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  LEADERSHIP & MANAGEMENT.

By SYED ATIF ALI
Dec 19 - 25, 2005

THE BUSINESS AUDIT

The rise of pension funds as dominant owners represents one of the most starting shifts in economic history.

Even the largest U.S. pension fund holds too small a fraction of any one company's capital to control it. Not being businesses, the funds have no access to in-depth commercial or business information. They are not business-focused, nor could they be. They are asset managers. Yet they need in-depth business analysis of the companies they collectively own. And they need an institutional structure in which management accountability is embedded.

I suspect that in the end we shall develop a formal business-audit practice, analogous perhaps to the financial-audit practice of independent professional accounting firms. For while the business audit need not be conducted every year-every three years may be enough in most cases-it needs to be based upon predetermined standards and go through a systematic evaluation of business performance: starting with mission and strategy, through marketing, innovation, productivity, people development, community relations, all the way to profitability.

ACTION POINT: do you know what pension funds are big shareholders in your organization? What system do they have for getting information about your organization?

INFLATION VERSUS UNEMPLOYMENT

Inflation is the greatest threat to retired people on pensions.

Ever since the great depression, unemployment has been seen as both the endemic and the most dangerous disease of modern society and economy. Under pension-fund socialism, inflation can be expected to take over both roles instead. Inflation is the greatest threat to the retired people on pensions, and an equally great one to the workers over fifty with an increasing stake in the future purchasing power of their retirement benefits. Together, these two groups constitute a near-majority of the adult population. These two groups, as a result of pension-fund socialism, have a far greater interest in preventing inflation than ever existed before. A substantial constituency of this kind, sharing a common concern, is by definition a major "interest group" in the American political system and a potent political force. At the same time unemployment is far less of a threat, if a threat at all, for the "constituency" of the pension funds, that is, retired people and older workers.

ACTION POINT: Do you agree that inflation is a bigger problem than unemployment?

INNOVATIONS FOR MAXIMUM OPPORTUNITIES

What is lacking to make effective what is already possible?

The characteristic of the innovator is the ability to envisage as a system what to other are unrelated, separate elements. It is the successful attempt to find and to provide the smallest missing part that will convert already existing elements. To find areas where innovation would create maximum opportunities, one asks: "what is lacking to make effective what is already possible? What one small step would transform our economic results? What small change would alter the capacity of the whole of our resources?"

To describe the need is not to satisfy it. But describing the need gives a specification for the desirable results. Whether they are likely to be obtained can be decided. Innovation is applicable to finding business potential and to making the future.

ACTION POINT: ask yourself the three questions above.

BUSINESS WISDOM

If you think you can win, you can win. Faith is necessary to victory.
WILLIAM HAZLITT, British critic, poet and essayist.

The value you add comes from the values you hold.
ANON.

When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion.
ETHIOPIAN PROVERB.

Technology is like a bus. If it goes in the direction you want to go, you take it.
RENZO PIANO, Italian architect.

A single arrow is easily broken, but not ten in a bundle.
JAPANESE PROVERB.

If you can't manage your own time well, how can you expect to manage others'?
ANON.

To win without risk is to triumph without glory.
PIERRE CORNEILLE, French poet and dramatist.

Clapping with the right hand only will not produce a noise.
MALAY PROVERB.

Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell, and advertise.
TED TURNER, American media proprietor, CEO of turner broadcasting.

Friendship is tested in the thick years of success rather than in the thin years of struggle.
BARRY HUMPHRIES, Australian humorist. Attrib.

Success is the flip side of failure.
ANON.

I plan for the future by focusing exclusively on the present.
DONALD TRUMP, American entrepreneur, developer and author.

If you want good service, serve yourself.
SPANISH PROVERB.

Time and tide wait for no man.
ENGLISH PROVERB.

Knowledge is always accompanied with accessories of emotion and purpose.
A.N. WHITEHEAD, British mathematician, philosopher, professor of philosophy at Harvard University and author.

Consumers want information and they want it fast.
FAITH POPCORN, American business consultant, co-founder and CEO of BrainReserve, and author.

Paint makes the image, but painting makes the picture.
CHARLES BLACKMAN, Australian artist.

Nothing is more dangerous than an idea, when it is the only idea we have.
ALAIN, French philosopher, teacher and essayist.

There are two things to aim at in life; first, to get what you want; and after that, to enjoy it.
LOGAN PEARSALL SMITH, American-born British scholar and author.

You can't rise unless you set goals that make you stretch.
TOM HOPKINS, American sales trainer, motivator and author.

 
 

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