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Continued from Previous……
When I started this discussion four weeks ago, I had not thought about taking this discussion to twelve blog posts, but the arguments kept coming up which could not be ignored. I shall now conclude and complete this discussion.
I started by coining the term ‘Tired Organizations’, which is not a standard term. I have seen several struggling organizations, but the struggle differs entirely.
All startups are struggling, but their struggle is to get more business, more market space, more brand recognition, and fast growth. They are not tired, they are tireless. They work like crazy, for long hours, and take on multiple assignments happily. Their morale is high due to self-created discipline. Fast growing organizations also struggle; they are always cash-strapped because they keep investing in multiple areas. Their morale is also high because they are growing and getting results.
Tired organizations struggle to keep afloat. They are constantly at the risk of going under and must struggle to keep working. Most of these had seen better times until several years ago and still have good nostalgic feelings about the past. The present is not good, and the future does not look promising. Their hopes are not high, and their morale is low. They move like an old man, with squeaking joints, their speech is slow, and the actions are slower. They are struggling for survival, not for prosperity. These are the ‘tired organizations’. Cash supply is limited, and it is constantly siphoned off for various reasons. Due to slow pace, they are more and more left behind.
I have suggested several cures for tired organizations, though one may observe that they may be past revival. I would respectfully differ.
I have suggested focusing on technology, processes, efficiency, and human resource; their development and replacement, if needed. I have put greater emphasis on HR because people make the difference, they run the technology, not the other way round.
The most important part of cure, however, is the Will to Change, and it comes from the top. I have seen several cases where aggressive and ambitious people are brought in to turn the enterprise around but are not given the support needed for the job. They try hard for as long as they can, or are allowed to, and then leave disillusioned and dispirited. It must be understood that no one, I repeat, no one will be able to bring change except the owners. They must become part of the process, understand it, contribute to it, and may even lead it.
Wrong decisions, late decisions, loss of focus, failure to capture upon opportunities are common reasons for being left behind.
Let me touch upon the story of Yahoo! a giant who became and minion and finally died unceremoniously.
When I started using internet, the ruling browser was Netscape Navigator; it was killed by Microsoft Internet Explorer after few years. Yahoo! came up as the most important web service provider which included a search engine, a web portal, emails, news, songs, and other related services. Yahoo! offered services much before others came up. By about 2000, Yahoo! had become the homepage for millions of people. However, the reign of Yahoo! did not last long, and it was finally sold to Verizon for a petty $4.4 billions.
Downfall of large organizations gives us much to learn. Though none of the organizations in Pakistan matches the large organization definition, but there are big companies within our own limitations.
Alongside the ‘Will to Change’, I wish to emphasize upon one more critical measure – Thinking-Outside-In. TOI, if I may abbreviate it, means that the organization through its people, should learn to see what is required in the marketplace and then change internally. Outside is the marketplace which is filled with customers who are the lifeline of the organization, there are supporters who may not give big business but give credibility, there are competitors who are out to kill you or displace you, there are vendors/suppliers who want to rob you, and there are regulators who want to trap you. The organization cannot ignore all this and work as it pleases; it will be a call for death. The better option is to understand all these forces and then turn internally to make plans for handling the situation in a way which keeps the organization growing despite resistance, and keeps it secure against threats.
The last point is the most important to understand.
In most cases, it is much easier to revive a tired organization than starting a new one. All the basic things are already available but need tweaking at several places. A new enterprise will take its weaning time and then may or may not become viable. Secondly, it is easier to understand the issues of an existing enterprise, and solve these, rather than facing new challenges every day. This may be avoided only when the original brand has been tied up with some nasty episode, the image has been seriously tarnished, and is not salvageable anymore. As the tagline in MasterCard ad says, “Money cannot buy happiness, for everything else, there is MasterCard”.
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