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On Corporate Transformation: Management Advice We Can All Use

I finished reading a book by Andreas Kramvis, an old friend and classmate of mine, who is currently CEO of Performance Materials and Technologies Division at global giant Honeywell. The book titled “Transforming the Corporation” is a refreshing source of valuable management insights coming not from an academic but from a practitioner – someone who has honed his managerial and leadership skills in the global marketplace, with remarkable success! Andreas’ central thesis is that transformation is possible through high performance, provided that the effort is systematic, is based on a compelling business philosophy and follows tried and tested business principles. He is not so much focused on theory as much as what has worked (and what hasn’t) in his long years successfully leading different divisions of a multi-billion dollar corporation.

Andreas identifies structured and disciplined means of achieving results (such as through a powerful operating mechanism he calls Business Decision Week) and how management teams can rally around 5 key initiatives: growth, productivity, cash and people and their attendant enablers. What is more, he warns against false dichotomies – an either/or mentality that sees trade-offs between growth and productivity, rather than as key corporate objectives that should go hand-in-hand.

Apart from offering clear guidelines for rallying around agreed priorities and tasks Andreas makes the very important point that transformation is not something that is only prescribed for companies in distress – sound transformational principles can and should be applied even to companies which are doing well! In these challenging times, a dose of paranoia (and the willingness to engage in some creative destruction) is certainly preferable to complacency and the attitude “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” ….because it may soon not be the case.

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