My elephant here is my current company, which is a well-known Information Technology company in Vietnam. I intend to use the word ” leading Information Technology” but I myself do think that “well-known” is more suitable. Not far away from now, my elephant was just a little Deer and it danced very well, but one day the become very big like an elephant and seem it can’t dance right now.
I learn to use the image “dancing elephant” from Nua Gerstner, CEO of IBM in critical period from 1993 to 2002. He was the person who could teach the IBM, an elephant in computer technology in that time, danced again. In this moment, my company is also a “Elephant” in Vietnam, and it now needs an elephant’s teacher :D.
Why we got into stuck?
Each people have each point of view about the original reason that make the company like an elephant that can’t dance like it did before. I also have one for sure. I see that my company in the Transforming period. In there, some of people didn’t aware about that change; a few people aware the change, but didn’t know how to deal with it; others have some programs to solve the problems but they didn’t work.
Take a look to the following revolution:
From my understanding, my company is changing from sale-oriented to customer-oriented. But almost no one can lead us to make a resolution. In other words, we can’t answer the big question “How to change to reach the customer-oriented company?”.
It’s quite certain that when you don’t know what you should do, but you just want to go head like a blind man with a stick walks in street, you will get into stuck.
What are our troubles?
Looking back to what IBM had to deal with in the time of 1993 is quite similar to my company situation:
1. The internal communication is bad, many people just “sit-and-watch“, not many people say “what they can do” and “do as they said” :D.
2. We also meet the “success syndrome“. The more successful enterprises are the more they try to replicate, duplicate, codify what makes us great. And suddenly they’re inward thinking. They’re thinking how can we continue to do what we’ve done in the past without understanding that what made them successful is to take risks, to change and to adapt and to be responsive. And so in a sense success breeds its own failure. In the company like us, many high-level managers still stay on cloud by what they did successful in the past. They didn’t spend their time in seeing how the market is changing; in working to make profit, but use their time in watching the stock charts.
3. We also got the problem with the business model. In those previous days, IBM got in stuck when they changed from Sale-Oriented to Customer-Oriented. That is the same with my company. From my understanding, a few executive managers were aware of the changing from the Sale-Oriented model to Customer-Oriented model in the world and trying to do so. However, from my point of view, they don’t know how to do that. In other word, we don’t have a consistent strategy.
4. Low response to cross-unit issues.
5. In what IBM had met in the transitional time and we are the same is “The Basic Beliefs”. One of the most important Belief and become the culture of IBM was “Superior customer service”. When they put the customer in the center of their business. They were very good on that. However, the way they did it in 60s, 70s was totally different compare with 90s. In 60s, 70s “customer service” mean you should concentrate in building relationship with decision-makers more than the quality of service you delivery to customers and make the customer satisfy which is the core value in 90s of American and 2000s in Vietnam.
What are the lessons learned from IBM?
Focus. To turnaround IBM have focused in some specific areas. They pay more attentions in developing software and service. They sole out some parts of their business (ex: they sole PC & Laptop for Levono) which they didn’t think that it would make more money than the new orientations like software & service.
They also focused more in customer needs. They had invited some key customers to visit their plant, to join to the Board of Managers (BOM) to talk before the BOM their needs.
Execution. Make a personal commitment to leading each departments and the company. Forget about our past success. Just do it.
“True leadership — the kind that makes companies special, that can turn them around, that can make elephants dance — requires commitment, determination and passion for life, for business and for winning.?”
We need a new kind of leadership :). such as a COO to reconstruct the organization and re-engineering the internal processes.