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Your One Hundred Day Transformation
June | 2012


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Courageous Leadership

TED Talks

The Resilience Advantage

 
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Courageous Leadership

Your One Hundred Day Transformation

The early 2000s brought a spate of corporate scandals and bankruptcies including Enron, Tyco and Global Crossing. The biggest of all of these was the downfall of WorldCom. When WorldCom merged with MCI in 1998, these two telecommunication giants created the largest merger in stock market history. WorldCom was building the infrastructure for the Internet and their future looked bright to everyone in the company, in fact perhaps it was being seen as too bright.

A "capacity planner" at WorldCom built a spreadsheet model predicting that WorldCom's Internet traffic could double every 100 days. While it was intended to be a modeling document, WorldCom executives began to use this model as a planning and operational platform that led to such absurd actions as working to lay 2200 miles of fiber optic cable per hour. On top of these and other poor management decisions, ethical issues were a problem as WorldCom CEO Bernie Ebbers secretly borrowed over $300 million of corporate funds for his personal investments. As the tech bubble began to blow up in 2001, the walls around WorldCom's then magical accounting practices began to collapse and the company declared what became the largest bankruptcy in US history. The stock plummeted from its market high of $49/share to a low of $.09 before the NASDAQ halted trading. Over 30,000 WorldCom employees lost their jobs and over 300,000 telecommunication workers were laid off from other companies that had hopped on the WorldCom merry-go-round.

Companies go on after bankruptcy however and while the newscasts rarely follow the paths of those who pick up the pieces, the bankrupt WorldCom continued to operate but needed new, inspirational and ethical leadership. Enter Michael Cappellas, then President of Hewlett-Packard.

When Michael Capellas took over WorldCom in November 2002, he told his demoralized workers that he and his team would work unceasingly to build a successful and ethical corporation. Within his first few months at WorldCom, Capellas created a 100-day plan designed to mobilize his employees and to create a sense of confidence that the company could continue and that employees could reclaim belief in their efforts.

Capellas' and his leadership team focused on three key aspects that they felt were essential for MCI to weather their bankruptcy and provide hope for employees.

  • First, they created a sense of urgency for everyone associated with the company,
  • Second the instilled and modeled a value system that focused on creating a moral and ethical compass for all employees,
  • Third, they worked for short term wins that built a roadmap towards eventual reorganization.

Capellas 100 day plan was designed to demonstrate that the work of MCI could be turned around quickly. He insisted that organizational leadership needed to be rebuilt, that product and sales numbers needed to be mapped and met and that new IT services focusing on emerging Internet Protocols for telecommunication be established. Communication was key and Capellas and his team held town hall meetings, global webcasts, CEO conference calls to all employees and twice-weekly emails from the CEO informing the team of progress on the realignment of the corporation.

Given the ethical issues that confronted MCI during the previous four years, Capellas was committed to establish a workplace that supported a business code of conduct and a "zero tolerance" policy for ethical violations. His mantra was "Do the right thing because it's the right thing to do". In that first 100 days, ethics training programs were established and 100% of MCI's 50,000 employees completed the program that asked: "What would Julie do?" in response to potential ethical dilemmas in their business environment.

Capellas' chose to publically share the objectives of the 100-day plan with stakeholders as a way of establishing accountability and to help achieve short term wins. "Success", he said, "is not about creating the plan, but actually achieving it". Their major wins in those 90 days included (1) filing their corporate reorganization plan (a process that can normally take up to a year after bankruptcy), (2) recruiting and establishing a new management team (3) creating the new ethics policies (4) retaining the company's top 300 customers (5) expanding their flagship consumer product to all 48 continental states and (6) Having fun while doing it. MCI went on to be sold to Verizon in 2006 and became a part of their business division. While many people were hurt in the WorldCom scandal, Michael Capellas' 100-day plan righted this corporate ship.

As we kick off the summer months, consider how much you want to get done over the next 100 days. I'd encourage you to be outrageous in what you hope to do both in your work and in your family life. Establish some goals and time frames to accomplish them. Share your ideas with family and co-workers and maybe even recruit some others to join in with you. Creating an accountability group means that you can help each other reach your incremental goals and then celebrate your successes along the way. Go for it and see how much you can transform in 100 days.

 

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TED Talks

There may be a few things that surprises you about Richard St. James research about his 8 Secrets of Success but this three minute video will definitely affirm that you are probably doing several of them. You may want to consider how you can do more. A simple and elegant Ted Talk.

 

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The Resilience Advantage

The Resilience Advantage will help you develop a mindset and provide you with a set of tools that you can use to more skillfully address the challenges in your work and home life.

Being resilient is more than just being able to bounce back from adversity, its also about being prepared and "hardy" in the face of stressful events, and being able to navigate successfully through those challenges.

Using tools such as Building Body Wisdom, Managing your Personal Energy and Developing an Optimistic Approach to Life will help develop your personal resilience. Right now I am finishing up a cool series of videos about The Resilience Advantage. I'll be to rolling them out for your viewing soon, along with some webinars and workshops to help you build your own Resilience Advantage.

 

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