In the (sc.African) bush, Chief Shillingi talked about his life. It was a bloodbath all the way through: attacking other tribes, getting attacked by elephants and terrorising the wildlife. Four years of drought had killed most of the wildlife and his tribe faced starvation. So they decided the only way to survive was to move from killing animals to farming tourists: they had to look after the wild animals so that the tourists can shoot them, with their cameras. As changes in corporate strategy go, that is about as radical as they come.
Most organisations fail because they cannot change fast enough… The larger and more successful a company becomes, the harder it is to change. Successful firms become prisoners of their own success: they develop a business model that works, and if they are sensible, they will keep on refining and improving it.
As with firms, so with leaders. The more successful a leader becomes, the more set in their ways they become….These leaders succeed as long as the world does not change too much. If the word changes, they suddenly look very exposed. These leaders are easy: they are focussed on one way of working. Their leadership style has changed very little as their taste in films or music: they will hark back to the good old days. If you go down this route, be sure to find the context that fits your style and hope it will last until your retire.
The Romans governed their Empire successfully because they had something more powerful than communications, technology and sophisticated accounting packages. They had trust. The main players in the Empire grew up together and were educated together. They had common values and a common outlook. The same formula has been true of all old empires from the Ottomans to the British. They were ruled by a narrow elite which were able to trust each other… The world of hyper-information has become the world of hyper- control. We now know more about each individual and each operation than the greatest dictators and control freaks of the past could ever have dreamed about. What we gain in control. We lose in terms of individual initiative, trust and accountability…..