STRATEGY

The Next Management Fad?

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Old Style: Hire for attitude, train for skill
Bold Style: Train skillfully, with attitude
PhotoDisc boasts its own "university" presided over by a fictitious "dean," Dernab Schwarneb (an actor), who has become a company Elvis of sorts, complete with rumored sightings. "Creativity comes from humor," explains president Mark Torrance.

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Old Style: In-house newsletter
Bold Style: In-transit radio show
Eager to "touch our employees in a reasonably personal way," Paranet president Michael Holthouse provides them with Radio Paranet, a professionally produced audiocassette that sounds like an FM morning drive-time show. Hosted by two employees and produced every six weeks, the show includes segments such as "recruiter world," which is kicked off by a Wayne's World­ style chant. A recent episode included a profile of Paranet's Chicago branch? whose members explained why they call themselves the Flying Musk Oxen? and an interview with two employees who couldn't fly home because a catering truck had impaled itself on their plane's wing at takeoff.

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Old Style: Teach the newcomer
Bold Style: Learn from the newcomer
Most Fridays Deborah Williams, CEO of Black Cat Computer Wholesale, holds an informal Q& A session. At one, a young sprite in shipping pointed out that the sales of one product seemed to be lagging, something he noticed when he was checking orders going out the door. The insight prompted Williams to lower prices, boosting sales by 7%. "It's something that just dropped through the cracks," she says. "It was just a little piece of what we sell, but now it's an important chunk of our business." P.S. That new fellow is now a manager.

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Old Style: Share financials
Bold Style: Share a story
A few months back, a CNN commentator was clinking coffee cups together on the air to simulate the collision of a supply capsule with the Russian space station Mir. Coffee cups hardly look like spacecraft, so Analytical Graphics called up the network and offered to create a real-looking simulation. Engineers worked through the night, and the next day CEO Paul Graziani excitedly recounted the tale to his employees at "storytime." (Yes, that's what it's called.) Each Friday after lunch, employees sit on the floor and listen while Graziani regales them with adventures from the field. Then they join in, telling stories of their own.

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Old Style: Employees get bonuses
Bold Style: Employees give bonuses
There are no managers at Entact, and CEO Phil Pisani prefers it that way. But given their absence, Pisani wondered, how could he run a performance-based bonus plan? Pisani's brave solution: let employees award bonuses to one another. Each of Pisani's 50 salaried employees is provided with $500 worth of "Entact Green," with which to recognize valued coworkers, and $300 worth of "Brain Bucks," to reward a colleague for an innovative idea. "When somebody has done something good day in and day out, you can reward them without having to ask for permission," says Pisani. "There are no parameters at all." The company's controller then pays the recipient with real cash.

Last updated: Oct 15, 1997




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