Nobody Needs a Drill. An Analogy to Re-Imagine Business Practices

No one in this world really needs a drill.  Ever.

Usually I find absolute statements inherently false, but I stand by this one. It’s not the drill that is needed, what is needed is a ¼” hole (or whatever size the job entails). A carpenter only needs a drill because it creates what is really needed—the hole.
How often do people or corporations focus on the drill instead of the hole? Remembering to view the end goal as the hole can change everything, yet even with this knowledge, it is often easier to focus on making a better drill.

We can find positive examples of "the hole as the goal" in industry. For example, a company called Tennant (primarily a commercial floor cleaning business) realized a focus on stronger chemicals wasn’t the answer. They get floors cleaner in less time using a chemical-free machine that ionizes water, which is not only better than chemicals at destroying bacteria and viruses, it lowers both liabilities and cost.

New Web Page Features Bios of Best in their Field Thinkers

Dr. Mary Jo Hatch, one of the field's leading organizational theorists, is a distinguished
visiting scholar with the Center for Values-Driven Leadership's Ph.D./D.B.A. program. 

Benedictine University's doctoral program in Values-Driven Leadership draws some of the world's most distinguished scholars to serve as lecturers for the students in this program, which is designed for senior business executives. The university's faculty anchor the class, while scholars from around the world visit to provide face-to-face lectures and dialogues that give students access to the newest theories and research in their chosen fields.

A new webpage on the Center for Values-Driven Leadership's web portal highlights these distinguished visiting scholars and shares insights into their notable careers.

Is There Such a Thing As Too Much Growth? Leaders Can See "Enough"

If you ever had enough, could you recognize it?  Leaders can.  ~inspired by a bumper sticker

A phrase I hear repeated frequently is you’re either growing or your dying.  I’d like to go on record as respectfully disagreeing with that concept.  I believe that our culture has taught us that "more" is a sign of success, that growing has not only become a symbol of competence but of respect and admiration, and anything less is failure.  Where has this culture of continuous and infinite growth gotten us?  More Americans now declare bankruptcy than graduate from college. The self-storage industry (where we store all our "growth" that we can no longer fit in our homes) is bigger than the motion picture industry.  According to the Ecological Footprint, humanity’s consumption of natural resources first exceeded the planet’s stores in 1985, and by early in this century we were consuming over 25 percent more than our supply.

By now I’m sure some of you are asking: what’s that got to do with organizational growth?  Well, I think a lot.  As a society, we seem to have lost our ability to recognize "enough."  As a result, we’ve all seen organizations grow themselves right out of business and individuals grow themselves into utter ruin.  They couldn't recognize "enough."

Five Steps to Improving Your At-Work Focus on Long Range Projects

Now that's commitment to your to do list.
(This photo is used with permission from robstephaustraliavia Flickr.) 
If your task list is like mine, it can be broken down into two categories:

A) Things that must get done. Today.
B) Things that I need to work on so I'm not in a panic when they come due next month.

It will come as no surprise that "Today" tasks are easier to check off the list. Urgency is a catalyst for productivity.

But the "B" list items are equally - often more - important. So how - without the added benefit of urgency - do you tackle the B-list, today? For me, it all boils down to focus.

Here's a leader's guide to focusing on the non-urgent task at hand:

“So, a duck walks into a bar….” (New Approaches to Corporate Sustainability)

Dave Smith is an associate with Booz Allen Hamilton and a student in the Ph.D./D.B.A. program in Values-Driven Leadership at Benedictine University. He is a retired U.S. Air Force officer. 
One of my favorite bosses became locally famous for one “duck walks into a bar” joke. During a serious crisis, when lives were at risk (literally), he walked into the operations team crisis room – looked around at the frantic group– and without any preamble began telling the joke. I don’t remember the punch line, but everyone remembers the way the joke cut through the tension and energized the team. It was an unusual but brilliant stroke of leadership.  The team rallied, chose a course of action, and was successful in mitigating the immediate crisis.

Standing Up to the CEO: Two Short Videos on Safety

Search the term "Safety is job one" in Google, and you'll find 320,000,000 results: an overwhelming number that shows the high value companies place on safe operating procedures.

Embedding safety into the culture is the task of front line leaders like shift foremen and plant managers, but it's also the job of the CEO. In recent interviews with the CVDL, we heard two separate top executives share their stories of how safety has become "job one" in their organizations.

Tim Jahnke, CEO of Elkay Manufacturing, knew he'd succeeded at placing a strong value on safety when a factory worker called him on overstepping a safety boundary. Hear him tell the story in this short video, part of our Champions of Responsible Business video series.

Where You Start Matters: Approaching Sustainability from Two Different Places

Carpet tile manufacturer Interface is a global leader in their industry - and also in the world of corporate sustainability. With their aggressive goal to be beneficial to the environment by 2012, Interface is pushing the limits on how companies - and especially manufacturers - think about their impact. More importantly, Interface has found clear bottom line benefits to being more sustainable.

At the helm of Interface's work is Erin Meezan, Vice President of Sustainability. Meezan's role is to keep the company moving toward their aggressive goals, and often to be the ambassador of sustainability to other companies who are more fledgling in their initiatives.

In this short video (above), part of our Champions of Responsible Business video series, Meezan explains that companies can approach sustainability from two very different directions. And where you start matters.

For more videos from Meezan, or on the topic of sustainability, please see:
Why Smart Businesses are Going Sustainable Now, with Stu Hart
What Works in Sustainability, and How Interface Led the Way, with Mona Amodeo
Innovation: the Business Side of Sustainability, with Tim Jahnke

What Do You Want to Know? Frequently Asked Questions about the Ph.D./D.B.A. Program in Values-Driven Leadership

Cohort 1 of the Ph.D./D.B.A. Program in Values-Driven Leadership just wrapped up their first year in the program. With champagne and generous slices of cake we toasted the 5833 pages read, 5170 pages written, and 279 hours spent in the classroom. And while we were gathered, we took time to ask the current cohort to reflect on how they made it to the program.

What were you looking for, in a doctoral program, and have you found it? we asked.

“I was looking for a few specific things in a doctoral program: I wanted a strong set of classmates and a strong curriculum with access to thought leaders in the field. It needed to fit my lifestyle because I couldn’t put my career on hold. And I wanted a program that let me explore the breadth of a topic and then find my own niche. I found all those things at Benedictine," Jackie Woodard, Senior Vice President for RBS Financial and a member of the current cohort, told us.

What are you looking for? Below you'll find answers to some of the questions we hear most frequently from executives considering our program. Is your top question not here? Visit, or email us at

What’s the difference between a Ph.D. and a D.B.A. degree?

A Ph.D. degree concludes with a scholarly dissertation based on original research. A D.B.A. degree concludes with an applied dissertation (similar to a thorough case study) based on the design and implementation of a significant change initiative.

Who is the target audience for the program?

Our primary target audience is senior business leaders with track records of success and a desire to lead profitable, sustainable, high-integrity companies with excellence. This includes CEO’s, chief officers and their direct reports, presidents and vice presidents, and heads of business groups. Professionals at the director and manager levels (or equivalent) are also encouraged to apply.

Our goal is to create a diverse cohort of highly qualified students. We consider quality and quantity of relevant work experience, emphasizing positions of major responsibility. Each application is considered on a case by case basis.

Where and when are classes held?

Classes are held at Benedictine University’s Lisle, Illinois campus one weekend a month and during an annual 8-day intensive each year. Most weekend classes are held Friday 6:30 – 9:30 pm, and Saturday and Sunday 9:00 am – 4:00 pm. Some classes are held Friday 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, and Saturday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm. Classes during the 8-day intensives are held 8:00 am – 5:00 pm each day. The campus is located 30 minutes from Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports.

Can this program be accomplished online?

No, this is not an online program. One of the program’s greatest strengths is the deep learning that occurs in class and elsewhere when cohort members meet face-to-face with the world’s top scholars and executives to exchange experiences and ideas at the forefront of leadership theory and practice.