Monday, 16 November 2009

An Historic Fable – Foot(in mouth)note

On June 1st we published the strange fable of how the Grand Vizier Bludge became Emperor.

History is not kind to politicians, nor are facts (which we guess is why they try so hard to avoid, suppress or conceal them) –

Both before and since becoming Emperor, Bludge had made no secret of his admiration for his own Viziering skills and expertise. His acolytes chirruped their chorus of agreement - "No man alive was so expert, knowledgeable or had such wonderful judgement as the Great Bludge". Lo, He had trudged long and lonely through the E Kono mists’ dismal swamps. Lo, He had mastered the E Kono magic of speaking at great length and redefining all words to his own secret meanings. Behold, much did He say, and little did others understand. Fearsome was His mockery of anyone’s inability to grasp what He had made incomprehensible.

What a Legend in His Lifetime!

When he was Grand Vizier, the Great Bludge had made the decision to convert 395 tonnes of the Empire reserves of gold "to capture more Water to spread the Emperor’s Benefice" (i.e. to suborn the loyalty of the Emperor Blarr’s Court). “It is a prudent and wise decision, it is the right thing to do” he trumpeted, banging his mighty fist.

Inconvenient Fact

When Bludge made the decision, the price of gold was $8,841,278 per tonne. 10 years later, when the Water had been squandered, dissipated and evaporated, and the land laid waste by de-hyd-ration, the price of gold is $435,365,770. So not only had the Water been lost, but also $10,477,174,340 of reserves – that is $10.5 billion!

A Legend in His Lifetime?

It was not a wise decision, it was not prudent and it was the wrong thing to do.

So, more questions for you in these difficult times.

  • Are you really thinking clearly?
  • Can you see your way past the misleading miasma of Bludged up thinking that permeates, complicates, delays and dilutes the interface between business and government?
  • Have you really thought hard about how you want your business world to be, and how your company will need to be within it, when the new administration comes?
  • Can you spell out what you want the new government to bring to you and your organisation so that you can make sure you get it?
  • Don't forget that to wait will be to be too late. Do it to them before they do it to you!

Can the Comparative Competitive Strength point of view assist you to achieve the clarity of purpose and the incisiveness of argument that is needed, now more than ever?

You want to know more? We are here.

"You're having a laugh ... seriously" is brought to you by Steve Goodman and Tony Ericson. It is one of our "Excellence Quartet" of blogs promoting the cause of Excellence as the key to prosperity. Each blog uses a recent business/financial topic to highlight different perspectives and conclusions from those obtained using conventional thinking and techniques. You can read the other three blogs at "Exceeding Expectations" ,Business Bloop of the Month Award", "Capitalism or ... Common Sense" .

Friday, 6 November 2009

Lost In The Mist – if you go down in the woods today ….

This story is not “Shrek”, but the main character is a clueless great lump -

General “Aimless Arnie” Motors has been lost in the mist for a long time. For a long time he was used to fine weather and level prairie, but the clouds came in and it all got hilly and woody. However, he is 5 star confident, he will keep on doing what he has always done, no one is going to stop him on his route march to dominate the sprawling and forever breeding Motors family world wide.

The General is sweating heavily in his bright and shiny shell suit under the weight of his massive rucksack. He has not been fit for a long time. The ground under his wandering feet turns crumbly. Suddenly he is on a slippery slope and right on a cliff edge. He turns to face up the slope but he is stuck, he cannot move. He only just keeps his balance by flailing his arms. His rucksack is pulling him over, but it is full of trophies that prove how important he is and he cannot face dropping them over the cliff – he would rather die. He reluctantly jettisons a few of the more shoddy prizes, but they are not enough.

Out of the mist comes a saviour. It is Akela Angela with her pack of hungry little cubs. She demands his trophies from the rucksack and throws him a lifeline, which he grabs tight. Then scary Scoutmaster Peter turns up with his rapacious troop and the same demand. Peter squabbles with Angela, and, somewhere behind her, a Bear snuffles around. The General dithers and wobbles - and wobbles and dithers. Angela thinks she has won

And then the sun comes out and the mist clears.

