Bill George is professor of management practice at the Harvard Business School and former chairman and CEO of Medtronic, the world’s leading medical technology company. Under his leadership, Medtronic’s market capitalization grew from $1.1 billion to $60 billion, averaging 35 percent a year. He is the author of the best-selling Authentic Leadership and a board member of Goldman Sachs, Target, and Novartis.
His board membership at Goldman Sachs certainly leaves him with something to answer for (which I don’t think he does in this webcast). With the damage that company has done to the USA economy you certainly can’t excuse a board member of responsibility for the actions that company has taken. You can listed to his first few minutes and don’t get the idea that he was a leader of the company most responsible for the credit crisis.
His words do sound nice but seem a bit short on much new. Lots of the “new leadership ideas” (like today you can’t have one leader that everyone follows – isn’t that at least 20 years old as a well know bad idea?). Also the idea that an organization exists to provide value to customers not to maximize shareholder value. I understand more people do not understand this point, so it is nice a Harvard MBA professor is pushing this idea (but again it isn’t new at all).
I guess I am a little disappointed in the video but others seem to like it and I do think he makes worthwhile points, just nothing really special (from where I sit). I did like how he discussed value tests come in real life.
I share what seemed to be his opinion that talking abstractly about values is less important than actions you take in the real world. I must admit I am getting more and more frustrated in the lack of moral and ethical values in those with power in our society (this is my feeling, not the speakers). And I do not have must patience for their ability to try to explain away their unethical behavior. I repeatedly see our lack of accountability of those with power (just look at how many people are in jail for all the hundreds of billions of financial fraud in the last few year (what maybe 5 people? 10?) and compare that to those in jail for much much less damaging crimes that have less power). His blog has some posts worth reading.
Related: Jeff Bezos Spends a Week Working in Amazon’s Kentucky Distribution Center – Harvard’s Masters of the Apocalypse – An Introduction to Deming’s Management Ideas by Peter Scholtes (webcast) – Eric Schmidt on Management at Google – Looting: Bankruptcy for Profit