Archive for April, 2007

The Halo Effect

Friday, April 27th, 2007

An interesting new business book, The Halo Effect by Phil Rosenzweig, advises readers to take most business books (other than his, I assume!) with a grain of salt. His assertion: Information offered in most books of business advice claim to be insights on the findings of scientific research, but instead, he says, the information is little more than good storytelling. The authors relate what happened and make specious connections between supposed causes and the results.

Rosenzweig says that good companies run by effective leaders do many things right, so everything they do benefits from the halo effect of the whole. As a result, it’s difficult, without appropriately scientific study, to point to any one practice as the reason for their successes. I agree. In my book, Around the Corporate Campfire: How Great Leaders Use Stories to Inspire Success, celebrates the successful practices of widely admired companies, many of which deliberately use stories to convey their values.

Stories help leaders paint a clear picture of thier vision and how individual employees can succeed in their organizations. The stories make it easy for employees to understand how they can enact the values and support the vision in their own particular jobs. But storytelling is just one leadership tool from an array of practices that collectively produce the desired results. What’s exciting to me is that many of the most admired business leaders point to storytelling as one of the keys to their success.

Ad Dollars: Print vs. Online

Thursday, April 19th, 2007

I just ran across an interesting report about the shifting allocation of advertising expenditures, particulary in weighting print vs. online advertising placements. In an online article on B to B entitled “The Great Migration”, Matthew Schwartz reports major shifts by companies such as Sun Microsystems, which has rebalanced its advertising budget from 70% print/30% online to just 10% print and a whopping 90% online.

Corporate executives quoted in the article are quick to point out that print isn’t exactly decreasing in importance; rather, the media mix is being given more strategic thought, with print still considered a key part of the allocation. As newspapers continue to lose readers and ponder their own mix of online publishing vs. print in the circulation mix, it will be fascinating to watch what happens.

For B to B’s full article, go to

Top 30 CEOs

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

Among the Top 30 CEOs in America named today by Barron’s are the leaders of two companies featured in Costco Wholesale’s Jim Sinegal and FedEx’s Fred Smith. It’s really no surprise that these two are singled out, given their consistently extraordinary performance. What’s particularly remarkable is their adherence to their founding values despite the changing conditions in the marketplace–and their determination to stick to their own sense of what makes a good business model.

Smith developed his business plan while a student at Harvard. His professor told him his ideas would never fly (pun intended)! Sinegal has been taken to task for being too good to employees, paying higher wages for comparable jobs elsewhere and providing generous benefits.

To read the complete article posted today on, go to