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Politics And Management

Imagine a meeting at Apple HQ many years ago. Let’s say in the 1980s.

Steve Jobs is chairing the meeting. They are discussing the colour of their planned laptops. Most laptops at that time were black and someone suggested they go with white. A heated debate ensued and finally someone, say Steve, decided that it would be white. Everyone signed off and the meeting ended.

One of the people at the meeting though felt slighted/ignored/unhappy..whatever about the decision. So he starts a rumour amongst a few staff members that as everyone in the meeting was white it was but natural that they would decide to pick white as the colour of their first laptop. Clearly the decision was meant to be an insult against the blacks of the company, indeed America.

Before you knew it there were protest marches at the campus and local politicians got involved. Seeing the blacks go up in arms, the whites followed too saying that the blacks were too sensitive etc. Trouble all around.
Finally, as a means to defuse the crisis Apple agreed to launch their laptops in grey to keep both factions happy.
Imagine that scenario.
Imagine, because that did not happen.
And usually does not happen.

There’s something called collective responsibility. And that implies not just responsibility to each other, but to the company too.
I thought of this looking at the state of Politics in many parts of the world.

The US which is the beacon of democracy has recently displayed signs of the above sort of behavior. Used to be that after the elections the two parties would come together to work towards the benefit of the country. Debates in the Senate or the House for sure. But once agreed, it was executed. Then someone decided they didn’t like what was going on, so they went out and started stirring up trouble amongst the population. And now everything is a gridlock. No one really cares about the ‘bottom line’ or ‘reputation’. It’s mostly about ‘not giving in’.

Closer home in India it is a frequent occurrence. Here there are enough issues around to create trouble. Religion and caste have always been hot topics to go out and create agitations amongst the people. When you strike that close to people’s beliefs and emotions there is only one possible outcome. Yet the politicians don’t really care as their objective is to win the election and not really building the India brand.

And then thinking of Singapore, now home, which has been the ultimate example of politics run as a corporation. There was one party made of extremely bright honest people who ran the place very successfully and built a very rich, profitable brand. (I would argue it could rival the Apple brand story!). The last elections threw up some opposition candidates who performed reasonably well. While the on-line chatter was overwhelmingly anti the ruling party, they still did not inflict a huge change in the hustings. And now we are at The Presidential Elections ( I don’t understand why you would go out to the people again to vote for someone who has limited constitutional powers. Don’t think it happens in any other country). Eager to be seen as not a ‘rubber stamp’ they are mostly going about saying how they will use their veto power, or demand the govt to do X, or reject Y. It worries me because I don’t hear how they will protect and build the brand Singapore

Building anything be it a brand, a company or a nation requires partnerships amongst the stakeholders. It requires leadership that can define a vision.

The short termism of winning a poll by dividing has never and can never achieve the same goal.

Perhaps, that is the difference between management and politics.
I wish more politicians were good managers!

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. jayanth
    August 24, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Building anything be it a brand, a company or a nation requires partnerships amongst the stakeholders. It requires leadership that can define a vision.

    The short termism of winning a poll by dividing has never and can never achieve the same goal—————- very true HV

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