THE JUGGLING ACT OF MANAGING A COMPANY
Have you watched an experienced juggler at the carnival? He juggles several objects in the air, ranging from simple balls and bats to dangerous fire spitting torches and sharp knives. An awe-inspiring juggling performance involves years of strenuous practice, meticulous planning, precise flow and rhythm, and an incredible presence of mind. A juggler never wings it.
In many respects, running and growing a company, such that it constantly pushes the envelope, is no less challenging than an elaborate and risky juggling act. Great managers never wing it. They pay meticulous attention to every aspect of the business. Planning diligently, ensuring rhythm and resonance in the organization to deliver top performance, driving progress and vigilantly guarding against missteps.
Dropping the Ball
When they are not on the top of their game, or take things for granted, even the most experienced executives drop the ball... or the knife. Many mistakenly believe, because they have been successful so far, they will be successful in the future. They try to wing it, overconfident in their abilities to manage the organization. Juggling balls and bats is quite different than juggling knives.
“Managers must employ a well-thought-out systematic method.”
A juggler never takes for granted any object he throws up in the air. Managers must develop the same level of respect for strategic aspects that they may have overlooked or underserved. A good example is culture. In most companies, culture develops by default, without regard to the strategic imperatives of the company. An effective manager pays careful attention to make sure the culture matches the stated values of the company.
A juggler has a diligent method. He precisely positions the objects he will use during the act. He understands the sequence and the rhythm. Managers must understand the "beat" of their organization. Take the example of goal setting. Some companies like to set overly aggressive goals. As a result, the organization falls short, and in spite of significant progress feels it has failed. On the other end, some companies set goals that are too easy to achieve, or are not meaningful. Goals must be set with the right intensity. Then the organization can strive hard, achieve the goals, feel good, and in the next cycle tackle higher-level goals. A few cycles of successfully executing the right intensity goals would create a good rhythm which would propel the organization strongly.
Systematic Management Method
Many executives, often, do not follow a systematic management method. They manage from the seat of their pants, but fail to realize it. Some do use a management system, but rarely question how proficient their method is in addressing all the strategic and management needs of the organization. Managers must recognize the limitations of the human mind. A person can only manage so much from their head. Managers must employ a well-thought-out structured method, and importantly, articulate and explain that method. Then the organization will appreciate the business drivers and issues, and contribute at a strategic level, as opposed to just doing their jobs.
Managers must systematically connect all the strategic aspects, from mission, vision, goals, strategy to execution and culture. In many companies, the strategic aspects do not form a cohesive group. Execution is out-of-sync with strategy. Strategy does not match the mission and goes against the core business model. Goals exist in a vacuum, with the organization unclear on the roadmap to achieve the goals.
It takes a substantial amount of work and practice to manage an organization's strategic aspects, and manage how they work together. Managers must employ a systematic method as good as the experienced juggler's. It is their most important responsibility as a manager.
A recognized business thought leader, Kathuria has been quoted in various publications including The Wall Street Journal, Barron's, WorldNews, and featured on the BusinessMakers show, CBS Radio, and is a monthly columnist for the SmartBusiness Magazine.
Kathuria is the author of the highly acclaimed book, How Cohesive is your company?: A leadership parable. It is a realistic and intense story of how a CEO struggles to transform the business and, in the process, struggles with his personal transformation.
Kathuria is the founder and president of Cohegic Corporation, a management consulting, executive coaching and sales coaching firm. Halliburton, Hewlett-Packard, St. Lukes Episcopal Health System, AT&T, and Imperial Sugar Company executives have co-published seminal business articles with Kathuria in the Houston Business Journal on sales effectiveness, performance, corporate culture, and change management.
Invited to speak at large conferences and corporate meetings, Kathuria is a thought provoking and vivacious speaker. He has spoken at the 5th Annual Veterans Entrepreneurship Conference, Rice University, Business Forum on Emerging Markets, University of Houston's Wolff Center For Entrepreneurship, University of Texas' Fleming Center for Healthcare Management, Institute of Internal Auditors, Dover Club, Galleria Chamber of Commerce, American Business Women's Association, French American Chamber of Commerce, Business Resources Group, Financial Executives Networking Group, Silver Fox Advisors, Houston Technology Center and the 2011 SPE Americas E&P Health, Safety, Security, and Environmental Conference.