inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #101 of 107: from LAVINIA WEISSMAN (tnf) Mon 15 Mar 04 09:22

Lavinia Weissman writes:


Thank you for all your thoughtful responses.

Some brief comments:

Re: your responses ( 95 and 100) Groups that form cross organizational
boundaries.  In technology companies, this is common in terms of
manufacturing and delivery to customers.  Your remark re: Governance is right
on.   Faculty at Stern School at NYU  have followed this in their
benchmarking analysis of virtual networks for Sun Microsystems for many
years. The orignial researchers, found Governance to be a key factor in
whether or not virtual teams could work successfully. 

What virtual teams in my opinion have not spoken to which you hint at in
response (100) is the idea of "paying attention."   This is why I believe as
you pointed out, keeping things informal in the context of a core group can
be more effective.  Often corporate alliance groups of virtual teams that
form across deparments (geography or partnering companies) get bogged down in
a search for civility and how they talk to each other rather than serving
the mission and purpose for why the group has formed informally.

This is where I believe the model of dialogue that has grown out of your work
with Bill Issacs at Dialogos is extremely useful both in examining a view
built out of a future scenario and investigating a generative form of inquiry
that requires examinations of hidden assumptions.  The governance that
emerges out of exploring what people do not know on an informal basis, imho,
breaks down structural barriers of thought that we learn in professional
training and past success that stops people from finding a new model of
success or work practice that serves today's needs/mission. 

Karen Stephenson's work on social network analysis,
<> is another valuable tool here
for valuing the informal core group as an asset.  Her analysis can educate
the hierachy and economic decision makers on how the informal core group in
network interacts and what they do (that cannot be learned in a simple
conversation of asking someone or a team, what is it you do all day and why
should we pay you?).   As Karen has said to me many time, core groups that
are effective listen to a larger social network then most economic decision
makers.   Members of effective core groups are on the line every day with
customers and a much larger network of influence than most economic decisions
makers.   Your Procter and Gamble story is in the book is a real good example
of how most tightly controlled large companies that relied on a group of
founders cannot stay current with the need and response for change that is a
skill of agility for any global company or knowledge boutique that serves a
large system of service and product.

A clear example of this is when  a team gets so stuck on archiving knowledge
practices from past success and does not look at the here and now of today
and what it will take to deliver to the current needs of people staffing a
project, outsources and customers.  It always surprises me how many answers
can be found from your customers and how stubborn organizations get with
defending "what they know." or
"what worked in the past."   Paying attention today is not the same as paying
attention to the past or rules and policies that no longer serve.  Social
network analysis can educate economic decisions makers on how core groups and
their extended social networks are behaving as a valuable asset to the bottom

RE: Woody's  remark (90).    The bottom line focus always seems short-term.
It is rare that a business will dedicate time in the short-term to costing
out what is lost by taking the bottom line view.  Let me give you an example.
 Boston College took a short view in building a new stadium on campus a few
years ago. They did not analyze the impact on the neighborhood and what they
would lose for not doing something responsive in terms of a good standing
with the certificaters who approve financial aid and more based on how up to
date a campus is with respect to facility and services.  In ignoring the
neighborhood over the new stadium they ended up paying millions of dollars
that could have been saved in a lawsuit they lost with the neighbors.  In
fact, they had to hire full time staff to oversee the management of the cost
of the lawsuits and more.  This also stalled the neccessary development of a
new student center.   This was costly since the lack of a contemporary
student center cost their standing with respect to financial aid.

I know from my own experience in health care how a financial hazard uncovered
in an audit when not attended to can multiply into a scary deficit.
For years in many medical practices, financial systems could not talk to
medical records systems and this problem mushroomed into billions of dollars
of mishandled medical claims. Most core groups know what the auditor will
write before the report is released. What does it take to forward a decision
to act?

A core group that pays attention will learn how in the shortterm to look at
the cost of change.  Overseas outsourcing is definitely something that
deserves this examination. How many offshore call centers for hi tech end up
costing companies business and customers because of the lack of ability to
respond to the customer due to issues of cultural diversity and lack of
training? I am certain we could collect lots of stories about that on many
companies, e.g. HP and Apple.

