Universal Constants of Business Leadership

Philip Kotler is a world renowned Marketing Guru. He once visited India long back and while addressing the CEOs of the Corporate World said that there are three universal constants of Business Leadership. Whether you sell any product or service and in any part of the globe these three remain eternally constant. These three according to him are: Change, Adapt and Compete. According to him these three remain constant irrespective of what product or service we sell and in any part of the globe. In other words these three are independent of the place and the product. This seemed to be true till date for all organizations. But can this hold good forever? Can this stand the test of time? Can this be Universal? Can this be eternal? I have my own apprehensions. Times are changing. Places are changing. Products are changing. Services are changing. Values are changing. The whole world is moving towards globalization. The boundaries between the organizations and nations are fast dissolving and the whole world is becoming one common market place. The advent of the new technology is bridging this gap. The technology is fast becoming an enabler of strategic inflection points and bringing a fundamental change in businesses and economies. The whole world is becoming one common market place with no boundaries. The whole world is becoming a common market place with common rules and common boundaries. New global organizations are fast emerging. People are becoming multi-skilling and multi-tasking. Organizations are becoming cross-cultural and multicultural. The whole world is talking about net the neutral. The internet is fast changing into an inter-web. It seems we are into a great transition and a great shift. 

Let us introspect on these three constants and see what did they mean to the old organizations and the old people till date. Can they really carry the same old meaning to the new organizations and its new people? Can these three serve as de facto values of the future organizations? Let us take on these values one by one. What do you mean by a change? Everything is changing except the change itself. We can't stop this change but can become part of this change. We can become change agents of this change. Once upon a time there were kings and kingdoms. Today there are no kingdoms but only nations. It was monarchy in the past and today it is democracy. It was the king in the past and today it is the people. When the power is with the people it is called distributed leadership. This is empowerment. All nations are moving towards 'One World' and 'One Religion'. Democracy is slowly moving towards Meritocracy. Today we have Nations, Fortune 500 Companies and CEOs and one common system to take care of all this and that is the rule of law and democracy. Transparency and good governance are becoming the new values. You can force change on products and services. This may be there in our hands to a greater extent. Mechanical change can be forced to a greater extent. But can we change people? What about changing the people? Can we force change on people? Biological and psychological change can not be forced. The psychologists and human resource experts all over the world are of this view that change can not be forced on people. We can never force change on people. We can at the most motivate them. But motivation is a huge cost. It is an HR issue. It is a big maintenance on the part of the HR department and the organization. A guy who is motivated can also become demotivated. Motivation is a poor HR practice and it is very costly too. Motivation is an external stimuli. It is an external influence. But inspiration is possible. This is an internal influence. It is an internal phenomenon. It is like the blossoming of a flower. A slightest external influence can become a big hurdle in the blooming of a flower. It can become a bottleneck in its natural growth. All training is nurturing the nature. We can not add anything to nature. We can not teach nature. We can only learn from the nature. Nature has always been the greatest teacher. Habit is better than no-habit. A good habit is better than a bad habit. But true nature is better than any habit. The blooming of a flower is not its habit. The fragrance of a flower is not its habit. The blooming of a flower is its nature. The fragrance is its by-product. The whole phenomenon is nature's nature. Good habits may take us to effectiveness. But what about effectiveness to greatness? Greatness is not a habit. Greatness can not be a habit. All greatness is gracefulness. Motivated change is not a true change. Forced change is not a true change. It can breed and create a culture of sycophancy. This kind of culture may result in the stagnancy of an organization and its ultimate death. Andrew S. Grove, Intel Co-founder is very right when he says that the business success contains the seeds of its own destruction. He says, "Only the paranoid survive". This will be the result of that culture. Change is for real growth. Change is to know our true nature. All change is eternal. Understand and accept change. But please don't stop change. Change should become a growth. Change should not become a dead-end. 

