Thought for the month - September 2012

No hiding place

It is quite common for Managing Directors to invite you into their business to improve both sales and profit.... until they find out what they personally need to do to enhance business performance.

Paula asked me in to her organisation for just that reason. As a national vegetarian food distributor it was increasingly hard to deliver certain outcomes with both key income streams and certain gross margins in decline. As usual we started our work with the Senior Management Team and it required a level of openness and honesty to actually agree what the Bull's Eye for this client was to be for the next three years.

During early discussions it was already clear that some directors had different ideas from each other about the best way forward. So I invited them to tell me who had personal responsibility for each of the eight segments on the Kidson Diagnostic Wheel. Again there was disagreement and lack of clarity.

Without any director appraisals no one knew what they needed to do either individually or collectively to change the business model. The upshot was that I chose to appraise each of the directors in turn, at the same time in order to determine exactly who did what. On the due date for the work the MD not only refused to agree that she had any development points but then promptly invited me to leave the building.

The problem for Paula is that the work we have already done in the space of two half days has exposed the fault lines in her own leadership and management style. She can now deny it, she can cover it up or she can try to forget it, but the fact is that the jugular issues we uncovered will not go away, and they could well get worse.

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