LEADERSHIP & MANAGEMENT.

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Selected by Zeeshan Ahmed Khan

Aug 15 - 21, 2005
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PURSUING PERFECTION

"The God can see them."

The greatest sculptor of ancient Greece, Phidias, around 440 BC made the statues that to this day, 2,400 years later, still stand on the roof of the Parthenon in Athens. When Phidias submitted his bill, the city accountant of Athens refused to pay it. "These statues stand on the rook of the temple, and on the highest hill on Athens. Nobody can see anything but their fronts. Yet, you have charged us for sculpturing them in the round, that is, for doing their backsides, which nobody can see". "You are wrong," Phidias retorted. "The God can see them."

Whenever people ask me which of my books I consider the best, I smile and say, "The next". I do not, however, mean it as a joke. I mean it the way Verdi meant it when he talked of writing an opera at eighty in the pursuit of a perfection that had always eluded him. Though I am older now than Verdi was when he wrote Falstaff, I am still thinking and working on two additional books, each if which, I hope, will be better than any of my earlier ones, will be more important, and will come a little closer to excellence.

ACTION POINT: Pursue perfection in your work, however, elusive.

Drucker on Asia.

THE RIGHT COMPROMISE

"Half a loaf is better than no bread."

One has to start out with what is right rather than what is acceptable (let alone who is right) precisely because one always has to compromise in the end. But if one does not know what is right to satisfy the specifications and boundary conditions, one cannot distinguish between the right compromise and the wrong compromise- and will end up making the wrong compromise.

There are two different kinds of compromise. One kind is expressed in the old proverb, "half a loaf is better than no bread". The other kind is expressed in the story of the "Judgment of Soloman", which was clearly based on the realization that "half a baby is worse than no baby at all". In the first instance the boundary conditions are still being satisfied. The purpose of bread is to provide food, and half a loaf is still food. Half a baby, however, does not satisfy the boundary conditions. For half a baby is not half of a living and growing child. It is a corpse in two pieces.

ACTION POINT: Make a decision that represents a compromise, half a loaf, but goes in the right direction towards the ideal solution. Then think of a compromise that is "No bread at all".

The Effective Executive

BUSINESS WISDOM

"Nothing is more dangerous than an idea, when it is the only idea we have."

ALAIN, French philosopher, teacher and essayist.

"No one person has a mortgage on good ideas. We can all be ideas people."

ANON

"Nothing is more compelling than an idea whose time has come."

ANON

"Defeat is a fact and victory can be fact. If the idea is good, it will survive defeat, it may even survive the victory."

STEPHEN VINCENT BENET (1898-1943), American poet and short story writer.

"A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a frown on the right man's brow."

CHARLES BROWER, American advertising executive.

"The traditional habits of thinking are very effective at developing ideas but not very good at re-structuring them. Lateral thinking is designed to supplement traditional thinking, and specially to introduce a discontinuity that is necessary for re-structuring ideas. The basic process of lateral thinking is the escape from old ideas and the provocation of the new ones."

EDWARD DE BONO, Maltese ˝ born British scholar, teacher and lecturer.

"If at first an idea is not totally absurd, there is no hope for it."

ALBERT EINSTEIN, (1879-1955), German- Swiss-American Physicist.

"I maintain that ideas are events."

GUSTAVE FLAUBERT (1821-1880), French novelist.

"The speed of modern communication and the force of international competition require the quickest possible adoption of new ideas if companies are to survive."

JOHN HARVEY JONES, British business consultant, broadcaster and author.

"A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on. Ideas has endurance without death."

JOHN F. KENNEDY(1917-1963), AmericanÝs statesman and 35th President og the USA.

"The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood."

JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES (1883-1946), British economist, financier, journalist and author.

"The thinker dies, but his thoughts are beyond the reach of destruction. Men are mortal; but ideas are immortal."

WALTER LIPPMANN (1889-1974), American editor, columnist and author.

"Just as our eyes need light in order to see, our minds need ideas in order to conceive."

NICOLAS MALEBRANCHE (1638-1715), French theologian and philosopher.

"If you are possessed by an idea, you find it expressed everywhere, you even smell it."

THOMAS MANN (1875-1955), German essayist and novelist.