Revisiting Leadership


Human beings are designed for learning. Unfortunately, the primary institutions of a society are oriented predominantly toward controlling rather than learning, rewarding individuals for performing for others rather than for cultivating their natural curiosity and impulse to learn. The young child entering school discovers quickly that the name of the game is getting the right answer and avoiding mistakes—a mandate no less compelling to the aspiring managers.

 

Our prevailing system of management has destroyed our people. People are born with intrinsic motivation, self-esteem, dignity, curiosity to learn, joy in learning. The forces of destruction begin with toddlers—grades in school, gold stars, and on up through the university. On the job, people, teams, divisions are ranked—reward for the one at the top, punishment at the bottom. Incentive pay, business plans, put together separately, division by division, cause further loss, unknown and unknowable.

 

Ironically, by focusing on performing for someone else’s approval, corporations create the very conditions that predestine them to mediocre performance. Over the long run, superior performance depends on superior learning. A full one-third of the Fortune 500 industrials listed in 1970 had vanished by 1983.

 

Today, the average lifetime of the largest industrial enterprises is probably less than half the average lifetime of a person in an industrial society. On the other hand, a small number of companies that survived for seventy-five years or longer. Interestingly, the key to their survival is the ability to run experiments in the margin to continually explore new business and organizational opportunities that create potential new sources of growth.

 

If anything, the need for understanding how organizations learn and accelerating that learning is greater today than ever before. In an increasingly dynamic, interdependent, and unpredictable world, it is simply no longer possible for anyone to figure it all out at the top. The old model, the top thinks and the local acts, must now give way to integrating thinking and acting at all levels.

 

While the challenge is great, so is the potential payoff. The person who figures out how to harness the collective genius of the people in his/her organization is going to blow the competition way.

 

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Leveraging better Payment Terms


Negotiating better payment terms is always easier if a company has some bargaining chips. The party with the most to lose or the most to gain is always on the defensive; therefore, the secret to successful negotiating is to develop leverage that forces the other party into one or the other of these positions. Other than not meeting payroll, only two conditions might create circumstances more detrimental to a company on the brink of failure than to a creator: (1) being evicted from the building that houses the business, and (2) not receiving critical materials and services to keep the business going.

 

Not much can be done about either situation. A business must be housed, and it must have materials and services to make and sell products. That’s why landlords and critical suppliers top the payment priority list. Some leverage can be achieved, however. Most lessors would rather work out an extended payment arrangement than go to the expense and aggravation of a formal eviction. As long as the renter’s market holds, deferring rent payments for at least several months should be a real possibility. That’s not a permanent solution, but it does provide some breathing space.

 

It might be possible to leverage critical suppliers to gain better terms. The threat to go to a competitor usually brings even the most recalcitrant supplier to terms. In most cases, a supplier has more to lose (the overdue amounts plus legal costs to sue) or gain (future sales) than a debtor company does. At least making suppliers think that’s the case is good negotiating ploy.

 

Assuming that you have taken reasonable precautions to safeguard your personal assets, the worst thing that can happen is that you will be forced to liquidate the business. Granted, this can be a blow to any entrepreneur’s ego. It might also reduce personal income for a while, however, once the liquidation is over, you can always begin again. As long as creditors believe that they have the most to lose, you’re in driver’s seat. The ultimate creditors’ threat is to force the company into bankruptcy. By making it clear that this won’t hurt and that other plans for the future are in the works anyway, such leverage vanishes abruptly.

 

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight