Recently I wrote a Views
on the topic of giving the respect to our brands that they deserve. It wasn't more than two days after sending the Views
out that in a conference call, I was involved in a discussion about what should and should not be said in a presentation I was about to give. The concern, at the time, was that we were to invoke the socially acceptable protocol where you don't say anything that will upset anyone, and you don't raise questions about the validity of research. You can offer suggestions about alternate ways of doing research but you were not to give any indication about why alternate ways should be explored and above all, not to question the status quo. QUESTION: "Should we not give our profession the same respect we expect management to give us?"
I was trained in a culture that constantly looked at how we might do a better job, in what way we might improve what we were doing, how or in what way could we take these improvements and do a better job and could this new learning lead to more corporate value?
In my academic culture, it was segmenting responsibilities into production, quality control, process development and products research. It is all about looking at what you do, how well you do it, how can it be improved and are there additional ways I can use my learnings and talents?
- If you don't understand your job, you can't improve it.
- If you don't look for weaknesses, you can't identify them.
- If you don't understand your weaknesses, you can't effectively correct them.
- If you can't correct them, you are doomed to the same failures.
I'm reminded of Colin Powell's lesson #1 in his Leadership Primer.
Lesson #1, of the 18 Lessons, states, "Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off."
Colin Powell goes on to describe this lesson by saying:
"Good leadership involves responsibility to the welfare of the group, which means that some people will get angry at your actions and decisions. It's inevitable, if you're honorable. Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity: You'll avoid tough decisions, you'll avoid confronting the people who need to be confronted and you'll avoid offering differential rewards based on differential performance because some people might get upset. Ironically, by procrastinating on the difficult choices, by trying not to get anyone mad and by treating everyone equally "nicely" regardless of their contributions, you'll simply ensure that the only people you'll wind up angering are the most creative and productive people in the organization."
I highly recommend Oren Harai's book The Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell.
Another of Powell's Lessons that I am particularly fond of is Lesson #7 where he calls the slogan "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" as a slogan of the complacent, the arrogant or the scared. From my perspective, nothing is perfect, thereby everything is broke in some way and can be improved. It is just a matter of determining if it is worth improving.
Back to the presentation I was to give. After a week of discussion, the symposium was canceled
Sponsor: Sorensen Associates Inc Portland, OR 800.542.4321 Minneapolis, MN 888.616.0123
The In-Store Research Company -- Dedicated to the relentless pursuit of -- Why?