An article by none other than the famed McKinsey states among other findings that a great many companies are generating strategies that, by their own admission, are substandard. This is an interesting point and we could easily draw many correlations with recent events amply covered by the media.
PR and Marketing consultants have always advocated that key to the success of a business operation is the presence of a well thought out strategy (from an overarching business one, to the one for communicating these values). In practice we all know that in many instances as PR professionals we are asked to come to the rescue of less than satisfactory plans.
With so much written about the necessity of good strategic thinking and on how to implement this at tactical level, plus huge amounts of money spent on consultancy it’s therefore a mystery why such good practices aren’t the norm.
Maybe the answer to this conundrum is revealed in a study carried out by Professor Levicky and published in The Guardian over 10 years ago in which he stated that based on his own observations of advising countless business leaders, I quote, most companies end up being run by second-rate business talents who happen to have first-rate political skills which enable them to elbow aside more accomplished rivals to capture the top jobs. This is obviously a very contentious point, especially as he goes on talking about deference and other aspects that may contribute to propel the wrong people to the top of tree, almost explaining the reasons behind the well known Peter Principle.
I am not in a position to draw specific correlations, particularly as just as there are ‘bad’ senior executives, there are also excellent ones, like for example the outstanding example of Tim Smit, founder of the Eden Project. But we necessarily need to ask ourselves two fundamental questions. The first is why with so many tools at a board’s disposal some crass error of judgement are still the norm, particularly in very large corporations, public or private. The second is that while we all need a driving licence to use our cars, as they are potentially lethal weapons, why shouldn’t senior executive (and of course politicians) be required to undergo more rigorous personal assessments, since they are more likely to wreck the lives of thousands, or even millions of people in the event of an ill thought out strategy.
Perhaps historians in a few decades hence will have an answer to this enigma... that is if we manage to get the right strategy, and vision, to tackle global warming, terrorism, pandemics, overpopulation, resources depletion, errh, well, that’s it, I think...
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