of Common Sense
by Rick Sidorowicz
I could be taking all this revolutionary stuff too seriously but it seems that you hear and read more and more of all the admirable intentions and nice rhetoric but see very little of it applied. It might have something to do with some of the extraordinary neurophysiological mechanisms operating in the mosaic of the minds of executives - but then again it might just be case of insecure egos and a fear of the unknown. Is it really so %$# complicated? What on earth would we do if it were indeed - more simple. We need a serious outbreak of common sense.
What on earth is so complicated and complex about treating people with dignity and respect, providing information so they can make informed and intelligent choices, giving people the tools, resources, and authority to do their jobs, and trusting them to get it done right and on time? And is it really that much of a leap of faith to see that if you treat your employees that way - they will tend to treat their customers that way too?
Is it really that obvious and simple? Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop has this to say about her success, "... what’s so hot-shit about putting up products that are good and visually exciting and effective and having staff well trained and loving the product?" "It’s not extraordinary. It’s obvious!" Is it really so simple? Absolutely! We need a severe outbreak of common sense - and perhaps a ‘common sense revolution.’
Want to solve your multi million dollar ‘positioning’ problem? Ask a group of eight year olds what they think of shopping in your store. "Boring," was the response I got and they were right on the money. Mega bucks on media advertising? How about a critique from an eleven year old that the ads were quite dumb and not at all believable - not even funny. The creative talents of an agency and $1.2 million later to discover what a bunch of kids from around the corner could have told you in a five minute conversation. But still we need focus groups and more research to guide our thinking. (because it’s so complicated!)
Where does all this complexity and clutter come from? Are the minds of senior managers and executives just so complex that they can no longer grasp fundamentals - the simple truths - the basics? Is it because it just has to be complex to appear to be important, or astute, or executive? Can simple co-exist with exalted ?
The answer must be to simplify and apply ... our common sense; to stop strangling ourselves with information, research, statistics and superfluous jargon. Solving any problem requires stripping away all of the extraneous information - the clutter - and getting to the heart of it - the meat - the fundamentals. And believe it or not, those with less experience in the complexities of the executive suite often have the clearest perspective. So do your customers - (if you asked them) - and your suppliers (if you asked them too.) It’s really not all that complicated!
Jack Welch - mega value creator at GE gets to the heart of it in the following quote:
“Insecure managers create complexity. Frightened, nervous managers use thick, convoluted planning books and busy slides filled with everything they’ve known since childhood. Real leaders don’t need clutter. People must have the self-confidence to be clear, precise, to be sure that every person in their organization understands what the business is trying to achieve. But it’s not easy. You can’t believe how hard it is for people to be simple, how much they fear being simple. They worry that if they’re simple, people will think they’re simple-minded. In reality, of course, it’s just the reverse. Clear, tough minded people are the most simple.”
Many more articles in The Leadership Imperative in The CEO Refresher Archives