Core groups that pay attention not only have to do the work of analysis to
stand behind their decision.  It is often pretty easy to calculate the cost
of doing a bad job in lost business and more if you don't invest in proactive
measures of training and customer education in the short-term. Such measures
may take a few weeks or months and can replace the cost of what is usually
viewed as long the view.  Preventitive maintenance can be a back of an
envelope exercise for those who don't wait months to audit for problems post
the introduction of quick and dirty change.

This kind of intangible/tangible analysis is the frontier of thought and
change that Baruch Lev has done and provided as testimony to regulators and
government.  Art, I think your profile of Lev's work is due out in the next
issue of <>
 I strongly recommend anyone checking out Lev's web site at
<http://www.stern/>http://www.stern/ or reading
Art's forthcoming profile.  His accounting methods are state of the art for
managing intangible and tangible measures for any core group striving for
quality performance.  I have adopted this thinking in much of my practice.

Thank you for inviting me to visit here. I have enjoyed this conversation and
benefitted from the thinking offered here.

inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #102 of 107: Woody Liswood (woody) Mon 15 Mar 04 13:00

Your response is interesting.  I'll have to think about it for a

And, I haven't taught skiing for 2 years now.  LOL

We (Ellen and I) are back at out place in Colorado.  I still teach and
consult -- but I limit my consulting now to the ski industry.  

And, I'm on a Board, now, and am heading to a meeting next week.  I'm
going to suggest that all the members read the book and see what comes
out of that.   One of the folks has published, periodically, in HBR and
is just finishing writing a book of his own -- that has some
similiarities to your book -- although his book is 100% opinion and
experience based rather than research based.  If he gets it to a web
site, I'll let everyone know.

In my lexicon, culture is what I look for when I first start working
with an organization.  While that may be defined by the core group, I
believe that it is somewhat bigger than that and takes into account the
different sub-cultures that I find to exist in larger complex
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #103 of 107: Farooq Khan (farooq) Thu 27 May 04 10:52
    <scribbled by farooq Thu 27 May 04 10:52>
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #104 of 107: Farooq Khan (farooq) Thu 27 May 04 10:53
    <scribbled by farooq Thu 27 May 04 10:53>
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #105 of 107: Farooq Khan (farooq) Thu 27 May 04 10:56
<art> I read your interview with Philip Bobbit and found this
discussion very illuminating. I have written an essay for a new
magazine which I thought you might appreciate. The magazine will be
coming out shortly called 'New Civilisation'which addresses some of the
ideas of Bobbit and power. I would be happy to hear your thoughts
about my essay;

inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #106 of 107: Art Kleiner (art) Thu 27 May 04 19:26
Farooq, thanks. The essay makes sense, I think, in arguing that
Globalization is new. The part I don't really understand is the
critique of secularism. Does it really lead to nationalism or abusive
capitalism? One point of Who Really Matters, I think, is that it
describes how secular societies work. They work through organizations
and Core Groups. If I understand  you correctly, then an Islamic group
is a group with just Allah and his prophet in the Core Group. All the
rest is interpretation. 

But I mistrust any Core Group who cannot be directly queried about
their intentions. 

inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #107 of 107: Farooq Khan (farooq) Fri 28 May 04 09:24
Your right secularism doesn't lead to nationalism however secularism
hasn't provided a solution to one's identity that transcends ethnicity.
In Europe the debate about identity is more profound because of
European integration. And many people recognise that multiculturalism
is not a good basis to bond people. In Britain the think tanks,
academia, politicians and opinion makers have been grappling with these
questions for sometime now without a clear intellectual solution.

Bobbit's thesis in this regard goes someway to addressing the problem
of identity vis-a-vis the market state. But there is a conflict of
values which is reflected in nations giving up their soverignty i.e.
material interests of the individual with what is best for the

How would you apply your thinking of the core group in addressing this
disparity between the people of power who wish to hold on to power
with the ideal of breaking down borders between nations?

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