In business, what is your most important asset?
Over the years I have attended many seminars and business meetings to try to find the ‘key’ which unlocks the gateway to success. I know that seminar organisers and every presenter I’ve ever listened to had good intentions at heart. For me, it started with Peter Drucker and the theory that management should be decentralised; that people are your greatest asset in business. Countless business managers have focused on these philosophies and been successful. Drucker was a respected leading management theorist and consultant. But something was and still is amiss.
I am a woman, and I always sought to identify myself as a success using tools identified at these meetings. I worked hard, studied, and read books including ‘How to be an assertive not an aggressive woman in business”. And if you ever find a copy you’ll see that it recommended that woman not wear large earrings as it intimidated men. Many ideas; some not quite as successful as others.
I have been studying these categories of books and going to seminars year after year after year. The books and speakers laud success. Success is ‘never giving up’, ‘believing in yourself’ and ‘studying hard’. More recently the tone is to recognise and learn from your failures and then ‘after the darkest night comes the brightest morning’. All true and all motivational to a point. Returning to work, the difficulty of leading change becomes a reality when we recognise not everyone we work with have the same goals in life. Some want to succeed in weekend sport, some in a hobby, and some in being great parents. Yet as someone who wants to see a business succeed I question why we keep repeating the same actions. The same seminars minimally altered using slightly different words and thereby only slightly different management directions. In the 80’s and 90’s the goal was focused on winning at all costs, now, it’s all about winning but doing it drinking a kale smoothie.
It seems to me the world has been changing rapidly; now at an exponential rate. In days gone by we attended a seminar with the expectation we would lead the business using the acquired knowledge into a new decade or a new millennium. We recognised it takes time. Now we expect to implement and effect change the minute we return to our offices, only to be confronted with the same barriers which existed thirty years ago. Except now an intense frustration sets in because change doesn’t happen immediately.
What is the most important asset in your business?
Maybe the understanding that you need a village to help grow a business, the same as you need a village to help raise a balanced, intelligent child. In business we tend to believe all changes need to be internal. We don’t have the right staff, the right equipment, the right location, the right marketing program. Maybe we should be questioning our ingrained belief that “change” will solve a problem. Maybe we should trust ourselves in putting in place a network of people and support structures that help us see the alternative points of view when making our business decisions and sticking with those people, through the highs and low of the journey.
Who do we need in business?
An accountant, a lawyer, marketing consultant and financier? Maybe we should stick to the same group of external advisors with the experience to help, and over time develop a long-standing trust and belief in the skills shaped together. Too often businesses move between consultants hoping the next will have the miracle solution. The one thing I have learned attending all these seminars is that successful people and businesses have people around them that have stuck with them for many years. They have been loyal, dedicated and totally focused on the goal together – a village of concurring individuals. And over time a trust is developed, a mutual respect of each other. There is no giving up on an individual when someone makes a bad move, just a concentration of friendship, support and like-mindedness in achieving a positive result. When you look for a ‘new team’ to put together, think just as seriously about your external consultants as you do about your internal staff. Focus on developing a partnership for life.