|In the last 20 years or so there have been a number of trends, fads and concepts that have served to break the bond between a corporation and its employees, at a huge cost to both.
There are 5 key concepts, this is the fifth
Dumb Concept #5: “Business Warfare”
Many traditional business leaders have a militaristic view of the way the business world works. A glance at the titles of popular business books-Marketing Warfare, Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun, Guerrilla PR-offer ample testimony for this widely held viewpoint. We’re told that we must imitate generals and warlords if we want to be successful managers.
Taking all this to heart, many executives talk as if they were planning the next world war: “This product will do major damage in the marketplace! We’ve armed our sales force. We’ve targeted the right set of customers! The new ad campaign will explode into the territories! This is going to be a major victory! Our troops are ready!”
Here’s the problem. If a company’s executives really believe that business is warfare, then that dogma will be reflected in nearly everything that goes on inside the corporation. Strategies that don’t fit the dogma-regardless of their potential for success-will be rejected because they are literally “unthinkable.”
For example, executives who believe that business is a battlefield will almost inevitably assume that victory in business goes to the largest “army” and they’ll build large, complicated departments stuffed full of people and resources. Even when customers would be better served by a smaller, more focused effort, there will be an overwhelming drive to build a massive corporate “army” that’s “strong” and ready to “fight.”
Military-minded managers also find it all too easy to become control freaks. Because they see themselves as generals and officers, they tell people what to do. They think that good employees should shut up and follow orders. This behaviour destroys initiative as people wait around for top management to make decisions.
And because top management is often the most isolated from the customer, the company loses track of what’s needed in the marketplace. Further, the “business warfare” mentality makes it impossible to put the decision making where it belongs-at the lowest level of the organization.
Military thinking also distances employees from their customers. To the militaristic company, customers are, at best, faceless territory to be “targeted” and “captured” with marketing and sales “campaigns.” This strategy discourages the viewing of customers as living, breathing human beings with opinions, interests, and concerns of their own.
BTW, the entire “business warfare’ concept, with its buddy-buddy, band-of-brothers, shoot-’em-up consciousness seems ludicrous to many women. Not having spent their childhood playing soldiers in the sandbox; many women find it pretty ridiculous that a bunch of grown men can act as if their boring meetings and dry-as-dust ideas were high adventure and global conflict.
The militaristic organization almost always discriminates against women. From time immemorial, warfare has been a male pastime, and though women have often fought and died in wars, they’re generally considered second-class soldiers. Men who think that executives should be generals in three-piece suits find it extraordinarily difficult to envision a woman in a position of power.
So, going forward, let’s deep-six the militaristic jingoism and start talking about business in terms of relationships, agreements and profitability. Then we’ll all be better off.