Choose your communication channel wisely.
Cerner Corp. CEO Neal Patterson probably wished he had when he fired off a message to senior managers at his medical software maker berating them for their work habits.
Excerpts of the email include:
“The parking lot is sparsely used at 8 a.m.; likewise at 5 p.m….
…As managers — you either do not know what your EMPLOYEES are doing; or YOU do not CARE.”
“You have a problem and you will fix it or I will replace you…
…What you are doing, as managers, with this company makes me SICK.”
The e-mail promptly leaked out onto the Web. Two weeks after Mr. Patterson sent the message, Cerner stock lost more than a quarter of its value (tens of millions of dollars) after investors became concerned about the company’s prospects and employee morale.
That story reminded me that when you are communicating in business (or for any reason), that you should pick your communication medium based on the sensitivity of the topic. The higher the sensitivity, the higher the bandwidth of communication.
Here are four examples of channels of communication and their relative bandwidth
Amazingly, Mr. Patterson is still CEO of Cerner today (8 years after the slip-up) — my hat is off to him for surviving such a firestorm.
What a survivor! — And Cerner generated $188 million in pre-tax profit in its most recent year on sales of $1.67 billion so I imagine he is doing something right!
I love basketball and I love business.
So I got enormous pleasure from watching the Spike Lee Documentary “Kobe Doin’ Work” on ESPN the other night (good for ESPN to make it advertising-free!).
As much basketball as I watch, I was amazed at how excellent a leader Kobe is…I think he’d make a great CEO.
Below are video clips of the entire documentary along with bullets that I think we can all borrow from Kobe to make us better leaders.
Being Nervous is Good!
Kobe: “I still get goose bumps every time I go out (on the court)”
When I heard Kobe say this, I was reminded of a mentor of mine who once asked me if I was nervous before a big speech. I said I was. She said: “Good, if you weren’t a little nervous I’d be worried about you. Nervous energy can be good energy.”
Respect the Competition
Kobe on San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili: ” That’s a bad boy right there. I have so much respect for his game. He’s an incredible competitor. I enjoy playing against him. He’s a fantastic tw0-guard”
“I enjoy playing against Tony…He’s so quick.”
Preparation & Execution
“You’re thinking about all the execution, all the things you gotta do, the preparations you’ve made.'”
Kobe says he knows where his teammates will be on plays from watching film of his own players. “You don’t want to be guessing,” Kobe says.
“You don’t build a house without blueprints…you gotta know what you’re doing coming in.”
Kobe on Tim Duncan: What can you say about Tim…He’s the best power forward to ever play the game. Period.”
Kobe later mentioned that he stole a jump shot in which he banks it off the backboard from Tim Duncan when he played him one-on-one before an All-Star game weekend.
Kobe on Playing Other Great Players: “A lot of guys when they match up against other great players, there’s a fear of embarassment. Fear that they might make you look bad. I really don’t care. It’s just fun going up against them. If you’re playing a great player, of course he’s going to make you look bad sometimes. It’s just part of the game.”
Kobe on who’s the best at the two-step move: “Nobody does (the two-step) better than D-Wade (Dwayne Wade) and Manu Ginoboli…and then probably Tony Parker.”
“I don’t think a lot of fans understand the amount of communication, execution that goes on in a game.”
“You have to emotionally be invested in the game, play hard, play with a lot of energy. But you gotta execute. We talk about execution all the time. We can’t stress that enough.”
On a blown layup: “That was doing too much…That was just a dumb play by me.”
A lot of times when my shot is off, it’s cuz my shot is flat. When I put arc on my ball, I’m a much better shooter.”
On watching himself in the documentary: “This is funny watching cuz I didn’t think I talked that damn much.”
Kobe on Kobe causing an offensive foul: “You idiot (about himself)…you know that’s what he (Kurt Thomas) is gonna do…and, then, I blew it.”
Take the High-Percentage Opportunities
That’s all you an ask for…you just want…high-percentage opportunities.”
Be Positive About Your Teamates
When Sasha Vucajic pushed Ime Udoka of the Spurs, Kobe said “That’s my man, Sasha, doing what he does. Feisty kid.”
Kobe on Derek Fisher: “I love that guy. What a warrior.”
“We’ve got some great passers on our ballclub.”
Kobe on Lamar Odom: “Lamar is just an incredible player…his versatility is what makes us go.”
Kobe on Luke Walton: “Luke is a much better shooter than he gives himself credit for.”
Kobe to Teammate Pao Gasol: “I’ve never played with a center who can pass like that!”
In fact, I didn’t hear Kobe say a negative thing about any teammate or opponent.
Kobe on Great Competition
“A lot of guys when they match up against other great players, there’s a fear of embarassment. Fear that they might make you look bad. I really don’t care.”
“It’s just fun going up against them. If you’re playing a great player, of course he’s going to make you look bad sometimes. It’s just part of the game.”
Kobe About Recharging (at Half-Time)
“Now’s the time to collect ourselves, and talk about what we’re doing and what we’re not doing.”
Kobe on Coach Phil Jackson
“We both love basketball…Phil and I can talk about the game, non-stop, all the time. That’s made me such a better player.”
“Phil doesn’t call plays. He draws up sequences of options and then it’s up to us a team to figure out what’s the best option at that moment in time.” “He [Phil] doesn’t want to hold your hand and walk you through it…he wants you to figure it out. That’s when you become a great team.”
Kobe on Finding his Role on the Lakers Team
“In the past I would have to score 35 or 40 points just to keep us competitive. Now I don’t have to do that. You see me directing more. I’m more of a compass, making sure we’re going in the right direction. Making sure we’re executing. Because I have the personnel [now] to do that.”
Speak The Other Guy’s Language
It was cool to watch Kobe speak Italian to teammate Sasha Vucajic to make some points…it both kept the information a bit more confidential from the opponent and also seemed to form a bond between Kobe and Sasha.
Kobe on Failure (i.e. Missing his Shots)
“You gotta forget about it…move on to the next play. I don’t dwell on missed shots at all. I don’t think about that stuff. I’m very optimistic.”
“If I miss 5 in a row, that means I’m good for the 6th one. If I miss the 6th one, that means that I’m definitely good on that 7th one…If I miss that 7th one, that means that 8th one is going in.”
Kobe on Making Sure to Love What You Do & Have Fun
“It’s such an intense game, you have to have fun. Tease one another. This is the stuff we were doing when we were kids. ”
“You rib each other, you tease each other. It makes things fun.”
“This game is such a beautiful game.”
“You have to give your thanks…We’re all blessed to be in this position to do what we do.”