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ORLANDO-The keys to business success are well-known, says Dr. Jeffrey Pfeffer. They are speed, the ability to learn and to act on knowledge and building wisdom. What is not so well-known, however, are the barriers to doing the right things that will bring business success, Pfeffer says.

The professor was one of two dozen guest speakers and panelists at the International Development Research Council’s Florida World Congress at the Orlando World Center Marriott Resort here.

The five-day seminar sessions, attended by 2,000 professionals, end Wednesday.

Pfeffer told national real estate executives some of the barriers to building “a culture of implementation” are:

–Overspecialization and “the veneration of ‘experts’–everyone talks about building a learning organization, but few will let anyone learn.”

–Too much control, centralization of decision-making and review.

–Excessive internal competition, “too frequently mediated by politics rather than performance.”

–Letting ‘smart talk’ and meetings, presentations, decisions and reports substitute for action.

–Too much fear, particularly fear of failure or of trying new things that have a greater risk of failing.

–Too much emphasis on ‘accountability,’ particularly at the individual level, at the expense of learning and problem solving.

–Becoming trapped by history and precedent, making it hard to see or do new things.

Bringing in experts to handle an organization’s tasks isn’t the answer, Pfeffer says. “The better the expert, the more others will rely on that person, failing to develop their own expertise,” he told luncheon program attendees.

Learning “requires doing something new for the first time, and maybe not as well,” the professor says. “So, the more reliance on expertise, the less the learning.”

Staff response will then predictably be the “‘It’s-not-my-job’ syndrome. ‘It’s the expert’s job,’” Pfeffer says.

To avoid “hollow talk” and promote action, put people in leadership positions who know and do the work, the professor says.

“Use language that fosters action,” he advises. “Be sure to have systems in place that ensure followup.” Especially don’t accept excuses for why things won’t work or can’t be done, Pfeffer says.

Although it wasn’t something they wanted to hear at the Congress, the real estate executives were told almost two thirds of American employees don’t trust their organization to tell them the truth.

“People are afraid for their jobs and often don’t suggest productivity improvements,” the professor says. “People are afraid to bring errors or mistakes to the surface.”

Putting people in teams and letting teams make decisions unleashes the power of the group, Pfeffer says. “Hire team players and fire people who do not work collaboratively with others.”

He urged the corporate real estate group to “let people make decisions–what’s the point of winning the ‘war for talent’ when you don’t use the talent you have?”

In closing, Pfeffer quotes Steve Mariucci, head coach of the San Francisco 49ers:

“Players and coaches talk about what plays they should design or practice and what new coaching techniques they should implement, but they often don’t get around to doing these things.

“I never wear a watch because I always know what time it is. It is always NOW. And NOW is when you should do it.”

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