“Weeding out the wankers” – Part 6

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

Today lets take a look at Chapter 5 “Lost in the translation”

from_the_heartThis chapter starts with a spoiler, “Strategy is critical.” Those three words are what the chapter is all about.

Everyone, at every level, must be aware of what the company is trying to do to develop products and services that meet a need. For most of my career this has indeed been the case and those companies were successful in one form or another.

Once again, there is a lot of good material in this chapter, including a really funny bit about taxes in Ottawa, that I leave for you to read. I would like to spend a minute however, talking about the concept of a farm team.

On page 73 Ibrahim writes:

“Our Telus CEO, Darren Entwistle, reminds us relentlessly of the importance of replenishing our critical resources and scarce skills. How True. Not doing so presents long term negative impacts to which corporations don’t pay enough attention. Those are the up-and-comers, the “farm teams” of expertise, and the “howto-build-the-next-generation” experts.”

In every company that I have been part of, we have set aside money to hire co-ops and to train the next generation on their summer breaks. I completely agree with this point and have witnessed the results first hand. The second generation that we trained during the early days of Newbridge, have become the current leaders and there are several other generations in the pipe line. What concerns me though is that the industry itself is changing and seems to be in decline.

I have BLOG’ed about how the excitement that I felt as a new grad in the early days of Mitel does not seem to be there any more. The Canadian communications industry has moved away from hardware development and become primarily a software and service industry. The supply chain has changed to follow demand and as a result, there are fewer and fewer hardware design specialists graduating from Canadian Universities.

Building a farm team is not about training the players to do what we are currently doing, but to do what we will need them to do in the future. This means that we have to think like practical and academic leaders. We have to anticipate what will be possible in 15 – 20 years so that we get the right mix of skills.

The communications industry is not going to go away, but it will change. As long as there are people, there will be a need to communicate. We have witnessed some pretty significant changes in our life times, but I would suggest to you that they are only the beginning. We need to focus more of our energy on research or we will become implementers not thought leaders.

And on that note, it’s time for Ibrahim’s summary:

“Someone has to map out trajectory or the strategy is a wanker.

Strategy is not only about building something, it is about operationalizing it and ensuring the benefits are fully realized. If not, this strategy too is a wanker.

An architect should understand the benefits as well as the implementation of a project. If otherwise, the architect is a wanker.

If you are told that something is strategic, ask yourself how that will transform into business as usual? If it is clear that it won’t work, then the project is a wanker.

If everybody is busy with strategic projects, and no new talent is being developed, the company is a wanker; its leaders are wankers, and the people who continue to work in such and environment are wankers for not leaving. “

And so ends chapter five.

This week has given us a good view of the first few chapters of Ibrahim’s book, but I think it’s time to give it a rest and move on to other issues. I may circle back to the book at some point in the future, but feel free to read ahead and to get your comments ready.

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