From a humble start as an insurance salesman to managing change and shutting down factories in Asia Pacific as a regional vice president for a leading multinational, it has been an interesting, eventful journey. My professional career has been enriched by having been given the chance to diversify within a larger field rather than specialise in a smaller one. While I still consider myself a marketing communications professional, I temper that with being pragmatic about the real world of business - marketing is nothing without understanding profitability, knowing how to sell, inspiring leadership, building relationship and, above all, keeping ‘True North’ well in mind.

Whether moulding a team, leading a company or implementing a strategy it has become increasingly important to meld different disciplines in varying quantities towards achieving a clear, unquestioned and sustainable objective that is tangible.That actually is not as straightforward as it might initially appear as too often the objective to be achieved is neither thought through properly nor communicated clearly and sometimes at risk of both. Even worse, I have encountered several situations when the objective is clouded over and forgotten, the goal no longer tangible or credible and hence the strategy dooned to failure.

Be it personal or professional I take it seriously to spend time, effort and precious thought on the objective:

  1. What is it?
  2. Does it make sense?
  3. Is it credible?
  4. Is it tangibly sustainable?
  5. Can it be explained clearly and memorably?

The ‘Marketing Man’ in me would concern himself primarily with (1) and (2), with the effort placed on (5). The action oriented ‘Salesman’ would focus on (2) while the ‘HR executive’ will be looking at (3) and (5). Let’s face it…that is what makes a team a functional unit. And while I agree with that fact, I also seek to search for a holistic approach, looking at all aspects together, from the start to the end, ensuring the issue is addressed and solved by looking at all facets, yet keeping the objective clear, uncluttered and memorably credible.

My point here is that there are way too many corporations, certainly those with which I have been engaged as a consultant or an employee, who look at one side of a problem or an issue without taking note of the whole picture. The ‘Big Picture’ is at risk of fading out all together or just becoming a collection of much smaller, less coherent pictures that are forced together.

All very well…but how does this all really translate in the real world?  Let me explain, hopefully, by touching on an example that we see all too often and which encompasses a basic principle.

Feeling the intense pressure of competition, a still profitable company decides to reorganise, promoting senior financial executives to managing directors and presidents, with the aim of cutting costs and increasing profits. At the same time pure sales executives are similary bumped up to sell in the company’s new ‘competitiveness’ drive. Little thought is given to the morale, the decreased drive and passion or the dissapointment of so many in that organisation that have made success an everyday term. Has the objective really been thought through? Is it really credible? Can it be exlained long term? Probably not.

Moreover, with such brittle thought given to the objective, reorganisation and change is no longer a strategy to achieve an end but rather a tactic that serves as a means to organised chaos, dithering progress and crumbling foundation.

I believe that the more senior a professional is, the more need there is to be diversified in their thoughts and experience and more focused on the objective. Steve Jobs may not have been the easiest of people to work with, but he did recognise how important it was to develop a vision based on a single-minded objective - and he did it well and in record time.

Many believe that a company’s purpose is to make a profit. This basic mindset is flawed becuase it focuses on the ‘here and now’, essentially obscuring an achievable objective. It lacks a sustainable anchor and dismisses a long term consequence. A company’s purpose surely must be about to offering and selling its products and services to the best of its ability, satisfying its target market better than its competitors. The result is making profit…sustainably.

Yes, cutting cost is important, but not at the detriment of all else. It is one factor, but does it take the overall into consideration?

Objectives are far too easily conjured up rather than considered. Placing importance on the bottom line alone can achieve an objective - that one is easy - but increasing effective, competitve behaviour can also achieve that very same objective, albeit with a bit more patience. Putting all this together takes salesmanship, calculated thought, analytical process, inspirational leadership and a high degree of creativity.

As a senior manager, with a marketing communiactions background, I place emphasis on thinking problems though, challenging the obvious and choosing the path of least resistance while balancing the needs of ‘here and now’ with the benefits of a solid future platform.     © Desmond Joseph 2014