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Avoid Sheep Dog Management

Most organizations have been designed around the concept of command and control rather than around the concept of freedom. Too many managers still practice a form of tailkicking to get the work done. They improve their management styles by strengthening their legs with a little weight training and consulting a martial artist on the most sensitive parts of the anatomy to kick, rather than by making the seven essential changes. They become better tailkickers, but they don't become more powerful leaders.

Bark-and-bite management is also out,
unless you are trying to be a sheep dog.


Excessive numbers of managers are trying to think, plan, and organize without employee input; then they try to tell the workers what to do to change and improve. This directive style of management is out, or at least it should be. It simply doesn't work well. Today's workers are better educated than in the past, and more able to contribute their own thinking to the job. Some jobs have become so complex that the workers actually know how to do the work better than the manager does.

Rene C. McPherson, famous for his leadership style at Dana Corporation put his faith in his employees and argued that in a 25-square-foot manufacturing setting nobody knows more about how to operate a machine, keep it running, maximize its output, and optimize the flow of materials than do the machine operator and the maintenance people responsible for it. Nobody.

The competitive nature of the marketplace requires quick change in the way we do work, produce products, deliver services, and respond to the needs of customers. The people who do the work need to be able to make the decisions and implement changes so that everything is done with maximum directness and efficiency. Managers can't decide everything anymore, and no one has time to wait for a feasibility study. We are talking about real-time actions and decisions. No manager can hope to succeed in today's workplace trying to micromanage the work life of their reports. Powerful leaders don't make the employees' decisions. Effective leaders let the employees tell them the decisions that they have made. If the leader suspects a problem with the decision, the leader simply asks the employee how the decision was made. This gives the leader an opportunity to see if anything has been omitted from the employee's decision-making process. If the leader has some information that needs to be conveyed to the employee, the leader shares the information and asks if the employee wants to modify the decision. Notice again that the best leader doesn't make employee decisions but allows and encourages the employee to come up with solutions. This is another way to encourage employees to take the lead.

The Work System is a Major Constraint!

When we talk about a work system (see Figure 2–1), we're referring to key elements in the organization that surround the workers. Nearly every constraint on workers may be associated with some feature of the system in which they work.

Figure 2-1Figure 2–1 A Cloverleaf Model of a Work System.

In our depiction of the work system you may have noticed that we placed everything in the form of a cloverleaf. This is what we call an organic model. The four leaves touch each other and have a common stem system, representing a work system that is alive, can be made to grow healthy, and has flexibility. Removing constraints in one part of the work system usually contributes to the health of other parts of the system. For example, when you eliminate an unnecessary policy, it may facilitate changing the way the employee is allowed to do the work. Changing structure frequently opens up the opportunity to get rid of a restrictive policy and increase the efficiency of work processes.

As you pursue the elimination of constraints in your work system, do not overlook restrictions placed on contacts among people. It is important that workers be able to make regular contact with others when they need to. Some ways of making contact may be stipulated by organization policies. In fact, the old "open-door" policy was an effort to allow employees to get around some of the specified reporting relationships by making contact with the boss just by walking into his or her office. You may want to revisit each element of the work system to discover how your workers are being constrained from contacting coworkers and others with whom they would like to associate.

In order to help you recognize constraining influences that affect the worker, we shall briefly describe three critical elements of the work system: the guidelines of the organization, the work itself, and the structure of the organization.

Let's talk about the guidelines first. The guidelines of the organization consist of all of the policies, rules, regulations, mission statements, and other statements that control the thinking, actions, and decisions of organization members. Decisions are based on "policies," another term for guidelines, and rules and regulations, whether expressly stated or just implied. Organizational guidelines create some of the worst constraints, restrictions, checks, curbs, and repressive actions that occur in work systems. Organizations that operate with a book full of rules and regulations are often called bureaucracies, which has taken on a pejorative and negative connotation because of the myriad of abuses when rules are adhered to rigidly. Although organizations need some guidelines to function a little bit consistently, the bulk of the guidelines are generally restrictive and unnecessary.

Examine with us an organization that you are probably familiar with and which seems to function in a loosely coupled state or with few tight controls, regulations, and rules—that is, until you look closely at how it actually carries out its business. We call it a college or university. The reality is that students, faculty, and support staff work within a heavy framework of rules, regulations, policies, and guidelines. For example, what determines who gets into a university? What determines which students get into which academic majors? What determines which courses and activities students must complete in order to graduate? Almost everything about the lives of students is governed by a policy or rule. Guidelines for entrance into a university, rules for courses required to graduate, and even regulations such as how to stand in line at commencement control and determine just about everything that happens to a student.

The lives of faculty members are likewise controlled and directed by policies, rules, and regulations. For example, policies limit when and how faculty members may give final exams, how grades may be assessed, and when grades are to be submitted. There are rules about office hours, treatment of students, and attendance at faculty meetings. Faculty members are governed by retention, promotion, and dismissal policies, as well as by contemporary harassment and discrimination policies.

In the past, employers were able to make any regulations, rules, or policies that they felt were desirable, but now there are lists of practices that are prohibited as a result of federal and state statutes. This results in adjustments to policies and practices and often requires employers to add more rules and regulations.

In formulating guidelines, companies should avoid three problems: (1) creating excessive or unnecessary rules and regulations that restrict what employees can do and that discourage creativity and innovation—too many restrictions provoke resentment among employees; (2) having too few rules, leaving employees uncertain about what constitutes acceptable workplace conduct; and (3) failing to clearly explain rules and policies, encouraging employees to bypass them because they do not seem necessary.

Powerful leaders in the new economy examine the organization's policies, rules, and regulations to make certain that they are not excessive, that they adequately describe acceptable workplace conduct, and that all of them are clearly explained in terms of what they are designed to achieve. The practice should be to cut out all policies, regulations, and other guidelines that unnecessarily restrict employees.

The most important principle to extract from this discussion is that it is the perception of the value of the rule that affects the behavior of employees. For example, a rule prohibiting employee use of a telephone may be viewed as unnecessarily inhibiting, but a rule about when employees are to come to work may be considered a positive act.

One way to identify unnecessary rules and regulations is to encourage employees to challenge any rule they feel is silly or unnecessary and then review the rule to see if it can be modified or eliminated. I remember when I was in the army being assigned to the standard operating procedures (SOP) office. My main task was to open the on-post mail and lay out all of the changes in the standard operating procedures for the day. I then went to an 18-foot shelf, located the appropriate binder, and replaced the description of the old procedure with the statement of the new procedure. We were comforted by the fact that, with so many rules and regulations, no one would be able to determine whether or not a person was doing the job correctly. The outlandish detail represented by the shelves and shelves of standard operating procedures was overwhelming.

Work with your employees to eliminate any rule, procedure, policy, or practice that prohibits the best efforts of anyone. For starters, try these powerful suggestions:

  1. Become freedom fighters. Simply declare war on bureaucratic red tape. Remember, you are in this war together. You are fighting with your workers side by side. You have a common enemy, and there is no question that you are going to win.

  2. Eliminate the invisible restraint called "they." Encourage everyone to identify who or what is "they." When someone even thinks or speaks about "they won't allow it," identify and destroy the "they" and find out who or what the real restraint is.

  3. Use various forms of information technology to share ideas and exchange information. This is the quickest way to work around the bureaucracy and find better ways to do things. Even forming ad hoc groups at lunch to discuss creative ideas to enhance one's work will provide an opportunity to think outside the red tape. Then, perhaps, the new idea will make the restrictive policy pale in light of better ways to perform without the policy.

  4. Focus on the customer and the customer's needs, not the appeasement of the people who enforce the rules and policies.

  5. Finally, meet together regularly just for the purpose of identifying and eliminating unnecessary policies and practices that seem to be getting in the way of freedom in the work place.

The work itself, another important element in the work system, consists of the ways in which work is done, ought to be done, and could be done, as well as the tools and methods by which work is accomplished. Machines, assembly lines, and traditions tend to impose restrictions on activities of the workers and make them feel like prisoners of the work. The location of equipment, the manner in which materials are acquired and processed, and the procedures used in completing work are all sources of serious constraints on workers.

When you encourage employees to study, analyze, and review their work to find ways to be more efficient and effective, you are encouraging them to identify and eliminate constraints. When you free employees to make changes in the way they do their work, you may find it necessary to change some of the guidelines that have been restricting them from making improvements in the work itself.

One way to make changes in the work itself is to help employees redesign the work. In the sales office of a large computer software company, for example, morale was low, the work was boring and routine, and the employees were on the verge of revolt. The work was task-oriented and fragmented. The flow of paperwork seemed at random, with files floating from desk to desk and with forms being checked and rechecked. Forms were never processed faster than the slowest worker could complete them because each individual performed only part of the process. Decisions that seemed complicated were sent to senior staff who failed to provide feedback on what they decided should be done.

An analysis of the workflow resulted in a reorganization of the work process. Each sales clerk was assigned a group of clients organized by geographical area. The sales clerk was able to take personal responsibility for accounts in that area. Notices were sent to clients, identifying the clerk directly responsible for their account. Clerks then established personal relationships with contacts in client organizations, signed their own letters, and spoke directly with their contacts. The result was a shift in perspective, from an impersonal clerk to that of an account manager. Errors were associated with specific individuals who were responsible for checking their own work. The account manager now followed up on his set of clients. The reorganization of work was around geographical areas with accounts managed by specific individuals. Employees were more motivated and found that they could more easily get helpful feedback about how they were doing, and the company increased its sales. The employees' feelings changed. They didn't work for the company any more. They were the company!

Recently we consulted with a large company in the hospitality industry. Among other things, we helped employees identify various methods of doing their work better and at the same time having a little more fun. We gave our final report in a large conference room where the general manager had gathered all the department managers. As part of our presentation of findings, we reported that in the "sweat shop area" of their organization, where part-time and full-time minority members were cleaning dishes, utensils, and pots and pans, the employees had made some dynamite suggestions about how to redesign the work to be less repetitious and faster. Also, these same employees made some excellent suggestions about how to improve the general working conditions in their area.

We were absolutely startled when the department manager over that area of the business said rather vehemently, "Are you telling me that I'm supposed to ask those part-time blankety-blank employees how they should be doing their work?" With probably more than normal volume, we replied, "That is exactly what we mean." Had this manager been a little more teachable, we would not have said anything else. However, as he continued to fuss and grumble, we revealed another aspect of our research, which showed that he was the least liked of all the managers in the room. You would have enjoyed the laughing and joking from the other managers who had received higher ratings from their employees. The point is that there seems to be a direct correlation between listening to your employees and helping them incorporate their ideas into the way that they do their work and their positive perceptions of you as a leader.

Leaders in this new and changing economy should examine work processes, enlist the help of employees, and assist employees in redesigning their jobs so that employees can be more productive while their jobs are made more interesting.

The organizational structure, the last element that we need to review, consists primarily of reporting relationships and contacts among members of the organization. Structure is often portrayed in the form of an organization chart, but the real structure of an organization consists of who actually reports to whom, with whom you are obligated to have meetings, and whom you are prohibited from contacting. Every organization structure tends to restrict or constrain who may contact whom.

A restricted set of contacts makes employees feel that they are living in a prison; it is usually a function of too many restrictions on whom they may contact and how they may make contacts.

Supervisors and managers introduce restrictions on employee contacts out of fear that they will lose control of their people. Workers who are allowed, or even possibly encouraged, to visit with employees in another part of the company may find out what others are doing and make a fuss when they get back. Anxiety over what employees might think and do if they are turned loose to talk with other employees can impel managers to promote a form of isolationism that thwarts the best intentions of serious and thoughtful employees.

Managers often derive a feeling of power from administering rewards, allocating resources, making decisions, and telling their employees how best to do their work. Controlling and exercising power in this manner is the opposite of what an effective manager should be doing. Employees should talk to other employees and supervisors about problems that they have solved and methods by which they obtained resources to carry out a project. They should also discover what kinds of rewards and benefits others have received as a result of their efforts. This kind of information empowers and enables employees to function more efficiently in their own area of work. Resources and significant rewards are often scarce in organizations. This form of freeing people enables them to discover ways and means for improving their work and being recognized that have eluded the manager.

A high-tech organization with which we worked as consultants enforced forms of contact so that employees were restricted from leaving their workspaces at any time except for emergencies. The employees resented their inability to see what other employees were doing in their work. They were openly hostile to other employees. The question was raised concerning what the consequences could be if employees were able to mingle and observe the work of others. At worst, there might be some lost time and a temporary slowdown in production. At best, employees would understand total plant operations, create friendships among individuals in other parts of the plant, and discover ways of doing their work that might be an important improvement.

Over the years, practices have been introduced to remove some restrictions from the workplace and create a structure that is designed to foster more contacts. For example, a traditional open-door policy illustrates the value of lifting contact restrictions. An open-door policy should say to employees that they are free to discuss any work-related problems with their immediate supervisors. If a matter is not resolved or if sensitive circumstances prevent discussing the problem with the immediate supervisor, employees may go to the supervisor's manager or to the manager of human resources. Nevertheless, the employee should not be penalized for using this open-door practice.

Such a policy specifies the structure in which employees are to function: the first contact is with the immediate supervisor; the second contact is with the supervisor's manager, and the third contact is with the human resources manager. The matter would probably stop there, unless the HR manager took it to another level. Employees would not likely make contact with someone more than two or three levels above their position in an organization. The open-door policy is an interesting first step, but far too restrictive. Managers must overcome their own personal fears about letting employees freely inquire of anyone in the organization about making work more efficient and more rewarding.

By the way, in the hospitality industry company that we examined, the plant maintenance people who were keeping every mechanical and electrical system functioning properly reported to the housekeeping managers, who were trying to give orders and directions to the maintenance people. These managers knew nothing about plant maintenance or preventing problems, or even redesigning antiquated heating and cooling systems. Everyone was frustrated with everyone else. The solution was simple: redesign the work structure. That is, change the reporting relationships. In this case, the plant engineers wanted to report directly to the assistant manager of the hotel, who could understand reasons for updating some physical facility equipment and systems, and who could not only give permission but could obtain the resources to make the changes. Needless to say, the housekeeping managers were more than happy to get rid of issues about which they knew practically nothing. A simple structural change was made.

The restructuring of an organization by a powerful leader is illustrated by the work of Bob Martin, vice president of AT&T phone centers. When he took over, five levels of managerial staff existed between the sales associates and the vice president, with 5 regional managers and 10 area managers. Another 300 people provided support services to the stores, and the corporate staff consisted of 150 additional people.

Four years later, all regional vice presidents and staff had been eliminated, and the area managers had been reduced to 5, with only 30 people in staff-support positions. The total overall headcount was reduced 50 percent. The cost for staff functions was reduced from $1,000 per month to $400 by the second year. In addition to their regular work, middle managers took on the work of staff people. The division initiated a yearly meeting to talk about staff issues. The structure was flattened, and the division was able to respond more quickly to market demands and was more flexible in its work. The division had gone from being phased out in 6 months to contributing to the profits of the business. Only leaders who recognize the waste contained in weak work structures are able to achieve these kinds of goals.

Creating a Topless Paradigm

The big item on the agenda of the powerful people leader, and the best manager, is to help others succeed and grow. A new set of guidelines is required. A new paradigm is required. A new mindset must be acquired. The new leader in the new economy must lead with charity in order to energize with vigor. Faith, hope, and charity appeal to our inner selves and can make the world of work a better place. Charity that embodies goodwill, humanity, compassion, benevolence, tolerance, and graciousness and that rejects ill-will, hatred, selfishness, and malice is the charity with which the powerful leader is endowed.

Lilia Cortina and her co-author reported at the American Psychological Society meeting in Toronto, during the summer of 2001, that rudeness is poisoning the U.S. workplace. Seventy-one percent of workers surveyed said they'd experienced put-downs or condescending and outright rude behavior on the job. Researchers report that such disrespect causes employee anxiety and lower productivity. The worst off were lower level employees who were abused by powerful bosses. The message is clear: if workers are treated shabbily and bosses use the stick to get short-term organizational performance increases, workers will try to retaliate by undermining the organization and the boss. Morale goes down just about as fast as productivity.

Managers must move their styles to the next level, to a higher level, to a more effective level, to a level of less effort and greater results, to a level that produces increased quality, productivity, enjoyment, and profits. They need to learn from the past and move forward.

It is possible for you to transcend run-of-the-mill management and become a more powerful and effective leader only if you have a renewed commitment to human beings, not as resources to be used in organizations, but as partners in the process of building organization effectiveness. You must accept the inevitable conclusion that people who work in organizations are capable. Thus, your goal must be to help them get the best out of themselves.

Everyone is a Genius at Something

Human beings are amazing organisms. As symbolic beings, they are both creatures of and creators of the culture in which they live. They are capable of remembering, imagining, hoping, and choosing. They are vulnerable to both their own choices and the choices made by others. They define both themselves and the world in which they live. Human beings are not constrained in their development, as are plants and animals; their instincts and drives do not limit them. They do not live in the immediate present alone, responding only to the forces and influences that impinge on them now. Every person has unique gifts, talents, and skills. Each person can think of things in unique ways, and can in fact do something better than others.

Human beings increase their capabilities as their choices or options are increased. At the same time, increasing people's options increases their capabilities. Thus, it is imperative that you capture the impelling principle that the enhancement of people's capabilities frees them to achieve more. Powerful leaders have the quintessential task of increasing workers' options, which naturally enhances their capabilities and allows them freedom to achieve more.

When you increase the capability of those with whom you work to achieve more significant and meaningful goals, you provide those same people with new access to freedom. The new workforce, the workforce of which the new leaders are part, cherishes freedom. As human beings, access to greater freedom is critical. As W. Somerset Maugham, English novelist and playwright, so gloriously declared, "If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too."

Lawrence A. Bossidy, Allied Signal's chairman and CEO, voiced his feelings that "this is America, after all. We're a freedom loving people, a democratic and entrepreneurial people. Americans don't like to be managed or treated like children. They want to be asked for their ideas and are willing to take accountability for their decisions."

Such is the challenge of effective leaders. Above all, they must develop the capabilities of their people and enhance their freedom. We join with Alfred Austin, English poet laureate, in asserting that

So long as Faith with Freedom reigns,
And loyal Hope survives,
And gracious Charity remains
To leaven lowly lives;
While there is one untrodden tract
For intellect or will,
And men are free to think and act,
Life is worth living still.

No more worthwhile path can be trod than to be instrumental in making people free to think and act and lead. This is no abstract and worthless platitude. This is a call to action. This is what will ultimately reenergize and possibly save someone else's work life and make your own life worth living. Be a leader who uses gracious charity to leaven lowly lives.

The Road to Freedom is Filled with Potholes

Through small steps, little acts, and simple movements, workers lose their freedom in the workplace. As James Madison so perceptively enjoined in a speech during the Virginia Convention, "I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." Small decisions by run-of-the-mill managers have crippled so many in the workforce that Scott and Hart have reported that most employees find "routines and monotonies that are corrosive of life...within a week, [they] find the job dull, routine, and personally unrewarding."

Corrosive workplaces are places of lost freedom. Monotonous workplaces are places of lost freedom. Organizations cannot survive management styles that restrict, corrode, and destroy the freedom to think and act.

In late 1993, the Monthly Labor Review reported that there were about 15 million managers in the United States and probably more than 100 million managers worldwide. No small numbers, my friend. The question is, what are they all doing? And what do employees think about what their managers are doing?

In our research efforts to find out what employees thought of their managers, the most interesting and not uncommon response from employees was "I think my manager is brain dead!" When employees were asked why they thought their managers were such dummies, the most frequent comment was "My manager doesn't listen to what I say and doesn't encourage me to try out new ideas." What we are finding is that most managers who have been on the job for a few years are having a difficult time giving up control and converting their styles from that of a boss to that of a leader. Our prediction is that those managers who fail to change will ultimately become discouraged, be less effective, and finally lose their jobs.

While researching low morale of employees in several major companies, we asked a manager in the aerospace space division of one of America's Fortune 500 companies how things were going. We knew that this company had spent the last few years implementing a Total Quality Management program and had, in fact, spent tens of thousands of dollars making sure that it was done right. After a quiet pause, he answered in a thoughtful but rather direct way, "Same old crap." This manager continued, "We sit in groups and hold meetings and once in a while come up with some pretty good suggestions for making things better. But nobody listens. In fact, a few weeks ago we almost killed a couple of guys trying to do something the company way."

People are devastated when they spend time and energy trying to figure out a safer, simpler, more cost-effective way to do something and their ideas are not allowed to breathe the fresh air of life. Workers, however, become quite excited about following powerful leaders, not managers, because leaders have a wonderful way of making their people feel needed and valued. Moving your management style to the highest level means that you must become quick to acknowledge the talents, experience, and uniqueness that everyone brings to the workplace. As a manager, you must work hard to ensure that your workers make fulfilling and significant contributions at their place of work; you must free up your people to allow them to contribute and take the lead.

If your workers still see you as a classic, run-of-the-mill, talking but not listening manager, then you may be the major obstacle blocking their freedom to think and act, to create, and to enjoy their work. One acid test of whether you are a leader is to look around and see if you have any followers.

Take a Deep Swig for a Violent Jolt

Workplaces led by powerful people leaders are invigorating, energizing, animating, inspiring, and elevating. Workplaces led by powerful leaders excel at every level in the organization in quality, productivity, enjoyment, and profit.

We concur with Walt Whitman's rhetorical question from Leaves of Grass: "What do you suppose will satisfy the soul, except to walk free and own no superior?" Indulge us as we present a bit of humor about freedom at work, couched in American commentator Irvin Shrewsbury Cobb's description of Corn Licker. Paraphrasing, we say that the freedom to take the lead is like Corn Licker,

When you absorb a deep swig of it, you have all the sensations of having swallowed a lighted kerosene lamp. A sudden, violent jolt of it has been known to stop a person's watch and snap his suspenders.

Recently, a special task force of about 10 people from a western steel company asked for an appointment to discuss some concerns within their organization. We met with them in a conference room where each person took a chair around a rather large table. For the next 45 minutes, members expressed their frustrations with how each division of the organization had declined in profits, efficiency, and morale. It became quite evident that top management, middle management, and the employees themselves were quite discouraged with what was happening in the company and feared that they might have to shut down the company and find employment elsewhere.

When members of the steel company task force had pretty well vented their feelings, there was a long pause. No one seemed sure that they had defined the problem well or knew how to begin solving the problem.

Knowing that people can't contribute to the achievement of organizational goals unless they know what they are, we asked the group to articulate the company's goals and any strategy it had for achieving the goals. Not one person in the room could respond to the question. It seemed apparent that they had little direction.

One thing that managers do is give a group or organization some initial direction. Managers "prime the pump." They get things started by helping people understand what they are supposed to do. Once things get underway, managers need to make sure that the forward motion is sustained by removing every possible organizational constraint.

The Two-Million-Dollar Listener

We have a young friend with a high school education who owns two very expensive cars and lives in a two-million-dollar home. When we asked him what he did to earn his millions of dollars, he related this informative story.

I call myself a consultant. Generally, I can promise to increase business volume and/or profits by 10 to 30 percent for anyone who will let me interview a few people in the company. What I have found out is that the person who works on the job, eight to ten hours per day, day in and day out, week after week, month after month, not only knows the problems but also knows the solutions to the problems.

"Most managers," he continued, "don't realize the great value and potential of the worker and, consequently, discover neither the problems nor their solutions."

We asked, "So what do you do?"

The answer was, "I ask the employees the right questions and then listen to their answers. Then I take their answers back to management and show how they will save thousands of dollars over a year's time if they just implement the workers' ideas. And, of course, I suggest that they recognize and share some of the profitability of the workers' ideas with the workers."

"Sounds like a win-win idea," we said, "but couldn't the managers or the bosses do this themselves?"

The self-made consultant's answer was classic: "They could, but they don't."

We visited a major computer software company and asked about 700 employees to share their perceptions of what it was like to work for this company. By the way, this particular company believed that they were following Steve Jobs and the Apple culture, where people were encouraged to be creative, focus their efforts on being customer-friendly, and remove tons of bureaucratic red tape. The results were astonishing. The employees were not about to leave the company because of the very high pay, but they felt totally restricted in contributing their insights to help the organization accomplish its projected goals. The demographic section of our research project with this company showed that a substantial number of the employees in the surveyed division were college graduates. When interviewed personally and asked about their feelings concerning their work, the most common reply was "It's just lip service. We are asked to contribute our ideas, but nothing significant comes out of it. It's almost as if we don't exist."

We presented our findings to the appropriate manager with the warning that people were of a mind to revolt because they were unable to use their insights and talents; we predicted a wave of low morale and decreased efficiency. Nothing much changed in this organization with the exception that more and more decisions were made by top managers and passed on to lower levels of management and employees as "the best way to go." Many bright employees were laid off. Profits continued to decline. Soon the company was sold. Without oversimplifying, poor leadership contributed heavily to the fall of a once mighty company. The irony is that quite a number of highly educated and very able employees and first-level supervisors tried to speak out, but they were left mumbling to themselves in the company hallways.

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Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020