Sunday, 18 June 2017

Business Practices Learning From Political Process

The short termism of Politics is blamed on the instantaneous or 24-hour nature of the news cycle. A secondary factor is social media while the regularity of opinion polls and a need to be popular drives many decisions.

We see election campaigns that appear to be a ‘race to the bottom’. Rather than outlining a clear policy position backed by a strategy to execute such policies, our Political leaders defer to criticism, and personal attack.

It is harder to put up a Policy Position of substance based on belief because this takes time and communication skills to explain to the electorate, and the accountability that comes with delivery.

I can hardly recall a comprehensive policy position put forward by an Australian Political leader in 10 years. I can certainly recall 3 word slogans and never to be delivered almost trivial things like a national fuel price monitoring plan. Popularist Policies prevail, requiring little conviction and no need to deliver, let alone being accountable for.

And when a dip takes place in an opinion poll, it is out with the old and in with the new.

All this has educated an electorate to be cynical, volatile and disillusioned. Political Parties once enjoyed strong numbers of loyal, committed, believing supporters. People who will trust the party year in year out because there is a long-term consistent belief based plan, referenced constantly and has visable actions underpining the plan.

There are fewer and fewer “rusted on” followers of Political Parties resulting in more swinging voters and a more volatile, less predictable electorate.

I wonder if business is going the way of Politics, or is in danger of doing so.

How often do we see a repeating cycle of shedding staff and then employing equal numbers in similar roles? Surely, if there was true commitment to a genuine plan, short termism would be avoided.

We see many plans announced by ‘Corporates’ and ‘Not for Profits’. These are regularly 5 year plans, as if 5 years is long term.

However, how often do we see the detail of the plan followed, executed and accounted for?

All too often panic prevails and instead of staying firm to a plan that was (allegedly) believed in, it is cast aside and a new mantra outlined starting yet another cycle. I am not saying a Business Plan should not be tweaked, but if it was based on sound and educated assumptions in the first place, it is unlikely the market place has changed so radically and unexpectedly as to warrant radical overall. Perhaps senior executives are really hiding behind a cloak of insecurity.

In Business as in Politics, perhaps increasingly the art of convenience is practiced with more skill and belief than the practice of conviction and commitment.

It may be an extreme case, but I am aware of one organisation announcing a changed strategy and structure in September 2016 and appointing Management and Staff accordingly, who this month announced a new structure and redundancies for some of those who took up new roles some 7 months prior.

And as for those people made redundant, all too often within days, and sometimes hours of redundancies being made public, the people being ‘let go’ receive hard offers of employment with competitors, often with improved conditions.

It all seems a little crazy, and ever so wasteful – In Politics and in Business.

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