In the Face of Uncertainty: 25 Top Leaders Speak out on Challenge,Change,and the Future of American Business / Edition 1

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"The borders separating our personal and professional lives blurred considerably after the tragedies of September 11th. More than ever, Americans are questioning the true meaning and worth of the work they do. And businesses that were already feeling vulnerable in a sluggish economy have questions of their own: Where do we go from here? And how?

In the Face of Uncertainty presents 25 of the nation’s best minds, visionaries who will help executives and managers answer these and other crucial questions. Their wisdom and experience will infuse the nation’s companies with the resolve to move forward, and with confidence in the stability and resiliency of American business. Through the author’s firsthand interviews, readers will share in the vision and plans of such prominent leaders as:

• Grant Aldonas, Under Secretary for International Trade, US Dept. of Commerce

• John Alexander, President, Center for Creative Leadership

• Charles Barclay, President, American Association of Airport Executives

• Curtis R. Carlson, President, CEO, SRI Inc.

• Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Chairman, CEO, Carlson Cos.

• Mike Carns, four-star general (ret.), U.S. Air Force; former director of The Joint Chiefs of Staff, Vice Chief of Staff, Air Force

• Peggy Conlon, President, the Ad Council

• Leo A. Daly III, Chairman and President, Leo A Daly

• Ronald Daly, President, RR Donnelley

• Ralph Dickerson, President, United Way of New York City

• Gerald FitzGerald, President, Parsons Brinckerhoff Aviation

• Joe Galli, President, CEO, Newell Rubbermaid

• Stephen Harrison, President, Lee Hecht Harrison

• Chester Haskell, President, Monterey Institute for International Studies

• Sunir Kapoor, founder/former CEO of E-Stamp, former director of worldwide business strategy for Microsoft, vice president of strategic marketing for Oracle

• Christopher Komisarjevsky, CEO Worldwide, Burson-Marsteller

• James Lawrence, CFO, General Mills

• Howard Learner, Executive Director, Environmental Law and Policy Center

*James C. Madden,V, Chairman, President, CEO, Exult

• John Rooney, President and CEO, United States Cellular

• Leonard D. Schaeffer, Chairman and CEO, Wellpoint Health Networks

• Theodore G. Shackley, former Associate Deputy Director for Operations, Central Intelligence Agency

• Ken Smith, founder, executive director, Jobs for America’s Graduates

• William Strickland, President and CEO, Manchester Bidwell

• Tai-Chin Tung, SVP/CFO Charles Schwab Investment Management

• Epilogue: William Bridges

Offering a rich diversity of backgrounds and philosophies, In the Face of Uncertainty affirms that the challenge we face is also an unprecedented opportunity to realign our goals, redesign our strategies, and bring business back -- stronger than ever."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814471616
  • Publisher: AMACOM Books
  • Publication date: 5/1/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 6.16 (w) x 9.42 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Meet the Author

Martha I. Finney (Los Gatos, California) is the coauthor of Bodacious: An AOL Insider Cracks the Code to Outrageous Success for Women (AMACOM: 0-8144-7131-5). She has appeared on CNN, NPR, and in major newspapers and magazines.

