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"Catch 22" - Especially for the big boys!

By Roger La Salle

The Pace of Business

Business are being challenged today like never before. The advent of IT and rapid communications has led to contract negotiations and time to market plummeting from months or years in days gone by to now a matter of weeks.

The need to do something different and better has never been so strong. But how do we shift the culture of people and managers that have for years been toeing the company line and meeting all their KPI's for the past, perhaps too many years?

If a manager is doing the job and enjoying the spoils and trapping of managerial success then whatever is the incentive that drives one to "rock the boat"? What is the driver that will change behaviour and have people do something different, perhaps to innovate or to actively search the horizon for new opportunities?

Unfortunately, and quite understandably, the incentive to take risks and engender change is virtually non existent.

The Catch 22

In the light of the foregoing there of course exists a "Catch 22"

Survival in business requires change to drive managers to embrace innovation and new opportunities, but why would you do that if life is good and we are not forced to change. Rather, maintain the status quo and keep doing what we have always been comfortable in doing?

Embarking on change means taking on more work, and most of all risk, perhaps even career risk. Consequently to change course, especially in large businesses is a bit like trying to turn the Titanic.

One Solution

In Singapore one enlightened CEO of a very large company put a mandate and KPI on all department heads that for each successive year, 10% of their revenue would come from new innovated products or new opportunities. Management salaries and bonuses were tightly tied to this mandate and to fail to achieve this was perhaps more a career risk than attempting change but failing in the endeavour. The success of this approach was outstanding.

The Bottom line!

The bottom line here is to recognise this Catch 22 in most businesses, especially large ones and to find ways to drive the change initiative. A failure to do so may lead to an outcome far worse than the risk of trying.

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