Dieting, Business Success Recipes and Teams
I have spent the last twenty years of my life as a consultant and businessman working in and around organisations both large and small. The businesses’ search for the Holy Grail often seems to be about looking at the latest management fad and seeing whether it can be applied to make the business any better. Just like diet programmes, most of the fads do not work – they are a con.
Dieting Gurus and Management Gurus
The dieting guru is akin to the management guru. The new diet book is normally based on ‘careful research’ and the title will be something hopefully quite catchy. The book will feature some famous characters (or businesses) who applied the principles set out in the book and so their lives have been transformed – a PR agency’s dream.
Take any of the recent management books and you find the same recipe, or dare I say, combination: guru, plus a ‘new’ method, plus star examples and case studies, plus some good packaging.
The audience for the more popular management books want to find a simple recipe, a universal antidote that will solve all their problems and require them to suffer relatively little for major results ‘ the same also applies to dieting; the ideal dieting book would enable you to lose weight by simply reading the book. The reality is just not like that. Real change requires real effort.
The diet book will contain a theory that obesity is banished if one never mixes proteins and carbohydrates at the same meal, fruit is eaten alone, or some such regime.
The majority of nutritional scientists are united in the opinion that there is no scientific evidence to support the apparent success of the stars on the diet. The reason you lose weight is because the diet encourages you to cut down on excess calories and fat, that’s all.
Losing weight is relatively straightforward from a scientist’s point of view. There is only one diet that works: one that involves eating fewer calories and/or expending more in exercise. All that commercial diets can do is offer you some assistance in getting you to achieve this goal. There is no shortcut.
The Magic Success Formula
So what has this got to do with management? Time after time, businesses I work with chase the magic success formula that is the latest fad. But to me, if the basics are wrong, then it doesn’t matter how much time you spend tampering with the detail. Boards spend their time worrying about the deckchairs on the ‘Titanic’ without considering the fundamentals.
Good businesses are preoccupied with three basic things: they have an obsessive focus on teams and people, an obsessive focus on marketing and what the customer wants, and an obsessive focus on strategy and planning. All else is commentary. If these basics are not in place then the business will not be sustainable.
To be blunt, I am fed up with going into businesses where (so often) the issue of how their people are treated has not been sorted out.
It’s About People
Either all people in an organisation habitually complain about other people in the organisation “they don’t communicate well”, “they don’t listen”, “they are unreasonable” – and they do this because that is simply how people are – this is Option Number One.
Or, we haven’t got it right – we create, run and work in organisations where, despite four thousand years of civilisation, we have not yet learnt the basics of how to get on with each other – this is Option Number Two.
My belief is in Option Number Two – we simply have not got it right. We refuse to pay attention to the way in which we treat our people in our organisations. Quite why we refuse to understand and respond to what our colleagues want and need from us (and vice versa), I am at a loss to explain – it cannot simply be that we all have basic pathological or even psychotic tendencies. I simply don’t know.
In the same way that the basic principles of weight control are elementary, so the basic principles of running a business are much the same. There is no great rocket science about running a team. No, what infuriates me is the regularity with which I am exposed to yet another instance where the human resource issues have not been sufficiently addressed.
Stop buying business books. Take Action.