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Table of Contents

1 Grant Aldonas: Under Secretary, International Trade, U.S. Department of Commerce 1
2 John Alexander: President, Center for Creative Leadership 12
3 Charles Barclay: President, American Association of Airport Executives 19
4 Curtis R. Carlson: CEO and President, SRI International 28
5 Michael P. C. Carns: General (retired), U.S. Air Force 37
6 Peggy Conlon: CEO and President, the Ad Council 49
7 Leo A. Daly, III: Chairman and President, Leo A Daly 59
8 Ronald E. Daly: President, R. R. Donnelley Print Solutions 69
9 Ralph Dickerson: President, United Way of New York City 79
10 Gerald Fitzgerald: President, PB Aviation 85
11 Joe Galli: President and CEO, Newell Rubbermaid 93
12 Stephen G. Harrison: President, Lee Hecht Harrison 101
13 Chester D. Haskell: President, Monterey Institute for International Studies 108
14 Sunir Kapoor: Founder, E-Stamp 115
15 Christopher Komisarjevsky: CEO Worldwide and President, Burson-Marsteller 125
16 James Lawrence: Chief Financial Officer, General Mills 133
17 Howard Learner: Executive Director, Environmental Law and Policy Center 140
18 James C. Madden, V: Chairman, CEO, and President, Exult 148
19 Marilyn Carlson Nelson: Chairman and CEO, Carlson Companies, Inc 157
20 Marjorie Randolph: Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Walt Disney Studios 166
21 Leonard D. Schaeffer: Chairman and CEO, WellPoint Health Networks 174
22 Theodore G. Shackley: Associate Deputy Director of Operations (retired), Central Intelligence Agency 184
23 Ken Smith: CEO, President, and Founder, Jobs for America's Graduates 195
24 William E. Strickland, Jr.: CEO and President, Manchester Bidwell Corporation 205
25 Tai-Chin Tung: Chief Financial Officer, Charles Schwab Investment Management 215
Epilog: William Bridges: Principal, William Bridges & Associates 222
Index 230
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First Chapter

In the Face of Uncertainty

By Martha I. Finney


Copyright © 2002 Martha I. Finney
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-8144-7161-7

Chapter One

Marjorie Randolph Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Walt Disney Studios

I'm sure that the Enron debacle will have an impact on how people are viewing their workplaces. But to me it all comes back to a deeper value. We work for many reasons, but I hope those reasons include more than just money.

It's not risking overstatement to say that for most U.S babies, it's very likely that their first friends (aside from Mommy and Daddy, of course) are Mickey and his pals: Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Cinderella, Jiminy Cricket, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Sleepy, and Dopey. They're in the songs of American childhood, dangling overhead a baby's crib in a mobile, on television, on DVD, stuffed and plush, and tucked into the corner of children's beds throughout the land. They're live and in person. And they're joined by others like Pocahontas, Ariel and Sebastian, and Simba.

As the children grow up, many pass through a phase when it's their cherished dream to run away and live in Disney World or Disneyland. And eventually they grow up some more and pass through a phase called "their life's work." Millions of grown children leave their Disney dreams behind. But thousands of them find a place for themselves in the world that Walt Disney created. Many of them, from artists to administrators, land in The Walt Disney Studios. This is the birthplace of many of the Disney characters that populate a land where everyone is happy to see you, and where mice wear four-fingered gloves, even in the height of summer.

While Marjorie Randolph was a law student and doing some work for an advocacy group, she discovered the magical power of a workplace where everyone treats each other with respect. And she knew that she wanted to invest her life's work in developing "respectful workplaces." After many years as a real estate attorney and then as general counsel for a major department store chain in California, she shifted her career to human resource management exclusively. She is now senior vice president of human resources for The Walt Disney Studios, the Disney business in which inspiration comes alive in the form of characters (both animation and live action) that audiences invite into their lives and hearts for generations.

In this interview Randolph talks about what it takes to lead a strong, highly creative, people organization into the future:

* Promoting creativity within a large corporate environment

* Branding the company as a desirable career opportunity over its competitors

* Keeping the internal branding message (to employees) consistent with the external branding message (to customers)

* Recreating the employer/employee relationship in a time of diminished loyalty

Disney has historically been recognized as a company set apart from the pack of large corporations by the fact that it depends on positive world-changing creativity. But I think now most companies are coming to terms with the fact that we must all be able to revolutionize our little patch of ground with innovation. But the creative environment can be quite unnerving to the corporate frame of mind that likes things recognizable and easy to line up in tidy columns. What can corporate America learn from the way Disney employees are managed to boost their own innovative capacity?

We're in the entertainment industry, so obviously, creativity is the heart of what we do. Giving creative talent the leeway they need to generate products that are original and enchanting, all the while doing it inside a large corporate environment, has always been an interesting conundrum.

