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.

You must be awake, or you will miss the advantage. Conventional views of problems are negative. Negative perspectives are issues which cause negative energy and block your vision. Complain yet change the situation!

Principles as Rules of Engagement

Robert Jendry has over 70 years being a human and five decades in the business world. International assignments along with humanitarian and conservation project validate these
guidelines. The guidelines are rules for how to 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 your objectives? There are countless measurements that determine your success. The purpose and role of your actions 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 practices.

Rule #2 – Effective first – efficient later – avoids paralysis thru analysis.

Get started, you must tackle the first hurdle. If you are bleeding, then you must stop the bleeding first! It is the critical priority.  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 medical triage approach to your situation. 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 with 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 more improvements. 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 a triage approach to find the next area of improvement. Move through step-by-step the obstacles and constraints that keep you from success. Redirect resources to growth areas.

Rule #4 – It is easier to pull a rope than to push a rope.

Think about this rule on a personal level and an organizational level. 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 of programs. Find the carrot or the stick that makes people pull success thru the process.

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 some. 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.

Rule #6 – Apply the 80/20 rule to everything.

Look at the key top 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. 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 you and 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 will demoralize you and your staff. Move on; retain the guilt memory only to the extent that it teaches you a lesson.

These rules are further explored in ‘A Manager’s Survival Guide‘ Chapter 10.