James D. Dixon favors consensus management.
When the president of NationsBanc Services Inc. meets with three dozen of his top deputies for semi-annual product reviews, a decision is not taken until there is 100% accord.
That may sound like a recipe for paralysis in one of banking's biggest technology organizations, which has an annual budget of $2 billion and about a quarter of NationsBank Corp.'s 100,000 employees.
But any procedural snags are overcome by the fact that "the buy-in is extraordinary," said Janey Place, director of the Charlotte, N.C., company's strategic technology group.
"Rather than issue an edict, Jim's approach is to go to meetings and generate interest and enthusiasm by winning hearts and minds," said Ms. Place, who reports to him.
"This is an organization that allows flexibility and empowers its associates," said Mr. Dixon, 55. "But it also requires teamwork."
He has been designated group executive for operations and technology at the bank that would result from the proposed merger with BankAmerica Corp.
He got into his exalted technology position by a roundabout route. With a bachelor's degree from Florida State University and a law degree from University of Florida School of Law, Mr. Dixon was chief financial officer at Citizens & Southern Corp. He continued in that position when the Atlanta-based bank merged with Sovran Financial Corp. in 1990 to form C&S/Sovran.
That path reached an end when C&S/Sovran Corp. was acquired by NCNB Corp. and James H. Hance was named chief financial officer at the newly christened NationsBank. The July 23, 1991 American Banker went so far as to call Mr. Dixon "a clear loser from the merger."
Mr. Dixon laughs off that slight with the knowledge that NationsBank has cultivated its vaunted "model banking" approach largely under his and NationsBank president Kenneth D. Lewis' oversight.
"He comes to the job with a businessman's perspective, but he is a very good learner," said Ms. Place. "He can and does interrogate the leaders of the (technology) industry," she said, citing meetings he has had with chief executive officers Bill Gates of Microsoft Corp., Scott McNealy of Sun Microsystems Inc., and Larry Ellison of Oracle Corp.