US threatens to give up consensus route on Climate Change

US has come out in the open threatening to break away from the consensus route and try to seal a climate deal outside the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC). US deputy special envoy for climate change Jonathan Pershing has made it very clear that US will not use the process of UN negotiations to move forward on the climate change. It is heard that US and other rich countries together are going to sign a separate agreement outside the UN convention on climate change. US and these countries are not agreeing on the emission reduction targets. This is also to be noted that the basic four that is China, India, Brazil and south Africa have distanced themselves from the Copenhagen Accord. But this open threat by the US to break away from the consensus route, which is mandatory in the UN process, is pointing towards a greater rift between the developed and poor countries. TOI News
The next constant is being Adaptive. Adaptive means being in flow with change. It is changing with the changing needs of time. If the change is moving towards good then we can adapt to that change. It is being in tune with nature. It is moving in the flow of growth. It is moving with change and not going against change. It is moving with the natural flow and not going against it. But this has been misunderstood. Darwin says, "Survival of the fittest". Where are the Dinosaurs today? They have become extinct. What about the tigers? They are on the verge of extinction. Survival of the fittest, survival of the strongest, survival of the swiftest and survival of the flexible. All these have proven to be wrong ultimately. It is ultimately survival of the wisest. Some lizards in the jungle are more adaptive. They change their colors with the change of season. The cockroaches are the most adaptive. It said that in the event of a nuclear explosion the last species to survive are the cockroaches. So adaptability can become a cockroach mentality. Look at the GDP growth and the environmental degradation. GDP growth can not be at the cost of our ecosystem. Economy and environment are not two different things. They are interconnected somewhere and are inseparable. They are not independent of each other. They are dependent on each other. They are two inseparable twins. If the focus is only on one, the other suffers as a consequence. If only the economy grows and the environment deteriorates then it is not a real growth. Growth has to be inclusive and comprehensive. Growth has to be organic and not synthetic. If all change is not for creation and all change is not for celebration then all that change is meaningless. We need to create technologies that are environment friendly. We need to create technologies that are organic and enhance the nature. We need to create technologies that are carbon free. We need to create businesses that support these causes. Only these businesses will sustain for long. Any organization that is built on the foundations of a wrong philosophy will die sooner or later. It will not stand the test of time. All our creation should give us joy. All our creation should create harmony. We all say do more with less in the corporate parlance. What more will we do when the ozone layers are depleting? What more will we do when the oxygen that we inhale is becoming impure day by day? What more will we do when the pure drinking waters are becoming contaminated and the ground water beds are fast depleting? Some scientists are of this view that if the third world war happens it will be for water. Water is the next and best fuel. Burning of Hydrogen is the next best fuel. It is the most environment friendly fuel. If water becomes the input for fuel tomorrow, will we get water to drink? I have my own doubts. Look at the devastating effects of climate change and global warming on our environment. The whole economy, GDP, production, productivity and performance is based on an economic principle called Production Possibility Frontier (PPF). It talks about a point of maximum output. Just imagine a situation where our life is our factory. In that factory called life we have two products to be manufactured that is economy and environment. Plot these two products on the graph, one on the X-axis and the other on the Y-axis and try to find out the point of maximum output. If you want more economic growth the environment will suffer. If you want a better environment the so called economy will suffer. Let us extend the same principle to another situation. In this situation let the two products be our Health and our Wealth. Let us plot these two products on X and Y axis of the same graph. Let us find out the point of optimum output. If we want to maximize the value of any one then the other suffers. If only wealth is maximized, the health suffers. Take another case. Let the two products be Materialism and Spiritualism. Plot these on the two sides. By maximizing any one the other suffers as a consequence. That is why when somebody is not feeling well, we ask what is the matter? What is concerning the mind? What is bothering the mind? We sometimes say mind over matter. It is really not clear whether it is mind over matter or matter over mind. We need to understand very clearly what is the object of our subject? And what is the subject of our object? Matter and mind are not two different things. Now let us find out in each case what is the point of maximum output on the graph? And remember when it comes to our life and growth that point has to be the point of inflection and not deflection. We all need to find out that point of maximum output at an individual and collective level. This has to be the point of optimum growth both at the level of individuals and also collectively at the level of the whole society at large. What a mind boggling puzzle? It appears to be like a Zen Koan for the economists, technologists and environmentalists. We all need to find out that balance. The perfect balance between these three that is the economy, technology and environment is the point of maximum output and growth. Business, economy and technology must enhance nature and not degrade nature. All balance is nature. All change is for that balance. All creation is for that balance. And all creation has to be a celebration. 

