Cindy Kay Olson
Driving A Culture of Innovation
Frequently Asked Questions That I Get When I Speak to Audiences.
What Accountability Did Ken Lay have in the Failure of Enron.
Ken Lay failed to understand the consequences of promoting a person to lead Enron that did not share his personal values and the values Lay had for Enron. Those values were only words when Skilling took the helm for Enron and by the time Skilling left in August 2001 the employees were ready for Lay to return to hopefully restore the value system in the company.
How do you Define Integrity?
I get asked by most of my audiences how I define Integrity. One of Enron's values was Integrity. We defined it by saying: We work with customers and prospects openly, honestly, and sincerely. When we say we will do something, we will do it: when we say we cannot or will not do something, then we won't do it.
The best definition of Integrity I use now is one from Kevin Bassik who is at the Air Force Academy teaching character. He defines Integrity as "Being the person that you say you are". He goes on to share a story of a cadet who asks more seasoned leaders if they have Integrity. One of those leaders answers his question by making a list of the people that he has worked with or led. As he hands the list back to the cadet he says, "Ask these people....they can tell you if I have Integrity." His example reinforces the definition that he gave to begin with......being the person that you say you are can best be determined by asking the people who know you.
How do you Truly Listen to your Employees?
It is all in how you ask the question. Your employees are smart. If you ask the question with the honest intent of getting an honest answer they know and will share with you. If you ask the question in a way that somehow the employees feel you really do not want the answer then they will not be honest.
How do you Determine the Value of a Culture?
I can tell you that the value of Enron's Culture was significant. When it collapsed investors lost over 60 Billion dollars in market cap. 25,000 very talented employees lost their livlihoods and their families were impacted, thousands of customers and suppliers were impacted and the Millions of dollars we gave to non profits in the Houston community and around the world vanished. In addition, another significant corporation, Arthur Andersen, collapsed and with that 85,000 employees lost their livilihoods and their families were impacted. They also had thousands of customers and suppliers and gave significant amounts to non profits as well.