Keeping to the basics of business management...
by Roni Tapia Merk

clippings by gerwin hontiveros

Trend in management come and go with increasing frequency.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise, with all the mergers and acquisitions, downsizing and rightsizing, and other changes that characterize today’s world of business.

                For the leaders, however, the confusing array of choices presents a particular problem.  In their search for the most effective management technique, what innovation should be adopted and what should be discarded?

                We will assume that the leaders have enough sense to know what suits their organization best.  But whatever they choose to adopt, it is necessary that the leaders are well-grounded in ten basics.  If they are they can experiment as much as they wish.  In fact, learning is required in business, and means constant experimentation.

                The leaders must take care that they and members of their team do not get side-tracked from their main goal, which is to giver customers the highest quality in products and services at the lowest possible cost.

  Shared vision

                In his recent book Un-common Sense: Creating Business Excellence in Organization,  Stephen George tells us that managers and the rank-and-file must have shared vision of what the organization’s objectives ought to be.

                As the management expert describes it, an ideal organization should respect, trust, and allow employees to make decisions on their own and initiate improvements.  In such an organization leaders merely, well, lead the way.

                The most effective leaders are those who accept the fact that they don’t have all the answers.  True leaders are not afraid to ask questions, even to acknowledge that some lowly employees further down the line may have superior knowledge about certain jobs or processes, and that these employees can help carry the ball or the whole team.

                Such humility does not come so easily.  The reason is the hierarchical nature of most business organizations.

                The hierarchical organization fosters belief that people in authority are all-powerful, all-knowing gods.  Followers believe their leaders can come up with the right decision every time, and leaders work hard to cultivate the myth.  Unfortunately, the right decision can come only from an insightful leaders with the help of an empowered corps of employees.

                Although they may have served the purpose in the past, hierarchies are now proving to be the most wasteful and least effective organizational setup.  Under the system, a group of workers handles one aspect of the job, and then throws the job over to another group, which then does its part and passes the job on to still another, and so on until the process is complete.

                Such a system does not make for efficiency in the workplace and quality in product and services.

                “Hierarchies are well suited to serve managers, leaders, and owners, but they are not designed to serve customers,” the author observes. “And unless an organization commits to serving customers first, it will endanger its source of revenues and dim its prospects for long-tern success.”

 Lifelong learning

                 In these times of rapid change, leaders and subordinates must embark on a lifelong quest for knowledge.  It must be clearly understood, however, that learning does not mean merely taking up courses or attending seminars, although they form an integral part of the learning process.

                Learning is not so much about acquiring information, as it is about asking questions.  It is not a task but an attitude.

                The quest for knowledge goes through all kinds of twists and turns, and the latest invention or discovery is not necessarily the best or the most definitive.

                However, useful or effective it may seem, the latest advance in knowledge must be regarded only as a platform to reach the next level of development.  The organization that adopts it as solution to a problem must be prepared to question its efficiency and, if it proves inadequate or stops serving its purpose, to discard it for another.

                It is imperative that top leadership must commit itself to learning.  Those invested with the power to run the company must build in the employees a sense of responsibility for their action, apart from institutionalizing training and education.

                “Helplessness, the belief that we cannot influence the circumstances under which we live, undermines the incentive to learn, as does the belief that someone somewhere else dictates our action,” George notes.

                For starters, the company must encourage cross-functional teams or task forces for the purpose of helping people see broader process and issues within the organization.  The employees must undergo training not only to give them the necessary technical skills but also to give them understand how their relates to the overall picture.

                One way to do that is  to rotate people through a variety of jobs in various parts of the organizations.  It is also necessary to initiate mentoring programs in which leaders and veteran workers take responsibility for helping new recruits learn the ropes.

                Empowered, skillful, and knowledgeable employees take it upon themselves to improve the organization.  They help their leaders arrive at the right decisions and focus such decisions in one direction, thus creating highly efficient workforce.

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