The third constant is competition. All competition is ugly and ultimately gives rise to a red ocean. By means of all competition we are only creating red oceans and the creation of blue oceans is becoming a far and distant dream. All blue oceans are turning into red oceans eventually by the forces of competition. If the force of competition is strong the force of co-operation becomes feeble. If the force of co-operation becomes stronger, the force of competition withers away. Just look at the philosophy of Intel. Just to be far away from the competition it has to kill its own product. It has to make its own earlier technology obsolete. The biggest limitation of Moore's Law is obsolescence. The greatest advantage of Moore's law is that the power of a processor doubles every six months while its price is halved. It seems that one day the potato chip will be more costlier that the Intel chip. Whether the Moore's law comes to a dead-end or not the prices of Intel chips will come down over a period of time and the prices of potato chips will continually grow. If one wants to have a fab like Intel to compete with them the minimum investment is $30 billions. Is it really worth? Only Intel knows this or Moore knows this. Apple and Google are thought to be the most innovative companies today. Apple Chief Steve Jobs and Microsoft Chief Bill Gates were being interviewed. There are seven videos of this conversation on the Youtube. Steve Jobs had never considered Microsoft as their competitor. Before Steve Jobs second innings, Apple people were thinking Microsoft as their competitor. This thought was deeply rooted in the minds of Apple employees. This required a paradigm shift. Steve Jobs made it very clear to the Apple Board that he will not join the company unless their people make this mind shift. It required a great change to do this. This is how they have come out with such revolutionary products. iPad and iPhone have become revolutionary gadgets. This was absolutely the power of their creation and innovation and not competition. Competition is an old adage. It is for the old and not for the new. Creation and innovation is the new name and new mantra. Look at Google and Apple today. Where are they today? And where is Microsoft and IBM? When it comes to the electronic gadgets and transmission of information through them we have crossed the two barriers, that is linear and binary. That is we have broken the analog and digital barriers. That is how we are in the digital world today. But we are yet to break the quantum barrier. Let us assume that the quantum barrier is broken by an unknown player or entity. What will happen to Intel then? Where will it stand? There is every possibility. The whole silicon valley may become a quantum valley tomorrow. It is said that even the game there is like a one day cricket. Nobody can predict who will be the ultimate winner and who will be the ultimate loser. When will we live if all competition is only for survival? And when will we celebrate if all competition is only for a rat race? Competition creates red oceans. Creation and innovation give birth to blue oceans. Competition is for the past. Creation and innovation is for the present and the future. To fight the monopoly and onslaught of the big companies new changes are being experimented world over. Things are being worked out on a co-operative and community framework. Big communities are being created for software development. Small groups are coming together to form a big group. Businesses are trying to work on a large scale co-operative movement. But in all these ways of working celebration has to be a common theme. 

We can make a lot of difference when we start thinking that we are not only a part of the problem but we are a part of the solution too. Physical revolution may lead us to meta-physical revolution. But biological revolution must lead us to meta-biological, psychological and spiritual revolution. Jonas Salk says, "Survival of the wisest". That is what Deepak Chopra is also saying it in the west today. Probably Buddha might have said it long back when he said to Ananda, "Appo Deepo Bhava, that is, be a light unto yourself". We are all made up of two energies the yin and the yang. Not only we but the whole existence is made up of these two energies. Actually according to the Chinese mythology the whole existence is made of one single energy called 'Chi'. And this one single energy manifests in its two visible forms called the yin and the yang. When yin fights with yang it is ill-health. When yang fights with yin it is again indicative of ill-health. When these two are co-operative, friendly and in sync with each other and become one, it is a state of optimum health. The balance of these two and the symphony of these two is a state of immense joy, ecstasy and celebration. 

To me the three things that will eternally remain the constants of any business leadership are: Change, Create and Celebrate. All organizations in the present and in the future will have to be designed keeping this theme in mind. This is a gigantic task before the HR experts and the psychologists who are working in bringing change in the people and in the organizations. Andrew Grove, former CEO of Intel, says, "Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive".