Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Game's Afoot

Attempting to Bolster Pharma Reputation Facebook Style
I saw an article in Medial Marketing & Media several weeks back entitled, “Boehringer's Pharma-ville could salve industry's bad reputation.” The article was about Syrum, an on-line game where the “objective is to save the world, one disease at a time.” According to their web site, “Syrum is a social game on Facebook which sees you take control of your very own pharmaceutical company. You’ll have to equip and use your laboratory to discover new drugs and bring them to market in order to increase global health.”

Great, but as we’re waiting for further updates, I’ve wondered who this was targeted to and if this was an effort to increase the industry’s reputation, a Facebook game that helps BI find a new audience, both or something else? Reading on, the article said the game could “help address the flagging reputation of the industry,” but John Pugh, BI’s head of on-line communications tried to clarify the intent and said, “The main objective is to create a kick-ass game… It's about pharma and fun."

Too bad. Is that all BI’s leadership wants to get out of this effort? I don’t have an argument with “kick-ass” (however that’s defined) but I wish the endeavor also included some real learning objectives. Engagement and goodwill are important, or course, but can something be taught? Can knowledge be used beyond the game experience? I'd love to hear more about what BI will be measuring.

It’s clear that we need better informed, more knowledgeable customers. How else can they value and trust what we do in research, development, approval and medical education? More knowledge leads to better outcomes. Better outcomes leads to better utilization. Better utilization leads to better satisfaction. Better satisfaction leads to more trust.

This doesn’t mean that we can’t or shouldn’t be creative. I’ve said it before: we should use our talents and resources to develop a massive, sustained effort to enhance health and science literacy. When it comes to managing one’s health or the health of one’s family, most people don’t have enough knowledge to evaluate a medical product claim or even formulate the right questions to ask a healthcare provider. This deficit makes the public an easy target for anti-vaccination nonsense, and purveyors of alternative medicines and bogus devices.

If reputation building is a secondary consideration for BI, I suggest a revaluation of objectives because the industry needs all the help it can get. After inching up to 31 percent in the 2008 Harris Interactive Reputation Quotient survey, the numbers fell back to 29 percent in the latest results. In comparison, the technology industry scored 72 percent. Essentially, the scores are mirror images – as many don’t like the pharmaceutical industry as like the technology industry. Pretty sad, indeed.

Unfortunately, much of this reputational gloom is self-inflicted (price hikes, quality problems, data transparency, etc.) but other aspects are controlled by external factors (insurance coverage decisions, political agendas, alternative medicine claims, etc.). It’s complicated and it’s fluid. So, let’s control what we can control: behavior, ethics, standard operating procedures and, in this case, communication and education.

BI deserves credit for exploring the edutainment world. I signed up to receive updates on the Syrum web site and am eagerly await more news. However, I might be outside of their demographic because the cartoonish graphics and sound effects seem to trivialize the point. I hope upon its official launch that the substance, at least, is a little more realistic.

Between blog posts, you can follow me @pauloestreicher.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Few Thoughts from Orlando

Not Disney, the Public Relations Society of America International Conference.

This brief video was shot by the PRSA on a flipcam after I delivered my address - Arthur: King, Leader, PR Man - Modern Lessons from Camelot and the Round Table. Your feedback is welcomed.

You can learn more at

Between blog posts, you can follow me @pauloestreicher.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Form and Substance Disconnect at HP

More on the CEO Merry-Go-Round
It was just a couple of weeks ago that I wrote about the ham-handed firing of Carol Bartz at Yahoo! (Another Botched Corporate Transition) and now it's here-we-go-again at HP. In the earlier article, I noted that the ouster of Mark Hurd and the poor preparation of HP's Board of Directors was used as an example in chapter 13 of Camelot, Inc. (Passing the Candle: Succession Planning). It was Leo Apotheker who took over from Mr. Hurd less than a year ago and now it's Meg Whitman taking over from Mr. Apotheker.

