisfied with, Coach Knight refused to accept his $250,000 paycheck from Texas Tech University. Commenting on the matter, he said, "When I was a kid, I used to shovel walks and do all kinds of stuff to make a dollar. But if I shoveled the walk, I made damn sure that I did a good job. I'm just not at all satisfied with what transpired with our team in terms of our fundamental execution. I don't think it's anybody's fault but mine."

"He has standards," men's basketball spokesman Randy Farley said. "He just didn't meet his standards, and so he said, 'I don't think I should be paid for that.’" Our view is that leaders who refuse to exempt themselves from the strict accountability they impose on others usually achieve more.

The Bar is too Low

Somewhere along the way, the words ‘good enough’ worked their way into our lexicon. Though it is likely they have always been there, our tolerance for their application seems to have increased geometrically, and engendered a certain mindset. Sadly, in many respects, whether the standards are personal or organizational, we just don’t have very high expectations any more, particularly when it comes to behavior.

Be it in sports, politics, business, or everyday life, we seem to have reached an accommodation whereby the end always justifies the means. Whether it’s steroid amped baseball players using corked bats, corporate executives backdating their stock options, everybody with an MP3 player toting a library of stolen music, students knocking off term papers, or residents of the White House lying to the nation, their spouses, or both, cheating is not only prevalent, it is commonly accepted. There doesn’t even appear to be any shame.

As New York State Attorney General, Eliot Spitzer made a living (not to mention a reputation) going after some of the companies and individuals involved in corporate shenanigans, and, although he collected billions in fines from settlements, practically no one went to jail, but for Martha Stewart, one of the few remaining legal residents of America who doesn’t mind cooking and cleaning. (To her credit, she stepped up to the plate and took her medicine without whining, dodging, or dying.)

Contrary to the way it may seem, our approach to this issue is not on a moral plane, but a practical one. When we set modest standards and expectations, that is exactly what we get. Moreover, our study of high performance organizations over the last decade suggests strongly that people dislike losing, and just don’t like “hanging around with turkeys.” While at the water cooler we whine and moan about high standards and expectations, but at the end of the day, we appreciate them, because we know intuitively that they are a necessary precursor to winning. Hence, high expectations, accompanied by ambitious goals are a fundamental factor in tapping into the wellspring of discretionary effort.

Former CEO and President of Automatic Data Processing, Inc., Josh Weston was fond of saying that he “would rather attempt a goal of climbing 4 stairs and accomplish only 3, than to only attempt 2 in the first place.” Having worked for the man for nearly five years, I can vouch for the fact that he gave (and got) a full measure of effort. And yes, despite the fact that he was a tough guy to please, if you had set the bar high, given it your best and still come up a little short, he made it a point to let you know that he appreciated the effort. Climb on.

Consistent with the book’s prescription driven format, each chapter of Contented Cows MOOve Faster concludes with a chapter summary, and a call to action known as “Monday Morning, 8AM.”

Monday Morning, 8AM
1. Yes, we know it’s morning, and you just spent time getting your ‘face on,’ but take another hard look in the mirror. Are you setting and keeping high standards? Really? Does it start with you?
2. There is a wonderful, little video entitled Brain Power, starring John Houseman. It really makes the point about great expectations begetting high performance. We use it to launch senior management retreats. Get a copy.

Leadership...the Workplace...Creating a Great Place to Work...Getting Discretionary Effort from Your Workforce. Every week, we speak to corporate and association audiences about these topics, at conferences, conventions, and management meetings.

Why not yours?

To find out more about bringing in one or both of the authors to speak for your meeting, click on the "Find Out More" link below. OR, pick up the phone, and call our office at 800-940-7006 (that's 904-720- 0870 from outside North America). Or, send us an email and let us know how we can be of service. We look forward to hearing from you.

With more than 30 years' combined experience developing, deploying, and relying on employee survey data, we have the expertise to ensure that your survey process works as it should – each time, every time. In addition to professional survey process management, we’ll provide you the ability to benchmark your scores to some of America’s best workplaces.

Volume Discounts!
Contented Cows Give Better Milk makes the business case for creating an exceptional workplace. Available directly from the authors, both in paperback and audio book on CD, for less than you'll pay in most bookstores. Signed copies available at no additional cost. Visit the Contented Cows Online Store.

If you'd like to take us up on this offer, please contact us.
Check our speaking calendar to see if we may be in your neck of the woods between now and the end of the year. If so, you can receive a 20% discount on our fee, plus save on travel expenses if you book one of us to speak for your group the day before or after an existing engagement in the same area (schedule permitting).

If you'd like to take us up on this offer, please contact us.

Richard Hadden and Bill Catlette
Contented Cow Partners, LLC

phone: 904-720-0870
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