Human management

Which of these management mistakes will you make?

Artwork by Rachel Revilla

Artwork by Rachel Revilla

I was sitting in the boardroom of an Asian juggernaut, a food conglomerate that had been an unstoppable force in many Asian markets for decades. The new president, who was a member of the owning family, looked dejected. He had real difficulty making decisions.

Many leaders have told me about his challenge when my team and I embarked on the project to make his entire group of companies future-proof and more profitable. As part of my role, I also personally coached him on how to become a more effective leader, improve communication throughout the organization and collaborate better with his teams; how to reach your maximum potential and achieve a better work-life balance.

Overanalysis leads to paralysis

Several members of its board of directors pointed out to me that its weakness in not making decisions easily and quickly had cost the company many business opportunities in the past. There was, for example, the product idea they had a few years ago that would have revolutionized the industry. And he did when he finally came out, but not for them.

They had been too busy debating the pros and cons because he had asked them to collect more and more data until the competition finally brought a similar product to market months earlier than they did. If your goal is to revolutionize an industry, you better be first!

While coaching him, I found out what caused it: he made a mistake years ago and it cost him and his family a lot of money. He drew the wrong conclusions from this error. He thought he now had to analyze every bit of data available and collect 100% of the information before making a decision.

A few months into the coaching process, the CFO approached me and said, “Our president is more presidential now! ” “What do you mean?” I asked. “He makes quick decisions and he executes,” he replied.

Execution is king

In my work with Fortune 500 CEOs and celebrity entrepreneurs, including self-made billionaires, I have yet to meet someone who has analyzed 100% of all available information before making a decision and has been highly successful. You try to do that, you’re dead. And the company with you.

Due to our long history of success, we are in a privileged position to be able to select who we want to work with and also turn down clients. Why do we have a preference for clients who understand that execution is king?

Because they know which key variables to focus on and which essential information to analyze. And they make decisions quickly. This doesn’t mean they necessarily rush things or get careless. They simply know that 20% of the information available is the most essential.

The best business leaders also write down the assumptions and principles behind their decisions so they can later check and compare whether the results were successful. They act decisively because they know hesitation is the kiss of death.

Momentum leads to success

American General Norman Schwarzkopf once made an excellent comment that it is much easier to correct the course of action of an object that is already in motion than to set an object in motion by inertia. This applies to business more than anything else. You have to make decisions and take massive action. You can always correct your course, but you will have much more success if you move forward with maximum momentum.

As Henry Ford said, “Failure is simply an opportunity to start over, this time smarter.” Time is not your friend if you are caught up in inaction or afraid to act.

Challenges in an organization only grow over time. And many business opportunities have been lost by standing still.

Plans are just dreams without proper execution

My team and I were advising the German owners of a group of companies in the publishing sector. They had a leading position in the market but faced unforeseen enemies and urgent threats that could even become existential threats to the future of the group and its profitability. The owners had approached us to sustain their group, diversify risks and create strategies for rapid growth.

Once we created a clear roadmap for the next four to five years with their teams so they could meet their profit targets, we asked them if they needed any additional support in execution. because we had analyzed a clear flaw in their past ability to put plans into action.

They didn’t see the need for it. Talk about a classic case of an entrepreneurial blind spot. The negative consequences? They couldn’t organize fast enough, the owning family members were too slow in execution and caught off guard by changes in the economic and political environment that could have easily been avoided if the people at the top had a radical execution mindset.

Why the road to failure is lined with perfectionists

It’s because perfectionists don’t create success and sustainable growth. Nor is perfectionism the way you use market opportunities or develop new products or services before your competitors. The best recipe for success is not a great product; he’s the MVP.

What does that mean? In technology, a “minimum viable product” (MVP) is a product that does not yet have all the desired features but just enough features to become usable by early adopters who will then provide feedback. The company can then use this feedback to improve product development, and so the cycle continues. This results in a great performing product or service much faster than trying to create a “perfect” product or service from the start.

The market, i.e. your customers or customers, will tell you what to change or improve. The emphasis on publishing such MVPs allows the company to avoid unnecessary and costly work. Instead, success lies in responding to comments.

Fail Fast – solutions and action steps

“Fail fast” or “fail forward” are frequently used aphorisms in Silicon Valley. As Mark Zuckerberg said, “In a rapidly changing world, the only strategy that’s guaranteed to fail is not to take risks.”

What is at the heart of this concept of rapid failure?

1. You take massive action to achieve your goals.

2. You inevitably encounter obstacles along the way.

3. You make mistakes until you find a way around those obstacles.

4. You correct your action plan and continue to take massive action to achieve your goals.

6. You encounter new obstacles.

Then the cycle repeats. At the heart of this cycle: speed and focus on action and execution.

Ask yourself if something is “good enough”. Don’t ask if it’s perfect. If it passes the “good enough” test, run it. Focus on momentum and speed. Analyze the feedback you receive from the market, your customers and your customers, and improve.

The faster you move through this feedback loop, the faster you will achieve your goals because your rate of improvement will accelerate. INQ

Tom Oliver, a “global management guru” (Bloomberg), is the Chairman of the Tom Oliver Group, advisor and trusted advisor to many of the world’s most influential family businesses, mid-sized companies, market leaders and global conglomerates . For more information and inquiries: or by e-mail

[email protected]

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