The Progress of Nothing

Mini-Rant

If I have read one post about leadership, management or sales, I have read a thousand.

I am sure they are well meaning, but how much import can there be in rehashing the same idea over and over? Even when books quote a predecessor, you have to ask if anything that is written is really new. Perhaps it’s because we are lazy and can’t be bothered to look up the seminal text, and would rather get our knowledge or guidance from today’s hip management thinkers.

Original – me thinks not!

[Note: Can Peter Drucker's work be improved on?]

The business of change

I am no historian – I leave that to my middle daughter – but I have, of late, read a bushel of ‘management’ books from the 1980s, which has made me consider how little progress we have made over the last three decades.

Quite possibly there are only so many ways to skin the proverbial, but, more likely, we have reached the apogee of white collar work.

In a way none of this should come as a surprise.

After all, the business of being in business is all about the people, and there is only so many ways to talk about communication, listening, trust and values.

Perhaps rather than seeking to reinvent another paradigm, we should stick to the basics and focus on getting better every day.

This is not to decry innovation, change or, heaven forbid the term, thought leadership, but merely to set the record straight: get the basics very very right and even the most mundane business can be the most scintillating in the world.

Yes I know you need to deliver something that people want to buy, but in my experience it is rarely the product or service in and of itself that leads to success or failure, but the way the business is run.

When you look around today ask yourself is everything top to bottom Excellent?

Making a dent in the Universe is one thing, but striving to be the best is far more likely to yield sustainable results.

Rather than me yielding up another long list of How Tos, starting today examine every aspect of your business, starting with the people and at the levels of Why, How and What ask yourself if you are more than just (moderately) satisfied with what you see, feel and experience?

No doubt you will be able to come up with a long, long list which you can after a few days shorten to the point where you can see which 20% will yield 80% return. But don’t just make another list. Put whatever issue is most pressing at the top of every agenda and commit all your time and resources to that one issue until it is fixed.

Remember the calendar never, ever lies (thank you Tom Peters for that one)

If I can make one plea, start with the people. If you can realise their enormous potential then that will do more to change your business than anything else.

Obvious – of course.

And why shouldn’t it be!

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2 Responses to “The Progress of Nothing”

  1. Joe Reevy says:

    I go furtehr> I don’t think there’s been that much new thought on management in about 200 years. Sure, technology has changed a lot, as has the ability to tease data out of complex information. But really, have the fundamentals changed since Benjamin Franklin was writing?

    I am cynical enough to think that most of the ‘gurus’ as themselves just rehashing ideas and communicating them with more pzazz (and usually an attractive new laod of whizz-bang phrases) than their peers.

    There are exceptions. I think activity-based management was genuinely new (well, 50 years ago).

    There’s nothing wrong with this. What it means is that the basics of sound business and management don’t change. Like the laws of physics. Why should they?

  2. Joe Reevy says:

    I go furtehr> I don’t think there’s been that much new thought on management in about 200 years. Sure, technology has changed a lot, as has the ability to tease data out of complex information. But really, have the fundamentals changed since Benjamin Franklin was writing?

    I am cynical enough to think that most of the ‘gurus’ as themselves just rehashing ideas and communicating them with more pzazz (and usually an attractive new laod of whizz-bang phrases) than their peers.

    There are exceptions. I think activity-based management was genuinely new (well, 50 years ago).

    There’s nothing wrong with this. What it means is that the basics of sound business and management don’t change. Like the laws of physics. Why should they?

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