- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Soundview Executive Book SummariesRecent events in Corporate America have taught us that when an organization claims to make decisions for its customers or shareholders, it is not necessarily speaking the truth. In reality, there is another group within each company whose needs and desires are the real drivers of most decisions - a Core Group of people "who really matter."
While Enron, Tyco and others have given the concept of the Core Group a bad name, bestselling author Art Kleiner explains in Who Really Matters that companies need Core Groups to supply the energy and direction they require to be successful. By observing the Core Group's members' day-to-day activities, communications and management decisions, Kleiner argues that the astute employee can recognize decisions before they are made, and can be ready to react to change. Eventually, if that person is able to navigate to a position of influence, he or she can join the Core Group.
One of the great lies of corporate culture is, "The customer comes first." In every company, agency, institution and enterprise, there are people who really come first, a Core Group of people who really matter. The makeup of the group differs from one company to the next, but each activity the organization undertakes - from creating wealth to meeting customer needs to training its people - is done with the goal of fulfilling the perceived needs and priorities of this group.
Core Group Dynamics
Core Group dynamics explain why some companies act frugally for years to turn a profit, then squander it all on ill-advised mergers, disproportionate pay for senior executives, or impropriety in their business dealings. It is because of Core Group dynamics that businesses evolve into corporations with one primary purpose - to extract wealth from all constituents (including employees, customers and neighbors as well) and give it to senior executives.
Yet, a Core Group is not inherently bad or dysfunctional; indeed, it serves as an organization's source of energy, drive and direction. Without an energetic and effective Core Group, all efforts to spark creativity and enthusiasm sputter out. Startups need entrepreneurial Core Groups that put themselves at risk for the company's future. Large, well-run companies need a Core Group of senior leaders who can permanently merge their identities with that of the organization. Even the most hierarchically strict organizations - military units, for example - depend on their Core Groups to maintain, among other things, the level of mutual respect that soldiers need to operate above and beyond the limits of their orders.
There is always an implicit, almost unconscious bargain of mutual commitment in organizations - the people of the organization agree to make decisions on behalf of their Core Group, and the Core Group members agree to dedicate themselves as leaders to the organization's ultimate best interests. The organization goes wherever its people perceive that the Core Group needs and wants it to go; if you want to know what a company stands for, explore the characteristics and principles of its Core Group.
When faced with a complex decision, you might ask yourself, "How comfortable would so-and-so be with this decision?" There is probably a range of "so-and-sos" - your boss, executive team, unions, customers and so forth. Even if you don't go through such a litany when you make a decision, your colleagues and fellow employees do, and that's what sets the direction of the organization. The influence of these key people trumps all other concerns, simply due to the cumulative effect of the decisions made throughout the organization.
Imagine that you could make a list of all the so-and-sos in everyone's mind, in aggregate - all the people who influence all the decisions made through the course of a year. Some names would stand out as significant, but only to certain members of the organization. Other names would stand out as important to the whole organization. There would also be some classes of people ("stockholders" or "key customers," for example) that take on significance for the entire organization. Each of these individuals or groups represents not only itself, but an image of the direction of the organization - a view of where it may go. These are the members of the Core Group. Copyright © 2004 Soundview Executive Book Summaries