March 30, 2015

#MyWSOMYear Photo Project

The Weatherhead School of Management Marketing Office is looking for photos representing the full experience of the Weatherhead student for its graduation day slideshow, as well as for inclusion in next year's Student Handbook. Photos with other students, with faculty members, at gatherings, in other cities, around campus, casual and formal are all welcome and encouraged.

Share your photos with us by tagging your tweets and Instagram posts with #MyWSOMYear, or email Nicole Rothstein with your photos. 

We're especially interested in LESS photos that look like this:

And MORE photos that look like this:

Don't forget that this is social media. Use your common sense and share only what you wouldn't be embarrassed to show your mom and future employer.

** By sharing your photos with us, we assume permission to redistribute and publish your photos on social media, in the slideshow, and/or in the Student Handbook. 

Now, go do fun things and take pictures of yourselves doing those fun things with other fun people!

March 25, 2015

Leadership roles in conflict and opposing neural domains

by Richard E. Boyatzis and Anthony Jack, PhD

Richard Boyatzis, PhD
Richard E. Boyatzis, PhD, is a Distinguished University Professor at Case Western Reserve University, the H.R. Horvitz Professor of Family Business and a Professor in Organizational Behavior at the Weatherhead School of Management.

Anthony Jack, PhD, is Director of Research at the Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence, Principle Investigator of the Brain, Mind and Consciousness laboratory, and associate professor of Cognitive Science, Psychology, Philosophy, Neurology and Neuroscience at Case Western Reserve University.

David was smiling when he walked into his office building. The weekend was fun. Even his teenagers seemed to break out of their sulky mood and laugh with their cousins at his parents’ house. As if in an ambush, his executive assistant intercepted him just as he walked by the receptionist. A major client had just had an explosion in the client’s plant. No one was hurt, but the main production line was down. Officials at the plant used a set of David’s company’s electronic controls. Were their controls somehow at fault?

Anthony Jack, PhD
Before he reached his office, David stopped by several of the vice presidents' offices and called an emergency meeting in 15 minutes. When their meeting began, he told them what he knew and asked what they should do. Frank, the VP of finance, immediately began talking about their potential liability and that they should check with their insurance agent and corporate attorneys. Sid, the manufacturing VP, began to explain how the client's production line was most likely using his or her own control devices – and went on for quite a long time in excruciating detail. Finally, Barbara, the VP of marketing, asked whether or not David had talked to the president of the client company. She pointed out that since the client's plant was only 45 minutes away, David and a few others should drive over there and see what happened and how people are dealing with it. Frank interjected, "That could be read as an admission of guilt or culpability," to which Barbara replied, "Frank, get serious. We do not have to say it was our controls, but merely show concern. After all, they are a client and this is a big shock. Then we can find out what exactly happened and see whether our control devices were involved in any way."

David was hearing two points of view, which is all too typical in management. Frank immediately went on the defensive. Barbara thought about what the client was experiencing and how to collect more information quickly while showing concern – the right thing to do with a longtime client. These two perspectives and sets of reactions have often been called two different styles of management. One style, called Theory X by Douglas McGregor in the 1960s, is more task-oriented, treating people like parts of the machinery. Theory Y was what McGregor would have labeled Barbara’s reaction – more people-oriented and open to possibilities. What neither McGregor nor other management and leadership scholars for the past 60 years have known is that the roots of these two styles and perspectives rest in two very different neural networks.

In my Brain, Mind, Consciousness Lab, I – Professor Tony Jack – at Case Western Reserve University have been conducting neuroimaging studies and have confirmed with increased precision something suspected in the neuroscience literature. We use a network of neurons called the Task Positive Network (TPN) to make decisions, solve problems and focus. But when we are open to a new idea, other people or moral concerns, we use a different set of neurons called the Default Mode Network (DMN). Not only do these two networks have little overlap, research has shown that they suppress each other.

Identification of two different leadership styles and roles has been a part of management literature since the 1940s. We have called this the Task leader and the Relational (or social-emotional) leader. We thought it was a function of how people grew up, their mentors and coaches, their training and experiences. Which role a person prefers may be a function of some personality traits, but now we know it is more likely that if a person has a preference it is likely a result of using one neural network repeatedly more often than the other. David saw how Frank and Sid responded and how different it was from how Barbara responded. Each of them was correct in identifying a concern for their company. But which was the best way to respond to the client at this moment?

