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Continued from Previous……
Much of other findings in Nohria-Porter study do not resonate with Pakistan landscape. We may have large corporations by our standards, but we do not have large corporations operating globally. Some groups in Pakistan are really big in turnover, but their management practices are not at the same level as those of global CEOs. Our challenges are that we still work with tools, thinking and methods which date back from a long time. We are not even desirous of changing it.
The biggest argument against change is that our employees also live in old times and can best be handled through old methods. Developed countries have people who are also developed. We are stuck somewhere in the Middle Ages and there is no point in bringing modern practices to an old tribe. The argument does carry some weight because our entire system comprising of managers, employees, vendors, suppliers, distributors is mired in malpractices. Creating islands of utopia is a tall order.
Three things are still done by CEOs of every company. The emphasis varies greatly from one to other parameter.
Business Growth – remains the top agenda. Whatever it takes to grow business is considered and done. Mostly, a three-pronged approach is adopted.
Growth from existing products, lines, teams is planned and executed. Markets keep growing and growth is always possible. The amount of growth will depend on market growth, product potential, team strength etc. The debate is always on the percentage growth projected from top, not on growth itself. After some haggling, the objectives are agreed, and life moves on.
Growth from new products is now a regular feature. Progressive companies keep their product line robust and continuously reinforce it with new products. In Pharma for example, the top few companies compete to bring generics early to get the first-mover advantage. Even very old, established brands keep getting makeovers now and then.
Growth from new opportunities is also considered. It could be opening new territories or realigning old ones. It could be tapping into some segment of market which was not explored before. During the last about ten years, many Local Pharma have forayed into international business. They have put up teams and are trying to do proper marketing of their products.
Strategy – is a buzzword in many places now. The real spirit of strategy may not be understood, but some semblance of it is present. Various kinds of analyses – SWOT, PEST, Five Forces Model – are done to develop a good strategy. Ambiguities remain about strategic priorities, and the line between strategy and simple planning is blurred. When we say, ‘our strategy’, we probably mean our thinking independent of surrounding factors. This is where the gap lies. Our thinking is based on our internal view, not on the market situation. When we take our plans to market, we are likely to face surprises.
The CEO is in any case involved in Strategy and related Strategic Decisions. It is an all too important area and cannot be left alone. The quality and strength of strategy thus developed reflects his/her expertise.
Profit or bottom line is the ultimate responsibility of the CEO, and it has overriding impact on all strategies. This is true for both owner CEOs and employee CEOs.
Culture – no matter what is said, but every organization has a culture. It is also CEOs focus to preserve or evolve the existing culture. The owner CEOs know their company culture more than anyone else because they have cultivated it, pruned it over time and stabilized it.
The primary intent is to preserve the culture and thwart attacks from any side which may cause destabilization. The more primitive the culture, the stronger the effort to preserve it. It is like preserving tribal traditions. The chief honcho is the ultimate authority in all matters. He decides what can be or cannot be done. We see resistance against small changes even, because it is feared that change once started, will be difficult to stop.
In some organizations, culture is a living, thriving animal that keeps evolving with time and changing circumstances. It is not left uncontrolled, but it is not blocked either.
In the next post, we shall sum up the discussion on CEOs’ work.
To be Continued……
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