Saturday, October 14, 2006

Tough love biz style

Roger Martin is the Dean of the biz school up at the University of Toronto. I like his writing a lot.

Mr. Martin has a great piece in the October 2006 issue of Fast Company called 'Tough Love'. He takes on a lot of current conflicts related to managing enterprises, specifically the differences between the old school "doing-business-as-usual" crowd and the hip new "business-by-design" bunch. I love his analysis, but then I just have this wierd attraction to common sense.

On the surface, the article speaks to larger organizations, but you need to hear this and get it circulating before, during, and after the birth of your emerging enterprise. Casting yourself and your enterprise as hard ass numbers thugs just won't cut it today. Believing your killer design and motivational ethics will win the day is just wrong.

I've done it both ways. I've been involved with enterprises that insisted the right way was one or the other. It's not.

This isn't just Proctor & Gamble stuff. Start ups and early stagers need to know this more than organizations farther along. As emerging enterprises you have little or no margin for error. Screw this one up and you'll be looking for the next one fast, or worse, leaving the enterprise game for good.

Don't be doctrinaire about your strengths. In the market today, problem solving is key. So are measurable, reproducible results from honed processes and procedures. You can do both. You have to do both. It's common sense that drives success.

Here's how Roger Martin closes his piece (put yourself and your emerging enterprise into this picture):

"Managing the yin and yang of business-as-usual and business-by design means striking a balance between any number of countervailing impulses: Give people the freedom to follow their nose, but hold them accountable for their performance. Set a high bar, but recognize that failure is an unavoidable consequence of pushing into new territory. Do everything possible not just to thrill your customers but also to wring costs and efficiencies out of vendors and suppliers. The biggest challenge for all of us, designers and businesspeople alike, is to become equally adept at quantifying the now and intuiting what's next. There's simply no other way to win."

Roger Martin’s links at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Business

Tough Love article in Oct. 2006 Fast Company

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