Hi! And how are you all? I want to say thank you very much to all who supported the public program that I ran in MIM i.e. entitled ‘The Art and Skill of Managing People Effectively’. We were overwhelmed with requests for places but had to stop at 30 as any number above this would have been difficult in terms of control and the learning process. Thanks again and I will most certainly inform you of the next public course.
This month I want to talk to you about a profound concept advocated by Jack Welch in the book, “Control Your Destiny or Someone Else Will” written by Noel Tichy and Stratford Sherman. In it he advocated five simple principles in which you could control your ‘destiny’. They were as follows:
- Face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it were.
- Be candid with everyone.
- Don't manage, lead.
- Change before you have to.
- If you don't have a competitive advantage, don't compete.
I would just like to comment on the first one i.e. FACE REALITY AS IT IS, NOT AS IT WAS OR AS YOU WISH IT WERE
The above statement is as true for organizations as it is for individuals. From an organizational viewpoint, too many corporations stagnate on their past success. They keep on using the processes and methods that brought them previous success. What was right and what brought success in the ‘old days’ may not necessarily be the right processes or methods for today. Success formulas change every day.
Control Your Destiny or Someone Else Will
For example, Kodak and Fuji, the worlds leading photo film makers will have to accept the reality that in 5 years time, there will be minimal demand for their product because of digital cameras. As much as there is a sentimental feeling for their product, they will have to move on into the arena of cameras, photocopiers etc. They will have to accept the reality that although they were No 1 in their product line a few years ago, they are now way back in the pack as far as their new products are concerned. On the other hand the traditional mini-market must realize that with the hypermarkets, they will have to offer value added services to compete. Subang Grocer a mini-market in Subang Jaya allows it’s customers to buy products online and then undertakes to deliver these products to their consumers homes. In spite of the presence of CarreFour, Makro, Giant and now Mydeen, this mini-market is doing very well. Its success is largely due to the fact that it faced reality and reasoned out that to compete with these hyper-markets, it had to concentrate on value added services. It could not do business the ‘old’ way anymore.
In the course of my training, I have gone to many organizations where I always feel that the main problem is that senior management did not want to face reality, but hoped that things would change or else interpreted reality in their own lopsided way. When sales go down, they come up with statements like, “Don’t worry, it will turn around”, “it’s only a short down turn, sales will go up in the next six months”. When informed that China or India will be a threat in terms of competition, they go into denial mode and remark that it will not happen during their lifetimes. Slowly, but surely, organizations like these will wither away, and one of the main reasons for this is that reality was too difficult to face.
The message above is also relevant from an individual perspective. How many of us have improved our skills and competences to take into account the changing working environment. How many of us have changed our mindsets to take into account the different values and work ethics that new employees bring to the workplace? How many of us have learnt new skills that were not relevant or important 10 years ago, but are critical today. Not knowing how to touch type for example is a serious handicap for employees today. To remain ‘relevant’ I believe that managers must make efforts to discard some of these outdated, culture-influenced ‘mental models’ and to adapt to the changing needs of the very competitive business environment. A positive start would be for CEO’s and all managers to adhere to the following three simple principles:
a. Indulge in less rhetoric and more action in terms of best practices.
b. Surround yourself with good managers/people.
c. Accept and encourage contradiction at all times.
Practice of the above will most certainly go a long way to ensure continued success of organizations in the current volatile business environment.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read this. I really do hope you have enjoyed reading the above, and I have in a small way, added to your management knowledge. Until my next newsletter, take care and I do hope you will all have a great month ahead.