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Maset News

Volume 32  November 20, 2003

Message From Charles Loew
Comments From Our Readers
New On The Maset Web Site
Helpful Hints from fellow Practitioners
Top Ten List
Feature Of This Issue
Integrity-Centered Leadership
QBQ! QuickNote
Coming in the Next Few Issues


Welcome to MASET News. A monthly publication dedicated to the communication between MASET and our many interested friends, customers and potential customers




As we approach the American holiday called Thanksgiving, I would like to suggest that we each take time on November 27 to say a special thank you for all the friends, acquaintances, family and prosperity we each have. There are many people that have nothing. We are all very fortunate to have so much.

Congratulations to one of our own associates, Ted Squires, in passing his ASQ Black Belt certification.

John Canfield, a Maset associate, has developed a program called Ideation - Creative Thinking Skills. This process enables intact work teams to address current, real problems and develop many possible solutions. Participants work at team tables practicing on company issues while learning to use skills presented in the session. Your organization can utilize the Ideation-Creative Training Skills program, customized especially for you.

Our feature article this month addresses the dilemma that faces many of us in our day to day activities. We seem to get lost in the activities without focusing on where we are heading. Jeffrey Mayer's gives us many ideas of how we can get back on the right track. Enjoy his thought proving article.

Also added this month is a feature that will be in occasional issues, bringing forth answers to questions regarding the issue of integrity. These will be under the heading of "Integrity-Centered Leadership". This month's article is "Board of Directors and Integrity" by James F. Bracher. Forward any questions you may have pertaining to integrity to me at and we will forward them directly to the Bracher Center for Integrity for Leadership for their response.




  • "These are very good articles in this month's (October) Maset News and I am definitely passing them on. Keep up the good work." --Washington DC

  • "Just wanted to tell you that I love the new format of your newsletter. Very sharp and easy to read. So glad to hear that Elie has joined you." --Illinois.
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  • Modern understanding of creativity recognizes that techniques are available to assist anyone who knows how to use them to generate new ideas in order to solve current problems. Since there is a tremendous need to develop these skills, we have added a new Product and Service called Ideation - Creative Thinking Skills.
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  • During introductions or as an ice breaker at the start of a session give everyone three minutes to find out from the person next to them the following information

    - Name
    - Family
    - Key Strengths
    - His or her goal in life or in their profession

    Ask the participants one by one to introduce the adjacent participant. You will find how little people know about each other, even by working together in the same organization.

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    Guidelines for Giving Effective Feedback – Last Seven of Fourteen

    1. Be clear about the consequences of not changing behavior.

    2. Ask what you can do to help.

    3. Use "I" statements.

    4. Maintain eye contact.

    5. Continually check for understanding.

    6. Ask for reaction and response.

    7. Deliver without anger or threats.





    By Jeffrey J. Mayer

    What do you want to do when you grow up? When was the last time you had the time to think about, and ponder, the answer to this question?

    If you’re like most people today, you’re putting in long hours at the office. You rush from one meeting to another, and when you return to your desk you’ve a dozen—or more—voice mail messages to return.

    Your desk is piled with papers that you’ve got to do something with. There are letters to write, proposals and reports to prepare, and lots of stuff that you’ve got to follow-up on. And...

    • You’ve attached yellow, blue, or green sticky notes as reminders of things to do or people to call on your computer monitor.
    • Your in- and out-boxes have become hold boxes, filled with unopened mail, faxes, express delivery letters, and who knows what else.
    • You get so many e-mail messages that it’s impossible to respond to them.
    • You spend almost half of your working hours putting out fires, that are often the result of arson.

    What’s Important to You?

    So I would like you to take a few moments and begin to think about and write down on a pad of paper, or use your word processor, the thoughts that cross your mind regarding these questions:

    • What’s important to you?
    • What do you value most?
    • Where do you want to go with your life?

    Once you’ve begun making these lists, I would like you to continue thinking about them in the days and weeks ahead. As additional thoughts cross your mind, add them to the appropriate list. By thinking about the things that are important to you and the things that you value most, you will discover what you want to do with your life.

    When you know who you are, where you want to go, and what you want to do, everything else falls into place. You find yourself being guided by a larger sense of purpose and direction. Your lifelong goals, dreams, and desires determine your career.

    Your career goals determine your job. Your responsibilities at work, at home, and to yourself determine what you will do each day.

    Create a Master Plan of ACTion

    Once you’ve identified what it is you want to do, you need to create a plan—a Master Plan of ACTion—so you can go out and make your dreams come true.

    With a well thought-out Master Plan, you’ll save yourself lots of time, energy, and money because it’s much easier to get the things you want in life when have a step-by-step plan that lists everything you need to do.

    Put Your Plan On Paper

    Plans that aren’t written aren’t plans! They’re just thoughts and ideas floating around inside your head. As you itemize your thoughts on paper, your Master Plan begins to take shape. Every day you’ll add more items to your Master Plan of ACTion and reorganize the list.

