Over the past 7 to 8 years, I’ve heard a lot of execs tell me they don’t have time to “set up systems”, “hold meetings”, and/or “measure results”. Imagine my delight when I picked up Rudy Giuliani’s book and found that he did all of that during his tenure as Mayor of the greatest city on earth. That’s a big enough job in itself but Rudy’s preparation paid off in a huge way both in managing New York City and in the aftermath of the September 11th tragedy.
For those of you who complain that it is too much time taken to hold meetings every week – please read Giuliani’s view on DAILY meetings of key executives. That is, action packed, accountable meetings – not, paper shuffling dead donut stuffing mind numbing – well, you get the point.
I lived in New York City pre Giuliani. I know how terrifying it was in the early 80’s – how lawless and in many ways, hopeless. Everybody thought there was just nothing that could be done about crime, graffiti – you name it. After leaving the city in 1988, I didn’t return to my beloved NYC for some years and when I did I couldn’t believe the changes.
Giuliani, with a leadership drive that is unequaled, cleaned up New York. Is there still crime? Well of course but believe me the city is nothing like it was in the early 80’s. For those who have never lived and or traveled in NYC, it really is hard to imagine the sheer magnitude of the “continuous improvement” in the city. Nothing escaped the eagle eyes of Hizzoner the Mayor. Even it if is a myth, the results of speak for themselves.
How did he do it? One important component was the organization of his departments. Equally important is the idea that everyone who heads up a critical department or group is as the table and accountable for results. If you don’t want to go to a meeting you’ll hate this but Rudy insisted on a morning meeting – EVERY morning. On September 12, there was a morning meeting. Problems had no opportunity to be shelved “until the next meeting” where reports of being unable to do anything are given. If a problem came up one day – the next day better show some movement! Total Accountability. Total Commitment to improving operations. No chance to “table” issues until the next ineffective meeting.
But it wasn’t just the meetings. It was setting standards and measuring results with thorough data. No B.S. artists need apply – the data shows who is focused on their job. This is nothing new – TQM works the exactly the same way – Continuous Improvement – Process Improvement – whatever you want to call it you have to organize around purpose, know what results your after, improve the process and measure your results. Most A/E companies that say they want to improve collect data in a half hearted hit or miss manner – then they say it doesn’t work for them. Maybe but I’m betting they don’t do the work!!
Why don’t more firms do the work? It’s a lot of work and it’s not project work. But duh, if you do the work, the projects are better and more profitable. Most of us will never be tested the way the mayor of New York was tested on September 11, 2001. But we are tested in the performance of ourselves and our teams as leaders. How good are your test scores?
If a city as complex as NYC and an event as momentous as 9/11 can be dealt with as well as Giuliani did – what are you waiting for? Surely you can create the leadership in your company to do what most want – be profitable, provide a good living for other people, contribute to your community, develop capable leadership in the ranks and make a difference in your company.
The tools are readily available – if you need help, get it but get going on developing the leadership you need today. We all benefit from it and we all need stronger more capable leaders.