“Weeding out the wankers” – Part 2

This book can be purchased at http://ijgbooks.com/weeding.html

Today I would like to finish my comments on Chapter one “Painting the Titanic”.

from_the_heartThis chapter is about what to watch for with respect to ineffective management. As a founder at Newbridge I watched the company grow from less than 100 people to thousands of people world wide. It wasn’t until the closing years of Newbridge that I started to see some of the things that Ibrahim is talking about in this chapter.

I have seen ineffective management in smaller companies, but it is harder to hide. In big companies managers can hide in plain site. The comic strip Dilbert grew out of the personal experiences of the author at a large telecom company on the US west coast.

For today’s quotes, lets consider:

On page 23 Ibrahim writes:

“They know things are in a downward spiral, but manage to convince themselves otherwise and embrace cosmetic change, which provides false hope and not fundamental change. In so doing, they are choosing to be lords of a crumbling empire.”

I can’t say that I have witnessed this in my career. I guess in smaller companies, when the empire starts to crumble, it completely collapses almost immediately. That does not mean that I have not seen people with really big ego’s who claim to not have egos. I have also witnessed managers that have one face for their management and a completely different face for piers and subordinates.

On page 30 Ibrahim writes:

“Corporations need realistic leaders in bad times, as people are inclined to rally around honesty and commonality of destinies in such times.”

I definitely agree with this statement and have witnessed the exact opposite. Too many times in my career I have watched managers contemplate who to lay off, when all they had to do was be honest with the staff and ask for across the board salary reductions. Offering stock or future compensation is usually all people need to jump on board. If a team doesn’t want to support it’s players, you have a much bigger problem.

On page 32 Ibrahim sums up the chapter with the following:

“The ability to prioritize, mobilize, build effective teams and be accountable is what makes a great leader.

So when the leadership team in bad times introduces a new process that does not improve the company’s competitive advantage in terms of product and services, they are wankers.

And when the leadership team presents a simple formula for recovery and success in a complex situation, they too are wankers. There are no easy solutions for complex problems.

When the leadership team is optimistic without having a realistic view and migration plans, they must be considered wankers.

When the leadership team is getting massive bonuses while your pay is being cut, chances are you are working for wankers.

Without a hint of doubt, when the leaders blame everyone but themselves for failures, they are textbook wankers.

When your leaders blame their leaders for unsound strategy and poor execution, you are truly beholden to wankers of the lowest order.”

Ibrahim pulls no punches with his summary. Oddly enough I recently read the financial statement for a local start-up where the managers gave themselves a significant raise even thought the company is struggling. I would have to say that massive increases are harder to hide and justify in smaller companies, but any increase should be tied to an increase in profits.

I have worked for people who practice the triple “D” (Deny, deflect, diversion) tactic. I think they would qualify as wankers. I have also worked on teams where the product direction was left up to internal people who had no concept for what the customer’s would use or buy. They and their managers could be labeled as wankers.

It is possible to be honest, have sound strategies and still fail. The ranks of the rich and famous are filled with people who have tried and failed. So long as you pick yourself up and try again, you are not a wanker.

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