As I have said before, when I started my business, I was barely 25 years old. And although I had worked for several years, since leaving university, by the time I decided to go and start a business, I was only a junior manager in a big organization. I therefore did not have the experience of building and managing an organization.
Starting a business with just a hand full of people was not that difficult, but within a few months, I realized that although I was a good engineer, and entrepreneur, it was not what was going to make me a success. I had to become a leader and a manager of a business. And these two are not the same.
This is how, I became a good manager:
First of all I became a student of management. If MBAs were as popular then, as they are today, I would have rushed to get one. So I did the next best thing, I bought books, and spent hours and hours at the university library, in the evenings, reading about management.
I have spoken about this before:
“Don’t just rely on getting experience; study.”
I studied organizational and management structures. I would ask questions about local companies, from friends:
“So tell me, how is your organization structured?”
“Please draw for me the management structure?”
“Who does what?”
“How do you get optimal performance from your organization?”
“How do you run an organization that operates in more than one country?”
“How do you find the right people?”
I went to management talks, to listen to the best managers of the day, talking about what they do. I tracked international business leaders like Jack Welch when he was building GE, into one of the most successful businesses in the world.
I could not look at a business, without wanting to know how it was organized, for optimum performance.
….Oh how I wish there was Internet in those days!
Guys, you have no excuse whatsoever.
This guy,called Sam Walton, who built Walmart, the biggest company, in the world, I read his book back to front. Even those Japanese guys, like Akio Morito, the founder of Sony. I read all their books.
I had collections of books by all the management gurus of the day….reading, studying, putting into practice. Trying out the new ideas.
When I visited China, for the first time, and saw the behemoth organizations, they have built, I was astounded:
“How did they build these?” …. Back to school! You should see my collection on Chinese organizations.
Brothers, and sisters, let me get passionate:
Get into management, and become skilled at it. Adopt best practice, benchmark yourself, with the best in the world.
If you do this, you can take practically any idea, or any organization, and make it big. This is not rocket science, but it is science: it is not something you are born, with, it is an acquired skill.
To be continued…