I recently attended a lunchtime seminar hosted by the MaRS innovation hub in Toronto. The session was led by Zachary First, the executive director of the Drucker Institute based at Claremont Graduate University in California.
Peter Drucker, of course was the American management consultant, educator, and author, hailed by BusinessWeek as “the man who invented management,” So I wasn’t surprised that First’s presentation spoke so directly to the need for rapid change in today’s corporations. Drucker passed away in 2005, but his thinking continues to grow in importance as the metabolic rate of companies constantly accelerates.
First cited one of Drucker’s quotes: “Change and continuity are poles rather than opposites. The more an institution is organized to be a change leader, the more it will need to …balance rapid change and continuity.” First explained that the Drucker Institute’s programming is built around the premise of “Yesterday/Today/Monday.” “Yesterday” refers to the fact that the Institute’s work is grounded in Peter Drucker’s wisdom. “Today” speaks to the urgency that organizational leaders feel to successfully meet challenges and opportunities. And “Monday” points to the Institute’s mission to help executives move quickly from ideas to action and results. This concept of “Monday” reflects what Drucker urged his own consulting clients to think about: “Don’t tell me you had a wonderful meeting with me. Tell me what you’re going to do on Monday that’s different.”
First recounted the experiences of how three great CEO’s — Andy Grove at Intel, Jack Welch at GE, and A.G. Lafley at Procter & Gamble — disrupted themselves. He then helped the audience understand how this same philosophy of ongoing disruption could be applied to their own businesses.
It is simply too easy to delay thinking about driving business improvements or postponing urgently required initiatives. There is often a tendency to push off needed projects and change management until the next quarter or even next year. The determination of when to start rethinking the game is often left until the point where something has become a burning issue and must be dealt with in a reactive manner rather than proactively planning a strategy and roadmap to enhance business performance.
This is particularly true in the field of financial operations and specifically invoicing and accounts receivable processes. Many companies think that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” If however, they were to assess their current financial operations they would see great opportunity for improvement to expedite processes, reduce costs, increase employee engagement, improve customer experiences and get paid faster.
So don’t think about next month, or next quarter, or the next fiscal year. What are you going to do on Monday that is different?