The 2016 Sabbatical: Why We Should All Take a Month Off

Tomorrow, October 10, officially begins my 2016 sabbatical. There won’t be frequent replies on email/whatsapp/viber/sms/fbmess for a month (with the certain exception for urgency basis).

Instead of normal daily routine, I’ll be spending time taking long walks, taking even longer notes, meeting with long-time-have-not-catch-up-friends, and creating a plan to answer this question:

“What is going to make Myself and My Team greater in 2017?”

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Build an Organization That’s Less Busy and More Strategic

Working with the top executives at a company, let’s say, Titan (which designs and makes transit concrete mixers), I noticed that they were flat-out busy doing everything except thinking about strategy. They were keeping a close watch on factory operations, tracking production targets, handling problems with staffing and equipment, and even getting involved in administrative tasks like supplying quotes and checking that all the invoicing had been done. And that set the pace for everyone else in the organization. Employees took few breaks. Many of them worked 12-hour days.

The trouble is, all this hasn’t improved performance. In fact, Titan isn’t doing very well financially, with customers slow to pay, creditors chasing their money, the bank overdraft growing, and profits in decline. When I took a look at its 13-page strategic plan, I could see why.

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Customers Are Better Strategists Than Managers

(by Graham Kenny – founder of Strategic Factors)

I was once appointed CEO of a company in need of a turnaround. We made trusses and frames for houses, and one morning, after I’d been on the job about three months, I found myself staring out my window, watching the trucks and forklifts below. I thought: What am I doing here? Can I, on the fingers of one hand, list the ingredients of success in this industry?

In the weeks and months that followed, the senior management team and I made a number of major decisions about the company’s future.  As a team, I observed, we were busy doing things and making changes, all of which made sense to us as managers.  But as time progressed, I returned to these questions, over and over: How well do we know what our customers want? How well do we know what our suppliers and employees expect? What would it take to meet those needs better than our competitors could?

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What Only the CEO Can Do

(by Alan George “A.G.” Lafley – executive chairman of Procter & Gamble)

I became Procter & Gamble’s CEO in June 2000, in the midst of a crisis. On March 7 of that year the company had announced that it would not meet its projected third-quarter earnings, and the stock price plummeted from $86 to $60 in one day, leading the Dow Jones Industrial Average to a 374-point decline.

The price dropped another 11% during the week my appointment was announced. A number of factors had contributed to the mess we were in, chief among them an overly ambitious organizational transformation in which we tried to change too much too fast and which distracted us from running the everyday business with excellence. But our biggest problem in the summer of 2000 was not the loss of $85 billion in market capitalization. It was a crisis of confidence. Many of P&G’s leaders had retreated to their bunkers. Business units were blaming headquarters for poor results, and headquarters was blaming the units. Investors and financial analysts were surprised and angry. Employees were calling for heads to roll. Retirees, whose profit-sharing nest eggs had been cut in half, were even angrier.

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