    Remember: The more detailed your Master Plan the crisper your focus.

    Creating Your Master Plan

    This is how you create your Master Plan:

    1. Pull out a pad of paper, or use your word processor, and start writing.
    2. Itemize all the things you will need to do in order to achieve your goals.
    3. Continue to add new items to the list as additional thoughts cross your mind.
    4. Be very detailed. The more information you put on the list, the more control you have. This is your guarantee that important thoughts and ideas aren’t forgotten.
    5. Give yourself plenty of time to think about everything you need to do in order to make your dream come true. This isn’t a one-day affair. It could very well take weeks, months, years, or even a lifetime.

    Remember: God is in the details. Focus on and complete the tiny details.

    Your attention to detail will make the difference between being a success and being a huge success.

    Once you’ve created your Master Plan, you should expect to make changes and modifications to it on almost a daily basis. Think of your Master Plan as a living, breathing document. It’s got a life of its own. Your dreams, your visions, your imagination, and your actions bring your Master Plan to life.


    Reprint permission granted in part or whole when the following credit appears: "Reprinted with permission from ‘Jeffrey Mayer's Succeeding In Business Newsletter.’ (Copyright, 2002, Jeffrey J. Mayer, Succeeding In Business, Inc.) To subscribe to Jeff's free newsletter, visit"



    Integrity-Centered Leadership:

    "Board of Directors and Integrity"

    Response to current key questions

    By James F. Bracher

    Mr. Grasso is history, at least as far as the New York Stock Exchange is concerned. While Mr. Grasso may be guilty of helping design an overly generous compensation program for himself at the expense of his member companies (and therefore widows, orphans and pension funds), the real culprits are the directors of the NYSE who approved the plans. These directors clearly failed to do their job. How would you describe a good director for a good board at a good company?

    You have asked for answers to three questions, about what makes for a good director, a good board and a good company. The answers involve integrity-centered leadership behaviors.

    First, we look at good directors. They are effective based upon their insight, impact, and integrity. Good directors understand the company (its products, services, markets and financial health); respond to the needs of all stakeholders; and, exhibit courage even in the face of strong opposition.

    Good directors work hard to understand the enterprise and management that they have been asked to guide. Directors hire and fire chief executives and set their pay packages. They earn their own salaries by preparing for and responsibly attending their board and committee meetings. Good directors are committed to the effectiveness of their involvement. They wrestle hard issues to the ground and do not rest until proper resolution has been attained. Good directors seldom plead ignorance. They do exhibit courage.

    Let us look at some recent high profile scandals. In the Enron debacle, the outside directors didn't dig deeply enough to understand and question the complex financial structures that were created and the risks associated with them. In the case of the NYSE there may have been an integrity issue since many of the board members were employed by the very companies that they, the NYSE and Mr. Grasso were charged with regulating. In the cases of WorldCom and Tyco, the directors apparently knew about the loans to Ebbers and excesses by Kozloski but did not courageously confront something they knew was wrong. In the case of the insider case against Martha Stewart, the allegations suggest that integrity was ignored in favor of greed.

    What is so striking about these headline cases suggesting impropriety, misbehavior or malfeasance is the similarity of the creeping scandalous behavior to the description of the five progressive stages of intoxication:

    • stage one, after several drinks, the drinker becomes clever;
    • stage two, a couple of more drinks, the drinker becomes charming and affectionate;
    • stage three, as alcoholic consumption continues, the drinker believes that no one can see their clumsy behaviors or notice the slurring of words;
    • stage four the alcohol level rises, and the partaker is now convinced of their own invincibility and immunity to rules that apply to others;
    • stage five, the lights begin to go out and the behavior spirals out of control. The substance abuser may well end up in a cell doing time, either because of actual harm caused to others, or because of the violation of public drunkenness laws.

    We have seen one small step of greed or power after another leading to the scandals that parallel intoxication. This demonstrates that power may insidiously corrupt those who attain it. And again, with the Sarbanes Oxley Act, we see that unless individuals and institutions regulate themselves, governments will.

    A good director, then, is that person whose character, values, insight and knowledge create positive and purposeful influence with colleagues on the board.

    On the subject of a good board, these exhibit and encourage independence, interdependence, directness (confrontation) and relationships built upon mutual trust and respect. 75% of the board members should be outsiders. No Board member should be so captivated by the organization's influence, or that of suppliers or customers, that alignment with the needs of shareholders and other stakeholders is compromised. Good boards want and need oversight, never to be rubber stamps for powerful executives and their teams. This professional independence does not mean that a bank's board member might not have a small account at the bank, or that a board member of General Electric might not have been using GE light bulbs or watching NBC television stations. Nor does this independence require an adversarial board atmosphere. Independence simply means providing the environment for confronting issues openly and honestly, all the time.

    Interdependence is also a hallmark of good boards. Being a strategic partner with management is important. Company managements need the strategic insights, ideas, experience and referrals that a good, yet diverse, board can provide. To be a source of ideas, which a good board is, the relationships must provide for responsible give and take.