My first job at Disney was heading up human resources in Feature Animation, the group that originally did those wonderful movies that many of us remember from our childhood. Feature Animation is filled with some of the best artists in the world. And to me it was so entrancing to be surrounded by wonderful artists every day. It gave me the opportunity to understand how an artist-a creative person-might approach a problem differently than I might. The other thing it did for me was allow me to see inside the minds of highly creative people-how they view creativity, what it means to them, how creativity comes about, what the process is that allows them to have a creative thought and then express it, on paper or on a computer screen.

Learning more about that process helped me to get to the next step, which was to see in a whole new way how creativity plays a role in all our lives, no matter what we do. I had assumed that creativity of this magnitude was limited to the arts. But the fact of the matter is that creativity is necessary in the activities that I do everyday. Creativity encompasses the ability to open up our minds to new solutions-to not just do things the same way we've always done them. All of life is risk assessing and problem solving. We need to be able to think creatively to do that, especially in light of all the changes that are going on every day in both the workplace and the marketplace.

Every company must be innovative and creative. This isn't solely the domain of the artist. How do you institutionalize creativity when the function of the institution is to create a safehouse for productivity? That typically does not leave room for personal ritual or wacky behavior, even if it's that behavior that generates the next Big Idea that then brings in the money?

This is something that we struggle with every day. In a culture like Feature Animation it was just wonderful to spend time with the artists-and quite frankly they exhibit all kinds of behavior that you may think is wacky, but it works for them. It allows them to create. If you look at another environment inside our Studio, for instance, the creativity may happen in a very different manner. You need to be creative in your marketing but it's a different kind of creativity from that of the person sitting at an animation desk.

We're constantly searching for ways to ensure that the culture is an open one, which allows the employees enough freedom to create and try new things. Any large corporation may inherently have problems in allowing a lot of individual innovative behavior. There are always parameters, structures, and organizational issues within which you must operate. We are a large corporation, and we have all those boundaries, levels of comfort, and rules about what's okay. A large corporation has challenges in terms of allowing openness and creativity just because of its size.

But it's that innovative spark that could create the one valuable insight that would could drive a company's future success.

Absolutely. The leaders who can set up the kind of environment that encourages that spark are the ones who are going to be successful. We know we can provide three critical elements: to have heart and not be afraid to express that, to have fun, and to take pride in our product.

There are so many smaller, lively creative houses doing great work these days. And they may offer artists the chance to have greater creative control than they might working in a large production team at Disney. How do you competitively brand the opportunity of working at Disney? How do you keep Disney's brand as an employer fresh and irresistible?

We always say that we're the best. If you talk about animation we're absolutely at the forefront in both the beauty of traditional animation as well as the technological tools that give us enormous depth on the screen. The attraction for an artist coming to work at Disney is the body of work that's there from the past and understanding that the tradition of these masters of animation still holds. The Disney legacy is enormously important for people. People who work here at Walt Disney Studios believe in that legacy and care about carrying it forward.

When I first started with Disney in Feature Animation, we were recruiting at art schools around the country. That was the time many new animation houses were starting up. Some of them were sponsored by major studios, and some were smaller independent houses. Teachers would often ask us, "Why should we encourage our students to pay attention to Disney when there are all these new opportunities?" My answer was the same: "We were the first and we will be the last." We felt that many of these other organizations wouldn't make it. And indeed, many of them have folded since. The Disney brand itself is so imbedded in our culture, it's so long-standing, and it's known for a quality that anyone else rarely achieves. That's very appealing to potential employees.

The people I've interviewed for positions throughout all the different areas of the Studio are people who grew up going to Disney movies. They remember how watching these movies as children made them feel-excited, curious, happy. Now that they're adults, they want to be associated with the company that produces those experiences. That goes a long way for us. Those of us who work there take enormous pride in our product. We know that we have an impact on our audience.

Every child's dream has been to run away and go live in Disneyland-or Disney World. But we all know that if you spend enough time there you would begin to see the facades, the scaffolding, and the unpainted parts behind the scenery. Once you get to that point inside the company, how do you keep the brand refreshed-the magic alive-when employees can see the machinery behind the magic?

It's still a wonderful illusion, and I don't know that many of us ever really get over wanting to believe in that illusion, no matter what we know about the background. It makes you smile. It makes you scream if you're on the roller coaster. It makes you cry a little bit when you're watching Lion King on the stage and listening to The Circle of Life. Or even watching some of our wonderful live action movies. I saw Remember the Titans six times and cried every time I saw it. We can still believe in those things that make us feel better, no matter how much we know about the background and the work that went into producing it.

The messages that Disney delivers everywhere and in every way are, "When you wish upon a star, dreams will come true. You can be the best of who you are, achieve potential, bring magic into the world." As a company of employers and employees, do you sustain that message with your employees?

Yes, we try, but this is also a highly competitive business. We're a publicly held company, and we know that we must be successful financially. I think many people who work for Disney-and I happen to be one of them-tend to feel positive about life. And regardless of what kind of shape the economy is in right at this moment, it will change again. And we'll still be here, and we'll still be producing this incredible product.

We've heard a lot about the War for Talent not too long ago, and now a lot of people are getting laid off. What do you think will be the long-term story of the War for Talent? Do you expect the economy will cause the companies to cycle back into that?

In the technology arena, the War for Talent really hasn't changed. Finding great people with technological expertise is still more difficult than it is in other areas, even though dot-coms have gone belly up, and even though more technology talent is back in the marketplace.

In other parts of the business, it seems to me that there will be a moderating factor in the economy. There will continue to be growth, perhaps at a slower rate. People will find jobs, and the marketplace will control how quickly we get into this more positive viewpoint. But I don't think we'll ever return to a boom like that of the dot-com economy. My opinion is that we will see more moderate growth.

Do you think we're also going to have a sadder but wiser employee, and that HR is going to have to work harder to serve him or her?

That's a distinct possibility. Individual employees have come to the realization that the relationship between company and employee is not based on loyalty as much as it used to be. It's perhaps more like a business arrangement. Human resources plays the unique role of being a partner with the business, as well as a consultant to each individual within the business. There are some who say that HR's client is the business organization itself. But I disagree. A really good HR professional is able to maintain equal credibility with both sides of the employment equation-and in doing so makes the business stronger and more successful.

Loyalty has been replaced by the feeling of being a fellow entrepreneur sharing the risk. The relationship has evolved into one that says, "As long as this is good for me and I'm good for you, let's hitch our wagons to the same star." We may have thrown our employment contract out the window, but employment relationships still seem to be built on the assumption that each given scenario is a good bet for both parties. Given what's happened with both dot-coms and Enron, the message seems to be that in addition to success not being a guaranteed thing-which it never was-you may not be able trust your partner anymore.

I'm sure that the Enron debacle will have an impact on how people are viewing their workplaces. But to me it all comes back to a deeper value. We work for many reasons, but I hope those reasons include more than just money. I think it has a lot to do with personal satisfaction. As an employee I don't know that I expect a tremendous amount of loyalty from my employer, but what I do expect (and therefore I assume other people feel the same) is to be treated with respect. Respect encompasses many things, but ultimately it's about overall treatment and taking pride in the product.

Employees should also be active participants in understanding the business side of their own lives and careers. This means they should understand how their company operates in its marketplace, how revenues and profits are generated, and what the overall financial trends are. Personally, they should review their retirement portfolios periodically to determine whether they still believe the investment mix is the best for them. And they should stay informed about the overall business environment and how their company is doing competitively. It's also important that each of us understands that we own our own careers and that we maintain our own personal marketplace competitiveness by continuing to expand our skill sets.


Excerpted from In the Face of Uncertainty by Martha I. Finney Copyright © 2002 by Martha I. Finney. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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