David sensed that it needed a more personal touch. He wanted to show concern but to be careful not to imply that the company's controls were at fault until more information was collected. He felt that showing the client that his firm wanted to help the client get production back up and running as soon as possible was more reflective of their long-term relationship than waiting for lawyers to call each other.

We suspected that effective leaders need both neural networks. Actually, we believe that the most effective leaders cycle back and forth between these networks in under a second and are sensitive to which network is needed in which situations. But the prevalence of each of these roles and styles may mean that we have not been developing managers and leaders with equal facility and skill in both domains. For example, most MBA programs teach people an abundance of analytic tools and are strategic and financially oriented. More effective leadership development would balance these important areas with interpersonal development and projects that involve active scanning of opportunities. Since the DMN also allows contemplating moral concerns – what is fair and just – it adds another dimension to how complex situations are.

This research and our research in how to develop effective leadership provide hope. There are programs, like our Leadership Deep Dive at WSOM Executive Education or our executive MBA program at WSOM, that involve learning analytics and action skills, how to focus (i.e., be mindful) and how to be open to others, and how to prepare your teams and organizations to survive and thrive. Leaders can be taught to recognize and use these different styles and to become more skilled at responding smoothly with both neural networks.

By the way, the explosion had nothing to do with David’s company’s controls.

March 24, 2015

HeadsUp: This Week at Weatherhead

Mock Interviews with Professionals

Looking to refine your interviewing skills and network with alumni from local companies? If so, start preparing now for Mock Interviews with Professionals where you will have the opportunity to conduct a mock interview with an industry professional.

D: Thursday, March 26
T: 4-6 p.m.

Ted Listens @ The Corner Alley

Want a fun night of free food, $2 drink specials & free calzones? You can knock out your career questions while knocking down a few pins.

D: Thursday, March 26
T: 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.
L: The Corner Alley Uptown

Design & Innovation Research Seminar

Socio-Technical Coordination: How Millions of People use Transparency to Collaborate on Millions of Interdependent Projects on GitHub.

D: Friday, March 27
T: 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
L: PBL 120

March 20, 2015

The Unexpected Job Interview Question

Kate Banahan is associate director of career and employer development for Weatherhead's Career Management Office (CMO). Follow them on Twitter at @weatherheadcmo.

As much as you can prepare for an interview, chances are you'll be asked a question you're not expecting. This pivotal moment, how you respond to an unfamiliar question under pressure, is essential to your image as a candidate.

We asked a variety of employers, from Verizon to the Cleveland Clinic to Nestle, what their 'go-to' interview question is to really get to know a candidate's personality. We've shared the list below. 

How would you answer these questions?

- What is the last book you read for fun?
- You've learned about our department. What would you change?
- Who do you admire most?
- What would your headline be if someone wrote a news article about your life?
- What is your biggest pet peeve?
- Tell me about the best day you've had at work.
Stumped? Just remember to stay composed and show how you can think on your feet. Know that the employer is just trying to learn more about you. They're impressed by your resume, but they want to know more. 

Come visit the CMO office for a mock interview and we'll be sure to throw some unexpected questions your way!

March 17, 2015

Learning how to 'slow down to speed up' with Lean Six Sigma

Ellen Burts-Cooper, PhD
Ellen Burts-Cooper, PhD, is an adjunct professor at the Weatherhead School of Management and senior managing partner of Improve Consulting and Training Group.

Everyday I go to work, I use my Lean Six Sigma toolkit. I can't imagine leaving home without it. It helps me understand the process for just about anything and allows me to help my clients increase their productivity, reduce their costs and increase the quality standards of their products and services.

But I didn't always feel that way about Lean Six Sigma. In the winter of 2000, I had a new boss come to my organization with a process improvement background. He quickly announced that we were going to implement Lean Six Sigma. At the time I ran a global team and was entrenched in the belief that I didn't have time for new methodologies.

Besides, I had seen other methodologies come and go and thought, “This too shall pass,” so I didn't take it seriously. Shortly thereafter, a person called a 'black belt' came into my group and said she was going to help me. Yeah right. I did my best to ignore her because, remember, I was too busy running my operations to learn how to run it better. Shame on me. I was producing widgets and our revenue was consistently growing; however, I was neglecting the bottom line.