    Good boards attract and retain individuals who are able to get along, enjoy one another, even in the midst of strongly differing positions, sustain substantive relationships built upon mutual respect and trust. Good boards communicate their own healthy culture of integrity that includes how they work together, through tough issues, in a climate that combines fiduciary responsibility and stakeholder sensitivity. Good boards insist upon adherence to the mission of the enterprise, as it is fulfilled in all activities of the organization.

    The diversity of good boards enables creativity, connections, cultural and market insight, advice, and counsel. Similarly, good boards are not afraid to tackle tough issues, openly. Debate, which implies differing positions, is essential, not optional. It is important to remember that our college and university students are being taught by their professors and from their text books that "the board of directors is a group of elected individuals whose primary responsibility is to act in the owners' interests by formally monitoring and controlling the corporation's top-level executives" (from Strategic Management, 2003, p. 319; by Hitt, Ireland and Hoskinson) .

    The third question, that of a good company, is answered as one that does what it says it will do, and tells the truth about what it does, seven days a week and fifty-two weeks a year. The good company is integrity-centered and exhibits behaviors that enable its stakeholders to answer yes to the questions that reflect the eight attributes of an integrity-centered company developed by the Bracher Center.

    1. CHARACTER: consistency between word and deed.
      • Do the leaders of your organization exhibit congruence between what they say and what they do, as well as what they say about what they did?
    2. HONESTY: truthful communication.
      • Do you have confidence that your leaders would never engage in or sanction misrepresentation?
    3. OPENNESS: operational transparency.
      • Is appropriate information about your organization readily available?
    4. AUTHORITY: employee encouragement.
      • Are you able to correct a customer problem? Do you have confidence that your actions will be supported?
    5. PARTNERSHIP: honor obligations.
      • Does your organization pride itself on the timely fulfillment of all commitments?
    6. PERFORMANCE: accountability throughout the organization.
      • If individuals, including senior executives, under-perform repeatedly, are they given due process and then, if necessary, replaced?
    7. CHARITY: generous community stewardship.
      • Does your organization reach out to those in need?
    8. GRACIOUSNESS: respect and discipline.
      • Does your organization demonstrate care and concern for all stakeholders?

    When you find an organization, a good company, that exhibits these attributes, there is a good chance, quite probable in fact, that they will have a good board and good directors.

    Published in Jim Bracher's Integrity Matters newspaper column in "The Californian," Salinas California on October 18, 2003

    James F. Bracher is the Founder of Bracher Center for Integrity in Leadership -




    QBQ! (The Question Behind the Question) QuickNote #6

    John G. Miller
    Author of the QBQ! book.

    "When are we going to get better systems?"

    Yet another lousy question. Ever heard it? Ever asked it?

    It's been said, "Bad things happen in 3s." Could be true. On a Thursday night our 1990 refrigerator stopped running. Well, it ran a little - but more like a slow jog. The motor was cranky, the door seal had crumbled, and the food was suffering. The next day our 10-year-old washer went BAM and BONK right in the middle of the rinse cycle, and the dryer was on its last leg (even though it never even had any). So, with seven kids in tow it was off to Sears!

    It was a slow Saturday afternoon on the showroom floor, and they seemed to be a bit overstaffed. That's a plus, actually, when most consumers need a bullhorn to locate someone to help them, but I did feel like a hen who stumbled into a fox den. Jim was very happy to see us. A nice salesperson in his 40s working a second job, he looked like an average kind of guy. We couldn't tell by looking at him that he was so special. We didn't know he would practice personal accountability by overcoming what would prevent others from getting the job done.

    After much looking, mulling, and huddling, the Millers settled on a package of three appliances we badly needed. My wife, Karen, was happy. I was happy. The kids were happy to leave. Time to ring it all up. One problem: The store's entire computer system was down. It had struggled all day, we were told, and now it was responding like the appliances we were there to replace. Oh well, these things happen - even in 2002. Time for a hard shutdown of the system by the IS department, shouted the department manager. "We're back up in 20 minutes!" she promised.

    Twenty minutes to 7 kids ages 3 to 19 is like a week to an adult and a month to the parents with the kids. Jim seemed to know that, so he encouraged us to leave without technical consummation of the sale. After imprinting our credit card, he said he'd bring us the final paperwork and the delivery dates. "But we live 20 miles away!" Karen protested. "No problem, when can I come?" He had to be joking. Think of the time he'd lose from the store - and on straight commission! He smiled. We left.

    The system never did come back online that Saturday night. Jim called at 8 PM and in chatting with him we learned customers had been turned away by some salespeople. But not by Jim. What did he do? At noon on Sunday he showed up at our door to close the sale - and open a relationship. Now we're telling others about him. Who wouldn't? Good old Jim. He simply asked The Question Behind the Question:

    "What can I do with the resources I already have?"

    And then he did it. Now that's personal accountability in action.




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