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Every now and then, we have oil spillage by IOCs (International Oil Companies) around the world. The Niger Delta of Nigeria for years still remains a mess by Shell, ENI, TOTAL and Exxon’s consistent degradation of the environment. A few decades ago Arthur Andersen and Enron collectively committed accounting fraud that toppled some of its clients into bankruptcy. This led to thousands of job losses. However, Enron Houston-based energy company once considered a blue-chip stock, Enron shares dropped from $90 to $0.50, which spelt disaster in the financial world when thousands of employees and investors saw their savings vanish with the company as it filed for an earnings restatement in October 2001. From the same scandal, came the death of its financial advisory firm, Arthur Andersen too. Speaking of Arthur Andersen, this Chicago-based company voluntarily relinquished its licenses to practice as Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) in the USA due to the Enron accounting scandal. This was a blow, considering that it was one of the world’s top five accounting firms prior to the scandal. It resulted in the loss of 85,000 jobs and corporate re-branding. One of its responses to all that damage is the brand we today know as KPMG. For those with longer memories, the green and yellow sunburst of the BP logo will always be tainted by Deepwater. We have heard of the Enron Scandal (Enron was the “it” company at the turn of the century as it oozed with wealth, smarts, and power. Alicia Keys a few years ago was paid by Blackberry to be their creative director. She carelessly was busy promoting Blackberry on her tweets and mail. But the tweets showed that it was sent from iPhone! iPhone took advantage of that in return as their own promo! We see how perception management is key with the Soda wars. All Sodas are bad for your health, however, some are a better-tasting poison. Pepsi for example has consistently beaten coke in that perception game. It did beat Coke in the 80s blind taste challenge, though it has less sugar. That was a huge boost on its brand. Pepsi is generally perceived to be healthier, well, till Zero Coke recently was created in line with Diet Coke as a healthier option to knockout Pepsi! Like my friend will say, “the market is bisexual, anybody can blow!” From a Market leader like KFC, you can be reduced to Mr Biggs if you stay stale without stimulating our minds by communication and by optimizing feedback. Welcome to life, where tables turn. When you’re on top, the aerial view is the ‘wrongest’ view of the world. How could blackberry not sort out their Bold 5 hanging problems for years, and their battery life issues? How did they fall from being the inventors of smartphones and pop emails into not being mentioned on top apps? What did they do with all our feedback? Why did they not listen? As a businessman, you can’t develop your marketing strategy in isolation. Watch your competition, time, and market. Lookout for feedback, it’s the cheapest form of effective research. Never let a crisis go to waste, learn and make something from it. Currently, the Boeing brand is undergoing serious damages. The 737 Max plane crash crisis wiped more than $25 billion off Boeing’s market value. In just a few days. And they seem to be doing poorly at closing out loopholes fast.
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Excellence Is AttainableI remember one of my articles, here, was on Excellence. And I wrote of how very few firms in the world have reached Six Sigma certifications. In management, the highest level of excellence is measured mathematically through Six Sigma. Boeing was one of them. It’s the closest any firm can get to excellence. We owe most of the powerful breakthrough in aviation and aeronautics to them, actually. But excellence is just not perfection. Perfection is an infinite chase but excellence can be reached. But the trick is to aim for perfection and if you fail, you’d at least land on excellence. For times when we fail temporarily, which is part of life, it’s important to develop a template for damage control. Toyota and Lexus definitely have this. During the classic Lexus recall of the 90s, their corrective steps were legendary. Most recalls are handled by making an announcement to the press and mailing a notification letter to the car owners. Lexus, instead, called each owner individually on the telephone the day the recall was announced. When the owners picked up their cars at the dealership after the work was completed, each car had been washed and the tank filled with gas. If an owner lived more than a hundred miles from a dealership, the dealer sent a mechanic to his or her home. In one instance, a technician flew from Los Angeles to Anchorage to make the necessary repairs.
Too Much Excellence To Save Your Brand? I Don’t Think So!Was it necessary to go to such lengths? You could argue that Lexus overreacted. The problems with the car were relatively minor. And the number of cars involved in the recall – so soon after Lexus had entered the marketplace- was small. Lexus would seem to have had many opportunities to correct the damage. The key fact, though, was not the number of people affected by the recall but the kind of people affected by the recall. Who, after all, are the people willing to take a chance and buy a brand-new luxury model. Listen! Don’t be caught sleeping! We all make errors at times. An error does not become a mistake till you avoid correcting it. Like empires, people and brands fall and rise. Listen. Don’t be caught sleeping. Conflicts and damages are inevitable. Conflicts can be deep if not managed well. In the words of Chinua Achebe, “Things Fall Apart” then friends become foes. Watch your inner circle when in crisis. Former insiders fight the greatest wars. The worst kind of enemies comes from people who were once friends. The day in your organization or any system you become a leader, your primary responsibility also becomes managing communication, crisis, priority and people. Sometimes these variables diverge. Whether life or business, in a place of more than one, there will always be the incompatibility of goals. The dictionary calls this conflict. As you become more successful, those around you really don’t change, their masks just starts to fall off, people become more diplomatic, and everything becomes more political. As a CEO, understand that business is a subtle war. And war has a series of battles. Choose your battles carefully; learn to lose some battles so you can win the war. Avoid fights except when necessary. In the words of Aristotle, ‘It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it’. Don’t be too quick to lay blames, and even when giving feedback, the most important statement is “We are working on it”. We will always win and lose iteratively. Failure isn’t always an enemy but the down payment for school fees on how to succeed better next time when you learn from it. On the other hand, as you win, congratulations sometimes become the main enemy, “nice job” most times is the word you should be afraid of. Scary but I agree. Success is the greatest enemy of success. To me, success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking that they cannot lose. After you stand on your feet, stay on your toes. In the words of David Ben Gurion, It’s not enough to be up to date. You have to be up to tomorrow. As you grow, never outgrow feedback, it’s zero payment on research. Be a future manager for it is only he that sees the future that can seize the future. For what you currently do, what steps have you taken for the future? Featured Image Source: DiTech Media
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