LESSON 2. Don’t Get Distracted
Though similar to the first lesson, this one requires special attention, since distractions do arise that can throw the company off its game plan. While it is vital to respond and adapt to change, too often management uses unforeseen events to abandon the original plan rather than work around them. Sometimes it’s simply that managers become lazy. Rather than looking for ways to defeat the competition into oblivion through innovation and superior execution, they look for something new to do. They start diversifying, they look for acquisitions. But as Robert Campeau (an excellent real estate developer, but a poor retail merchant), Donald Trump (another excellent real estate developer, but a poor airline, hotel, and casino owner) and Conrad Black (an excellent newspaper publisher, but a poor food merchant and farm equipment manager) learned through bitter experiences, sometimes what an organization is doing is all it can ever do, and it isn’t all that bad, either. Stay the course and double up efforts.
Staying abreast of the latest management wisdom is one of the greatest challenges any manager can face. With so much fad management “wisdom” being published, it’s easy to lose sight of the importance of mastering the basics. When the dust settles, a few timeless principles, rather than trendy techniques, will bring long-term success to your organization. Allow me, then, over the next few weeks to share with you seven of the most important and fundamental management lessons that will help your business survive and thrive.
LESSON 1. Focus On What’s Really Important, Right Now.
While every organization must do everything well, it’s often impossible to excel at everything all at once. Successful companies figure out how to succeed by accomplishing big goals with excellence, but one step at a time. By prioritizing high quality machine performance over low cost, Japanese construction manufacturer Komatsu reduced its warranty claims by 70% in three years. Only after they achieved global quality standards did they focus on cost-reduction, and though this strategy involved many short-term sacrifices, Komatsu eventually became #2 in its industry. Therefore, convince your firm’s directors to embrace a gradualist approach by showing them how long-term benefits will vastly outweigh the short-term sacrifices of doing things one step at a time.
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