Rules of Engagement
This White paper is a description and definition of the Rules of Engagement. Using the JEL model, this paper presents 7 rules based on JEL’s business philosophy and spiritual integration
Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic may seem like action, but it does not remove
the ship from its path towards the iceberg.
Within the course of business events, there are enough variables from both internal and
external sources to sink the ship. The leadership is responsible for steering a safe course.
It means that you must make mid-course corrections to reach the harbor. Sometimes you
need to take alternate routes,
rather than starting over, resulting in lost time, to ensure a safe arrival.
The following rules of engagement are the result of five decades
of experience in the business world. International assignments
along with humanitarian and conservation project validate these
guidelines. The guidelines are rules for how you approach any
enterprise or project using a contingency management approach.
Rule #1 – The moment of truth is results, all else is prophecy.
Are you achieving the objectives of the enterprise? Profits,
stakeholders’ targets, cash flow, growth, service are just a few of
the measurements that determine your success. The purpose and
role of management is results! If you are not getting the results, no
amount of excuses can overcome the realism of your failure! This
first rule must be your priority and the focus of your management
Rule #2 -Effective first – efficient later – avoids paralysis thru analysis.
Get started, you must tackle the first hurdle. If you are bleeding
(losing money), then you must stop the bleeding first! It is the
critical priority; otherwise, when the corporation is dead you will
have nothing to work on. In so many instances, people spend time
focusing on analysis, rather than taking action to limit the damage.
This makes them feel like they are doing something. Doing
something requires taking action that limits the severity of issues,
thus providing you with the ability to eliminate distractions hiding
the core problems. Use a business triage approach to identify
the major risks. Focus on the critical issue first. Once you solve
the highest need, repeat the triage to determine the next highest
priority. In each case, the triage identifies the constraint keeping
you from achieving rule #1. You keep this going until you fix
enough of the limitations to achieve your goal.
Rule #3 – You play the hand you’re dealt.
Use existing resources and systems to get things moving. Address the key issues of rule
#2. Work with what you have! Waiting for
that magic advantage can be fatal. Management is directing and
applying existing resources to meet the enterprise goals. Taking
events one at a time, leveraging existing resources is the first
priority of survival. Each success provides the opportunities
to increase and improve your rate of success. As you achieve
improvements, from each action you will find savings and more
improvements. Use a portion of these savings to fund the next
improvement. You use this rule for both critical actions as well as
ongoing and continuous improvements. You should never stop.
Success is an evolutionary process. At each stage of progress, use
the business triage to find the next area of improvement.
Another part of the improvement process is finding the obstacles
and constraints that keep you from making money. Obsolete
products and services still need resources to support them. Redirect
these resources to growth areas. If you think that, you need to
provide these old products to retain a market share; then find a
different way to pay for this support.
Rule #4 – It is easier to pull a rope than to push a rope.
Use the existing organization and personnel to effect the changes
and overcome the constraints – you cannot do this yourself, or there
would be no need for an organization.
Therefore, find the critical point – the engineers who are
responsible for the projects – the project managers to become your
army in the cleanup and profitability programs. Find the carrot or
the stick that makes people pull success thru the process.
The airline industry has been very successful in controlling people
coming to the airport. The plane simply leaves on time – or at
least you cannot depend on it leaving late. The airline industry
also overbooks the flights, and if you are not at the gate to check
in at least 15 minutes before the flight, they will give your seat to
someone else. This is pulling the rope! There is no anxiety on the
part of the airline; you are the one to suffer the consequences. As
managers, you must find creative ways in which to pull the rope to
get things accomplished.
Rule #5 – Labor precedes all new life.
Whether the birth of a child, or a new endeavor; change is
the outcome of difficulties and efforts. In tropical areas of the
world, the cassava leaf is poisonous in its raw state. However,
by pounding and boiling the leaves, you use the starch to make
tapioca or in other areas, you made a vegetable dish like spinach,
called sombe, which is quite delicious. In these areas of the world,
the adage may be when life gives you cassava leaves make sombe.
Therefore, when life gives you lemons – make lemonade! This is
the effective way of making progress.
When you look at trouble, problems, and issues from this point
of view, you have an early warning that new opportunities
are on the horizon. You must be awake, or you will miss the
advantage. Conventional views of problems are negative. Negative
perspectives are guilt issues, causing negative energy and block
Rule #6 – Apply the 80/20 rule to everything.
Look at the key top revenue potential and take care of these
first. It is the means for separating the vital few from the trivial
many. This is Pareto’s law. It is the greatest tool at your disposal.
Value transactions and then determine the vital few that have
the most significant impact. You will learn that by performing
the 80/20 you will see how easy it is to start getting results by
focusing on key elements. Otherwise, you will spend your energy
making improvements that have only minor impact. Leverage
your information systems to sift thru volumes of data, to find the
nuggets of knowledge you need to make the critical changes.
Rule #7 – Never take things personally.
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. You leverage the
strengths and minimize the weakness. Do not waste energy on guilt
and anger. These emotions should only serve as catalyst to take
action. Things happen and frequently just as we see a light at the
end of the tunnel, you encounter another train! Simply be persistent and direct all your
energy to ongoing improvements. Soon you find the light is the end of the tunnel!
Guilt and fear are crippling emotions. Make sure your people feel
secure about making mistakes. Mistakes are the way you learn and
make progress. Avoid your personal guilt; it is a waste of time.
Stuff happens, so use it only as a means of learning. Wasting time
feeling sorry about your behavior demoralizes you and your staff.
Move on; retain the guilt memory only to the extent that it teaches
you a lesson.
nThese rules are excerpts from Chapter 10 Change Sustainability
A Manager\’s Survival Guide