The General regains his balance for the moment. He decides that he won’t let go of his trophies, not with a Bear about. He convinces himself that, now he can see the slope, he can scrabble back up. He hands back Angela’s lifeline and says no deal. Akela Angela is beside herself with rage, she had already promised the goodies to her little pack, and, more seriously perhaps, the Bear? She goes rushing off to tell teacher that it’s not fair. “How can I help?” asks scary Scoutmaster Peter pulling out his cunning rope.

What will The General do next?

§ Will he be able to keep his precarious balance for long enough?

§ Can he scrabble up the slope on his own?

§ Will he grab scary Scoutmaster Peter’s cunning rope?

§ Will anybody else ever again offer to help him?

§ Will the mists come back? How soon? How thick?

§ Has he any idea where he really is or where he needs to go next?

§ Has he worked out why he might have been smart to keep his trophies – or what to do with them?

§ Will Angela’s cub’s and Peter’s scouts link up, or will they just fight each other?

· Or, will Angela push him off the cliff? Might the Bear help her?

Seriously, General Motors’ Board could hardly have done worse.

They continue to act as though they have a Comparative Competitive Strength level of Comfortable whilst every possible bit of evidence shows that they are at the bottom of Constrained and actually dropping into The Abyss. Considering that there have been a number of individual replacements of Directors on this Board, it is amazing that there are no signs of a change in leadership attitudes and behaviours. Their apparent inability to look beyond next week to make rational decisions, and their continued behaviour as though they have any freedom of choice, remains incomprehensible. At least they do seem to know that something needs to be done, but preferably by someone else - anybody. It is totally clear that they do not know that they do not know what to do, why they need to do something, where to start or how to do it.

Do they deserve any help? The White House is not impressed -

Steve Rattner, the investment banker who headed the Obama administration’s auto task force until July, gave his views in an article published by Fortune magazine. Rattner said that he already knew the Detroit companies’ reputation for insular, slow-moving cultures. However, even by that low standard, he was still taken aback by the stunningly poor management that they found, especially at General Motors. (our emphases)

Maybe complete disaster is the only route the GM leadership are capable of following? Is the unavoidable outcome now a complete collapse followed by the scouring of the smoking ruins by Angela’s cubs, Peter’s troopers, Asian scavengers and the Bear? Will Russelsheim, Ellesmere Port and the General’s other european sites, become the new Longbridges? Has Gypsy Rose Woodley, who hailed the Phoenix Four as the saviours of Rover, forecast that Vauxhall will be OK now that Angela is really cross? Will scary Scoutmaster Peter’s enfeebled Uncle Gordon (the other great lump in the woods) assure us that he is doing the “right thing”? If so, The General really is doomed in Europe – and if he dies here, then it will be totally fatal.

Or is there an alternative? Something fast, furious and affordable? Is there a Fairy Godmother with a Magic Pumpkin that can convert General Aimless into Captain Competent? Not quite, but the Competitive Strength Report and Process could come pretty close. If the top three layers of management teams in GM ran themselves through this before Christmas (it’s fast but totally feasible) they could finish up understanding what they need to do, why and where to start.

It’s not often that we think we can be a Fairy Godmother – but we know we have a Magic Pumpkin. Do we expect to be asked by The General?– No – but he can contact us at And so can you if you are interested in the extraordinary insights that come from the Comparative Competitive Strength point of view, and how they may help you with your business survival, your investment plans or your bankers. Or please look at our website here.

"You're having a laugh ... seriously" is brought to you by Steve Goodman and Tony Ericson. It is one of our "Excellence Quartet" of blogs promoting the cause of Excellence as the key to prosperity. Each blog uses a recent business/financial topic to highlight different perspectives and conclusions from those obtained using conventional thinking and techniques. You can read the other three blogs at "Exceeding Expectations" ,Business Bloop of the Month Award", "Capitalism or ... Common Sense" .