In the process of making a lot of money, I was also making a lot of scrap and unnecessary mistakes that were costing our company and our clients. One of the first things the "black belt" did to get my attention was run an analysis called the cost of poor quality. That number added up all the inefficiencies related to my process: unnecessary scrap; running the plant longer hours to make up for defective parts; additional dollars to pay for special disposal for defective parts; issuing warranties; reshipping to the client; unnecessary checks and audits; technical service, etc.

When I looked at the number, I found that I could keep running inefficiently, but it was going to cost me. After you see the number, it's hard for any good leader not to make the decision in favor of reducing costs. I wanted to do something about it, but I didn't know what.

She said, "I can help you with that."

Finally, I was listening. She walked me through the five phases in the DMAIC Methodology:

  1. define,
  2. measure,
  3. analyze,
  4. improve, and
  5. control.
By the time we got to "analyze," I could see my problem as clear as day. Before that, we were just turning knobs in the dark and trying this and trying that until something worked; documentation was not even an afterthought. We were moving too fast to get bogged down with all of that. I finally understood the saying, "slow down to speed up."

We put together a team for 2 1/2 months, while still running the operations, to work on this issue. We isolated the problem and removed the defect, and as a result, our quality increased drastically. It was a nice conversation to have with our customers. By the way, we had a lot more customers. Now, not only did the top line look good, but so did the bottom line.

I've been sold on Lean Six Sigma ever since. I now understand process improvement to be a vital component in organizations. So vital that it makes up most of the work I do now.

Being able to turn things around like that sounds great, right? So why isn't everyone using it? Well, three components have to be considered when using Lean Six Sigma:

  1. the methodology,
  2. the tools, and 
  3. the organization.

You can imagine the vast number of organizational factors that prevent people from using the methodology. Factors include resistance to change, insufficient budget, not having the skill set, lack of leadership buy-in, comfort with status quo, poor functional integration, etc. The one I hear most is,   "I don't have time." We claim that we don’t have time to adopt a proactive methodology to increase quality, but somehow we find time to fix problems. Interesting.

I have seen the methodology badly misused; some people are working from a history of mismanaged projects. It's hard to forget that. From a basic human nature standpoint, people don't like to be told what's wrong with the process that they work so hard on every single day. I used to take this approach, walking in and asking, “What’s wrong?”

Now, I approach it from a more appreciative standpoint. I realize it's okay, even when there are issues, to find out what's working well first. I found that this approach allows people to talk freely about what they do best, and eventually the problem is isolated anyway. Lean Six Sigma is a defect-based methodology, and let's face it, there are a significant number of defects in organizational processes, but we can still appreciate things that are working well and leave them intact.

Many organizations face the same challenges that mine did and many employees probably feel the same way I did when I first learned about Lean Six Sigma. But here’s the question. Do you want to learn how to fix the root cause of your problems and truly do better?

If so, there are programs like our Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification or our Master of Science in Management - Operations Research and Supply Chain Management degree at Weatherhead School of Management that train participants to use the Lean Six Sigma methodology and equip them with the tools that made such a significant impact on my work and organization. Participants will learn to use enhanced problem-solving tools and the DMAIC process along with critical tools such as regression analysis, chi-squared analysis, 5S, value stream mapping and others. Our Green Belt Certification helps employees serve as trained operational excellence team members within their function-specific area of the organization and learn how to "slow down to speed up" to make a positive difference.

March 4, 2015

Retain & Advance STEM Women - It's Good for Business

Kathleen Buse, PhD is Faculty Director for the Leadership Lab for Women in STEM, Adjunct Professor at the Weatherhead School of Management, and co-founder and CIO of Advancing Women in STEM™.

Besides being CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, what do these women have in common?

  • Virginia Rometty, Chairman, CEO and President of IBM
  • Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors
  • Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo
  • Marillyn Hewson, Chairman, CEO and President of Lockheed Martin
  • Ellen Kullman, Chairman and CEO of DuPont
  • Meg Whitman, Chairman, CEO and President of Hewlett-Packard
  • Marissa Mayer, CEO and President of Yahoo
  • Ursula Burns, Chairman and CEO of Xerox
All of these women were in the top 20 in the 2014 Fortune Most Powerful Women in Business, but interestingly, they also all have STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering or Math) degrees. Rometty, Barra, Kullman, Mayer, and Burns all have engineering degrees. Nooyi, Hewson and Whitman have science and/or math degrees.

These powerful leaders are not alone in starting their careers in a technical field. A recent study showed that 33% of all Fortune 500 CEOs have undergraduate degrees in engineering.
Many would say that the women mentioned above “beat the odds” by persevering and advancing in technology-driven and male-dominated businesses. Yet, the odds are even more daunting in the male-dominated Fortune 500, as there are only 25 women CEOs on the list, a paltry 5%. This is despite a US labor force that is 47% women. And while women comprise 52% of managers and professionals, women continue to be under-represented in STEM professions.

Women in the Profession

Science  - 45%
Technology - 22%
Engineering - 10%
Math - 25%

Organizations that intentionally recruit, retain and advance more STEM women have better business outcomes. A plethora of studies show that gender equality in leadership improves business results including increased financial and operational performance, higher creativity and innovation, better problem solving and group performance. Catalyst, McKinsey and others have shown that businesses with more gender equality in leadership have better financial performance. A recent Fast Company article states that women “make teams more effective and enhance corporate performance.”

Recruiting more girls into STEM professions is a focus of numerous organizations ranging from the Girl Scouts to the National Science Foundation. Retaining women in undergraduate STEM programs has been a focus of universities. These intentional efforts have paid off, particularly in engineering. Just this past year, women comprised 56% of the engineering graduates from Harvey Mudd College. Nationally, about 20% of engineering graduates are women as compared to about 5% in 1980.

There are programs to recruit and retain women in undergraduate STEM programs but up until now, none have focused on the retention and advancement of professional STEM women. This is an important aspect of leveraging STEM women to corporate leadership, as studies show that women leave the STEM professions at twice the rate of men.

The reasons women leave STEM organizations have been studied by a number of researchers. The Center for Work Life Policy says women leave the STEM professions due to the “hostile and macho culture” where women are isolated and marginalized. Women cite the difficult work climate and lack of promotional opportunities.

This was not my own experience in the STEM professions, and I know many women who persevered like those listed above. I sought to understand the factors contributing to women’s perseverance in organizations that are male-dominated, especially those that are technology-driven.

My research showed that women who persevere in the STEM professions have different individual characteristics than those who leave. These characteristics include self-efficacy, or belief in themselves to achieve in their profession. For example, when we asked “Ruth,” a high-level executive at a coatings company, why she stayed, she told us:

“My personality is such that I have confidence, I’m willing to go out on a limb and do whatever…I stayed because it’s a personality thing...My nature is to make the best of what I’ve got. If I have options, I am going to steer my way towards one thing or another, towards something I enjoy more, as compared to just quitting and leaving and going someplace else. Also in my personality is a lack of willingness to feel like I failed at something. In a way, quitting makes me feel like I’ve failed. I’d much rather try to actually influence something than to just quit it.”

While this may be true for some men as well, many men receive more opportunities for professional and leadership development through mentoring, networking and male-dominated cultures.

We also learned about the importance of challenging, novel work as Ruth highlighted:

“I want to work on something that's important. I want to get satisfaction out of what I do.”

From these stories and additional studies undertaken at Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management, Weatherhead Executive Education has created a professional and leadership development program for women in the STEM professions. “The Leadership Lab for Women in STEM” focuses on practical solutions that empower STEM women to achieve.

In less than six months after the first Leadership Lab, we heard that 40% of the participants had actively sought and achieved a promotion. These women told us that they credit the professional and leadership development they received in the Leadership Lab program.

Retaining and advancing STEM women leads to improved organizational performance. An intentional effort is needed by organizations if they want to retain and advance women. The Leadership Lab for Women in STEM offers professional and leadership development that can be leveraged by businesses to improve bottom-line results.

The next Leadership Lab for Women in STEM begins April 28. If you are a woman in a STEM field, learn more about Weatherhead Executive Education's Leadership Lab for Women in STEM. If you are interested in keeping more women in your STEM-related industry, find out how you can support the women in your organization,