Best-Practices Leadership

Costco knows how to treat people

April 12, 2010

At Costco, Jim Sinegal, who co-founded the warehouse retailer in 1983, is always praising his people and treating them well. For one thing, Costco laid off no employees—zero—during the recent recession. And 86% of Costco employees receive health care and benefits, even though half of them work only part time.

Van Halen’s brown M&M test

April 12, 2010

During its heyday in the 1980s, the Van Halen band required host arenas to provide a bowl of M&Ms with the brown ones removed. David Lee Roth, former front man for the band, confirmed the story in his autobiography, Dan and Chip Heath report in their new book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard. Here’s how Van Halen used M&Ms as an early warning system of potential technical failure.

The greening of Ford Motor Co.

March 12, 2010
When Bill Ford joined Ford Motor Co.’s board of directors in 1988, he was told to leave his concerns over the environment behind. But Ford felt that sustainability—the responsible use of natural resources—would be key to the survival of the company his great-grandfather founded. By the mid-2000s, when gasoline topped $4 a gallon, Ford pulled ahead of its U.S. competitors in developing fuel-efficient vehicles.

Social media drives innovation at IBM

March 12, 2010

At IBM, being “authentic” with social media means losing control. Rather than trying to control the brand’s image or message, leadership at IBM has handed the reins to thousands of voices inside the company.

Finding talent in nooks & crannies

March 12, 2010

Looking at a list of where the past 25 Americans to win the Nobel Prize in medicine earned their undergraduate degrees, you’d expect to see Harvard, MIT and Stanford. You wouldn’t expect to see Gettysburg College …

How not to manage talent: NBC’s missteps

February 12, 2010

As painful as it was, NBC’s decision to say goodbye to Conan O’Brien was about protecting and increasing revenue, which is any business’s prerogative. The network did make some missteps, though, in managing its talent:

Consistent contributors = good team

February 12, 2010

Whether a group is dividing a restaurant bill or working on a shared budget, the more cooperative the group is, the more likely it can rise above a challenge. It helps a leader to understand, then, why some groups cooperate more than others.

A madness to their Method

February 12, 2010

The two 27-year-olds who’ve built Method into the world’s largest green cleaning brand have had to endure plenty of setbacks in short order. So far, they’ve muddled through. Eric Ryan, the marketing guy, and Adam Lowry, the chemical engineer, ginned up their first cleaning sprays early in 2001 from ingredients such as coconut oil and corn. Almost immediately, they ran into flak:

Sustainability á la Walmart

February 12, 2010

Moving toward sustainability requires taking big, game-changing moves and smaller ones as well, says Walmart’s senior vice president of sustainability Matt Kistler. Walmart currently has three sustainability goals. For leaders trying to follow suit, one key is to seek out opportunities that positively affect the environment and result in cost savings, says Kistler.

Ways to lighten their load

February 12, 2010

With fewer people doing more work, here are three ways to ease the workload: 1. Give people more choices. 2. Help them prioritize. 3. Don’t overload star performers …