Monday, 21 June 2010


Well there’s a dangerous assertion when, tomorrow in George Osborne's budget, that is all we are going to be talking about…the lack of it.

Over the past few years we’ve seen reputations and/or companies topple.

Time Warner, Arthur Andersen, Woolworth, Lehman Brothers, Toyota, BP.

It’s easy to talk about issues of principle when you are being pursued by dividend hungry shareholders and bonus hungry colleagues. When you are under real pressure you forget about everything except survival and for survival in business you need cash.

Here’s what Joseph Gregory told the soon-to-resign Lehman executive Alex Kirk who was complaining about the level of leverage in the business:-

“Growth. Growth. Growth, Alex. That’s what we want and need and we have to stay focused…..” (from a Colossal Failure of Commonsense by Larry McDonald).

But that’s not a possible dream, not in isolation to other realities, and the only way of pursuing this strategy is to cut cost, to abandon principle and cut corners.

The trouble with big businesses is they do all this and then they overcomplicate and lose touch. All those mentioned in my list of Clay Feet Icons did everything they wish they hadn’t.

For the next blog later this week I am going to quote at length from Ron Ashkenas of RHSchaffer who has written and spoken compelling on one way to cut through to the essence of what needs doing.

It’s the “simplicity strategy”.

As Einstein said – impressively not for the first time:-
“Three rules of work – out of the clutter find simplicity; from discord find harmony; in the middle of difficulty find opportunity.”

No comments: