Volume 20 Number 3 - March 1, 2022

My mission is simple. I am devoted to enabling people working in manufacturing to recognize and achieve their potential; through that each of you contributes to an improved quality of life for all you touch. Mission matters. That of your business, and yours personally.

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Why Not Today?

A recent survey found that most US CEOs are in fear of losing their jobs in 2022. Those same responding CEOs stated even more strongly that their businesses must be modified significantly within three years. 

Let’s say they are half right. Let’s assume that only 35% get fired this year and that each company has 6 years to fully transition to a new and different business.

What should each of them do right now?

Never a fan of GE, especially under the leadership of Jack Welch, I point you to GE and its current CEO, Larry Culp. Culp recognized, and I believe rightfully so, that the company must be split apart, jettisoning the conglomerate approach of Welch, and of equal import, that the culture must be improved dramatically.

Culp is an experienced leader with an understanding of Toyota’s systems and thinking. People matter to him. Under Welch, they didn’t. Under Culp, suppliers, communities, and customers matter. Under Welch, they didn’t.

Culp is immediately leading massive change in the most fundamental aspects of that company. No hesitation. He is confident that he is right. I wish him full success in this journey. Will it be complete in 3 years, or even 6? Most will be, but the true test will be in his transitioning of all levels of leadership to new thinking. He can’t do it alone. But he knows he must start now. Will he get fired? Not important to his decisiveness, and low probability in 2022 regardless.

Now let’s look to one of those who will be fired this year. Should she assume she will be fired and focus only on maximizing personal benefit this year? Why do any hard thinking or complex work for a business that will soon be in the rearview mirror?

This approach has the upside of a sense of continuity for all constituents. It has the downside of wasting precious time and development of all constituents. Self-confidence would have that individual sharing her vision and leading change in what she sees as the right direction, if only to make the Board’s decision more difficult. A lack of confidence should at least embed significant resources in identifying and evaluating options. More of the same is not an option for any CEO.

Now let’s look at you and your business.

Do you have any idea how your business must be fundamentally redefined in the next few years? Do you even believe that type of change is necessary? None of you, hopefully, believe that no change or even slow change is the right path to an enduring future.

It’s a matter of speed. Speed compared to all the others.

And it’s a matter of direction. Fast and the wrong direction has the benefit of failing fast and correcting course. Slow and wrong is a painful death.

How confident are you in your revised vision for how to best accomplish the mission of your business? Is your vision even revised? Perhaps it is the strategy change that you believe will turn your company in the better direction.

It does not need to be lonely at the top, but that is where the buck stops and starts. All your constituents are looking to you for how the business will create, or respond to, our rapidly changing business environment. Silence is not golden; it is terrifying.

Identifying and plotting a new future is not well done with only internal expertise. That myopic approach limits thinking. While your work toward the new future won’t be perfect, focus on directionally correct and fast. And build on the competencies that have differentiated you. Not the products, but the competencies.

Today. Not tomorrow. Today.

Identify outside brilliance that can challenge your thinking, provide left-field insights, and help you identify the new future to which you will commit totally. The longer you wait to begin, the more likely failure within the decade. Use them to test your beliefs about competencies will that matter.

Blind speed and confusing motion with results will kill an organization. So too will sitting still.

Today start the process to articulate your new future, begin the hard work to quickly move that direction, and be steadfast. None of this is easy or fast. But it can’t wait. Exhibit urgency and patience, commitment and expectation of mistakes that will provide learning, and make and communicate course corrections with intention.

Why not today? What are you doing that is more important than the future of your organization?

The Starting Pistol

Paulo Coelho:
"If you want to be successful, you must respect one rule: never lie to yourself."

The Tape

Rebecca Morgan:
"Don’t delude yourself. The truth may hurt, but it is also a requirement of success."

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