What was at the core of Mr. Apotheker's failure? Was it a flawed turnaround strategy? After all, his plan to spin-off the $40 billion PC business (hard won by another former CEO, Carly Fiorina, through the controversial acquisition of Compaq) and the deal to buy Autonomy, a software maker, for a hefty $10.3 billion caused a gigantic gasp of concern on Wall Street and among HP's 320,000 employees. No. Ms. Whitman told The Wall Street Journal that she endorsed the strategy. "I think the strategy is right," said Ms. Whitman.*

Apparently, the substance was there but his ability to articulate and communicate the plan was not. In the WSJ article, it was reported that Mr. Apotheker informed almost no one of his business intentions; enormously important decisions were a complete surprise to key people, including the head of the PC unit, Todd Bradley. In addition, he "appeared unable to explain the moves to investors" and the board felt that he "failed to rally his troops well and staffers believed "he was not clear on the strategy, not articulating clearly what the direction was."" Board Chairman Ray Lane said, "We didn't see an executive team working on the same page or working together."

Intellect and vision are hugely important attributes but Mr. Apotheker came up short in other areas of great consequence: communication and team work. As I point out in chapter 6, How to Be the Best Knight: Marrying Method and Manner, we're a package; one dimensional leadership doesn't cut it. It's essential to understand the array of audiences that have a potential impact on success or failure, and to be able to convey information in a clear and timely fashion.

And, lone wolves have no place in leadership roles. Of course, the CEO must ultimately make a decision; it can, indeed, be a lonely job. But leading means providing a forum for sharing ideas and brainstorming others, building relationships and creating an environment of trust, and communicating in a way that inspires others to believe and to follow.

Maybe part of the problem is the lack of incentive to succeed; the CEO merry-go-round has been quite lucrative -- a reported $13 million of Mr. Apotheker and $10 million for Ms. Bartz, for example. (Dear Yahoo!, I'd be willing to be fired for $5 million.) So, while the boards review their CEO vetting procedures and succession plans, they should also take a hard look at compensation schemes and success measures. Failure can be a two-way street.

* Ben Worthen, Justin Scheck, Joann Lublin, H-P Defends Hasty Whitman Hire, The Wall Street Journal, September 23, 2011

Between blog posts, you can follow me @pauloestreicher.

Friday, September 23, 2011

How Google, IBM and Others Can Help Hold Feet to the Fire

A Proposal to Harness Computing Power to Showcase the Truth During Political Debates
Like so many, I'm profoundly disturbed when facts are ignored or twisted. I bristle especially when it comes to junk science and false health claims. Politics aside, Michele Bachmann's repeated assertion that Merck's HPV vaccine may cause mental retardation goes beyond inaccurate; it directly undermines public health. She ignores the experience of millions (and the lives saved, the disease prevented), clinical evidence, and the findings of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics. It would be an absolute crime if Ms. Bachmann's fear-mongering statement leads to just one girl eventually getting cervical cancer because her mother decided against vaccination. As Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not to his own facts."

Of course, health advocates, and public health and medical professionals blitzed the news media with the actual facts, which were 100 percent contrary to the presidential hopeful's claim. Unfortunately, the damage was already done. For some, the corrections will stick in their brains; for others, however, it will be in one ear and out the other. In Camelot, Inc., I addressed the challenge of undoing false or misleading statements: "It’s difficult to defeat because once in place, misinformation is terribly difficult to retract and, harder still, to erase from one’s memory. In a study of nearly 900 participants, researchers showed that “the repetition of tentative news stories, even if they are subsequently disconfirmed, can assist in the creation of false memories in a substantial proportion of people.”* Once the information is published “its subsequent correction does not alter people’s beliefs unless they are suspicious about the motives underlying the events the news stories are about.” And, “when people ignore corrections, they do so irrespective of how certain they are that the corrections occurred.” The bottom line is that people may continue to rely on misinformation even when a subsequent retraction is made and remembered."

Following last night's Republican debate, Ms. Bachmann denied saying that the vaccine was "potentially dangerous." "I didn't make that claim nor did I make that statement," she countered. And, yet, anyone can read the transcripts or look at YouTube to see and hear for themselves that she said it again and again. Of course, there were plenty of other flagrant violations of the truth by the other candidates. In the debate follow up, and others comment on the veracity of some of their key statements. It's important and worthwhile and... maybe too late to matter. How many listen to the pundits after the main event is over or read the news articles the next day? Just some small fraction of the debate audience, I'll bet.

