Problem Solving in the Corporate World

Every business, irrespective of its publicly claimed vision and mission, has a sole purpose: to thrive financially. This fundamental ‘law’ of survival for any business small or large, although trivial, is easily forgotten by many of its employees.

With the entrepreneurship wave gaining more momentum, many authors have shifted their focus towards what I will call ‘corporate reform’ and the disruption of classical management models. One cannot but notice the growth in the number of books discussing how to start and grow a new enterprise, how to enhance one’s recruitment strategies, how to build better products for end-users, how to create and maintain a culture of creativity and productivity, how to provide better services, so on and so forth. And the focus on topics related to the corporate world has diminished.

Yet it remains a matter of fact that market dominance is still maintained by large enterprises in numerous areas and the probability of finding a job in a large institution is still much higher than finding one in a startup. At the end of the day, one of the main exit strategies for startups is an acquisition by a large entity.

This is all to say the following. If you work for a large entity, specifically if you are a manager at any level, you know quite well that 80% of your time is spent on politics and the remaining 20% on getting things done. Everyone is trying to climb the pyramid. Where you position yourself matters.

Indulge me for a moment.

blocker vs growth chart

Each company has a specific set of KPIs (Key performance indicators) that it religiously tracks over specific periods of time. The growth of a large enterprise cannot be rendered in such a simple manner as the chart above, but this is simply used to illustrate a point.

The up and down arrows linked to the growth line (in blue) represent 2 different types of managers or a single manager using 2 different strategies on 2 different occasions. One (arrow pointing down) refers to the manager who wants to implement a certain agenda that is in the best interest of the business but influences the short-term growth negatively (for example, pushing for a large investment in a cost center). The other (arrow pointing upward) refers to the manager who wants to implement an agenda that is in the best interest of the business and contributes positively to the growth.

Do not position yourself as the former manager. And by position, I mean do your homework to ‘sell’ the agenda in a manner that makes you look like you’re heavily invested in maintaining a positive growth. This is a tricky matter. Usually the dilemma presents itself when the project falls into the long-term return on investment (ROI) category.

No one wants to see a dip in his (her) charts.

Another scenario where the same situation presents itself is when a more senior manager is pushing for a project to fulfill a certain agenda without having a deep understanding of the technical details associated with it. If the reporting manager does not have the necessary persuasive or argumentative skills he will try to respond to them with a blocker. Usually, the blocker being additional superfluous cost. This play will position the reporting manager in the first category (showcased above by the arrow pointing down). He (or she) might be right, and the agenda, while valid from a business perspective, might have a large risk associated with it making the business aspect not worth pursuing. However, instead of proposing alternatives more creative solutions or graciously presenting the risks leading to a more informed decision by the senior manager, she (or he) presents a blocker instead.

This is how corporate battles are lost before they even start.

Is this choice of a strategy indicative of poor management skills? Not necessarily. I’ve seen this happen numerous times with great managers. The poor play could be completely circumstantial or simply lack of experience. It could also be due to an overload in this manager’s bucket list or an underestimation of a senior manager’s power and influence.

As a rule of thumb, look at the offer you are presenting and assess in which category it makes you fall. Massage your response and enhance your selling skills. Do not respond to a problem-solving request with a blocker.

 

The ‘I Don’t Give A Shit Attitude’

I Don't Give a Shit
Do I Look Like I Care?

The ‘I Don’t Give A Shit Attitude’

Wait… What? What is this about?!

In a world governed by hypercritical and highly judgmental critics having all the right to voice their opinion, trying to protect oneself from offensive non constructive criticism has become a tedious task. In a world full of multi-talented individuals, the race for the top is vicious. Whether in the office space, in the real world, amongst friends, in the business field the intense competitive edge is all around. It has become a vital aspect of our daily life. This symbol of democracy, fairness and righteousness has had a multitude of destructive consequences on numerous individuals, who for a reason or another were not up to this ferocious game. This constant fear of criticism, peer pressure and constant reflection on consequences has forced many to hide behind a shell and oppress their ideas knowing that some of them are quite bright.

Long story short, if you are one those people I described in the paragraph above. This is the time to embrace the “I Don’t Give A Shit” attitude. It is time for you to let go of the consequences, let go of the plans, let go of the continuous reflections on the “What If” question and to engage in the realization of your ideas. Whether you are an entrepreneur, an employee or a regular person with a dream; try to put yourself in a position where the answer to the question: “What do I have to lose?” is “Nothing”.

When you have that power: “Freedom”, you will be able to uplift yourself to a whole new game level. Yes, what you read is correct, a game. And mastering the attitude above is a solid way to beat it.

What do you mean? I don’t quite understand yet!

It is true, this is quite a complicated topic to discuss in one blogpost as there are numerous sub-topics (ideas) to convey that are as important. These sub-topics are branches of cases that split off the root idea, such as: exceptional cases, circumstances preventing one from reaching the level of freedom needed to acquire the “I Don’t Give A Shit” attitude, ease of behavioral change etc… However, the starting point is fairly simple. If you believe in a conceptidea that can be either big or small, but that will have an positive impact on your life andor the life of others, disregard the negative feedback from others for a brief period of time – which ends when your idea reaches the state of realization – and then, just then throw whatever you have built to the world and gather whatever type of feedback is thrown back at you. It is then, only then that the opinions you have neglected before mater. Only then, will the random voices contribute to the prosperity of your project. At that point you will have a solid entity that can morph into whatever shape it is needed to be.

But great ideas require dedication, hard work how does the above apply?!

Do I Look like I care?
Do I Look like I care?

The above applies to only a brief period of time. This period extends from the minute you have the “Eureka” moment up until the minute where your first prototype is completed (or any other form of proof of concept). During this period, you will not induce any changes to your current life and formal behavior. The process should go in parallel to whatever you were previously doing for multiple reasons:

  1. You should not start living in the dream world; where you induce changes to your life that might or might not happen as the consequence of the success of your idea.
  2. You should always protect yourself from disappointment. Strive to the success of your idea, but don’t get your hopes up too high for if you fail, the psychological impact will be devastating.
  3. Ego! Ego is very important as long as it is under control. Do not let your ego sky rocket. Not giving a shit does not mean disrespect to others opinion. It only means putting these opinions aside up to the point where they will have a value.

Conclusion

The discussion is far from complete. I will make sure to increase the contributions to this topic as much as time allows. The points discussed above are my personal observations derived from my personal life. I would be more than happy to discuss these opinions thoroughly with anyone who is willing to have an open objective discussion. I understand that this post is a bit vague and open to multiple interpretations; however with time I believe I will be able to convey my observations on the factors of success. Knowing that these factors might just be an illusion, I strongly believe there are lessons to be learned from them (more or less).