Confronting Reality

I just bought Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan’s new book “Confronting Reality.” 800CEOREAD Blog has interviews [1 2] with the authors. Excerpts:

Charan: we have significant change underway. There are periods, such as now, where you have unidirectional change. Everything is changing. Starting in March 2000 when the Federal Reserve began to change high interest rates, combined with the dotcom era and other key factures you are seeing a stretch period starting then and now with a different kind of a change. And business leaders have to anticipate and perceive the nature of this change, and then either take advantage of this dynamic or adapt to it. We are trying to stimulate this fundamental skill in every manager. In the past you had most people just saying that change is everywhere. This was largely exhortations on their part. In our book we take you through the nature of change in a granular way and give you hooks to dissect this change. We dont just say that significant change is upon us. We tell you what needs to be done about itand that is to confront reality,

Confronting reality means recognizing new opportunities or an extreme threat to the business you are in. One such opportunity is iPod. The music industry faced issues such as piracy. And Steve Jobs took a hard look at this and created an industry from it. Another extreme involves the company Thomson, which realized that its core business, the paper industry, was less attractive than it had been in the past, and so it sold out at the peak of the market. This enabled the company to transform itself and in the process double sales and growth.

Bossidy: I dont think this book is about change. The principle message is to try to take a realistic standing of where you are. We provide a business model, which, if applied correctly, gives people a standing of where they are as a business. Look at the business envirronment, the people, the strategy. If you are honest in assessing these characteristics you can get a pretty good handle on where you areand understand whether you have to change or not. There are many people who change simply for the sake of change. We argue that it is as important to not change as it is to change. Developing this realistic assessment of where you are gives you choices and options.

Bossidy: There seems to be a certain type of person who is more suited to confront reality. They have courage, can contain their ego, be capable of dealing with failure, and are willing to grow themselves and change. People who have been successful with one model and insists on staying with the same model will not be successful in the next decade. The trick is to stick to the same principles and values while changing strategies and operations according to the demands of different business environment. You must be adaptable and light on your feet. Those who are defensive and internally protective will have the most trouble in the next decade. internally will have the most troubles in the next decadewill have the most trouble.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.