So, here's a proposal that will hold every candidates' feet to the fire. Let's have all the fact checking completed during the debate. Before everyone shakes hands and calls it a night, a final segment is added: the candidates are confronted with their false or misleading talking points (maybe even a report card on how accurate or truthful they've been) and are asked to address the issues right then and there. During the course of the debate, all of the statements could be crunched through the vast holdings of credible, objective knowledge. Google was a co-sponsor of last night's debate, for crying out loud. And, if IBM's Watson computer can win at Jeopardy!, there's no reason that near-real time fact checking couldn't be a reality. It could be PolitiFact's Truth-O-Meter(TM) on steroids. No opinion sites or blogs would be part of the fact checking database -- only transcripts, proceedings and testimony; almanacs and atlases; laws, regulations and policy statements; credible survey data, and peer-reviewed research reports.

Google/YouTube and Twitter have expanded interest and engagement in the political debates. Here's a way for them and others to ensure that the widening audience gets the facts and not the flimflam.

* Lewandowsky, S., et. al., “Memory for Fact, Fiction, and Misinformation” (2005), Psychological Science, 16(3):190-195.

Between blog posts, you can follow me @pauloestreicher.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Another Botched Corporate Transition

When Will They Ever Learn?
The news this week that Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz was fired took me back to Mark Hurd's departure from HP last year. I used Mr. Hurd and the HP Board as an example in chapter 13,
Passing the Candle: Succession Planning, in my book, Camelot, Inc.: Leadership and Management Insights from King Arthur and the Round Table. While Yahoo! stock rose and HP stock dropped in the immediate aftermath, both actions left a leadership vacuum -- the Boards acted without naming a successor. Indeed, both companies didn't appear to have a succession mechanism nor was a search firm in place. I wrote, "Succession for executives and managers must not be left to chance; evaluation of internal and external talent, along with a predetermined, orderly process for transition, is required to help guarantee the organization's ongoing success."

In the case of Ms. Bartz, though, a number of other book chapters were violated such as chapter 8, Picking Your Battles: Navigating through Your Audience and Environment. It was a less than graceful exit when she sent an e-mail to 14,000 staffers saying, "I am very sad to tell you that I've just been fired over the phone by Yahoo's Chairman of the Board." In an interview with Fortune, she expanded her remarks by saying, "
These people f****ed me over."1 Will that help her to create trust in future relationships? Does that embody professionalism? And, in a blow to chapter 14, Destiny and Legacy: Making Your Personal and Professional Mark, is that how she wants to be remembered?

Of course, the Chairman, Roy Bostock, also trampled on chapter 8 as well as chapter 10, Realism and Idealism: Balancing Vision and Execution. The key take-aways are that one can't allow things to boil over and that important issues - no matter how awkward or uncomfortable - must be handled face-to-face. Ms. Bartz said she called him out on the cowardly handling of the termination by asking, "Why don't you have the balls to tell me yourself?"1

All of this begs the question of whether or not Ms. Bartz was the best choice when she was hired in 2009. In chapter 5, Creating a Round Table: Assembling the Right Team, the importance of vetting and fit - skills, personality, philosophy - are discussed. In an open letter, Yahoo! investor Daniel Loeb noted that Yahoo has cycled through four CEOs in four years. He said, "This board's failures have destroyed value for all Yahoo stakeholders." Ms. Bartz was brought in to turn around a struggling Yahoo! but mostly divested or shut down struggling units and shed employees. She "failed in that she could not build new growth engines for the company."2 And was her "take no prisoners" approach appropriate for Yahoo? As an outsider, I don't know but reports of poor relationships with Asian partners and a "proclivity for verbal gaffes" indicate that trouble probably started early on.3

So, Yahoo looks amateurish and ill-prepared, calls for ousting some Board members have begun, Ms. Bartz will probably continue to embarrass Yahoo! and herself for a while, and no one learned any management or communication lessons. Hint: I'm available for some consulting and I'll bring copies of my book.

