Yesterday I talked about managerial incompetence and how it is possible to kill our own business without any help from the opposition. Today I want to look at a few more true accounts from my own experience and see just how many companies are unaware that they are committing suicide, unless they change their ways.
I worked for one of the most innovative and creative companies in the world, at least that’s what the text books tell me. Perhaps it’s because I worked on the wrong side of the Atlantic, or in a business unit for which they could not fathom out how to apply creativity, but whatever the reason, the terms creativity, innovation and business did not appear in the same book, let alone on the same sheet. Sure we had lots of training on how to be creative, how to manage our people, how to give effective presentations that would pursuade our listeners to take on board what we were offering, how to change our internal culture, how to ‘think outside the box’, and we learnt lots of buzzwords, three letter acronyms (TLAs) and phrases to show that we were at the forefront of the industry … but in reality, outside of the training room very little changed.
It was always easy to identify those who would be accelerated up the corporate ladder; they were the ones who spoke clearly and loudly about the latest initiative, within earshot of the people that mattered (to them at least). Sadly, many of those high fliers wouldn’t know a creative bone if you whacked them over the head with it!! The systems, structures and management style they implemented was more akin to “Do as I say, when I say, not as I demonstrate.” And when a challenge came, we were encouraged to ignore it, pretend that it didn’t exist or simply tackle it as we had always done.
But the really sad thing for me was that many of these ‘corporate stars’ had no interest in other people, only projects and promotion. They seemed to forget that they were part of a team, focussing instead on the fact that they were in charge. What they said, went, and heaven help those who disagreed or dared to challenge such a view. And if they needed to backtrack and lie a little later on, or deflect the blame elsewhere then, hey, wasn’t that what managers do. One could ask about integrity?
Speaking to friends who work in large corporates, it seems that the situation is quite common, with infrastructures now so extensive and processes so complex that any chances for creativity and innovation have been extinguished. The Kings of the Beasts have become dinosaurs, and the countdown to extinction has started, and will continue until they die … or they change.
Opinion now is no longer that creativity and innovation are options; the are necessary and the very life-blood of survival and growth. We have already seen big names of years ago disappear, even in the past few years.
Our propensity to killer tactics focussed on killing ourselves must be reversed. Our survival and expansion depend on it. But survival and expansion will also involve risk, a dirty word in many quarters. Risk such as additional investment in training, even when budgets are tight; implementing changes for the good of all, not just the few … and more.
I believe that as we return to actually focussing on making a positive impact on our staff, allowing them to contribute and influence our decisions, making them feel valued so that they give without being asked (rather than beaten into agreement or contribution), rather than just talking about it or training around it, then our impact on the market and on broader society will be greater and more positive.
Killer has more than one meaning; let’s hope that we open our eyes in time to embrace its positive definition, rather than being a victim of the negative.
Until next time …