Richard Rumelt of UCLA has shown that there is an intriguing paradox
at the heart of management today.
When he asked a sample of Chief Executives of US corporations to describe the qualities of those business leaders that they admired more than any others, the answers he got all dwelt on “first-mover” attributes such as insight, contrarian thinking, bravery, and decisive action.
But when he asked them to describe the moves they themselves were making in their own companies, the answers he got were the old perennials of 360 feedback, cost reduction, outsourcing, shared services, margin improvement, customer relations management, six sigma and process re-engineering.
He described these practices as “doorknob polishing” in contrast to what he saw as the “predatory leaps” courageously made by the leaders they most admired.
Do you lead courageously or just polish the doorknobs?