1. Patricia Sellers, Fortune, Sep. 8, 2011
2. Maxwell Wessel, HBR Blog Network, Sep. 7, 2011
3. Kara Swisher, All Things Digital, Sep. 6, 2011

Between blog posts, you can follow me @pauloestreicher.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Trickle-Down of Distrust

How We Elect Leaders Is Pulling America Apart
Cause and effect are often difficult to prove. This is especially true when there are a lot of "moving parts." When it comes to all of the unrest in the world, we have to examine and weigh the contributions of economics, religion, culture, ego, etc. In health care, the complexities and differences in our genetics and in the way research is conducted leads frequently to conflicting reports on nutrition, drugs, supplements, diagnostic tests, etc.

There are also a lot of moving parts in the political arena and here, too, cause and effect are hard to prove. For example, take a look at the gridlock in Washington, and the expanding and deepening incivility in the capitol and across the nation. Is it worse today than in the past? In fact, there has been plenty of political hate over the centuries. We've seen greed, lies, propaganda, impeachment and attempted impeachment, duels, assassinations and attempted assassinations.

And, yet, this all feels different and not in a good way. Never before has there been such a low level of trust in Government and never before have our leaders trusted each other less. There are many factors, of course, that have conspired to whip-up this historic, stomach-turning divisiveness and cynicism. As I said, it's tough to put one's finger on a single cause and effect but here's one hypothesis: Our endless election cycle is destroying America -- our progress, our ethics, and our empathy and cohesion as a people.

Campaigns used to be episodic -- there was a campaign "season." After a few months of electioneering, the bulk of the name-calling and character assassination would be over; politicians would get back to business. There was plenty of time between election cycles for people to make-up, form relationships, and build some mutual respect and trust. Not today.

With drawn-out primaries, the influence of PACs and SuperPACs, the blurring of reporting and opinion and 24/7 media coverage, presidential contenders (not to mention House members) never stop campaigning. And, they never stop bashing their opposition. It's become more strident, more shocking, in the same way we crave more and more stimulation and outrageous behavior in reality TV shows, radio programs and computer games. The baseline of acceptability, what we're calling normal, has been shifting for some time. In my view, however, the line has been crossed.

Conventional wisdom tells us that politicians are thick-skinned; it's "just politics," no one takes it personally. Wrong. The rhetoric has become more personal and it is, indeed, being taken personally. We can see all the grudges that have formed, with little hope of repair. But the real victims of the constant criticisms are us -- the American people. We're told day in and day out by just about everyone who's out of power that the Government is incompetent. We can't trust the Government to lead. We're told by a great number of companies in highly regulated industries that we can't trust the Government to guide economic development. We're driven to take sides. We're told it's all or nothing.

Sadly, with all the repetition, we're buying-in to the message. Our trust in government has eroded to its lowest point since scientific political polling began. The self-fulfilling prophecy is for real.

Should we have blind faith in government institutions? Of course not! But the side effects of all the political positioning and posturing is that we've become meaner, less tolerant and more uncompromising. With heals dug-in, few are optimistic that our leaders will deliver any meaningful solutions to our enormous challenges. While our Founding Fathers would marvel at our technological advances, they'd be horrified to see the increasing dysfunction and distrust. Their words are quoted often but heeded rarely. The "big picture" is lost while politicians ride the endless merry-go-round of raising and spending campaign cash and undermining the very institution they claim to cherish.

Between blog posts, you can follow me @pauloestreicher.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Courage Has Nothing to Do with It

Clausewitz, King Arthur and Our Founding Fathers Weigh in on the Debt Crisis
I'm rereading Clausewitz (the 19th century Prussian general who, many agree, is the father of modern strategic thought) in preparation for teaching the Strategic Communication class at NYU this summer and see a link to the current debt ceiling issue.

As we approach the cliff, we hear politicians and pundits say, "We must have courage to do the right thing for the American people." The problem is that courage has nothing to do with our current situation.

Let's face it. The impasse has much too little to do with being right or about logic or about serving the broad interests of the population. It's much more about power and control. Clausewitz wrote, "Obstinacy is not a defect of the understanding. Rather, obstinacy is a defect of the emotions. The unwillingness to bend, a resistance to judgments not one's own, only have their basis in a particular type of selfishness, which places above every other pleasure that of using one's mind to exert control over oneself and others."

Our Founding Fathers and the generations of leaders who followed didn't take us on a straight line to success. Our history has been a bumpy path but one that always led forward. Yet, we stand on the brink of moving backward in a really significant way for the very first time. The health of our economy (and our society, not to mention the impact a default might have on global markets) is caught up in positioning, gratification and selfishness.

This ties back to my blog post of April 8th (How "Camelot Wisdom" Can Address Our Political and Budget Woes). We need more understanding, mutual respect, empathy and a willingness to accept incremental change -- and fast. I don't know where the much needed wake-up call will come from. Can a nation so divided come together and shake the tree of government to demand positive action? I hope so. But with so much posturing, with such heated rhetoric and message spinning, it's easy to understand that many citizens are dazed to the point of paralysis.

As Congress comes back after the Fourth of July holiday, I hope they can channel even a tenth of the character of our founders and set us back on a positive course. They were the ones with courage. They risked their lives and invented a great nation. Our leaders today must not squander that inheritance.

Between blog posts, you can follow me @pauloestreicher.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Redrawing the Boundaries Weakens Crisis Response

This article also appears in

Why the Weiner Response is Failing
Unfortunately, we have another soon-to-be-classic example of what not to do in a crisis situation. When reports surfaced that lewd photos from Rep. Anthony Weiner’s Twitter account were sent to a Seattle woman, the congressman claimed his account was hacked. High profile hacking was in the news – Sony, Citi, RSA, Lockheed-Martin – so what better way to build a credible sounding story? Thus, the first crisis boundary was built.

That dike was breached quickly when questions arose: If such a violation occurred, then why didn’t he call the Capitol Police? Why couldn’t he say with “certitude” that the pictures were not of him? And, was conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart’s claim that he had more pictures really true?

So, the crisis boundary was pushed back and a second wall went up. Surely an admission would be the last stand. It would all be over when Rep. Weiner confirmed that he sent the photos, and that he was sorry, stupid and scared. Right?

Wrong. There were, indeed, additional photos (some pornographic) sent to more women, and there was a three-year history of “sexting.” And, now, more questions: Was government property used to carry on these activities? Was he conducting himself this way from his Capitol Hill office? What resources and who else might have been involved in covering up his carrying on?

Now he must push the boundary out yet again trying, in his way, to encircle where the next shoe might drop. He’s been calling colleagues directly to explain himself, beg forgiveness and to build some level of support. But, as the circle grows, the wall becomes harder to maintain, the perimeter more difficult to patrol and the imprint on all of his constituents more enduring.

Is he so different from some other high power, high profile politicians, entertainers or businessmen? No, but that’s hardly an excuse. We may be getting increasingly numb to these shenanigans but, for now, our sensibilities demand some sort of appropriate closure.

The bottom lines? He said he’d answer questions, then he wouldn’t, then he would again. He changed his story. He lied. He’s been behind the news, never ahead of it. And what is he left with? A shredded reputation. A seemingly endless supply of material for comedians. Calls for an ethics investigation by the House of Representatives. Demands for his resignation. Chances for his dream job – to be mayor of the City of New York – potentially dashed. Abandonment by friends and colleagues. A wife who has kept silent. The centerpiece of a new case study for the field of crisis communication.

Between blog posts, you can follow me @pauloestreicher.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Why Donald Trump Would Get an F (in my class)

The Donald is not The Researcher
This is not about politics; it's about veracity and logic. (Yes, it's sad that these words together - politics with veracity and logic - should seem so oxymoronic.)

As you may know, one of the courses I teach at NYU is Research Process & Methodology for students in the M.S. program in Public Relations and Corporate Communication. An objective is to help them prepare a comprehensive proposal for their thesis projects. After they complete their degree, a few may go further into the research realm. But I'm quite satisfied if they leave having the tools and confidence to be good purchasers and evaluators of research.

We're nearly at the end of the semester and I like to remind students of the original objectives and discuss whether or not we reached them. That's when Mr. Trump popped into my head. With his rise in the political polls tied to his investigation into the president's birthplace, just what kind of purchaser and evaluator of research is he?

As a purchaser - he hired "people" who were deployed to Hawaii to determine if a birth certificate (the "certificate of live birth" in that state) existed or was altered. On one occasion after another he told the world that "you're not going to believe what I'm hearing" and "I'm hearing that it's missing." I wonder if his research team will get paid now that copies of the certificate from the official bound volume of documents have been released by the state at the president's request.

As an evaluator - he ignored previously released certified documents, hospital birth announcements and a mountain of facts from the government of Hawaii and investigators from the news media. As of this writing, he still has not given his blessing to the "long form" certificate of live birth that he sought so doggedly these last few weeks.

Of course, I couldn't fire Mr. Trump if he were in my class. Strictly on the basis of his research performance and expertise, however, he'd get an F.

With his F, though, he's still one clever guy. As the citizenship issue dies down (but kept alive at some level, I'm sure), Trump is ramping up the next crusade - the president's grades and whether he truly earned his way in to Columbia and Harvard. By finding new platforms to question the credibility and legitimacy of the president, he remains in the spotlight - whether it's for political gain or for TV ratings. Clearly, if there was a class on self-promotion he'd get an A.

Between blog posts, you can follow me @pauloestreicher.

Friday, April 8, 2011

How "Camelot Wisdom" Can Address Our Political and Budget Woes

Politicians Should Take Some Lessons from King Arthur's Leadership and Communication Style
The failure we see in the statehouses and in Congress starts with an inability to listen and understand. It was clear to King Arthur that having the ability to comprehend other people, their circumstances, and their environments was not only nice and good, but important in other ways, too. He learned that one could achieve a huge competitive advantage. What better way to know your adversaries? And who do people want to vote for, fight for, or work for? Most often it’s the person who takes an interest in them, recognizes their motivation, and feels their pains and successes.

Just about everyone clamors for some understanding. But this cuts both ways: we want to be understood by others, and others want us to understand them. Yet, we may be losing our collective capacity to understand on an emotional level as some recent studies have shown. Perhaps this is one reason why the “my way or the highway” method of negotiation has become so popular. The belief of many politicians that even a 50 percent-plus-one victory gives them some sort of clear and unassailable mandate is another reason why we can’t move past gridlock. We can’t take a step forward when the first position is to dig-in-your-heals.

This was similar to how Arthur behaved initially in his mission to unite England at a time of competing kings and threats from abroad. Might for Right was his grand strategy: he invented the Round Table to channel the energy of the knights away from fighting toward the enforcement of a new order. Over time, however, it turned out to be a failed policy. In T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, Arthur said to Lancelot, “…when the kings are bullies who believe in force, the people are bullies too.” He had the sense to see the flaws and began the process of moving, “groping,” toward a newer, better foundation: Equal Justice.

We’d all like to get things right the first time and politicians are no different. Though it’s certainly the most desirous way of operating, it’s hardly the most common. Sometimes the imperfect thing is the only thing to do. Whatever axiom you want to use—half a loaf is better than none or Voltaire’s “The perfect is the enemy of the good”—incrementalism is hard to accept but equally hard to forswear.

Like the uncertainty felt by corporations and interest groups of today, Arthur created a conundrum for the class of nobles in his attempt to change civilization. They weren’t sure if he represented a threat to their positions and wealth or an opportunity to enhance them. And like all threats and opportunities, he had to deal with the rational as well as the emotional sides of the issue. Protecting self-interest, maintaining tradition, helping your fellow man, and doing what’s best for the greatest number of people all had to be balanced. Arthur had the right intention with the wrong method and he knew it. He admitted his mistake. That’s the first step in re-railing a strategy: identify the strengths and weaknesses—what should be kept, modified or jettisoned. Acting in the best tradition of the modern innovator and entrepreneur, Arthur took a risk. He went forward with a plan, though there were imperfections 
and gaps in understanding all of the potential issues.

The ability to sustain an effort is frequently underappreciated. Because incremental advances are hard to discern, we often see anxious leaders swapping out one set of strategies and tactics for a new set too soon; they don’t allow enough time for their plans to mature. With enough patience (and the appropriate resources), we know that all the baby steps can add up to become a completed marathon. Rarely do we see or accomplish all or nothing; compromise and incremental success may not seem satisfying, but it’s the way most things operate and succeed. The two steps forward/one step back process frustrated and even depressed King Arthur but making progress and leaving improvements behind is what’s important.

There are, of course, times when one can (or must) reach the finish line in one bold move. But this “Camelot wisdom” should remind our leaders that the Holy Grail they seek isn’t at the end of this day or the next week but after a long journey of give and take.

You can read more in Camelot, Inc. Leadership and Management Lessons from King Arthur and the Round Table,

Between blog posts, you can follow me @pauloestreicher.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Endorsements for Camelot, Inc.

Camelot, Inc. provides a most thoughtful framework for thinking through some of today's biggest business leadership challenges. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Brian T. Gladden, Senior Vice President and CFO, Dell Computer and former President, GE Plastics

The dos and don'ts in Camelot, Inc. highlight the enduring characteristics of protecting and building personal and corporate reputation. Oestreicher has found a compelling way to teach us as much what to do as what not to do.
John Doorley, Academic Director, graduate program in Public Relations and Corporate Communication, New York University and co-author of Reputation Management

Oestreicher’s book goes well beyond the depiction of King Arthur and his court. The complicated relationships between leader and managers, the balance between personal and work lives, and the conflict between idealism and pragmatism are as much a part of today’s business world as they were in medieval England.
Richard Edelman, President and CEO, Edelman

Camelot, Inc. is a remarkable ‘mining’ of lessons from the Arthurian legends. Oestreicher has found timeless prescriptions for achieving excellence in leadership.
L. Patrick Gage, Ph.D., enGage Biotech Consulting, former president, Genetics Institute and Wyeth Research

As a child, my introduction to human drama in literature was through the tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable. Truly everything you need to know about human values is found in these tales. Paul Oestreicher recognizes that these tales hold timeless lessons for leaders as he brings the reader inside the Roundtable.
Greg Simon, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Policy, Pfizer and former chief domestic policy advisor to Vice President Al Gore

Camelot, Inc. gets to the heart of the mentoring role in growing and sustaining enterprises—both large and small. In our increasingly “virtual” business and social environment, Paul Oestreicher shows how critical mentoring is to passing along core values to the next generation of leaders.
Victor R. Budnick, Managing Director, Ironwood Capital and Lead Venture Mentor, Yale Enterprise Institute

You can see more information about the book and order at

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Camelot, Inc.: Leadership and Management Insights from King Arthur and the Roundtable

An Excerpt from the Introduction

What lessons about management and leadership can an ancient king and court bring to us in the 21st century? Can the trials and tribulations of people so removed from us in time and custom truly be relevant in modern corporations, organizations, or governments?

If one thinks of texts and stories even more ancient than those of King Arthur, the answer is obvious. People continue to draw important meaning from the stone tablets, scrolls, and books of the past. Indeed, there are many for whom ancient ways and teachings enhance their well-being and guide their daily lives. The Roman emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius wrote (before the time of Arthur, in the second century), “If you have seen the present then you have seen everything—as it has been since the beginning, as it will be forever.”

So it is with the stories of King Arthur. Life’s lessons during the time of Camelot and the Round Table remain relevant because, at the core, they are about the human relationships that connect us, divide us, and drive us forward (or backward) in our various dealings—personal, business, or otherwise. Looking at the past, we can gain the accumulated wisdom from so many people, conflicts, and circumstances. Those enduring qualities and complexities of human nature, told and retold in story, song, and scripture, have given us guidance and assurance in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

In Camelot, Inc. we glean management and leadership insights from Arthur’s evolution from the awkward and out-of-place squire derisively called the Wart to impatient student to compassionate king to tired ruler. We’ll start at a time when Arthur found a mentor (rather, when the mentor found him) and observe how he learned, how he developed his leadership philosophy and his vehicle for communications, what it took to excel, how he created a vision and mission, and then how a failure to confront issues led to his decline.

It’s not just that these royal life-cycle transitions so closely track the rise and fall of modern managers and leaders. Arthur will help us to deal with some of today’s most pressing leadership issues: knowledge retention, developing coherent plans and proposals, building internal and external advocacy, communicating and negotiating, team building, maintaining ethical standards, innovating, ensuring flexibility, moving from vision to execution, and succession planning.

Much of what we hear and what we come to accept as fact or truth has been termed “conventional wisdom.” Here, we have Camelot Wisdom. Camelot, Inc. will not be a history lesson, but I will use history to illustrate the dos and don’ts critical to our success as learners and leaders.

Camelot, Inc., Praeger Publishers. Available February 15, 2011. Please visit for more information.